I thought when May 21, 2011 passed that we would be done discussing Harold Camping, but it seems we are beginning all over again. If you have not read my first article on Camping explaining why his predictions cannot possibly come true, and a rather "out there" explanation as to what really could have happened should it seemed to have come true, you can read it here. BibleConundrumsandControversyHaroldCamping
Now again, for the twelfth time Camping is predicting the end of the world. Yes, that is correct, this is not his second or even third try, it is his twelfth. People are simply not aware of the other ten (or more correctly nine as many people are aware of the 1994 debacle) tries as they did not receive the publicity and media attention this last one did. The following is a list of predictions that Camping has made over the years.
Prediction #1 - 1978 – Camping tells his Alameda Church that the rapture would occur that year.
Prediction #2 - Sept. 6, 1994 – Camping predicts end of world (Rosh haShanah) – Writes book 1994?.
Prediction #3 - Sept. 15, 1994 – When Sept. 6 fails, changes to the 15th (Yom Kippur).
Prediction #4 - Sept. 29, 1994 - When Sept. 15 fails, changes to the 29th (Feast of Tabernacles).
Prediction #5 - Oct. 2, 1994 - Claims Christ was born on Oct. 2, 7 BC and would return exactly 2000 years later.
Prediction #6 - Dec. 25, 1994 - Claims Christ will return on Christmas and Bible supports it.
Prediction #7 – March 16, 1995 – Claims Christ will return on Purim. Says it is “Watch #1 of a new wave of dates (rapture/wrath, etc.)
Prediction #8 – Sept. 24, 1995 – Watch #2 – Claims there is Biblical evidence of Christ returning 383 days after Sept. 6, 1994. Also claims Sept. 24 is 721 + 91 Ceros. (A ceros is a little over 18 years – 223 lunar cycles or revolutions. A ceros is the complete revolution of the sun, moon, stars, and planets). Camping claims these revolutions predict the end. Also states that if you divide the 2300 days of Daniel 8 by the number “6” you get 383. Thus you add 383 to Sept. 6 and come to Sept. 24 which ends the 383 days period. This is the day before Rosh haShanah.
Prediction #9 – April 3, 1996 – Watch #3 – Claims there is Biblical evidence of Christ returning 191 days after Sept. 25, 1995 (Rosh haShanah) on Passover 1996. (Passover was actually April 4.)
Prediction #10 – May 3, 1996 – Camping claims a 30 day grace period based on Mark 13:35 (which makes no sense as it says “ Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning.” This says you won't know the day. He must not have read it carefully.)
Prediction #11 – May 21, 2011 – Camping says rapture/resurrection and judgment will occur exactly 7000 years to the day after Noah's Flood and end of world will come on Oct. 21. (He must not realize Noah did not use the calendar God gave Moses. Noah's Flood started in the second month of the civil calendar, which is what Noah used. Plus the Flood was not 7000 years ago.)
Prediction #12 – Oct. 21, 2011 – Camping says rapture/resurrection and end of world will come. May 21 was an invisible rapture and the end will still come on Oct. 21.
Getting back to his latest failure, I did not hear his post-failure speech live, but between youtube clips and reading articles online, I now know what he said. I have included some transcripts of the interviews, as youtube links may be removed at some point, so putting one in may not work in the future. You can decide for yourself what kind of person he is. While you have the right to disagree with my comments, I have included my thoughts in italics after his answers.
Question: What advice do you give to those who took you literally and gave away all their money or donated to Family Radio and now may not have the funds to survive now until October 21?
