It's now 12:03am on May 22. It's safe to say that Harold Camping's prophesied Judgment Day never materialized in northern California - not at 6:00pm as predicted, not any time. Reportedly, he placed a phone call to his daughter sometime Saturday morning saying "I'm a little bewildered that it didn't happen, but it's still May 21 [in the United States] ... It's going to be May 21 from now until midnight."
Well, it's after midnight, Mr. Camping, and you're still here. If that doesn't humble you a little, I'm not sure anything would.
I've been listening to Camping on and off for 15 years. The psychology of such a man is truly puzzling. I believe he is utterly sincere and isn't trying to deceive anyone. I don't believe he did this for the money: he spent $100 million on this campaign to spread the word and has not replaced that with subsequent donations. He's never taken a salary from Family Radio. He appears to be a savy businessman in his own right, and if he wanted a life of luxury he would have no need of donations. Besides, he's 89 years old, and amassing personal wealth at that age is rather pointless.
Neither do I believe that he wants to be the leader of a cult. He freely admits that a large percentage of his 350 employees at Family Radio do not share his views, and that he doesn't make it a litmus test for employment. He also admits that most members of his own family reject his doomsday calculations. He may be crazy, but he's no Fred Phelps.
Neither do I believe he wants to make some kind of a name for himself in the world. If he's right, the world is gone in five months. If he's wrong, he's not only an object of mockery in the world but also of anger and contempt among his ex-followers.
What's in it for him, then? Quite possibly - nothing. Sometimes pride is its own reward. And that's why the most likely explanation for it all is the power of demonic influences. Christianity gets a black eye, some Christians lose their faith, and Harold Camping loses his soul - not a bad deal for the Father of Lies.
Mr. Camping may be a mathematical wizard, but he's no logician. His conclusions do not follow from his premises. He appears not to know or care how to contruct a decent syllogism. It's not that he lacks intelligence, but that his intelligence is a loose canon. A few days ago a caller asked, "But what if you're wrong?" As usual, Mr. Camping responded as though the caller attacked the Bible itself rather than questioned Mr. Camping's bizarre interpretation. He drones on and on about not trusting any man: trust only the Bible, only the Word of God, he insists. And yet he seems not to realize that he is asking everyone to trust him that his interpretations are correct.
My prayer for Harold Camping's followers is simply that they realize the dangerous insufficiency of the Bible without the Church. The Bible needs interpreting. If they had been listening to the right interpreter - to an interpreter with real authority from God - they would not have been deceived, and they would have avoided needless anxiety and heartache. The Bible itself is clear about this :
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Pet 3:16)".
"And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? (Acts: 8:30-31)"
"Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)"
"He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16)"
It's a question of trusting Jesus Christ, who established an authoritative, indefectible Chuch - without which we would not have a Bible to interpret (or misinterpret, for that matter) - on the rock of Peter and his successsors, the popes. To reject any human mediation in understanding the Bible is, paradoxically, to be vulnerable to the deceptions of self-appointed "prophets" like Harold Camping who are, in fact, playing for the other team. Jesus knows this, and for that reason He has not left us alone with our Bibles, prey to wolves clothed innocently as sheep - wolves who will tell a thousand truths so that we might believe just one damnable lie.