This news story caught my attention a few moments ago, “Calif. Preacher: World’s End Prediction ‘Wrong‘”. Curious, I went to the Family Radio website. Sure enough, there is a letter posted on the Family Radio website. There is a link to “An Important Letter from Mr. Camping” under the “Click to listen” golden microphone at the time of this post. You can read the entire letter here.
I have little interest or time to parse the letter. I am taking it at face value. However, as I read it I was struck by the very real tone of humility. Camping writes,
The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible’s warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.
Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.
We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.
We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours! We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.
We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking. But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.
I would have liked to see the pronoun “we” changed to “I” throughout the letter since the May 21 date for the apocalypse was Camping’s baby. Nevertheless, while I have significant points of theological disagreements with Harold Camping and Family Radio, I commend him for his humility. We ALL, every one of us, know how hard it is to say “I was wrong.” In any case, the whole May 21, 2011 fiasco is a hit-you-between-the-eyes illustration that we must not be consumed with end-time date-setting. The Father has fixed the time of His Son’s return to establish His kingdom and it is not for us to know, period. In the meantime, we must be witnesses to the risen Christ while still exclaiming, “Maranatha!”
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’  He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:6-8, ESV)