(Photo: The Christian Post / Hudson Tsuei)
Harold Camping is tossing the witnessing tracts and no longer focusing on bringing people to Jesus Christ. His main task now, he said, is to nurture those already saved.
For others, he suggested, it's already too late.
During his radio program "Open Forum" on Thursday, the Family Radio president received a call from a faithful listener who said she was disappointed and confused following the May 21 rapture dud.
Camping had predicted that the rapture and Judgment Day would begin on May 21. When that didn't happen, he offered a new interpretation and said a spiritual judgment came upon the world that day, not a physical one.
The caller complained that though Camping declared that the work of salvation came to a close on May 21 and that no one can come to Christ anymore, Family Radio was sending out mixed signals with some announcers still preaching about salvation.
The 89-year-old Christian broadcaster responded, saying that they are "gradually beginning to check out our programs" and that they have shifted from Judgment Day to "feed my sheep."
"Our job right now is to feed the sheep," Camping said. "Millions have become saved and many of them ... they've just become saved and they know very little about the word of God. And now we have a tremendous task to nurture them."
The caller mentioned that she had passed out tracts and witnessed to people ahead of May 21. Hoping to get some direction on what to do now, she asked, "If we think we're true believers, we should not be witnessing then to anybody else? We should just focus on nurturing ourselves?"
"Well, really, yes, our task of witnessing to the world has really changed," Camping replied.
"This is so stupendous, so tremendous in our thinking because all our life we have been concerned about witnessing to people that they might become saved."
While he said Family Radio is cautiously taking its next steps, or "backing into this very gently," as he stated, he said the organization will no longer be offering witnessing tracts and instead play more music and cater to the believers.
As to who those true believers are, Camping said he didn't know and that no one can know.
"Someone might be a true believer and still be praying for his salvation and yet God had already saved them," he said. "We don't have to start making judgments. We can't look in the heart of anyone. We just want to share the Bible and particularly focus on passages that help grow in grace and to feed my sheep."
Several callers on Thursday didn't let the doomsday preacher off easy for his failed rapture prediction and for continuing to put a date on the end times – he now proclaims that the rapture and the end of the world will take place on Oct. 21.
They had Camping read Scripture passages such as Acts 1:7, Ezekiel 13:1-3, Deuteronomy 18:20-21, and Jeremiah 14:14, all of which have to do with false prophets.
"To your audience, I must tell you that they either believe the Son of God and his words or your false proclamations," one caller said. "You're in great error."
Another caller asked, when we declare May 21 as a certain day and things have not come to pass as we have said they would, "are we not considered a false prophet?"
Camping offered one excuse, though he didn't refer to himself.
"Some preachers are really trying hard to be faithful to the word of God. So they've studied ... and they came to a wrong conclusion because their study was not quite as complete as it should have been," he said.
Then the longtime broadcaster went on to talk about the cross and how God opens the spiritual eyes of people in His timing.
"In our day God has opened our eyes ... that God has shed his blood before the foundation of the world ... Now, for 2,000 years almost God has not opened the eyes of anyone to the fact that when Christ came to go to the cross, he was not paying for sin there, he was demonstrating how he made payment for sin.
"The reason that nobody stumbled on to the fact that that was a demonstration, not the actual payment for sin is because God had not opened up anybody's spiritual eyes to this."
Applying this to his failed rapture prediction, Camping submitted that God didn't open their eyes to "the fact" that Judgment Day would begin spiritually on May 21.
And there was a reason for that, he said. If they had known it would be a spiritual judgment and advertised it that way to the world, then no one would have taken notice or feared God. But because they declared that a physical Judgment Day would come, the world took note of it, Camping said.
He acknowledged biblical passages that state no one knows the day or the hour of the last days. But, notably, Camping insisted that God had kept that hidden until today.
"All kinds of people made predictions. They've always been wrong," he said. "But we have to remember there's more to the Bible than just Acts 1:7 ... He has not declared it until our day."
"So we have to listen to the whole Bible and then we know there would come a time when we would know the day or the hour and God has revealed that to us."
So how can you tell who's a false prophet?
If what the person claims is not from the Bible, that is a false prophet, said Camping.
Though Camping maintains that what he teaches is solely from the Bible, many Christian leaders have labeled Camping a false prophet and have called his teachings dangerous.
While one caller on Thursday's program suggested that Camping truly make his program an "open forum" by having other preachers come on and teach Scripture, Camping rejected that suggestion.