Friday, July 24, 2009

Surprising Wisdom from Harold Camping

"If this world is still in existence after the end of 2011, we will know that there is still much more we can learn from the Bible."

- Harold Camping, "Time Has an End," Preface, page xxii

Mr. Camping is right about this. The problem, I fear, is that on January 1, 2012, he will not recognize that his fundamental view of the Bible as a sort of code book for the end times. Instead, he'll just try to find where he made a math error, as he did after his previous book (1994?) proved to be erroneous.

While we appreciate Mr. Camping's recognition of his own fallibility: "We are the first ones to understand that we are not infallible in our conclusions, and that there may be correction at some time in the future," and while we recognize that he is showing some prudence in not fully expecting that the 2011 claim will come true, "we make decisions as if the end could be quite far away ... contracts are negotiated as if the future was altogether indefinite," still it would be better for him to recognize the purpose of Scripture:

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The purpose of John's gospel is to write so that people would believe and be saved.

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Same for John's catholic epistle as for his gospel. He wrote so that we would believe.

2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Scriptures are able to make one wise to salvation, which (as noted above) is their purpose.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Again, the very purpose of Scripture is not just to furnish the believer but to do so "throughly."

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Scripture reveals Christ, and the command to "search" at least suggests that Christ can be found by those who search - but we are to be searching for Christ, not for the date of His second coming.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Scripture is written for our admonition, for us to learn to walk godly.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The Scriptures were written for our learning, comfort, and hope - not as book of codes. (See also Romans 4:23-25)

So I do hope that Mr. Camping will know that there is much more for him to learn about the Bible, and the above are some places for him to begin.



Anonymous said...

One of the best bits of advice received was this from my mentoring Pastor and friend, who has since, gone on to be with the Lord: " today as though it were your last on earth and build today so that what you build lasts for a thousand years".

I have to sheepishly say I am looking more at the month September, the year, 2017, for the next possible date for the Lord to return! :) or :(

The Squirrel said...

2011 is what? The third time Camping has predicted the end of the world? I'm not very worried...


Anonymous said...

I have a question for Mr. Camping.

Why does it matter which day is the end?

I could die tomorrow. All that matters to me is that I am saved and living my live according to God's laws.

We should always assume that today could be our last day on earth and the end of times shouldn't matter to us in the least.

So again, why does it matter which day is the last day?

Turretinfan said...


That is an interesting question. The sad thing is that Mr. Camping has also told his followers that "the church age has ended" and that consequently they should leave their churches. That's an aspect of his teaching that has a lot more direct impact.


Anonymous said...

much more for Camping to learn? He's been studying the Bible over 50 years. That book you quote from "Time has an end", scroll to the end and have a look at the "Scripture Index". A lot more comprehensive than your few verse plucks you have here.

Turretinfan said...


You could study the Scriptures for a 100 years and not understand it correctly, if you fail to use the correct methodology - if you treat it as a code-book instead of looking for its plain meaning.


Anonymous said...

Whoever Anon is in here I refer him to the time honored verses. As a preface, first consider the "claim" by the one who establishes these things, putting them into a proper context and methodology:

Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--
Gal 1:7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

The one writing that then went on and brings those, meant to understand, to understand the foolishness of counting days, months, seasons and years.

Living by Faith before God daily through Christ by One Spirit is a gift:

Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.


Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.


Gal 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
Gal 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Gal 4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!

Now, there might be "some" value or Wisdom in charting out days observed by the mandates of God to Moses being His adopted Son, "....this is the first day of the year for you". "Count" now fourteen days and then celebrate this and that and don't forget to do this and that a month or two hence. "Follow" the seasons and "repeat" this year after year after year, these things.

All this by God to man through Moses to the Jews was intended, by the way, to prove a point to the Elect. That point these days seems to be missed, I would say!

What's the point?

Well, here, consider this:

Gal 4:20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Gal 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?
Gal 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.
Gal 4:23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.
Gal 4:24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
Gal 4:25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
Gal 4:26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
Gal 4:27 For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband."
Gal 4:28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
Gal 4:29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.
Gal 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman."
Gal 4:31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Tell me, now that we have received the promised inheritance by the Holy Ghost "as His gift of Righteousness" through Christ's death, burial and resurrection, why be burdened with that that only points to our own sinful nature?

