The Error of Harold Camping

Posted on 22 September 2012


 

WHEN 2011 FAILED TO BE THE YEAR GOD DESTROYED THE WORLD, 1988 AS THE START DATE OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION FAILED RIGHT ALONG WITH IT!

 

Have you read Mr. Camping’s book 1994?  I never did.

 

Prior to 2011, I read and studied all of his other books, but this one was unavailable when I began to listen to Family Radio in 2002.  I didn’t secure a copy of it until a few months ago.  What I have found in this book has been startling and extremely enlightening.

 

I decided to share this information for the sake of others like myself who may have misunderstood exactly how it was determined that 1988 was the year that the Great Tribulation began.  It saddens me to know that this lack of understanding has caused some to become adamant in the belief that an 8400 day countdown to Judgment Day began in that year.  It did not.

 

Until recently, I believed that as Mr. Camping was studying the scriptures over the years 1994-2011, he was continuing to receive previously unknown Biblical understanding about the timeline and its meaning.  As I sat under Mr. Camping’s teachings from 2002-2011, listening to the Open Forum nearly every night, and reading his books in order as each one was published, beginning with “The End of the Church Age,” I came to that conclusion very naturally and almost without thinking. I say “almost” because I had learned of the unsealing of the little book spoken of in Daniel 12:9 through the Open Forum.  Every evening as well as in each book, he used phrases such as “God has a timetable for revealing the understanding of truth recorded in the Bible” and “as God opens our eyes to truth.”  So I ASSUMED that Mr. Camping was publishing these books as this was happening, AS HE WAS LEARNING the information.

 

Certainly Mr. Camping did nothing to dissuade anyone from reaching that conclusion during those years.  His words very directly insinuated that he was teaching things he hadn’t known previously.  But also, I had the reality of my experience.  In 9 years, I’d NEVER heard him speak of certain subjects before their nearly simultaneous publication in a new book.  So I don’t believe this assumption was entirely my fault.

 

Yet, in reading the book “1994?,” I have learned through Mr. Camping’s own words that this was not the case at all.  Nearly everything he taught in the years I listened were things he believed and taught in 1992 when that book was published.

 

For example, I never heard him speak about the year 2011 as the probable final year of history on the Open Forum until 2004.  I didn’t think he knew the exact year since previously he had always discussed the end only as being “during our lifetime in all likelihood.”

 

I never heard him speak about the 7000 years between the Flood and the end of the world until late 2004 on the Open Forum and in the subsequent publishing of the book “Time Has An End.”  When I did hear him discuss this 7000 years, he did so by calling it a “proof” which backed up everything we had learned up to that point.

 

I never heard him discuss Solomon and his concubines until somewhere in 2007-08 as near as I can recall.  When he taught the study through the Alameda Fellowship videos and began to teach it on the Open Forum, I believed that he had just learned this information.

 

I never heard him mention Homosexuality as a “sign of the end” until he published that book just before 2011.  The only discussions I had ever heard him give regarding homosexuality were on the Open Forum and then it was only in response to caller questions where he would describe it as being “no different than any other sin.”  But he said nothing about it being a significant sign of the end times.

 

And certainly, I never heard the phrase “cry out to him for mercy” until early 2010, shortly before the Family Radio (FR) billboard campaign began.

 

But I have discovered that ALL OF THESE THINGS were discussed in the book “1994?.”  So, I’m sure that people who’d read it must have known these were NOT new ideas and understandings.  But I did not.  By the time I started listening in June of 2002, this book was no longer offered by FR and these particular things were not being discussed on the Open Forum Program, nor were they discussed in the books “The End of The Church Age” and “Wheat and Tares.”

 

Of course, I DID hear many callers to the Open Forum ask Mr. Camping about his failed prediction and the book “1994?.”  I heard his explanations regarding the question mark in the title, etc.  I heard him say that his error resulted from placing too much emphasis on one verse which he said he misunderstood because God had not opened his eyes to the Latter Rain period which would come after the 2300 evening mornings spoken of in Daniel 8:14.  And most important, I heard him defend the failure and the new date by saying that he’d noted the year 2011 in that book as another possible end date.  Like many, I accepted that explanation and I didn’t investigate it myself.

 

Simply put, his explanation was not the whole truth.  He did not give the year 2011 as just “another possibility.”  The ONLY context in which Mr. Camping discussed 2011 in the book was to note it as being 7000 years from the Flood date and to use it as the year from which to begin his calculations to find the starting date of the Final Tribulation!  He never indicated to his audience that 2011 had been the basis for his 1994 failed conclusion and yet, IT ABSOLUTELY WAS and certainly he knew it as he answered those questions.