Camping: Please understand. We don't advise anybody what to do. We are not in the business of financial advise. We just had a great recession. A great recession. There are lots of people that lost their jobs. There are lots of people that lost their houses. Lots of people Not just a few, but lots of people. And somehow they all survived. They all had maybe a cousin helped them, or a sister, or the city helped them, or maybe they lowered their expense way, way down. Sometimes it was very severe. I will tell you what has happened to the average person that has been faithfully listening to the Family Radio. It is not nearly as grievous as the recent recession where people lost their homes. People cope. And we are not in a business of giving any financial advice. We are in the business of telling people “Look, there is someone you can talk to, that can maybe guide you, maybe help you. And that's God. Come boldly to the throne of grace. Pray without ceasing. I will tell you, it is wonderful. It is wonderful when we get to a point in our life where a lot of times, the best time is when our back is against the world and we don't know where to go, and finally you are pleading with God. “Oh, God, please have mercy, I don't know what to do.” And that could be just the time that when you are really drawn to God like you have never had. Believe me, God is very real.
So Camping is denying ANY responsibility in leaving these people destitute? Homeless, penniless, jobless? Wow. And he is comparing taking their money under false pretenses, as a charlatan con artist as people who are suffering from the economic recession? I don't think there is any comparison. He has deliberately fleeced people of their money telling them they would “save the world.” Now he expects everyone else, their families, their friends, the government to help these people out? Family radio does millions of dollars in business. Maybe they could help them out since they are in part responsible for people being in this state. I say “in part” because these people are equally to blame for listening to him instead of studying their Bible and seeing his errors. I guess he is like any charlatan and figures if people are stupid and gullible enough to believe them, that they deserve what they get. He certainly is copping to that attitude. He doesn't think it is grievous? He isn't the one destitute. He's rolling in dough. He suggests that there is someone who “maybe?” can help them. Yes, God is the ONLY one who can help them at this point. But it doesn't take coming to the throne of God boldly. It takes coming to the throne of God humbly, confessing and repenting of their sin of believing a false prophet and humbly asking God to forgive them and help them out of this dilemma. Just pleading mercy and telling Him you don't know what to do is not going to cut it. He requires confession and repentance for the sin before He'll help out. I love the way Camping feels that it is wonderful that he has helped people get closer to God by taking everything from them.
Questions: I agree with you, so I think that what they have to do, you are saying, is pray because of self-reliance and not rely on someone else's information, because it is maybe incorrect? Just to go within and trust themselves, perhaps? Is that the advice, maybe?
Camping: No, that is the point of prayer. You don't rely on your own understanding. That's the point of prayer. You are relying on God to help you. Now look. I am praying to God. I don't have a job. So I am lying on bed, “Lord have mercy, I need a job. I need a job. Lord have mercy. I need a job. I have a family to support.” But boy, this bed is comfortable, I don't want to get out of this bed. That is pure hypocrisy. We don't go to the Lord like that.
Camping is missing the point of the question, deliberately missing it. The interviewer is saying that people should trust themselves and check up on others and what they are telling them instead of believing everything someone tells them. Especially someone with a really bad track record. Camping is saying that people should not rely on their own gut reaction to someone like him. Of course not. He doesn't want anyone questioning what he says. That could be seen on his Forum talk shows. Any time that someone tried to chastise him or correct him or disagree with him, he would have them cut off so they couldn't talk anymore. He actually told one caller who challenged him that he was challenging God. Camping has a God complex. He thinks he is God, which is why he thinks he knows the date the Christ told us only the Father would know. He changes the topic from relying on someone else's information to relying on someone to support you. He has a habit of changing the subject when it is one he does not want to address.
Questions: Is it safe to say that mainstream population that heard about May 21 didn't believe it? It didn't happen, and now you are saying is, see this is ridiculous, and at best, misguided prediction or some kind of scam. Does it worry that you have hurt the credibility of religion?
