A reason for the prophetic failures:
The WTS Governing Body wrote in 1981:
"However, it may have seemed to some
as though that path has not always gone straight forward. At times explanations
given by Jehovah's visible organization have shown adjustments, seemingly to
previous points of view. But this has not actually been the case. This might be
compared to what is known in navigational circles as 'tacking.' By maneuvering
the sails the sailors can cause a ship to go from right to left, back and forth,
but all the time making progress toward their destination in spite of contrary
Some Witnesses interpreted Psalms 90:10 as defining the length of a generation to be 80
years. Since 1914 plus 80 equals 1994, they predicted Armageddon would occur around that
year. This prediction came from the grass-roots level of the organization. The WTS
itself did not
officially proclaim it.
This prophecy also failed.
Will TEOTWAWKI happen in our near future?
The WTS had taught that the generation that saw the events of 1914
would experience TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it). But the people who were born in 1914 or earlier are now
in their mid-90s or older. They are rapidly dying out.
In 1996-APR, the WTS changed
their criteria for TEOTWAWKI. "They now say that the generation that saw the events of
1914 is actually any generation that understands what happened" at that
This allows an indefinite delay in the arrival of Armageddon -- for millennia if
The latest estimate is 6,000 years after the creation of Eve, for
which no date can be determined with any accuracy. The Jehovah's Witnesses
are no longer setting absolute dates, but still expect that TEOTWAWKI
may happen at any time in our immediate future.
In their 1995-NOV issue of the Watchtower, the WTS
suggested that earlier dates for Armageddon were speculation rather than settled
doctrine. In 1995-DEC, Newsweek quoted Witnesses spokesperson Bob Pevy as
saying: "The end is still close. We just can't put numbers on Jesus' words."
The "yeartext" for 2004, published in the WTS Yearbook is: "Keep on the
Watch... Prove Yourselves Ready." It is a quotation taken from Matthew 24:42-44.
This yeartext is accompanied with the following remarks:
God's Word reminds us that Jehovah's day will arrive with shocking suddenness.
Hence, our yeartext for 2004 reflects Jesus' deep love for his disciples, whom
he wants to preserve through 'the great tribulation.' (Rev. 7:14 ) How do we
remain spiritually watchful and ready? By allowing nothing to distract us from
our study of God's Word and from our privileges of sacred service." 7
The WatchTowerInformationService.org comments:
"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the only chance for
[personal] salvation is to actively preach the end of this world and the Kingdom
of God . If they are not busy with their 'sacred service' when the 'day of
Jehovah' will arrive with 'shocking suddenness' they believe that they will die
with the wicked ones."
That is, they will be exterminated, along with all
non-Christians, and with the vast majority of Christians who are not members in
good standing of the WTS. 7
Criticism of the WTS estimates:
The WTS has been criticized by some conservative Christians for
having attempting to predict a precise date for Armageddon, in an apparent
violation of Matthew 24:35-36:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but
my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no,
not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (KJV)
criticism does not appear to be valid, as the WTS' estimates have never
involved the day and hour of the end -- only the year had been specified.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"History of the Jehovah's Witnesses," Catholic Answers, at:
"The Watchtower," 1976-JUL, Page 436.
Mathew Schmalz, "When Festinger Fails," Chapter 13 of Jon Stone,
Ed., "Expecting Armageddon: Essential readings in failed prophecy," Routledge,
(2000), Page 240. Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
"The Watchtower," 1981-DEC-1, Page 27.
Comment by Roy Lister, in Calvary Home Page at:
Kenneth Woodward, "Jehovah's Witnesses Decide the End is
Fluid," Newsweek, 1995-DEC-18, at:
Cited in: Rado Vleugel, "2004: Jehovah's Witnesses still on the watch
for the end of this world," WatchTowerInformation Service.org, at: