Camping in Calculations

CampingHarold Egbert Camping was born on July 19, 1921, in Boulder, Colorado, and died on December 15, 2013. While he earned a B.S. degree from Berkeley, it was not in theology but in civil engineering. He was a Christian radio broadcaster, author, and president of Family Radio, a station affiliated with over one hundred fifty markets throughout the US. He retired from his program in October 2011, five months after his guest appearance on “God Talk.” He earned the dubious distinction of issuing erroneous predictions for the end of the world, not one of which occurred, despite his assurances. Due to weekly appeals, he raised millions of dollars in global donations to promote his calculations. He agreed to appear on “God Talk” the Sunday prior to the forecast as his last public interview concerning it. He claimed that the truly saved will ascend into heaven and that five months later fire, brimstone, and plagues will fall upon the world, with millions of people dying daily. He called this “Judgment Day” on billboards erected throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere. He previously announced the same event for September 1994 and avoided the press after this new prediction likewise proved fallacious; he suffered a stroke a month later.

His system was published in “The Biblical Calendar of History,” (1970) and this work he significantly expanded four years later. Central to it was the year of creation, that he dated in 11,013 BCE, and the deluge in 4990 BCE. He based this on biblical genealogies and his unique interpretation of scripture. There is no doubt that Camping was convinced of his theories, for his personal Bible was well-read and color coded, at least the version he brought into the studio. Central to his views was that scripture alone is the word of God and hence is entirely trustworthy. His system was based on the cycles of Jewish feast days, and he concluded that a lunar calendar month equates 29.53059 days. This he projected throughout history until the modern age. Consequently, he dated the crucifixion of Jesus on Friday, April 1, 33, even though it occurred three years earlier. The “rapture” would consist of roughly three percent of the world’s population, he asserted, and when this forecast likewise failed, Camping pondering why it did not occur. When he reemerged, the broadcaster admitted that his calculations were misinterpreted and immediately corrected the event for October instead of May. He refused to return money that donors supplied, and after his death the station continued to air his predictions.

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