2011: A New York City believer in the Rev. Harold Camping's prediction that a biblically ordained Judgment Day was imminent. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
2011: A New York City believer in the Rev. Harold Camping’s prediction that a biblically ordained Judgment Day was imminent. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Harold Camping, who gained worldwide attention for a series of forecasts that the end of the world was nigh, has died at the age of 92. That’s the word from Camping’s Family Radio Network. The network, based in Oakland, said Camping “passed on to glory” early Sunday evening. The statement said Camping died at his Alameda home, succumbing to injuries suffered in a fall on Nov. 30. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Shirley Camping.

Camping was born in Colorado but grew up in California and received a bachelor of science degree from UC Berkeley in 1942. He started his career in Christian broadcasting in the late 1950s on San Francisco’s KEAR, the beginning of what would become the national Family Radio network.

More than 20 years ago, Camping gained notoriety with the publication of “1994?“, a tome that worked through Bible verses and other scriptural texts to calculate “God’s timetable” for the end of the world. When Camping’s window for Judgment Day — late September 1994 — failed to produce a world-ending event, he blamed it on a mathematical error.

His next end-of-world date was May 21, 2011. When Judgment Day didn’t arrive, Camping again revised his prophecy, saying he had been off by five months and announced a new date, Oct. 21, 2011.

Camping said he felt so terrible after the cataclysmic event didn’t occur in October 2011 either that he took refuge in a motel. He suffered a stroke in December 2011.

Later, he issued a statement to followers acknowledging he’d gotten his calculations wrong and that he didn’t have any further insight into the date of Judgment Day. But he said he saw an upside, too:

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.

We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.

We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours! We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.

We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking. But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.

  • dairyking887

    Preying on the mentally ill is the only thing that you ever did, Mr. Camping. Hope you are at peace now.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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