One of the more controversial media personalities Harold Camping who at the height of his notoriety was best known for his end of the world predictions that failed to materialize in 2011 passed away at home at the age of 92-years in Alameda, California on Sunday, November 15th surrounded by family.
Camping drew international attention for his Oakland based Family Radio ministry by predicting a doomsday date on several occasions, the most widespread date being May 21 of 2011 as thousands of billboards were purchased to pronounce the ill-fated day.
Many Camping followers sold their possessions, quit their jobs, and invested their life savings to spend months traveling domestically and internationally warning of the coming cataclysmic day.
Controversy stalked Camping long before the prognostications of the end of the world when back in 1958 Camping along with those with a Christian Reformed, Baptist, and Presbyterian backgrounds purchased a radio station in San Francisco, California that ultimately became the platform for Family Radio and an “Open Forum” program which Camping hosted until his retirement in July, 2011.
The "Open Forum" program featured a live weekly call in program which listeners would ask questions about the Bible. Camping’s Family Radio broadcasts expanded to more than 150 stations owned by Family Radio and would feature interesting and lively exchanges between callers and Camping’s opinion about the Bible.
Camping published personal thoughts on the Creation and the age of the Earth that would conflict with those of more theological standing. It did not stop him from self-declaring that those with a different opinion were flawed in their thinking. This stand would be the direction many conversations with listeners would take should they disagree with Camping on the radio during broadcasts.
The deep baritone voice of Camping would ultimately overtake the conversation during the majority of disagreements as he would then transition to the next caller with his signature “and may we have our next caller please, welcome to Family Radio”.
Camping left the Christian Reformed Church around 1988 and began teachings that conflicted with those doctrines. He departed also from the Calvinist doctrines and began teaching that humans are not totally depraved and salvation was a pure work of God’s grace that could not be achieved by humans. Camping believed in annihilationism which declares life will end and existence will cease for an unsaved soul.
Camping taught that all churches have become apostate and thus must be abandoned as he personally encouraged people to listen to his Family Radio broadcasts. Camping did not classify his Family Radio ministry as a church and thus was not a part of the church establishment.
Support for Camping’s ministry dwindled severely following the false predictions as the congregational following of Camping shrunk to about 25 people as a result of the controversy of 2011 according to News24 which attempted to contact followers of Camping. Contributions to the ministry practically disappeared as many began labeling Camping as a false prophet of a cult.
Many of Camping’s followers declined to talk to the media and avoided being interviewed in spite of repeated requests to speak to Family Radio supporters.
It is a regrettable conclusion to a ministry that otherwise attempted to spread the good news of the gospel by a man with a vision to utilize radio as a vehicle to do so. Unfortunately somewhere along the way Camping lost his way.