New Light on Watchtower History
Rick Branch, James Walker, and Timothy Oliver
Charles Taze Russell: "By accident," Russell happens into a religious meeting where Jonas Wendell is teaching "Second Adventism." Russell's "wavering faith" in the Bible is reestablished. Eventually he concludes that, "...we were living somewhere near the close of the Gospel Age" (The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, June, 1916, pp. 170-171). Charles Russell, his father and others form a small Bible study in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (Ibid.).
SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE END (The Time Is At Hand, p. 54). [See 1889]
Second Coming: Another Second Adventist, Nelson Barbour, announces Christ's invisible second presence in 1874 (Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, February 1881, p. 3; Oct./Nov., 1881, p. 3) Christ returned invisibly (original date) and Armageddon began (The Finished Mystery, pp. 485, 513 and Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, 15 January 1892, p. 22). [See 1914]
Charles Taze Russell: The Herald of the Morning, a magazine by Second Adventist Nelson Barbour, is read by Russell, who receives its message with "surprise and gratification" (Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, July 15, 1906, pp. 230-31). Russell personally meets with Barbour who convinces him of the invisible presence of Christ in 1874 (The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, June, 1916, pp. 170-171).
Second Coming: Russell and Barbour jointly publish Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. "This book set forth their belief that Christ's second presence began invisibly in the fall of 1874 and thereby commenced a forty-year harvest period. Then, remarkably accurately, they set forth the year 1914 as the end of the Gentile times" (Qualified To Be Ministers, p. 300). [See 1914]
Magazines: Russell publishes the first issue of Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, forerunner of today's Watchtower, with an initial printing of 6,000 (The Finished Mystery, p. 4). [See 1909, 1931, 1939]
False Prophecy: Russell's second volume of Studies in the Scriptures, titled The Time is at Hand, announces "...that six thousand years from the creation of Adam were complete with A.D. 1872" (p. 54) [See 1943, 1968, 1972, 1975]. Russell also predicts "the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men" (pp. 76-77; emphasis added), and that "sometime before the end of A.D. 1914, the last member of the divinely recognized Church of Christ, the 'royal priesthood,' 'the body of Christ,' will be glorified with the head" (p. 77; i.e., before the end of 1914 the 144,000 will be taken into heaven to rule with Christ). Russell also predicts that "the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914" and subsequently, "the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord-with knowledge, and righteousness, and peace; and the will of God shall be done 'on earth, as it is done in heaven'" (p. 99; emphasis added). He promised the Battle of Armageddon "...will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership" (p. 101). [See 1894, 1914]
Joseph F. Rutherford: The future leader of the Society begins his first study with Watch Tower representatives (Jehovah's Witness In The Divine Purpose, p. 65). [See 1906, 1917]
False Prophecy: Under the heading, "Can It Be Delayed Until 1914?" the Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence claims: "Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date.... We see no reason for changing the figures nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble" (July 15, 1894, p. 226). [See 1889, 1914, 1968]
Military / Alternative Service: Obedience to the laws of the land might at some time oblige us to bear arms, and in such event it would be our duty to go into the army, if unable in any legal and proper manner to obtain exemption,... There could be nothing against our conscience in going into the army. Wherever we would go we could take the Lord with us, the Captain of our salvation, and wherever we would go we could find opportunities to serve him and his cause" (Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, April 15, 1903, p. 120). [See 1951, 1971, 1983, 1986, 1996]
Faithful and Wise Servant: "Who then is the faithful and wise steward whom his Lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? The implication seems to be that when the right time should come for understanding the parable, it would be clearly set forth: that at the time of the parable's fulfillment the Lord would appoint a servant in the household to bring these matters to the attention of all the servants, and that certain responsibilities would rest upon such a one respecting the dispatch of his duties" (Zion's Watch Tower..., April 15, 1904, p. 3355-56). [See 1916, 1917, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1969]
Joseph F. Rutherford: The future second president of the Watch Tower organization, becomes an "ordained" Jehovah's Witness minister (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 65). [See 1894, 1917]
Organization: The "People's Pulpit Association" is incorporated in Brooklyn, New York. (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 48-49). This is the inception of the present day Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. [See 1884, 1931]
Magazines: The Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence magazine is renamed to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. (David Reed, Jehovah's Witness Literature, p. 25). [See 1879, 1931, 1939]
Bible: Jehovah's Witnesses are told not to read the Bible by itself, because it is not the final authority. "Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies [the Studies in the Scriptures series by Russell] aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures" (The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, September 15, 1910, p. 298). [See Faithful and Wise Servant, 1922; Bible, 1951, 1981, 1990]
Intelligence: Russell provides his insight into determining the intelligence of a being. "Stand a man alongside of a dog. Look at their heads. The one slopes back; there is no place for the intellectual qualities at all, or at least a very small place for the thinking apparatus man has. He has more brain than the dog. If we could make a dog with the same head as a man, he would think the same as a man" (The Watch Tower..., March 15, 1913, p. 667).
