Christian Churches of God
(Edition 2.5 20050130-20050130-20070608-20160103)
In this paper we will deal with the question of false prophecy in the Churches of God over the last two centuries. Over this last period it has become an epidemic. Each of the major churches was founded on and developed false prophecy. These false prophets exploited the credulity of the members who were drawn by a desire to know the truth. In this way, they affected the course of the Churches of God and the lives of millions.
The Lord God has spoken concerning prophets and prophecy.
God spoke first concerning idolatry among the prophets. If a prophet advocates the worship of idols or other gods then that prophet shall die.
If a person says, “Thus says the Lord” and when it does not come to pass or is contrary to the Bible then that prophet shall die. Thus each of the false prophets baptised into the Body of Christ, is confined to the Second Resurrection by their presumption.
Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. (KJV)
Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (KJV))
Thus spoke the Living God through His servants the prophets.
The first requirement of the Church of God is to be dedicated to the truth, for God is Truth and His word is Truth (Jn. 17:17). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:26). The Holy Spirit leads us to the truth and the truth sets us free. The Holy Spirit works among the elect who are the stewards of the Mysteries of God. Thus the Holy Spirit, in truth, develops the Plan of God through the Churches of God (see the paper Truth (No. 168)).
The elect are those who follow the Laws of God and the Testimony (or faith) of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12). They worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).
In his message to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that Love never fails. The entire Law of God is centred on two pillars of the faith as embodied in the Two Great Commandments of the Law of God. These two pillars of the Law are the Love of God and the Love of our Fellow Man (see the papers The First Great Commandment (No. 252) and The Second Great Commandment (No. 257)).
We are told that Love never fails but prophecy will fail, as tongues will cease. We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. Then we will all know perfectly and prophecy will cease (1Cor. 13:8-10). Until then God reveals His Plan and His direction, and explains the Mysteries of God through the Churches of God, and through His servants the prophets who serve those churches and warn mankind.
False prophecy is the most serious of scriptural crimes, as it wrests the word of God and is then used by detractors as evidence of the failure of Scripture. It is, most often, merely the utterings of what at best is an uninformed minister, and at worst, might be the interference of Satan in the Plan of God.
The first chapters of Romans deal with the holding of the truth of God in unrighteousness and disobedience.
False prophecy and false prophets usurp the power of God as it is expressed in the Body of Christ. False prophets seek recognition for themselves, when a servant of God should be the servant of all in the Body of Christ.
We intend to progressively and systematically deal with the errors and the basis of the errors and misinterpretation of the Bible prophecies as revealed by God through His servants the prophets. We hope that people of all nations might understand the false teachings that have been used, and are in fact still being used, to exploit them over time.
We will examine year by year the false prophecies made by these latter-day false prophets and the people who feed from their errors.
We will examine the unabashed justifications of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the failure of the Churches of God system, and the false prophecies of Herbert W. Armstrong and his associates who seemed to wallow in his penchant for false prophecy. They themselves still continue this fine tradition of false prophecy as though it were a mantle of Elijah to be aspired to and defended. These and others will be examined right up to the present day.
Finally, we will detail what is to happen with the Church and its role in prophecy and the Mysteries of God.
What is most bizarre is the fact that the followers of these false prophets seem not to care one jot that they continue in this error and blasphemy.
We all make mistakes but modesty and integrity would demand an acknowledgment. Even the stewards of the Mysteries of God can misunderstand the sequence of prophecy if they have no command of God. If one wishes to be dogmatic, one has an obligation to be correct.
Background to the division of the Churches
The Thyatiran era ended with the Reformation and the effective persecution of the Sabbatarian movements in Europe by the newly emerging Protestants. The identification of these groups and persecutions are contained in the papers General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122) and also The Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170).
The Reformation was not designed to destroy the false Sunday-worshipping and Trinitarian churches in Europe. It was designed to protect the false doctrines of the Sun cults that were in danger of being destroyed by the immorality and excesses of the perversion of the Roman Catholic system. The conditions that prevailed then are more or less being repeated now, as we all see by the endless litigation against the churches for their aberrant behaviour. The Protestant churches did not correct anything of importance at the Reformation. They simply gave a more respectable face to an ancient and pagan system that was at odds with Bible Christianity. The printing press had seen the emergence of a cheap readily available Bible that exposed the false system for what it was. The Bible literacy could not be stopped. That was tried and had failed. It could only be slowed. It had to be misdirected for their very survival. Unless the false system gave the appearance of reform, it was doomed. So it had what came to be called the Protestant Reformation. The Protestants were so called from the words Pro teste meaning for the truth of the Testament of God. The Roman Catholics turned it to mean Protesting from Roman Catholic doctrine. The Protestants did not go back beyond the fourth century in their search for truth. As a result, they upheld the errors from Augustine of Hippo and the early Trinitarian structure. They in fact persecuted the Churches of God even more severely, if possible, than the Roman Catholics before them.
Many Protestant denominations arose due to the aspirations of carnal men. Based on the structure of secret societies, such as Scottish Rite Freemasonry, churches such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints were formed. They were called Mormons because of their cult of the dead. Mormo was the ancient god of the dead among the pagans. Their leaders also engaged in false prophecy and were seemingly killed by Masons due to the exposure and use of the Masonic rites and system for benefit as a competing religious system. These people also remained Unitarian but their understanding was corrupt. It is only now being corrected due in large part to the CCG exposition of the doctrines of the Nature of God.
