Honest Mistakes or False Prophets?
The January 2013 Watchtower magazine’s cover asks the question: ‘Should you fear the end of the world? In the aftermath of the ‘failed’ Mayan prophecy, The Watchtower has decided to address a topic with which they have much history ‘The End of the World’. The article asks:
How do you feel about December 21, 2012, the date on the Maya calendar that many have been saying would bring worldwide change? Depending on what you expected, you might be relieved, disappointed, or indifferent. Was it just another incorrect prediction for the end of the world? (page 4)
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society know all about incorrect predictions for the end of the world. In their 140 year history they have predicted the end on numerous occasions (see: http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/1800s.php); but to their seeming credit, they admit they have made mistakes:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have had wrong expectations about when the end would come. Like Jesus’ first-century disciples, we have sometimes looked forward to the fulfilment of prophecy ahead of God’s timetable. (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) We agree with the sentiment of longtime Witness A. H. Macmillan, who said: “I learned that we should admit our mistakes and continue searching God’s Word for more enlightenment.” (page 8)
Does this admission of ‘wrong expectations’ absolve The Watchtower from leading people astray? Well let us consider this. When confronted with the charge of false prophecy, the usual response of Jehovah’s Witnesses is ‘we never claimed to be prophets’; but is this true?
In 1972, The Watchtower published the following:
IDENTIFYING THE “PROPHET” — “So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?…This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses…Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show ” (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1972, p. 197).
This appears pretty straightforward. They claim that Jehovah has had a prophet on the earth for the last 140 years, starting with the International Bible Students through to modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses. This prophet has warned people of danger and declared THINGS TO COME. So let us do as they recommend and review the record. What does it show? Here are just a few of numerous ‘date setting’ quotes:
“Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of ‘Christianity.’ ” —The Finished Mystery, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, 1917, p. 485
“…the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old… it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die.”—Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 97
“Never was there a more moving sight in these ‘last days’. …Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them …the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon. What a gift! and to so many! The manner of releasing the new book Children was an outright surprise to all….”—The Watchtower, September 15, 1941, p.288
“Yes, the end of this system is so very near! Is that no reason to increase our activity?… Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.”—Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3
Are these false predictions or are they false prophecies? I believe that the answer lies in what The Watchtower claims about itself.
The Watchtower Society claims to speak for Jehovah. They claim they are the only ones through whom Jehovah speaks today. They are His channel of communication to the world. They are the Faithful and Discreet Slave. Therefore what the Watchtower publishes it publishes in the name of Jehovah. What the Watchtower says it says in the name of Jehovah. When the Watchtower says do not have blood, do not celebrate birthdays or Christmas etc it speaks for Jehovah. When the Watchtower gives a date, the faithful JWs believe the date comes from Jehovah. So when they get things wrong… They do so in the name of Jehovah.
They claim to be directed by holy spirit:
“We will also increase our joy if we prayerfully and diligently study God’s spirit – inspired Word and Christian publications prepared under the spirit’s guidance.” Watchtower 1992 Mar 15 pp.21-22
“When the time comes to clarify a spiritual matter in our day, holy spirit helps responsible representatives of the faithful and discreet slave at world headquarters to discern deep truths that were not previously understood. (Matt. 24:45; 1 Cor. 2:13) The Governing Body as a whole considers adjusted explanations. (Acts 15:6) What they learn, they publish for the benefit of all.” Watchtower 2010 Jul 15 pp.22-23
They claim that Jehovah is the author of Watchtower publications:
“The Watchtower is not the instrument of any man or set of men, nor is it published according to the whims of men. No man’s opinion is expressed in The Watchtower. God feeds his own people, and surely God uses those who love and serve him according to his own will. Those who oppose The Watchtower are not capable of discerning the truth that God is giving to the children of his organization, and this is the very strongest proof that such opposers are not of God’s organization.” Watchtower 1931 Nov 1 p.327
Publications come via the ‘Faithful & Discreet Slave’. They are Jehovah’s mouthpiece and what they say is to be believed as coming from Jehovah himself:
“We need to obey the faithful and discreet slave to have Jehovah’s approval.” Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.24 Simplified English Edition
“[A mature christian] does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and “the faithful and discreet slave.” Watchtower 2001 Aug 1 p.14
There is no doubt that when a Jehovah’s Witness reads ‘faithful and discreet slave’ approved Watchtower publications, they believe they are being fed spiritual food at the proper time (Matthew 24:45). They believe all that is said without question. When Watchtower publications have suggested dates for the ‘end of the world’ faithful Witnesses have believed it. Their so called ‘false predictions’ has detrimentally affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, The Watchtower refuses to accept any responsibility for those who ‘misunderstood’ that the dates were only spoken of as ‘possible’ not definite!
“Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.'” Awake! 1993 Mar 22 p.4
If only they would reflect upon the following words from their own Awake magazine:
“True, there have been those in times past who predicted an “end to the world,” even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The “end” did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them.”
Awake! 1968 Oct 8 p.23
They were guilty of false prophesying…
“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.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22
Jesus said: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)
Question: Honest mistakes or False Prophets? Answer: FALSE PROPHETS