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Monday, September 19, 2011

1975 and Jehovah's Witnesses - The Opposers' Claims Vs. The Facts

The following will address in order:

1.) The basis for the original speculation of 1975.

2.) How even though there were articles printed that were speculative in nature, not one ever stated that Armageddon would definitely come in 1975 and, in fact, the then President of the Watchtower Society even instructed his listeners against saying anything as such.

3.) The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's acknowledgement of "implied" statements concerning 1975 and the significance of this.

4.) The reason opposers focus on this issue.

5.) How Jehovah's Witnesses accusers employ two sets of rules.

Understanding the Speculation Concerning 1975

"The Witnesses had long shared the belief that the Thousand Year Reign of Christ would follow after 6,000 years of human history. But when would 6,000 years of human existence end? The book Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God, released at a series of district conventions held in 1966, pointed to 1975. Right at the convention, as the brothers examined the contents, the new book triggered much discussion about 1975." - Jehovah's Witnesses Proclaimers of God's Kingdom; pg. 104, Declaring the Good News Without Letup (1942-1975)

Speculative Articles, But NO Definite Statement

While there was likely a lot of speculation surrounding 1975 by individuals, no publication ever provided a definitive statement saying that the end would come in 1975. Some articles seemed to say that it was highly possible, though they always qualified it.

For example, the 5/01/67 Watchtower says:

"...1975 marks the end of 6,000 years of human experience.....Will it be the time when God executes the wicked?....It very well could be, but we will have to wait and see."

Other articles frequently used words such as "may", "could" and "possibly"," regarding this.

Even Frederick Franz (the then President of the WBTS) forcefully instructed:

"... don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975."  - Rejoicing over “God’s Sons of Liberty” Spiritual Feast; Heading: the Year 1975; 10/15/66 Watchtower

Acknowledgement of "Implied" Statements

"In the years following 1966, many of Jehovah’s Witnesses acted in harmony with the spirit of that counsel (of Frederick Franz). However, other statements were published on this subject, and some were likely more definite than advisable. This was acknowledged in The Watchtower of March 15, 1980 (see quote below). But Jehovah’s Witnesses were also cautioned to concentrate mainly on doing Jehovah’s will and not to be swept up by dates and expectations of an early salvation." - Jehovah's Witnesses Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, pg. 104, Declaring the Good News Without Letup (1942-1975)

"There were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year (1975) was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated." - Watchtower, 1980 March 15, p.17, par. 5

Rather than to be met with scepticism or scorn, these acknowledgements of "implied" statements concerning 1975 is an obvious willingness to attempt to learn from them. And this is a relatively unimportant, non-essential issue when contrasted to the fundamentals Jesus laid out for the knowledge necessary for eternal life! (John 17:3)

In comparison, most other religions will not change doctrines(!) such as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and hell fire even though their own scholars admit that these beliefs are not taught in the Bible. Yet Jehovah's Witnesses have always been willing to change any belief in order to harmonize better with increased knowledge of Scriptural teaching.

The Reason Opposers Focus on 1975

The primary reason Jehovah's Witnesses opposers even bring up the topic of 1975 is to try and paint Jehovah's Witnesses as 'False Prophets'. By a definition of their choosing, Jehovah's Witnesses critics ignore what is meant by the word 'prophet' and what was intended by WBTS publications.

Though some may accuse the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of claiming otherwise, from the beginning, the Watchtower has never claimed to be "inspired and infallible and without mistakes":

"[the fact that some have Jehovah's spirit] does not mean those now serving as Jehovah's Witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine, The Watchtower, are inspired and infallible and without mistakes." - May 15, 1947, page 157.

Admittedly, earlier WBTS publications have occasionally published information that was speculative in nature and turned out to be mistaken. However, these publications also had provided accompanying statements cautioning it's readers that there was no certainty as to what would happen.

Two Sets of Rules?

Some critics focus solely on Jehovah's Witnesses concerning non-essential, mistaken expectations about the fulfillment of Bible prophecies. Yet at the same time, they ignore these high-profile religious figures who have made mistakes similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses:

Protestant leader Martin Luther believed that the Turkish war in his day would be

"the final wrath of God, in which the world will come to an end and Christ will come to destroy Gog and Magog and set free His own"? [John T. Baldwin, "Luther's Eschatological Appraisal of the Turkish Threat in Eine Heerpredigt -wider den Tuerken - Army Sermon Against the Turks]," Andrews University Seminary Studies 33.2 (Autumn 1995), 196.

He also said that

"Christ has given a sign by which one can know when the Judgment Day is near. When the Turk will have an end, we can certainly predict that the Judgment must be at the door". - Ibid, p. 201.

And Methodist founder John Wesley wrote:

"1836 The end of the non-chronos, and of the many kings; the fulfilling of the word, and of the mystery of God; the repentance of the survivors in the great city; the end of the 'little time,' and of the three times and a half; the destruction of the east; the imprisonment of Satan. - Wesley's Notes of the Bible

In 1950, Billy Graham, the well-known US evangelist, told a rally in Los Angeles:

“I sincerely believe that the Lord draweth nigh. We may have another year, maybe two years, to work for Jesus Christ, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it is all going to be over ... two years and it’s all going to be over.” - McLoughlin, William G., 1978 Revivals, Awakenings and Reform. University of Chicago Press. Chicago. pp.185. See also “US News and World Report” (December 19, 1994)

Would opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses condemn Luther, Wesley or Graham as false prophets? Or would they correctly conclude that they had simply interpreted Bible prophecy? Likewise, the WBTS is not a false prophet simply because interpreting Bible prophecy is not the same as prophesying.

Also see:

Did the Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses Ever Say That Armageddon Was Definitely Going to Come In 1975? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

The Problem with "False Prophecy" Polemics (Bible Translation and Study)

Dates (1914; 1975) (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

False Prophecy or Misguided Interpretation of Prophecy? (Jimspace)

Inaccurate False 'Prophet' Claim Made Against Jehovah's Witnesses - Links to Accurate Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
(To those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), please remember that if you are looking for the authoritative information about the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's (WTBTS) Bible-based beliefs and practices, you should look to our OFFICIAL WEBSITE at Numerous publications as well as the New World Translation Bible (NWT) and the very useful Watchtower Online Library can be found there.)


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