Time Has An End
Harold Camping has again proclaimed the probable end of the
world. This time the end of the world is set for 2011 A.D. He has
written a new book entitled Time Has An End: A Biblical History of
the World 11,013 BC – 2011 AD (Vantage Press: 2005). In this book
he proclaims like a modern day prophet that the Church Age
ended in 1988, 40 years after the beginning of the nation of
Israel in 1948. This is also the beginning of the Great Tribulation
in 1988. 1994 marks the beginning of the 2nd Jubilee (Later
Rain). Previously, he said 1994 was to be the end of the world.
The probable end of the world is now set at 2011 A.D.
Usually millennialists say there are seven years of tribulation
followed directly by the return of Christ. I may not be good at
math, but there seems to be a lot more than 7 years between
1988 and 2011.
According to Camping there is now a two-part program to the
Great Tribulation (page 421). The main reason Camping sites for
the end of the world in 2011 AD is that it is 7,000 years from the
Noachian Flood which he claims was in 4990 BC. It is also 23
years from the beginning of the Great Tribulation which is the
magic number of judgment (page 425). Christians are now to
leave their (spiritual) homeland (the church) just like Jacob and
Judah did (page 426). The most likely time of Christ’s coming is
at the Feast of Ingathering (the 15-22 of the seventh month of
the Jewish calendar) which would be in the fall of 2011
(September-October, page 433). According to Camping, when
the Tribulation ends, the sun will be darkened, the moon will
not shine, and the stars shall fall from heaven (page 433). It
sounds like a spectacular astronomical show for 2011, but since
Camping has been repeatedly wrong in the past, I have little
hope that we will see the promised spectacular show in 2011.
Harold Camping 2002
Like many other Bible-believing Christians, the Rev. Dean Harner
for years has tuned in to Harold Camping’s Bible studies on the
Family Radio Network, but Camping wants Christians to stop
going to church. “The church age has come to an end,”
according to the Oakland, Calif.-based Camping, a fixture on
national Christian radio for 43 years who is not ordained. The
end times are imminent, and churches are not merely irrelevant
but “altogether apostate” because they soft-pedal the gospel,
Camping, 81, has been telling his national audience since about
June of last year. Instead of using Presbyterian, Methodist,
Baptist and other “corporate” denominations to evangelize the
I am concerned about a book entitled 1994? by Harold Camping
and published by Vantage Press. Camping states that the end
ofthe world may occur somewhere between September 5th and
the 27th of 1994 (p. 531). He does not know the exact day
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. According to
Camping, he knew over 20 years ago when the world should
end. He is just now coming out of the closet and telling all. Many
people listen to Harold Camping over Family Radio stations
across the country.
I am worried about those people who are easily swayed by his
rhetoric. After one man heard Camping he wanted me to
change our church project because the world was going to end
and all our buildings would be melted with fervent heat. Many
listeners of Camping will believe anything he says without
studying it for themselves. Gematria is the main glue that holds
Camping’s book together. Gematria is that part of ancient
mysticism that endeavors to find hidden truths locked in literal
terminology through numbers. Mystical numbers are the keys
that unlock the hidden truths concealed in literal language. The
basic theory that this system operates on is that God created a
perfect world and a perfect word (the Bible) which exhibits
precise numerical and symmetrical design. The Greek
philosopher, Pythagoras is accredited with the development of
the first system of mystical numbers by which one could
understand the nature of the universe.(1) The Cabala of the
middle ages is an excellent example of Jewish gematria.
Camping’s interpretation of John 21:1-14 displays his use of
gematria. Jesus tells the disciples who were about 200 cubits
out in the Sea of Galilee to throw their net on the right side of
the boat and the result was a catch of 153 fish. According to
Camping the scriptures are teaching that the 200 cubits is
about 2,000 years between the first and second coming of
Christ (p. 503).
Since Camping states that the most likely date for the birth of
Christ is on October 4th, 7 BC when the Jubilee Trumpet
allegedly sounded (p.418), one needs only to add 2,000 years
minus one year for the year 0 and presto, 1994. The number
153 equals 3 times 3 times 17. Camping says, “the number three
signifies the purpose of God whereas the number seventeen
signifies heaven. Thus we can learn that purpose of God is to
bring all believers that are ‘caught’ by the Gospel into heaven.”
(p.504) Would it not be hermeneutically better to go to Matthew
24 where Jesus clearly teaches about the end of the age instead
of trying to mystically find hidden secrets behind clear narrative
Camping’s numerology has amazingly pinpointed the exact day
of the creation of man to 11,013 BC (p. 295). The genealogies in
the Bible have gaps and additions in them so we can not
assume there is a direct link back to creation. For example, Luke
chapter three verse thirty six adds the name Cainan while
Genesis chapter eleven verse twelve omits this name. Which is
right, Genesis or Luke? They both are. One is more complete
than the other one. The word “begat” can mean descendant not
just a direct father-son relationship as Camping points out (p.
274), yet by ignoring Jewish customs he assumes that the
genealogies are dynastic and sequential.
The major purposes of the genealogies in the Bible as well as
the ancient world were not chronological, but domestic, legal-
political, or religious.(2) Omission of names is common as seen
in Matthew one where several names are left out so there can
be exactly three groups of fourteen names. Jews would arrange
genealogies to be symmetrical and not chronological. So one
can not assume a direct chronology back to Creation.
Allegory is another hallmark of Camping’s book 1994? Allegory
seeks the deeper spiritual truths from the literal text. For
Camping the time of the great tribulation started in 1988 and
has nothing to do with tribulation, troubles, or God’s wrath (p.
218). Christians will not be martyred. What this really means is
that Christians will be kicked out of the churches that preach a
false gospel (p. 198). If one follows this logically then Paul’s
beatings were mere spiritual temptations and Christ’s death
was really excommunication. For if the word “martyred” really
does not mean death than the language of New Testament has
Allegorical interpretation allows Camping to twist scripture to
say whatever he thinks it should mean. This is great news to
know that the tribulation does not really mean tribulation but
temptation, killing does not mean killing but kicking, and the
abomination of desolation is merely the different
denominations being overrun by satanically inspired gospels
like the charismatic movement (p. 438).
If one looks back at the years since 1988 one does not find the
terrible events of the book of Revelation happening. It seems
that Camping has out done even Philo, the father of allegory.
Inconsistency is another characteristic of Camping’s book.
According to Camping the seventy sevens of Daniel 9 are literal
years, except for the last three in a half. He calculates the years
precisely to the death of Christ which he says occurred 33 AD
He then turns around and says the last three in a half years
equal 2,000 years.
Camping takes a page to explain the subtitle “The Prerogative of
God to Use Numbers as He Desires” (p. 403). This should be
amended to say that it is the prerogative of Harold Camping to
use numbers as he desires. Ignorance in the eschatological
views of the New Testament era is yet another characteristic of
Camping conjures up a mythical man that he calls Nathanael
who represents the typical student who should have easily
recognized the precise dates of the messiah’s coming (p. 335).
When one studies the Dead Sea Scrolls, the pseudepigrapha,
and early church fathers, one sees that Nathanaels views are
atypical. The Epistle of Barnabas states that the world would
end 6,000 years after creation when Christ would destroy the
lawless one, because the world was created in 6 days, and a day
is as a thousand years unto the Lord(3). This is very different
from Camping’s view of eschatology who sees the world ending
over 13,000 years after the creation of man. This leaves a
difference of 7,000 years.
Ignorance in ecclesiology also plagues Camping’s book. He sees
the church as being overrun by Satan and some of evidence for
this is Christians using birth control, divorce, armenianism, the
social gospel with its concern for feeding the hungry, not
observing Sunday as God’s Holy Day, and lack of preaching on
hell. When one reads the signs of the end of the age in Matthew
24 none of these things are mentioned. Camping devotes
chapter five of his book to how God will destroy the external
church by Satan mainly through the charismatic movement.
