of Membership in the Church (Institute)
Harold Camping, founder and head of Family Stations
Inc. (otherwise known as "Family Radio") was known for many years as a
Calvinistic radio Bible teacher. His fame rose to notoriety, however,
when in 1992 he published a book entitled 1994? in which he
predicted that the world would end and Christ would come in September,
1994. Camping’s prophecy, of course, proved to be false but he defended
himself with the claim that he had never actually predicted the date
with absolute certainty, but only that he believed on the basis of his
calculations that the end was likely on that date. That was a
False prophets who remain stiff-necked are often
given over to greater error, and such has proven to be the case with Mr.
Camping. With some clever re-calculation, Camping then began to promote
his thesis that 1994 is the correct date, not of the end of the
world, but of the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which, according
to Camping, is not characterized by a personal Antichrist and physical
persecution of the true church, but universal apostasy, the reign of
Satan in all churches in the world, and the end of "the Church Age."
Since 1994, therefore, God has abandoned the instituted church and
salvation is no longer possible in the churches and congregations of the
world, because God has removed His Holy Spirit and given the task of
world evangelisation (which for over 1950 years was entrusted to the
church) to ministries like Family Radio. All this he has set forth in a
book, The End of the Church Age … and After, published in 2002,
ten years after his failed prophecy in 1992.
With increasing boldness, Camping continues his
attack on the instituted churches. In 2003 he published a book, Wheat
and Tares, in which he claims that all those who remain in the
churches and congregations in spite of Camping’s "gospel" to depart out
of the churches are tares (unbelievers) and that God is gathering the
wheat (elect believers) for harvest through the call of Camping’s
"come-out-of-them" "gospel." In his latest book, Time Has An End, A
Biblical History of the World 11,103 BC - 2011 AD (published in
2005) he predicts that Christ will return in 2011.2 The
rapture, he claims, will occur on 21 May, 2011, followed by 153 days of
tribulation on earth for the unsaved, with the world ending on 21
October, 2011. Camping's false eschatology also includes his denial of
eternal punishment (contrast Matt. 25:46; Rev. 14:10-11).
Why should we be interested in such an obvious fool
as Harold Camping? Should we not dismiss him as completely irrelevant to
the Reformed churches? Regrettably, we do not have that luxury. Harold
Camping is a dangerous influence on church members all across the world.
Although no statistics are available, many have forsaken instituted
churches on his "authority."3 Therefore, we do well to warn
the people of God against false prophets like Camping (Deut. 13:1-4;
18:20-22; Matt. 24:4) and to remind ourselves of our positive calling to
be living, active members of true instituted churches; to seek out a
true church if we are currently members of apostate or departing
churches, or if we live in isolation from the true church, no matter
what the cost.
II. Camping’s Teachings
A. The Whole Bible is a Parable
Camping’s problem is his hermeneutical approach.
Although he claims that everything he teaches is from the Bible, he
twists the Scriptures to his own destruction (II Peter 3:16). He
complains that churches today trust in human doctrines and inveighs
against the creeds and confessions of most churches. He has a Bible, a
concordance and an overactive imagination. Camping follows the
allegorical method. For him everything in Scripture is a picture of a
deeper spiritual reality. Therefore he ignores the context and the
meaning of words, grammar and syntax as the Spirit has given them.4
This has been Camping’s method for many years. In 1986 he published his
First Principles of Bible Study, in which he sets this forth. "While
it [i.e., a text] may have only one level of meaning, it may also have
as many as three," he writes.5 Camping sees the potential
danger of this method but presses on regardless. He admits, "We all have
within us the possibility of deception … at times even the most careful
teacher will be in error."6 He adds, "But isn’t it dangerous
to attempt to discover deeper spiritual meaning within the Bible? Won’t
this lead to all kinds of fanciful interpretations?"7
Indeed it will! Undeterred, Camping confidently allegorizes with
reckless abandon. In the more recent Wheat and Tares, Camping
exults in his discovery that the early church excelled in allegorical
exegesis (by the early church, he especially means Origen). This to
Camping is a confirmation that he has been right all along and he now
laments that the Reformers, while rightly rejecting many of Rome’s
errors, threw out the excellent hermeneutical principles of men like
These very same principles of interpretation have
been taught by Family Radio during the past several decades …even
though Family Radio was completely unaware of Origen’s teachings.8
The conclusions adopted by the Reformers became
the seeds of death for the church. Instead of realizing the Biblical
correctness of Origen’s position on Bible interpretation and
carefully fine-tuning the Biblical rules to protect it, they threw
away everything he taught and developed a Biblical hermeneutic that
was completely unbiblical.9
Therefore, only men like Camping can really
understand the Bible today. They have a special knowledge to which
traditional expositors cannot attain. If a believing pastor merely
studies the context, the words, the grammar (even with a knowledge of
the original languages, which Camping does not have, despite the many
references to Greek and Hebrew in his books10) he will never
be able to arrive at the true meaning and preach the main idea of the
text in his sermons. All pastors today have been handicapped in their
seminary training so that they are unable to expound the word. Those
hampered by the "historical-grammatical literal hermeneutic" have
according to Camping "effectively locked the door to a correct
understanding of many Scripture verses and then [thrown] away the key."11
They are therefore "unable to understand anything the Bible teaches
about the end of the church age … they consistently complain that those
who teach that the church age has ended are spiritualising. They are
correct in their allegations because that is the way God wrote the
Harold Camping behaves like a cult leader. Denying
the ability of the church institute to preach the gospel, he tells his
readers that this is the time in God’s master plan for believers outside
the churches to evangelise the world. Where are we to hear the Word,
then? Camping informs his readers that they can hear the gospel from
faithful ministries "such as" Family Radio, but we search in vain for
the names of any other ministries apart from Family Radio. For example,
he writes in Wheat and Tares, "As believers study their Bibles
and receive help in their Bible studies from a source such as Family
Radio, they become acquainted with God’s master plan."13 The
words "such as" are a subterfuge. There is no other source. Similarly,
in another place he writes, "While we see the church world falling into
decay all over the world, at the same time, we see ministries like
Family Radio flourishing as they send the true Gospel all over the
world."14 Again, the word "like" is a smokescreen. No
other ministry is named or commended in any of Camping’s books as a
suitable source of gospel preaching.
In addition Camping rejects the perspicuity of
Scripture: "Unfortunately, the concept of the perspicuity of Scripture,
which is very commonly taught in our day, is completely contrary to the
Bible."15 Of course, Camping must reject the perspicuity of
Scripture, for none of his outlandish teachings concerning the "End of
the Church Age" are clearly taught
in Scripture, nor can they by good and necessary consequence be derived
therefrom (c.f. Westminster Confession 1:6).
