Harold Camping is not a “cult leader,” “crackpot,” or “malicious,” maintains an evangelical known for his thoughtful commentaries on faith, politics, church and culture.
Camping can be accused of being arrogant, but he probably sincerely believed that the rapture would take place on May 21, 2011, writes Dr. Timothy Dalrymple, managing editor of Patheos’ evangelical portal.
“I do not believe that Harold Camping is a crackpot or a cult leader, though some will construe him as such,” wrote Dalrymple in the blog post, “A Letter to Harold Camping and Those Who Expected Judgment Day,” uploaded on Patheos at 6:40 p.m. on Saturday.
“I believe that he got caught up in a particular way of looking at the scriptures, and was eventually surrounded by people who believed likewise,” he said. “He should have been humbler.”
In his post, which so far has over 4,600 Facebook shares, Dalrymple resisted from condemning, judging, and mocking Camping and his followers after the rapture failed to materialize on Saturday. Instead, he was one of the few compassionate voices reaching out to Camping’s followers as the world mocked them for being foolish.
In a follow-up post early Sunday morning, the Stanford graduate cited one commenter who wrote that the Family Radio president was probably “laughing all the way to the bank.” Other commenters pointed out that his followers sold all they had to pay for the ad campaigns warning about Judgment Day on May 21.
“Was his intent malicious? I sincerely doubt it,” responded Dalrymple to the concerns. “Just another true believer who believed in the wrong thing. Was he too proud to heed the warnings of others? Was he selfish and arrogant to let others make extraordinary sacrifices on the basis of his unbiblical theories?
“I believe he was. I hope he does repent,” he wrote, adding that he hopes Camping will stop making Judgment Day predictions.
Camping had previously wrongly predicted that the rapture would take place in September 1994.
According to Family Radio, Camping has worked as a volunteer in leading the organization and has not received any compensation. The ministry mainly relies on contributions. In 2009 alone, contributions totaled around $18 million.