[Quotes from Watchtower publications, including their New World Translation, are in blue.]
Since the late 1960’s the Watchtower (WT) had been predicting Armageddon before “the 1914 Generation” passes away. In 1975 this promise became “the Creator’s promise”; in other words, it was God who said it.
[In WT literature the reckoning for the lifetime of a generation ranged from 36 ½ years, to 75 years, to 120 years.]
In the Awake magazine of Oct. 8, 1968 the WT stated that one had to be 15 years of age to be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914 to be part of that “generation”. By May 15, 1984 WT time was running out and it was decided babies born in 1914 were part of that “generation”. Finally the WT determined that the generation of 1914, even if babies then, had passed.
The reference to the generation of 1914 was quietly dropped in 1995. The purpose statement on page four of every Awake magazine, which used to read:
“The Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away” abruptly became ...
“The Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.” (Nov. 8, 1995)
With the passing of the generation of 1914 the WT was forced to redefine the term “generation”. So the WT of Nov. 1, 95, p 17, reasons, “Rather than providing a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics.”
This was a major change. It was absolutely amazing to read the Nov. 1, 95 WT article. What had been hammered into Witnesses for decades, as reason to persevere, the WT merely tossed out as worthless “speculation”, without so much as an apology to it’s devoted and betrayed followers; in fact it put the blame on those followers:
“Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the ‘great tribulation’ would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914”. The WT goes on to say we are “not (to) be speculating about how many years or days make up a generation.”
But who was doing the speculating? The WT leadership itself!
What was “truth” for decades, was in reality only “speculation”, by the Watchtower’s own admission!
Jehovah’s Witnesses wondered how this change would affect the 1914 “invisible presence” doctrine.
In the June 1, 1997 Questions from Readers the WT asked, with reference to the failure of the “generation of 1914” teaching, “Does this mean that there is some question about whether God’s Kingdom was set up in heaven in 1914?” The WT says no. It is clear the WT still holds that Christ returned invisibly to set up his Kingdom in heaven in 1914.
Any thinking person must ask himself if he can trust the WT’s teaching that Jesus Christ came invisibly in 1914. This “invisible presence” doctrine is impossible to test. Being “invisible”, we only have the WT’s word for it! And what confidence can we have in the word of an organization whose every prophetic date has failed?
Incidentally, what many Witnesses may still not know is that the “invisible presence” explanation was itself a way out of a failed prophecy that the kingdom was coming visibly on earth in 1914. Therefore, everything related to 1914 has already failed.
Jesus warned in Matt. 24:11 that “many false prophets will appear, and deceive many people.” Did he suggest that people ought to be faithful to such false prophets, sticking loyally with them through one false prophecy after another? Of course not! Rather, Jesus warned them, and us, “Watch out that no one deceive you (verse 4).”
Watchtower leaders must constantly defend themselves from the charge that they are false prophets. One way they do this is by denying the claims they have made.
Throughout it’s history the WT has claimed to speak in Jehovah’s Name. When their pronouncements fail, as “the generation of 1914” did in 1995, the WT tries to escape the “false prophet” label by protesting that they have not made prophecies in God’s name. For example, in the March 22, 1993 Awake article on false alarms the WT states, “Jehovah’s Witnesses ... 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.’”
Is this statement true? In addition to the opening Awake quotes above, listen to the WT of May 15, 1984: “Jehovah’s prophetic word through Jesus Christ is: ‘This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur.’... Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment... Just as Jesus’ prophecies regarding Jerusalem were fulfilled ... so his prophecies regarding ‘the time of the end’ will be fulfilled within the life span of the generation of 1914.. Yes, you may live to see this promised New Order, along with survivors of the generation of 1914 -..the generation that will not pass away.” (The bracketed expression “[of 1914]” is in the original.)
Is there any doubt the WT claimed to speak in Jehovah’s Name? No!
The WT speculated in the Creator’s name and affixed Jehovah’s Name to it, therefore they do fit the definition of a False Prophet, Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
Note: for extensive documentation of the Watchtower’s many false prophecies please contact Sound Witness.
Written by Greta Olsoe