Does the New Testament teach that the church will be
destroyed by Satan? Matthew chapter sixteen and verse
eighteen states “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it.”
In Camping’s computations he does not take into account the
different changes in calendars. Before the Julian calendar was
established in 45 BC Rome had a lunar calendar which was often
shortened or lengthened to manipulate elections. Because the
Julian calendar was 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the
actual solar year Pope Gregory XIII decreed in 1582 that ten
days be dropped from that year and that leap year be omitted
very one hundred years except when the number of years was
divisible by 400.(4) The Gregorian calendar is what we use today.
What did the Jews use to reckon time? Recently published
fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls in cave four indicate that
the scribes of Qumran started reckoning time from the fourth
day of creation. Their year consisted of 364 days with lunar
months alternating between 29 and 30 with a full moon every
third year on the first day of creation week(5). The Mishna has a
different way of reckoning time. This makes it very difficult to
pinpoint exact dates as Camping has done.
I am afraid Harold Camping is another name that we need to
add to our long list of date setters. If there is a sign that is being
fulfilled, it is the one about many false christs that will come
saying he is here. Harold Camping’s book 1994? is a great book
if one is interested in mystical and allegorical interpretations of
– Stephen C. Meyers
(1) Davis, John. Biblical Numerology. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House, 1968), pp. 125-126. This is an excellent little book on
(2) The NIV Study Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), p. 581.
(3) Lightfoot, and Harmer, eds. The Apostolic Fathers. (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), pp. 283-84.
What Camp Is Camping In?
Where is Harold Camping coming from theologically? I see
Harold Camping as coming from a reformed, five point
Calvinistic, amillennial, covenantal theological point of view. In
Covenant theology the Church grafted into the blessings of
Israel. So Camping wrongly concludes that all the old Testament
passages about Israel are referring to the church. Thus
Camping sees that the history about Israel is symbolic and
prophetic of the church. This is where he goes off the deep end
and gets his allegorical interpretations and numerology. (It
should be noted that covenant theologians do not go to the
extremes that Camping does.)
Camping sees the literal numbers of scripture as having hidden
symbolic meanings that predicts when the world will end. Thus
200 cubits off shore in John 21 means 2,000 years until Christ
comes again. The Literal meaning of scripture is ignored for a
higher hidden symbolic meaning. 2 Peter 1:21 declares that
scripture is not of any private interpretation of man (Harold
I am afraid that Harold Camping as gone off the deep end
theologically. Let us try to follow and teach the clear simple
message of the Bible without trying to fish for hidden
eschatological meanings 200 cubits off shore.
A Plea of Concern!
I am very concerned about the many loyal followers of Harold
Camping. Many have come to trust in Christ because of his
ministry on the radio. Many have learned marvelous truths of
scripture from Harold Camping. He has many good things to
say. The difficulty comes when we accept everything he says as
absolute gospel truth. We assume that he is right in every thing
he says, because of all the marvelous truths that we already
have learned from him.
The only perfect teacher is Christ. But somehow we become
emotionally attached to the teacher that gave us spiritual birth
as a new born baby is totally dependent on it’s mother. The
time has come for maturity to cut the umbilical cord and to
decide what is right and wrong from scripture with out having
to call up his radio program for the answer.
A number of my spiritual teachers when I was a young Christian
have fallen, but that does not mean I throw out everything they
taught. It is like eating watermelon. You eat the good parts and
spit out the seeds. Some want to throw out the whole water
melon, others choke on the seeds. All teachers have good and
bad theological teaching. It takes a mature Christian to decide
from scripture what are seeds that need to be spit out while
enjoying the melon. The setting of the date September 1994 as
the end of the world is a seed that needs to be spit out.
I pray that the followers of Harold Camping can break their
emotional bonds of attachment so they can make clear mature
decisions about the teachings of scripture.
