Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Harold Camping is Wrong – Again

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Harold Camping is making news once again by predicting the return of the Lord.  He made quite a splash with his prediction that the Lord would return in 1994.  His new date for Christ’s return (which he calls the rapture) is May 21, 2011 with the end of the world scheduled for October 21, 2011.  Of course, he believes he has found these dates imbedded in the Bible – and only recently discernable by those who have proper wisdom.  He also thinks it is a deception of Satan to believe the world will last until 2012, as some interpret the Mayan Calendar.

Such an obviously ridiculous claim is self-refuting by anyone who has a proper view of hermeneutics.  So why waste time with a blog like this?  There are three reasons I believe his claim deserves to be refuted.

The first reason is that Harold Camping is the director of Family Radio.  This is a network of 150 stations which makes it the nineteenth largest radio network in the United States.  They own some very desirable frequencies, and have assets of over $200 million.  They also broadcast around the world on the internet, shortwave and various outlets.  In addition their programming can be heard in 30 different languages and has a large influence in Latin America and the Pacific Islands.  This network was started 50 years ago with the cooperation of a number of evangelical denominations and individuals, but is now run by Camping.  Harold Camping himself was once an elder in a Christian Reformed Church and he has hosted the “Open Forum” call-in show almost from the very beginning.  Camping was once a proponent of Calvinistic doctrine.  Over the years he has come to embrace more and more error (he is now an annihilationist), but there are listeners, especially from the 60’s into the 80’s who were influenced for good by his broadcasts and some good quality preaching that was often heard on Family Radio.

Second of all is the scope of his error.  While it probably is not taken seriously in any of our churches, a five minute search of the internet will show how widespread this false doctrine has become.  There are literally thousands and thousands of adherents, and probably even more who are “on the fence” and not sure.  We can rest assured, on a slow news day, as the May 21 date draws closer, the media outlets will pick up on this story more and more.

But the third reason is by far the most serious of all.  Harold Camping is a heretic in regards to the doctrine of the church.  He believes and proclaims loudly that the Holy Spirit left the church in 1988 (he found this in his Bible too).  He believes every church on earth today is a false church.  In fact, he goes so far as to say, if you are part of a local church, on May 21, 2011, you are deceived.  All true believers will leave the church before that time.  Those who remain in a local church, any local church, will miss the rapture and be destroyed.  Our remaining in a church proves, to Harold Camping, that we do not know the Lord.

While we could shake our heads and think of Harold Camping’s date settings as eccentric rants, his doctrine of the church falls into the realm of abominable heresy.   He has moved outside the camp of orthodoxy and into the camp of those who seek to destroy God’s church.  Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it.  Harold Camping despises the church and proclaims that every true Christian must leave it.  Camping says one of the reasons you must leave these so called “false churches” is they will tell you that his predictions are wrong.  This is circular reasoning of the worst kind, and a denial of the Scriptures, which tell us plainly the church will remain until the Lord returns.  The Scripture speaks plainly to Harold Camping — James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (ESV)

The internet has website after website that is full of this error – from Camping and others as exhibited in this excerpt from: “Learn about the Biblical Timeline of History, the correct method of Bible interpretation, the End of the Church Age and God’s command to believers that they must depart out of the churches. Study the proofs that God has so graciously given in His Word showing us that these dates are 100% accurate and beyond dispute.”

Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Ontario, California
  1. Steve – well said. I have had to deal with Camping’s false teachings and corrupt method of Bible interpretation many times in my pastorates. He is a scourge to the church in many ways. He is a very old man now; I would hate to be in his shoes on the day of judgment.

  2. I don’t know much about Harold Camping. But I passed this van a couple months ago while I was driving home:

    I don’t think you need much doctrine to respond as I did…
    “You’ve got to be kidding!”

    My next thought was…I hope my unbelieving friends and relatives don’t think that’s Christianity.

    Oh my.

  3. It is sad to think that many believe this man. I wonder how many will leave their churches out of fear that he may be right. I guess we will see when that time comes. Thanks for keeping us informed on topics like this.

  4. I think that a serious effort should be made to buy Family Radio. If Mr. Camping won’t sell, it will show that he is not really convinced about his new last day. If he will sell, then this network of stations could be better utilized.