To justify his hermeneutical approach Camping appeals
to Mark 4:34: "But without a parable spake he not unto them," and
pronounces with characteristic confidence that on the basis of this
text, "we can be certain that the whole Bible is presented to us
with a great number of absolutely trustworthy historical facts, but
until we find the Gospel meaning hidden within these historical facts,
we have not begun to receive the rich spiritual blessings that are
inherent in every part of the Bible."16 Mark 4:34 cannot bear
the weight Camping wants to put on it. The text does not mean that all
the Bible is a parable. It simply means that Jesus ordinarily taught the
people with parables. Camping ignores the context and especially the
second half of the verse: "and when they were alone he expounded all
things to his disciples." Moreover, in John 16:29 the disciples
exclaim, "Lo, now speakest thou plainly and speakest no proverb."
Allegorical exegesis is a serious error and Camping
is a sad example of it run amok. James White points out the folly of
Allegorical interpretations have no more
authority than the one proclaiming them … There is not the first bit
of rational connection between the passages Camping cites … Harold
Camping cannot demonstrate that his teachings carry the authority of
the Bible, for as soon as he says, "this is a picture of this," he
has left the inspired text behind and is now simply giving you the
imaginations of his own heart.17
B. Camping’s Obituary of the Church
Camping’s teaching is this. God’s program of
salvation has been divided into three periods in the New Testament: the
"early rain," the "spiritual famine" (or Great Tribulation) and the
"latter rain." God was pleased to use the instituted churches and
congregations to proclaim the gospel for most of the New Testament Age.
In His patience He endured the sins of the churches and congregations,
but just as His patience ended for the people of God in the Old
Testament, when He destroyed both Israel and Judah in the captivities of
Assyria and Babylon respectively, so the time has now come when God has
destroyed (spiritually) the churches and congregations of our day. Since
Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13:8),
Camping writes, "we can therefore expect a similar complete destruction
of the corporate body again."18 This destruction is, however,
not physical but spiritual. We can see the churches and the
congregations in the world, but they are all apostate; they all teach
false gospels; they are all synagogues of Satan, where Satan rules by
means of human doctrines which are not based completely on Scripture.
Duncan and Talbot point out that Camping is guilty of gross
generalization concerning the state of the church today: "however
critical we may be about the church … Camping’s assessment of the
current situation is exaggerated and myopic."19
C. Camping’s Acrophobia: The Fear of "High Places"
Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Scripture assures
us that "height" cannot separate the believer from the love of God (Rom.
8:39) but Camping believes that "high places" have caused Christ to cast
off His church.
In the Old Testament, Israel and Judah were
frequently guilty of erecting high places to worship false gods. High
places were places of worship apart from the temple in which the people
worshipped idols. King Jeroboam set high places up as rival worship to
the temple in Jerusalem (I Kings 13). In Judah, also, the people
provoked God to anger with their high places (I Kings 14). The godly
kings of Judah failed to remove the high places (Asa, I Kings 15;
Jehoshaphat, I Kings 22; Joash, II Kings 14) with the exception of
Hezekiah (II Kings 18) and Josiah (II Kings 23). Despite Josiah’s
reforms, it was too late, writes Camping, for Judah to be spared.
Camping’s thesis is that God destroyed the Old Testament church because
of their idolatrous high places and that the New Testament church has
been destroyed for the same reason.
This is a startling claim. In order to "prove" it, he
jumps to II Corinthians 10 where he reads the words "every high thing
that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (v. 5). In Camping’s
mind the word "high" in II Corinthians must mean the same as the word
"high" in "high places." Camping then explains that New Testament high
places are the confessions of the churches. The churches retain
doctrines in their creeds which in Camping’s view are not altogether
faithful to the Bible. Therefore the churches stand condemned for
erecting high places which are "doctrines solemnly adopted by churches …
high places in that they have come from the exalted minds of men."20
God has been patient for over 1950 years. He has used the church to
bring the gospel to the world despite her high places but the time has
come for God to destroy the high places. He must do this because He did
this in the Old Testament. God’s dealings with His church are not
uniform but Camping ignores this fact. He "finds" the prophecy that God
will destroy the New Testament high places hidden in II Corinthians
10:6: "and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience when your
obedience is fulfilled." The application is obvious, at least to Harold
In this very revealing passage God is declaring
that punishment will come when the obedience of the churches will
have been fulfilled; that is, when their work of sending the Gospel
into the world has been finished.21
It means nothing of the kind. James White rightly
exposes how ludicrous this interpretation is:
First no effort is made to explain how this
passage refers to "high places." Does the mere repetition of the
word "high" somehow indicate identity? … To read into these words
some future prophecy about the end of the church age is simply
ridiculous on its face. Camping’s "that is their work of sending the
Gospel into the world has been finished" has no basis in the text,
and Camping does not even attempt to provide a logical connection
for his complete misreading of the words of Scripture.22
There is nothing in the context to indicate
that Camping’s exegesis has any merit. The "obedience" referred to here
is that of the Corinthians to whom Paul is writing. Paul writes in verse
2 that he does not want to have to be bold when he comes to Corinth. In
light of the rebellion present in the congregation, he fears that he
will have to be bold to deal with the situation there. He warns the
Corinthians of the power that he possesses (vv. 4-5) and tells them that
he is prepared to use this power ("spiritual and mighty weapons")
against those who are sinning in the congregation at Corinth ("a
readiness to revenge all disobedience") but that he is waiting for the
Corinthians themselves to administer discipline ("your obedience"). If
the Corinthians’ obedience is fulfilled, Paul will have no need to come
to Corinth in boldness wielding his spiritual weapons. When we consider
the historical and grammatical context in the light of all Scripture
sober exegesis is the result. Would that Camping could see that!
Camping’s New Testament "high places" thus fall to
D. Satan is Ruling in the Churches
The Scriptures predict a fearful time in the future
when Antichrist will rule until he is finally destroyed at the Second
Coming of Christ. The Antichrist will be a man. He will set himself up
as God to be worshipped as God, and aided and abetted by the false
prophet and the false church (Babylon, the Whore of the Beast), he will
seduce the whole world, except the true church, whom he will persecute.
The saints will be ostracized, unable to buy or sell; they will be
imprisoned and executed because of their refusal to worship the
Antichrist or to have any part in his false religion.
Camping spiritualises all of this and announces to
the world that Antichrist is here now. He is now ruling. He is now
persecuting true believers. The reason we cannot see him is because
is Satan, and he is ruling by means of false gospels, through
which he has made the churches and congregations spiritually desolate.
Believers are being killed today, for "we can understand," writes
Camping, "that to be killed is equivalent to being driven out of the
churches."23 He appeals to John 16:2 but this passage does
not teach that to be driven out of the synagogues is the same as
being killed. Christ’s disciples are both driven out and
killed. In Camping’s mind "being driven out of the churches" is itself
equivalent to being commanded to leave.24 Believers today
cannot buy or sell either because, as Camping demonstrates by jumping
around Scripture, the inability to buy or sell really means "no one can
bring the Gospel there unless they have the mark of the beast."25
In addition, the mark of the beast "consists of the unsaved within the
churches" and worshipping that mark is the sin of revering doctrines
invented by men.26 To complete the explanation, Camping
reveals to us that when the Beast (that is, Satan) calls down fire out
of heaven in the last days (Rev. 13:13) this really means that he causes
people to fall down backwards in the "slain the Spirit" phenomenon. The
Charismatic movement is cited as proof positive that we are now in the
Thus, Camping outdoes the Dispensationalists by
assuring us that there will be no personal Antichrist in the future, and
lulls the church into a false sense of security. The church must know
that her calling, especially in the last days, will be to suffer. She
must be prepared for that. Camping’s heresy is not only ecclesiological,
but also eschatological. The Bride of Christ may not listen to him and
be found asleep when persecution comes.