Trinitarian agents placed many of the errors that found their way into the Churches of God. Many entered by the uninspired actions of avaricious and aberrant people who sought to use the Churches of God for their own ends.
In the 19th century, in what was the Sardis era, there was a great movement that anticipated the return of the Messiah. It was misdirected in order to discredit the clear Bible message of the return of the Messiah, and to cause a sense of disappointment and induce the conditions that would see people disregard Bible prophecy as aberration. The Church of God movement was influenced by those who came to be known as Adventists, from the concept of the Advent of the Messiah. A number of false doctrines had originated from the Protestant system also, such as the Rapture theory coming out of England in the 18th century (see the paper The Millennium and the Rapture (No. 95)).
The demons had induced this phase so that a situation could be achieved as noted in the New Testament where it would be said that: “My Lord has delayed his coming”.
These people had been exposed to the Churches of God which were comprised of officers who were the stewards of the Mysteries of God. The fact of the matter is that the Sardis system was dead, and is dead, and has not and never has had a full understanding of Bible prophecy. That situation was brought about because they never adhered to the full truth and the doctrines of the Bible as taught under the Laws of God. They never fully adopted the Calendar of the Bible as held under the ancient Temple system. The result was that the Adventists did not understand the Jubilee system and the full Calendar. They got only as far as the Sabbath. Even that small step split the movement into a Sunday group as well as the main Sabbath thrust. They were, however, Unitarians and did not compromise on the Nature of God. Into that group, which had adopted the doctrines of William Miller and the Whites, was injected a further serious doctrine of demons, namely that of vegetarianism. The false prophetess, Ellen G. White, then assumed more importance and her false prophecies were introduced repeatedly. These teachings became more and more aimed at the denial of the true nature of the millennial system on Earth under the resurrected saints of the Church. That misdirection was necessary because the Bible prophecies showed that the millennial system would not be vegetarian. People would eat meat on a systematic and sanctioned basis.
Ellen G. White was to become the most dangerous of the false prophets, or false prophetesses, of the Sabbath-keeping system. There were to be only a couple of others who rivalled her for error and damage to the Churches of God and the prophetic system within the stewardship of the Mysteries of God. One of these was a man named Charles Taze Russell. He had been exposed to the Churches of God in the 19th century, and had seen the potential of the doctrinal system explained to him. He saw that the Sabbath was an inconvenient interference in the recruiting and expansion of the money-making operation that was in fact the potential of the religion business, particularly in the USA. He and a few others formed the (formerly Zion) Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. That corporation owns what became the organisation known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have corrupted Bible prophecy and adapted it to the Sunday-worshipping system, even though they adhere to the doctrines of the Nature of God derived from the Churches of God in the 19th century. They are Unitarians even to this day but their understanding of prophecy is so flawed as to be farcical.
The next development in the Churches of God was made necessary because the Church of God had not been entirely destroyed by these false prophets and their movements. The Churches of God were moving steadily to the proper adoption of the full Temple Calendar under the Unitarian structure. The next crisis that was to be experienced came under Herbert W. Armstrong, who adopted the Jewish Hillel system and corrupted those churches of the Church of God (Seventh Day) that were in fact keeping the true Calendar. The Sabbatarians in Eastern Europe, who had survived the demise of the Waldensians and the Reformation, remained more or less intact until the Nazi Holocaust. They were decimated at that time. God has placed no other burden on them (see Cox, Kohn, The Sabbatarians in Transylvania, CCG Publishing, 1998).
We will commence with the year 1832 and look at the so-called visions of Joseph Smith and his subsequent false predictions. We will see that these people and their organisations never apologise for false prophecy.
In 1832, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon movement, heard a voice and interpreted it as implying that if he lived to the age of 85, Jesus would return. That year would be the year 1890. Unfortunately, by the year 1890, Smith had been dead for almost a half century.
On January 5, 1833, Smith predicted:
"by the authority of Jesus Christ that not many years shall pass away before ... pestilence [epidemic disease], hail, famine and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land [the US], to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 17-18)
Re Joseph Smith:
“President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit. . . . it was the will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, for the coming of the Lord, which was nigh — even fifty six years should wind up the scene.” (History of the Church, vol. 2, page 182)(Mormons)
On April 17, Joseph Smith said:
“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It is wisdom in my servant David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring, in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto the world. (Doctrine & Covenants 114:1) Mormons (note that David W. Patten died in October of 1838 and thus never went on a mission the following spring.)
This statement: “Truly, thus saith the Lord” qualifies Smith as a deliberate false prophet under the Bible laws and identifications. He continued in this vein, as we will see.
We now find William Miller’s false prophecies coming into exposure along with those of Joseph Smith.
William Miller, founder of the Millerite movement, predicted that Jesus would come on this date of 21 March, 1843.
On 18 May 1843, Joseph Smith declared:
"I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd [a broken piece of pottery] left..." (ibid., p. 302; emphases added)(Mormons).
Ellen G. White made a prediction on 27 June 1850 that only a few months remained before the end. She wrote:
"My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' ...now time is almost finished...and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months."
1856 or later: At Ellen White's last prediction, she said that she was shown in a vision the fate of believers who attended the 1856 SDA conference. She wrote
"I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: 'Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.’"
Thus she prophesied that some of the attendees would die of normal diseases; some would die from plagues at the Last Days; and others would still be alive when Jesus came.