False Prophecy: WORLD DOES NOT END [See 1889, 1894; 1929, 1930]
Second Coming: Christ returns invisibly (Golden Age, 1930, p. 503; 1934, pp. 379-80). [See 1874, 1889, 1894, 1931, 1968]
Second Coming: Mankind enters the "time of the end" (again). "The Gentile times ended in the autumn of 1914, and Jesus was enthroned as Jehovah's Representative in The Theocratic Government. Three and a half years after that would end in the spring of 1918.... The old heavens and earth having thus been disposed of, this wicked world, which has been in its 'time of the end' since 1914, will come to its final end" (The Kingdom Is At Hand, pp. 328, 350). [See 1918, 1988]
Charles Taze Russell: While traveling on a train in Texas, Russell dies October 31 (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 61).
Faithful and Wise Servant: "Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell's writings believe that he filled the office of 'that faithful and wise servant,' and that his great work was giving to the household of faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation" (The Watch Tower, December 1, 1916, p. 5998). [See 1904, 1917, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1969]
Joseph F. Rutherford: Despite internal power struggles, only Rutherford's name is nominated for president at the annual meeting, and so he is elected as the "unanimous choice of the Convention as President." The struggles persist. Rutherford's chief opposition is from four members of the Society's Board of Directors - hand-picked by Russell himself. After removing them on a legal technicality, Rutherford's position as the Society's second President is firmly entrenched. The "opposers" eventually leave the organization and form a number of splinter groups. (Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 64-68).
Growth: Volume VII of Studies in the Scriptures, titled The Finished Mystery, was published as the "posthumous work of Pastor Russell." It taught:
- Nelson Barbour: "The Evil servant" of Matthew 24:48-51 is identified as Barbour (pp. 54, 386). [See 1876]
- Jesus: The "Almighty" of Revelation 1:8 is Jesus (p. 15).
- False Prophecy: "Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions" (p. 485).
- False Prophecy: Human governments will end. "Even the republics will disappear in the fall of 1920" (p. 258).
- Abaddon: Revelation 9:11's "Abaddon" is clearly identified as "Satan the Devil" (p. 159). [See 1969]
- Faithful and Wise Servant: Pastor Russell is identified as, "that wise and faithful servant" giving "meat in due season" (pp. 4-5). [See 1904, 1916, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1969].
False Prophecy: CHURCHES ARE NOT "DESTROYED WHOLESALE." [See 1917, 1929, 1930].
Splinter groups: Controversy over the release of The Finished Mystery creates splinter groups (e.g. Dawn Bible Students Association and Layman's Home Missionary Movement) over the next few years (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 72-73).
Canadian Government: In February, the Canadian government forbids anyone to possess copies of Watch Tower periodicals. The government alleges the material contains seditious and anti-war statements (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 75-76).
Magazines: First issue of The Golden Age, forerunner of today's Awake! magazine, appeared October 1. (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 89). [See 1937, 1946]
Faithful and Wise Servant: In the Topical Index published by the Watch Tower Society, for the years July 1879 through June 1919, under the heading "The Servant," was found the following: "An individual, not a class" (p. 6611). [See 1904, 1916, 1917, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1969]
False prophecy: ALL HUMAN GOVERNMENTS AND "REPUBLICS" DO NOT "DISAPPEAR." [See 1917]
False Prophecy: The book Millions Now Living Will Never Die predicts, "Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob... to the condition of human perfection" (pp. 89-90). [See 1922, 1924, 1925, 1931, 1942, 1968]
Millions Campaign: With large billboard and newspaper advertisements, the Society begins to promulgate the message of Rutherford's book that the world has ended and the Golden Age has begun. In aggressive speaking campaign Rutherford tells huge crowds that millions of people then living would never die. (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 98; Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pp. 161-63).
Faithful and Wise Servant: The Watch Tower proclaims that divine truth came only from Charles Taze Russell. "There is no one in present truth today who can honestly say that he received a knowledge of the divine plan from any source other than by the ministry of Brother Russell, either directly or indirectly" (Watch Tower, May 1, 1922, p. 132).
Faithful and Wise Servant: Russell still the only true channel: "...every indication of the Lord's providence has shown that God gave Brother Russell to the church to be as a mouthpiece for him; and those who claim to have learned the truth apart from Brother Russell and his writings have been manifested by the Lord as deceivers, ready to lead the flock of God in their way.... Satan has attempted by many attacks upon this fact to break it down; to cause the Lord's people to believe: (1) that Brother Russell was not the only channel by which the Lord would lead his people..." (Watch Tower, September 15, 1922, p. 279). [See Faithful and Wise Servant, 1904, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1923, 1927, 1969; Bible, 1910, 1951]
False prophecy: "The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by Scripture because it is fixed by the law God gave to Israel" (Watch Tower, September 1, 1922, p. 262). [See 1920, 1924, 1925, 1968]
Faithful and Wise Servant: "The one who fills that office is made ruler over all the Lord's goods during the time of his incumbency in office.... We believe that all who are now rejoicing in present truth will concede that Brother Russell faithfully filled the office of special servant of the Lord; and that he was made ruler over all the Lord's goods" (Watch Tower, March 1, 1923, p. 68). [See 1904, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1922, 1927, 1969]
False Prophecy: The Watch Tower responds to a very serious question. "Have we more reason, or as much, to believe the kingdom will be established in 1925 than Noah had to believe that there would be a flood?...Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures..." (Watch Tower, April 1, 1923, p. 106). [See 1924, 1925, 1942, 1943]
False Prophecy: Realizing they had made a false prophecy, when the Jehovah's Witnesses reprinted their own book, they altered the wording. "Also, in the year 1918, when God begins to destroy the churches and the church members by the millions..." (Finished Mystery, 1926 ed., p. 485; emphasis added). No indication was made to alert the new reader that this portion had been altered. [See 1917]
Faithful and Wise Servant: "This erroneous thought that Russell himself was the 'faithful and wise servant' was cleared up." The "servant" had now become a "class" (1975 Yearbook, p. 88). [See 1904, 1916, 1917, 1922, 1923, 1969]
Cross and Crown: Concerning the wearing of 'cross and crown pins,'... 'This to Brother Rutherford's mind was Babylonish and should be discontinued.... the cross and crown emblems were shown to be not only unnecessary but objectionable" (1975 Yearbook, p. 148). [See 1891, 1931]
God's Home Planet: Where does God live? "The constellation of the seven stars forming the Pleiades appears to be the crowning center around which the known systems of the planets revolve even as our sun's planets obey the sun and travel in their respective orbits. It has been suggested, and with much weight, that one of the stars of that group is the dwelling-place of Jehovah and the place of the highest heavens....The constellation of the Pleiades is a small one compared with others which scientific instruments disclose to the wondering eyes of man. But the greatness in size of other stars or planets is small when compared with the Pleiades in importance, because the Pleiades is the place of the eternal throne of God" (Reconciliation, p. 14).
