[Above (click image to enlarge): The Watchtower Society's claim to be prophet, in the Biblical sense, in "They shall know that a Prophet was among them," The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p.197]
who "speaks in the name of Jehovah" a "word [that] does not occur or come true" then "that is the word that Jehovah did not speak" (Dt 18:20-22 NWT. My emphasis); 2) The Society has claimed to be a "prophet" in the same sense that the Biblical prophets were, such as Ezekiel, from at least 1914, including being the only "ones commissioned to speak for God ... to declare things to come;" and 3) The Society spoke "in the name of Jehovah" the following words that were to "occur or come true" (my emphases below):
- 1958: "Many are the people alive since 1914 who will still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin" ("From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained," 1958, p.205);
- 1967: Of "the generation ... who saw with understanding the developing sign of the `last days' from their start in 1914," that is "the adult generation of that time," "The end of this wicked system ... will come before all members of that generation pass away." And since "the youngest" of that generation " was then "well over sixty years of age," "The time left" was "very short" ("Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation?," 1967, pp.171-172);
- 1968: Those "people still living who were alive in 1914 and saw what was happening then and who were old enough that they still remember those events," not "many" but only "Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system" ("The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life," 1968, p.95);
- 1968: Of "those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the `last days' began" in 1914, i..e. "15 years of age," to "be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914," again not "many" but only "some of those persons ... would still be alive when God brought this system to its end," but they were "approaching old age" and so "the years left before the foretold end comes cannot be many." ("What will the 1970's Bring?," Awake!, October 8, 1968, p.13-14);
- 1982: Of "the generation of people who were living in 1914 " still only "some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system," but now "Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old," and so "Shortly now there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon" ("You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," 1982, p.154);
- 1989: "Before the last members of the generation that was alive in 1914 will have passed off the scene ...the present wicked world will end ...: "The present wicked system of things ... entered its last days in 1914, and some of the generation alive then will also be on hand to witness its complete end ..."; "The `generation' that was alive ... in 1914 is now well along in years. The time remaining must be very short. " ("Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1989, pp.97, 234, 239).
Again, Bible references are to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society's New World Translation (NWT), unless otherwise indicated.
By 1995, of "the last members of the generation that was alive in 1914," were "old enough to witness with understanding what took place"and "still remember those events," i.e. being "15 years of age" in 1914, the youngest would have been born in 1899, which made them 95 year-olds, had nearly "passed off the scene." The Society, having in the 31 years from 1958 to 1989, progressively modified its prophecy from "Many are the people alive since 1914 who will still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin," to "Before the last members of the generation that was alive in 1914 will have passed off the scene ...the present wicked world will end" in 1989, they thereby tacitly admitted that it was a false prophecy, and then the Society abandoned all reference to the 1914 generation and substituted for it indefinite terms like "near":
"The Bible reliably helps us to see where we are in the stream of time. It shows us that we are in `the last days' of the present system of things. ... the Christian apostles Paul, Peter, and John provide us with further details concerning the last days. True, most features of the sign and of the last days involve distressing situations. Yet, the fulfillment of these prophecies should convince us that this wicked system is near its end." ("Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life ," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, 1995, pp.98-99).
"By themselves, some features of the prophecies describing the last days might seem to apply to other periods of history. But when combined, the prophesied evidences pinpoint our day. To illustrate: The lines making up a person's fingerprint form a pattern that cannot belong to any other individual. Similarly, the last days have their own pattern of marks, or happenings. These form a `finger print' that cannot belong to any other time period. When ' considered along with Bible indications that God's heavenly Kingdom is now ruling, the evidence provides a solid basis for concluding that these are indeed the last days. Moreover, there is clear Scriptural proof that the present wicked system will soon be destroyed." (Ibid., 1995, pp.106-107)
"As shown earlier, Jehovah God will soon destroy the present wicked system of things. The world is rapidly approaching what the Bible calls Har-Magedon, or Armageddon. ... `the war of the great day of God the Almighty.' .... Jehovah God's Son, the appointed King, will soon ride forth into battle. " (Ibid., 1995, pp.182-183).
