The Watchtower Society has written concerning The Watchtower magazine:
Since 1879 it has been published regularly for the benefit of sincere students of the Bible. Over that extended period of time The Watchtower has consistently proven itself dependable.1 What is the beginning of the end of Jehovah's witnesses? Find out in this post by Gerald Sigal.
To say "The Watchtower has consistently proven itself dependable" since 1879 is to agree with teachings that are blatant mistakes. There is no escaping the fact that the Watchtower Society, which prints The Watchtower, is spreading falsehoods.
Following the death of Charles Taze Russell (1916), the Watchtower Society's founder, a bitter struggle began over the organization's leadership. In 1917, Joseph Franklin Rutherford was elected as the new president. Rutherford immediately began introducing modifications in Russell's teachings in order to bring them into accord with his own theological opinions. In 1920 the Watchtower Society published Millions Now Living Will Never Die, a book authored by Rutherford.2 It prophesied that many Hebrew Bible characters would be raised to life in 1925. These resurrected individuals would then rule the earth. Some people living on Earth in 1914 who accepted the Watchtower Society's beliefs would never die. The prophecy failed. But, what of the promise that "Millions now living will never die"? The Society contends:
World events since 1914 harmonize with the prophecies uttered by Jesus Christ and thus prove that Jesus has been in power since then. For over seven decades now, the people or this 20th-century generation living since 1914 have experienced the fulfillment of events listed in Jesus' prophecy found in Matthew chapter 24. Therefore, this period of time is nearing its end, with the restoration of Paradise on earth close at hand.--Matthew 24:32-35; compare Psalm 90:10.3
When will this "restoration" occur? The Watchtower Society uses Matthew 24:34, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all things are fulfilled," to show the specific generation in which Jesus is supposed to return. According to the Watchtower Society, "the evidence points to the 1914 generation as the generation spoken of by Jesus. Thus, 'this generation will by no means pass away until all these things (including the apocalypse) occur.'"4 Awake! magazine (also published by the Watchtower Society) has identified the generation in which Jesus is supposed to return by explaining that "Jesus was obviously speaking about those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place," suggesting that these would be "youngsters 15 years of age."5 The Society said most definitely "the 'generation' logically would not apply to babies born during World War I."6
One need only calculate how old someone fifteen years old in 1914 would be today to show that the prophecy is on the threshold of total failure. As of yet, the Watchtower Society has not changed the prophecy, but it has stretched the definition of a "generation." Instead of fifteen-year-olds, who could witness "with understanding" what took place in 1914, they began to claim instead that the generation would be made up of "those born around the time" (that is, the babies that they had earlier excluded). They calculated that "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."7
For many years, each issue of Awake! magazine had the following statement of purpose (with some variation), explaining why Awake! was published, printed on page two: "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." Can we expect this statement to undergo change or to be quietly dropped as the generation living in 1914 dies out? Yes, indeed! In fact, this change already occurred. The last time the above wording was used in an issue of Awake! was October 22, 1995. Starting with the November 8, 1995 issue the statement was altered to read: "Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things." To further cover up the failure of its "Creator's promise" (in actuality the Watchtower Society itself) the Society has stated, "we find that the important thing is not the date. What is important is our keeping ever in mind that there is such a day-and that it is getting close. . . ."8
In the 1960's the Watchtower Society began to predict that the Battle of Armageddon would occur in 1975. The 1975 prediction was a total failure. Since then, the organization has shied away from setting a specific date for the end of the present world. It has also begun the process of disassociating itself from the promise that millions living in the year 1914 will never die. Thus, the Society writes in The Watchtower magazine: We have been able to see in history starting with World War I the physical evidence . . . that proves that we are in the conclusion of the system of things. Rather than be preoccupied with guessing just when the end will occur, we should be occupied with the preaching of the good news, which can save our lives and the lives of many others.--l Timothy 4:16.We have ample reasons to expect that this preaching will be completed in our time. Does that mean before the turn of a new month, a new year, a new decade, a new century? No human knows, for Jesus said that 'even the angels of the heavens' did not know that. (Matthew 24:36) Furthermore, we do not need to know as we continue doing what the Lord commands us to concentrate on doing. What is most important is that God's will and work be done and that we have the fullest share in that. Thus we "may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man."-Luke 21:36.9
Now, there is to be no more preoccupation "with guessing just when the end will occur" and the possibility of the ever-imminent Armageddon is put off even into the twenty-first century. Certainly, by then, those millions of people who were promised that they would never die will have indeed died. This claim, made concerning the generation living in 1914, must be quietly relegated to oblivion as that generation dies out without fulfillment having taken place. Moreover, how many Jehovah's Witnesses were born during World War I? How many of them are still alive.
Will the Watchtower Society disappear? Will millions now deceived leave that organization? More likely, most Jehovah's Witnesses will fall into lockstep with any excuses the Watchtower Society announces.
At least five times in its first century of existence, the Watchtower Society has targeted particular years for the commencement of the Battle of Armageddon. The Society's spiritual leadership-the fourteen member Governing Body-supposedly is divinely inspired with the ability to interpret the "signs of the times." The Society alleges that it is "Jehovah God's" visible agency on earth and that Jesus, having established the Messianic kingdom in the heavens in 1914,10 is invisibly directing its every decision. Thus, it says, "In the first century, Jerusalem was the place from which direction was given the Christian organization. (Acts 15:1, 2) But today such direction is provided from Brooklyn, New York."11 Yet, time after time, the Society's predictions have failed completely. In every instance, when the error of their predictions becomes too obvious to deny, the Watchtower Society follows Russell's lead. When the old world order did not end in 1914, as Russell predicted, he did not admit to error, but, rather, revised his claims. He simply declared that, in fact, Jesus had defeated Satan and established his kingdom in that year, not on earth, as previously taught by the Watchtower Society, but in heaven. Russell declared that soon Jesus' rule would extend to earth as well. Today, the long running Watchtower Society theological and chronological juggling act continues. The Watchtower Society misrepresents what it originally taught concerning 1914, that is, the establishment in that year of the Messianic kingdom on earth; it now claims that it always taught that what was established in that year was the Messianic kingdom in heaven. However, time is running out for the Watchtower Society. As each predicted end time date fails to materialize, computations are revised to put off the date of Armageddon. At the latest, though, the Watchtower Society date of Armageddon cannot be later than the early years of the twenty-first century, when the last of the "millions now living will never die" will indeed be dead. It is to be expected that the Watchtower Society, not wishing to dismantle itself in failure, that is, to admit to a paradise lost, will once more juggle the figures and propose still a later date for the arrival of the Battle of Armageddon. Nevertheless, the time is at hand to show the complete failure of the Watchtower Society's claims for the supposed second coming of Jesus in 1914.
1 New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1950, p. 793. 2 J.F. Rutherford, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1920. 3 The Watchtower, August 15, 1989, p. 14. 4 Ibid., February 15, 1986, p. 5. 5 Awake!, October 8, 1968, p. 13. 6 The Watchtower, October 1, 1978, p. 31. 7 Ibid., May 15, 1984, p. 5. 8 Ibid., March 15, 1980, p. 18. 9 Ibid., October 1, 1989, p. 31. 10 ". . . the Kingdom witnessing of Jehovah's Witnesses since 1914 has been something far different from what Christendom's missionaries have published both before and since 1914. 'Different'-how so? . . . What Jehovah's Witnesses have preached world wide since 1918 is something unique . . . the preaching of the good news of the Messianic kingdom as having been established in the heavens in 1914. . . ." 11 The Watchtower, February 15, 1986, p. 5.