Higher Powers: The Watchtower identifies the "higher powers" of Romans 13 as "Jehovah God and Christ Jesus" (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 312). [See 1886, 1962]
Beth-Sarim: A house in San Diego, California called "Beth-Sarim" is built. "...[T]he purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today ... who believe that the faithful men of old [Abraham, etc.] will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth" (Salvation, p. 311). [See 1925, 1942, 1974]
False Prophets: Concerned about the many false prophets in the world, the Watch Tower provides the following instructions: "While they claim to speak in the name of the Lord, their predictions neither come true nor tend to magnify Jehovah's name. According to the divine rule they prove to be false, and the Lord promises that in due time he will deal with them as he does with all hypocrites.-Matt. 24:51. From the rules by which the prophets would be tested or judged it is evident that some things which were spoken in the name of Jehovah by the prophets were to have fulfillment soon after the time spoken. But the coming to pass of some of these events was not alone sufficient to prove one a prophet.... This is an important point in studying prophecy, and the student must keep it in mind. The test was provided by Jehovah, and to such test all the prophecies must be subjected.... If these prophecies have not been fulfilled, and if all possibility of fulfillment is past, then these prophets are proven false" (Prophecy, p. 22). [See 1894, 1920, 1968]
False Prophet: The Society again explains how "...to know whether one is a true or a false prophet.... If he is a true prophet, his message will come to pass exactly as prophesied. If he is a false prophet, his prophecy will fail to come to pass" (Watch Tower, May 15, 1930, p. 154).
False Prophets: In speaking about other prophets, Rutherford explains in another of his books, "They have been thus prophesying particularly since 1918, and everyone knows that their prophecies to date have not come to pass; and that alone is strong evidence that they are false prophets.... It is therefore seen that they fail to meet a single one of the requirements to prove that they are true prophets - Deut. 18:21-22" (Light, Book Two, p. 47).
Vaccinations are called a "great evil." "Vaccination has never saved a human life. It does not prevent smallpox" (Golden Age, February 4, 1931, pp. 293-94). [See 1965]
Organization: The name "Jehovah's Witnesses" adopted for the first time (1932 Yearbook, pp. 22-23). [See 1884, 1909]
Magazines: The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence" is renamed to The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence" (Reed, Jehovah's Witness Literature, p. 53). [See 1879, 1909, 1939]
Cross and Crown: The logo is finally dropped from the Watchtower (1975 Yearbook, p. 148). [See 1891, 1928]
False Prophecy: Concerning the various false dates predicted in this Watchtower history, Rutherford wrote, "There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1914, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time. Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the Scriptures; and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date..." (Vindication, Vol. 1, pp. 338-39). This statement is interesting because of the two things learned by the Watchtower. They learned the dates were correct, and yet they learned to stop fixing dates! It was a lesson they would soon forget. [See 1914, 1925, 1943, 1968, 1988, 1989]
Two Class Salvation: The 144,000 or "anointed class" are joined by the "other sheep," called the "Jonadab class" or the "great crowd" class. Those of the second class, or "other sheep," are not born again and have no hope of heaven, but hope to survive Armageddon to live on paradise earth (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 140).
American Flag: Saluting the flag is declared an "act of worship" and therefore forbidden (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 144).
Growth: The Society withdraws from commercial radio and begins major phonograph campaign using portable record players door-to-door (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 188).
