20 Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses on False Prophecies of the Watchtower Society
(Note: To view printable PDF images of all Watchtower quotations below, click the reference links next to each quote.)
1. How can we know the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet?
“True, there have been those in times past who predicted an ‘end of the world,’ even announcing a specific date. …Yet, nothing happened. The ‘end’ did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? …Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them.”—Awake!, October 8, 1968, p. 23 **
2. Has the Watchtower Society claimed to be God’s “prophet”?
“So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? …He had a “prophet” to warn them. This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. …Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a “prophet” of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?” —The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197
3. What does the Watchtower Society’s record show? Did the Society proclaim that 1914 would “end” world governments?
“…the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.”—The Time is At Hand, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, 1886, 1911 edition, p. 101
4. How sure was the Society that the date 1914 would not be “changed” and that it was “not the date for the beginning, but for the end”?
“We see no reason for changing the figures—nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.”—Zion’s Watch Tower, July 15, 1894, p. 226-231 [Watchtower Reprints, p. 1677]
5. When 1914 failed, what “date” did the Society “change” in their updated edition of The Time is At Hand book?
“…the ‘battle of the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1915 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.”—The Time is At Hand, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, 1886, 1915 edition, p. 101
6. When 1915 failed, what did the Society say God would do in 1918?
“Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russel to learn the meaning of the downfall of ‘Christianity.’ ” —The Finished Mystery, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, 1917, p. 485
7. When 1918 failed, what date did the Society give for the “old world” to end and the “new order” to begin with the “resurrection” of the Old Testament saints?
“…the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old… it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die.”—Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 97
8. Why did the Society discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from bearing children in 1938?
“…it would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or Scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are.”—The Watchtower, November 1, 1938, p. 324
9. How soon was Armageddon to break out in 1941?
“Never was there a more moving sight in these ‘last days’. …Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them …the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon. What a gift! and to so many! The manner of releasing the new book Children was an outright surprise to all….”—The Watchtower, September 15, 1941, p. 288
10. Why were Jehovah’s Witnesses looking forward to 1975?
“WHY ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO 1975? WHAT about all this talk concerning the year 1975? …Their interest has been kindled by the belief that 1975 will mark the end of 6,000 years of human history since Adam’s creation.”—The Watchtower, August 15, 1968, p. 494
“According to trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E.” —Life Everlasting – In Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 29
11. What did the Society say “would have to be” occurring in the “seventh in a series of thousand-year periods or millenniums”?
“…six millenniums of mankind’s life on earth would end in the mid-seventies. Thus the seventh millennium from man’s creation by Jehovah God would begin within less than ten years…. In order for the Lord Jesus Christ to be ‘Lord even of the sabbath day,’ his thousand-year reign would have to be the seventh in a series of thousand-year periods or millenniums…. Would not, then, the end of six millenniums of mankind’s laborious enslavement under Satan the Devil be the fitting time for Jehovah God to usher in a Sabbath millennium for all his human creatures? Yes, indeed! And his King Jesus Christ will be Lord of that Sabbath.” —The Watchtower, October 15, 1969, pp. 622-623
12. Did the Society encourage Jehovah’s Witnesses to sell their homes in preparation for the “wicked world’s end” to come in 1975?
“Yes, the end of this system is so very near! Is that no reason to increase our activity?… Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.”—Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3
THE GENERATION OF 1914
13. What time period did the Watchtower Society say would bring “the end”?
“THE Bible speaks of the time in which we are living as the ‘last days’ or the ‘time of the end.’ …The facts show that this is a limited period that has a definite beginning and a definite end. It began in 1914. …there are people still living who were alive in 1914 … ‘This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.’ Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. This means that only a short time is left before the end comes!”—The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 1968, pp. 94-95
“We can be happy, therefore, for Jesus’ assurance that there will be survivors of ‘the generation of 1914’—that this generation will not have completely passed away—when the ‘great tribulation’ rings down the curtain on this wicked world system.”—The Watchtower, October 15, 1980, p. 31
14. How long did the Society say a “generation” would last?
“When the term ‘generation’ is used with reference to the people living at a particular time, the exact length of that time cannot be stated, except that the time would fall within reasonable limits. These limits would be determined by the life span of the people of that time or of that population. …Today, much as it was in the time of Moses, people living under favorable conditions may reach 70 or 80 years of age.”—Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 1, 1988, pp. 917-918
15. If the “generation” of the “time of the end” would last up to 80 years, what date failed to bring the end as prophesied by the Society? 1914 generation + 80 years = 1994. How did the Society excuse away this false prophecy?
“Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the ‘great tribulation’ would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we ‘bring a heart of wisdom in,’ not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we ‘count our days’ in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. …Is anything to be gained, then, by looking for dates or by speculating about the literal lifetime of a ‘generation’? Far from it!”—The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p. 17, 19
A NEW “GENERATION” TO BRING THE END!
16. Since the “generation” of 1914 failed to bring the end, what new “generation” does the Society now point to in order to bring in the end?
“…the number of genuine anointed disciples of Christ is dwindling, though some will evidently still be on earth when the great tribulation begins. Most of the remnant are quite elderly, and over the years the number of those who are truly anointed has been getting smaller.…Evidently, then, some of Christ’s ‘chosen ones’ will still be on earth when the great tribulation begins. …It seems that by the year 1935, the general ingathering of the anointed was complete.” —The Watchtower, January 15, 2000, pp. 13, 16
“As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day ‘generation’ of contemporaries that will not pass away ‘until all these things occur.’ This suggests that some who are Christ’s anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins. …Can We Calculate the Length of ‘This Generation’? …So when the term ‘generation’ is used with reference to people living at a particular time, the exact length of that time cannot be stated except that it does have an end and would not be excessively long.”—The Watchtower, February 15, 2008, pp. 24-25
TRUE OR FALSE?
17. Do you agree that Jehovah “will put all false prophets to shame …by not fulfilling the false prediction”? Do you agree, “false prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame by denying who they really are”?
“Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets. False prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame by denying who they really are.”—Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy!, 1972, pp. 353-354
18. Does the Watchtower Society deny that they are a “false prophet” by claiming that they never presumed to “originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah’ ”?
“Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, having suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’”—Awake! March 22, 1993, p. 4
19. Is it true that Jehovah’s Witnesses “never” presumed to speak as a “prophet” in the “name” of Jehovah?
“More accurately, was there any group on whom Jehovah would be willing to bestow the commission to speak as a ‘prophet’ in His name, as was done toward Ezekiel back there in 613 B.C.E.? What were the qualifications? …It is of importance to every individual on earth to identify the group that Jehovah has commissioned as his ‘servant’ or messenger. …For this reason forthcoming issues of The Watchtower will further discuss the identity and work of Jehovah’s commissioned messenger as revealed in His vision to Ezekiel.”—The Watchtower, March 15, 1972, pp. 189-190
“ ‘They shall know that A PROPHET WAS AMONG THEM’ …So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? …He had a “prophet” to warn them. This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.”—The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197
20. Do you agree that people should no longer trust false prophets “as safe guides”?
“Their prophecies did not come true. Therefore they are false prophets; and the people should no longer trust them as safe guides…”—The Watch Tower, May 15, 1930, p. 156
“However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: ‘How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?’ when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.’ ” —Deuteronomy 18:20-22, New World Translation
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** All quotations are from official publications of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.