"By the early 1900s all those who attended the conference had passed away, leaving the Church with the dilemma of trying to figure out how to explain away such a prominent prophetic failure."
Their false prophecy was aimed at consolidating aberrant and anti-Bible doctrines whilst using the people who were genuinely trying to follow God within what they perceived as legitimate groupings of those entitled to confer the baptism of the followers of Jesus Christ. It seems that on this basis they were able to push any strange and aberrant doctrine onto the faithful.
We will now turn to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) to examine their repeated false prophecies.
Charles Taze Russell and Jehovah’s Witnesses
Very few organisations have as many false prophecies and still claim the adherence of a gullible audience of unquestioning congregations. The JWs were barely matched by the Adventists and the later emergence of the Radio Church of God and subsequent Worldwide Church of God. The active false prophecy started with a declaration of the Advent of Christ in the form of a bridegroom. The Bible states quite clearly that every eye shall see him but some people seemingly will believe anything.
The JWs claimed in this year that:
“Christ came in the character of a Bridegroom… at the beginning of the Gospel harvest” (Watchtower, Oct. 1879, p.4)
In 1880 they said:
"We need not here repeat the evidences that the "seventh trump" began its sounding A.D., 1840, and will continue until the end of the time of trouble, and the end of "The times of the Gentiles," A.D., 1914, and that it is the trouble of this "Great day," which is here symbolically called the voice of the Archangel when he begins the deliverance of fleshly Israel."At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince (Archangel) which standeth for the children of thy people and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." Dan. xii. 1. Nor will we here, again present the conclusive Bible proof that our Lord came for his Bride in 1874, and has an unseen work as Reaper of the first-fruits of this Gospel Age. (Zion's Watchtower, November, 1880, p. 1)
The misidentification of the end of the Times of the Gentiles was based on the misunderstanding of the timing of the battle of Carchemish in 605 BCE and its application in the determination of this time. The JWs relocated the battle to 607 BCE in later publications to justify this error and false prophecy. They did not understand that the time was controlled by a Bible prophecy uttered by God through the prophet Ezekiel. That was what is termed the Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms and controls the dates from 605 BCE to 1916, and not 1914 as they stated. The prophecy continued for another eighty years in two arms of forty years. This error was also to emerge in the false prophecies of Herbert W. Armstrong concerning the rise of Egypt and the Suez Crisis from 1953-1956 (see the paper The Fall of Egypt (No. 36): The Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms.
In 1886 the JWs were engrossed with this error and were not to be daunted. Between 1886 and 1914 it formed the basis of their recruiting and was to continue as a tool for many decades to come after that failure.
"The outlook at the opening of the New Year has some very encouraging features. The outward evidences are that the marshalling of the hosts for the battle of the great day of God Almighty, is in progress while the skirmishing is commencing. … The time is come for Messiah to take the dominion of earth and to overthrow the oppressors and corrupters of the earth, (Rev. 19:15 and 11:17, 18) preparatory to the establishment of everlasting peace upon the only firm foundation of righteousness and truth." (Zion's Watchtower, January 1886; Watchtower Reprints I, p. 817)
'The End Of This World; that is the end of the gospel and the beginning of the millennial age is nearer than most men suppose; indeed we have already entered the transition period, which is to be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation Dan. 12:3." (N.H. Barbour and C.T. Russell, Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World, p. 17)
"In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that the date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men. And be it observed, that if this is shown to be a fact firmly established by the Scriptures, it will prove; Firstly, that at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, Thy Kingdom come, will obtain full, universal control, and that it will then be set up, or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions." ((Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2), “The Time Is At Hand,” 1888, p. 76, 77)
"Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14) which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. The gathering of the armies is plainly visible from the standpoint of God's word." (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, “The Time Is At Hand,” 1889 Ed., p. 101. The 1915 edition of these texts changed "A.D. 1914" to read “A.D. 1915”)
The JWs were to ignore the sound work of Bishop Ussher and the reconstruction of the Bible Chronology as put forward in the first editions of the KJV, which placed the creation of Adam in 4004 BCE, and instead they placed a date that ended in 1873. The basis of this false claim is not advanced. They were to say:
"Here we furnish the evidence that from the creation of Adam to (but not including) A.D. 1873 was six thousand years. And though the Bible contains no direct statement that the seventh thousand will be the epoch of Christ's reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the world, yet the venerable tradition is not without a reasonable foundation." (C. T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 39. 1889)
The calculation of the Calendar of God is not all that difficult. All the clues remain in the Bible. The entire system is based on the Jubilee of fifty years. That sequence is simply reconstructed from a number of references. CCG has done this restoration and the detail is outlined in the work Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250). The timing of the six thousand years of Satan’s rule of this Earth must commence from the cursed Earth and that could not have occurred any earlier than the first year of the first Jubilee after the judgment of Adam, which could not have taken place until he was thirty years of age (i.e. in the year 3974/3 for the Jubilee year and the year 3973/2 for the commencement of the rule of Satan). The six thousand years could not therefore have ended before the 120th Jubilee in 2027. These simple Bible facts would have made the predictions of Russell and the other false prophets impossible. The real problem was that they had dispensed with the Laws of God and did not understand them. Because they were antinomians and had abandoned the Commandments of God, and especially the Fourth Commandment concerning the Sabbath, they incorrectly assumed God did not keep to His own Laws and Calendar. Their errors thus stemmed from this unconverted approach. In greater or lesser degree, this was to occur with the others down to the Armstrong system and on to the present day. Based on the Bible chronology, the Millennium cannot commence at the earliest date until 2028. Christ may well come earlier than that date, but the Jubilee will still be in 2027 and all preparation would have to be done by that date. The sequence is dealt with in the paper Outline Timetable of the Age (No. 272).
