After numerous failed doomsday predictions, Family Radio founder Harold Camping announced this month that he has no plans to predict ever again the day of God's Judgment. He also issued an apology to listeners, admitting that he was wrong.
"We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God's hands and He will end time in His time, not ours!" a statement on Family Radio's website reads. "We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically."
Camping, 90, has made predictions about Judgment Day, Christ's return and the end of the world for the past few decades – with the May 21, 2011, forecast receiving the most media attention. Each time the date passed, he did not admit to mistaking the timing but instead reasoned that the events happened "spiritually" rather than physically.
But once Oct. 21, 2011 – the day Camping said the world would be destroyed physically – came and went, the Christian broadcaster began to reevaluate his views about being able to calculate and know the exact date of the apocalypse.
"Even the most sincere and zealous of us can be mistaken," Camping and Family Radio staff stated in their March letter. "We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ's return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking.
"But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible's statement that 'of that day and hour knoweth no man' (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God's divine plan."
They went further to say that their "bold" insistence that the Bible guaranteed Christ's return on May 21 was both "incorrect" and "sinful."
At the same time, they pointed to the good that came out of all their failed forecasts, which were condemned by evangelical pastors.
"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," the Family Radio letter says.
Though they were wrong, their doomsday predictions directed the world's attention to the Bible and spurred discussions about the Scriptures among people who might have never heard about Christ, they noted.
Still, that does not excuse them, Family Radio acknowledged.
"We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin."
The letter was intended to be mailed out to Family Radio listeners first before being posted on the website. But the content was leaked, forcing the Oakland, Calif.-based broadcasting network to post the letter immediately.
While there are still doomsday dates currently circulating, Camping and Family Radio said they have "no new evidence pointing to another date" and have "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," they highlighted.
"[W]e must be satisfied to humbly wait upon God, and trust He will guide His people to safety. At Family Radio, we continue to look to God for guidance. If it is His good pleasure for us to continue on with our original mission, the proclamation of the Gospel, God's Word, then we must continue to look to Him."