Camping: Excuse me, just like what I have said before. Most pastors would never admit they make a mistake, because they are trying to preserve their own credibility in the eyes of those who are listening, or maybe they insist they are maintaining the credibility of the Bible, but the fact is they are not. And all I can do is to go to the Bible, and very humbly say, “Look, I have done some more studying, or somebody has sent me an idea about this phrase, and I checked it out, and I find that I have to make a change.” That does not hurt the credibility of the Bible at all. We are not perfect and God has to keep opening our eyes. God says again and again, He resists the proud and shows mercy to the humble. Verse after verse in the Bible, God resists those who come in their pride. And there is nothing in the world......There is one thing that should be seen in everyone who claims to be the child of God is humility. Whatever I know or whatever I am doing, I have to pray to God altogether. I pray again and again. The verse Philippians 2 where it says work out your own salvation, that is salvation that God has provided, you work it out, and it says, “though it is God who causes you to will and do of His good pleasure.” So even if we do something well done, I can't take any credit at all. Lord, I thank you that you have guided me this way. I am nothing. I will tell you, I can recommend this to anybody. It's a wonderful way to live, when we walk humbly before God. So you are never trying to show how smart you are or how wise you are. I have given all the credit to God and that's where it should go.
Notice when Camping violently disagrees or feels that someone is challenging or criticizing him the first thing he says is “Excuse me.” That's his way of entering into a condemnation of what has been said as being directed against himself as the “anointed prophet of God.” First he says that other pastors won't admit their mistakes because of pride, but that they aren't maintaining their credibility when they do that. Well, he should realize that by not admitting his mistake he is not maintaining his credibility either. He just looks worse for not admitting he is totally wrong and taking responsibility. You might at least respect someone who owns up to something this awful. Now he tells us that someone has sent him a way out of his mess to save face and not admit his failure, and he gropes at it as a lifeline from God. The fact is, the excuse he has given, that it was an invisible rapture (which is a ridiculous notion) did come from a friend of his who was trying to bail him out of this mess. The credibility that has been destroyed is ours. Those of us who are preaching God's truth are now subjects of mockery when we try to tell people the Lord will be returning one day soon. Now we look like the fools and our message is ignored and scoffed at. He is right that God resists the proud, and nobody has more pride than Camping. If humility is a sign of being God's child, he is definitely not among the children. Now he quotes a verse that says to work out your salvation, and tells people they have to work it out? What happened to “We can't do anything to get salvation, not repentance, not faith, nothing, because it all has to do with God electing us. So we do nothing except cry for mercy and hope we are one of the elect.” Does he even listen to himself. I do believe we have to work out our salvation in that once we repent and accept the Lord as our Savior and the Lord and master of our lives, we have to work at maintaining that relationship with Him, as I do believe we can walk away from Him. I know that from watching two of my closest friends through this debacle. They went from being solid Christians who had a hold on truth to cult followers of Camping. They have accepted his excuses for this “invisible” rapture, as far as I know (one is no longer talking to me, which indicates she is still on board with him, and the other seems to be waiting for October). As a consequence of this, I believe they are no longer on the path to salvation. They are no longer working it out by maintaining their relationship with God, as they have abandoned God and His truth and replaced him with Camping as their God and his lies for their truth. Unless they repent before they die, I believe they will find themselves not annihilated, as he teaches the non-elect will be, but spending the rest of eternity in hell. Camping says that he thanks God for guiding him. It is not God who is guiding him, it is Satan and Camping's own arrogant pride. He thanks God for allowing him to walk humbly and not show how “smart” or wise he is. He credits his revelations to his ability (his smartness) to do all these math calculations (which is a bunch of bogus numerology). Then he calls anyone who questions his “smartness” a mocker of God. Yes, that is true humility.
Question: How do you personally feel about the woman who tried to kill her life and her two daughters' lives?” (A woman tried to kill her daughters and herself on May 20 fearing the wrath of God.)
Camping: Murdering is terrible. It is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. That would have been a horrible thing if she has done that. That will make me weep. That will fill me with sorrow that she would do that. The Bible teaches that we are to save life, not kill. If it is going to be death, leave it to God. God knows who He wants to kill and make alive. That is His business, not our business.
Question: Do you take any responsibility for that?
Camping: I don't have any responsibility. I can't be responsible for anybody's lives. I am only teaching the Bible. I am not teaching what I believe, as if I am the authority. I am just simply teaching what the Bible says. And I don't have spiritual rule over anybody.
