Just who is this Harold Camping who is proclaiming the world will end on October 21, 2011?
On Saturday, October 8, 2011, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on their “God First” program. During the hour long interview we discussed the many failed attempts of date-setters to declare an accurate date for the Lord’s return, especially concerning Harold Camping as his October 21, 2011, end of the world deadline approaches.
Brian Thomas: Greetings to all in the wonderful name of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nathan, welcome to the program!
Nathan Jones: It is great to be here, Brian! I hope your audience knows what a blessing you are. I have really been impressed with your dedication to the Lord, your deep research, your articles and all your ministry endeavors. I believe Blessings to Israel Ministries is a blessing not just to Israel, but to all believers in Christ.
Brian Thomas: Well, thank you, I greatly appreciate that.
Harold Camping’s Bio
Brian Thomas: We are going to talk today about the dangers of date setting, and in particular as it relates to Harold Camping. Give us a little background on Harold Camping. Exactly who is he and what is the history behind him setting the date for the end of the world at October 21, 2011?
Nathan Jones: I guess you’d have to have been living in a closet for the last 20 years not to know who Harold Camping is. I remember back in my college years in the early 90’s working at a T.G.I. Friday’s. It seemed like Camping was on the news every night on all the TVs around the restaurant. I remember learning about Harold Camping then and my coworkers where all talking about this guy who was saying that the end of the world was coming.
At the time, Camping believed the Lord would return on September 6, 1994. It seemed the whole world was watching him then. He seemed to have all his “P’s & Q’s” together and he seemed to know exactly what the Bible had to say about Jesus’ return. It was like Camping had some hidden understanding of the Bible that nobody else had. But, well, September 6 came and went and Camping became a big laughing stock and everybody had some kind of joke about him. They all sighed a sigh of relief and many of them moved on. I haven’t heard much about Harold Camping for almost 15 years or so since his 1994 failed prediction.
Harold Camping is an older gentleman, reaching his 90’s actually, but he spent many years as the head of the Family Radio Network. The Family Radio Network has 150 radio stations across the United States. Many people listen to his radio stations. He’s got a lot of money and has put a lot of effort into the study of end times. His passion is a lot like Lamb and Lion Ministries’ passion which is to proclaim the soon return of Jesus Christ. Camping feels like he should proclaim the soon return of Jesus Christ as well, but he does it by a number of different means that aren’t quite biblically sound.
Camping’s spent a lot of time proclaiming Jesus’ soon return and the end of the world. He even wrote a book titled 1994 where he set the date of the Lord’s return like I said earlier at September 6, 1994. The Lord didn’t return, so he wrote another book called Time Has an End, setting yet another “absolute” date of May 21, 2011. I am sure we all remember earlier this year the whole world again was just as interested in Harold Camping as they were back in 1994. That date, too, came and went and the whole world laughed yet again. They laughed at you and me as Christians, they laughed at all the Bible prophecy ministries, they laughed at the Bible, and even worse they laughed at Jesus Christ.
After the second failed prediction, Harold Camping got really sick and kind of disappeared. I give it to the man, he really believes what he preaches. But now, he has set yet another new date and this is the last “drop dead” date. Supposedly, in October 21, 2011, Jesus will return to end the world, and as you know this is the very month. We’ll get into that more later why that can’t be. But, I think that this is it for Harold Camping. If he doesn’t get this date right, then his credibility should be totally shot and his health is just declining so much so that this will be the end of him.
Brian Thomas: Yes, I think you’re right. He has as you mentioned from his radio stations a huge amount of wealth. My understanding based on a Fox News Report that in 2009 his non-profit organization filed with the IRS that it received 18.3 million dollars in donations. That is along with assets of over $104 million including $34 million in stocks and securities. So, this guy is a date setter who has millions of dollars to throw around and promote his dates, and he really gets a lot of his own airtime.
Nathan Jones: Before last May’s predicted date, Harold Camping had billboards up all over the country telling people about it. He had T-shirts made. He had bumper stickers as well, all pointing people to his website wecanknow.com. I remember earlier this year just walking down the street and the Camping followers who have almost like a crazed cult mentality were handing out their really complicated brochures filled with this tiny 9 point font, I mean you wouldn’t even want to read it, explaining why this is the end.
These poor people sold their houses and they gave up their life savings, for they thought it was the end of the world. Why did they need their belongings anymore? So, they all gave it all to Harold Camping. His money rests on the backs of people who believe him so much that they were willing to give up everything and give the money to him.
Brian Thomas: Right, that is really sad. The billboards were all over the place, 5,000 in my understanding. I think there was like 20 RV’s. As a matter of fact, one of those billboards was about five miles from my house, and so I would see it every morning on the way to work. It had the May 21st judgment date on it. Harold Camping has a lot of money to throw around and sadly there are a lot people who follow him.
