"Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:16).
It has become well-known that Harold Camping has proclaimed the rapture will happen on May 21, 2011. He says if you don't believe "his" prediction with all your heart, then you will be left behind to face the wrath of God. Listen to him here and here.
Back in the early 1990's I would sometimes listen to Harold Camping on my local Christian radio station at night before bed. For the most part I enjoyed his program, being mainly interested in listening to the questions of his callers. But then he started proclaiming that the end of the world was near and started getting into weird numerological interpretations of Scripture, and that's when I began to lose a lot of respect for the man. But his prediction at the time was not for May 21, 2011. Rather the date was in a book he wrote titled 1994?.
In his book 1994? Harold Camping stated the end of the world may occur in this year, somewhere between September 15-17 (p. 531). He did not know the exact day back then because Scripture says “no man knows the day nor the hour” (Matt. 24:36). But according to Camping we can certainly know the month and the year that Christ will return.
I was 17 years old and in high school when Camping proclaimed the end of the world. September 1994 was supposed to be the beginning of my first year in college. I never bought into his wacky interpretations of Scripture, but I always did wonder if he believed in them. I decided to write him a letter to see where he really stood in his position that the end was near. Below is my letter:
June 20, 1994
Dear Mr. Camping:
I am a recent graduate of high school and am preparing for college in September. I have listened to your radio program many times over the past few years and have often benefited from it. However I am wondering how seriously you believe that the end of the world will be coming this September. To me it seems you are twisting the Scriptures in an occultic way through numerology and allegory, much like many cults have been doing since the 19th century.
To even begin to take you seriously, I am making a proposal for you. As you know, college is expensive and I'm actually looking forward to it. If you really believe the end is near and you want to get this message across to the world, then, like the Prophets and Apostles, you should abandon all your earthly possessions and cares to show how much you believe it through your sacrifice. My proposal therefore is that you do this in the final months of your existence here on earth before the rapture, and that you do this by signing everything you own over to me as of October 1994. This would include your house, your car, your bank account, and everything else in your name.
If you would not be willing to do this, then I will have to dismiss you as a false prophet. My information is below.
I never heard from him, as expected.
Well, September 1994 came and went like any other month and year. How did he explain this? According to Harold Camping, the Church age of 1,900 years was over at that time. The Church as an organized entity has come to an end. The invisible or eternal Church still exists in heaven, but the visible Church, made up of congregations and denominations, has been done away with. God has destroyed the Church. In essence, he teaches that God has done away with the Church, and thus there should be no more local congregations, elders, deacons, and ordinances such as baptism or the Lord’s Supper. He maintains that the Holy Spirit has left the Church as an empty shell with no power to proclaim the gospel.
One would think he would have been dismissed as a false prophet. To most he was, though not all. Now he has mostly become a target for the media to make religious quacks look quackier than most really are.