Notice that Camping again denies any culpability in this case. He says he is only teaching what the Bible says, but that is not the case. He is teaching his own heretical teachings of what he has twisted the Bible to mean. He does not take the Bible literally, he takes it allegorically. Therefore he makes it say whatever HE wants it to say. If we want to say what the Bible says, we have to say what it literally says, not interpret it for people as to what we think it means. Discussing what the Bible literally says is permissible, as long as you don't try to change the literal meaning, but when you ignore the very face value of what is said and make it mean something completely different, you are presenting your own gospel, which is what Camping does. And he does have spiritual rule over all of his followers. They take his word on everything, completely ignoring the clear Word of God. If they believe Jesus, they would accept His teaching that NO ONE would know the day or hour of His return except the Father. Camping says Jesus didn't mean what he said and reinterprets that for people. That is not teaching the Bible, that is teaching your own doctrines.
Question: Mr. Camping, you admitted that the Bible is very complex and difficult to interpret. That you made a mistake about what happened on Saturday, that is was spiritual and not physical, even though you guaranteed that it would be physical. How can you now, in good conscience tell your followers that the world would end in October when you have made a mistake interpreting the Bible already?
Camping: I have never, never told anybody that I am infallible. But God and His proofs are infallible, because they come right out of the bible. But what I am saying is that I am not infallible. All I have to do is be honest. That's all. I am trying to be honest with the bible; I am honest with those who are listening to me.
Wait a minute. Camping did not say that he was the one guaranteeing this rapture. He clearly said, and we can prove it from all those billboards, that the BIBLE guaranteed it. He claimed to have been given the key to understanding the Bible on this from God. If he was wrong about declaring that the Bible guaranteed it after saying that he got this information from God, then clearly he is not hearing from the God of the Bible, and clearly he does not understand the Bible at all. Therefore all he has been doing is presenting his own ideas, not the truths of the Bible. Either you understand the truths of the Bible or you don't, and clearly he doesn't. He most definitely is infallible. Actually he has no understanding of the Bible whatsoever. He has done this eleven times now and has been wrong each time. It doesn't matter how many years he has been studying. If he is using incorrect study methods he will always come to incorrect conclusions no matter how many years he studies it. And he is using incorrect methods of interpretation.
Question: You have not publicly apologized. Are you prepared to do it at all?
Camping: If people want me to apologize, I can apologize, yes. I did not have all of that worked out exactly as I should have, or wish I could have had it. That doesn't bother me at all, because I am not a genius. And I pray all the time for wisdom, and when I make an error, I admit, “Yes, I was wrong.” And I have said that already, more than several times tonight. I was wrong. It should be understood spiritually, not physically. Yet the sense of it is still the same. The judgment has come. The world is now under judgment where it was not prior to May 21. Spiritually there is a big difference in the world that we can't detect with our eyes. But we can know from the Bible.
This man never gives up. Notice that the apology and admittance of being wrong is not really an apology and admittance of wrongdoing at all. It is saying that he was simply wrong in that he expected a physical manifestation, but it was spiritual and invisible instead. Nobody will see it, but it did happen. He still has not said that he was wrong. He says when he makes an error he admits it, but he is not admitting it. He is claiming it still happened, it is just that we are all unaware of it. That is like the story of the Emperor's New Clothes where some charlatans use a emporer's pride against him for their own gain. They convince him that they make an invisible cloth that only the truly intelligent and those competent and fit for their job can see. He buys into the idea even though he can't see the cloth. His pride won't let him admit he may not be intelligent and competent (which if he were he would realize he was being conned). So he has some “clothes” made and proceeds to go out and parade through the streets to see if everyone in his empire is as smart as he. Well, everyone has the same pride issue as he does, so they pretend to admire the clothes as he parades naked through the streets. It isn't until some child yells, “But he doesn't have anything on,” that the emperor realizes that everybody is seeing him naked and that he has been a total fool. Camping's pride will not let him admit he is wrong even in the face of his complete and utter failure in the face of the entire world. And his followers pride will not let them admit it either. He is naked, but continues to play the fool as do his followers. Nothing of what he said came true, and trying to say that it did but in a spiritual way does not work. It is just plain stupid to think anybody with any sense would believe this anymore than invisible cloth can be seen by the truly wise and competent.