  5. A very learned Shaman once said “He who says he knows, doesn’t know; he who knows he doesnt’t know, knows already” In other words, knowing that you don’t know, is all we will ever know.

    Regards, Ivan

  6. ElizaJane — It doesn’t take much Biblical knowledge to know Harold Camping is wrong. And no doubt the average non-christian who sees this rolls their eyes and mocks and just thinks “what a nut”. Just like they do with the guys who go out on the street with their sandwich sign saying, “The end is near”.

    However — notice too on the van — “Salvation is of the Lord” Jonah 2:9. Something that is very true. So it makes a mockery of the Scriptures — and Satan uses that to paint anyone who believes the Bible or any proclamation of the truth as “just another nutty crackpot”.

  7. What this man is doing is seriously wrong. Here is making a big mistake, He feels that he is the final authority on Bible interpretation. He says if you do not agree with him you do not believe the Bible.

    Here is what He does

    1. Reads and Interprets the Bible
    2.Preaches “his’ understanding of the verse
    3. Says if you disagree with him you do not believe the Bible

    What he is really saying is “His” interpretation is the “final” word

    The fact that “his” numbers were WRONG in 1994 (said the world would end that year)
    maybe that would have humbled him but obviously it did not

  8. I think he is delusional and really believes this stuff. Also he likes the attention he gets from things like this. It is too bad he has the power to spread these lies thru the media.

  9. i think herald camping is wrong but is he the only one to predict this day as the end

  10. I wrote mostly from what I knew about Harold Camping from experience and some research. Since, I found out has a great deal of material on him and May 21.

    There are many other groups not affiliated directly with Harold Camping who think May 21 is R-Day, but somehow I think all of them are influenced by Harold Camping, at least by a few degrees of seperation. It would be VERY INTERESTING if anyone know of anyone else who did independent research and came up with the same date. I do not think that has happened.

    I heard a guy on the “Coast to Coast” radio show talking about May 21. He was an hour long guest, but I only heard one segement. That show usually features alien abductions, etc. They had an “instant poll” — asking if the world would end on May 21, 2011. 86% said “NO”.

    For some reason, this date has a fringe following — but only from folks who believe the church age has ended and have entrenched themselves into home fellowships — so no main-line church to my knowledge is teaching this error.

  11. All you have to do is look at the incredible intensity of earthquakes particularly in Japan to realize mMr. Camping is quite probably correct. The evidences he lists from the Bible are very definite and the fact his mathematical formulas work at all should tell you alot. He was never wrong in 1994? a book tha had a question mark in it’s title. He says clearly in his interview on Larry King that 1994 was never ever a definite prediction and that interview happened before 1994. He also said in that same book that 2011 was a real possibility. So keep saying he’s been wron before if you want, but thats just not true.

    For people in Japan Christ may as well have partially already returned. Quakes in New Zealand and all across the world this year have got to make you wonder. If you truly read why Camping believes what he does, I just don’t see how you can refute it with any common sense. God warned Noah a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God sealed Noah in the ark May 21, 4990 BC a date that is undisputed. A day is a thousand years we are told to not be ignorant to this “one fact”. Whis is God do do pointed here that we know this? Well May 21 2011 AD is exactly 7000 years later. A perfect 7000 years. All of Camping’s other math also equals May 21, 2011. Other sites such as have the same date with an entirely different formula not given by Camping.

    The Bible was written in the stoneage by men who could have never come up with such startling coincidences on their own. It is God’s true Holy word. I didn’t believe any of this a year ago. If you bother to be fair and research this though, you may see just how smart Mr. Camping truly is, and just how an 89 year old man whos still alive, still on the radio live every night, just might be God’s chosen messenger.

  12. Jake,

    I’m curious about something: are you willing to come back to this blog on May 22nd, 2011 and admit that God’s “chosen messenger” was wrong and is therefore, not God’s chosen messenger?

    I’ll be checking here on the 22nd.


  13. >If you bother to be fair and research this though, you may see just how smart Mr. Camping truly is, and just how an 89 year old man whos still alive, still on the radio live every night, just might be God’s chosen messenger.<

    Sorry, Jake. I don't claim to be an "expert" but I do know quite a bit about Harold Camping from the late 70's on. He has gone so far from orthodoxy — not only on date-setting, but other doctrines as well that the state of his soul is very much in question. Is he even a Christian? Only God knows for sure. God's chosen messenger? No.

