Issue Date: November/December 2008
By Daniel Rodriguez
The failed prophecies of the Watchtower Society are valuable witnessing points when dealing with Jehovah`s Witnesses. As I pointed out in my recent book, Winning the Witnesses, planting seeds of doubt in the Watchtower is a most effective strategy. They are taught a blind trust in the organization and its interpretation of the Bible. Before you can lead them to trust the inspired Bible alone, you have to destroy their confidence in the uninspired organization.
There are many failed prophecies of the Watchtower Society. One outstanding failure in 1975 caused a lot of anguish and cost them many followers. In 1966, the Watchtower published, Life Everlasting In Freedom of the Sons of God. On page 29, this book plainly stated that 1975 would be the end of 6,000 years of mankind`s existence on earth. From 1966 to 1974, the Watchtower consistently taught that "the end" was near.
In the March 1968 edition of Our Kingdom Ministries, the Watchtower Society stated that Armageddon would begin in 90 months.(Our Kingdom Ministry, March 1968 p. 4) They quoted "experts" who stated that the nations gathering nuclear stockpiles would be out of control by 1975 and civil unrest would be the order of the day. The Witnesses believed they were getting out just in time to avoid this chaos.
Thousands of Witnesses sold their homes and property, quit their jobs, quit school and even sold their businesses in preparation for "the end." (Kingdom Ministry, May 1974 p. 3) But what was the Watchtower Society doing during 1975? That same year they bought and began remodeling an expensive property in New York City. (Kingdom Ministry, June 1978 p. 1) Finally, October 1975 came and went and nothing happened. Hundreds of thousands of disenchanted Witnesses left the Watchtower organization.
Although the Watchtower taught that 1975 would be the end, they blamed their followers for the failed prophecy. The June 22, 1995 Awake magazine states: "The wrong conclusions were due...to a fervent desire to realize the fulfillment of God`s promises in their own time." (Awake!, June 22, 1995 p. 9) The spin was: Bad prophecy, but they had a good motive.
But this is not all. In 1982 the Watchtower was still selling the 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah`s Witnesses which taught that 1975 was the end. (Kingdom Ministry, November, 1982 p. 4) Finally, the Watchtower Society admitted in the March 22, 1993 Awake magazine that the writings in the Watchtower magazine were not "inspired and infallible and without mistakes." (Awake! March 22, 1993 p. 4.) Imagine the financial ruin of those who sold their homes and property because of these uninspired prophecies. Now imagine losing everything and then being blamed for the failed prophecy.
One of the most successful keys in witnessing to Jehovah`s Witnesses is using issues like this to prove that the Watchtower is not inspired of God. This technique is laid out in detail in Winning the Witnesses, available from Chick Publications.