We will at least be spared the advertising campaign for October 21, 2011 as Camping says that judgment has fallen, therefore nobody can be saved from this point on, so there is no need to promote the date. Besides, this debacle has promoted that date for him already. So he can take the money that people are still sending (believe it or not) and use it for a nice vacation to help him get over this trauma. Now as God will not be spending the next five months pouring out His wrath, (which Camping has rationalized as not happening, because we could never survive more than a few days of God's wrath, much less five months) we will spend the next five months caring out life as normal. And on October 21 life will continue to carry on as normal for all of us except Campingites who will spend the next five months in more anticipation of the end and the rapture. And on October 22 they will again be disappointed and turn to Camping for another excuse. I am sure he will come up with something. I have no idea though as it would seem he must be running out of excuses by now. After all, how many times can God come invisibly or change His mind about a date that He supposedly is supposed to know when it is. He does not seem to be getting the message across to Camping very clearly. One has to wonder what God's problem is. Personally I can tell you that the Bible guarantees that the end of the world will not come on October 21. It doesn't guarantee that there won't be earthquakes, or famines, or wars, or even an “alien” invasion, as we are told to expect these things as the day approaches. But it has told us the exact signs that will precede it, and if we keep close watch for those signs, we will know when the day is close at hand, although we will not know the exact day or hour. Daniel's 70th week has to occur first and that hasn't started yet. The temple has not been built yet. The antichrist or beast has not declared himself God in that temple. The tribulation hasn't happened. The sun hasn't gone dark and the moon hasn't turned to blood. We haven't been hit by an asteroid. The demons of hell have not been let loose to torture mankind for five months. None of the many things that have yet to happen have even begun yet. We still have time. We can only continue to live life, as we were told to do, right up until the day He returns. If you don't know what to expect and watch for, get into your Bible, and take it literally. If you have trouble understanding, read my blog at endtimesstudies.blogspot.com (you may already be there, as I am posting this article on both my blogs) for help. But start at the beginning with the introduction, don't try to jump into the middle. You won't understand what is going on if you do that. I don't try to interpret what God's Word says, as much as try to elucidate the literalness of it more clearly by coordinating it with other passages in the Bible.
Getting back to Harold and his followers thinking he is a true prophet of God, let us take a look at that declaration. What he predicted did not come true. Period. It simply did not happen in any respect. Scripture is very clear about this sort of thing. Deuteronomy 18:20,22 “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die..... When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” In retrospect he says he “misunderstood.” Did any of God's true prophets ever misunderstand the prophecies they were given? When they spoke, the thing came true, in a very visible, physical way. Christ came very visibly when He first came. He did not come “spiritually.” Now let us take a look at and compare Camping to another so-called “prophet” of God, such as Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The similarities might astound you.
“Russell was a charismatic figure, but claimed no special revelation or vision for his teachings and no special authority on his own behalf. He stated that he did not seek to found a new denomination, but instead intended merely to gather together those who were seeking the truth of God's Word "during this harvest time." He wrote that the "clear unfolding of truth" within his teachings was due to "the simple fact that God's due time has come; and if I did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would cry out." He viewed himself—and all other Christians anointed with the Holy Spirit—as "God's mouthpiece" and an ambassador of Christ. Later in his career he accepted without protest that many Bible Students viewed him as the “faithful servant” of Matthew 24:45, and was described by the Watch Tower after his death as having been made "ruler of all the Lord's goods"” (Wickipedia)
Let's compare Camping to Russell. Now I would in no way call Harold charismatic with his boring, droning voice and typical old man looks, but apparently he is very appealing to his followers.
Russell claimed no special revelation, vision,, or authority. Camping claims no special revelation or vision, and says that he has no special authority on his own behalf, but merely speaks the Word of God in the Bible, that He only speaks what the Bible teaches. Yet his very teachings were unheard of until he came up with them. His interpretation via math calculations is a new revelation whether he wants to acknowledge it or not.
