Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?

Question: "Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?"

On his radio program entitled "Family Radio," Harold Camping is teaching that people should flee from their churches. This teaching is contrary to sound biblical interpretation. It may be of interest to know that this is not the first time Camping has promoted teachings that were based on his personal opinion rather than on sound biblical exegesis. Camping wrote a book early in the 1990s titled "1994." In this book, Harold Camping claimed that history would end in September of 1994. Christ would return and judge the world, according to Camping. Camping was obviously wrong, and we know from Scripture that God’s prophets are never wrong.

Harold Camping employs an allegorical method of interpreting Scripture. Because of this method, the meaning of any Scripture passage is purely subjective, subject to the mind and imagination of the person. As an example, Camping claims that the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3 are the Church. In Revelation 11, two people come as witnesses, testifying to the world of the coming wrath of God. Harold Camping states this is a picture of the Church and that when the Church's witness is over, God will destroy or kill the Church. There is nothing in the text that would even possibly hint that those witnesses in any way represent the Church. In fact, you don't need a special code in order to understand the Book of Revelation. What is recorded in Revelation 11 should be taken at face value. In the future, God will send two people who will witnesses for Him. It says they will prophesy for 1260 days or 3 1/2 years (the Jewish calendar had 360 days for a year). Their message will be to the people of the earth who are about to experience God's wrath in the form of judgments. Their message will most likely be one of repentance (see Revelation 9:20-21). The people will not repent, and the witnesses at the end of their assigned time will be killed.

Camping's use of an allegorical method of interpretation for Scripture, and especially for unfulfilled prophecy, is fatally flawed. It undermines the very nature of communication. God gave us His Word to communicate very specific information. Our job when approaching Scripture is to determine what God is communicating. God is the One who gave us the ability to communicate. If we used Harold Camping's approach for understanding literature, we might read the newspaper and see that the weather is going to be rainy. We would then say that the real meaning of the weather report was that the writer of the newspaper was in a bad mood (because he wrote that it would be rainy). We would miss the real and plain information about the weather for the day. This is what Harold Camping has done concerning unfulfilled prophecy. He has seen it all as an allegory and applies it all to the Church.

Harold Camping has stated that the witness of the Church is over and that God has destroyed it. Believers should leave the church. He has concluded that the Church is dead, only existing as a shell of its former self. There should no longer be pastors, elders, or deacons. People should not be submitting to spiritual leadership. He says that the Holy Spirit is no longer present in the Church and that people who are accepting Christ as Savior in the Church are really not saved since the Holy Spirit is not present there.

However, it seems that Harold Camping has overlooked the very nature of the Church. The Church is inseparable from the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son. The Church is the body of Christ, with Christ as the Head (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). There will not be a time when the Church does not exist. Jesus said He would build His church and the gates of hell would “not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). There will however, be a time when the Church is not on this earth. The Lord will remove the Church from this earth in an event called the Rapture. The Church will then forever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Because of his allegorical method of interpretation, Harold Camping has failed to see a distinction between Israel and the Church. The future events presented in Revelation 4:1-19:21 do not involve the Church—the Church will be removed prior to this future time. The events of Revelation 4:1-19:21 are the finishing of God's plan for Israel (see Daniel 9:24-27).

We strongly urge people to have nothing to do with Harold Camping and Family Radio. Do not to listen to him—he has forsaken sound doctrine on many issues.

Recommended Resource: Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and Christ's Church Defended by James White.

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What is the best way to evangelize someone who is in a cult or false religion?

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Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?