Camping appeals to Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21,
all of which record Christ’s warning concerning the destruction of
Jerusalem and the end of the world. In the Olivet discourse Christ warns
of a day when the disciples will see the "abomination of desolation" in
the holy place and that they then must flee from Jerusalem (Matt.
24:15). The most straightforward meaning of this text is this: Daniel
the prophet prophesied an abomination which would make the temple in
Jerusalem desolate. This occurred during the reign of Antiochus
Epiphanes (175-164 BC) but had a secondary fulfilment in AD 70 when the
temple was again defiled by idolatry. When, therefore, the disciples see
a similar desecration of the temple in the future (this happened in AD
70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem) the urgent command is to flee in
order to escape the inevitable bloodbath when Jerusalem will be
surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). All of this, of course, foreshadows
the "great and final violation by the antichrist of all that is sacred."27
Camping, unsurprisingly, does not opt for the
straightforward meaning of the text. The abomination of desolation is
Satan. The holy place is where the gospel is, that is the churches and
congregations of the church age. Jerusalem, Judea, the Temple, all are
pictures of the church from which the believer must flee:
The holy place is the temple, and the temple
includes all of the churches and congregations throughout the world.
In this study we have seen that he [i.e., Satan] is now ruling in
congregations throughout the world, so the test of Matthew 24:15 is
fulfilled without any question. Therefore, Christ has commanded that
we must leave the church.28
How can the temple be the church, and at the same
time Judea and Jerusalem be the church? We are not told. Having seen
Satan in the temple (that is, in the instituted church), and having left
Judea and Jerusalem (that is, the instituted church), the disciples of
Christ must flee to the mountains which means "flee to Christ or to God"
(He is the mountain; Ps. 121:1). Camping may not arbitrarily make the
word "mountain" refer to God. The meaning of mountain must be discovered
from the context! To give one example, Jeremiah 3:23 teaches that
salvation is hoped for in vain from the hills and the multitude of
mountains. In the context of Matthew 24 mountain simply means mountain.
Camping adds a few more pictures of the church to persuade his readers.
In Luke 17:31 Christ commands, "he that shall be upon the housetop … let
him not come down." Camping assures us that "the housetop is identified
with bringing the Gospel" and that the house is the church.29
Therefore this text means "as judgment comes upon the church the true
believer is to stay outside the church bringing the Gospel to the
This spiritual desolation of the churches and
congregations is universal. Camping returns to the temple to prove this.
Because Christ indicates that in the predicted destruction of the temple
"not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down"
(Luke 21:5-6), Camping concludes that not one church will remain
standing in the Great Tribulation. No believer may say that his church
is exempt. No matter how faithful his church seems to be (even if the
three marks of the true church are there) God has spoken: there will be
no structure left. The church institute is destroyed: "God declares that
there will not be left one stone upon another. This means that God’s
usage of the churches and congregations has come to an end."31
Christ has cast off His Body and abandoned His Bride?
He has ceased building His church. He has smashed His building to
rubble? What blasphemy!
E. God Continues His Work Outside the Churches
Although God in His wrath has destroyed the church
institute, the gospel must still be proclaimed. Camping acknowledges
that God has been using the church to evangelise the world since
Pentecost but now He will continue His saving plan outside of the
churches. There is, of course, not a scrap of biblical evidence for this
assertion but Camping assures his followers that this is indeed the
case. God has prepared the way for Family Radio:
It was God’s good pleasure to continue this
method of reaching the world with Christ until God had securely put
in place the ability of believers to reach whole continents for
hours each day with the true Gospel.32
Family Radio is the "loud voice" of Revelation 14:7:
Surely, as we are able to send the Gospel by
radio and internet and satellite broadcasting so that it can be
clearly heard in the homes of people all over the world it is going
forth with a loud voice.33
How convenient! As Duncan and Talbot put it, "The
organizational church’s demise does not daunt him—we’ve got radio, he
says."34 We are now in the "latter rain" period where God is
saving a vast multitude of souls outside of the church institute.
Camping finds proof for this in Revelation 8:1: "this half hour of
silence must be understood to be the first part of the Great
Tribulation during which heaven was not saving people by means of the
Gospel going forth from the churches."35 In addition, Paul in
Acts 28 is allegedly a picture of true believers preaching the gospel to
the elect during the "latter rain" period: "Christ is no longer using
the churches … He is still using believers, but these believers are no
longer part of the corporate church."36
This is absurd. Paul was an apostle, sent by the
instituted church at Antioch to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts
13:2-3). He is not a picture of anything else except in Camping’s
F. Intra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus
The church has traditionally confessed extra
ecclesiam nulla salus or "outside the church is no salvation."
Camping has turned that on its head and now proclaims that inside the
church is no salvation! Those who, in spite of the clear (sic!)
command to leave the churches, stubbornly refuse to depart are doomed.
This is Camping’s most controversial teaching. In The End of the
Church Age … and After, he is more cautious about the spiritual
state of those who refuse to obey his (i.e., Camping’s) call. He writes
that if a person "persists in disobeying God’s commands to depart out of
the local church it may be evidence that he has the mark of the
beast."37 In Wheat and Tares he is unequivocal. Those
who remain in the church are tares, and God is using the gospel
(of Family Radio) to call the wheat out of the instituted congregations
with the result that "the congregation will consist only of those who
are servants of Satan."38 True believers are the "angels" of
the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13 and by Camping’s
"gospel" God is "separating the wheat from the tares."39
Camping speaks of the "super, super, terrible sin" of refusing to leave
the church and warns that those who disobey are "still under Satan’s
authority."40 This is scare-mongering at its worst.
Even worse is Camping’s emotional blackmail directed
towards parents. You may be saved, he says, but what about your
children? If the Holy Spirit is not in the midst of the congregation,
then the children will not be saved: "That family has a serious problem
that can only be remedied by leaving the congregation."41
Take your children out of church—all churches and every church!—remove
them from the influence of solid catechetical instruction. This is
Camping’s call and in making it he offends Christ’s little ones. Woe to
him (Matt. 18:6)! And all of this is based on an allegorical and
nonsensical interpretation of Lamentations 2:11-12 and Matthew 24:19!42
III. Camping Refuted
A. The Perpetuity of the Church
We have seen what Camping teaches and have noted the
foundation of sinking-sand, namely allegory, on which he bases his
absurd teachings. We have interacted with some of his more popular
exegetical arguments, although it must be pointed out that Camping is,
as James White puts it, a "moving target" who is always claiming to find
new information in the Bible.43 White complains,
It is impossible to produce a published work that
can keep up with the ever changing and developing "insights" of
someone who honestly seems to believe that he is "seeing" things in
Scripture that no-one has ever seen before.44
What Camping refuses to see is that the Bible teaches
the perpetuity of the church. Christ has promised that He shall build
His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt.