The Camping of the 1800s
Brian Thomas: Harold Camping’s method of date setting, it seems to parallel a theory that was developed centuries ago. Can you speak a little bit on the historical precedent which Harold Camping may have used to come up with his method of date setting?
Nathan Jones: Well, sure, these date setters are all the same. Every generation seems to have one. American history is resplendent with date setters. One of the main signs that Jesus told us about in Matthew 24 so that we will recognize the end times is by the amount of false prophets and false teachers that will have come into the world. Camping is definitely one of them, and there will be many others throughout history especially as we get closer and closer to the Lord’s return.
If we go back to Vermont in the 1820’s, there was a gentleman who was a farmer by the name of William Miller. He believed that Jesus would come back on March 21, 1844. He took the passage in Daniel 8:14 that read, “…Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” and then he just ran with it. Miller proclaimed that 2,300 days must mean 2,300 years, and well if the sanctuary was cleansed in 457 BC then Jesus would be coming back on March 21, 1844. Well, as you know, this is the 21st Century, so it didn’t happen.
Miller again, the same as Camping has done, came up with another date. He admitted his first date was wrong, but set another date for the Lord’s return at October 22, 1844. Back then, word of this had reached all over not just this country, but much of the world. Everybody at that time period was riveted by this date, and they were getting really excited. But, when the second date passed and nothing happened, the newspapers called it “The Great Disappointment,” and obviously it was. A lot of people were disappointed.
We saw the same with Harold Camping, a lot of people gave Miller all their money to warn people about the end of the world. The Millerites as they were called actually went out into the hills in white robes just looking up to heaven waiting to be raptured, but it didn’t happen. Like Harold Camping’s health is declining now, William Miller’s also declined greatly pretty quickly, and he died in disgrace in 1849. That is a sad story. Doesn’t it seem like people almost like being deceived?
Later from the number of Miller followers, there was one woman in particular named Ellen G. White. She was a teenage girl at the time, and she had really latched onto Miller’s date setting. What most date setters do when nothing happens is they spiritualize the event, and White declared that something instead must have happened in Heaven. She came up with this idea that instead of the Lord coming to earth on October 22, 1844, that God instituted an “Investigative Judgment.” In other words, Jesus locked Himself up in Heaven and He got out these books and like Santa Claus he began picking who was good and who was bad. According to White, He’s been doing that ever since then.
White also blamed the disaster that Jesus didn’t come on the Church, saying that since the Church worships the Lord on Sunday and not Saturday then therefore that’s the reason why Jesus did not come back when Miller predicted. She believed God is mad at us because we are worshipping Him on the “wrong” day.
A new group of Christians grew up around Ellen White’s teachings and are now called the Seven Day Adventists. If you ever run into them, you’ll quickly learn their primary belief seems to be wrapped around worshipping on Saturday only. To them, if you are not worshipping on Saturday but are worshipping on Sunday that is in actuality taking the Mark of the Beast and you will be going to Hell. She kind of kept William Miller’s beliefs going, and until this day there are plenty of Seven Day Adventist out there who still are pretty much tied to William Miller. This cult type thinking continues on well past the date setters’ dates and even their deaths.
Brian Thomas: That is quite interesting. What I typically find, and you can confirm this, when it comes to the Seven Day Adventists they don’t really put their identity up front as far that they are part of that group or denomination. They seem to kind of slide their identity under the radar. They kind of start talking with you and teaching you something, and then you later on find out what they actually believe and what they are a part of.
Nathan Jones: Oh, yes, they really love Bible prophecy and they have lots of conferences. I went to one of them and had no idea it was a Seven Day Adventist conference. Really, you get to the last day and – boom! – they pop it on you that they are the Seven Day Adventists. That’s when they tell you that if you don’t go to their church and worship God on Saturdays then you are not saved. You will need to recommit and then join the Seven Day Adventist Church because they are the “true” church. You know, if you really believe in what you are saying then why do you have to hide it until the end of your conference?
Now, there are some good believers among the Seven Day Adventists, but I believe many are deceived by this Saturday only doctrine they’ve created. I’ve met a number of them, and there are many who have the same Harold Camping type mind-set. They just can’t let go of these false prophets and what they teach.
Brian Thomas: Right, we are definitely in an age of deception, without a doubt.
Nathan Jones: Amen, yes! It’s just like Jesus said would happen before His return.
Brian Thomas: Absolutely, an increase in false teachers are a sign of the end times.
In the next part of this series “Deadline October 21,” Brian and I will marvel at Harold Camping’s blatant errors concerning his interpretation of the Bible.