10 Failed Doomsday Predictions - Witnesses Did Not Make Top 10 Unless you Count the Millerites

by zarco 7 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • zarco

    With the upcoming disaster film "2012" and the current hype about Mayan calendars and doomsday predictions , it seems like a good time to put such notions in context. Most prophets of doom come from a religious perspective, though the secular crowd has caused its share of scares as well. One thing the doomsday scenarios tend to share in common: They don't come to pass.

    Here are 10 that didn't pan out, so far:

    The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806

    History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase "Christ is coming" was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand - until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax.

    The Millerites , April 23, 1843

    A New England farmer named William Miller , after several years of very careful study of his Bible, concluded that God's chosen time to destroy the world could be divined from a strict literal interpretation of scripture. As he explained to anyone who would listen, the world would end some time between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He preached and published enough to eventually lead thousands of followers (known as Millerites) who decided that the actual date was April 23, 1843. Many sold or gave away their possessions, assuming they would not be needed; though when April 23 arrived (but Jesus didn't) the group eventually disbanded-some of them forming what is now the Seventh Day Adventists.

    Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier

    Joseph Smith , founder of the Mormon church, called a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835 to tell them that he had spoken to God recently, and during their conversation he learned that Jesus would return within the next 56 years, after which the End Times would begin promptly.

    Halley's Comet , 1910

    In 1881, an astronomer discovered through spectral analysis that comet tails include a deadly gas called cyanogen (related, as the name imples, to cyanide). This was of only passing interest until someone realized that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley's comet in 1910. Would everyone on the planet be bathed in deadly toxic gas? That was the speculation reprinted on the front pages of " The New York Times " and other newspapers, resulting in a widespread panic across the United States and abroad. Finally even-headed scientists explained that there was nothing to fear.

    Pat Robertson , 1982

    In May 1980, televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson startled and alarmed many when - contrary to Matthew 24:36 ("No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven ...") he informed his "700 Club" TV show audience around the world that he knew when the world would end. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world," Robertson said.

    Heaven's Gate , 1997

    When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet - covered up, of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers (and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope), the rumors were publicized on Art Bell's paranormal radio talk show " Coast to Coast AM ." These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven's Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.

    Nostradamus , August 1999

    The heavily obfuscated and metaphorical writings of Michel de Nostrdame have intrigued people for over 400 years. His writings, the accuracy of which relies heavily upon very flexible interpretations, have been translated and re-translated in dozens of different versions. One of the most famous quatrains read, "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." Many Nostradamus devotees grew concerned that this was the famed prognosticator's vision of Armageddon .

    Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000

    As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches.

    May 5, 2000

    In case the Y2K bug didn't do us in, global catastrophe was assured by Richard Noone, author of the 1997 book "5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster." According to Noone, the Antarctic ice mass would be three miles thick by May 5, 2000 - a date in which the planets would be aligned in the heavens, somehow resulting in a global icy death (or at least a lot of book sales). Perhaps global warming kept the ice age at bay.

    God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008

    According to God's Church minister Ronald Weinland, the end times are upon us-- again. His 2006 book "2008: God's Final Witness" states that hundreds of millions of people will die, and by the end of 2006, "there will be a maximum time of two years remaining before the world will be plunged into the worst time of all human history. By the fall of 2008, the United States will have collapsed as a world power, and no longer exist as an independent nation." As the book notes, " Ronald Weinland places his reputation on the line as the end-time prophet of God."


  • Satanus

    Shows how inefective wt 'preaching' is. As shown by the listed tv preachers, tv is much more attention getting door to door plodding.


  • zarco

    I thought the same, Satanus. The Witnesses spend more than a billion hours a year in service and few know anything about what they/we believe. I guess as long as the Witnesses stick to the door to door work, the world will never know about the failed predictions and the goofy beleifs.


  • steve2

    Given that they have been so many failed doomsday predictions, what criteria did the list-compilers use for determining the "Top Ten"? I would have thought that the failed prediction about 1914, coinciding with the year of the first world war, and subsequently generating a lot of religious speculation and controversy by and about JWs would have made the top ten.

  • JeffT

    I'd like to know what their criteria were. Heaven's Gate was a small group of nuts. They could just as well have included Charles Manson. They also left out some of the looniness that swept Europe in the late 900's. I think 1914 and 1975 were both bigger than several things on this list.

  • eyeslice

    It is interesting though how the JWs are/are not backing off any specifics regarding the time of the end. 1914 is still a core doctrine yet at the same time things like the 'generation' doctrine has changed beyond recognition. As an outsider now, I think that they are confused and non-commital about the end times.

  • zarco

    I think 1914 and 1975 were both bigger than several things on this list.