16:18). God will be glorified "throughout all ages" (including ages
after 1994!) by Jesus Christ in the church (Eph. 3:21). The
church (not Family Radio!) is "the house of God, the pillar and ground
of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15). Christ promised that the church would not
fall away, but that His Spirit would guide her into all truth (John
16:13). He has been faithful to this promise.
Camping is aware of these verses but he insists that
they refer only to the "eternal invisible church." This is a grievous
error. Christ’s promise to preserve His body and bride (the company of
the predestinated and gathered) involves the preservation of instituted
churches on earth that have the marks of the true church and which
manifest themselves as His body and bride in particular locations.
Camping declares, "only the eternal invisible church is the bride of
Christ. When [Christ] speaks of the church as His body, He can be
speaking only of the eternal invisible church."45 That this
is erroneous can easily be demonstrated. Paul writes to the Corinthian
believers, "Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular" (I
Cor. 12:27). He does not say, "ye are part of the body of Christ," but
he designates the church at Corinth the body of Christ as that body
manifests itself in that city. In another epistle to the same church
Paul writes, "I have espoused you to one husband that I might present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. 11:2). The church at Corinth
is the bride of Christ as she manifests herself in that location.
Is it not the case, though, that Christ removes the
candlestick from some churches so that they are no longer manifestations
of His body and bride on earth (Rev. 2-3)? This is correct. Some
institutes apostatize over time and lose their status as true churches.
This does not mean, however, that all churches are able to apostatize
simultaneously so that there is no true church in the world. White
The destructibility of a single, local
congregation, or even a group of them, does not imply the
destructibility of the entirety of the local congregations that make
up the visible church of Jesus Christ on earth.46
Is it possible for individual congregations to fail?
Assuredly, writes Turretin but,
… rather the question is whether the catholic
church, which is the universality of believers scattered over the
whole world, can ever fail. Or whether it could have happened
formerly or can take place hereafter, that the church can fail
altogether and there be none on earth who rightly worship God. This
we deny. For if particular churches fail, it does not follow that
the church itself totally fails, for it remains always in its true
members dispersed over the world … Neither can it be admitted
absolutely and simply that each and every particular church can fail
at the same time on earth, but only successively and in different
R. B. Kuiper also attests to the church’s
Christ Jesus, the glorious and omnipotent Head of
the church, at the right hand of God, guarantees its continuity …
the church which [the apostles] organized has never passed out of
existence and never will. The divine Head of the church has promised
that. To be sure, it has experienced many upheavals, but no upheaval
has destroyed it.48
But, replies Camping, God says that He has given to
Satan to make war with the saints and to overcome them (Rev. 13:7). We
repudiate this idea. God gives the beast (Rev. 13:1), not Satan
to make war (that is, to persecute) the saints. Satan can never overcome
the church. Turretin explains:
But it can neither be overcome by Satan, because
he was overcome and triumphed over by Christ (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14),
so that neither by sifting can he cause our faith to fail (Lk.
22:32), nor obtain that all his arts and efforts should prevail
against the church.49
The Reformed creeds (which Camping contemptuously
calls "high places") witness to the perpetuity of the church. The
Belgic Confession calls the church (institute) "a holy congregation
of believers" and declares,
This church has been from the beginning of the
world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this
that Christ is an eternal King, which without subjects He cannot be.
And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God against the
rage of the whole world; though it sometimes for a while appears
very small (Article 27).
The Westminster Confession is another witness:
Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath
given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the
gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end
of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit,
according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto (25:3).
The Second Helvetic Confession proclaims,
But because God from the beginning would have men
to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4),
it is altogether necessary that there always should have been, and
should be now, and to the end of the world, a church (chapter 17).
Surely if any could have been tempted to believe that
the church had perished it was those who had lived through the gloomy
days of the Middle Ages. While Rome dominated the ecclesiastical
landscape and persecuted those who desired to be faithful to the
Scriptures the Reformed continued to believe that Christ would build His
church and the gates of hell would never prevail against her. Even the
Waldenses, who were brutally persecuted by Rome, confessed this: "this
church can not fail, nor be annihilated, but must endure forever" (Waldenses’
We must believe likewise and see to it that we are
members of churches that Christ in His mercy has built and preserved in
B. The Indefectibility of the Church
Camping believes that all church institutes on the
face of the earth have lost the truth. He is determined to overturn I
Timothy 3:15 which states that the church is the pillar and ground of
the truth. Camping writes, "under no circumstances can the church be the
pillar and ground of the truth."51 Camping’s position is
grammatically untenable. The words translated "pillar" and "ground"
stand in apposition to the word translated "church." This is clear from
the Greek cases used in the text. "Church" (not God) and "pillar" are
both in the nominative case and therefore stand in apposition to one
another. The conclusion is unmistakable. The church, not God,
is the pillar and ground of the truth. Furthermore, the church
is the pillar and ground of the truth. This is clear because Paul is
giving instructions to Timothy on how he is to behave himself in
the church. Just as God committed His oracles to the Old Testament
church (Rom. 3:2), so He has committed the truth to the New Testament
church (I Tim. 3:15). The church’s (not Family Radio’s) task, indeed her
privilege, is to uphold truth in a world of lies.
Although individual churches can lose the truth by
apostasy, there can never be lacking a church which confesses the truth
on earth. Kuiper writes,
In one sense the church of Christ is not
infallible. Most assuredly it can err. It has erred grievously in
the past. It errs exceedingly grievously today. But in another sense
it is infallible. It will never lose the truth. The truth will never
perish from the church. As there always has been a body of believers
upholding the truth of God, so there always will be. The church of
the past was, the church of the present is, the church of the future
will be – the pillar and ground of the truth. In that respect, too,
the Christian church is indeed glorious.52
C. The Perpetuity of the Sacraments
According to Camping, all churches must disband and
become unorganised fellowships without office-bearers, discipline or
sacraments. Believers ought to gather together and fellowship together
by listening to Family Radio. Did Christ not command believers to
observe the Lord’s Supper until He comes (I Cor. 11:26)? Camping thinks
he has an answer to this. He finds the solution in the Old Testament.