What good does that do when we are proclaiming the Gospel to the world devils full?

The law kills. The Gospel gives us Life!

Eph 2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

steve said...

Anonymous said...

"much more for Camping to learn? He's been studying the Bible over 50 years."

Harry Emerson Fosdick studied the Bible for over 50 years. Big deal.

"That book you quote from 'Time has an end', scroll to the end and have a look at the "Scripture Index". A lot more comprehensive than your few verse plucks you have here."

Jehovah's Witnesses can also quote chapter and verse. Big deal.

It's a symbiotic relationship between the deceiver (Camping) and the willingly deceived (his followers).

Anonymous said...

A very thoughtful, thoroughly Biblical look at the problem of Harold Camping. I have come to appreciate John Piper's perspective reminding us how God desires to be worshipped. Will God reject the honest worship of believers who have a pastor, elders, deacons etc.?

No, God loves to be worshipped. He will never reject true worshippers, even if they're in a church.

Turretinfan said...


The expectation of the Scriptures is that we will be in churches.


Anonymous said...

The role of Bible teachers is to teach what they have learned; and teachers and students learn and grow as each day passes. Each human being today possesses knowledge that each did not possess 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or 1 year ago, etc. We are all learning and growing every day. If a Bible teacher teaches something and it turns out that he was mistaken, this does not mean that he is a “false teacher”. Suppose Mr. Camping had decided not to share what he had learned about 1994 during that time because he was not 100% sure; and suppose Christ had returned in 1994? The people left behind would have wished that someone would have warned them. Just because Christ didn’t return in 1994 as Mr. Camping believed during that time doesn’t mean he’s a false teacher. It only means he didn’t understand all the pieces of the Bible puzzle during that time. He’s still a very good teacher. And ever since 1994, there has been more opportunity to spread the gospel to more people all over the world, which is the most important aspect of this whole thing. If some people “lost their faith” because Christ did not return in 1994, then it reveals that they were not true believers of Jesus Christ. True believers continued to follow Jesus Christ and forgave Mr. Camping’s biblical misunderstandings of that point in time. Mr. Camping is a true servant of God who tries his best to study, learn, and teach to the best of his ability. There are many people who are trying to assassinate Mr. Camping’s character, which is a very ungodly thing to do. A true Christian would never, ever engage in character assassination.

Side Note: I keep hearing and reading comments from unbelievers saying “if you believe the end is near, stop paying your bills” or “stop paying your mortgage” or “bequeath all your possessions” or “what will you do on May 22, 2011 if Christ did not return.” True believers would never stop paying their bills; that would be stealing, which is a sin. Just because someone is utterly convinced that the end is near does not mean that they should bequeath all their possessions; that’s silly. If it turns out that Christ does not return on May 21, 2011 due to a possible missing piece of the Bible puzzle (which I doubt very much), true believers will continue believing in Christ and will continue spreading the gospel because Christ will eventually return. And Harold Camping will continue studying scriptures to try to get more clues from the Bible. He is still a Christian and a good teacher, and true believers will not reject him. True believers are not “Campingites” or “followers of Harold Camping” or “slaves of Harold Camping” or “brainwashed”. True believers are followers of Jesus Christ and followers of Christ’s Words, which are God’s Words. And true believers understand that no human being is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, and the person who makes mistakes should not be rejected. True believers don’t just blindly follow any teacher. True believers check out the Scriptures for themselves to verify interpretations, and if there are things in the Bible that they don’t understand, it doesn’t mean they are in danger of losing their salvation. Just because Mr. Camping has misunderstood some scriptures, it doesn’t mean he is a false teacher who is causing true believers to go astray. That’s not possible. True believers can never lose their salvation. In my opinion, Mr. Camping is the best Bible teacher ever.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Anonymous:

No problem about the double-posting - I've cleaned it up.

Have you read Camping's book 1994?

If you have not, I suggest you read it. I think you will find it uses the same approach as his newer book.

If you cannot find a way to refute 1994? then I think you may not be able to understand why Camping's newer works are also wrong.

But I will proven right in only a few months, anyway. So perhaps there is no urgency for you to verify what I am saying.