    I agree - way bigger. It is interesting to me that a lot of fringe groups and events are listed and not 1975. I have no idea regarding the criteria of the author, just found it interesting that JWs didn't immediately come to mind... oh well.... keep preaching :)

  • Chalam

    Here's a nice list :)


    Interesting how the Worldwide Church of God also went for 1975

    Date of the Second ComingAuthorNotes
    1745–presentEmanuel SwedenborgEmanuel Swedenborg witnessed the Last Judgment in 1757 as one of many events recounted in his works resulting from visions of Jesus Christ returned. He tells of almost daily interaction with Christ over the course of almost 30 years. His return is not in the flesh, but in His Holy Spirit. "Neither shall they say see here or see there, for behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20). [ 45 ]
    September 15 , 1829George RappGeorge Rapp, founder and leader of the Harmony Society, predicted that on September 15 , 1829 , the three and one half years of the Sun Woman would end and Christ would begin his reign on earth. [ 46 ] Dissension grew when Rapp's predictions went unfulfilled. In March 1832, a third of the group left and some began following a man named Bernhard Müller who claimed to be the Lion of Judah. Nevertheless, most of the group stayed and Rapp continued to lead them until he died on August 7 , 1847 . His last words to his followers were, "If I did not so fully believe, that the Lord has designated me to place our society before His presence in the land of Canaan, I would consider this my last." [ 47 ]
    October 22 , 1844William Miller and the Millerite MovementThe fact that this failed to happen the way people were expecting was later referred to as the Great Disappointment. Some Millerites continued to set dates; others founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Advent Christian Church, which continued to expect the Second Coming but no longer set dates for it (Members of the Bahá'í Faith believe that the event of the Second Coming did take place on 23 May 1844 , when the Báb (the Gate), the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh (Glory of God)), declared his mission. Bahá'u'lláh later claimed that he was the return and second coming of Jesus Christ.
    1874Charles Taze RussellCharles Taze Russell, the first president of what is now the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah's Witnesses, calculated 1874 to be the year of Christ's Second Coming, and until his death taught that Christ was invisibly present, and ruling from the heavens from that date prophesied. [ 48 ] [ 49 ] [ 50 ] [ 51 ] Russell proclaimed Christ's invisible return in 1874, [ 52 ] the resurrection of the saints in 1875, [ 53 ] and predicted the end of the "harvest" and a rapture of the saints to heaven for 1878, [ 54 ] and the final end of "the day of wrath" in 1914. [ 55 ] 1874 was considered the end of 6,000 years of human history and the beginning of judgment by Christ. [ 56 ]
    1914Jehovah's WitnessesThe "Second Coming" is important in the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, although they do not use this term. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Christ's visible (to humans) return will be at Armageddon. They believe that 1914 A.D. marked the beginning of Christ's invisible presence (Matt. 24:3 gr. "parousia") as the King of God's Kingdom (Psalm 110; Revelation 12:10), and the beginning of the last days of the human ruled system of society. They believe the signs Christ revealed about his return in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 began to occur starting in 1914. In a parallel Biblical account at Revelation 6, they believe the ride of the symbolic four horsemen began in the same year, and that the first rider on the white horse depicts the Christ. He goes forth to complete his conquest of the earth, while the rule by human leaders continues for a short while until they meet their end at Armageddon by the power of the Christ (Revelation 19:11-21).
    1917–1930Sun Myung MoonThe followers of Reverend Sun Myung Moon consider Rev. Moon to be the Lord of the Second Advent called by Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday at the age of 15 on a Korean Mountainside. (See Divine Principle)
    1930sRudolf SteinerSteiner described the physical incarnation of Christ as a unique event, but predicted that Christ would reappear in the etheric, or lowest spiritual, plane beginning in the 1930s. This would manifest in various ways: as a new spiritual approach to community life and between individuals; in more and more individuals discovering fully conscious access to the etheric plane (clairvoyance); and in Christ's appearance to groups of seekers gathered together.[7]
    1975Herbert W. ArmstrongArmstrong, Pastor-General of the Radio Church of God, and then the Worldwide Church of God, felt the return of Jesus Christ might be in 1975. Of particular note was the book 1975 in Prophecy! written by Armstrong and published by the Radio Church of God in 1956. Though, never explicitly stating a date in the booklet, the title led people to believe the date was the second coming.
    June 28, 1981Bill MaupinMaupin, a pastor of the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, wrote a book predicting the date of the Second Coming. His congregation sold all their belongings and went to a hilltop on that day to await the event.
    June 21 , 1982Benjamin CremeThe followers of the New Age Theosophical guru Benjamin Creme, like Alice A. Bailey, believe the Second Coming will occur when Maitreya (the being Theosophists identify as being Christ) makes his presence on Earth publicly known—Crème believes Maitreya has been on Earth since 1977, living in secret.

