Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harold Camping: An Untold Story (3) - What He Actually Predicted

There has been a decent amount of confusion over Harold Camping's various rapture/end of world predictions.  He has made many predictions, and has changed some of his predictions before, during, and after they didn't or weren't occurring.  I'm not going to go into his math calculations or how he arrived at his conclusions, but I'm going to give a point by point list of his various predictions - the ones I remember anyway.  I'm also not going into his reactions to his failed predictions here, but will save those gems for a later post in this series.

  • His first prediction (or set of them if you will) he held from the early 70's to the late 80's.  He predicted the "final tribulation" period to be the 2300 days (book of Daniel) from May 21, 1988 (Jewish Pentecost) to September 6, 1994 (Jewish Rosh Hashana).  This great tribulation would not be filled with an anti-Christ and global nuclear war, no, but something far, far worse: nobody would be saved.  God's salvation plan was finished and Family Radio would be a "comfort ministry" to true believers who were waiting for the end.  On Sept. 6, "immediately after the tribulation of those days" the sun would be dark, the moon would turn to blood and the stars would fall from the sky.  Massive earthquakes, tidal waves, and a complete upsetting of the laws of physics would terrorize the unbelievers still living on earth.  This would continue until somewhere between September 15 (Jewish day of Atonement) and Sept 22, 7 days later.  Christ would then appear on the clouds of glory (Camping long held to Reformed amillennialism), separate the sheep from the goats, cast the wicked into hell, receive the true believers to himself, destroy and recreate the earth (end of the world), and initiate the eternal state. [Update: I forgot the resurrection of the dead]
  • Not long after his May 1988 date for the ending of salvation, Camping noticed that people were still apparently hearing the gospel, repenting and becoming saved.  So he adjusted his tribulation ideas to hold that salvation would still be possible, but it would decrease greatly until Sept 6, 1994, which was now the new date for the end of salvation.  His predictions were private and he refrained from making them public.  Until September of 1992, when he announced his end times plan to the world over his radio program.
  • Nothing happened on Sept 6, and that evening on his call-in radio program he - after working all day on his calculations - figured out that he slightly misunderstood the Greek word "immediately" that I referenced above.  He read it literally and expected it to happen at sundown the night before (ancient Jewish start of a day) Jerusalem time.  He now suggested that everything would be the same, except that the apocalypse would start sometime before Sept. 15, and his original prediction for the end of the world would still happen.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to October 15, 1994 for the end of the world.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to December 25, 1994.
  • When nothing happened again, he took to his calculator and shifted his prediction to sometime in February, 1995.  I apologize for not remembering a specific date, but it might have been the Jewish day of Purim.
  • Then nothing happened yet again.  He then figured out that it was still the day of salvation and that he was very happy about that.
  • He then made another prediction for the end, this time to occur sometime in early 1996.  I forget that exact date, too, and it might have been the Jewish Purim date I mentioned about his 1995 failed prediction.
  • In the late 90's and early 2000's, Camping - to my knowledge anyway - left off on the predictions.  Instead, he had new theology brewing in his basement.  With nothing but a bible (ahem!) he figured that September 6, 1994 would also be the date for the end of the church age - or, wait, was that May 21, 1988?  In either case, God was now done with his church and Satan had taken it over.  All true believers were to leave their churches and gather in informal fellowships (with no baptism or Lord's Supper) and support Family Radio, of course.  All church leaders, i.e. pastors, elders and deacons were now under the direct control of Satan and were not to be trusted.  Ironically, this revelation of his retroactively applied to Camping himself, as he was a church elder until he announced that God was done with the church.  Self-fulfilling prophesy?
  • Then a few years ago, Camping went public again with a new prediction for the end of the world.  What he originally thought was a 2300 day final tribulation was now a 23 year tribulation in his re-worked scheme.  This would put Judgment Day and the end of the world sometime in the year 2011, but he somehow didn't know a date.  [Editor: This was truly strange, as he usually does know the date that Christ returns]
  • Later on, he revealed that May 21, 2011 would be the end of the world.  Or at least I remember it that way.  He had no October 21, 2011 date yet.  [If anybody has more info on this, I'd like to hear.]
  • Then later, he predicted that the May 21, 2011 date would be for a "rapture" of true believers out of this world, with apocalyptic catastrophe occurring on the earth until the October 21, 2011 date which would be the end of the world and Christ's return to earth.
  •  When nothing happened on May 21, 2011, within 48 hours Camping announced that he didn't know why nothing happened, but that October 21, 2011 would still be the end of the world, just as predicted.  The "bible absolutely guarantees it" after all.
I hope this helps anybody interested in this to get a bit of the Harold Camping prediction timeline.  If anybody has anything to add, or if I missed something, or if you want to make a correction, feel free in the comments.

Read Part 2.......Read Part 4

Read entire series here.

1 comment:

  1. I find this all very interesting... I have no idea why people continue to follow him. Perhaps you will speak about that in one of your future posts.

    I wish there was a public way of finding out how many followers this man had before May 21st and how many people stopped following him after May 21st.