Although God commanded that the ordinances in the temple be observed
continually, there came a time when "God Himself interrupted the temple
service by totally destroying Jerusalem."53
Camping sees a parallel. God has brought judgment upon the churches so
they can no longer observe the New Testament "ceremonial laws" of
baptism and the Lord’s Supper. He calls them "ceremonial laws" because
he claims that the churches made high places out of these ordinances by
calling them sacraments.54
Camping has no basis for calling the sacraments
"ceremonial laws." Nor has he any ground for his parallel. Baptism was
instituted by Christ and He has commanded that it be administered until
the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20). Camping overlooks an important
point in Matthew 28. Preaching and baptism
will both continue to the end. Camping wants to keep preaching (although
he is not ordained to preach and Family Radio has no authority to
preach) but abolish baptism. This cannot be.
The conclusion is obvious. The true church institute
will be preaching and administering the two sacraments until the end of
the world. That activity did not end in 1994.
D. The Perpetuity of Office-bearers
Christ exercises authority in His church through
office-bearers: pastors, elders and deacons, men lawfully called and
qualified to serve in the institute.
Nevertheless, Camping tells his readers to withdraw
their church membership. If the church threatens to exercise the keys of
church discipline, Camping tells them not to worry: "the church no
longer has any divine authority."55 But the church which
Christ is building and against which the gates of hell will not prevail
is the church to which the keys have been given (Matt. 16:18-19). These
are the keys of preaching and discipline, as the Heidelberg Catechism
teaches in Lord’s Day 31.
If a whole congregation wants to follow Camping, his
advice to them is to disband. Become a fellowship of believers: "The
elders will no longer be elders. The deacons will no longer be deacons.
The pastor will no longer be pastor. In other words, no individuals will
have spiritual rule over the congregation."56 Thus Camping
encourages mutiny or "blatantly seeks to remove the sheep from the
sheepfold under the nose of the shepherds."57
God’s will for His church is that it be governed by
office-bearers. This was the apostolic practice. They "ordained elders
in every city" (Acts 14:23). Titus receives the command to "set in order
the things which are wanting and ordain elders in every city" (Titus
1:5). This situation is to continue in the church: "the things that thou
hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful
men, who shall be able to teach also" (II Tim. 2:2).
Ultimately, office-bearers are gifts of the ascended
Lord Jesus Christ. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 4. The sign that
Christ has ascended is His bestowing gifts on the church, for he
ascended "and gave gifts to men" (v. 8). What he gave is specified in
verse 11: office-bearers. Pastors or teachers (the other extraordinary
offices of apostle, prophets and evangelists were temporary) have been
given to the church "for the edifying of the body of Christ" (v. 12)
"till we all come to in the unity of the faith" (4:13). Therefore this
gift is permanent. The church will need, and Christ will graciously
provide, godly pastors and teachers (and indeed, elders and deacons)
until the end. He did not withdraw that gift in 1994.
The Bible has nothing to say to those who leave true
instituted churches to form unorganised fellowships except this: set in
order the things which are wanting and ordain elders (Titus 1:5)! Repent
and join the church! Followers of Harold Camping are, in the words of
van Bruggen, "a small herd of disobedient sheep" who have been deceived
by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.58
IV. The Necessity of Church
A. The Testimony of Scripture
Many Christians today rightly deride the nonsensical
theories of Harold Camping and would vehemently deny that the church
institute is dead. Yet, these same people live as practical Campingites,
in that they do not seek membership in a true church institute.
The Scriptures assume that a person upon being
converted will join the church, for the Bible does not speak to
Christians except as members of the church. So it was in the very
beginning of the New Testament era: "And the Lord added to the church
daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). White remarks, "it was to
this organized, recognizable, identifiable body of believers that the
Lord added daily those who were being saved."59
This needs emphasis. Camping is not the only one to disparage the church
institute. Many evangelicals, and even Reformed believers, claim that
membership in the institute is not necessary because they are part of
the body of Christ and can worship God at home by reading their Bibles,
listening to tapes or watching services on the internet. Nevertheless,
being part of the church institute is necessary because the
saints have need of one another. The church institute is the body of
Christ (I Cor. 12:27) and the members of that body exist in
co-dependence. One member (of the church institute) may not say to
another "I have no need of thee" (I Cor. 12:21). Nor may members exist
aloof outside of the body as if they have no need of any of the other
The church is important, not because all those who
are not members of the institute are unavoidably on the way to hell (no
Reformed theologian has ever maintained that position) but because God
has given to the church alone the means of salvation, the means of grace
through which He gives salvation to His elect people and their elect
seed. God has given the preaching of the Gospel to the church, not to
Harold Camping. The founder of Family Radio was not sent by Jesus
Christ. He has no authority to preach. Not even Paul himself who was
personally commissioned by Jesus Christ dared to preach without being
sent by an instituted church (Acts 13:1-3). A man may not preach unless
he is sent (Rom. 10:14-15). Christ gives preachers to the church and the
church sends them to preach (Eph. 4:11). The church supervises their
preaching. All true preachers are accountable to an instituted church.
Harold Camping is a law unto himself and is doing untold damage to the
church for which one day he must gave account to the Head of the church,
Without preaching there is ordinarily no salvation
because "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them
that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). Young pastor Timothy is enjoined to preach
because in so doing he shall save his hearers and himself (I Tim.
4:16). Preaching is vital for spiritual health. Without true preaching
the believer becomes weak and is tossed about by every wind of doctrine
because he is not under the protection of the pastors and teachers whom
Christ has given to His church (Eph. 4:14) and who watch for his soul
The sacraments also may only be administered by men
lawfully ordained by the church. Without church membership a man cannot
be baptized and he cannot receive the Lord’s Supper which God has given
to strengthen our faith. One who willfully refuses to become a member of
a true church spurns the gifts which God has given to the church for his
edification and salvation. Such a "disobedient sheep" is "outside the
sheepfold and … obliged to join it."60
B. The Testimony of the Creeds
Our Reformed fathers have recognized the necessity of
church membership and this conviction has been recorded in the creeds.
The Heidelberg Catechism addresses the subject
of the church in Lord’s Day 21. In Q. & A. 55, we read concerning the
communion of the saints that "each one must feel himself bound to use
his gifts readily and cheerfully for the advantage and welfare of other
members." One does not need to be a member of the church only for one’s
own good. This is important. One must also pursue membership in order to
benefit the other members. Communion of saints involves loving the
saints. White is right when he exclaims, "This cannot be done in
isolation: it assumes we will know whom the ‘brethren’ are that we are
to love! And this again points us to the importance of membership in the
local church."61 Cornelius Plantinga agrees: "We are trying
to do a grotesque and sinful thing when we live alone or hold aloof. We
are depriving others of the edification and support they need."62
De Jong expresses the issue this way:
To be a Christian means to have fellowship with
the living Christ and in the same moment with his people. To break
this fellowship lightly, on the basis of personal prejudices and
insights, is to imperil our salvation.63
The Belgic Confession is most insistent on
this point. In Article 28 the creed lays down an absolute rule. All
believers are duty bound to separate themselves from false churches
and join the true church institute "wheresoever God has established
it." The Belgic Confession does not brook any argument. No
matter what earthly circumstances prevent him from joining the church
the believer must exercise all possible diligence to obey this command.
