Camping Countdown clock:
I've been following the Harold Camping situation closely. In my area, Family Radio has had a large presence, it always has, at least in my short life.
My parents were fond of Family Radio music so I suffered through years of it as kid (until the invention of the Walkman). My father though couldn't tolerate Mr. Camping, so he would change the channel when he came on. The only fun part of listening to Family Radio back then was waiting for one of their records to skip or get caught in a perpetual skip. It seemed to me the station was on auto-pilot, so a "stuck" record could go on indefinitely.
I can never recall a time when there was no Family Radio. It's always been there, same spot on the dial, the same barber-shop-quartet-type music, the same Mr. Camping. Over the years I'd tune into to Open Forum from time to time. No matter where my theology (or even unbelief) was at, I could either never follow his explanation, become easily bored, or find a quick chuckle over some one calling in a goof question. At one point in the early 1990's I used Camping's voice on my answering machine simply saying, "And shall we take our next call please...hello..."
I've met various Campingites through the years. There is one in particular who stands out. My friend Kenny is an incredible musician. He's a larger than life guy, a true "personality." meet him once, you'll never forget him. He's always been a Pentecostal, with tongues, minus the "God wants you to be rich and healthy stuff." He married this quiet conservative non-Pentecostal girl. Her mother was a militant Campingite. This woman appeared to despise Kenny, as well as his friends (like me). She poured tons of money into Family Radio, and advertising Family Radio. It got her a seat every year at Camping's table for the yearly Family Radio banquet at the Wayne Manor. Listening to Kenny describe his interactions with this woman were often humorous and often sad. The tension between a Pentecostal and a militant Campingite was like a rag in a bottle of gasoline.
Then I eventually embraced Reformed theology. Now listening to Mr. Camping got a bit more interesting because I was told he was a Calvinist. I'd listen in with different ears. Sure, he'd say some Reformed-type of things, but the hermanuetic was... wacky. If Camping was Reformed, it certainly sounded a lot different than R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. We had some Camping-lite folks in my Reformed church. They would LOVE to quote Mr. Camping on divorce & remarriage, and other various issues. I would cringe. Here we have a rich and robust Reformed theology, and these little old ladies were quoting... Harold Camping.
So here I am now, listening almost exclusively to Family Radio. It's an unbelievable irony when I stop and think about it. I'm suffering through the barber shop quartets and Harold Camping. Since I'm not certain if Family Radio will continue after this week, the thought of not having Family Radio has produced a slightly melancholic feeling. It's kind of like a store that's always been on the highway, and then one day it's gone. It's not like you cared for the store, but it's something you've always known. Those of you who've moved away from your hometown know what I mean. When you come back, you see the passage of time by what isn't there.
Of course, the other irony is that while Mr. Camping says God is judging the apostate church, the truth is that Mr. Camping will be exposed of heresy to all of his followers on May 22. Take a look at this pro-Camping website. Will it be there next week? What will become of these people? Hopefully repentance.
That Family Radio may disappear off the dial is also a tremendous blessing. When I think of all the lives Camping has ruined, I'm sickened. He ruined lives even before 1994. The Reformed community should have tried to pull his plug years ago. But since he spewed out all sorts of conservative old fashioned religion, the Reformed tolerated him. Even churches that I love and respect tolerated Camping, and broadcasted their church services on Family Radio. His hermeneutic alone should have provoked Reformed congregations to not associate with him. But, Camping was "conservative" and conservative people sometimes embrace being conservative more than they do proper Biblical hermeneutics. It's more important that Camping spoke against divorce, homosexuality, and worldliness. How does he interpret the Bible? Who cares? This sort of free pass from serious Reformed people always bothered me.
So now I'm about to embark on my morning commute. I'll be tuned in to Family Radio.