"When Jesus told his followers to pray, `Let your kingdom come,' it was clear that the Kingdom had not come at that time. ... There was a waiting period. ... For how long? During the 19th century, sincere Bible students calculated that the waiting period would end in 1914. ... World events that began in 1914 confirm that the calculation of these sincere Bible students was correct. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that in 1914, Christ became King and God's heavenly Kingdom began to rule. Hence, we are living in the `short period of time' that Satan has left. (Revelation 12:12; Psalm 110:2) We can also say with certainty that soon God's Kingdom will act to cause God's will to be done on earth." ("What Does the Bible Really Teach?" Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 2005, pp.84-85. Italics original).
Which as former Governing Body member Ray Franz pointed out, "simply moved Watch Tower teachings closer to understandings presented long ago by those the organization disdains as `Christendom's scholars'":
"The inevitable signs of yet further `adjustment of understanding' began to appear with the February 15, 1994, Watchtower. In it the beginning of the application of Jesus' statement about `signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations' was moved up from the year-1914 to a point following the start of the yet future `great tribulation.' Likewise, the foretold `gathering of the chosen ones from the four winds,' previously taught as running from 1919 onward, was now also moved to the future, following the start of the `great tribulation' and subsequent to the appearance of the celestial phenomena. Each of the now-abandoned positions had been taught for some fifty years. (See, as but one of numerous examples, the Watchtower of July 15, 1946.) Though heralded as `new light,' the changes simply moved Watch Tower teachings closer to understandings presented long ago by those the organization disdains as `Christendom's scholars.'" (Franz, R., "Crisis of Conscience," Commentary Press: Atlanta GA, Fourth edition, 2002, pp.265-266).
But just because the Watchtower has abandoned its 1914 generation prophecy, the fact is that it made it, and what's more, repeated it, for nearly a third of a century from 1958 to 1989.
The relevance of the deaths of those two soldiers mentioned in part #1,who fought in World War I, aged 107 and 110 is that, having been born in 1901 and 1898 respectively, they in fact were members of that generation that was "old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the `last days' began" in 1914 and of whom the Watchtower prophesied that "Many" would "still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin." They are therefore a concrete example of how extremely old that generation is today.
So how "many" are there of that generation alive today? Since the youngest of that generation would have had to be born in 1899, they would be 109, or over, this year. According to the Gerontology Research Group at UCLA, a global authority on the super-elderly, in 2005 the world population of persons aged 110 years or over, was estimated to be only 250 (Malcolm, A.H., "Hitting the Big Eleven-O," Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2005). Although Wikipedia states that of "the total number of supercentenarians [age 110+ years], this [was] an estimated 300 to 450 worldwide, of which only approximately 80 are validated."
Whether 250 or 450, clearly that is not "many" as a percentage of a world population of ~6.64 billion. And that the Watchtower itself has said that, "When the term `generation' is used with reference to the people living at a particular time ... the time would fall within reasonable limits" and "These limits would be determined by the life expectancy of the people of that time or of that population," i.e. "the general rule," which for "people living under favorable conditions may reach seventy or eighty years of age":
"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 expectancy 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 seventy or eighty years of age. Moses wrote: `In themselves the days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by, and away we fly.' (Ps. 90:10) However, some few may live longer, but Moses stated the general rule. ... When Bible prophecy speaks of `this generation,' it is necessary to consider the context to determine what generation is meant. Jesus Christ, when denouncing the Jewish religious leaders, concluded by saying: `Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation.' History recounts that about thirty-seven years later (in 70 C.E.) that contemporary generation personally experienced the destruction of Jerusalem, as foretold.-Matt. 23:36. Later that same day, Jesus again used practically the same words, saying: `Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' (Matt. 24:34) In this instance, however, Jesus was not speaking only of the things that would befall natural Israel. He was answering a question as to what `sign' would mark his `presence' and `the conclusion of the system of things.' ... In both instances Jesus was using the word `generation' in a literal sense, not in a symbolic or figurative sense, for the events Jesus described in the context were literal.-Matt. chap. 24." ("Aid to Bible Understanding," , Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, 1971, pp.641-642).
In other words,"'many" in the Watchtower's 1958 prophecy ,"Many are the people alive since 1914 who will still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin," meant, not the last few hundred of that generation who lived to over 110, far beyond "the general rule" of the life expectancy of the people of that time," which in 1914 would presumably have been no more than "seventy or eighty years of age." And since "Jesus was using the word `generation' in a literal sense, not in a symbolic or figurative sense," then "many" meant in the ordinary dictionary definition of "many ... a large but indefinite number" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary); "constituting or forming a large number ... a large or considerable number of persons or things" (Dictionary.com) and "used mainly ... to mean 'a large number of'" (Cambridge Dictionary).