The creed adds "even though the magistrates and edicts of princes were
against it, yea, though they should suffer death or any other corporal
punishment." If that is the case, how much more applicable is this
command if one’s spouse, children, siblings, parents, and friends are
The threat of princes’ edicts and corporal punishment
are not empty words. In the Netherlands when the Belgic Confession
was written (1561) believers were risking all when they left the false
church (in that context, Rome) and joined the Reformed churches. Guido
de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession, was himself
martyred. If believers in the sixteenth century were willing to risk
their lives to join a Reformed church what ought be said of the many
professing believers today who are not willing to undergo any
inconvenience to join a true church? How few today are willing to offend
family members and friends by leaving an apostate or apostatising
denomination when relatively little is at stake?
The Westminster Confession expresses the
necessity of church membership when it says that outside of the church
is "no ordinary possibility of salvation" (25:2).
The French Confession (1559) is very similar
to the Belgic Confession on this point:
We believe that no one ought to seclude himself
and be contented to be alone; but that all jointly should keep and
maintain the union of the Church, and submit to the public teaching,
and to the yoke of Jesus Christ (Article 26).64
The Second Helvetic Confession (1566) likewise
impresses upon us the importance of the church institute:
But we esteem fellowship with the true Church of
Christ so highly that we deny that those can live before God who do
not stand in fellowship with the true Church of God, but separate
themselves from it. For as there was no salvation outside Noah's ark
when the world perished in the flood; so we believe that there is no
certain salvation outside Christ, who offers himself to be enjoyed
by the elect in the Church; and hence we teach that those who wish
to live ought not to be separated from the true Church of Christ
Those creeds which say that outside the church is no
salvation do not intend to consign all but church members to hell.
Rather we ought to understand it this way, without minimizing the
seriousness of the call to church membership:
God has ordained that salvation is made available
for mankind not in the bush or on the beach, nor in the flock of the
hireling (John 10:12); salvation is available where Christ is, where
His voice is heard … If I no longer hear and heed God’s Word and Law
today, I also deprive my children and grandchildren of hearing God’s
Word. Withdrawal from the church is not a decision for the self
only, but it has implications for future generations.65
We see, then, that this modern notion, that
Christians may live outside the church, is not shared by the Reformed
fathers, many of whom sealed their testimony in their own blood.
C. The Testimony of Calvin
In his Institutes Calvin argues strenuously
for the necessity of the church institute and inveighs against those who
despise her. God has given the church out of His infinite love and
mercy. He knows our weaknesses. He understands how feeble our faith is.
Therefore He provides means to work faith in us and to strengthen our
faith. Calvin likens the church institute to a mother at whose breasts
the child of God sucks the pure milk of the word, or to a school where
we must always be learning of Christ and His great salvation. "Our
weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have
been pupils all our lives."66 "God desires [His people] to
grow up to manhood solely under the education of the church."67
Calvin warns, "it is always disastrous to leave the church"68
and criticizes those who in proud contempt of the means God has provided
abandon the church:
Many are led either by pride, dislike or rivalry
to the conviction that they can profit enough from private reading
and meditation; hence they despise public assemblies and deem
preaching superfluous. But, since they do their utmost to sever or
break the sacred bond of unity, no one escapes the just penalty of
this unholy separation without bewitching himself with pestilent
errors and foulest delusions.69
Harold Camping must take note. He has surely been
bewitched with foul delusions. But he is not the only one. Many there
are today who will not take pains to seek out and join a true church.
Calvin was involved in a controversy his whole
ministry with a group of Protestants in France who called themselves
Nicodemites. These Protestants remained in false churches and sought to
justify their actions by saying that in their hearts they believed the
Reformed Faith but it was too dangerous for them to worship in a truly
Reformed manner. For them the risks were high. Protestants in France
suffered horrendous cruelty at the hands of the Roman Catholic
authorities. As much sympathy as Calvin had for their plight, he
remained insistent that these Christians may not participate in false
worship and that their calling was to join a true church. He addressed
them in these words: "My advice would be to leave [France] if [they]
could."70 "Whoever has no means of being in the Christian
church where God is worshipped purely let him at least groan night and
day."71 "Let them seek every means that are offered them,
showing that it was not hypocrisy on their part to ask for deliverance."72
The response of many Nicodemites was scorn: Calvin
thinks that the road to heaven runs through Geneva! He wants us to "go
running to Geneva to get an earful of sermons."73 Calvin
responded by pointing out the Nicodemites’ hypocrisy. They claimed that
they highly esteemed the Reformed faith, yet they were not willing to
inconvenience themselves to enjoy the means of grace. They would not
hesitate to move for other reasons: "There are none who would not boldly
permit themselves to leave their country in order not to die of hunger …
if they were offered six times as many goods in a foreign country, they
would have no great problem leaving to take possession."74
The situation has not changed. There are Reformed
Christians living in isolated areas of the world today where there is no
true church. Some of them complain about the spiritual wilderness in
which they live. Few of them would hesitate to move to a different city
if that involved career advancement with a higher salary. But how few
today would consider relocating in order to enjoy the inestimable
blessing of church membership! Calvin sums it up this way:
Everyone would like to be carried on a litter to
worship God … and for lands and possessions, goods and business
connections and all other assets to follow right along. Now if they
act this way, how highly do they esteem Jesus Christ?75
D. Membership in an Apostatising Church Is No
Church membership is necessary. We have proved this,
despite the ravings of Harold Camping. However, not membership in every
church is acceptable to God. Reformed Christians who, because there is
nothing better in the area, worship in or are even members of liberal
Protestant churches, Arminian churches, Pentecostal churches or any
other ecclesiastical bodies which do not bear the marks of a true
church, are not walking in obedience to Jesus Christ. Nor are Christians
who are mere visitors or regular attendees of true churches but have not
become and have no intention of becoming members.
Concerning the latter, the Belgic Confession
impresses upon them their duty of "submitting themselves to the doctrine
and discipline [of the church]" and "bowing their necks under the yoke
of Jesus Christ" (Article 28). Mere attendees and well-wishers cannot do
this. Scripture tells us that we must place ourselves under the
supervision of office-bearers (Heb. 13:17). Elders have no authority
over those who are mere attendees. Such attendees cannot partake of the
sacraments and they are not subject to church discipline. Christ
commands every believer to partake of the sacraments and to obey those
men through whom He is pleased to rule His church.
Concerning the former it must be said that membership
in an apostatising church makes the true worship of God impossible and
makes one corporately responsible for the sins of that church or
denomination. In a day of individualism, few understand that biblical
principle, unlike the framers of the Heidelberg Catechism. They
knew that, if the elders knowingly allow an ungodly person to come to
the Lord’s Table, "the covenant of God is profaned and His wrath
provoked against the whole congregation" (Lord’s Day 30, Q. & A.
