End of the world…as we know it?

Although some may take delight in poking fun at 90-year-old Harold Camping and his ostentatious prediction that Judgment Day will begin on Saturday, I am not one who will do so.

First, some background so you can understand what I mean. In 1993, my wife and I visited my grandparents in the appropriately-named Paradise, CA. My grandfather was not church going, by any means, but in his later years he took an interest to religion on television. His favorite personality was Harold Camping. Some may remember how Camping predicted that September 1994 would be “the end of history.” My grandfather totally bought into this idea and became a Camping devotee. (How much money Grandpa mailed off to this ministry, nobody knows.)

It was the last time I saw my grandparents, as both of them died less than a thousand days later. Soon after our visit, I did get a letter from Grandpa as well as paperback copies of both 1994 and Are You Ready? In the letter, he wrote in part, “I am amazed at the research he used to determine the time dates (sic) found in tracing man’s history thru the scriptures.” My father talked to Grandpa after September 1994, saying Grandpa was disappointed, though he continued to watch Camping’s show.

In the late 1990s, I made friends with polygamists in Manti, Utah who belonged to The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Day, which is led by Jim Harmston. For several years in a row, I met regularly with Apostle Bart Malstrom who, at the time, had five wives and fourteen children .We had a good relationship as we participated in very cordial but straight-to-the-point conversations.

In June 1999, I went to lunch with Bart and another apostle. I was told: “Eric, you and your family need to join the church as soon as possible. Jesus is coming back this year.” Specifically, Jesus was supposed to return to Manti, Utah in the fall of 1999. When I asked them about the possibility that Harmston was wrong, Bart strongly stated, “I guarantee you that what we’ve told you is true.”

When I returned to Manti the following June, I tried to get into contact with Bart, but he wouldn’t meet with me. Calls to him were ignored. Perhaps he thought I would mock him. (Honestly, I wasn’t going to.) Since I had promised him a book that I had coauthored (Mormonism 101, published that year), he had two of his wives find me one night in front of the temple as I witnessed at the Mormon Miracle Pageant.

Because Bart wouldn’t talk to me, I decided to set up an interview with Dan Simmons, the president of the church and second only to Harmston. When I asked him about the failed prophecy, Simmons responded, “The people were not prepared. It involves all of us, myself included. Spiritually, physically, emotionally…we were just not ready.” All responsibility for the failure belongs to the followers, not the prophet.

However, Simmons said, the prophecy wasn’t necessarily “failed,” suggesting that time could go backward. Although he admitted that this had never happened before, Simmons looked at me and said, “With God, all things are possible.” Bart eventually left this church; I have never seen him again. (For more, see this link)

Of course, I do believe in Judgment Day. And Jesus will indeed return. When? Nobody knows. Even if He came on May 21st, I will rejoice. But if He does not come according to Camping’s specifications, how many will be affected? Will a number of his followers leave the faith, as did many Jehovah’s Witnesses after 1975 when the Watchtower’s prediction failed? Will many possibly reject the message of Christianity because they associate Camping with Christian pastors? The potential ramifications are, unfortunately, numerous.

I’m sorry, but on this, I will not play the role of Elijah who mocked the Baal priests at Mt. Carmel. Instead of joking about or ridiculing the situation, I find myself greatly saddened. I just think a rash prophecy given by a known false prophet with a checkered past is no laughing matter. Fellow Christians, let’s be ready to pick up the pieces since people are not collateral damage.

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26 Responses to End of the world…as we know it?

  1. The_Hammer says:

    I was listing to a local talk radio show, and they were talking about this. A caller called in and said, for reasons of all these false prophets, this is why he is an atheist. I was telling my wife that I could honestly see the only person being removed from the earth on Sat is Harold, by way of death. I honestly would not be surprised if He dies. God has a sense of humor that way.

    My pastor was telling us that since Harold and his followers own a local radio station, a friend of his wrote the website and said to them, since the rapture will happen on Sat and you guys will be gone, can I buy your radio station. We can fill out all the legal paperwork so that Sunday May 22 it belongs to me.

    They wrote Him back and said No. The person replied with, why don't you stand by your convictions, If you really believe that the rapture will happen, then sell your radio station, you will not be here to use it. They did not reply. Seem's to me they really dont believe it will happen. I am really curious to see what they say on their website for a response when it does not happen.