    BTW — I would dispute "the exact date" of Noah's ark also, but that's another story. Please don't take this wrong — but you are deceived. It is deception to even begin to think he may be right. On May 22, as Jim Butler mentions above — PLEASE find a good local church and sit under the preaching of the Word.

    Harold Camping says the Holy Spirit has left the church. On May 22 please come to the realization that he is a deceiver and seek the Lord yourself.

  14. WEll I truly believe as you continue to see the events unfold in Japan and around the world that you will change your mind. Things are in utter chaos like never before. I would also make the point that the idea a secret calendar hidden the Bible that absolutely works down to the day is astronomically impossible. Everything in Harold’s calendar of history works. If God were to choose a messenger who might he choose? Someone with credibility? Yes and Harold has this with 70 years of research, a claim almost no human in history can make. Would God want someone with a public platform? Absolutely and Harold has this through Family Radio. It makes way to much sense. You don’t ask yourself why an 89 year old man keeps going this strong? What does he have to gain btw? If he’s wrong he ruins his name if he’s right we are all gonners. I’m certain he knows he’s doing the right thing here.

    You still haven’t answered why in the world God is so so pointed that we know a day is a thousand years at the exact point of the Bible that he mentions the Noah flood. he compares a day to 1000 years when he could have used a billion, a million. He chooses 1000 years exactly. This equals 7000 perfect years to the day May 21, 2011.

  15. And yes I’m not hoping for any of this to happen I’d be glad to come back and post I was deceived, but I just don’t see that as happening. The evidence all points to May 21 and theres just no realistic way to debunk it other than to say you don’t believe it.
    Good Christians all agree Christ will return. So it has to be in someone’s lifetime. Don’t be so sure it can’t be yours. I’ll bet Japan thougth the world was ending and for many there it sadly did.

  16. Jake,

    Harold Campings main error is one of interpretation. There is no warrant for the allegorical method he employs — it has led him into error, including annihilationism, despising the church (which God loves) and being wrong before — just like he is now.

    I pray you will go to a Bible-preaching church on 5.22.11. As for Harold Camping, I pray he will repent of his error and tell the world he is wrong — about MANY things.

  17. With the disaster in Japan and the conflict in Libya — some are giving more credence to this wrong-headed interpretation. Harold Campings predictions are more closely related to fortune telling then to Biblical exegesis.

  18. let’s concider what the Bible gives as a sign that Christ is coming soon, he talked about the nation of Israel coming back to his land becoming a nation again, this has already happened in 1948
    why is it so hard for people to understand that Christ said that once this prophesy came to a fulfilment, then his coming was at the door, that means that Christ will come in the next months.

  19. But that was 1948. The Bible isn’t clear how soon after that He would come. God’s time isn’t like our time. We also have to consider the ‘time of the Gentiles’ as another sign. We should always be looking for His coming but ‘no man knows the hour’.

  20. What happens in the nation of Israel has nothing to do with when Christ will return. The church (made up of converted Jews and Gentiles) is God’s nation.

  21. What I see missing from Camping’s “doctrine” is the love of Jesus. If Jesus said he loves us unconditionally, why should we “hope” that in God’s mercy He might save us? Jesus’ love for us is made clear in the Bible without any conditions. Camping is trying to remove all hope and faith that we know we belong to Him.

  22. My greatest hope, Jake, is not that you will come back on May 22 and admit you were deceived, but that you will seriously consider the claims of Christ and trust in him as your only hope of salvation. AND that you will get into a good church where you can hear Him proclaimed and worshiped. Don’t wait until the 22nd, because, like the Japanese you keep mentioning, you might not have that long. We all agree here that one day we WILL stand before Him and how will you stand?

  23. My co-elder and myself both received in the mail anonymous cards (from Iowa) with poems in them proclaiming May 21 as the day the Lord returns.

    However, in my devotions this AM — I read that the Lord’s covenant faithfulness to Abraham endures to a thousand generations. Using Mr. Campings type of interpretation — we could say that there were about 53 generations from Abraham to Christ. There have been about 51 generations from Christ until now. Now these are not exact figures — but close enough for us at the moment. That leaves about 896 generations yet to come — meaning the Lord should return sometime around AD 37,851. I will leave it to others, maybe in 30,000 years or so to get a more exacting figure.

