The man who said the world was going to end on May 21, 2011 appeared at his front door in Alameda, California a day later, very much alive but not so well.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
“It has been a really tough weekend,” said Harold Camping, the 89-year-old fundamentalist radio preacher who convinced hundreds of his followers that the rapture would occur on Saturday at 6 p.m. […]
“I’m looking for answers,” Camping said, adding that meant frequent prayer and consultations with friends.
“But now I have nothing else to say,” he said, closing the door to his home. “I’ll be back to work Monday and will say more then.”
The 89-year-old radio preacher, whose brand of Biblical literalism has built a $120m empire which owns 160 radio stations in 49 countries, staked his credibility, along with tens of millions of dollars of his fortune, on the prediction that the world would end on May 21st.
Quite how he now feels at joining the likes of Nostradamus and Chicken Little among history’s great punchlines is unknown. The question of whether he will be apologising to the followers who quit their jobs and in some cases spent their life savings spreading his doomsday message is for now un-answered.
While refusing to give an interview Camping told a reporter for the International Business Times that he’s got to live with the fact that his predictions failed:
Meanwhile many of the preacher’s followers will have to live with the fact that they spent their life savings promoting the teachings of a man who had already shown himself to be a false prophet as far back as 1994 — when he had claimed the world would end that year.
Says The Independent:
In New York’s Times Square, Robert Fitzpatrick, a Family Radio Listener who spent his life savings of $140,000 on billboards advertising the May 21st prophesy told the Associated Press that he was “surprised” to still be standing there at 6.01pm. “I can’t tell you how I feel right now,” he said. […]
Meanwhile in California’s Antelope Valley, a 47-year-old mother of two, Lyn Benedetto was recently arrested for attempted murder-suicide after slitting the throat and wrists of her two daughters, because she was convinced that the world is ending.
They are unlikely to be the last victims of pre-apocalypse hysteria in coming months. A billboard near Oakland airport was today erected touting a Mayan prophesy, which suggests the world will in fact now end some time in 2012.
At the time of this writing Camping’s Family Radio website still displays a message stating that the Bible guarantees Judgment Day to take place on May 21, 2011. A countdown clock shows there are ’00 days left.’
Family Radio: a cult of Christianity
While Harold Camping says that he believes the Bible to be the sole and authoritative word of God, he nevertheless has a number of unbiblical teachings.
Camping explained the failure of his 1994 end-of-the-world prophecy by saying he had made a miscalculation. He later claimed that Jesus return to Earth on September 6, 1994 – in a mystical way – taking the Holy Spirit back to heaven.
He has no formal Bible training and does not known Greek or Hebrew. Instead he relies on private interpretation.
Camping believes that the institutional church has fallen into apostasy, and that God has established Family Radio as the sole beacon of truth — ideally suited to spread the Gospel and teach Christians. He claims that God no longer uses local churches, and says that Christians should come out of the churches and not submit to the authority of any church body, but instead meet informally.
In addition Camping denies the doctrine of the Trinity, by stating that Christ is a mere mode of God, not a different person within the Godhead. The doctrine of the Trinity is considered one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.
This makes Camping’s Family Radio theologically a cult of Christianity. [Note the difference between theological and sociological definitions of the term ‘cult’]
Sociologically many of the false prophet’s followers display a cult-like devotion to Camping’s teachings — forsaking the Bible’s call for spiritual discernment in favor of discredited theories.