    Also it's sad these guys dont seem to realize that when they say stuff like this and it does not come to pass, the they look like nuts and kook's and then it makes it harder for those of us who really know the Bible to witness to a lost and dying world because then people view us a just another money grubbing fraud.

  2. robsmom55 says:

    This is my concern as well. That non believers will lump us all together with the Harold Campings of this world. What about all his "followers?" The devastation will be enormous. I am so sad about the emotional toll this will have on them.


  3. Kate says:

    Matthew 24:36 (King James Version)

    36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    If people would just read and trust in God's Holy Word. How sad it is that people turn away from the teachings in the Bible. This is Jesus speaking, we need to trust in him.

  4. clyde says:

    Remember when Steve Martin said that a couple of decades back the world ended and the government did not tell any body? That really did happen-the comment not the world ending.
    This blog makes me wonder who will be the next Jim JOnes, David Koresh or Jeff Lundgren. I also wonder how people can get so fanatical about an idea then withdraw into themselves when the event does not happen. How a person extends his friendship when events do not happen shows a lot about how good reconciliaton can be.

  5. Kate says:

    Didn't Joseph Smith predict this very thing? It's recorded in History of the Church, that on February 14, 1835 Joseph Smith said "and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh–even fifty-six years should wind up the scene." Now Mormon apologists will say that he said fifty six years SHOULD wind up the scene so it doesn't count, but I would ask what the Mormon population believed at the time. Also on February 14, 1835 Oliver B. Huntington recorded in his diary that JS revealed to him that the Second Coming of Christ would be within 56 years. In 1903 Benjamin F. Johnson said "we were over 70 years ago taught by our leaders to believe that the coming of Christ and the millennial reign was much nearer than we believe it to be now. Get that? They were taught. They knew exactly what JS was saying and teaching. It does count. Deuteronomy 18:22

  6. Verne Brown says:

    I agree Eric – there will be a lot of broken people – emotionally, physically, materially AND spiritually. Not only will these be hurt, but the ones who jumped on the wagon these past few months. In some ways I wish spiritual blights like Camping would be removed by God – but then He did warn us about Camping and other false teachers / prophets such as smith. We need to strengthen other Christians to avoid the errors these have brought into Christianity.

  7. wyomingwilly says:

    Clyde, I find it interesting that you would mention Jim Jones, David Koresh and Jeff Lundgren as
    these false spiritual leaders, these false prophets are so obvious . You make the same mistake
    so many people make, which is that they fail to consider the fact that a false prophet can be a very
    moral upright family oriented man who dresses well and looks and acts like your dad or grandfather.
    These men can introduce false teachings on many vital issues, namely God . Their deep personal
    conviction coupled with a sincereity conveys to them that what they reveal to their followers just has
    to be from God. Once the people who follow these men have embraced the lie that they need a prophet
    and that their submission to the prophet is submitting to God, then embracing false teachings come
    easy. So Clyde, any ideas what prophet this scenario fits today ? Can you say , Thomas Monson ?

  8. wyomingwilly says:

    I guess this news should'nt surprise us. Every few years there's someone claiming to have
    discovered the key to unlock the timing of Jesus' coming back to earth. One thing that Eric said
    reminded me of what my wife said years ago concerning the prophet led organization she was
    once a member of.It concerned the leaders of this religion writing books on end-time chronology
    to prove their particular teachings on the Second coming , when Armegeddon would start etc.
    She believed this "research" by her spiritual leaders because it was so deep. They just could'nt
    have made it up , she reasoned. (This reminds me of how some Mormon apologists work as well.
    They write a book, go deep in information, add a ton of foot notes as icing , and people receive it . )
    Through the years I've found it interesting to note the excuses that false prophets will give
    for a failed prediction or doctrinal flip-flop. I would suggest the readers of this thread make a note
    after this week end is over to watch for Mr.Camping's excuses. A false prophet never admits he's such.

  9. falcon says:

    Actually clyde you could also have added Joseph Smith to the list. I know the topic here is dooms day prophets but Joseph Smith had a false revelation that has led many to their spiritual destruction.
    The final report of Joseph Smith has come in and the sad fact of the matter is that he was an occultist with a very active, yet immature imagination. But those who follow him are to blame also because without their duplicity, he couldn't have gotten his fantasy off the ground.
    God's Word is the standard by which all "revelations" are tested. In order to make his work, Smith had to denigrate God's Word and His Church in an effort to supplant what God has ordained.
    People follow false prophets like Smith out of ignorance and emotion.
    Mormonism has been weighed in the balance and found lacking.