"If, then, the seventh thousand-year period of earth's history be an epoch specially noted as the period of Christ's reign, we shall by showing that it began in 1873, be proving that we are already in it." (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 40. 1889)
Thus it became JW doctrine that the Millennium had already occurred in 1873. Yet they were later to claim that Christ did not come until 1914. This is a complete perversion of the chronology and prophecy of the Book of Revelation. Yet, seemingly none of their gullible followers so much as batted an eyelid. They appear to have swallowed camels and baulked at gnats regularly. Russell went on unabashed.
"In the coming 26 years, all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved." (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 98-99, 1889)
"In this chapter we present the Bible evidence which indicates that six thousand years from the creation of Adam were complete with A.D. 1872; and hence that, since A.D. 1872 are chronologically entered upon the seventh thousand or the Millennium." (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 33, 1889)
"Remember that the forty years' Jewish Harvest ended October A.D. 69, and was followed by the complete overthrow of that nation; and that likewise the forty years of the Gospel age harvest will end October, 1914, and that likewise the overthrow of 'Christendom,' so-called, must be expected to immediately follow." (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 2, p. 245)
Remember Smith of the Mormons had made a prophecy ending before or by 1891. We regress to that prophecy. On 14 Feb 1835, Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS or Mormon Church, attended a meeting of church leaders. He is reported to have stated that the meeting had been called because God had commanded it. He announced that Jesus would return within 56 years -- i.e. before 15 Feb. 1891 (History of the Church, 2:182)
"Seventeen years ago people said, concerning the time features presented in Millennial Dawn, They seem reasonable in many respects, but surely no such radical changes could occur between now and the close of 1914: if you had proved that they would come about in a century or two, it would seem much more probable. What changes have since occurred, and what velocity is gained daily? 'The old is quickly passing and the new is coming in.' Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain. We see no reason for changing the figures-nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." (Zion's Watchtower, “Can It Be Delayed until 1914?” C. T. Russell, July 15, 1894; also in Watchtower Reprints, l894, p. 1677)
Any student of WWI will understand that 1914 was but the beginning of troubles. It was not until 1916 that the true and full measure of carnage was reached on the Western Front, and the Russians did not reach full flight in the war until 1917. After the October Revolution there the war in the east ended for Russia. These people had no idea of the events before them. There was obviously not a prophet there in the Jehovah’s Witnesses of any power or authority at all. Nor was there to be one subsequently, as we will see. God, and the direction of the Holy Spirit were simply not with Russell or with these people at all.
"A few more years will wind up the present order of things, and then the chastened world will stand face to face with the actual conditions of the established Kingdom of God. And yet the course of the Church is to be finished within the space of time that intervenes." (Watchtower, p. 56, 1894)
"We see no reason for changing the figures - nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." (Watchtower, July 15, 1894, p. 266; p. 1677 Reprints)
A prophecy was made upon a work concerning the measurement of the length of an interior passageway discovered inside the Pyramids. The measurement had no reference in or to Scripture. Russell was to use this novelty of the time and say:
"...this measurement is 3416 inches, symbolizing 3416 years.... This calculation shows A.D. 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble...." (Russell, Studies in the Scriptures: “Thy Kingdom Come”, Series III, p. 342, 1897 edition).
The 1916 edition was changed to read:
"We find it to be 3457 inches, symbolizing 3457 years.... Thus the Pyramid witnesses that the close of 1914 will be the beginning of the time of trouble...."
They were then in the middle of WWI and the prophecies were so far wrong as to be a farce. There was still another two years of carnage to go as it turned out and then WWII would carry it on. What will be referred to as WWIII is the next major conflict and that was never envisaged by any of their number. We have commenced that series now and the war has not really started. When Christ comes it will be to save those who eagerly await him. If he does not intervene, there will be no flesh left alive. That Bible statement is fairly clear, one would have thought. Neither Russell nor the subsequent leaders understood this prophecy at all. This proclivity for rewriting facts and even science to justify their false prophecies has become endemic among their leaders and following.
"Complete destruction of the 'powers that be' of 'this present evil worlds - political, financial, ecclesiastical - about the close of the Time of the Gentiles; October A.D. 1914." (C.T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, IV, p. 622, 1897)
"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, A.D....and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, A.D." (Russell, ibid., Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p.621, 1897)
This type of statement is familiar to the student of Roman Catholicism where the bishop of Rome has assumed the mantle of the Vicar of Christ. Thus, Russell had placed Christ on Earth and seemingly known only to him and his group. As such, he was the spokesman for Christ. The JWs were thus little different from the Roman Catholics they attacked.