Magazines: The Golden Age changes its name to Consolation (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, p. 89). [See 1919, 1946]
False Prophecy: Because the end is so near, Jehovah's Witnesses are told to wait until after Armageddon to "marry and rear children" (Watchtower, November 1, 1938, p. 323). [cf.: 1 Tim. 4:3]
False Prophecy: This idea is again reiterated in the book, Face The Facts, when it says, "If this conclusion is Scripturally correct, then it would mean that those men and women forming the 'great multitude' will marry and bring forth children in righteousness and unto life....Would it be Scripturally proper for them to now marry and to begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the Scriptures....Those Jonadabs who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone, and to then enter the marital relationship and enjoy the blessings of participating in filling the earth with righteous and perfect children" (pp. 46, 50). [See 1941, 1987, 1997]
Sheep and Goats Judgment: "The Lord revealed to his people the meaning of the parable of the sheep and the goats, showing how the 'sheep' only would be spared by Jehovah when his wrath is expressed at Armageddon. All this information came not from or by man, but by the Lord God..." (Watchtower, February 1, 1938, p. 35). [See 1982, 1993, 1995]
Magazines: January 1, The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence is renamed to The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Kingdom. On March 1 it is renamed again to The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom (Reed, Jehovah's Witness Literature, p. 53). The last name change is not merely cosmetic, being indicative of a shift in the Society's doctrinal emphasis. [See 1879, 1909, 1931]
False Prophecy: Armageddon is said to be only "months" away (Watchtower, September 15, 1941, p. 288). Because, "Armageddon is surely near" fictional Jehovah's Witness couple John and Eunice decide to "defer" plans for marriage and children until paradise earth is established (Children, p. 366). [See 1938, 1987, 1997]
False Prophecy: Originally predicted to return in 1925, Abraham and the "...faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now" (The New World, p. 104). [See 1925, 1929, 1974]
Joseph F.Rutherford: In the "Beth-Sarim" home where he had spent most of his time for years, Rutherford dies. Nathan H. Knorr becomes the Society's third president (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 194-95).
Gilead school opens at the "Kingdom Farm" in New York (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 202-03).
Space Flight: In this same year, in its uninspired fashion, the Watchtower explained, "Man on earth can no more get rid of these demonic 'heavens' than man can by airplane or rockets or other means get up above the air envelope which is about our earthly globe and in which man breathes" (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 285). This was proven incorrect on April 12, 1961 when the U.S.S.R. sent cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin into space.
False Prophecy: This same Jehovah's Witness book, The Truth Shall Make You Free, also demonstrated that 5,971 years of humanity's possible 6,000 years, according to Witness theology, had already elapsed. Therefore, only 29 years were left. Adding 29 years to 1943 would bring the end in 1972. After several pages of calculations, the book states, "We are therefore near the end of six thousand years of human history, with conditions upon us and tremendous events at hand foreshadowed by those of Noah's day" (p. 152). [See 1923, 1968, 1972]
Growth: Jehovah's Witnesses are now operating in over 100 countries and the annual number of hours spent "preaching" surpasses fifty million for the first time (Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose, pp. 312-13).
Scripture: Individual volumes of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures are printed. This rendition supports the Watchtower's own unique doctrines through a number of mistranslations including the "a god" rendering in John 1:1. [See 1961]
Bible: Jehovah's Witnesses are told the Bible is the standard by which to judge all truth. "The Bible reveals the development and progress of the pure religion in contrast with all the false kinds and shows its early triumph over all error of belief and practice. It sets forth principles that are eternal and unchangeable. It is a Book of liberation from all the power and evil of the false religion.... Already in this day of world change the Bible stands vindicated as his Word of truth. There can be no question about it: The Holy Scriptures of the Bible are the standard by which to judge all religions" (What Has Religion Done For Mankind? p. 32). [See 1910, 1922, 1990]
Military / Alternative Service: It is only due to conscience that they have personally and legally objected before draft boards to participating in the armed conflicts and defense programs of worldly nations. In this course their consciences are not warped, but are instructed in what is right,..." (Watchtower, February 1, 1951, p. 73). [See 1903, 1971, 1983, 1986, 1996]
Sodom Resurrection: Will the inhabitants of Sodom be resurrected for Judgement? No! "Another judgement period is brought into view when those championing resurrection for exterminated Sodomites quote Jesus' words on a certain occasion.... From this some argue that there is a future judgement, in the millennial reign, for both Sodom and these Jewish cities...If we take this expression to mean that, then it would contradict Jude's statement that Sodom had already undergone the 'judicial punishment of everlasting fire'" (Watchtower, June 1, 1952, p. 338). [See 1965, 1988]
Mother Organization: The Society is identified as "our mother" and Jehovah God as "Father." "If we are to walk in the light of truth we must recognize not only Jehovah God as our Father but his organization as our mother.... Today, also, God requires and exacts from his children obedience honor and respect. These must be rendered not only to the living God himself, but to his wifely organization as well" (Watchtower, May 1, 1957, p. 274).
