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Monday, July 1, 2013

Jehovah's Witnesses and the "False Prophecies" Accusation - A Misrepresentation of the Facts

There is a big difference between someone who is just trying to understand Bible prophecy and one who claims a direct communication with God or a miraculous foresight.

If (opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses) are referring to someone who makes predictions based on a claim of direct communication from God, then we can refer to many well known evangelical preachers (usually when they need more money, or to claim God has forgiven them for moral sins).

For one example, Oral Roberts claimed to be told by a 900 foot Jesus that he was going to be used to find a cure for cancer and people should send him 8 million dollars or God was going to kill him. (His cancer medical center was only open for a few years.)

This is a clear example of one who meets the requirements of a "false prophet," since he was not just interpreting Scriptural prophecies but he claimed a direct communication from God which proved untrue (De.13:1).

We actually have hundreds of examples of where Catholic and Protestant preachers predicted times and even dates for Christ’s return. For example:

The "Father of Protestantism" himself, Martin Luther taught Christ would return by 1564.

Irish Bishop James Ussher's prediction was for 1996.

Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel predicted the Rapture in 1981.

The most famous one was actually a Baptist....William Miller who predicted 1843.

Pick up a book called "Apocalypses (Eugen Weber)" and you will see how busy Christendom has been at picking dates in the past...and they are still SPECULATING! See also books by Paula Fredriksen.

Now does this mean that these Catholic and Protestants were false prophets? We would have to conclude that they were IF we equally applied the reasoning of those who accuse JW's. However, a more reasonable conclusion would be that they were just honestly mistaken. Most of these individuals did not claim a direct and new communication from God, but only were trying to interpret the chronology found in the Bible.

Similarly we have the “predictions” of the Apostles themselves. When it came to Christ's Kingdom, the Apostles held incorrect understandings of prophecy even after Christ's resurrection (Lk.19:11; 24:21, Ac.1:6).

They obviously had incorrect views of Bible prophecy. So were they guilty of being "false prophets"? No, but they simply misapplied true prophecy because of a lack of knowledge. And significantly, Christ patiently put up with this, allowing them to grow in knowledge.

Now, what does this show us when it comes to identifying a “false prophet”?

First, a false prophecy would not be just an interpretation of what the Bible said about when a prophecy would find fulfillment. It would have to purport to be a completely new prophecy, revelation or communication directly from God.

Second, a false prophet would not present his teaching as something which was fallible or subject to change.

Even more important, a “false prophet” would NEVER teach that God had discontinued to speak directly with humans or that miraculous foreknowledge had ceased. He would NEVER deny having the ability to foretell the future.

Now, how do Witnesses measure up to these standards?

It is an irrefutable fact that Jehovah's Witnesses' very doctrine has ALWAYS been that the gifts of inspired prophesying, and direct communication from God ceased after the Apostles died. And since the 1800's they have repeatedly stated in their literature that they do not foretell the future and they are not infallible. This is a belief that has NEVER changed from their modern day inception as Bible Students to the present day.

This sentence appeared in EVERY issue of the Watchtower up to the mid- 70's:

"No, THE WATCHTOWER IS NO INSPIRED PROPHET, but it follows and explains a Book of prophecy..."

“We are not prophesying; we are merely giving our surmises,...We do not even aver that there is no mistake in our interpretation of prophesy and our calculations of chronology.” --WT 1/1/1908

Therefore, any accusation that JWs have made "false prophecies" can only be viewed as a misrepresentation of the facts. Every argument accusing Witnesses in this regard depends on ripping Watchtower quotes out of context.

Since Witnesses NEVER engaged in prophesying they cannot be "false prophets."

Jesus didn't say you would identify “false prophets” because they never misunderstood prophesy. He said that you would discern the true Christians from the false prophets "by their fruits," or the results of their Biblical teaching. Now, who has the historical fruitage of bloodthirsty wars, immorality, sectarian violence and factional splits? (Gal.5:19-23).

False religion is a false prophet not because it incorrectly interprets the Bible prophecies, but because their interpretations are totally and willfully contrary to what the Scriptures teach.

SOURCE: This is an answer provided by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

For more concerning this, see:

PROPHET (Insight-2 pp. 694-698; Watchtower Online Library)
The Greek pro·phe′tes literally means “a speaker out [Gr., pro, “before” or “in front of,” and phe·mi′, “say”]” and thus describes a proclaimer, one who makes known messages attributed to a divine source. (Compare Tit 1:12.) Though this includes the thought of a predictor of the future, the fundamental meaning of the word is NOT that of prediction. (Compare Jg 6:7-10.)

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Are Not False Prophets - Does the Watchtower Society Really Claim to be an INSPIRED Prophet? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Have Jehovah's Witnesses ever claimed to be an INSPIRED prophet? (Search For Bible Truths)

Does the Watchtower Society really claim to be an inspired prophet? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

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

The Churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Question of Unfulfilled Prophetic Expectations (Jehovah's Witnesses United)

Dates (1914; 1975) (Search For Bible Truths)

'False Prophet' Claim and Jerusalem 607 B.C.E. (Search For Bible Truths)

The Destruction of Jerusalem - 607 B.C.? (Search For Bible Truths)

Are Jehovah's Witnesses False Prophets? (From God's Word)

Why so many False Alarms? (Pastor Russell)

Has The Watchtower Society Ever Claimed to be Infallible? (Search For Bible Truths)

Was Nathan a False Prophet? (Jehovah's Witnesses Stand Firm)

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