"The distillery, the brewery, the saloon, the brothel, the pool-room, all time-killing and character-depraving business will be stopped; and their servants will be given something to do that will be beneficial to themselves and others. "Similarly, the building of war-vessels, the manufacture of munitions of war and defense (sic) will cease, and armies will be disbanded. The new Kingdom will have no need of these, but will have abundant power to execute summary justice in the punishment of evildoers... "The banking and brokerage business, and other like employment's, very useful under present conditions, will no longer have a place; for under the new conditions the human race will be required to treat each others as members of one family, and private capital and money to loan and to be needed will be things of the past. Landlords and renting agencies will find new employment also, because the new King will not recognize as valid patents and deeds now on record. "...namely, that with present conveniences, if the whole people were put to work systematically and wisely, not more than three hours labor for each individual would be necessary." (Studies, ibid., vol. IV, pp. 633-635, 1897)
"In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914." (The Time Is At Hand, 1902 edition, p. 99)
The Watchtower organisation commenced to dabble in astrology and base predictions on astrological conjunctions. They were to write:
"When Uranus and Jupiter meet in the humane sign of Aquarius in 1914, the long-promised era will have made a fair start in the work of setting man free to work out his own salvation, and will insure the ultimate realization of dreams and ideals of all poets and sages in history." (Watchtower, May 1, 1903, p. 130-131; p 3184, Reprints)
No Bible prophet has defended stargazing.
The Times of the Gentiles were not properly understood. They did have a basic key of the prophecy but misapplied it badly.
"According to our expectations the stress of the great time of trouble will be on us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912, culminating with the end of the 'Times of the Gentiles,' October, 1914." (“The New Creation”, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 6, p. 579, 1904)
"In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished at the end of A. D. 1914." (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1908 ed., p. 99)
"True, it is expecting great things to claim, as we do, that within the coming twenty-six years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved" (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1908 ed., p. 99)
1914 was upon them and so was war but Christ had not come. They then extended the end to a ten-year time-frame.
"Even if the time of our change should not come within ten years, what more should we ask? Are we not a blessed, happy people? Is not our God faithful? If anyone knows anything better, let him take it. If any of you ever find anything better, we hope you will tell us." (Watchtower, Dec. 15, 1914, p. 376)
"Studying God's Word, we have measured the 2520 years, the seven symbolic times, from that year 606 B.C. and have found that it reached down to October, 1914, as nearly as we were able to reckon. We did not say positively that this would be the year." (Watchtower, November 1, 1914, p. 325)
Note that they use the time 606 BCE instead of the real 605 BCE for the battle of Carchemish when Nebuchadnezzar assumed joint rule with his father on the victory. They did not realise that there was no year 0, and so they subsequently had to change it to 607 BCE to arrive at 1914 for the 2520 years or seven times. They saw the seven times of Nebuchadnezzar as relevant to the Times of the Gentiles, but were fixated on 1914 because of their simple ignorance of history.
"While it's possible that Armageddon may begin next Spring, yet this purely speculation to attempt to say just when. We see, however, that there are parallels between the close of the Jewish age and this Gospel age. These parallels seem to point to the year just before us part particularly the early months." (Watchtower Reprints, VI, Sept 1, 1914, p. 5527)
"There is absolutely no ground for Bible students to question that the consummation of this Gospel age is now even at the door, and that it will end as the Scriptures foretell in a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. We see the participants in this great crisis banding themselves together… The great crisis, the great clash, symbolically represented as a fire, that will consume the ecclesiastical heavens and the social earth, is very near." (Watchtower Reprints, VI, May 1, 1914, p. 5450)
"The present great war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of the Scriptures Rev 19:16-20). It will eventuate in the complete overthrow of all the systems of error which have so long oppressed the people of God and deluded the world. We believe the present war cannot last much longer until revolutions shall break out." (C.T. Russell, Pastor Russell's Sermons, p. 676, sometime during World War I)
Thus, we see that after WWI erupted in 1914 and the dreadful carnage started rather than finished (as Russell predicted earlier, as we see above), so Russell changed his views and used 1914 as the beginning of the war of Armageddon. It was not that event, as we all well know now. That prophetic event is yet ahead of us, and all that after two World Wars and a series of sub-wars, such that we have barely been at peace for a hundred years.
The 1989 statements were reprinted to say:
“Here we furnish the evidence that from the creation of Adam to A.D. 1873 was six thousand years. And though the Bible contains no direct statement that the seventh thousand will be the epoch of Christ's reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the world, yet the venerable tradition is not without reasonable foundation.” (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 39)
If, then, the seventh thousand-year period of earth's history be an epoch specially noted as the period of Christ's reign, we shall, by showing that it began in A.D. 1873, be proving that we are already in it. (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 40).
Firstly, that at that date  the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, "Thy Kingdom come," will begin to assume control, and that it will then shortly be "set up," or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions. (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 77)
Thus, after the event, they were now claiming that the Kingdom of God was being set up and WWI was part of the sequence of Christ’s rule. They began to move it to the end of 1916, however, so they would not appear to be in error.
"In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of A.D. 1915”. (The Time Is At Hand, 1915 edition, p. 99)
That did not work, as the war was still only heating up. The US did not even enter until 1917, and did very little, so they saw no real casualties in the US, and these sorts of ravings were not met with the stoning they deserved.
"Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of the earth's present rulership, is already commenced." (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 101)
Now that was a prophetic blooper was it not? 1915, as we all know, did not see the overthrow of anything much, other than the Earth in the ditches of Flanders.
"As in the type that date - three and a half years after the death of Christ - marked the end of all special favor to the Jew and the beginning of favor to the Gentiles, so we recognize A.D. 1881 as marking the close of the 'high calling,' or invitation to the blessing peculiar to this age - to become joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of the divine nature." (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 235)
So it was in this harvest also up to A.D. 1878 the time prophecies and the fact of the Lord's presence, substantially as here presented, though less clearly, was our message. Since then the work has widened, and the view of other truths has become brighter and clearer; but the same fact and scriptures, teaching the same time and presence, stand unchallenged and incontrovertible (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 236).
