Question: “Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?”
Answer: Family Radio started as a biblically based and theologically sound radio ministry in the mid-20th century. Sadly, at the leading of Harold Camping, Family Radio has forsaken its roots and become a purveyor of false teaching. While there is still some good programming on Family Radio, Camping’s teaching that the church age is over and his repeated failed “judgment day” predictions, along with the rabid and blind following he has developed, are certainly cult-like. While we are not yet prepared to declare Family Radio a cult, due to the leadership of Harold Camping, it is moving in that direction.
Harold Camping’s most recent failed “prophecy” that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, is not the first time he has made false predictions based not on sound exegesis of Scripture, but on his own methods of interpretation. His first prediction was that the end of the world would occur on May 21, 1988. When that failed, Camping wrote a book early in the 1990s titled 1994?. In it, Harold Camping speculated—perhaps “claimed” would be more accurate—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. In fact, those who claimed to speak for the Lord in the Old Testament were proven to be false prophets when their words did not come true, and they were put to death (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Today, in the age of grace, we no longer put false prophets to death, but the test is still the same. By any standard of interpretation, Harold Camping is a false prophet.
In spite of Camping’s claim to be a biblical interpreter, his interpretations from Scripture have consistently ignored the words of the Lord Jesus regarding His return. In His most extensive revelation on end times, Matthew 24, Jesus specifically states, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). This is so clear and so obvious that it is incomprehensible that anyone could make the statements Harold Camping makes and that others can believe them. But people do believe him and, sadly, they make crucial life decisions based on his foolish and unbiblical predictions.