Self-proclaimed Doomsday prophet Harold Camping is nothing less than a charlatan, a fraud who has given a bad name to Christianity, according to Christian leaders.
Camping, president of Family Radio, a religious radio broadcasting network with 50+ stations, had predicted that 200 million people will Rapture on May 21, 2011 and those left behind will witness complete destruction of the world, which will come about through a series of natural disasters by October 21, 2011.
Camping, who claims to have made the Bible my university for the past 50 years, had based his predictions on Biblical verses viz. Genesis 7:4 (“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth”) and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”) to come to the conclusion that May 21, 2011 is supposed to be exactly 7,000 years after the Great Flood (4990 B.C.)
Despite a failed September 1994 prediction, Camping said he was confident about the May 21, 2011 prediction. We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen, he said.
However, Camping, who holds a BS in civil engineering from University of California Berkeley but has no formal training in interpreting and teaching the Bible, exposed himself as a false prophet on Saturday when violent earthquakes that would make the recent Japan’s earthquake look like “a Sunday school picnic in comparison” failed to materialize.
The failed prediction left tens of thousands of Camping's followers disappointed but Christian leaders, who have been opposing him from the beginning, said he's nothing less than a heretic, a wolf in sheep's clothing, who is misusing passages from the Bible to promote his own brand of religion and misguide the people.
Camping's teaching reaches the status of heresy in his recent appeal to the world, 'Judgment Day,' said W. Robert Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary California.
According to James Kreuger, author of Secrets of the Apocalypse, despite the five decades Camping has put into Bible studies, he has made a classic beginner's mistake when he sets a date for Christ's return.
Prominent Evangelical leaders haven't also hesitated in joining in the bashing of Harold Camping.
Pastor Greg Laurie, a popular Christian speaker and senior pastor of a mega-church Harvest Fellowship in Riverside, CA said, I'm not one of those date setters Some looney tune will come along and say he's cracked the code. No man knows the day or the hour.
Christ specifically admonished his disciples not to claim such knowledge, said Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler added that they are not to draw a line in history and set a date.
Dr. Thomas B. Slater, professor of New Testament at Mercer University, said, Jesus has told his disciples that they should not be concerned with the end of the world but they should be worried about making the world a better place. These people are doing the exact opposite.
Some Christian leaders expressed concerns about Camping's followers, saying they would be devastated and their faith crushed following the failed prediction.
Camping's faith will survive the impending disappointment, as will his ministry and radio empire. He'll make excuses and set another date. I don't worry about him; I worry about his followers and their families, Christian author Jason Boyett wrote on The Washington Post' On Faith page. Boyette has written several books, including Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and O Me of Little Faith.
It is easy for us to sit here and to poke fun at Harold Camping...he'll get past it, he said. But what we got to remember is that he has a whole lot of people whose lives and faith will be devastated.
As a result, many of them will have lost money; many of them who quit their jobs will be in a tough spot, he added.
The Christian leaders also were concerned Camping's prediction will likely create a misunderstanding about Christianity.
What Harold Camping does, he gives people on the outside...it gives them ammunition to say 'This man is a nut job; he's a Christian. Christians are nut jobs. If you're Christian, why should I listen to what you're saying, Boyett said.
However, what Harold Camping said and what Harold Camping has taught is not the essence of Christianity, he added.
Agrees Godfrey. The problem with Harold Camping today is not date fixing or even bad hermeneutics. He's lost the Gospel. He's lost Christ, Godfrey wrote on his blog.
The evangelical theologian recalled Camping as a rock solid Reformed guy during his high school days but lamented how his teachings had deteriorated over the years.
Camping first stoked the fire in 1994 when he predicted that the end of the world would come in September that year. Then in 2002, Camping announced the end of the church age. He claimed that God was no longer blessing and using local churches because of their apostasy and that believers should quit the church.
And now his prediction about May 21, 2011 has further distanced him from other evangelicals.
The great tragedy today is that when he believes the world is coming to an end, what he's preaching and teaching is 'you need to repent and call on God and God might save you.' And in that message, there's no reference to Christ and no reference to the cross, Godfrey said.
Evangelical minister and Left Behind author Tim Lahaye has also denounced Camping, saying his prediction is not only wrong but (also) dangerous because because according to the Bible, no one by God the Father knows ‘the day and the hour’ when our Lord will return. (Matthew 24:36)
Camping's claim that God will destroy the world on October 21 is also bizarre and 100% wrong, Lahaye said.