The Gentile Times prove that the present governments must all be overturned about the close of A.D. 1915; and Parallelism above shows that this period corresponds exactly with the year A.D. 70, which witnessed the completion of the downfall of the Jewish polity. (The Time Is At Hand, 1915 edition, p. 242)
So nothing happened and we are again forced to rationalise the problem so we go back to 1872 and say we are already in the Seventh Millennium. If that was so, then what sort of mind has Christ?
We are already living in the seventh millennium - since October 1872. (The Time Is At Hand, 1889; 1915 ed., p. 363)
The Battle of Armageddon, to which this war is leading, will be a great contest between right and wrong, and will signify the complete and everlasting overthrow of the wrong, and the permanent establishment of Messiah's righteous kingdom for the blessing of the world. … Our sympathies are broad enough to cover all engaged in the dreadful strife, as our hope is broad enough and deep enough to include all in the great blessings which our Master and his Millennial kingdom are about to bring to the world. (Watchtower Reprints, VI, April 1, 1915, p. 5659)
To our understanding the general call to this joint heirship with our Redeemer as members of the New Creation of God, ceased in 1881. (The New Creation, 1899, 1915 ed., p. 95)
Now the year 1915 ended, and we might imagine that the sane and rational members of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society apologised for their incessant false prophecy and the dreadful and farcical representation of Scripture. They did no such thing. They simply pretended that none of it had happened. They went on with business as usual and commenced their false scenarios all over again.
They simply repeated the same old false prophecy they printed in 1873 and published it again in 1916.
"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." (The Time Is At Hand, Foreword, p 2, 1916)
We see no reason for doubting, therefore, that the Times of the Gentiles ended in October, 1914; and that a few more years will witness their utter collapse and the full establishment of God's kingdom in the hands of Messiah." (Watchtower Reprints, VI, Sept. 1, 1916, p. 5950)
They even roped 1914 in as the end of the Time of the Gentiles, and it was then only a few more years until their utter collapse into the hands of the Messiah. They then followed on until the collapse of Germany in WWII, and thus it was simply a matter of time then until the physical millennial system would take place. They do not understand the Resurrection of the Dead, or the spiritual and physical nature of the beings in that system. The demons have not lied to them. Indeed, every one that follows their doctrines and survives the tribulation will indeed get to go into the Millennium as a physical being. They think Abraham is going to be physical also, as will David and everyone else. Their leaders have cost these people the First Resurrection of the Dead, and they do not seem to understand what the demons have done to them through their false prophets.
'There will be no slip-up...Abraham should enter upon the actual possession of his promised inheritance in the year 1925.' (Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1917, p. 6157)
The Spring of 1918 will bring upon Christendom a spasm of anguish greater even than that experienced in the Fall of 1914.... The travail that is coming is to be upon nominal Zion- "Christendom" … "Babylon"; and it will be a great and sore affliction- "A Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (The Finished Mystery, p. 62 [stated to be the "Posthumous Work of Pastor Russell" on p. 2])
'No doubt Satan believed the Millennial Kingdom was due to be set-up in 1915...Be that as it may, there is evidence that the establishment of the Kingdom in Palestine will probably be in 1925, ten years later than we once calculated.' (Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 7, The Finished Mystery, p. 128)
Now the leaders were faced with picking up the pieces and making sense of what Russell had said and got wrong. They also said it, but we are to forget that embarrassing fact of history. It was then to be 1925. That was in the middle of the “Roaring Twenties” and such matters were far from the minds of the masses by then.
They continued in WWI to try to gain some credibility in what was a very serious time for the West.
“Some interesting developments in connection with the setting up of the Kingdom may occur in 1920, six years after the great Time of Trouble began. It would not be strange if this were so, when we recall that after forty years wandering in the wilderness the Israelites came into possession of the land of Canaan after a further six years. As these matters are still future we can but wait to see. We anticipate that the ‘earthquake’ will occur early in 1918, and that the ‘fire’ will come in the fall of 1920. (The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 178, Comments on Revelation 11:13. [The 1926 ed. reads: "and that the 'fire' will follow in due course."])
They went on setting these false prophecies and false time schedules without regard to the Calendar of God and the actual words of Scripture. They simply altered the printed works after the time had passed and they had failed.
"And the mountains were not found. Even the republics will disappear in the fall of 1920. And the mountains were not found. Every kingdom of earth will pass away, be swallowed up in anarchy." (The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p. 258)
These absurd prophecies may have seemed eventual possibilities to an uninformed observer in the 1914-18 war, but the time sequence of the Bible shows the times to which they referred were yet quite some time off. To be fair, others, such as Herbert Armstrong, were to use the same techniques in the lead up to WWII.
In 1917 they began to prophesy of the impending storm that would break forth in 1918. This had an element of truth in that the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 and the carnage was ended. Germany, however, was faced with paying serious reparations. They then started prophesying the removal of the entire Christian Church from 1918.
