By Thomas Heinze
How can we tell if the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses are true? C.T. Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses suggested a test for prophets somewhat similar to the one in Deuteronomy 18:22. He wrote: "Jehovah...will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets."
Most of the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses are based on the interpretations of Scripture of Pastor Russell and Judge Rutherford, the first two leaders of the movement. These men also based prophesies of future events, complete with dates, on their interpretations of Scripture. These dates have now passed so we can see whether Jehovah has fulfilled their predictions or put these men to shame.
How accurate were their interpretations? The prophetic statements which follow are all from the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watchtower publications. For quotes and references which back up each statement see Answers to my Jehovah's Witness Friends, p. 21-40. Here are the dates which they set, and the events which they claimed would occur on each date.
1872: - Beginning of the millennium. Wrong! Watchtower publications later changed the date to 1975. Wrong again!
1874: - Christ's second coming. The Bible says "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (Rev 1:7 see also Acts 1: 11; Mat 24:23-30; Luke 17:23-24;). Christ did not return in 1874.
1914: - All world governments to be overthrown. God would glorify His people and govern
the world. Later Watchtower
publications admitted these prophecies and those of 1918, and 1925 had been wrong.
1915: - When man's governments had not been replaced by God's in 1914, the date was changed to 1915. The Watch-tower Society later admitted that these prophecies "had not been fulfilled."
1918: - End of gentile times, the churches to be destroyed.
1920: - Mountains, republics, and kingdoms disappear.
1925: - "There will be no slip-up...Abraham should enter upon the actual possession of his promised inheritance in the year 1925." Watchtower publications later admitted that this prediction and those of 1914 and 1918 had been wrong.
1929: - A house was built for the return of faithful people spoken of in the Old Testament. It became an embarrassing monument to a false prophesy, so was sold in 1948!
1932: - The overthrow of christendom. Previously predicted for 1918, later moved to 1925, and then to 1932. The Watchtower later admitted: "1932 came and 'Christendom' was not destroyed...."
1975. - Beginning of the millennium. Because the Millennium had not begun in 1872 as had been prophesied, the date was changed to 1975. When this date passed many Jehovah's Witnesses applied Russell's test of a false prophet and left the movement.
C. T. Russell and J.F. Rutherford, the men who made the false prophesies, claimed to have based most of them on Scripture. In all these points in which their interpretations of Scripture could be put to the test, they were wrong. Interpretations of Scripture by these same men form the basis for almost all of the doctrines which distinguish Jehovah's Witnesses.
No one should entrust the salvation of his soul to the interpretations of Scripture of men who were so clearly wrong in the points where they can be checked. But if someone is really intent on following their teachings, let him start by following Russell's test of a false prophet.