So the estimated 250-450 remaining of that generation of "those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the `last days' began" in 1914, i..e. were "15 years of age" in 1914, and so were born in 1899, cannot, in any reasonable, "literal sense" of the word, be regarded as "a large number." So the Watchtower's 1958 prophecy that "Many are the people alive since 1914 who will still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin," has failed.
Moreover, given Jehovah's Witnesses' very small numbers in 1914, with only "about 5,100 that participated in the work":
"What a remarkable, intensive, global witness was given during those early decades of the modern-day history of Jehovah's Witnesses! But, really, the work was just beginning. Only a few hundred had actively shared in spreading Bible truth during the early 1880's. By 1914, according to available reports, there were about 5,100 that participated in the work. Others may occasionally have distributed some tracts. The workers were relatively few. This small band of evangelizers had, in various ways, already spread their proclamation of God's Kingdom into 68 lands by the latter part of 1914. And their work as preachers and teachers of God's Word was established on a fairly consistent basis in 30 of these lands." ("Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Brooklyn NY, 1993, p.422)
there almost certainly are no Jehovah's Witnesses alive today, who are among that generation of 109+ year-olds. Indeed A.H. Macmillan (1877-1966) who joined the Watchtower Society in 1900 and died at the age of 89 in 1966, may well have been the last of that generation who were Jehovah's Witnesses.
Therefore, despite the Society's attempt to prevent their prophecy from failing by changing, "Many are the people alive since 1914 who will still be living when it is time for Armageddon to begin"in 1958 to "Before the last members" of the generation that was alive in 1914 will have passed off the scene," in 1989, according to the Bible's false prophecy test, Dt 18:20-22 NWT:
"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."
the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is a false prophet!
Jehovah Himself said of "the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word" and if that "word does not occur or come true" then "that is the word that Jehovah did not speak." Now a word that "Jehovah did not speak" cannot then become a word that Jehovah did speak, by changing it as subsequent events threaten to falsify it! So a prophet only has to get one prophecy wrong, to be a false prophet, and in ancient Israel, that false prophet would "die," i.e. be executed, so he would not live long enough to adjust his prophecy to fit the actual events as they unfolded!
And what is more, the Watchtower Society knows it is a false prophet. This is evident in that the Society once used to have, Dt 18:21-22, "... and the word does not occur or come true ..." as its primary criterion for distinguishing a false prophecy (and thus a false prophet) in its 1965 Watchtower field service manual:
"Distinguishing Between True Prophecy and False Deut. 18:21, 22 `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.'" ("Make Sure of All Things, Hold Fast to What Is Fine," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, 1965, p.394. Emphasis original).
But in its 1989 replacement of that same manual, the Society did not even mention that criterion, and quoted only Dt 18:18-20:
"How can true prophets and false ones be identified? ... True prophets speak in the name of God, but merely claiming to represent him is not enough Deut. 18:18-20: `A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you [like Moses]; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him. And it must occur that the man who will not listen to my words that he will speak in my name, I shall myself require an account from him. 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.' " ("Reasoning from the Scriptures," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, 1989, p.133. Emphasis original).
stopping just before verses 21 & 22, which contain the "when prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true" test, which the Watchtower fails:
Dt 18:21-22 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.
Presumably the main reason for this omission of what the Watchtower once recognised as the primary criterion for distinguishing a false prophet, is because in the same 1989 manual the Society has the following suggested response to a householder who says, "My minister said that Jehovah's Witnesses are the false prophets," which includes "May I show you how the Bible describes false prophets?" and "Then use one or more of the points outlined on pages 132-136":
"If Someone Says `My minister said that Jehovah's Witnesses are the false prophets' You might reply: May I ask, Did he show you anything in the Bible that describes what we believe or do and that says people of that sort would be false prophets? ... May I show you how the Bible describes false prophets? (Then use one or more of the points outlined on pages 132-136.)'" ("Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1989, p.137. Emphasis original)
But the "points outlined on pages 132-136" do not contain the primary false prophet test, "when prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true." The Watchtower here trades on the fact that most householders would not know where the false prophet test is, or what it is in full, so this is deliberate dishonesty on the Society's part. It also shows that the Society knows that it fails the primary false prophet test, and therefore that it is a false prophet! Otherwise it would include that primary false prophet test criterion in its section on "Distinguishing Between True Prophecy and False," and then be prepared to defend itself from the charge that it is a false prophet.