“Pastor Russell's mission, in large part, was to advise Christendom of its impending end, in the time of world-wide trouble. It is the Divine judgment upon the nations. … There will be no chance of escaping from destruction, through the nations. … The trouble is due to the dawning of the Day of Christ, the Millennium. It is the Day of Vengeance, which began in the world war of 1914 and which will break like a furious morning storm in 1918." (The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 404)
"Until 1878 the nominal church had been in a sense God's sanctuary or temple; but He was from then on, culminating in 1918, to remove it with a stroke or plague of erroneous doctrines and deeds Divinely permitted. The Church was the strength of Christendom, that about which its life centered, and around which its institutions were built. It was the desire of the eyes of the people, that which all Christians loved. Nevertheless, God was to make manifest the profanation which ecclesiasticism had made of the Christian Church, and to cause the church organizations to become to Him as one dead, an unclean thing, not to be touched, or mourned. And the 'children of the church' shall perish by the sword of war, revolution and anarchy, and by the Sword of the Spirit be made to see that they have lost their hope of life on the spirit plane -- that 'the door is shut."' (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 7, 1917, p. 484)
Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by million, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of Christianity. (The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p. 485)
The prophecies in this period were simply breathtaking in their scope and falsity and were an absolute farce. Yet, when these predictions failed, the JWs were still gaining adherents as though false prophecy is the actual key to gaining members. They have got nothing correct at this stage (or since) and their record shows they are absolute false prophets who would have been stoned to death at the gates of Jerusalem in previous ages, yet they continued to recruit gullible people in many nations.
As the fleshly-minded apostates from Christianity, siding with the radicals and revolutionaries, will rejoice at the inheritance of desolation that will be Christendom's after 1918, so will God do to the successful revolutionary movement; it shall be utterly desolated, "even all of it." Not one vestige of it shall survive the ravages of world-wide all embracing anarchy, in the fall of 1920. (Rev. II: 7-13) (The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 542)
The 1926 edition of this work reads: "in the end of the time of trouble". This alteration was necessary after they failed in their predictions of worldwide anarchy in the northern autumn of 1920. So, the Passover of 1920 came and went, and then Pentecost and their scenario went belly-up like the dead fish their prophets had proved to be. So what did they do? They simply changed the dates in the publications to vague them up a bit so the money would keep coming in, and they would not have to explain. Apologise? What does that mean? But 1917 was a good year for false prophets as the war was escalating. So they went on printing.
This vision of the prophet Ezekiel depicts the established theocratic Kingdom of God on earth, civil and religious, spiritual and earthly. . . . The Temple . . . is a type and symbol of "better things to come," after the wars, revolutions and anarchy of the period from 1914 to 1925 have passed. (The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 569)
Again, we see the changes after the failed prophecies and the 1926 edition read: "of the time of trouble have passed".
In 1918 they confidently embarked on a 1925 time-frame with no real explanation of how they got there. Perhaps they thought that God had appeared and told them he was changing His mind yet again.
"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection." (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89)
Note that they seem to embrace this doctrine of human perfection and assume that there is no spiritual condition of the First Resurrection. The Bible statement is clear when it says: “It is appointed unto all men once to die”. The very title of the book was a farce as virtually everyone who read that book is now dead. The rest are all 87 or over.
After WWI the end of the world prediction began in earnest. Planetary conjunctions were the subject of pseudo-scientific conjecture. This
pseudo-science has continued to this day. The religious even got on the bandwagon concerning the 2,000 or Y2K bug and made all sorts of bizarre and silly predictions; and on it goes (see the paper Significance of the Year 2000 (No. 286)).
Meteorologist Albert Porta predicted that the conjunction of 6 planets would generate a magnetic current that would cause the sun to explode and engulf the Earth on 17 December 1919.
Meanwhile, the “Witnesses” plodded on with false prophecy after false prophecy in such bravery, when a normal person would not have been able to hold his head up in a supermarket. However, these intrepid babblers went on unabashed. 1920 saw the start of the new cycle of fiction.
'...we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected.' (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 88)
They commenced to toy with the Jubilee calendar, but as they did not even keep the Sabbath, they could scarcely be expected to understand any of it and, not surprisingly, they didn’t.
"A simple calculation of these jubilees brings us to this important fact: Seventy jubilees of fifty years each would be a total of 3500 years. That period of time beginning 1575 before A.D. 1 of necessity would end in the fall of 1925, at which time the type ends and the great antitype must begin. What, then, should we expect to take place? In the type there must be a full restoration; beginning of restoration of all things. The chief thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favor, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men and Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth. (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, pp. 89-90)
They seemed not to understand that the year 1 AD was a fiction of the monk, Dennis the Short, and it stood for nothing. Christ certainly could never have been born in 1 AD and that was known at the time these babblers were writing. It seems as though they had never read anything about the chronology of Christianity and the Calendar of the Bible. As they did not keep the Law, they thought the Calendar and its sequence of no importance and hence they invented these scenarios. They were disqualified from being prophets of God by this fact alone.
They also said:
'Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old' (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, pp. 89-90)
The reasoning was also thus:
"Based upon the argument heretofore set forth, then, that the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of reconstruction, it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die." (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 97)
They assumed that, in their theology, after the return of Christ all mankind would continue living on through the Millennium. The Bible does not say that. It certainly did not say it would happen in 1925, and the people who said it are all dead. For an exposition of the doctrines concerning the resurrections see the papers The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143); Heaven, Hell or the First Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143A) and The Second Resurrection and the Great White Throne Judgment (No. 143B).
In 1921 they were playing with the period at the end of the French Revolution, as the Adventists had made that popular with another false prophecy of theirs. Much of this error stems from the errors concerning Justinian’s Revival in the late Roman Empire. This aspect is examined in the paper The Millennium and the Rapture (No. 95). They decided 1799 had some prophetic significance. This period was from 1799 to 1874. There is no explicable basis for either of these dates. They also commenced with some items, with a kernel of truth, as we will see, with the basis of a prophetic time of 360 days or years. They then proceeded to make a farce of that also.