82). The whole congregation, not just the ungodly person, come under the
wrath of God. That is how God deals with His people. When Achan stole
from the spoils of Jericho, God killed thirty six men, and when Joshua
enquired of the Lord, God said, "Israel hath sinned … they [plural] have
transgressed" (Josh. 7:11). Achan stole. Nobody in Israel knew about
Achan’s sin, but God held the whole nation responsible.
Such people need also to think about the welfare of
their children and grandchildren. An adult Reformed believer may have
the discernment to filter out the false doctrine from the sermons he
hears in a departing church but his children do not. At best they will
be confused; at worst spiritually poisoned by the false doctrine from
the pulpit and the corrupting influence of the departing church. Such a
Reformed believer needs to do more than bemoan the state of the
denomination. He needs to initiate ecclesiastical protest through the
correct channels. When he has done this and if his protests have been
unsuccessful, then he needs to leave and take his children with him.
Remaining indefinitely in a departing or apostate church is not an
option for one who loves the truth of Christ.
Those who have followed Harold Camping out of the
church institute have been seduced out of the sheepfold by a "thief and
a robber" (John 10:1). Because Mr. Camping quotes so many passages from
the Bible and seems to write with such authority, he has a certain
appeal. Nevertheless, stringing passages together which have no logical
connection is not faithful Bible exposition but a mockery of the
Family Radio can never replace the church. Camping
reduces the function of the church to world evangelisation and he
insists that the church is not able to fulfil the Great Commission.76
But remember that the Great Commission includes the command to baptize
those who believe (Matt. 28:19). Camping has neither the authority to
preach nor to baptize. God has given no other means for the gathering of
the elect than the preaching of the gospel by men called by Christ
through His church. Camping ran but the Lord did not send him (Jer.
The church is where the voice of Christ is heard
through the preaching (John 10:27). Outside the church there are only
the voices of strangers, the hissing of serpents and the growling of
wolves. Camping’s voice hisses on Family Radio: come out of the
churches. We must resist his call. He would have us dwell in a
wilderness where there is only spiritual death and where we and our
children are deprived of the sincere milk of the word (I Peter 2:2). We
dare not follow where he leads.
What will Camping say when he must give account to
the Head and Husband of the church? How will he, who has been guilty of
seducing Christ’s bride, of causing Christ’s little ones to stumble and
of trying to demolish Christ’s temple, answer Christ on that day? We
tremble at the thought and we urgently call him to repentance.
What a blessing it is to enjoy lively membership in a
true church. Christ is there. There we enjoy fellowship with the Triune
God in covenant friendship as He speaks to us in the preaching and
strengthens us through the sacraments. There we experience the gracious
protection of His rod and His staff as He rules us through the
office-bearers. How foolish, then, to throw away all of those blessings
and to endanger our salvation by leaving her.
The following are some examples of the wildly
speculative exegesis of Harold Camping. All the references are from
The End of the Church Age … and After. Beware of such a "Bible
teacher." Notice his many assertions, none of which he proves from the
context or from the language of the text itself.
(1) The star in Revelation 9:1-3 is the Lord Jesus
Christ (pp. 8, 86).
(2) The three and a half years of famine in the days
of Elijah typify the three and half years of Christ’s earthly ministry
(3) Isaiah 5 "is speaking about the kingdom of God as
it was represented by the local congregations throughout the church age"
(pp. 24, 29).
(4) "We may safely equate the stinking fruit
of the church age with the high places of Old Testament Israel" (p. 29).
(5) "We know that the two witnesses (of Rev.
11) represent the true believers who are driven out of the churches or
in obedience to God’s command come out of the churches" (pp. 32-33).
(6) "The beast and the false prophet are pictures of
Satan as he ruled in the churches during the Great Tribulation" (p. 41).
(7) "The rider on the black horse (Rev. 6) is a
warning to the churches that if they do not remain faithful God will
begin to take the Gospel away from them" (p. 42).
(8) In Revelation 12:7-11, "Michael is the Lord Jesus
Christ" (p. 56).
(9) "The wood, hay and stubble (of I Cor. 3:12)
must relate to the church members who are still unsaved" (p. 64).
(10) The beast from the sea is Satan because "in the
Bible the sea frequently represents hell" (p. 89).77
(11) "The image of Satan (Rev. 13:15) consists of the
unsaved within the churches" (p. 97).
(12) The merchant in the parable of the pearl (Matt.
13:45-46) "can only be Christ. The pearl is the kingdom of God.
Christ sold all that He had, that is, He emptied himself of His glory
and became the suffering servant in order to obtain the kingdom of God"
(13) The woman in Proverbs 31 is a "picture of the
believers as we buy without money the Gospel and sell it to others who
buy from us without money" (p. 101).
(14) The corn and wine after which the children pine
in Lamentations 2:11-12 are "words pointing to the Gospel" (p. 108).
(15) "When a Gospel is preached all over the world
that emphasizes grace and grace alone, the land, the kingdom of God,
will enjoy its Sabbaths (Lev. 26:33-35). It will enjoy a totally
works-free gospel" (p. 145)
(16) "Causing someone to fall backward is equivalent
to calling down fire from heaven" (p. 181).
(17) "The application (of Jeremiah 7:16) is that God
is commanding us not even to pray for the churches" (p. 197).
(18) "This prophecy (of Ezekiel 9:5-7) can relate
only to the judgment on the churches during the Great Tribulation"
(19) "The abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15-16)
is Satan" (p. 210).
(20) "The housetop (Luke 12:3) is identified with
bringing the Gospel … the house identifies with the church" (p. 229).
(21) "Paul (in Acts 28) is a picture of all who have
been cast out of the churches and congregations. In this chapter, as in
chapters 22-27 of the book of Acts, the churches and congregations are
typified by the Jews who do not want to hear the whole counsel of God"
(22) "This half hour (Rev. 8:1) must be understood
to be the first part of the Great Tribulation during which heaven is
not saving people by means of the Gospel going forth from the churches"
(23) "The seven women mentioned (in Isaiah 4:1)
identify with the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 … In Isaiah 4:1,
they are presented as those who take hold of a man, that is they want
the Son of man, Christ, to be their Savior and King. But they don’t want
Him to be their spiritual bread, and they don’t want to be clothed with
His robe of righteousness. They want their own bread and their own
clothing, that is, they want the name of Christ; they want to identify
with Christ, but they want their own salvation program. In other words,
they want to be the final authority as to truth. They do not want to be
that concerned about the truth of the Bible … however, verse 2 of Isaiah
4 reveals that in that day, the day when this sorrowful condition exists
in the churches, the branch of the Lord (Christ) shall be beautiful and
the fruit of the earth (those who are becoming saved) will be excellent.
They are the ones who are being saved because there were those who have
escaped from the church or congregation and continued to bring the true
Gospel outside of the church" (p. 257).
(24) "The keys (Matt. 16:19) can only be
the Bible" (p. 273).
(25) "A careful study of this chapter (Eze.
28) would show that78 Tyre is representing the
churches as they send the Gospel into the world" (p. 286).