Interview with Harold Camping
June 8, 1994 at Sandy Cove
By Stephen C. Meyers
Harold Camping, the founder and President of Family Stations
Inc., was born July 19, 1921 in Denver, Colorado. At the age of 6
his family moved to Southern California. His father was in and
out of a number of businesses, dairy farmer, bakery, and cattle,
to help support his family during the great depression. Harold
Camping is the second oldest of five sons. His mother dearly
loved the Lord, but his father did not become saved until the
age of 60. This sometimes created difficulties between his
parents. Camping states that his father died at age 62 at peace
with God. Camping was raised in the Christian Reformed
Church. He was married and baptized in this church. Camping
says he has been a Christian all of his life. He just grew up
trusting the Lord.
Camping describes his father as a good church man with whom
he got along fine. Discipline was very strict and legalistic. He had
a strict Dutch upbringing. When Camping was asked if his father
ever told him “I love You” he responded by saying his family did
not readily show their emotions, was completely aware of his
parent’s love for their children. He describes his childhood as
happy. Harold Camping started the first grade when he was 5
years old. He graduated from High School at age 16 and
finished college at age 20. Because of his young age in high
school he felt awkward. He did not mature as fast as the others
in his grade. He was a late bloomer. He never got in trouble at
Camping attended two years at Long Beach college then he
went two more years at the University of California at Berkeley
where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil
engineering in 1942. That same year after graduation he
married a girl named Shirley Vander Schuur that he had met at
the Alameda Reformed church that he was attending while in
college. Camping says that he was poor and he had to work his
way through college.
After college Harold Camping worked for awhile with other
companies before he started his own construction business.
After about 25 years in the construction business he sold it and
is now living off the money from that sale. He does not receive a
salary from Family Stations. Because of the need for civil
engineers, Camping was delayed three years from being
drafted. When he received his A-1 to serve he was rejected
because of a physical problem, a hernia.
In 1956 at age 35 there was a turning point in Harold Camping’s
life. Because his construction business did not require his full
attention, he turned to an in-depth study of the Bible. He
studied the Bible like he was studying for finals in college. Today
Camping continues to study the Bible two to six hours a day.
Very frequently he studies for an hour or more after Open
Because Harold Camping wanted to share his views from his
study of the Bible, he together with two other men incorporated
Family Stations in 1958. The first radio station was bought in
1959, KEAR in San Francisco. Family Stations now has 39 radio
stations and 14 short-wave transmitters.
Camping is the President and General Manager and serves on
the board of directors with only two other board members,
Scott Smith who is vice president, and Richard VanDyk who is
the treasurer/secretary. Camping takes care of personnel
problems, decision making, and sets policy.
Harold Camping is the father of one son, six daughters, twenty
four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He likes to
keep a low profile and “treasures times to be alone.”
Over twenty years ago Camping says he saw the end of the
world, but he did not talk about it. Because he had a
compulsion to share what he had learned, it was a great relief
to him when he published his book 1994? Camping sees every
true Christian as having a prophetic office and must share the
“true” gospel with others. He sees Family Stations as “a voice
crying in the wilderness” against the apostasy of the church.
When asked what if the world does not end in September, he
said that sometimes he wishes it does not end so they would
have time to do more evangelism.
In 1974 Camping published the book Adam When? after five
years of research. He tested the results of his calendar system
with secular history at the Pacific School of Religion in their
Palestinian Library. He also claims that he is trained in reading
carbon 14 in which he disputes the reliability of the results.
Camping claims the earth was created in 11,013 BC When he
discovered this date he had a strange feeling about himself, he
thought, “who am I to work out the exact age of the earth?”
Harold Camping has had no formal training in the Bible. He
does not know Greek or Hebrew. He uses a concordance to find
out the original language. If he does have a question about the
Greek or Hebrew he goes to Dr. Ortero, who he says has a Ph.D.
in Greek and Hebrew. Dr. Ortero has a Ph.D. in Psychology from
Camping admits that Dr. Ortero does not agree with him about
the world ending in September 1994. Camping thinks that if Dr.
Ortero really studied his math in-depth that he would then
agree with his book that the world will end in September 1994.
In fact, if everyone did their homework, Camping believes
everyone would agree with him.
