Key Scripture: “When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word is not fulfilled or does not come true, then Jehovah did not speak that word. The prophet spoke it presumptuously. You should not fear him’” (Deuteronomy 18:22, Watchtower translation).
The objective of The False Prophecies Approach is to show Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Watchtower organization is not the reliable guide it claims to be in that it has made numerous false prophecies.
Why it matters (pp. 281-282)
Throughout its history, claiming to be God’s chosen channel of communication, the Watchtower has repeatedly predicted specific years or time frames during which end times events including the resurrection of the dead will occur. When the events failed to take place as predicted, the Watchtower simply set new dates or emphasized that Armageddon is surely now closer than ever.
The resulting fervor has repeatedly motivated Jehovah’s Witnesses to increase their door-to-door preaching in “the short time remaining before Armageddon.” It has also helped keep Witnesses obedient to the Watchtower in every particular, lest they disobey “the faithful and discreet slave” in the last days and be destroyed in the apocalypse along with the wicked.
The unexpected approach (p. 282)
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have been told that the Watchtower is a cult and that its leaders are false prophets. They have come to expect this type of verbal abuse. In contrast, you will go out of your way not to make such accusations. Instead, you will show them Christian love by presenting your documentation in a respectful way so as to avoid appearing to persecute them for their beliefs.
Justifying the investigation (pp. 282-283)
Introduce your concerns about prophecy by talking about the late Harold Camping—a radio Bible teacher was had no connections with the Watchtower. Twice, he erroneously predicted a date for the rapture. Many followers believed in him.
Tell the Witnesses, “I think you can see why I am wary of end-times predictions. If we are going to talk about that subject, I would want to do research about what your organization has taught about the end times over the years to see if it has been consistent and reliable. I hope you won’t see that as a personal attack. I just want to be cautious. I would want to do the same sort of research if you were followers of Harold Camping or representatives of any other religion that claims to speak for God.”
If they are opposed to this procedure and threaten to break off any further contact, then suggest that it would be best not to discuss the end times at all because you aren’t trying to be offensive—only cautious. However, make your point by telling them that you are very concerned when representatives of any religion try to persuade you not to investigate the history of their organization’s teachings. Ask them if they understand why.
How to present the evidence (p. 284)
Don’t just tell the Witnesses what you’ve discovered. Show it to them right out of Watchtower literature. All of the Watchtower documents I refer to are available for printing at David Reed’s website. [LINK: www.AnswerJW.com/rescue/prophet.htm]. This is part of an online version of his book, How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989).
- Print only the Watchtower reprints themselves to show the Witnesses. Omit any additional comments, headings, or numbering provided by Reed.
- Print out a separate copy for each Witness.
- Present the documents one at a time and complete your discussion of each item before going on to the next one. Otherwise, the Witnesses will just thumb through without reading them.
- When presenting any item, ask one of the Witnesses to read it out loud before inviting their comments. That is the best way I know to ensure that they will actually examine the Watchtower’s errors and changes.
If they claim that the documents may be forgeries, ask them to research it themselves and report back to you.
- Have you ever bought into someone’s predicted date for the rapture or other Bible event? How did you feel when it didn’t come to pass as expected? (p. 282)
- How might starting your discussion of prophecy by referring to Harold Camping’s erroneous predictions of dates for the rapture produce better results than telling Jehovah’s Witnesses, “You people are false prophets”? (pp. 282-283)
- How can we justify our investigating of the Watchtower’s prophetic claims and predictions in a way that won’t come across as abuse or persecution? (pp. 282-283)
- Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are unaware of the dogmatic predictions the Watchtower made regarding 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975. Why would it be better to show Jehovah’s Witnesses the false prophecies in print rather than just telling them that the Watchtower made them? (p. 284)