The New York Times says that:
In a rambling, 90-minute speech, broadcast both online and on his stations, Harold Camping, whose Family Radio network paid millions of dollars to promote his prediction, said that he was stunned when the rapture did not happen on Saturday.
“I can tell you very candidly that when May 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time,” said Mr. Camping, 89, a former civil engineer. “I was truly wondering what is going on. In my mind, I went back through all of the promises God has made, all of the proofs, all of the signs and everything was fitting perfectly, so what in the world happened? I really was praying and praying and praying, oh Lord, what happened?”
What he decided, apparently, was that May 21 had been “an invisible judgment day,” of the spiritual variety, rather than his original vision of earthquakes and other disasters leading to five months of hell on earth, culminating in a spectacular doomsday on Oct. 21 — something he had repeatedly guaranteed. On Monday, however, Mr. Camping seemed satisfied with his new interpretation, which apparently spared humankind its months of torture for a single day of destruction.
“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.
In an hour and a half broadcast, Camping walked listeners through his numerological timeline, insisting that his teaching has not changed and that the world will still end on October 21, 2011.
“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”
Camping had previously pointed to October 21 as the last day on earth for all humanity. [...]
On Monday’s broadcast, Camping speculated that perhaps a merciful God decided to spare humanity five months of “hell on earth.”
Wrong in 1994 as well
Camping previously predicted that the rapture would take place on Sept. 6, 1994. When the rapture did not occur, Camping also came up with several alternative dates:
• September 15, 1994, the Jewish Day of Atonement
• September 25, 1994, the Jewish feast of tabernacles
• October 4, 1994, the anniversary of Jesus’ actual birthday as calculated by Camping
• December 25, 1994, based on Camping’s explanation of Revelation 11:10 (people sending each other gifts)
• February 25, 1995, the Jewish feast of Purim
• May 3, 1996 Camping explained how the “four watches” alluded to in Mark 13:35 extended the September 6, 1994 date until then
For a while Camping also taught that September 6, 1994 was the right date after all — but for the beginning of the Great Tribulation, not Judgment Day. But in line with Camping’s theology that would mean the return of the Lord would have taken place no later than 2008.
Camping’s belief system is one part mainstream Christian teaching and another part pure Camping.
While many Christians accept similar teachings on the end times, (Pew has found that 41 percent of Americans think Jesus will “definitely or probably return to Earth before 2050”) most reject the idea that you can either know God’s timeline or that the Bible is embedded with secret codes.