Scripture: The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures with both the Old and New Testaments combined in one volume is released. [See 1950]
1914 Generation: The foretold events having begun A.D. 1914, the generation of mankind that is still alive from that year is the generation meant by Jesus Christ.... We, then, are the generation that will not pass away till there is fulfilled that 'great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.' Survival is the problem of us of this generation" (Watchtower, April 15, 1961, p. 236). [See 1982, 1984, 1995]
Higher Powers: "It was made clear that the 'superior authorities' or 'higher powers' mentioned in Romans chapter thirteen are secular governmental authorities..." after all (1975 Yearbook, p. 238). [See 1886, 1929]
Growth: The number of active Jehovah's Witnesses reaches a milestone. "...[T]here are now more than one million Kingdom publishers proclaiming the good news worldwide" (1964 Yearbook, p. 287). [See 1953, 1974, 1986]
Vaccination: "There can be little doubt that vaccinations appear to have caused a marked decrease in... contagious diseases," including "smallpox" and "polio" (Awake! August 22, 1965, p. 20). [See 1931]
Sodom Resurrection: Will the inhabitants of Sodom be resurrected? Yes! "Since Jude 7 shows that Sodom and Gomorrah became a 'warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire,' does that not bar the inhabitants of those cities from a resurrection?...For it to be 'more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah' than for others, it would be necessary for former inhabitants of that land to be present on Judgement Day. It is not the literal land, the ground, that is to be judged. Revelation chapter 20 shows that it will be persons raised from the dead who will stand 'before the throne.' Nor will judgement be passed on them as groups, as former inhabitants of certain lands, but they will be 'judged individually according to their deeds' during the time of judgement. So apparently individuals who used to live in that land will be resurrected" (Watchtower, August 1, 1965, p. 479). [See 1952, 1988]
False Prophecy: The Watchtower predicts, "According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man's creation will end in 1975...." The seventh millennium is to "...begin in the fall of 1975 C.E." And the "reign of Jesus Christ ... to run parallel with the seventh millennium..." (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, pp. 29-30). [See 1968, 1975]
Organ transplants are forbidden and called "cannibalistic" (Watchtower, November 15, 1967, p. 702). [See 1980]
False Prophecy: The Watchtower, again, predicts the end of 6,000 years of human history. "According to reliable Bible chronology, Adam was created in the year 4026 B.C.E.... Thus, Adam's naming of the animals and his realizing that he needed a counterpart would have occupied only a brief time after his creation. Since it was also Jehovah's purpose for man to multiply and fill the earth, it is logical that he would create Eve soon after Adam, perhaps just a few weeks or months later in the same year, 4026 B.C.E. After her creation God's rest day, the seventh period, immediately followed....To calculate where man is in the stream of time relative to God's seventh day of 7,000 years, we need to determine how long a time has elapsed from the year of Adam and Eve's creation in 4026 B.C.E." Following its calculations the Watchtower declares "...the autumn of 1975, fully 6,000 years into God's seventh day, his rest day.... Hence, when Christians note from God's timetable the approaching end of 6,000 years of human history, it fills them with anticipation" (Watchtower, May 1, 1968, p. 271). [See 1943, 1966, 1975]
False Prophecy: The Society condemns others who have in times past, "...predicted the end of the world even announcing a specific date." They explained "The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying" (Awake! October 8, 1968, p. 23). [See 1914, 1925, 1943, 1972, 1975, 1989]
Growth: The Society releases the 192 page book, The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, and accompanying six month study program (1975 Yearbook, pp. 239-40). [See 1981]
Abaddon of Revelation 9 clearly identified, "...as picturing Jesus Christ, the Son of Jehovah God" (Then Is Finished the Mystery of God, p. 232). [See 1917]
Scripture: The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures is published.
Faithful and Wise Servant: "Jesus foretold that among his people there would be a 'faithful and discreet slave' class who would be providing the spiritual food to God's family of devoted servants on earth, acting as his channel of communication and overseeing the carrying out of the Kingdom interests world wide" (Watchtower, January 15, 1969, p. 51). [See 1904, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1922, 1923, 1927]
Education: "Many schools now have student counselors who encourage one to pursue higher education after high school, to pursue a career with a future in this system of things. Do not be influenced by them. Do not let them "brainwash" you with the Devil's propaganda to get ahead, to make something of yourself in this world. This world has very little time left!... Make pioneer service, the full-time ministry, with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service your goal" (The Watchtower, March 15, 1969, p. 171). [See 1975, 1992]
Prophet: Jehovah's Witnesses are called, "...the modern day counterpart of the prophet Ezekiel" (The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah, p. 58-60).
Military /Alternative Service: Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands refuse both military service and any alternative national service. "On March 26, 1971, three representatives of Jehovah's witnesses met with a forum representing the ministries of Defense and Justice.... The Witnesses explained that... any work that is merely a substitute for military service would be unacceptable to Jehovah's witnesses.... Willingly accepting such work is objectionable to the Christian because of what God's law says about the matter: "You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men." (1 Cor. 7:23) Civilian servitude as a substitute for military service would be just as objectionable to the Christian." (Awake! December 8, 1974, p. 23; emphasis added). Finally, more than two and a half years later, and after many Jehovah's Witnesses had spent considerable time in jail over the issue, the Netherlands relented. "From now on, all those in this category would receive indefinite postponement from military and alternative service, pending a final passage of law in this regard" (Ibid., p. 24). [See 1903, 1951, 1983, 1986, 1996]
Prophet: The Jehovah's Witnesses are identified as today's "...prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come" (Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197).
False Prophecy: SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE ENDS AGAIN; NOTHING HAPPENS [See 1872, 1889, 1929, 1943, 1968, 1972, 1975]
Faithful and Wise Servant: "From this it is clearly seen that the editor and publisher [Charles Taze Russell] of Zion's Watch Tower disavowed any claim to being individually, in his person, that 'faithful and wise servant.' He never did claim to be such" (God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, p. 345-46). [See 1904, 1916, 1919, 1923, 1969]
Beth-Sarim: The Society claims that the San Diego "Beth-Sarim" house was built "...for Brother Rutherford's use" (1975 Yearbook, p. 194). [See 1929, 1942]
Growth: Total number of "Christian witnesses of Jehovah... declaring the good news," passes the two million mark (1975 Yearbook, p. 257). [See 1953, 1964, 1986]
False Prophecy: The Society praises the "...brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in pioneer work. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world ends" (Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3).