Russell said he did not seek to found a new denomination, that it was merely a gathering of those seeking the “truth” of God's word during the “harvest time” or end of the world tribulation period. Harold claims his followers are not a church, as he no longer believes in churches, that they are merely “gathering” to seek the “truth” of God's Word during this “time of tribulation.” However, followers of Camping are a church, in fact they are a cult with him at the helm. They even have a name as do all cult followers. They are called “Campingites.” When a group takes on the name of their leader, it is a clear indication that it has become a cultish group.
Russell said that he was teaching the “clear unfolding of truth” due to the fact that “God's due time has come” and if he did not speak there might be no other agent than the very stones to cry out. Camping has said that God teaches through the book of Daniel that at the time of the end this sealed book would be unsealed so that we might understand, due to the fact that the end is upon us. Because Camping is the agent God has chosen to understand this new revelation through the unsealing of the book of Daniel, he is the bearer of “truth.”
Russell viewed himself and all of his followers as God's mouthpieces and ambassadors to relate this truth to the world. Camping sees himself and his followers, who are part of the “true” church, having left the “Satan controlled” churches as the ones chosen to bring this truth to the world. Russell accepted the title of “faithful servant” from his followers. Camping accepts his followers making him “God's servant the prophet” according to the verse he and they constantly quote in Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” So far the parallel is uncanny.
He and his group believed they had found significant errors in common Christian belief. As a result of such study, the Russell believed he had gained a clearer understanding of true Christianity. Russell wrote many articles, books, tracts, pamphlets and sermons expounding on them. Camping believes he has found significant errors in the basic Christian beliefs. As a result he has a better understanding of true Christianity than anyone else, and especially the churches. He has written a number of books, pamphlets, and teaches on his radio show.
Russell was introduced to some new views that convinced him, amongst other things, that those Christians who were asleep in death would be raised in April, 1878. When 1878 arrived, failure of the expected rapture of the saints brought great disappointment for Russell, his associates and followers. Confused by what was perceived to be an error in calculation, Russell re-examined the doctrine to see if he could determine whether it had biblical origins or was simply Christian tradition. Following his analytical examination of the Bible, Russell and other Bible Students came to believe that Christian creeds and traditions were harmful errors which had led to the mistake. His conclusion that it was tradition led him to begin teaching, through the pages of the Herald, what he believed to have discovered on the subject. He believed he had restored Christianity to the purity held in the first century. Such views and conclusions were viewed as heresy by many Church leaders and scholars in his day. Russell had many critics and was often labeled a heretic
Camping's studies convinced him of some radical new views and theological premises. He came to the conclusion that the rapture/resurrection would first occur on September 6, 1994. When that arrived and passed uneventful, it brought great disappointment for him and his followers. He re-examined his calculations and said that he had found an error. Camping then wrote new books showing his new discovery of where he went wrong and what the real date was supposed to be. Camping has come to believe that Christian creeds and traditions are harmful errors and has abandoned most Biblical doctrines as well as Scriptural mandates such as communion and baptism. He believes he has the only true version of Christianity, as he says even Jesus could not save anybody when He was here. Camping is labeled a heretic and cult leader by all of mainstream Christendom from liberals to evangelical fundamentalists.
When it comes to doctrines, Russell agreed with other Protestants on the primacy of the Bible, and justification by faith alone, but thought that errors had been introduced in interpretation. Russell agreed with many 19th century Protestants, including Millerites, in the concept of a Great Apostasy that began in the first century AD. He also agreed with many other contemporary Protestants in belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ, and Armageddon. Some of the areas in which his Scriptural interpretations differed from those of Catholics, and many Protestants, include the following:
Hell - Russell maintained that there was a heavenly resurrection of 144,000 righteous, as well as a "great multitude", but believed that the remainder of mankind slept in death, awaiting an earthly resurrection.
