The 26 Prophetic Failures of Watchtower’s Most Heralded Date, 1914
Below is a paste of the front of this, my recent, essay. Most JWs, and lurkers here, have never really thought of the scope of Watchtower's 1914 prophecy. To them, 1914 was a simple one and done -- a mistake was made and it's been corrected. Most aren't aware of all the conditions, 26 of them by my count, that were stipulated by Watchtower publications prior to that cornerstone date.
The early Watchtower (well, Zion's Watch Tower, etc.) publications, as you will see, went through a progression of adjustments to many of these predicted conditions. It was also enlightening to me to see, as 1914 neared, the hedging of uncertainty creep in to their writings.
1914 isn't backed by bible Scripture but it was backed and propagated by the WTS. Publishing Editors.
This dating was seen mostly as a useful commodity to draw attention to the WTS's literature as the year of 1874 was done so previously .
So there you have a religion's core doctrine that was inherently false that was not backed by the bible and in fact the calculating a date by proclaimed followers of Christ was admonished by Jesus himself.
Therefore the Jehovah's Witnesses religion is a commercialized tainted fraud in its endeavor to preach its version of the Gospel.
Well noted, Finkelstein.
It is my belief that as Russell began his religious studies and got exposed to the adventism of those days -- looking over the computations of Miller and his ilk, he got hooked that maybe those guys had it all figured out. He saw Miller's failed mid 1840s two dates, spotted (he thought) some flaws in Miller's ciphers and finally decided to go out on his own. Yes, he met Barbour, yada, yada. But Russell had some cash on hand, was eloquent, and charismatic -- all the tools needed to crank out some written dogma. The world at the time was ripe.
I suspect he even believed the whole thing -- till 1914 came and went.
By that time the movement was like a huge ocean liner, hard to stop or turn around. By that time there were too many of Russell's cronies, Rutherford included, who had swallowed the Koolaid and were happy just going along for the ride. Everybody at headquarters patting each other on the back. Russell drinking in the adoration -- yes, he was human. And don't forget, money from all over the world was coming in.
The rest is history.
The 1914 obsession of the WT can never be fully understood until you realize this was THE mechanism by which they stole peoples' salvation by mean of the New Covenant.
By time warping everyone and getting them to believe that the gentile times "church age" had ended, they then began to make the argument that it really wasn't disobedience to Jesus to reject the New Covenant at each Memorial ...for general members. The heaven vs. earth destination they harped on, is a non-issue as it pertains to Salvation from judgement.
Since the New Covenant (blood covenant) guaranteed salvation, and since the JW's were no longer open to accepting Jesus' offer, the "need" arose for people to work for their Salvation instead of just accepting it like previous generations were able to do.
The Watchtower was all to eager to step in and provide for this new-found "need" for salvation.
What a happifying provision that turned out to be..... not.
The really ridiculous thing is, that the tribulation saints (and yes they are a different group than the Church-Age Beleivers) are still declared righteous by the exact same means as previous believers were ... by the blood covenant.
The great crowd washed their robes and made them white in the blood [covenant] of the lamb". - Revelation
But, by getting people to believe that they were in a future group spoken of in Revelation, they were able to build on this difference and argue that Salvation was also by a different means.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father but by me" (The New Covenant) - Jesus
Nice job, easy to read and good point Finkelstein (not backed by the bible), I found it was was also easy to download and print!
Great thoughts all.
The whole problem with 1914 there is no one alive to go an ask about the flavour of ice cream back then. Psych wards are full of overlapping prophets from bethel. It's a shame Sportsbet wasn't around so do a 1914 wager.
Nice work. Thanks for helping me clear up some mental confusion. Your statement below struck a chord with me:
"I suspect he even believed the whole thing -- till 1914 came and went."
I wonder if Russell was so completely deluded that it hastened his death when his prophecy did not come true. We all know how in October 1914 he declared the Gentile Times had ended. He was dead by October 1916 at th age of 64. He could have calmed the cognitive dissonance by rationalizing that he forgot to account for the lack of zero year between BC and AD, gaining confidence that he would see the rapture in 1915. He must have been berated countless times for being a false prophet, probably even by people close to him. But he evidently left notes behind for the "The Finished Mystery", claiming to be the Laodicean Mesenger. The mystery is what he was really thinking.
He died in 1916 on board a train destined for a speaking engagement. Shame the train took him in the "wrong" direction and he had an engagement with the grim reaper instead.
The Watchtower literature of that day described "the disappointment" Bible Students experienced in the wake of the world not ending in 1914 - and Chuck Russell would have been numbered among those who felt disappointed. You cannot hang out for something for several decades and not be affected by it. He had written about 1914 so often and so passionately that he must have been sorely puzzled by the outcome. I can even feel sorry for him,
Since then, some form of the use of the word "disappointed" has threaded its way through Watchtower literature . It is silent code for confusion, wasted lives and crises of faith.
I recall reading in a Watchtower from the late 1960s about the disappointment then older Witnesses experienced, growing old in this system of things, having expected the end well before then. Now all dead.
You cannot look at photos from the 1930s, 40s and 50s and beyond of the Witnesses publically declaring their faith in the nearness of the end and not feel even a smidgeon of empathy. Nearly all of them dead - decades after Chuck snuffed it on a choo-choo train bound for inglory.
Thanks, Perry -- and thanks for your perspective.
And BruisedAndBleeding12 for the compliment. PDF format, for me, is easiest to WYSIWYG especially with cross refs, bookmarks, endnotes, tables, embedding graphics, etc. It's all free using Libre Writer.
I know, being retired I've got too much time on my hands.
Thanks Chook for thinking outside the box.