  10. clyde says:

    I like what Mr. Johnson says in the last paragraph.
    I’m sorry, but on this, I will not play the role of Elijah who mocked the Baal priests at Mt. Carmel. Instead of joking about or ridiculing the situation, I find myself greatly saddened. I just think a rash prophecy given by a known false prophet with a checkered past is no laughing matter. Fellow Christians, let’s be ready to pick up the pieces since people are not collateral damage.
    Remember the joke where the pope gets a phone call that Jesus has returned. " Wow that's good news.' says the Pope. "Not really," says his assistant "the call came from Salt Lake City. "
    What would you do if it was not a joke? How would you want me to react? If You are right how would approach me?
    To WW
    I probably should leave the church but the alternatives such as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, and Benny Hinn seem even stranger.
    To Falcon
    To you Mormonism has been weighed in the balance and found lacking. To others it has not. There probably are a lot of things about the church that you do not know.

  11. Kate says:


    "I also wonder how people can get so fanatical about an idea then withdraw into themselves when the event does not happen."

    We see this going on all around us in Mormonism. Mormons are fanatical about anything the prophet tells them. Then what happens if all of a sudden it's changed and claimed that it wasn't really true, the prophet was just speaking as a man, or it was just his opinion. Mormon apologists and Mormons alike, deny all of the false doctrines and teachings of past Mormon prophets and leaders, including the dooms day prophecy of Joseph Smith that I have already mentioned here. I would bet that the Mormon populations who lived during the false doctrinal teachings of Adam/ God or no Blacks holding the priesthood were pretty darn fanatical about it. I know elderly Mormons who are still extremely racist because of the Mormon teachings about Blacks. I have a question for you, how do Mormons extend their friendship to those of us who show the LDS church's teachings? Right, they don't. I too find it interesting that your mind immediately went to Jim Jones, David Koresh and Jeff Lundgren. Joseph Smith was exactly like these men, only in the 1800's, yet you follow his teachings. If it were Thomas Monson saying the Rapture is going to happen today, would you be fanatically following him? Would you extend your friendship to non Mormons when the event didn't happen? Would all Mormons extend their friendship? Not likely.

  12. Kate says:


    How about Jesus for an alternative? I left the church and I didn't see the need to follow Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker or Benny Hinn. You see, true Christians follow Jesus. Not men.

  13. The_Hammer says:

    Harold camping and his followers remind me of the Mormons. They remind me of mormons for many reasons.

    H.C and his people Got it wrong before.

    JS and His people Got it wrong many times.

    H.C makes excuses for why he got it wrong.

    JS and His followers made/make excuses for why they got it wrong.

    H.C and his followers believe the end is soon, yet they never share the good news of Jesus or what he did for us. They only ask for more money and people to follow the prophet.

    JS and Mormons Now-a-days Dont share the death of Jesus and how He died for us, They only share what their church can do for us, and what we should do for them, plus ask us to give money or we will not enter the highest heaven.

    Boy do they guys sound much alike or what? Hhhmmm, I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they both have the same father backing them up?

  14. wyomingwilly says:

    clyde, thanks for the reply. I hope you were serious about leaving Mormonism. If you were then
    remember that it won't be easy. Also please realize that leaving the Mormon religion is not the
    end in itself, coming completely to Jesus is. Every day there are Mormons finding spiritual
    liberation by trusting in Jesus to pardon them and asking Him for eternal life. No prophet,
    no more having to try and gain Eternal life with God through trying to keep up with all the
    " precepts of men " that Mormon leaders place in their path. Jesus is sufficient to handle
    your life, He is so majestic. Memorize Heb. 7:25. So may God give you strength to turn FROM
    following a prophet, and turn TO the Prophet to end all prophets ! Please be advised that those
    men you mentioned are not Jesus, and you certainly don't need them to be a part of your life.