The Trinity - Russell believed in the divinity of Christ, but differed from orthodoxy by teaching Jesus had received that divinity as a gift from the Father, after dying on the cross. He also taught that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but the manifestation of God's power.
Christ's Second Coming. -Russell believe that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874, and that he had been ruling from heavens since that date. He predicted that a period known as the "Gentile Times" would end in 1914, and that Christ would take power of Earth's affairs at that time. He interpreted the outbreak of World War I as the beginning of Armageddon, which he viewed to be both a gradual deterioration of civilized society, and a climactic multi-national attack on a restored Israel accompanied by worldwide anarchy.
Camping has altered many fundamental doctrines of the Bible. He does not believe in salvation by repentance and justification by faith. He believes solely in election as the means of salvation. This means that one need not even know Jesus Christ and repentance is a work, and one cannot work for salvation, therefore repentance is not a requirement. He does believe in a Great Apostasy and in fact teaches that Satan entered the churches in 1988 (conveniently the year he was thrown out of his church for heresy), therefore nobody can be saved in them since that time, nor is anybody remaining in them saved. He believes in a Second Coming and final Day of Wrath to destroy the earth. Other similarities in beliefs to Russell are:
Hell – the wicked are resurrected for judgment day at which time they will be permanently annihilated. 200 million will be raptured/resurrected for eternity.
The Trinity - is more of a modality, meaning that God exists as three people, but not at the same time. Jesus originally existed as Michael (which the Jehovah's Witnesses also teach) but was granted divinity and became the Son of God upon the resurrection.
The Second Coming - Camping said that in 1988 God judged the churches and nobody was saved from that time until September 1994 (which was his original rapture date) when the tribulation (which he now extended from seven years to seventeen) began. Because his predicted date of the Second Coming failed, he now says that God came on May 21, 2011 invisibly and judged the world. Since that day, nobody has or will be saved. The end is supposed to come on October 21, 2011 (which it obviously will not) and God's wrath has been reduced from five months to one day.
In 1881, Russell founded Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). His Bible study group had grown to hundreds of local members, with followers throughout New England, the Virginias, Ohio, and elsewhere who annually re-elected him "Pastor", and commonly referred to him as "Pastor Russell". Congregations that eventually formed in other nations also followed this tradition. In 1988 Camping was thrown out of his church and founded his fellowship (he refuses to call it a church, since he said that Satan rules in the churches). It has local members and he has convinced his national and international followers to leave their churches and worship with him on Sundays via the radio. They look to him as their pastor, even though he refuses the title, because he says that pastors are controlled by Satan.
Russell's views and management style were strongly criticized by certain individuals associated with his ministry. They accused Russell of being a dictatorial leader and a shrewd businessman. He accused those involved as being “guided by Satan in an attempt to subvert his work” as a “minister of the gospel.” Camping's views and management style are criticized by a number of his employees. They accuse him of being a dictatorial leader who takes criticism from nobody. He has raked in millions of dollars from gullible followers. He accuses anyone who disagrees with or criticizes him as being a wicked person who is mocking and challenging God, as if challenging him and God are the same thing. Many of his employees do not agree with his teachings and those who dare voice it are summarily dismissed from their jobs.
Russell had no qualifications as a minister and his moral example was not very Christian. He admitted he knew nothing about Latin and Hebrew, and that he had never taken a course in philosophy or systematic theology. He believed that his ordination was “of God” according to the “biblical pattern”, not requiring any denominational approval. Camping has no qualifications to teach except that he says he has studied the Bible for 50 years. He is an engineer. He claims to know Hebrew and Latin but checking up on him shows that he does not. He looks up words in a concordance and merely makes them mean what he needs them to mean for any particular verse. He believes he is anointed by God as a prophet and he need not be accountable to anyone for anything, whether it is his doctrine or his behavior. He feels no responsibility towards the financial losses his followers have suffered at his hands just blowing it off as their problem.