  24. Way to go, Pastor Steve.

  25. I’m just goin to throw this out there. In the bible it does say that no man will know the date or time. The angel don’t know, and not even Jesus knows. Why would God have a chosen messenger when he won’t even tell Jesus. Maybe I am wrong, but that just makes sense to me.

  26. Ted, you are not wrong. Harold Camping is wrong for many reasons, but mainly because he has created his own unique form of hermanuetics over the plain sense of Scripture in order to discover mysteries hidden to others. He will be proven wrong — but it is my prayer he would repent of his error BEFORE he is proven wrong. The onus is on him to repent, not on us to prove him wrong. The plain sense of Scripture proves him wrong. His error will once again be self-refuting, as it was in 1994.

  27. I wish people would stop taking 2 Peter 3:8 literally (“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.)” It is not meant to be interpreted that 1 Earth day is equivalent to exactly 1000 God days (this is called a simile- a figure of speech that indirectly compares two different things by employing the words “like” or “as”.) In fact, it means that to God, Earth time has no real numeric value. 1000 is just used as an example for comparison- there isn’t a code or a system that God uses. So there is no code or system that we should be using either.

    Camping relies on many speculative figures to get to his date which many actual scholars with actual theology degrees disagree with. No one knows for sure the date of the flood, or Jesus’ birth. Camping just uses the most convenient times to fit his “calculations.”

  28. I have received 3 anonymous postcards in the mail — with poems — stating the May 21 date. In these cards more info has been given. A giant earthquake will begin in New Zealand at 6 pm (New Zealand time) and follow the Sun so that this earthquake hits everyone at 6 pm their time. So we will see this coming and can watch it coming on TV. So, if nothing has happened to New Zealand by 11 pm (CA time) on May 20 — Mr. Camping will have to go back to his complex formula and re-formulate. He just might have forgotten to carry the “1”.

  29. Here is Harold Camping’s FOOLPROOF formula

    •The number 5 equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.”

    •“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he explains. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”

    •He then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

    •Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

    •Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

    •Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

    •“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.”

    It’s pretty hard to argue with solid exegesis like that! However, I still think he might have forgotten to “carry the 1”.

  30. If we truly believe that we are children of God because Christ saves us and we can not do anything to save ourselves, then it shouldn’t matter what day Christ returns. Every day is the last day for somebody. Christ promises He will return. What could we do differently anyway if we did know? God does not want us to live in fear but in hope of that day. Christ will not forsake us. Our hope is in “Christ” NOT in a “date”.
    I pray that on May 22 many will realize that they should be looking to Christ and not to Mr. Camping.

  31. I couldn’t have said it better, Lynn.

  32. I think it is right and good to correct teachers when they are in error. Harold Camping used to be a sound teacher, as Pastor Marquedant points out; I remember because I came to the doctrines of grace listening to Camping’s teachings – and actually he would be the one to remind listeners that no man can know the day or the hour of Christ’s return and also that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and so much the more as we see the day approaching. So, my prayer for those who are believing this error would be that God graciously shows them that Camping’s current teachings are false, even according to Camping’s own pre-1992 teachings. And I give a hearty amen to Lynn’s statement. Also, I was encouraged by a recent reminder by Pastor Steve of God’s admonishment to us through the apostle Peter, that seeing that the end is coming, what manner of persons ought we to be in holy conduct and godliness. That’s where our focus is to be (and remember, for believers, his coming will not be as a thief in the night, not because somehow we’ll know the date, but because we are prepared to meet the Lord).

  33. Amen. Great comments, Tammy. We should be prepared to meet the Lord and to live our lives faithfully in His service. It is always sad to hear of a person who so faithfully served the Lord to turn away and mislead people.

  34. I’m a firm believer and everything , but this actually does kind of scare me ..
    Sure Camping may be wrong,
    Just another reason I think that : the bible says before christ returns EVERY nation ( people group ) will be given an opportunity to know him , that definately has not happened yet .

    I’m actuallyn really concerned about how people are going to react on the 21st ..
    I’m a youth leader , and I have kids freaking out , considering suicide , pregnancy all this crap out of fear.

    What happens if people think its the end and they can get away with murder?