Indeed, in the same 1989 book, in the same "pages 132-136" that the Watchtower suggests its field workers offer to show householders, "how the Bible describes false prophets," the Society virtually admits it is a false prophet by pleading guilty to "the Witnesses" having "made mistakes in their understanding of what would occur at the end of certain time periods," but then arguing that "Jehovah's Witnesses do not claim to be inspired prophets" (my emphasis):
"FALSE PROPHETS ... Jehovah's Witnesses do not claim to be inspired prophets. They have made mistakes. ... The Scriptures provide time elements related to Christ's presence, and Jehovah's Witnesses have studied these with keen interest. (Luke 21:24; Dan. 4:10-17) Jesus also described a many-featured sign that would tie in with the fulfillment of time prophecies to identify the generation that would live to see the end of Satan's wicked system of things. (Luke 21:7-36) Jehovah's Witnesses have pointed to evidence in fulfillment of this sign. It is true that the Witnesses have made mistakes in their understanding of what would occur at the end of certain time periods ..." ("Reasoning from the Scriptures," 1989, p.136. Emphasis original).
But this defence also fails. First, the Watchtower has effectively claimed to be an inspired prophet, in the same sense as the Biblical prophets, such as Ezekiel (see above), from at least 1914. Second, Dt 18:21-22 says nothing about whether the prophet claims to be "inspired," or not. It simply says: 1) "when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah," which the Jehovah's Witnesses certainly do; and 2) "the word" spoken "does not occur or come true," which the Watchtower now admits to, having "made mistakes in their understanding of what would occur at the end of certain time periods;" then 3) "that is the word that Jehovah did not speak."
So again, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is a false prophet. And individual Jehovah's Witnesses who promulgate the Watchtower's false prophecies share in its guilt before God. The Biblical principle is that anyone who helps spread a false teacher's doctrines, "is a sharer in his wicked works" (2Jn 10-11). As former JW elder, David Reed urges, "the individual Jehovah's Witness," Rather than remain fearfully obedient to Watchtower leaders," should "start following the true Prophet, Jesus Christ":
"A JW may try to defend the Watchtower Society, saying that those false prophecies were all `mistakes' and that the organization has learned from these mistakes and no longer makes prophetic statements about when the end will come. In that case, ask the Witness to take out a copy of his latest Awake! magazine. Inside the front cover, on the page listing the contents of the magazine, there is a statement of purpose telling why Awake! is published. Ask the Witness to read it. As of this writing (1986), each issue still says: `Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure New Order before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.' Another prophecy! ... The facts are inescapable: The Watchtower Society spoke as a prophet, in the name of God, and what was prophesied did not come true. What does this mean for the individual Jehovah's Witness? Invite one to read what God's Word says about false prophets-and then ask what God would have him or her do. The Bible contains these warnings from Jesus Christ: `Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.' `For false Christs and false prophets will arise ... ` (Matt. 7:15, and 24:24, RSV). And the strong words quoted above from Deuteronomy 18:20-22, besides expressing God's judgment that the false prophet `must die,' also tell listeners, `You must not get frightened at him.' Rather than remain fearfully obedient to Watchtower leaders, the individual Jehovah's Witness who recognizes the organization as a false prophet should quit following it and start following the true Prophet, Jesus Christ." (Reed, D.A., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Thirty-first printing, 2006, pp.32-33).
PS: See more `tagline' quotes below (my emphasis bold, original emphasis italics) from non-JW literature about this particular false prophecy, which is only one among many, of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.
"Matthew 24:34- The 1914 Generation ... The New World Translation renders Matthew 24:34, `Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur' (emphasis added). The Watchtower Society teaches Jehovah's Witnesses that `this generation' is the 1914 generation. It is this group of people that will not pass away, they say, until all these things (prophecies, including Armageddon) come to pass. Now, it is an enlightening experience to study how the Watchtower Society has dealt with this verse throughout its history. Back in 1968, the Society was teaching its followers that Jehovah's Witnesses who were 15 years of age in 1914 would be alive to see the consummation of all things. Indeed, a 1968 issue of Awake! magazine said of `this generation': `Jesus was obviously speaking about those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the `last days' began.... Even if we presume that youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914, it would still make the youngest of `this generation' nearly 70 years old today... . Jesus said that the end of this wicked world would come before that generation passed away in death (emphasis added). [Awake!, 8 October 1968, p.13]" (Rhodes, R., 1993, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Harvest House: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 2006, pp.363-364).