 

Let me explain how 1994 and 2011 failures are connected:

 

In “1994?,” Mr. Camping already taught that the Bible says that the world would continue for exactly 7000 years after the Flood and then it would be destroyed.  So, using the timeline’s 4990 BC Flood placement, he did the arithmetic and calculated that end of the world HAD to take place in the year 2011.  Since he knew that the Final Tribulation takes place in the closing years of the earth’s history he knew that it ALSO would need to conclude in the year 2011.  Further, he had determined that God had ORIGINALLY planned a specific length of time for this Final Tribulation, but according to Daniel 8:13-14 and Matthew 24:21-22, He intended to shorten that time period to 2300 days for the sake of the elect.

 

Having already fixed the Great Tribulation’s shortened length at 2300 days and having already fixed its end and the destruction of the world at 2011, he began a search for the start date of the “original tribulation.”  From there he could simply add 2300 days to find the year that the “shortened tribulation” and the world would end. The only way he could do that would be to speculate as to how long God had “ORIGINALLY” intended the Tribulation to be, subtract that number of years from 2011 to locate the original beginning year date and simply add 2300 days to determine the end.  The equation looked like this:

 

(7000 year End of the World as 2011) – (Original Full Great Tribulation Period)  = (Start of Original Great Tribulation) + (2300 day Shortened Tribulation Period) = End of the World

 

He taught that the length of this tribulation period could be ONLY ONE OF 4 POSSIBILITIES which were each periods of time which typified the Final Tribulation.  The book details the process by which he concluded that these 4 possibilities were 70 years, 23 years, 3.5 days, or 42 months.   With this in mind, he began to plug these possibilities through the equation:

 

(7000 year End of the World as 2011) – (Possibility 1,2,3,or 4 as the Original Full Great Tribulation Period)  = (Start of Original Great Tribulation/End of Church AGE) + (2300 day Shortened Tribulation Period) = End of the World

 

RESULTS:

 

First, he decided that 3.5 days and 42 months were both too short and should be considered “symbolic” because neither period of time was long enough to fit even the shortened 2300 day tribulation length he’d ALREADY DETERMINED.  So he discounted those possibilities. Still considering the other 2 possibilities as “literal” time periods, he then plugged 70 years into the equation and found that it would result in a year which had already gone by.

 

(2011) – (70 years) = (1941) + (2300 days) =1947.

 

With the 70 year possibility now discounted, this left only the final choice of a 23 year length for God’s Originally Planned Final Tribulation.  The equation was as follows:

 

(2011) – (23 years) = (1988) + (2300 days) = 1994 End of the World

 

When 1994 failed, it should have been immediately suspected that 1988 failed as the Start of the Great Tribulation right along with it, but instead, a “spiritual” reason was given to explain it.  This is when the “half hour of silence in heaven” was ADOPTED as the meaning of the 2300 evening mornings of Daniel 8:13-14.  BUT THE EQUATION WAS LEFT INTACT!  The reason it was left intact is that it was already seen that the other 3 patterns simply COULD NOT FIT and there were no other possibilities left that he could see!  So while it may still be true that the Great Tribulation is a period of 23 years, it could not have begun in 1988.

 

Here is why:

 

1)  If it is true that the last day of the world is exactly 7000 literal years from the Flood (the basis for which 2011 was chosen to begin the equation), then the Flood could not have occurred in the year 4990 BC since the world did not end in 2011.  THIS WOULD MEAN THAT THE CALENDAR IS WRONG and we have no way of knowing for certain when those 7000 years began or when they will expire.  So we would have no reason or Biblical authority to begin calculating backwards from 2011 to arrive at 1988 as the End of The Church age and the start of the Great Tribulation.

 

2)  If it is true that the calendar is correct, then it CANNOT be true that the Bible is telling us that the world will end precisely 7000 literal years post-Flood in the year 2011 AD because we know that it did not end!  THIS MEANS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE 7000 YEARS IS WRONG.  So we would have no reason or Biblical authority to begin calculating backwards from 2011 to arrive at 1988 as the End of the Church Age and start of the Great Tribulation.

 

3)  The two statements above CANNOT both be true at the same time.  Once 2011 passed without the end of the world, it became Biblically IMPOSSIBLE to adhere to the belief that 2011 is 7000 years from the 4990 BC Flood AND ALSO adhere to the belief that the Church Age ended in 1988, beginning the 8400 day Great Tribulation which results in a post-May 21, 2011 Judgment Day WITHOUT BELIEVING A LIE.

 

4)  So this is the bottom line.  The explanations and computations Mr. Camping gave on pages 494-497 of the book “1994?” clearly demonstrate that the 1988 calculation for the start of the Great Tribulation was entirely based on a pre-determined understanding that world was to be destroyed in 2011 AD.  When the world did not end in 2011, God demonstrated that this conclusion is faulty and 1988 was NOT the first year of the Great Tribulation.

