Harold Camping. Image credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
And while it has been clear for months that the world, in fact, did not end on either date, Camping has finally issued an official statement admitting the mistake.
According to "When is the Rapture?," an article written by Camping, the Rapture is the end of the world and happens when "our Lord comes to judge the world."
On the day of the Rapture, "the believers in Christ who have not experienced physical death will be changed into their glorified bodies," Camping wrote. "At that time, they will be caught up in the air to be with Christ."
At the time of the first prediction, Camping was the president of Family Radio, a non-profit radio network that, according to its website, acts "with the express purpose of sending the Christian Gospel into the world."
When May 21, 2011 came and went with no sign of the Apocalypse, Camping still said he was not entirely wrong about the prediction. Speaking to the media outside the headquarters of Family Radio on May 23, Camping said that while the world had not ended, the spiritual Rapture had begun.
"We have to be looking at all of this a little bit more spiritual, but it won't be spiritual on Oct. 21," he said. "Because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world is going to be destroyed altogether."
Shortly after he said that, Camping suffered a stroke on June 13, 2011, and retired from Family Radio.
When Oct. 21 also came and went with no sign of the Rapture, Camping was publicly silent until now.
"We humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing," his statement reads. "We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement."
But Camping and Family Radio say they believe that while the prediction was a mistake, it was all in God's plan.
"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," Camping wrote. "Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible."
And, the statement reads, Family Radio will not announce a new prediction for the end of the world.
"We 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."
- Harold Camping
- Family Radio