Would the Watchtower have 'self destructed' if 1914 had been peaceful?

by AK - Jeff 11 Replies latest jw experiences

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff

    Another thread sparked this one.

    If 1914 had come and gone without the advent of WWI, would the sect of Bible Students have just faded into the woodwork?

    Was the war [obviously heavily referenced as proof of their claims] the bouy that allowed and spurned the growth into what we see today?


    PS - I am sure someone will take the position that Rutherford 'evicted' most the Bible Students anyway - but still - 1914 continued to be a massively important tool to construct the organization under Rutherford and others. When the organization was moving into the million mark, then 2, 3, 4 million mark - it was a major ongoing part of the teaching.

  • Calliope

    they would've found something to accommodate 1914 (like some civil war somewhere...) or else change 607 to 754 BCE...

  • bennyk
    Would the Watchtower have 'self destructed' if 1914 had been peaceful?

    I think not. In 15. December 1913 Watch Tower, Russell republished an article from 1907 entitled "KNOWLEDGE AND FAITH REGARDING CHRONOLOGY which stated:

    If our chronology is not reliable we have no idea where we are nor when the morning will come. Bishop Ussher's chronology, as we have pointed out (DAWN II., p. 51) puts the end of six thousand years nearly a century future and would destroy every prophetic application as we have seen and profited by it.
    But let us suppose a case far from our expectations: Suppose that A.D. 1915 should pass with the world's affairs all serene and with evidence that the "very elect" had not all been "changed" and without the restoration of natural Israel to favor under the New Covenant. (Romans 11:12,15) What then? Would not that prove our chronology wrong? Yes, surely! And would not that prove a keen disappointment? Indeed it would! It would work irreparable wreck to the Parallel dispensations and Israel's Double, and to the Jubilee calculations, and to the prophecy of the 2300 days of Daniel, and to the epoch called "Gentile Times," and to the 1260, 1290 and 1335 days, the latter of which marking the beginning of the Harvest so well fulfilled its prediction, "Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth and cometh unto the 1335 days!"

    True: the world's affairs did not remain "serene". But there was no "Rapture", nor was Israel"restored" (especially not under the New Covenant). Despite the fact that this ' worked irreparable wreck to the epoch called the "Gentile Times" ', the WTS did not collapse, and the Society to this day points to Russell's prediction regarding the Gentile Times ending in October 1914 AS THOUGH IT WERE TRUE.

  • james_woods

    Well, 1874 came and went and Russell was able to explain that one away...I have often wondered if 1914 was actually as big a dissapointment for the bible students of the day as 1975 was for most of us. After all - one might ask: Ok - so where is Jesus? How come all those bad religions are still here? I bet it was a big bummer for CT himself...

    Maybe only a massive disinformation campaign by Rutherford saved the day by recooking it to 1925...which in turn got fixed by the great crowd, etc...

  • fullofdoubtnow

    1914 was the year they saw as the end of the Gentile Times, the First World War just happened to start then as well. If there had been no war, they would still probably have attached importance to 1914.

  • VM44

    Some witnesses claim that they "predicted" the start of World War I because it happened in 1914.

    So the war did strengthen the faith and resolve of at least some JWs.

    What will be interesting is when the year 2014 comes around in only 8 years.

    People will wonder why Armageddon still has not arrived at the 100th anniversity of the Ending of the Gentile times.


  • stev

    Let's compare it to the Miller Movement. 1843 and 1844 came and went without Christ's return. One response is to admit the mistake. Storrs, a leader in the movement, rejected the date, that the movement was led by God, and rejected date-setting. This is the most painful response, but is the healthiest in the long run. Another response is "the wrong event at the right time". This is the SDA approach - the investigative judgment. Another response would be to set new dates. This is what the Second Adventists did.

    The Bible Students/JWs have used these responses also.

    The Watchtower would not have self-destructed if 1914 came and went peacefully, because it was not like the Miller Movement, which was based alone on the date-setting of 1843/1844. There was not enough to hold them together through the disappointment. The early Bible Students had other beliefs that set them apart from others, and were reasons why people joined Russell's group, such as hell, Arianism, restitution, the Kingdom, the two salvations, and there were ones that were likely attracted by Russell himself. These beliefs would have sustained the group, although many could have left.

    Russell's changing expectations about 1914 is complex and not easy to explain. Russell expected that the time of trouble would occur between 1874-1914. There would be the three phases based on Elijah's experiences: War (wind), Revolution (earthquake), and Anarchy (fire). By 1904, Russell expected that the anarchy phase would occur between 1914-1915. But as 1914 approached there was less time for his predictions to come to pass. When the World War started in 1914, Russell saw this as the fulfillment of the first phase of War, which would be followed by worldwide revolution and then anarchy. It was apparent that other predictions had not been fulfilled, so the Bible Students were in a state of confusion, but looked to 1915, 1916, and 1918. Russell died in 1916. After the World War ended, the Russian Revolution occurred, which appeared like the Revolution phase had begun, and that the communists were taking over, as Russell had predicted.

    From the vantage point of 2006, it is clear that Russell's chronological system failed, but it was not clear at the time. If nothing had happened in 1914, and Russell had rejected the whole system, the Bible Students/JWs would have been in the long run much heatlhier, although the disappointment and pain would have been greater. But the world events and Russell's death left the BIble Students confused over the predictions and vulnerable, and they never fully recovered. In the aftermath were divisions over Russell's predictions, Rutherford's manipulations, the Finished Mystery, the glorification of Russell, etc.

  • KW13

    there will always be someone to follow the org as long as it exists, so long as there are people it will always exist.

  • greendawn

    The 1874 date had nothing to do with Russell it was set by Barbour before Russell met him, and the 1878 failed date of the visible return of Christ was also set by Barbour.

    The followers of the WTS (and other cults) are so naive and sheepish the FDS can easily manipulate them into believing almost anything. The 1914 date was not propagated by Russell as the beginning of a world war but armageddon so he died a bitter man in disgrace in 1916 while that war was raging, knowing his prophecies of 35 years had failed. Christ did not appear in 1914 to destroy human governments.

  • Forscher
    The 1914 date was not propagated by Russell as the beginning of a world war but armageddon so he died a bitter man in disgrace in 1916 while that war was raging, knowing his prophecies of 35 years had failed. Christ did not appear in 1914 to destroy human governments.

    Russell taught that the "presence" began in 1874, a view that many Bible Students still hold as Gospel truth. As the quote points out, he saw 1914 as the end. Rutherford stood by 1874 adding different predictions of new dates for the end as each one failed, at least until 1925. The 1914 date as the beginning of the "presence" was adopted towards the end of the Rutherford era.
    I am not sure if it would've mattered one bit whether WWI had started then or not. Rutherford, or Franz on Knorr's behalf, would've come up with something.

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