The Watchtower and “Date Setting”

Former Witness and WT critic, Ronald Fry, couldn’t state it any better when he observed:

“The pattern or modus operandi of the Watchtower Society has evolved over the years but has basically remained the same. The same magazine that counseled the Witnesses against looking to a date (WT. 7/15/76) reaffirmed the strong prediction that the generation of 1914 would not pass away until the end came. They have not learned from past failures and persist in their efforts to ‘reveal’ what only God knows. (Deut. 29:29)”

Fry’s comment reminded me of what Elmer T. Clark observed in his 1949 book, THE SMALL SECTS IN AMERICA that “It has been said that more than a hundred speculators predicted that the advent would occur within the decade following the end of the American Civil War.” Of course, in that number was the small American “sect” (or “not a sect”) directed at first by C. T. Russell and then by others under the direction of the WTB&TS. During their tenures, four administrations of WT leaders – Russell, Rutherford, Knorr, and a Governing Body made up of many members – loudly proclaimed three dates and softly offered to insiders other dates for the return of Jesus during more than one hundred and thirty years. Now a fifth administration, for the most part, a different group of Governing Body members, is being more coy about date-setting, but reminds member over and over again that Jesus second coming will be “soon.” More on that later.

Of course, JWs select certain scriptures to back up their dates. However, they sure ignore scriptures that don’t. Notice what Fry went on to say about one such scripture: “It is appropriate to consider what Jesus Christ said in warning about those who would claim special knowledge about the time of his return: ‘Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying “I am he,” and “The due time has approached.” Do not go after them.” How can any date-setters – or even those who say, “The due time has approached” – ignore this warning? WT leaders have!

Because JWs have set more dates for the return of Jesus than any other religion, Albert Schroeder, a now deceased Governing Body member, was reminded of that scripture by a WT critic, Alan Feuerbacher. Surprisingly when Feuerbacher inquired of Schroeder to explain his position relating to those words, he replied, “That scripture does not apply to us!”

I ask you, just because Albert Schroeder said it didn’t apply to JWs, he’s correct? If the return of Christ actually had happened on one of the dates WT proclaimed, it would then be appropriate for Schroeder to claim, “That scripture does not apply to us!” As it stands now, JWs have been wrong just like date-setters for thousands of years have been wrong and there is no way to get around that.


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