The Sad Saga of Family Radio Continues

campingbillboardHarold Camping has done a lot of good. Many people, who might otherwise never have heard anything like Reformation Christianity, learned about the doctrines of grace and amillennialism (i.e., that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 are symbolic of the period between Christ’s ascension and his return) via his Family Radio network. Nevertheless, Harold has not always been a good boy. Sometimes he has been very naughty indeed. In the late 1980s he predicted that Jesus would return in 1994. Such predictions did damaged  congregations across America. We had a fellow in our congregation then who was, as it were, taken with Camping and was convinced that he was right in his calculations. Fortunately, this fellow’s faith was not shattered by Camping’s error, but not everyone was so blessed.

Later, not surprisingly, Camping would tell his followers that the age of the church is past. He published a book in 2005 to explain how he had miscalculated but not to admit that the entire attempt to predict Jesus’ return was fundamentally wrong. Then he made things even worse by repeating his earlier folly in May, 2011 (and here) Wrong again—Scripture 2, Camping 0.

Those who know him say that, behind the scenes, Camping had been saying things like this for years before the late 80s. Indeed, it was this sort of nuttiness that brought him under censure by his local Christian Reformed congregation, which he left. He’s been predicting Jesus’ return, repenting, and predicting, and erring for decades and still Christians continued to donate funds to his enterprise. America is a wonderful place isn’t it? There’s an essay in the volume Always Reformed (hardcover and e-book/Kindle format) that discusses how this is possible and why it is so difficult to be Reformed in a place where Sister Aimee Semple McPherson is more representative of the dominant form of Christianity than Martin Luther or John Calvin.

Saturday’s Contra Costa Times ran a story (HT: Billy Hallowell) on the state of the Family Radio empire. Just before the ostensible date of Jesus’ return, Camping’s enterprise was spending like there was no tomorrow, because Camping was convinced that there would not be one. Now, the financial chickens are coming home to roost. It seems as if the staff is playing a grim waiting game: can what is left of Camping’s great radio empire survive Camping himself. According to the story, it seems as if our false prophet is determined to take his platform with him despite his staff’s best efforts to preserve something of the network after he dies. Family Radio has sold three of its largest stations for enormous sums of money, enough to fund church planting in our little federation/denomination for years. Westminster Seminary California could graduate 35-50 confessionally Reformed ministerial candidates, church planters, and missionaries (among other vocations) annually for years with the money that Camping wasted on his rationalist, arrogant, autonomous  and ultimately embarrassing campaigns to warn the world of Christ’s return in May, 2011.

It’s a hard providence. It’s a story of foolishness and waste. It’s a tragedy. It’s a farce.

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  1. Forgive me if I don’t feel too terrible for his staffers when I consider all the deceived families who have faced financial ruin as a result of this wolf. Camping and Co. should be selling assets in order to provide these people with a new financial start. Yes, all of the “true believers” who placed their hopes and money in Camping have some responsibility in this, but Camping seems to always come out financially OK after one of his eschatological binges, as do his drinking buddies. All the other drunks left in his wake are left with empty bottles, empty bank accounts, and hungry, homeless kids.

  2. The worst part is that Christ’s name is dragged through the mud in all of this.

    Last Reformation Day while I listened to a local Christian radio show which has a Foursquare pastor as host, all he could talk about was Halloween. I called and asked why he didn’t he mention Reformation Day – he had no idea of what it was and had no concern of it after informing him of what it is. A Sister Aimee pupil like this is not much different than Camping, he’s a false teacher, but fortunately he doesn’t have the Camping funds to spread it as wide.

  3. Dear Mr. Clark.
    Judgment Day began in Ge 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    • Steve,

      If judgment DAY had begun I wouldn’t need you to point it out. Yes, there are consequences for sin (e.g., death) and 1 Peter says that judgment, in a sense, begins with the people of God, but the judgment DAY hasn’t begun. Scripture is quite clear that it won’t be a secret. That’s one of the major points of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.

  4. Mr. Clark,
    Figurative speaking in Ge 2:17 The TREE of the knowledge of good and evil is Christ himself. To KNOW evil means to EXPERIENCE evil. Our parents ate of the fruit of the tree (spiritually speaking) to be like God. Gen 3:5b “and ye shall be as god, knowing good and evil”. To experience (know) evil is referring to being under the wrath of God (judgment). For in the DAY that thou eatest thereof thou it — dying thou dost die. They died that DAY spiritually but not physically. As a matter of fact Adam lived 930 years till his death while he was continually under GODS judgment.
    Nidal Malik Hasan a mass murderer has been JUDGED, he has been giving the death penalty yet his execution has not been finalized and may not for years yet he is still judged. Now In 1PE 4:17 written by God dictated to Paul a servant it says “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: The House of God is speaking of Christ himself not the local churches, although they too are under great judgment as we speak. Christ was the first and the beginning of knowing (experience) the wrath of God for his elect. “And if first from us, what the end of those disobedient to the good news of God? In other words if Gods people are teaching another gospel what is going to be there outcome.

    Thx Steve

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