Russell's followers considered themselves to be “in the truth.” Jehovah's Witnesses consider secular society to be morally corrupt and under the influence of Satan and limit their social interaction with everyone other than their own. Camping's followers consider themselves to be the only ones in “truth” and consider that everyone else, including Christians in the churches to be under the influence of Satan.
Russell came up with dates for the Second Coming based on calculations of measurements of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which he felt had been built by the Hebrews. The key to interpreting these measurements came from information in the book of Daniel. Camping came up with the date for the rapture based on math calculations of random numbers found in the Bible. The key to interpretation came from the book of Daniel.
When the 1914 date failed, Russell said that there could be a good number of years of transition between the invisible spiritual rapture and the end. First it would start with the utter destruction of all other Christian denominations. The target dates were set for 1915-1918. Those who left their churches and came to Russell could escape the downfall of Christianity. When nothing happened, these predictions were not said to fail, but to be fulfilled in spiritual ways that they had misunderstood. The next target date for the end was 1925. This date was chosen by a new understanding of the Jubilee years. The comparison to Noah was made in that God has given us even more to know the date than He told Noah 120 years before the fact. 1932 and 1941 also saw the predictions of Armageddon as did 1975.
When Camping's 1994 date failed, he first set a bunch of new dates and, as they failed, said he had come to a new understanding of the tribulation. He said that God began judging the Church in 1988 by leaving them (all denominations) and turning the churches over to the reign of Satan. This would be a transition time. The tribulation then commenced in1994. There would now be a number of years added to the time of tribulation as normally taught, and the new target date for the Second Coming was 2011. Those who left the church and turned to Camping could escape the judgment fate of the Church. When the recent target date of May 21, 2011 failed, Camping suddenly “realized” that he has misunderstood and that it had happened “spiritually” not physically. The prophecy was fulfilled, but it was a spiritual fulfillment that he had not understood before. The next date has been set for October 21, 2011. Both of these dates were calculated using supposed Jubilee years and the date of Noah's Flood. The comparison was made that if God told Noah when the Flood would begin, how much more would he tell us when the rapture would occur.
Russell's own chronology of the Bible said that 1975 was supposed to be the 6000th anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. The date was also arrived at using the one day equals 1000 years theory. Camping's own chronology of the Bible said that May 21, 2011 was supposed to be the 7000 anniversary of the Flood of Noah. His calculations also used the one day equals 1000 years theory. Both chronologies were wrong.
People sold their possessions and cashed in life insurance policies, etc. in anticipation of the Jehovah's Witnesses date of 1975. After the missed date, they (the date setters) realized their error was a mathematical calculation of the date of creation. The last time they predicted a date was 1994.(Isn't it odd that the dates now collided for Camping and the Jehovah's Witnesses?) In the aftermath of all of the predicted dates from 1914 to 1994, it was denied that they were absolute predictions, but mere speculations that could change as new understanding was brought about through more study. The only chance for salvation for Jehovah's Witnesses is to actively preach the end of the world. To not do this and be caught not doing it when it does happen, will mean to die with the wicked. But that is simply annihilation. Many of Camping's people sold all of their possessions and cashed in their life savings in anticipation of both September 6, 1994 and May 21, 2011. After the dates passed, they denied that it was a false prophecy and say that it is because there was not enough understanding. They believe the only chance for salvation was to actively preach the end of the world is coming. They may or may not be one of the elect, but to die simply means annihilation. Neither the Jehovah's Witnesses nor Campingites will acknowledge that they are deceived and led by false teachers and prophets. They continue to blindly obey and follow these leaders as all cult members do.
Were we to examine other false prophets, we would probably find very similar stories. It is just that the parallel between Russell and the Jehovah's Witnesses and Camping and Family Radio is so eerily close that it is quite astounding
In the end, it seems that it is impossible to help those who are determined to protect their pride and indulge their ignorance of the Scriptures by following not only Camping, but all the false prophets and teachers out there. Our only course of action should be to study the Bible diligently to see that we are not among the deceived. Yeshua told us to not be deceived, that many would come in His name. We should listen and take that literally, because it is most certainly true.