In 1988 Camping published the book The Final Tribulation where
he states that no one can be saved once the Tribulation has
started which according to him was May 21, 1988 (p.137-8 and
158). He has since corrected this to say that once the tribulation
has ended no one can be saved, which according to him is
September 6, 1994.
Camping also has stated that the nation of Israel may be
destroyed before the end of the tribulation, but he now no
longer believes this will happen. Camping continually has to
change his story. More and more of the book of Revelation is
being spiritualized like great earthquakes, the heavens being
shaken, the sun and moon being darkened, until even the
coming of Christ is spiritualized away in September just as the
Jehovah Witnesses did to 1914. For example, the sun represents
Christ, the moon represents the church, and the stars also
represent the church. If the moon can change into the church,
then anything can happen in Camping’s interpretation of
scripture, or should I say his mutilation of scripture.
If Camping keeps changing his story, why should we believe his
September date? On June 5, 1988 Camping with about 60 people
broke away from the Christian Reform Church to form their own
independent Reformed Church. Today the attendance is now
about 300-350 people. They have visiting pastors each Sunday
since they have not been able to find a pastor since 1988.
Camping claims that the pastor of his church was jealous of him
and the elders made rules about teaching that would exclude
him from teaching so he decided to leave because he must
teach (or must be in control).
When asked why Family Stations, Inc. does not join an
organization like the Evangelical Counsel for Financial
Accountability (ECFA), he said that the board of directors are
not supposed to work at the organization. They do have an
outside audit, but when I asked for one I did not receive it. The
ECFA states in 7.11, “An organization must make every effort to
avoid accepting a gift from or entering into a contract with a
prospective donor which would knowingly place a hardship on
the donor, or place the donor’s future well-being in jeopardy.”
Camping says he does not know of anyone selling their house,
or business, or quitting their job, but other sources confirm
that these things have happen.
Camping still denies that a reporter from the Christian Research
Journal, who wrote an article about him, in the Summer of 1993
issue ever talked to him although the reporter has a tape
recording of his conversation with Camping and phone bills to
prove it. Camping believes that the reporter must have sliced
together a tape recording of him. A small portion of this tape
was played on the “Bible Answer Man Show” to prove that the
reporter did indeed talk to Camping. A copy of this show may be
purchased from the Christian Research Institute (P.O.Box 500,
San Juan Capistrano, CA., 92693. Ask for tape #BC-011394. The
cost is $6). You can judge for yourself who is telling the truth.
Inside sources also confirm the accuracy of the article.
In the article Camping shared about a radio station in Russia,
where He says he did not want to be unequally yoked with
unbelievers so Family Stations built the Radio Station and then
gave it to the Russians in exchange for free broadcast time. The
article also mentions his wife wanting a new floor, but he wants
to delay this until after September. Camping replied that this
was just an illustration that he used. It never really happened as
After personally interviewing Camping, listening to his
teachings, and reading his books, I have come to the following
Camping’s very strict and legalistic Dutch upbringing has had a
profound affect on his life. This strictness, which lacked outward
loving affection, has produced a vacuum of love that was filled
with legalism where love is based on works, and on how well
one performs. Perfection is the goal that is set forth, and
Camping has worked hard to achieve it. A proof of one’s
election is his successful godly works. Being the second born
there was a great need to prove himself to his father and
mother and to out do his older brother. At age five he was in
the first grade. At age 16 he graduated from High School. At age
20 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University
of California at Berkeley
This driving compulsion to achieve was carried over into his
construction business that he started, which later became very
successful. Finally, at age 35 this compulsion was applied to the
study of the Bible which led to a very successful religious
broadcasting network, Family Stations Inc. with over 39 stations,
and 14 short wave stations.
There are a number of things that characterize a legalistic family
(Miller, p.19). First of all, there is an authority figure who has the
answer for everything who must be in control. Any loss of
control is seen as a threat. The Bible is used as a tool to forge
the unbreakable chain of command of God’s divine order.
