The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Harold Camping: Date-Setting Madness

Harold Camping


Harold Camping (age 88) is at it again! Back in 1992 he published a book titled 1994? in which he set the date for the Lord’s return for September 6, 1994.1 Now, in his latest book, Time Has An End, he has set a new “absolute” date of May 21, 2011.2

Unfortunately, Camping has a lot of influence within Christendom because he owns the Family Radio Network which broadcasts his messages over 150 radio stations within the United States. His message is also being broadcast via satellites to most of the nations of the world.

Unfortunately, also, his message has been featured widely in the secular press, as is always the case with date-setters. That’s because the press loves to play them up to the hilt in preparation for making fun of them when their date proves false. The result, of course, is that Bible prophecy is subjected to ridicule.

Time Has an End

Despite the fact that he was proved to be a false prophet in 1994, Camping has convinced many people of the validity of his new date. His followers have erected billboards all over the nation. Some have emblazoned their cars with the message. Others are handing out T-shirts and bumper stickers. A website has been created at And mission groups are carrying the message to the four corners of the earth.

Camping Follower

An Historical Precedent

It is all reminiscent of a Vermont farmer by the name of William Miller who developed a theory in the 1820’s, based on Daniel 8:14, that Jesus would return to the earth on March 21, 1844.3

In the King James Version that passage reads: “And he [a saint or holy one] said unto me, ‘Unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'” This is a prophecy about the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes and its ultimate cleansing. But Miller applied it to the end times and converted the days into years. Assuming the prophecy was given in 457 BC, he calculated that Jesus would return 2,300 years later, on March 21, 1844. Incredibly, he interpreted the “cleansing of the sanctuary” to refer to the purging of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus!

When Miller’s date came and passed without any sign of the Lord’s return, he proceeded to set a new date for October 22, 1844. When nothing happened on this second date, most of Miller’s followers became totally disillusioned. The whole experience was dubbed “The Great Disappointment.” Miller died in disgrace four years later in 1849.

But that did not prove to be the end of the matter. One small group of Miller’s followers in New England decided that he had not been wrong after all. Led by a young so-called prophetess named Ellen G. White, they began to teach that on October 22, 1844, Jesus had entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven to begin an “investigative judgment” of the works of every person who has ever lived in order to determine their fitness for Heaven.4 They further taught that the reason Jesus did not return to the earth on the October date was because of the Church’s failure to observe the Jewish Sabbath. And thus was founded the modern day cult known as The Seventh Day Adventists.5

Harold Camping’s date-setting parallels that of the Millerite Movement in several ways. First, like Miller, his cornerstone scripture is Daniel 8:14, but he applies the 2,300 days differently. In his first book, 1994?, Camping argued that the Tribulation began on May 21, 1988 and that Jesus would return 2,300 days later, after He had cleansed the Church, resulting in a date of September 6, 1994.

And just as was the case with the Millerite Movement, when Jesus did not arrive, Camping declared that the day he had selected was spiritually very significant. The only problem was that he had misinterpreted its meaning. Instead of it being the day of the Lord’s return, it was the day that the end-time pouring out of God’s Spirit began, ushering in a period when there would be a great harvest of souls, after which the Lord would return.

Having justified his first error in date-setting, Camping then proceeded to set his second date for May 21, 2011.

In the next part of this series examining the madness of Harold Camping’s date-setting, we’ll look at Camping’s method of biblical interpretation.


1) Harold Camping, 1994? (New York, NY:Vantage Press, 1992).

2) Harold Camping, Time Has An End (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 2003).

3) For more information about William Miller see “William Miller: The Sincerely Deceived Prophet” by Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, November-December 2003, pages 10-12.

4) Ibid.

5) For a detailed discussion of the founding of the Seventh Day Adventists, see “The Seventh Day Adventists: Christian or Cultic?” by Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, July-August, 2006, pages 3-11.

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

8 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Talia

    This false date setting will make up for us still being here when the 'date' arrives, and goes – again. Although I won't laugh at them because there are going to be a lot of very confused people wandering about wondering???

    Harold Camping will hopefully be de-frocked and driven out of their lives for good – silly man, he should know better at his age.

    Maranatha! (But it won't be on 21st May 2011 as it's not a time when they 'think not')

  • Dr. Reagan in his article said, “Unfortunately, also, his message has been featured widely in the secular press, as is always the case with date-setters. That's because the press loves to play them up to the hilt in preparation for making fun of them when their date proves false. The result, of course, is that Bible prophecy is subjected to ridicule.”

    AMEN, AMEN AND AMEN! No truer words have ever been spoken!

    Sad to say that this is par for the course in this present age.

  • Thanks for your series on Mr. Camping. Your website is the first that I have found that really addresses what he saying. May the Lord have mercy on him. Come Lord Jesus!

  • Yes the signs around us are pointing to the return of Jesus Christ…

    This should not move us to longing to get out of here via rapture etc, but should move us towards repentance from dead works and move us towards hearing daily what the Spirit is wanting us to say and do in the lives of those around us. Jesus showed us the example of how to live… Not by being a good person, but by hearing and obeying. Over and over Jesus went aside to gather strength and get direction. He heard and obeyed. He heard and obeyed even to death. As scripture says: Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. This is what the signs of the times should motivate all into… A lifestyle of hearing and obeying.

    As all things in us and around us begin to shake, we should be throwing of fleshly ideas, thoughts and lifestyles, and move ourselves into sonship as we follow the leading of the Spirit into sonship.

    May we each move closer to Christ-likeness as we hear what the Spirit is saying and obey.

    God Bless you all.


  • Since Harold is 100% sure of this, he should give away all his money. After all, he will have no use for it after May 21. I wonder if he will repent and admit to being a false prophet on the 22nd… Nah…. he will say that God changed His mind, to give more people time to get right with God. Or say he made a slight math miscalculation. Or maybe the Lord will decide to take Harold on the 21st. In any case, we we warned about these false teachers, and should not be afraid of anything they say.


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