Harold Camping: Does he puzzle you?

Harold Camping, President of Family Stations, Inc., has puzzled thousands of listeners to his group of radio stations. You can learn more of his ministry at www.familyradio.com. Harold Camping, Lloyd Lindquist, and myself, Richard Palmquist (your host here at Truth Radio), formed the corporation Family Stations, Inc., in 1958. It is a long story, unimportant to the point of this page.

Years ago Camping distributed a book entitled "1994?" suggesting that the world would end in September of that year. He named the exact day he expected it to happen. It was to be a Tuesday. The Saturday before, I interviewed Mr. Camping on my Saturday radio program, "To Free America," on KDNO, Delano, California. I wanted my listeners to meet the most sincere Bible student I have ever met, and I knew the result of the interview would be that any careful listener would conclude from the interview that the most brilliant and sincere of men cannot have more than an ant-like status before the Living God. This is especially true regarding the art of forecasting future events.

Since that interview, Mr. Camping has revised his study of the Bible. He now predicts the end of the world will happen sometime in 2011. Not content to live day by day trusting the Lord, Mr. Camping seems to risk his very manhood upon analytical conclusions he has reached during his extensive study of the details of the Bible. I was the person who started the Family Radio network. I wrote the Articles of Incorporation. I managed it for the first five years of its life. Mr. Camping's behavior is an embarrassment to me. Humanly speaking, there is no possibility I can persuade him to change his views; however, it is my prayer that if you have listened to him and you find yourself confused, that this brief statement will help you.

Camping is correct that the Bible is entirely trustworthy, true and can be viewed as the very Word of God. He is also correct in his teaching that man is imperfect and wretchedly sinful, capable of salvation only by the grace of God. Where Camping strays from reality is that he views himself, an imperfect vessel, as a trustworthy source of Truth on issues the plain Words of the Bible do not make clear. He takes upon himself the authority of accurate Biblical analysis -- a job no imperfect human can claim.

The secret to being open to illumination from the Holy Spirit so that you can understand the Bible correctly is to study the Bible in a "literal, historical-grammatical" way, taking the Word of God seriously for what the words clearly say, not reading your own meanings into those words. Then, when you come to a tough passage, view that passage in its historical context, applying what the grammar was originally intended to tell you.

Let's state it simply:

1. The Bible is the Word of God. Those words when spoken or read are Truth.
2. The readers of the Word of God (Camping, you and me) are imperfect and we are not able to think perfect thoughts as we analyze the details of what the Bible says.
3. In Romans 3:4 The Apostle Paul writes: "let God be true, but every man a liar."

What Paul is telling us is that a full understanding of Truth is outside the reach of even the most sincere, intelligent and capable thinker on earth. We can desperately want to understand and to draw out new light from the mind of God, but when we have finished studying, if we try to insert our own meanings into scripture, our conclusions could be so far from the ultimate transcendent omniscience of our Lord that we will fall into a trap: a lie.

Family Radio's ministry of music is peerless, as is its emphasis upon the reading of the Bible, and it is worthy of your support. Be praying for Mr. Camping. He was born in 1921. His problems with logic are not the product of his advanced age, however. He has always been as fixed in opinion as he is today. My prayer for you, if you have listened to him, is that your spiritual life will not be stumbled because of his wrong conclusions.

The heart of Camping's problem is that whereas he admits he is imperfect, he will not admit that his "careful reading" of the Word of God can be the result of imperfect reasoning. How can an imperfect man possess perfectly trustworthy reasoning skills?

--Richard Palmquist
Incorporator and former member of the Board of Directors of Family Stations, Inc.
Posted September 20, 2004 Updated April 6, 2005

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