1990 to 2000 - and Beyond
The march of time moved on relentlessly. The Watchtower Society began to alter their definition of “a generation” and stretch their credulity to the limit. When 1995 arrived they realized they would have to come clean and admit that they were wrong. That Armageddon was in fact further away than they had thought, unless there was another way out.
Realising that time was running out, the Society’s then President Fred Franz, referring to the promised new world declared:
“But we are as strong for it as we ever were, and we are appreciating it all the more the longer we have to wait for it. It is something worth waiting for, even if it required a million years.” (Watchtower – 15 December 1991 – Page 11)
The faithful men of old had not returned physically as promised. The promised return of Jesus to earth had been explained away as an invisible return that they had failed to notice. It was now claimed that many of the promises regarding Israel had been fulfilled on the Witnesses in a spiritual or pictorial way. The promised paradise was, for now, a spiritual paradise.
It would have only been one step more for the Society to declare that Armageddon was to be fought in a spiritual realm and would be one more invisible fulfilment not be seen by the members. They could have written another book explaining that Armageddon had already taken place invisibly and they had missed this event too, but could explain it all, using that wonderful tool of hindsight. Perhaps giving the due apology for having encouraged some of the older members to spend their lives speculating about how many days or years make up a generation. Instead they said:
“Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the “great tribulation” would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However we “bring a heart of wisdom in.” Not by speculating about how many days or years make up a generation, but by thinking about how we “count our days” in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historic period, with their identifying characteristics”
“Is anything to be gained, then, by looking for dates or by speculating about the literal lifetime of a “generation”? Far from it! Therefore, in the final fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy today, “this generation” apparently refers to the people of the earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways. Does our more precise viewpoint on “this Generation” mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all.” (Watchtower – 1 November 1995 - Pages 17,19,20)
Did you notice that the Society did not say – We have at times speculated, but “Jehovah’s people have at times speculated.” The blame for a lifetime of misinterpreting the scriptures and making false prophecies in God’s name is shared with the membership. These are the same members that were threatened with excommunication if they ever dared to challenge the pronouncements coming from the Society, who claim to be “God’s mouthpiece.”
Having spent the last hundred years warning their members and millions of non-members that the world as we know it is about to end, the Society eventually admits that the single verse of scripture that they have based this prediction on is now to be understood differently. Surely this means that Armageddon is further away than they had thought? According to the Watchtower Society “Not at all!”
Is this an honest way to deal with such a fundamental shift of belief?
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