In early 1994, I was listening to a couple of local LA talk show hosts interviewing a man who claimed judgment day was coming in September of that year. His name was Harold Camping and he had even written a book defending his date setting called, 1994? with a question mark at the end to leave wiggle-room for error. I had never heard of Camping. His deep, resonating voice had that robotic, cult leader ring to it that said, “Hi, I’m a cult leader! Want some Kool Aid?” I will say I was impressed that he did, in spite of the mockery from the two hosts and robotic voice, present a rather clear Gospel presentation.
September 1994 came and went and he dropped off my radar as it were. Then, in the mid-2000s, Camping again made a splash when he claimed that Christ had closed the church age and that all organized churches were false and apostate. Apologist James White even debated him on that topic on Chris Arnzen’s Iron Sharpen’s Iron radio show. The archive of the debate is on You Tube, and can be heard:
Then, in a move that would certainly bring utter ruination on his ministry, Camping claimed Jesus would return in May of 2011. Billboards announcing this date sprung up on top of buildings and along interstates throughout the United States. Camping took to his radio network, Family Radio, teaching daily on the topic. When that prophecy failed, Camping retooled his calculations and said it was October, 2011. That of course failed as well. He suffered a stroke in June of 2011 and his health slowly declined until he died in 2013.
Family Radio was the vehicle that broadcasted his false predictions all across the country. At one time, before Camping got into the date setting business, Family Radio was a reputable outlet that played edifying music and carried solid Bible teachers. As Camping moved further away from sound theology, to the point he was essentially throwing the doctrine of the Church under the bus, more and more ministries dropped off Family Radio. It looked like the long time radio network was dying a slow death, thrown into the ash heap of apostasy.
Then recently, I personally began hearing from acquaintances that Family Radio was airing solid Bible teaching again. A friend of mine said he had heard Alistair Begg’s program, as well as Answers in Genesis, and R.C. Sproul. The broadcasting management at Grace to You began looking into the rumors, and they learned from the agency that handles GTY’s account that the management of Family Radio was actively seeking to have GTY air on their daily radio schedule. That was interesting, to say the least. While GTY had some excellent discussions with the current management of Family Radio, everyone was a little hesitant because of the reputation Camping had brought to his network.
Then, in August of 2018, Tom Evans, president of Family Radio did an interview with Chris Arnzen of Iron Sharpen’s Iron about recent changes happening at the network. For nearly two hours, as Chris asked hard questions, Tom, often through emotional tears, confessed how Family Radio was repenting for the bad teaching they had aired for so long and asked for forgiveness from all of the damaging reproach they brought upon Christ and His church. It was such a joy to hear. For those who have not heard the interview, I would encourage you to so so.
That interview was enough to bring GTY on board with Family Radio, and as of October of 2018, GTY begins airing on their network. The first series will be What Jesus Wants Your Church to Know. John’s teaching from Revelation 2-3 on the seven churches of Revelation.