    I’m also afraid that some freak diaster will take place and camping wiLl believe it is a confirmation of his beliefs …

  35. I will be writing a follow up article to this one — which I hope will run on May 21 — asking Camping’s followers to realize they have been deceived and come into fellowship with a true gospel believing church in their area on May 22. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it. Harold Camping has tried to destroy the church — and say the Holy Spirit has left us. But we worship in spirit and in truth, and Camping’s error will be visibly demonstrated to the entire world. His billboards will remain for a time — on display — to his shame.

  36. I just read again the passage in Matthew where Jesus said that no one knows the hour or the day when He would return, not even the Son of God. Why then do people believe that a mere mortal can know this when it was not revealed to Jesus? Camping is then making Jesus out to be a liar.
    I’m looking forward to your next blog, Pastor Steve. I pray many will take heed of your words.

  37. I for one am very scared. I was recently married and I’m only 21 and I am not ready yet. How do I calm my nerves?

  38. Eric S — you can calm your nerves by looking to Christ alone. God is holy and just. You are a sinner. Only Jesus Christ can forgive your sins. Harold Camping is using a method of bible interpretation more akin to witchcraft and sorcery than hermanuetics. You should have fear for your soul — but not because of the false date of May 21. You should have fear for your soul because you have offended a holy God and only Jesus Christ can reconcile you through His shed blood.

    You can write to me privately at and I will try to help you find a good bible believing church for where you live. I can also suggest some sermons you can download and listen to for free — good teaching for your soul telling the way of salvation.

  39. I appreciate those who have written to me at the e-mail address above. Feel free to write if you so desire. Harold Camping is Wrong — Again. His “bible” says May 21, 2011. THE WORD OF GOD says no man knows the day nor the hour. Harold Camping claims to know BOTH. May 21, 2011 at 6 pm — local time — all around the world. Camping makes a mockery of Scripture and he will be proven the fool!

  40. Yes Pastor Steve, you are right – Camping will be proved the fool! Thank you for your clarity on this matter, and for your straight forward handling of it.

    Thank God for responsible Bible teachers like yourself when so many are badly confused by false prophets.

  41. I truly believe Harold Camping is a moron. Im sorry, I know some people may disagree with my choice of words, but the truth behind it in undisputable. This man is claiming to know the Bible better then anyone else ..he also claims to know the meaning behind it all, really? I find it odd that he knows all this when clearly I know MY Bible clearly states no man, nor the angels in Heaven not even Jesus will know the dat of the end times ..only the father himself. How can harold be soo sure of his teachings then? He only believes half of the Bible from what I understand ..he lives by some scriptures but not others. This man is a FRAUD ..he has done this before now, hes doing it now, and when it falls through sure he’ll come up with a “reason” it didnt happen, and another date for ends time. Im sorry, hes 89yrs old & lonely. seems to me hes looking for is 15 minutes of fame before he kicks the bucket.

  42. Well, hes wrong again, the FBI should charge him because who is paying for all those bumper stickers, signs, ect. they should investigate at the least, this guy is a total fraud scamming money from his lies.

  43. It’s amazing to me how ready so many are to believe a false prophet who’s been wrong before about this same subject.

  44. No man knows the hour or the day….that alone is pretty self-explanatory

  45. Jake-
    Where in the Bible does it talk about a “partial return” of Christ? I believe the rapture will come exactly as it is written in the Word, and that no man, not even Jesus, only the Father knows the hour of His return.
    Furthermore if we look at scripture, who did God choose as His messengers in the past? Shepherds told of Jesus’s birth, Mary Magdalene a former prostitute carried news of his resurrection to the apostles. Moses was a murderer. So to believe Camping based on his “credibility” is foolish.
    This is a situation where a little knowledge is a
    dangerous thing. I encourage everyone considering the end times to get into God’s
    Word and pray for spiritual discernment on the
    topic. And don’t fret so much about when. The important thing is salvation, and the love of God.

  46. Camping now says that he missed the mark by 5 months but October 21st is the true date for the end of the world. James White has a good post with a letter asking Camping to repent but I doubt if he will. He will have so much to answer for by his misleading many people by his false prophecies. The Bible says that a man is a false prophet if he makes just one incorrect prophecy and here he has made two.

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