5In last week’s post, I looked at the harm the Watchtower’s false prophecies has done to Jehovah’s Witnesses who, in faith, oriented their lives around those failed end times predictions.

But what has it done to its own credibility and to that of Jehovah’s Witnesses who work tirelessly to spread the Watchtower’s message door-to-door?

Most people I know—if they pay any attention to Jehovah’s Witness literature at all—see the Watchtower as a tedious doomsday cult which has been erroneously predicting the end of the world year after year, decade after decade, for more than 140 years now.

Ironically, without realizing it, the Watchtower has answered this question and in so doing has condemned itself:

Down through the centuries since Jesus’ day, so many unfulfilled predictions have been made that many no longer take them seriously. … Undeterred by previous failures, some seem to have been spurred on by the approach of the year 2000 and have made further predictions of the end of the world. … The flood of false alarms is unfortunate. They are like the wolf-wolf cries of the shepherd boy—people soon dismiss them, and when the true warning comes, it too is ignored.” (Awake! “Why So Many False Alarms?,” March 22, 1993, pp. 3-4)

Former Watchtower Governing Body member Raymond Franz expressed why he left the religion he had believed in and served for many years:

Everyone has the right to express opinions. But men who claim to be God’s spokesmen on earth surely do not have the right to express mere opinions while claiming that what they say is backed up by God’s own Word and should be accepted as such. When statements are spread around the globe as God’s message for mankind, as spiritual “food in due season,” those publishing them are neither “faithful” or “discreet” if they irresponsibly express fallacious opinions, argue tenaciously for them, belittle any who disagree, or, worse question their loyalty and humility before God. (Crisis of Conscience, 1983, p. 195)

The Watchtower has attempted to limit the damage caused by its prophetic failures:

“The Watchtower has assured its readers that, despite their repeated mistakes in setting dates for Armageddon, ‘… there is no reason for us to be shaken in faith in God’s promises…. the important thing is not the date. What is important is our keeping ever in mind that there is such a day—and it is getting closer and it will require an accounting on the part of all of us.’” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1980, p. 18)

Despite this, Ray Franz noted:

I felt that the real issue went far beyond that of some individual’s accuracy or inaccuracy or even an organization’s reliability or untrustworthiness or its members’ sensibleness or gullibility. It seemed to me that the really important factor is how such predictions ultimately reflect on God and on his Word. When men make such forecasts and say that they are doing it on the basis of the Bible, build up arguments for these from the Bible, assert that they are God’s “channel” of communication—what is the effect when their forecasts prove false? Does it honor God or build up faith in Him and in the reliability of his Word? Or is the opposite the result? Does it not give added inducement for some to feel justified in placing little importance upon the Bible’s message and teachings? (Crisis of Conscience, 1983, p. 209)

Despite all this, I urge Christians everywhere to have compassion on Jehovah’s Witnesses.

If you discuss the Watchtower’s false prophecies with them, don’t lambast the Watchtower organization.

They will see that as abuse and persecution, and you won’t get through to them.

Instead, tell them lovingly and with sadness that you believe the Watchtower has hurt its own cause by the large number of failed predictions of Armageddon it has made over the years, and it has led many faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses to make unfortunate and poor decisions about their futures based on mistaken speculation.

If they want to know more, be prepared to show them.