 

AFTERWORD:

 

When 1994 failed to be the end of the world as Mr. Camping believed, he simply moved back to what he believed was God’s ORIGINAL EXPECTED 23 year Tribulation duration ending in 2011, 7000 years after the flood.  He deduced a spiritual meaning for the 2300 days of Daniel which sadly left the faulty 1988 calculation intact.  It doesn’t appear that he ever revisited his original studies after the 1994 failure to check for errors beyond the 2300 days.

 

Finally, it doesn’t matter what we may eventually learn regarding the correct meaning and/or time application of the 7000 years, the length of the Great Tribulation, or the dates for either.  The fact is that Mr. Camping’s calculation for 1988 as the End of The Church Age/Start of the Great Tribulation has been invalidated with the passing of 2011.  Subsequently, there is absolutely NO BIBLICAL BASIS to conclude that the world has entered into a “Judgment Day” defined by a period of “no salvation.”  This doctrine must be given up as a spiritual “high place” and “another god.”  On pages 142-143 of “The End Of The Church Age… And After”, Mr. Camping wrote:

 

“If we trust in any doctrine that is not firmly taken from the Bible, then we are trusting in our own minds.  In that event, our minds and the individuals who designed that doctrine is our god.  Any time any doctrine is taught that is not altogether based upon the Bible, it is a spiritual high place, it is the worship of another god.”

 

I would also like it to be known that throughout “1994?,” Mr. Camping repeatedly went into great Biblical detail to prove that there is no possibility whatsoever that the world may continue for a single day beyond the saving of the very last elect soul.  He provides much scriptural support for that particular conclusion since his teaching on Matthew 24:21-22 formed the entire basis for the ability to search for the day of Christ’s return.  In fact, he taught quite thoroughly that the only purpose for this world to continue or for believers to be here on the Earth is in order to fulfill God’s magnificent salvation program.  He taught that the bounds of this physical world are determined completely by that plan.  Once the last soul is saved, this world must end according to God’s own Word given in Deuteronomy 32:8 and other verses.  Having learned that, I am doubly surprised by his “temporary” descent into the “5 months of torment/no salvation” doctrine and the “post May 21 no salvation error.”

 

The man-made ideas of “feeding sheep” and a “Judgment Day over the whole world in which there is no longer any hope of souls becoming saved” came about only AFTER AND IN RESPONSE TO the failure of May 21, 2011.  But, ANY doctrines which are based on the conclusion that 1988 was the start of an 8400 day Great Tribulation simply CANNOT be true since they are entirely based upon a foundation that has been demonstrated to be irrefutably impossible and absolutely incorrect.

 

If we lived in a world where men had perfect Biblical understanding, Mr. Camping should have been the first to comprehend this error.  If we lived in a world where men made perfect decisions, he would not have removed “1994?” from the FR website immediately after the prediction failed as he did his other books after 2011 failed.  I believe those decisions did much to allow error to multiply and has significantly slowed correction.  And finally, if we lived in a world where men were able to perfectly examine their own hearts, those of us who believed that Christ would come May 21, 2011 would be quicker to admit to ourselves and to others that we failed to “check out” what Mr. Camping taught (as he encouraged us to do) as thoroughly as we claimed we had, beginning with a brutally honest review of the book “1994?”

 

Thank you for reading.  I sincerely pray that you will not receive this note as an attack on Mr. Camping.  As he was always the first to say, he is a man with feet of clay as any other, though I thank my God always for him and the FR ministry, and for directing their hearts into the love of God’s Word and the desire to share the Gospel so that Christ might seek out and save His lost sheep.  By God’s grace and mercy, my family and I have been unspeakably blessed by their labors.

 

I pray also this information will be as helpful to you in your walk with Christ as it has been to me.  Please feel free to share the note if the Lord so inclines your heart.  May God, in His merciful longsuffering, forgive our errors and comfort the hearts which sorrow over them.   And may He be pleased, in His infinite pity, to continue to reprove us, correct us, and lovingly lead us to our heavenly home.

 

Jude 1:24-25:

 

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

 

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.

 
 

 





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One Response to “The Error of Harold Camping”

  1. Dan says:

    One thing to remember is that it would have been almost impossible for Mr Camping to attempt to stretch the truth too far because some of us involved with 2011 where also involved in 1994, and had read his earlier and later books. Personally the only real stretching of the truth I found was when he’d say his 1994 prediction was presented as uncertain, that is, despite the question mark in the books title, and a (very good) cautionary statement in the preface (page xviii), he presented Tishri 1 1994 was virtually certain, maybe not absolute, but on air he’d say he was 99.99% sure, which is pretty certain. However when asked about this in the lead up to 2011, he really tried to water down how certain he was, almost on occasion giving the impression it was presented back then as only a remote possibility, which was not at all the case.

    BTW, there is a new Yahoo! group dedicated to studying why Mr Camping’s 2011 prediction failed others might be interested in:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Family_Radio_Post_May21/messages


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