"Some ten years later, a 1978 issue of The Watchtower magazine said: `Thus, when it comes to the application in our time, the `generation' logically would not apply to babies born during World War I' [The Watchtower, 1 October 1978, p.31] (emphasis added). It is clear that at this time, the Watchtower Society was still holding out to the view that those who were teenagers during 1914 would see the culmination of all things. However, as David Reed points out, `one need only calculate that someone fifteen years old in 1914 would be twenty-five years old in 1924, thirty-five years old in 1934-and eighty-five years old in 1984-to realize that the Watchtower's `generation that will not pass away' was almost gone by the mid-1980s. The prophecy was about to fail. But, rather than change the prophecy, [Watchtower] leaders simply stretched the generation. [Reed, D., "Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1986, p.57]" (Rhodes, 1993, p.364).
"A 1980 issue of The Watchtower magazine said of `this generation': `It is the generation of people who saw the catastrophic events that broke forth in connection with World War I from 1914 onward.... If you assume that 10 is the age at which an event creates a lasting impression' [The Watchtower, 15 October 1980, p.31] (emphasis added). The Watchtower leaders reduced the age from 15 to 10 in order to allow for five more years for a `generation' that was quickly dying off. The 1980 solution didn't alleviate the problem. Another step had to be taken. So, in a 1984 issue of The Watchtower magazine, we read, `If Jesus used `generation' in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older... . Some of them `will by no means pass away until all these things occur' [The Watchtower, 15 May 1984, p.5] (emphasis added). Along these same lines, a 1985 issue of The Watchtower said, `Before the 1914 generation completely dies out, God's judgment must be executed.' [The Watchtower, 1 May 1985, p.4] More recently, a 1988 issue of Awake! magazine said, `Most of the generation of 1914 has passed away. However, there are still millions on earth who were born in that year or prior to it.... Jesus' words will come true, `this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.' [Awake!, 8 April 1988, p.14] Reasoning from the Scriptures (1989) tells us that time is running short: `The "generation" that was alive at the beginning of the fulfillment of the sign in 1914 is now well along in years. The time remaining must be very short. World conditions give every indication that this is the case.' [Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.239]" (Rhodes, 1993, pp.364-365).
"Before getting into the specifics, invite him [a Jehovah's Witness] to turn in his own Bible to Deuteronomy 18:20-22, to see what God's Word says about true and false prophets. The true ones are highly esteemed as men of God, but false ones are judged to be worthy of death: `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 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... (NWT).' So, God himself has established the criteria for judging true and false prophets: (1) Is the utterance spoken in his name or in the name of other gods; and (2) does the word spoken occur or come true? Now it is simply a matter of comparing the Watchtower prophecies to this divinely inspired standard of judgment. Obviously the Jehovah's Witness organization has spoken in the name of Jehovah, so it is okay on point number one. But have the messages spoken occurred or come true? If not, then the condemnation of God is on the organization and it is worthy of death, because it has presumptuously pretended to speak for God. In the case of ancient Israel, where the standard of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 was first applied, prophets usually communicated their pronouncements by means of the spoken word. At times they addressed kings in private, and at other times, large gatherings of people in public places. In order to determine whether what was prophesied actually occurred or came true, hearers would have to testify as to what they had heard the prophet speak. But in the case of the Watchtower Society, most of its prophetic statements have been made in the pages of its books and magazines. Thus, they are preserved in black and white, and it becomes a simple matter of comparing what was said with what actually occurred. ... The things prophesied to take place in 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975 did not happen, of course, so the Watchtower Society has proved to be a false prophet many times over. This should be discussed as dispassionately as possible. Let the Witness grasp the point without trying to hammer it in with an I-told-you-so! remark that would only get in the way of his admitting the facts. A better approach might be to conclude the discussion with a rereading of Deuteronomy 18:20-22, quoted above, perhaps adding also Jesus' words at Matthew 7:15, `Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves' [KJV]." (Reed, D.A., "How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Second printing, 1990, p.57-58,60).