False Prophecy: SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE ENDS AGAIN; STILL NOTHING HAPPENS. [See 1972, and cross refs.]
False Prophecy: Watchtower endeavors to escape a false prophecy. "Does this mean that we know exactly when God will destroy this old system and establish a new one? Franz showed that we do not, for we do not know how short was the time interval between Adam's creation and the creation of Eve, at which point God's rest day of seven thousand years began" (Watchtower, May 1, 1975, p. 285). This seems an odd statement, as just a few years earlier the Watchtower knew precisely when Eve was created! [See 1929, 1930, 1966, 1968]
Education: Regarding higher education the Watchtower rather disingenuously claims, "It is not our purpose here to set out rules for Christian households. Rather, suggestions are offered as guidelines" (The Watchtower, September 1, 1975, p. 544). It would be very difficult for a devoted Jehovah's witness youth to choose college when in the same issue the faithful and discreet slave warns, "It would hardly be consistent for such a youth, of his own choice, to pursue extensive secular studies beyond what is required by the law and by his parents" (Ibid., p.543). [See 1969, 1992]
Organ transplants are now "a matter of personal decision.... [T]here is no Biblical command pointedly forbidding the taking in of other human tissue" (Watchtower, March 15, 1980, p. 31). [See 1967]
Growth: The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life book's total printing reaches 100 million. [See 1968]
Bible: The Watchtower magazine warns its readers of members who turn from the organization: "They say that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such 'Bible reading,' they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching 100 years ago..." (August 15, 1981, pp. 28-29). Also, "Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication [the Watchtower Society] that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do" (December 1, 1981, p. 27).
1914 Generation: "Also, the Bible said that all these things would happen upon the generation that was alive in 1914.... After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, Jesus said: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things [including the end of this system] occur." (Matthew 24:34, 14) Which generation did Jesus mean? He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914. Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old. However, some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system.... Some of the generation living in 1914 will see the end of the system of things and survive it" (You Can Live Forever On Paradise Earth, p. 154). [See 1961, 1984, 1995]
Sheep and Goats Judgment: The preaching ministry of Jehovah's Witnesses is currently separating the sheep from the goats: "Yes, since Christ returned and sat down on his heavenly throne , all humankind has been on judgment. This present "day of judgment" comes before the 1,000-year Judgment Day begins. During the present judgment people are being separated as "goats" to Christ's left hand or as "sheep" to his right. The "goats" will be destroyed because they fail to help Christ's anointed "brothers" in their service to God [i.e., they do not become Jehovah's Witnesses].... The "sheep," on the other hand, will be blessed with life under the Kingdom rule because they support Christ's "brothers" in every way [i.e., they become faithful, obedient Jehovah's Witnesses]" (You Can Live Forever On Paradise Earth, p. 183). [See 1938, 1993, 1995]
Military / Alternative Service: "Combat Instruction: In some schools military training is given students.... Jehovah's Witnesses ask to be excused from military training classes at school. The Bible also says: 'If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.' (Romans 12:18) The application of these principles in our lives also affects our attitude toward other forms of combat. These include the martial arts, such as judo, karate and kendo, as well as boxing and wrestling. Although these activities may be labeled sports, we view participation in them as training for the purpose of fighting or hurting others. Therefore, Jehovah's Witnesses do not take part in such combat activities" (School, p. 29). [See 1903, 1951, 1971, 1986, 1996]
1914 Generation: "Jehovah's prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: 'This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur.' (Luke 21:32) And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son's words in a relatively short time.... Just as Jesus' prophecies regarding Jerusalem were fulfilled within the life span of the generation of the year 33 C.E., 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" (Watchtower, May 15, 1984, pp. 6-7). [See 1961, 1982, 1995]
Growth: Average number of "publishers" exceeds three million (Watchtower, January 1, 1987, p. 13). [See 1953, 1964, 1974]
Military / Alternative Service: Speaking of Jehovah's Witnesses during WW II, the Watchtower states: "Whether the issue was shedding blood, noncombatant military work, alternative service, or saluting an image such as a national flag, faithful Christians took the position that there was no middle ground. In some cases they were executed because of this stand" (September 1, 1986, p. 20; emphasis added). [See 1903, 1951, 1971, 1983, 1996]
False Prophecy: On the cover of the Awake! magazine is the question, "Are We In The Last Days?" Then the Jehovah's Witnesses are reminded that while "...most of the generation of 1914 has passed away," the "generation" will not pass away until the end. They are also told that, "The Hebrews... reckon seventy-five years as one generation..." (Note: 1914+75 = 1989) What is the average Jehovah's Witness supposed to conclude? (Awake! April 8, 1988, p. 14). [See 1914, 1989]
Sodom Resurrection: The question is again asked, Will the inhabitants of Sodom be resurrected? No! "Hence, Jesus' saying that it 'would be more endurable on Judgement Day for Tyre or Sodom' did not necessarily mean that those people will be present on Judgement Day....The mere fact that Jesus paralleled Sidon with Sodom does not establish the future prospects of those wicked ones whom God destroyed with sulfur and fire. But let us see what else the Bible says on the question....In this light, Jude 7 would mean that the wicked people of Sodom/Gomorrah were judged and destroyed everlastingly.... It is apparent, then, that those whom God executed in those past judgments experienced irreversible destruction" (Watchtower, June 1, 1988, pp. 30-31). [See 1952, 1965]
False Prophecy: AGAIN: THE WORLD DOES NOT END! [See 1929, 1930, 1988]
False Prophecy: Since the world did not end, did the Watchtower Society push the date a few years further forward? "The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century.... Toward the close of the 19th century Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, saw the need for missionary activity" (Watchtower, January 1, 1989, p. 12). Do the Witnesses expect Paul's work - the spreading of the Gospel - to be completed prior to the year 2000?