  15. wyomingwilly says:

    When this is all over look for an offical excuse as to why the particular events said to happen today
    failed to materialize as predicted. Through the years I've made it a point to watch for these alibi's .
    Mr. Camping , or his "spokesman" will most likely resort to the following tactics:
    1. he will spiritualize what was supposed to happen. It really did happen , but only through your
    "spiritual eyes" could you discern it.
    2. If a major earthquake was predicted then he will find somwhere in the world where a earthquake
    did happen , no matter how small, this will "prove" his prediction. He will say that he was indeed
    accurate , it just was on a local rather than a wide spread scale. He will take credit for it.
    3. he will say that he was just off a little bit in his calculations . He has "new light" now from God, an
    "adjustment "by God will be issued .
    4. he will point to all the good his organization does for social concerns, so he can't be a false prophet.
    5. he's just human, he made a mistake, a wrong calculation , an opinion only . He will avoid the words,
    false prophecy or false teaching,as these would convey to people that he's not a reliable teacher.
    Look for these kinds of excuses . Pray that he will repent for misleading people.

  16. falcon says:

    I was watching the Sunday morning news show on ABC from New York and they did a segment on this guy, who is about 60 years old I guess, standing there waiting for the world to end. He had a Bible and I think he was holding a sign. He had spent $144,000 of his own money to warn people of the impending rapture. A crowd had gathered around him and as the time for the event came and went the crowd began to taunt and hurl insults at this poor dupe. The man just stood there silently reading his Bible.
    I probably shouldn't feel sorry for the guy because he made his own choice to jump on the band wagon, but I wasn't too happy by the way the crowd was shouting at and taking pictures of him.
    It's hard to figure why someone would give themselves over to a false belief like this and at the same time it's hard to figure out why people would bother to make this man an object of scorn.
    It's always a tricky thing to confront people who hold to false and aberrant beliefs. Is there an effective way to vigorously oppose with facts and evidence those who are making false claims? I guess number one it's important to separate the person from belief. A personal attack isn't really all that effective. Unfortunately, what I've seen with our Mormon friends is that they take challenges to the history and claims of the Mormon church as a personal affront and claim they (personally) are being persecuted. The persecution card, when it is played, is a good way to try and gain sympathy and get the challenger to stop challenging.
    I could never see myself taunting and ridiculing a couple of Mormon missionaries, for example, but I could see myself engaging in thoughtful, polite, vigorous debate with them.
    BTW, in the time I've been engaged in Christian apologetic ministry, especially on-line, I've witnessed certain Mormons giving it out to Christians in pretty harsh terms.
    For me it's been a learning process but I've (learned) that it's neither very kind or loving to allow someone to go down a spiritual path of destruction without drawing their attention to their final and inevitable destination if they stay on their current journey.

  17. Violet says:

    My grandma, a widow, was a cleaning lady. She had no money. What money she had, she sent to tv word-of-faith preachers. Everyone wants to do the right thing. But many, get taken. I am sorry for mormons. They want to do the right thing.

  18. Kate says:


    Wow does this sound like Mormon leaders over the years?

  19. wyomingwilly says:

    Kate, you're right about Mormon leaders using various excuses to convince the Mormon people
    to ignore the inconsistent pattern of their spiritual guidance. Concerning the types of excuses
    that Mr. camping will resort to, my wife reminded me of a couple more that have been used by
    the prophet led organization she was once involved in. Look for the date [2011] not to be changed
    but the definition of what was to happen will be subtly changed. The date is what catches your eye
    you end up remembering the date, that's what a false prophet wants you to do. Another excuse is
    that the Mr. camping will try and blame his followers for their "over-eagerness" to see something
    transpire etc. they'll read into his prediction to much , they'll go beyond what he technically said etc.
    It's so sad for the people who follow false prophets. Kate, thank the Lord that you are free . ww

  20. This reminds me of a comment that Spencer Kimball made to try and explain away the many of the failed Mormon prophecies of the past:

    – I suppose it depends considerably on what we are doing and the preparations we are making for the closing scene. The world has to hear the gospel; we must preach it. We are the only ones who can. There are things we must do before the end does come, and perhaps that controls it to some extent. At any rate, not anyone in this building knows when the end is coming or when the Christ will come, any more than did the ten virgins. But there were five who were wise, and they were prepared.
    … The time of Christ's return is affected by our conduct. I've known people who have been promised in their patriarchal blessings that they would live to see the temple built and some of them are dying and haven't seen the temple built. Do you know why? In my estimation, the Lord's timetable is directed a good deal by us. We speed up the clock or we slow the hands down and we turn them back by our activities or our procrastinations. And do you know why I think people who are actually promised that they would live to see the temple built are dying before completion of the temple? Because we haven't converted Indians in large enough numbers; never shall we go to Jackson County until we have converted and brought into this Church great numbers of Lamanites." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 441)