Camping’s father was very legalistic, and like father like son,
Camping is also very legalistic. Camping claims to be the
authority on the Bible who has the right answer for anyone who
calls in on his Open Forum program.
In childhood, Camping’s base of authority depended upon his
father. One’s view of God and others depends upon one’s
relationship with their father. Camping’s authoritarian father
has passed this power structure down to his son. The way he
tightly controls Family Stations is an example of this. Another
example of this is in 1988 when Camping broke away from his
own Christian Reformed Church and took 60 people with him to
start his own independent Reformed Church. He has a problem
of being under the authority of someone that does not agree
with him. In the past six years they have not found a pastor and
probably will not because Camping needs to be in control.
Another component of legalism is the misconception that there
is a correct and precise answer to every question. Everything is
right or wrong, black or white with no in-between gray area.
Camping always seems to have an exact answer with a proof
text from the Bible which many are taken out of context. He has
pinpointed creation to 11,013 BC The tribulation started May 21,
1988 and will end September 1994. Camping’s whole bases of
his calendar system is on the false premise that everything
must add up exactly right in the Bible. It truly amazes me that
Camping, with no formal training in the Bible, no training in
Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, no training in the cultural milieu of
the Bible can make authoritative pronouncements on the
interpretation of the Bible as if he were the Protestant pope.
Another important part of legalism is the me vs. them mentality,
or the separation from the world. It is easier to avoid the world
than to face the world. Rather than go out into the world one
must come out from it. According to Camping most churches
and pastors have gone apostate, therefore one must separate
from apostate churches. Apostasy according to Camping is
anyone who does not agree with his interpretation of the Bible.
This super sensitivity to the slightest challenge to authority by
crying apostasy is just another ploy of legalism.
Legalism also leads to keeping one’s emotions completely
under control, and perhaps even feared and avoided, but
always evaluated before expressed. Camping’s somber, stone
face reflects this control of emotions and lack of unconditional
These legalistic tendencies has led Camping to a theology of
judgment. The judgment of God is emphasized with the
destruction of the whole world. Camping says very little about
the love of God, because God hates the sinner. Millions of “Does
God Love You?” tracts have been handed out, but the answer to
the question is a resounding NO! God does not love you. God
only loves the elect according to Camping. Not only does God
hate sin, but also hates the sinner as well.
What Camping needs to understand is the unconditional love of
God and his acceptance of him just as he is, which he probably
lacked so much of when he was growing up. I feel sorry for
Camping. He needs to experience the unconditional love of God
like D.L. Moody did when Henry Morehouse came to speak for a
whole week just on the love of God.
What about Camping’s loyal followers? Most of the tell tale signs
of legalism are the same signs of a cult leader. Many cult leaders
were victims themselves with an inferiority complex, and who
must be in control. There is the true believers vs. the apostate
world. There is the right or wrong mentality. There is
performance based happiness. There is the strict obedience to
the leader who has all the right answers. Anyone who does not
agree with the leader is apostate. Many people are followers
who are drawn to authority figures who have all the right
What will happen to the followers of Camping after September
1994? There is an example from history that may help out. In
1956 a book was written by Leon Festinger entitled When
Prophecy Fails. It tells of a Wisconsin flying saucer cult whose
leader predicted the end of the world. Followers sold their
homes and then waited on a mountain side for the flying
saucers to pick them up before the world was to be destroyed.
When no flying saucers came most members became more
convinced than ever that their leader was right rather than face
public humiliation (Hassan, pp. 59-60).
When September 1994 passes it is best not to make fun of
Camping’s followers. This may only drive them closer to
following Camping. I hope and pray that Camping will publicly
step down from the control of Family Stations in October to
avoid turning it into a cult, and allow qualified trained Christians
answer questions on Open Forum in their area of expertise.
Hassan, Steven. Combating Cult Mind Control. (Rochester,
Vermont: Park Street Press, 1988). This is an excellent book
about cult mind control.
Miller, David. Breaking Free: Rescuing Families from the Clutches
of Legalism. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992. This is an
excellent book on legalism and its affects on the family.
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