Growth: The Watchtower announces it will distribute materials in the U.S. on a donation basis only. The Society implies that the Watchtower is sent out world-wide on a freewill donation basis, "...[N]ow published in 107 languages as part of a world-wide Bible education work that is supported by voluntary donations" (Watchtower, June 1, 1990, p. 2). Actually, only U.S. Watchtower subscriptions are supported by "voluntary donations." The vast majority of the "107 languages" are still distributed around the world on the basis of paid subscriptions.
The Society suggests that if donations are not sufficient, the average Jehovah's Witness may have to personally finance those subscriptions he places; saying, "When an interested person cannot give a donation and a subscription is placed, the publisher [Jehovah's Witness] who obtained the subscription may have an increased responsibility and privilege to honor Jehovah with his valuable things [i.e. cash]" (Our Kingdom Ministry, April 1990, pp. 1, 7).
Bible: Echoing its long standing opinion on the insufficiency of the Bible, the Watchtower states, "Let us face the fact that no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own" (Watchtower, December 1, 1990, p. 19). It is true that no one becomes a Jehovah's Witness by reading the Bible alone. [See 1910, 1951, 1981] Growth: The Watchtower reaches another milestone by announcing a peak total of 4,017,213 persons involved in door-to-door preaching (1991 Yearbook, p. 44). [See 1964]
True Religion: Some good advice from the Jehovah's Witnesses. "What will guide us in choosing the right religion? The EncyclopÃ¦dia Universalis is correct when it highlights the importance of truth. A religion that teaches lies cannot be true" (Watchtower, December 1, 1991, p. 7).
Growth: Membership shows an increase of 300,945. Average number involved in door-to-door preaching is 4,071,954. These Jehovah's Witnesses spend 951,870,021 hours in 1991 going door-to-door (Watchtower, January 1, 1992, p. 13).
False Prophets: In bold letters on the cover of the February 1, 1992 Watchtower magazine, appears the warning: "Beware of False Prophets!" An interesting insight considering the prophetic and theological history of the Watchtower.
Education: The Watchtower appears to soften its stand against higher education. While still sounding warning of many dangers, the Society told members, "...no hard-and-fast rules should be made either for or against extra education.... If Christian parents responsibly decide to provide their children with further education after high school, that is their prerogative (The Watchtower, November 1, 1992, pp. 19-20). Of course even this is still only to facilitate full time service to the Watchtower: "If, in the country where they live, minimal or even high school education will only allow them to find jobs providing insufficient income to support themselves as pioneers, then supplementary education or training might be considered. This would be with the specific goal of full-time service.... always with a full life of service to Jehovah as the goal (Ibid., pp. 18, 20). [See 1969, 1975]
Fredrick Franz dies December 22. Milton Henschel becomes the fifth president of the Watchtower. (Watchtower, March 15, 1993, pp. 32, 31).
Growth: "Beginning January 1, 1993, a monthly edition of The Watchtower will be available in the Lithuanian language, thus bringing to 112 the number of languages in which this magazine is published" (Our Kingdom Ministry, January 1993, p. 7).