    Creme put advertisements in many of the world’s major newspapers in early 1982 stating that the Second Coming would occur on Monday, 21 June 1982 (summer solstice in the northern hemisphere), at which time Christ (Maitreya) would announce his Second Coming on worldwide television (this is called theEmergence or Day of Declaration ; this is when, Creme's followers believe, the Maitreya will telepathicallyovershadow all of humanity when he appears on worldwide television) [ 57 ] . When this event did not occur, Crème claimed that the “world is not yet ready to receive Maitreya"; his followers continue to believe it will happen “soon”.

    1994? And 2011Harold CampingHarold Camping, WFME radio Bible founder and teacher, published a book, 1994?, a prediction of Christ's return was likely pointing to 1994 but that the end will be 2011. 2011 was also in the book 1994?. Camping wrote "Adam when?" and claimed the Biblical calendar meshes with the secular and is accurate from 11,013 BC–2011 AD. [ 58 ]
    1999 Through 2009Jerry FalwellFundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell predicted in 1999 that the Second Coming would probably be within 10 years. [ 59 ]
    1999NostradamusNostradamus predicted that "from the sky will come a great King of Terror" in 1999. [ 60 ] This was interpreted by some as a prophecy about the second coming of Jesus. When this did not occur, some of his followers and those of Edgar Cayce claimed that Jesus was conceived in 1998, born in 1999, and is currently living on Earth as a reincarnated person.
    September 13 , 2007Paul SidesPaul Sides [8] predicted that September 13 , 2007 marks the end of seven years of "wars and rumors of war" that erupted when The Oslo Accords were annulled. Then he predicts a final seven year "tribulation period" that culminates in a war over the Holy Land that brings back the Messiah.
    September 30 , 2008Mark BiltzMark Biltz [9], Pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, predicted September 30 , 2008 (Rosh Hashanah) as the potential day of the second coming of Jesus based on four total Lunar Eclipses that occur seven years (Great Tribulation period) after September 30, 2008 in 2014 and 2015 that happen to fall on the two Jewish holidays Pesach and Succot in both 2014 and 2015. Mark believes this to be significant as the four Lunar Eclipses falling on the aforementioned Jewish holidays has happened in the past in 1492, 1948 and 1949 highlighting those years to be significant in Jewish history. In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain, in 1948 Israel became a nation, and in 1949 Jerusalem became the capital of Israel. In addition, he attributed these Lunar events to the "signs in the heavens" that the Bible speaks of.
    2012Jack Van ImpeTelevangelist Jack Van Impe has, over the years, predicted many specific years and dates for the second coming of Jesus, but has continued to move his prediction later. Many of these dates have already passed, and he recently pointed to 2012 as a possible date for the second coming. Van Impe no longer claims to know the exact date of the Second Coming, but quotes verses which imply that mankind should know when the second coming is near.
    2025Alice A. BaileyIn January 1946, New Age Theosophical guru Alice A. Bailey prophesied that Christ would return “sometime after AD 2025” [ 40 ] (Theosophists identify “Christ” as being identical to a being they callMaitreya) to inaugurate the Age of Aquarius; thus, this event will be, according to Bailey, the New Age equivalent of the Christian concept of the Second Coming [ 61 ] .

    Alice A. Bailey stated that St. Germain is the manager of the executive council of the Christ (Like C.W. Leadbeater, Alice A. Bailey refers to St. Germain as the Master Rakoczi or the Master R. in her books.). [ 62 ] ; thus, according to Alice A. Bailey, St. Germain’s primary task is to prepare the way for the Second Coming.

    2034Joseph Nathan SmithThe group at www.2034AD.com has documented the discovery of the year for the second coming of Jesus in the Bible. (Joseph Nathan Smith, Rest Unto The Land, ISBN 978-0-6151-6189-1, [10], 2007, USA) [ 63 ] [ 64 ] [ 65 ]
    UnknownMaster Beinsa DounoMaster Beinsa Douno prediction for the Second Appearance of Christ: "Christ Impulse will gradually penetrate into the human being and will take over guidance during the further development of the humankind (sic.). We are still in the beginning of all this now." (Master Beinsa Douno, The Master, The Life of the Sixth Race, ISBN 954-744-050-0, [11], 19001946, Society Byalo Bratstvo - Bulgaria)
    UnknownRastafari movementThe Rastafari movement believes Haile Selassie is the second coming (although he himself did not encourage this belief). He embodied this when he became Emperor of Ethiopia, but is also expected to return a second time to initiate the apocalyptic day of judgment. Haile Selassie, also called Jah Ras Tafari, is often considered to be alive by members of the Rastafari movement. [66]

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