• The Watchtower Chameleon - The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses simultaneously adopts two contradictory personas—one to establish its right to demand constant obedience and trust from all Jehovah’s Witnesses and the other to defend itself against criticism when it is proven to be wrong about something.
  • The Lure of Prophetic Speculation - Throughout history, a number of prominent Bible students—including various leaders of the Watchtower organization—have come up with explanations of Bible prophecies. They began to teach them and developed a following. They predicted specific occurrences that would take place in specific time frames. What happens when the predicted date arrives and nothing happens? What do the teachers and followers do then?
  • When Prophetic Speculation Flops - You study the scriptures intently. You develop unique insights into Bible prophecy. You check and recheck your assumptions and calculations. Everything makes sense—everything fits. Multiple lines of analysis confirm your conclusions. Now confident, you make specific predictions and teach them to others. You develop a significant following. Then the day arrives and nothing you predicted comes to pass. Your disappointed followers demand an explanation and threaten to leave you. Now what do you do?
  • Justifying Investigation of Watchtower Prophetic Claims - When Christians point out Watchtower errors or flip-flops in the area of prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses often get defensive. Nobody’s perfect, right? They accuse us of persecution. Because of this, when discussing prophecy with Jehovah’s Witnesses, we first need to establish our motivation and our right to examine what the Watchtower Society has taught since its inception.
  • How Much Evidence Is Enough? - When showing Jehovah's Witnesses false prophecies made by the Watchtower, how much evidence should we present to them? Clearly, one or two examples will probably not be enough. They can always be shrugged off as an aberration or as not representative of Watchtower literature as a whole. After all, “nobody’s perfect.” But there’s the opposite problem of overkill which destroys everything we’re trying to accomplish. We don’t want to drive them further into the Watchtower organization by triggering their persecution complex. In other words, less can sometimes be better.
  • End Times Fervor Fuels False Prophecy - In the early 19th century, Adventists began speculating about when Christ would return. Baptist preacher William Miller believed the return would occur between 1843 and 1844. A “great disappointment” came on October 22, 1844 when Jesus failed to appear. Miller’s followers split into several groups and the Adventist movement began. Millerite Nelson H. Barbour did his own study and concluded that Christ would return in 1873, which he later changed to 1874. When Jesus failed to appear, he concluded that the date was correct but that they had been expecting the wrong thing. Jesus did return in 1874—invisibly—and would soon become visible to judge the world. He started a magazine, Herald of the Morning, to publicize his views. This is where Charles Taze Russell entered the picture.
  • Watchtower Pyramidology - Many—perhaps most—Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea that passageway measurements of the Great Pyramid of Egypt had anything to do with the Watchtower’s end times predictions. But it did. In fact, there were three contradictory stages in Watchtower pyramidology.
  • The Bible and 1914 - The 1914 date is critical to the Watchtower’s claim that its leadership is the “faithful and discreet slave” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:45. If Jesus didn’t return invisibly in 1914, then he didn’t inspect the world’s religions in 1918-1919, name the Watchtower organization as his “faithful and discreet slave” and give it worldwide authority as the only true religion.
  • Disproving the Watchtower’s 1914 Chronology - In last week’s post, I showed how the Watchtower arrives at its 1914 date for the end of the Gentile Times. As I noted, its calculations are dependent on its claim that Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. If that date is wrong, then the 1914 date is also wrong. In fact, Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in approximately 586 B.C.E. Jehovah’s Witnesses will trust the Watchtower over secular historians, so we will use a Watchtower book to convince them.
  • When 1914 Prophetic Speculation Failed - In an earlier post entitled “When Prophetic Speculation Flops,” I noted that when someone’s “end of the world” prophecies fail, their disappointed followers demand an explanation and threaten to leave. When that happens, they have a number of options. Let’s fast forward a bit and look at what they actually did.
  • 1914—Changed Meanings - Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are completely unaware of the Watchtower prophecies I have documented so far in this series. In fact, they have been taught and believe a whitewashed version of Watchtower prophetic history.
  • The Finished Mystery - The Watchtower now claims that in 1918-1919, Jesus Christ personally inspected all the world’s religions. He found the Watchtower organization to be spiritually cleansed from past errors and faithfully dispensing spiritual food. Accordingly, he designated it to be the “faithful and discreet slave” of Matthew 24:45 and gave it dominion over all of his affairs on earth. In effect, it became Jehovah’s one true religious organization on earth, authorized to speak and act on his behalf. Given that The Finished Mystery was the last book it published and promoted before Jesus’ claimed inspection, I want to take some time to discuss it.
  • 1925—Millions Now Living Will Never Die - The Watchtower leaders could have admitted their ignorance and stopped prophesying. Instead, they charged ahead, proclaiming boldly that the resurrection of the Old Testament patriarchs would occur in 1925 and that “millions now living will never die.”
  • Beth Sarim - Beth Sarim is not the name of a woman. It’s the name of a house—a house that was built in San Diego by the Watchtower organization in 1929. The Watchtower says that it was built for Watchtower president Joseph Rutherford’s use: “In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for brother Rutherford’s use. Concerning this property the 1939 book Salvation stated: 'At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth Sarim.’” (Yearbook, 1975, p. 194) But that’s only a half truth. It was actually built for King David and the Old Testament patriarchs, whose return was expected at any time.
  • “This Generation” Means the New Creation - In fact, after 1925, the Watchtower had a dilemma. They wanted to continue growing by fanning the flames of the nearness of Armageddon, but they didn’t want to prophesy about another specific date and risk a repeat of the failures of its prophecies regarding 1914, 1918, and 1925. So Watchtower president Joseph Rutherford focused on Jesus’ phrase “this generation.”
  • “This Generation” Means the 1914 Generation - In 1951—less than a decade after Rutherford’s death—the Watchtower changed its understanding of “this generation.” No longer was it tied to the anointed. Now it applied to anyone, including those upon whom God’s judgment would fall. Because the signs of the end began in 1914, the end of the wicked system and the beginning of Christ’s millennial kingdom had to come within one generation of 1914.
  • The 1914 Generation Contracts and Expands - It all seemed so simple when Jehovah’s Witnesses explained the 1914 generation teaching to me in 1972. The 1914 generation would by no means pass away until Armageddon came and Christ’s millennial Kingdom on earth would begin. But then the Watchtower’s definition of “generation” kept shifting.
  • The 1914 Generation Discarded - In 1995, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses bit the bullet. “This generation” referred to by Jesus was untied from the generation of 1914!