Those of us who listened to Harold Camping a long time before May 21, 2011, know that the Biblical calendar was one of his most treasured subjects for decades. Even though I can’t say with certainty why God let him teach it so dogmatically, I can say that the failure of Mr. Camping’s prediction brought to light that many people had been trusting him too much, including me, placing his teaching on par with or even above the Word of God. Some no doubt learned the lesson, including Mr. Camping himself. Others clearly didn’t. God can work His will in anything, even this whole ugly business, just as He worked His will through the bald-faced lie Jacob told his father to take Esau’s blessing.
In the end, much to my relief, Mr. Camping repented that he had ever taught man could predict the time of Christ’s return. It reminds me somewhat of Solomon, who worshipped idols and multiplied wives by the hundreds, clearly extremely sinful, even though God saved him. I’m almost certain Mr. Camping is with the LORD at this very moment.
It was very hard for me to let go of the calendar. I was afraid that if I didn’t hold to it, it would mean that I was not saved after all. This stemmed from a strong belief that, since God had worked through Family Radio and through Mr. Camping to help me learn important truths, such as predestination, he must also be working through the same vehicles to warn me of the date of Christ’s return. I wanted to heed that for fear of disbelieving the Bible, but the Bible was not where my trust really was when it came to the Biblical timeline and the return of Christ. It was in Mr. Camping.
I believe that God has been angry, specifically due to the trust that so many put in Mr. Camping. I point the finger squarely at myself first and foremost as chief among these. The failed prophesy of May 21, 2011, being the day of the rapture was a testing program that brought this to light. Obviously different people reacted in different ways.
I’m convinced that true believers are under a degree of judgment in this age. Interestingly, it’s chiefly because of this passage:
“For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
That’s right. I don’t believe that 1 Peter 4:17 references the corporate church at all. A careful reading of the verse and its context reveals a stern indictment of the body of true believers. This is where I’m sure some of God’s anger is directed now. In the end, God’s people will be fine, but we are not immune to some degree of God’s anger.
“In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8 AV)
It seemed very much like there was a lot more witnessing going on before May 21, 2011, more mission trips with Family Radio as sponsor/facilitator, and the like. Family Radio was a huge player in the sending forth of the true Gospel for many years, and I believe it probably is currently a conduit of the true Gospel.
However, for several years immediately before that date, Family Radio’s predominant teaching was that of May 21, 2011 being the date of the rapture. There was also a deviation from other foundational teachings on the part of Mr. Camping and as a consequence Family Radio.
For instance, there was the teaching of the third covenant, which basically amounted to a theory that there was another new covenant for our time consisting of progressive revelation. This was in addition to the New Covenant, traditionally and correctly understood to be that of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection to fulfill the law and abolish its condemnation against God’s elect. The third covenant teaching was confusing and didn’t hold up to sustained scrutiny.
Family Radio also began to teach annihilation under Mr. Camping’s leadership, which the Bible simply doesn’t support. It’s impossible to reconcile with the Bible’s multitudinous warnings of eternal punishment, eternal fire, resurrection to everlasting contempt for the unsaved, etc.
Another of Family Radio’s teachings was the concept of the tableau, which asserted that the punishment Jesus suffered didn’t happen at the time of the cross, that it was all for show and that Christ underwent all the real punishment before the world began.
Family Radio began to teach that man is not totally depraved, contradicting yet another foundational teaching of Christianity set forth in the Bible with God’s declaration that there is none that doeth good, no not one.
The errors kept piling on with Family Radio, breaking down the foundational tenets of the New Testament, leavening the whole lump, with EBible Fellowship following suit on most if not all points. I suspect their declaration that the Bible guaranteed the return of Christ on May 21, 2011 was simply the final straw. This was a blatant prophesy that didn’t come to pass, but a great deal of damage had already been done with the other false teachings. They had been trusting in man, Mr. Camping being in the lead but by no means alone in his status as trustee.
Where am I going with all this anyway? The question is how much real witnessing of the true gospel there was before the big date. I do think that before all these teachings started cropping up there was more, but at some point—and it’s uncertain when—that witness became increasingly quiet, and it only seemed like there was a lot more sound evangelism taking place because Family Radio and EBible Fellowship were bigger and there was more social interaction between the people who were interested in those organizations. It all came to a screeching halt after May 21, 2011. The entire social and spiritual infrastructure collapsed and became a shadow of what it had been. Family Radio lost a tremendous amount of money and support and had to sell some of its greatest assets in order to avoid folding. Now it’s a much humbler affair. EBible Fellowship became isolationist except for their mission trips to spread the closed-door teaching, which I think is nothing more than an attempt to expand their following, whether or not they are conscious that this was the case. People who had appeared to be good friends lost touch with each other (I speak from experience). At least some groups that existed because of Family Radio and EBible Fellowship broke apart.
That whole world came crashing down after May 21, 2011 and consequently reduced the May 21 defenders’ ability to spread their destructive message of Biblical timelines and closed doors. Some people repented while others haven’t. Some may yet repent while others won’t.
The fact that May 21, 2011, was the date when it all happened to come to a head is not spiritually significant.
I do believe that God has partially curtailed the spreading of the true gospel. It seems that any organization under a human spiritual authority like Chris McCann’s EBible Fellowship has had that commission taken from them entirely. I believe that God has given that blessing to people who understand their own spiritual frailty, those who consciously and actively fear falling into the same traps as actual churches, as well as other assemblies that don’t use the word “church” to describe themselves, but are structured the same even if they also don’t employ terms like “pastor” or “deacon.”
Family radio’s spiritual structure seems to have changed, as near as I can tell. Tom Evans teaches on his weekday broadcasts, but I don’t sense the same hauteur there. Perhaps God is willing to use them to spread the gospel again. I also think that it’s the least esteemed among us whom God is more likely to utilize to send forth His message of salvation for whatever remaining time we have.
“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 AV)
“Verily thou [art] a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isaiah 45:15 AV)
“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21 AV)
I believe true evangelism is going to be low-key, but since the day of salvation is not yet past, it is definitely going forth. God’s Word will not return to Him empty, even if we don’t get to observe the salvation of swaths of individuals. We might not see much of the fruit of that evangelism, at least not before the very end. Truth be told, I didn’t witness or hear about much conversion way back in the day either.
All that being said, I’m convinced that we should each be concerned with our own service to God. I wrote an entire e-book criticizing a specific teaching and of necessity naming names. The purpose was to provide a convenient way to point to Scripture passages that directly contradict a teaching that has caused widespread harm and maligned God’s Word to a horrifying degree. I’m also getting specific about Family Radio, Harold Camping, EBible Fellowship, and Chris McCann for search engine optimization in hopes of leading someone who fears that salvation is over and needs help finding the hope of God’s Word to the clear statements of the Bible and to put an end to needless terror about the closed-door teaching through those wonderful Words of life.
We can observe and speculate all we like about the ministries of others, but the ones we should actually judge are ourselves, and we do that by going to the Bible. Yes, I use my blog to point out what I learn from the Bible, and I wrote a book, etc. People have to stumble on God’s Word somewhere, and a human being is permitted to and should share the Bible without reservation. In all cases, The Bible must be the standard by which we judge ourselves and by which we must try the spirits, by which we must weigh the religious teachings of men.