Is Harold Camping Deceitful or Delusional?

This past Sunday’s night “God at the Pub” discussion centered around Harold Camping, the return of Jesus and the end of the world. It was an excellent night and I hope to blog a bit of our conversation in a couple of posts.

Why would you go so far out of your way to predict the end of the world?
If you are wrong, you have not only embarrassed yourself, everyone you are associated with and the Church. And while I am not sure you can embarrass God (I mean can God really blush?), I do feel such antics do bring embarrassment and shame in the eyes of non-believers. Further, if you are wrong, you have created fear, maybe even panic, watered down your message and as we seen, become a punchline. It should also be noted that he’s not speaking for the Church, he is actually saying that Christians need to leave the church (and this is partially why he claims Jesus is coming). The one blessing is that he is disassociating himself from the Church.

So the question needs to be asked – why do this?

Is Harold Camping Deceitful?
The most common assumption for the campaign and possible deceit is money.
But as that relates to Camping, he is already wealthy. In fact, he is so wealthy that he (or his ministry, Family Radio) spent $3 Million on this campaign! He’s 89, how much more money does he think he needs? Further, 89 is an odd time to swindle. So I don’t think he is financially-motivated.

Is Harold Camping Delusional?
I understand that this is a potentially an offensive question but baring the facts, I think it must be asked. To some extent, Yes, I do think Camping is delusional. I do think it’s partially his age. But I also think that he is so desperate to leave a legacy that he is willing to create any type of attention to have it. He’s looking back at his life, he’s not satisfied and wants to be remembered.
I picture a few things:
1. He’s inspired by Donald Trump’s playbook – any hype is good hype.
2. He has surrounded himself with either a circle of “Yes Men” or created a system where there is no accountability or council.
3. He looks at old pictures, contemplates his labor and desperately wants to be remembered.

So I do think he is a bit delusional at this point. But after a careful look at his website, here’s why that isn’t a satisfactory answer either. His website (though completely aesthetically hideous. Should have spent some of the $3 million here) is a huge apologetic to his thesis. Meaning he’s not some old guy just rambling on the air (like a senile version of Rush Limbaugh) – he’s thought his argument through and I think he’s being a bit deceitful. If you have listened to him speak, he does seem to have some sense of self-awareness left (some). He is trying desperately to persuade and this is different than a prophet. The prophet proclaims “to whoever has hears” ear but this televangelist is a salesman and he has a pitch to win you over.

What Happens When His Prophecy of Jesus’ Return Not Happen on May 21st?
I guarantee you that Camping has not cancelled his routine doctor’s appointments next week. And while it’s humorous to think that he’s house-hunting in Pakistan (They’ll never of looking here again”), he’s old, he can’t run, not even emotionally – He’s not going into hiding.

This is tenth prediction, he knows he will be forgiven, this time he’s holding on to hope that he won’t be forgotten. That’s his worst fear and that’s why he is being delusional and bit deceitful.


  1. It is sad the amount of people who have bought into this. Will Harold Camping apologize for misleading them? When will everyone admit he is a false prophet (in the sense that he said something is going to happen and it didn’t)? I will apologize on May 22nd if May 21st is the end, but will he if it’s not?

    I do think he has canceled (or at least purposefully not scheduled) doctor appointments next week because he actually believes it. I’ve heard of people selling their homes, those diagnosed with cancer rejecting treatment, and so forth because of this belief.

  2. The Slothful One says:

    I remember when he did the same thing in 1994. If I may be so bold as to say, you guys really need to rethink this whole rapture thing. Its a concept completely alien to the whole of Church history and is the most pernicious teaching of the modern American Evangelical Church.

  3. @Evan. The more I am understanding him, the more I am less inclined to think that he will apologize. I expect him to come back on the air immediately and offer either another prediction or a blaming the unfaithfulness or lack of belief of the church for why Jesus (and the earthquake) didn’t come.

    @ Mark. Fair point indeed. It’s really only been Evangelical Protestants of the last 70-80 years though. Most mainliners (like Presbyterian, etc.) don’t subscribe to the belief of the rapture.

  4. Great points, Tim. Thanks for posting. There’s been a lot of discussion at work about this by the students. Some are confused, some think it’s a joke, and others asked me if they should be scared. :(

  5. The Slothful One says:

    A blog I recently visited stated it best,

    “The Tribulation is for Christians to save in, not to be saved from.”

  6. Hey Laura, thank for reading. Yeah, I have seen similar in many young people too.

    @Slothful, I like that idea. The more recent post describes Jesus’ return as a good thing and hopefully as Christians, we would share our hope with those outside the church rather than fear and panic.

  7. This is a complete hoax and we are going to live tomorrow and everyone that is believing this guy is stupid and needs to go beg their job to let them come back on and find a place to stay and get their life back on track. Do you all understand what I am saying to you. The world is going to be completely okay and I am going to sleep now and enjoying my day tomorrow. Goodbye…Happy Rapture Day!!!!!!!

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