Sheep and Goats Judgment: In this day of judgment of the nations, Jehovah's associate Shepherd and King, Christ Jesus, the Son of David, continues to separate the 'sheep' of mankind from those who may claim to be 'sheep' but are actually "goats.'... the one Shepherd is actually uniting the sheep of all nations through a multilanguage witnessing campaign such as only God's organization on earth could ever begin to undertake" (Watchtower, January 1, 1993, p. 19). [See below]
Sheep and Goats Judgment: "'Jesus Christ has used the organization more and more wonderfully all the time,...' In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus' illustration of the sheep and the goats describes this great work of gathering the earthly subjects of God's Kingdom.... Jesus depicts what is required of those who want to become subjects of his heavenly Kingdom. Notice his remarks at Matthew 25:31-33: 'When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.' [NWT] Jesus arrived in his glory in 1914.... Jesus' sitting down on a glorious throne represents a posture of judgment during his presence. The gathering of all the nations before him means that Jesus acts toward the nations as his prospective flock, figuratively speaking. It is a flock made up of sheep and goats. While it may take part of a day to separate the sheep from the goats in a literal flock, the earth-wide separating of people who are free moral agents takes much longer. This is because the separation is based on each individual's course of action.... More and more sheeplike ones today are joining the slave class in preaching the good news of God's Kingdom worldwide, letting their light shine" (Watchtower, May 1, 1993, pp. 18-19). [See 1938, 1982, 1995]
CD-ROM disk is released by the Watchtower, containing the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures-With References, Watch Tower publications indexes 1930-93, the two volume Insight on the Scriptures, The Watchtower magazine 1950-93, Awake! magazine 1980-93, Yearbooks 1980-94, Our Kingdom Ministry 1970-93, plus numerous other books, booklets, brochures and tracts. Proving to be an invaluable resource for documenting Watchtower errors, false prophecies and changing doctrines, the Society imposes tight controls over its availability. [See 1995]
Sheep and Goats Judgment: The Watchtower reverses its former "revealed" doctrine: "...the parable of the sheep and the goats,... begins with the words: 'When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him.'... Does this parable apply when Jesus sat down in kingly power in 1914, as we have long understood? ... nothing indicates that at that time, or for that matter since, Jesus sat to judge people of all the nations finally as sheep or goats.... The parable does not show that such judging would continue over an extended period of many years,... the parable points to the future when the Son of man will come in his glory.... The actual pronouncing and executing of judgment will be carried out in a limited time.... This means, then, that Jesus' 'sitting down on his glorious throne' for judgment, mentioned at Matthew 25:31, applies to the future point when this powerful King will sit down to pronounce and execute judgment on the nations.... Understanding the parable of the sheep and the goats in this way indicates that the rendering of judgment on the sheep and the goats is future. It will take place after 'the tribulation' mentioned at Matthew 24:29, 30 breaks out and the Son of man 'arrives in his glory.' (Compare Mark 13:24-26.) Then, with the entire wicked system at its end, Jesus will hold court and render and execute judgment" (Watchtower, October 15, 1995, pp. 22-23). [See 1938, 1982, 1993]
1914 Generation: The Watchtower changes its definition of a "generation" to accommodate the fact that nearly all those of the "1914 generation" (as previously defined) have died or will die soon. "Rather than provide 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.... Therefore, in the final fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy today, "this generation" apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ's presence but fail to mend their ways (Watchtower, November 1, 1995, pp. 17, 19). In Watchtower dogma, this "sign" is a "composite" sign made up of many historical events, of which virtually all adults alive today would be aware, regardless of when they were born.
Consistent with the change noted above, the Awake! magazine changes it publication information. For years it declared, "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" (October 22, 1995, p. 4), or similar statements. The November 8, 1995, issue's statement omitted any reference to 1914: "...the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things" (p. 4). [See 1961, 1982, 1984]
CD-ROM: The Society releases an updated version of its Watchtower Library on disk. It "contain[s] a revised program and ... add[s] publications released during 1995, 1994, and 1979-1970" (Our Kingdom Ministry, December, 1995, p. 7). [See 1994]
Military / Alternative Service: "In some places a required civilian service, such as useful work in the community, is regarded as nonmilitary national service. Could a dedicated Christian undertake such service? Here again, a dedicated, baptized Christian would have to make his own decision on the basis of his Bible-trained conscience.... [C]itizens in some countries today are required by the State or by local authorities to participate in various forms of community service.... Where such civilian service is for the good of the community and is not connected with false religion or is not in some other way objectionable to the consciences of Jehovah's Witnesses, they have often complied.... This has usually resulted in an excellent witness... What if the Christian's honest answers to such questions lead him to conclude that the national civilian service is a 'good work' that he can perform in obedience to the authorities? That is his decision before Jehovah. Appointed elders and others should fully respect the conscience of the brother and continue to regard him as a Christian in good standing. If, however, a Christian feels that he cannot perform this civilian service, his position should also be respected. He too remains in good standing and should receive loving support" (Watchtower, May 1, 1996, pp. 19-20). What a pity for those who were executed for refusing noncombatant and alternative service, that this doctrine wasn't changed earlier! [See 1903, 1951, 1971, 1983, 1986]
False Prophecy: ARMAGEDDON STILL NOT HERE! Children of those Jehovah's Witnesses who ignored the Watchtower's 1938 admonition to postpone marriage and child rearing until after Armageddon are now in their late 50s, many of them grandparents and even great-grandparents themselves. [See 1938, 1941, 1987]
Internet: While acknowledging there are many beneficial things to be found on the Internet, Awake! magazine warns readers, "Of course a Christian's first priorities are spiritual matters, such as reading the Bible daily and getting well acquainted with priceless Scriptural truths discussed in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and other publications of the The Watchtower Society. Everlasting benefits come, not from surfing the Internet, but from using your time to take in knowledge of the only true God and of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to apply it zealously" (July 22, 1997, p. 13). For the faithful Watchtower member, of course, there follows the unspoken, unwritten, but ever present "Let him who has ears to hear, hear!"
Growth: In its January 1, 1997 issue The Watchtower reports a total of 366,579 baptisms for the past year, and an average of 5,167,258 "publishers" (Jehovah's Witnesses involved in door-to-door ministry) with 645,509 full-time "pioneer" publishers, who together logged 1,140,621,714 hours of proselytizing ministry and 4,855,030 "Bible" studies. There were 12,921,933 persons in 81,908 congregations worldwide who attended the annual "Memorial" meeting in which the communion of bread and wine is served. Of the nearly thirteen million attendees, however, only 8,757 professed to be Spirit anointed Christians by partaking of the elements (p. 21).