"Note that most if not all of the major events expected by Russell, Rutherford. and the Watch Tower Society since Rutherford's day have not happened. Russell first believed that the rapture of the church would take place in 1878 and then in 1881. When that event did not occur as he had expected, he reinterpreted the significance of those years. He felt that a time of trouble would begin about 1910 and would end in 1914 or 1915: `But bear in mind that the end for 1914 is not the beginning, but the end of the time of trouble.' [WT, 1894] `The culmination of the trouble in October 1914 is clearly marked in the Scriptures and we are bound therefore to expect a beginning of that severe trouble not later than 1910; - with severe spasms between now and then. [WT, 1901] As noted earlier, Rutherford was equally certain about 1925, and for nearly a decade prior to 1975, the society pointed to that year. But all these prophecies have failed, and the society has been forced to reinterpret much of its eschatology. In a number of instances it has reinterpreted the significance of certain dates, while it no longer says anything about others. The year 1914 is now seen as having marked the beginning of the time of trouble rather than the end, while Jehovah's Witnesses no longer believe that dates which were important to Russell such as 1799, 1846, 1874, 1878, 1881, or 1910 have any special meaning. They have abandoned as wrong much of the system of prophetic calculation used by Russell and for a time by Rutherford." (Penton, M.J., 1997, "Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses," , University of Toronto Press: Toronto ON, Second edition, p.166)
"The society therefore does not claim to be `inspired.' Like Pastor Russell, Jehovah's Witnesses today do admit that they can and do make mistakes. ... But there is another side to the matter of Witness attitudes with respect to chronology and prophetic speculation. In fact, it would be either a serious mistake or quite dishonest to argue that the restrained and undogmatic position just outlined has been the dominant one of Jehovah's Witnesses or Witness leaders over the years. In general, what has been the case, especially since Pastor Russell's death, has been that the Watch Tower Society has been extremely doctrinaire whenever it has held to a particular position, whether relating to prophetic speculation or otherwise. Then, later, when it became obvious that the doctrine in question was untenable, it would retreat to the assertion that Watch Tower leaders are not infallible and must progress with the light." (Penton, 1997, pp.168-169).
"For years the Watch Tower Society had proclaimed that Christ had returned invisibly in 1914 and the generation who had witnessed that year would see the `final end' of the system of things. Following the debacle of 1975, this doctrine began to become more and more of an embarrassment. Carl Olof Jonsson's The Gentile Times Reconsidered raised seriously damaging questions about the society's so-called biblical chronology that is used to support the 1914 date. The society has largely been able to discount that work, however, by disfellowshipping Jonsson and ignoring the most damning aspects of his work in an area which is far too complex for the average Jehovah's Witness to understand. Still, as year followed year and the generation of 1914 began to die off, it became obvious that, if Armageddon was again delayed, something would have to be done to avert another impending crisis in Witness date-setting. Consequently, beginning with the 15 February 1994 issue of The Watchtower, the society began to revise its eschatology. ... On 1 November 1995, the society came to grips with its greatest immediate eschatological problem by reinterpreting the meaning of the term `this generation' as used by Jesus at Matthew 24:34. As indicated above, the Watch Tower Society had long continued to teach that those who were alive in 1914 would see the end of the present world or system of things. Accordingly, `this generation' was understood to mean people living contemporaneously, in this case with the grand event of Christ's invisible presence and enthronement in 1914. Until a week after the society changed its `this generation doctrine,' Awake! was still making this proclamation about itself on its masthead: `Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.' Thus, because of this longstanding doctrine, Jehovah's Witnesses had speculated time and again over the years about the length of a biblical generation. In the 1 November 1995 Watchtower, however, the Society decided that it was wrong to hold that the term `this generation' could be linked to a specific date. It quoted with approval history professor Robert Wohl's statement in The Generation of 1914: `A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits ... It is not a zone of dates.' Then it asserted that `in the final fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy [at Matthew 24 and 25] today, `this generation' apparently refers to the peoples of the earth who see the sign of Christ's presence but fail to mend their ways.' [WT, 1 November 1995, pp.18-19] What this means is that the Watch Tower Society, acting for the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, has created a situation whereby it can go on arguing that Christ came invisibly in 1914 and that the `final end' is near at hand, but the society can say, with some equivocation, as is noted below, that it no longer preaches even an approximate date for the apocalyptic events of the great tribulation. So now Jehovah's Witnesses are not so likely to be disappointed if the old system of things is not finally destroyed or the millennium does not begin by the year 2000." (Penton, 1997, pp.316-317).