(26) In Revelation 12 "the woman is the Old Testament
believers represented by Mary, who gave birth to Jesus. They are clothed
with the sun, that is they are clothed with Christ who is their robe of
righteousness. The moon is under her feet. The moon represents the law
of God. The believers have become victorious over the law in the sense
that the law of God can no longer condemn them. The crown of stars
signifies that the believers reign with Christ" (p. 290).
(27) When the dragon drew the third part of the stars
of heaven and cast them to the earth (Rev. 12:3-4) "this third part
represents all who are believers" (p. 290).
(28) "When Jesus entered Jerusalem just before He was
crucified, He sat on a pair of donkeys. Spiritually, it can be shown
that79 these donkeys represent unsaved people he came to
save" (p. 298).
(29) The merchants of the earth (Rev. 18:11) represent believers in
the churches who were bringing the Gospel but may no longer do so during
the Great Tribulation (p. 311).
1 Camping wrote, "The results of this study teach that the month of
September of the year 1994 is to be the time of the end of history … it
seems extremely unlikely that we have overlooked something. However, I
modestly and humbly acknowledge that such a possibility exists … I will
be surprised if we reach October 1, 1994 … when September 6, 1994,
arrives, no one else can be saved. The end has come" (1994? [New
York: Vantage Press Inc., 1992], pp. 532-533).
2 Tremper Longman III notes that Camping actually calculated the
return of Christ to be 2011 in his original book, 1994? but he
decided that God had also revealed that the Great Tribulation would be
shortened for the elects’ sake (by 23 years) which caused him to arrive
at 1994. Longman notes wryly, "He has the book all set up to claim that
he only made a simple error in assuming that the tribulation would be
shortened by 23 years. He has intimated that the end might take place in
2011. My advice to those of us who spent good money on 1994? is
to pass when 2011?
hits the bookstores" ("1994: The Year of Christ’s Return?" New
Horizons [December, 1993]).
3 Christianity Today,
vol. 46 (21 May, 2002) reported that "ministers are reporting defections
as members heed Camping’s call." One pastor "related a 10-percent
decrease in membership" (p. 21).
4 For a sample list of the wild allegories which Camping offers his
readers, see the Appendix.
Camping, First Principles of Bible Study (Oakland, CA: Family
Stations, Inc., 1986), p. 2.
First, pp. 23-24.
First, p. 53.
Camping, Wheat and Tares
(Oakland, CA: Family Stations, Inc., 2003), pp. 51-52.
Wheat, p. 57.
10 Stephen Meyers interviewed Camping in June 1994 and he reports,
"Harold Camping has had no formal training in the Bible. He does not
know Greek or Hebrew. He uses a concordance to find out the original
language. If he does have a question about the Greek or Hebrew he goes
to Dr. Ortero, who he says has a Ph.D. in Greek and Hebrew. Dr. Ortero
has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Argentina. Camping admits that Dr. Ortero
does not agree with him about the world ending in September 1994.
Camping thinks that if Dr. Ortero really studied his math in-depth that
he would then agree with his book that the world will end in September
1994. In fact, if everyone did their homework, Camping believes everyone
would agree with him ("Other Views: Harold Camping," Institute for
Biblical and Scientific Studies;
Wheat, p. 63.
Wheat, p. 68.
Wheat, p. 88.
Camping, The End of the Church Age … and After (Oakland, CA:
Family Stations, Inc., 2002), p. 252.
Wheat, p. 59.
Wheat, p. 54; italics mine.
R. White, Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and
Christ’s Church Defended (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002), pp.
56, 82, 137.
The End, p. 12.
Ligon Duncan and Mark R. Talbot, Should We Leave Our Churches?: A
Biblical Response to Harold Camping (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R
Publishing, 2004), p. 18.
The End, p. 79.
The End, p. 80.
Dangerous, pp. 73-74.
The End, p. 31.
The End, pp. 32-33.
The End, p. 101.
The End, pp. 97-98.
27 William Hendrickson, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of
the Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, repr.
1973), p. 857.
The End, p. 211.
The End, p. 229.
The End, p. 229.
The End, p. 217.
The End, p. 62.
33 Camping, The End, p. 150.
34 Duncan and Talbot, Should We Leave, p. 20.
The End, pp. 248-249; italics mine.
The End, p. 233.
The End, p. 195; italics mine.
Wheat, p. 35.
Wheat, p. 42.
Wheat, pp. 112, 34.
The End, p. 108.
The End, p. 108.
Dangerous, p. 39.
Dangerous, p. 17.
The End, p. 283.
Dangerous, p. 68.
Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 3 (Phillipsburg,
NJ: P&R Publishing, 1994), pp. 41, 46.
B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, 1966), pp. 49, 71.
Institutes, vol. 3, p. 45.
50 Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3 (Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker, repr. 1983), p. 765.
The End, p. 268.
The Glorious Body, pp. 77-78.
The End, p. 236.
The End, pp. 236-237.
The End, p. 260.
The End, p. 260.
Dangerous, p. 92.
58 J. van Bruggen, The Church Says Amen: An Exposition of the
Belgic Confession (Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada: Inheritance
Publications, 2003), p. 151.
Dangerous, p. 30.
60 Van Bruggen, The Church Says Amen, p. 153.
Dangerous, p. 31.
Plantinga, Jr., A Place to Stand: A Study of Ecumenical Creeds and
Reformed Confessions (Grand Rapids, MI: Board of Publications of the
CRC, 1981), p. 106.
Y. De Jong, The Church’s Witness to the World, vol. 2 (Pella, IA:
Pella Publishing Inc., 1962), p. 242.
Creeds, vol. 3, pp. 374-375.
Bouwman, Notes on the Belgic Confession (Western Australia: The
League of Free Reformed Women’s Bible Study Societies in Australia and
Pro Ecclesia Publishers: Kelmscott, 1997), pp. 114-115.
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T.
McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (USA & GB: The Westminster Press and
S. C. M. Press, 1960), 4.1.4; p. 1016.
Institutes, 4.1.5; p. 1017.
Institutes, 4.1.4; p. 1016.
Institutes, 4.1.5; p. 1018.
Calvin, Come Out From Among Them: Anti-Nicodemite Writings of John
Calvin (Dallas, TX: Protestant Heritage Press, 2001), p. 94.
Come Out, pp. 192-193.
Come Out, p. 95.
Come Out, p. 181.
Come Out, p. 202. For more on Calvin versus the Nicodemites, see
Martyn McGeown, "Come
Out From Among Them."
Come Out, pp. 215-216.
writes, "We must realistically admit the churches of today cannot by any
means fulfil Christ’s command" (The End, p. 262).
does sea represent hell in Scripture? We are not told.
only authority there is for this statement is what James White refers to
repeatedly in his book: Solus Campingus, the ideas of Harold
Camping himself (Dangerous, p. 84).
makes no efforts to show how this can be true. One can only assume that,
if the reader has swallowed the nonsense in the book to this point, he
will have little difficulty believing this on Camping’s "authority."