    Since the Indians are not now the 'principle' ancestors of the Lamanites, does that affect the clock? ~grindael

  21. A small tour of EOTW quotes by Mormon 'authorities':

    Joseph Smith – "There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 286)

    And now, the spin:

    Bruce R. McConkie – "The rising generation is the one that has just begun. Thus, technically, children born on April 6, 1843, would be the first members of the rising generation, and all children born, however many years later, to the same parents would still be members of that same rising generation. It is not unreasonable to suppose that many young men had babies at the time of this prophecy and also had other children as much as 50 or 75 years later, assuming for instance that they were married again to younger women. This very probable assumption would bring the date up to, say, the 2nd decade in the 20th century—and the children so born would be members of that same rising generation of which the Prophet spoke. Now if these children lived to the normal age of men generally, they would be alive well past the year 2000 A. D." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, v1, p. 666)

    Joseph Fielding Smith – "I believe that the coming of the Son of God is not far away, how far I do not know, but I do know that it is over 100 years nearer than it was when Elijah the prophet came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on the 3rd day of April, 1836 … The day of the coming of the Lord is near. I do not know when … I sincerely believe it will come in the very day when some of us who are here today will be living upon the face of the earth … When we become ripe in iniquity, then the Lord will come. I get annoyed sometimes at some of our elders who when speaking say the Lord will come when we all become righteous enough to receive him. The Lord is not going to wait for us to get righteous. When he gets ready to come, he is going to come – when the cup of iniquity is full – and if we are not righteous then, it will be just too bad for us, for we will be classed among the ungodly, and we will be as stubble to be swept off the face of the earth, for the Lord says wickedness shall not stand … Do not think the Lord delays his coming, for he will come at the appointed time … "(Doctrines of Salvation, v. 3, p. 2-3. The address was given on April 5, 1936.)

    I guess Fielding Smith would NOT have liked Spencer Kimball's comments… ~grindael

  22. I remember seeing this while I was at B.Y.U:

    The Half an Hour

    Revelation 8:1 – And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (See also D&C 88:95.)
    D&C 77:13 – Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation? A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ.

    Teachers’ Precise Prediction

    Seventh seal opened in the year 2000, or maybe it didn’t, give or take lots of years …
    There will be a pause for “half an hour”. 1 day in heaven = 1,000 earth years. There are 48 half-hours in a day. Half an hour in heaven = 1,000 years divided by 48 = 21 years.
    Allow for plenty of PEC meetings and Ward Councils: Add another 20 years.
    Compensate for MST (Mormon Standard Time): Add 9 years.
    2000 + 21 + 20 + 9. We plainly see that the Second Coming with be in the year 2050, or maybe sooner, or maybe much later

    I had to put this in:

    “The western boundaries of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that as President Young tells us, 'when we return to that place there will not be as much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.'” (J. Golden Kimball, Conference Report, October 1930, Second Day—Morning Meeting, p.58.)

    And if you go by this, (this one's my favorite) they can say anything, and not worry about it:

    Bruce R. McConkie – "There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world." (Doctrines of the Restoration, p. 164-165)

    Where was the "light and knowledge" THEN? Just who inspired them to be, ahem, wrong? So, no foreknowledge of God, no prophecy, just 'we spoke with a limited understanding'. Well, I'm glad he cleared that up. Ummm, why do we need prophets? Oh yeah, to give us OPINION. ~grindael

  23. falcon says:

    He just calculated wrong. Saturday was a day of judgement not the rapture. They guy messed-up.

  24. JimSpace says:

    I didn't mock Camping or his followers, but I was amazed at the immodesty and lack of education displayed by them. Ever hear of the 19th century Adventists? Ever read their arguments for the dates they set? All of their dates failed.
    Regarding 1975, the Bible chronology was not in question but rather the expectation asociated with it that was at times stated as being more definite than advisable, along with cautionary information that some lost sight of.
    But people are attracted to sensational reporting regardless of its value.

  25. Kate says:

    How sad for his followers. Now they have to live through this all over again in October.

  26. RalphNWatts says:


    What did Jesus say 2000 years ago

    Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

    Mark 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

    Luke 9:27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

    We LDS only teach that John the Beloved from that congregation was the only one to be promised to live until the Second Coming. Jesus here in these verses says ‘some’ indicating more than one. So are you going to contradict Jesus?

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