How Prophecy Succeeds: Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation

by slimboyfat 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • slimboyfat

    What do you make of this recent article by George Chryssides?

    Apparently the prophetic failure of Jehovah's Witnesses has been overdone by opponents. Although they have had some unfulfilled expectations, their changing dates "are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions." I'm sorry but that sounds close to meaningless to me. You might as well argue that someone didn't yawn because they were tired, rather they yawned because they opened their mouth and exhaled. He fails to talk about the recent changes to the "generation" teaching or to acknowledge that the change in 1995 was necessary simply because the teaching had run out of time, and the implications of this for his argument. It is also unclear how the article in any way delivers on its title by explaining in what sense "prophecy succeeds" in relation to Jehovah's Witnesses.

    It's disappointing because I thought his earlier article about the Witnesses under persecution in Nazi Germany was an important corrective to accusations that the Witnesses were anti-semitic or pro-Nazi in 1933, or that they were responsible for provoking the persecution they subsequently endured.

  • wobble

    Is Dr. Chryssides a JW ?

    In the last paragraph he calls the WT: "Jehovah's true organization" !!! ????

    Another interesting thing he mentions on page 42, is that the adjustment from 606 to 607 took place because of claimed archaeological discoveries, he sounds doubtful as to the veracity of that claim ,but I can't quite determine where he found that claim ??

    It seems he is a bit of an Apologist for JW's, whether he is a practising one or not. and it is a quite clever position to take, that they learn more about prophecy after its fulfilment. or lack of.

    The GB/Writing Comm. will no doubt steal this idea to justify their woeful record on predictive prophecy.

  • alanv

    It really does not matter what any apolagist says. Many of us lived through all the 1975 time and know exactly what happened and what was said.

    As has been said before, they only change something when it has clearly failed and is no longer tenable.

  • slimboyfat

    He's not a Jehovah's Witness. He's a lecturer in Religious Studies. In his book Exploring New Religions he explains that many people are prejudiced against New Religious Movements and that he wants to give them a fair hearing. This is how he approaches the various groups he writes about including Mormons, Moonies and Jehovah's Witnesses. Some in the counter-cult and anti-cult movements would no doubt call him a cult apologist. I notice this site claims he is a Unitarian.

    Which a review of a book he has written on Unitarianism seems to support, although I have not seen this book so I can't confirm it.

  • trebor

    "...are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions."

    How many cult leaders have used that line of reasoning or some other similar excuse to make up for their failed predictions? Furthermore, this is a pathetic crutch and reasoning, just as bad as using a biblical passage of a father talking to his son about life [Proverbs chapter 4], being a justification for flip-flops in teachings or these so-called 'changed understandings of biblical chronology'.

    Additionally, the Watchtower Society is never genuine or upfront about stating, 'Hey, we were wrong, and we're sorry. We're trying to do our best to understand and interpret the scriptures, and admit to being outright wrong'. The organization will blame 'some brothers' or 'some over anxious and eager ones', instead of taking ownership.

    Their misunderstanding of biblical chronologies is *the truth* that must be obeyed and believed as such, until they change their understandings of biblical chronology again. Meanwhile, if you speak against it or out rightly say they are wrong, a judicial committee will be on you like white on rice. The Watchtower, August 1, 2001 Issue, Page 14, Paragraph 8, makes it clear a member of the organization should not even "harbor private ideas", which of course encompasses these 'changed understandings of biblical chronology'.

    The writer of the article is a poor Jehovah's Witnesses apologist at best.

  • NeonMadman

    I'm printing out the article to read later, so I'm posting this based on a quick skim and comments that have been made here.

    It does seem to me, though, that there is a sense in which prophecy has succeeded for the JW's. It has gotten them lots of new members and kept the existing members in a constant frenzy of works. As long as the members are convinced that Armageddon is right around the corner, they keep on slaving away and tend not to question things. When it starts to look like Armageddon might be a long way off, many start to scratch their heads and ask themselves why they are doing all this work, anyway? The prime example of the latter is the late 1970s, when the 1975 prediction had gone down the tubes and the numbers of publishers actually started to decrease for a few years.

    That said, I'm not sure how anyone can make a credible defense of the Watchtower's prophetic record, in light of their 100% failure rate and their frequent claims to prophetic status, as well as the mandatory acceptance of each prophecy as it is issued under the threat of disfellowshipping.

  • metatron

    Changed chronology instead of failed prophesies? What the heck is that supposed to mean? What typical doubletalk!

    They predict Armageddon. It doesn't happen (as usual). So, they sense an adjustment to chronology is needed. I was at Headquarters during the leadup to 1975. They strongly inhibited any doubt about their chronology - that is, until nothing happened.

    The only way an 'adjustment to chronology' means anything is if they predicted something and then dumped out of it before it turned into another falsehood. And private conversations don't count - if they published a false prophecy and failed to publically repudiate it before the time passed, they're broadgage liars.


  • TD

    "...are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions."

    How can anyone be obtuse to the point of not understanding that failed predictions traditionally drive changes in undersanding??

  • ziddina

    "Although they have had some unfulfilled expectations, their changing dates "are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions." ...

    Well, when a person or group places faith in the words of Bronze-Age Middle Eastern sheepherders who couldn't even tell the difference between their supposed "god" and an erupting volcano, what CAN you expect???

    "Biblical chronology" is like trying to figure out how many 'angels' can sit on the head of a pin.... It's a totally meaningless exercise disconnected from reality... Which explains all of the fantastical "failed predictions", too...

    "Johnny-come-lately" gods have NO place in the REAL world. The ONLY reason they're popular is that they're NEW... Which effectually precludes any chance of their being the "Real" deity of the planet...

    Since the planet is over 4 billion years old, any deity who claims that 'he' "built" it in 6,000 years - or 60,000 years, or 600,000 years, or 6,000,000 years - is patently a FALSE GOD. Period.


  • quietlyleaving

    I think this paragraph from near the end of the article may explain what Chrissydes means. I haven't read the whole article, just skimmed it (so may have got it completely wrong), but this para stood out and if this is what he means about JW prophecy succeeding then I can agree with him up to a point. Interesting way of looking at witness interpretation of prophecy.

    How prophecy succeeds
    This exposition of the development of the Watch Tower Society’s views on
    prophecy reveals that the principal role of prophecy is not to predict the
    future, but to interpret the past. of course it would be wrong to suggest
    that the Society never had expectations about the future: as it acknowledges
    there were disappointments relating to 1914, 1918, 1925 and 1975. As has
    been shown, these dates are not successive attempts to predict the same event
    that failed to materialize: they signify different points in a complex end-time
    calendar. The 1925 and 1975 dates were simply abandoned, while the 1914
    and 1918 dates were retained, with fresh consideration of their meaning, and
    continue to be regarded as significant, even though these dates are now well
    past. Understanding biblical prophecy is therefore more about finding meaning,
    both in events in human history, and in the Bible itself.

Share this