NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Harold Camping, the radio preacher who wrongly predicted that Jesus would return May 21 of last year, has released a remorseful statement calling his prediction “sinful” and saying his critics were right in stating that no one knows the date of Christ’s second coming.
The statement by Camping and the “staff of Family Radio” was posted in early March at FamilyRadio.com.
Beginning in 2010, Camping and his supporters bought billboards and radio spots around the world warning that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. Many of those ads even said the “Bible guarantees it,” even though the New Testament teaches in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 that “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven. …”
“We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement,” the statement reads. “We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin.”
In the weeks leading up to May 21, preachers and Bible scholars from a wide range of denominations — including Southern Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian — spoke out against Camping’s prediction, fearful not only that he was leading Christians astray but that he was harming the name of Christ before a watching world by making a false prediction.
“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,” the Camping statement says. “Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.”
Many of Camping’s followers continue to search for the date of Christ’s return — a practice that Camping says he is abandoning.
“We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world,” the letter said. “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.”
After May 21 passed without Christ’s return, many Bible scholars said Camping had done much harm. Denny Burk, associate professor of New Testament at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., said last year he sensed a mocking tone when watching MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” crew talking May 20 about Camping’s prediction.
“And this,” Burk wrote on his blog, “is the real tragedy of a false teacher like Camping. He gives the scoffers a reason for feeling vindicated in their scoffing. He gives aid and comfort to the judgment-suppressing human heart and thereby consigns them to their own God-ignoring delusions. This is a tragedy of eternal proportions, and it is anything but funny.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).