"'The time of the end' embraces a period from 1799 A.D., as above indicated, to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan's empire and the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah. The time of the Lord's second presence dates from 1874, as above stated. The latter period is within the first named, of course, and in the latter part of the period known as "the time of the end." (The Harp of God, 1921, p. 236).
"In Biblical symbology a time means a year of twelve months of thirty days each, or 360 days. Each day is considered for a year... Here are mentioned, then, three and a half times of 360 prophetic days each, or a total of 1260 prophetic days, equal to 1260 years. The Prophet then was shown that 1260 years would mark the beginning of the time of the end of this beastly order. Twelve-hundred sixty years from A.D. 539 brings us to 1799 -- another proof that 1799 marks the beginning of the 'time of the end.' This also shows that it is from the date 539 A.D. that the other prophetic days of Daniel must be counted." … "The most important thing to which all the prophecies point and for which the apostles looked forward has been the second coming of the Lord. It is described by the Prophet as a blessed time. Daniel then says: 'Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.' (Daniel 12:12). The watchers here, without question are those who were instructed by the Lord to watch for his return. This date, therefore, when understood, would certainly fix the time when the Lord is due at his second appearing. Applying the same rule, then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A.D. brings us to A.D. 1874, at which time, according to Biblical chronology, the Lord's second presence is due. If this calculation is correct, from that time forward we ought to be able to find some evidences marking the Lord's presence."(Harp of God, 1921, pp. 229-230)
So here we see the basis of the error concerning 1874. They took the Adventists’ error concerning the 1260 years from Justinian’s Revival, and their placement of its end in the French Revolution. They then added the time- frame in Daniel of the 1335 days as years, and arrived at the date 1874. Basically, they logically added apples and oranges and laid another egg. What is amazing is that they have not fixed this error to this day. It is as though they are caught in a time warp and don’t know enough to find their way out. They added forty years to 1878, which appears to be three and a half years from October 1874, and got to 1918. But this was after the event and they seemed then to go on building up rationalisation of their errors.
"The natural harvest was used by the Lord to illustrate his harvest of Christians. In the Jewish natural harvest it was customary to glean the field after the regular harvest was over. We should therefore expect to find a harvest period from 1878 to 1918, and thereafter for a time a gleaning work to be done, which we will indicate. The question now is, Do we find a period of harvest in the gospel age after 1874 which serves as a fulfilment of the prophecy of the Lord?" (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, 1921, p. 236)
The entire sequence seems to be centred on C.T. Russell’s commencement of his publications as we see from the following text. Now, it is true that God works through humans and uses the Body of Christ to do that. However, we have to be obedient to the Law of God or there is no light in us (Isa. 8:20). Russell had simply borrowed the structure of the Churches of God, and the errors of the Adventists, and then shed the inconvenient things like the Fourth Commandment; and then, so it seems from the prophecies here, he threw the Sixth and Ninth Commandments away as well; and then the rest went after that.
"The same year, 1881, is prophetically marked as the time for the final withdrawal of favor from the churches, a favor which had begun to be withdrawn in 1878 -- the year in which the clergy were cast off as representatives of the Divine Word, and when Pastor Russell began his work by the publication of 50,000 copies of Object and Manner of the Lord's Return. In 1878 the stewardship of the things of God, the teaching of Bible truths, was taken from the clergy, unfaithful to their age long stewardship, and given to Pastor Russell. In the interim, until 1881, the new steward was setting the things in order, getting the truths of the Bible in logical and Scriptural form for presentation, until the last great item of the Hebrew tabernacle types, was ready. Then, in 1881, he became God's watchman for all Christendom, and began his gigantic work of Witness." (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, 1921, pp. 386-387)
"The Scriptures disclose a complete parallel concerning the Jewish and gospel ages. The parallel exists with reference to time as well as events. The Jewish age ended with a harvest, which harvest began with the ascension of our Lord in the year A.D. 33. By the term 'harvest' here used is meant the gathering of the remnant of the Jews to Christ. Jesus' statement plainly is that the gospel age will end with a harvest, during which time he would be present, directing the work of that harvest. In the earth three and a half years from the time of his consecration and baptism, Jesus was preparing the Jews for the harvest of that age. We should expect to find a parallel of this reference to the harvest of the gospel age, and we do find it. Counting three and a half years from 1874, the time of his presence, brings us to 1878. During the presence of the Lord from 1874 to 1878 he was making preparation for the harvest of the gospel age. The Jewish harvest covered a period of forty years, ending in A.D. 73. We should expect, then, the general harvest of the gospel age to end in 1918." (Harp of God, 1921, pp. 235-236)
In this text we see a glimmer of understanding of the requirements of the Sign of Jonah, but again no understanding of history. They thought that forty years after the death of Christ was correct for the repentance of Judah, and therefore 73 CE would be a good year, if we assumed Christ died in 33 CE. The fact is that Christ died in 30 CE, and Judah was given forty years to repent, but did not repent. On 1 Nisan 70 CE, Jerusalem was surrounded by a Roman army under Titus. Jerusalem was levelled by the end of 70 CE. Thus, nothing was left in 73 CE. These false prophets could not even get a prophecy right in hindsight, let alone prophesy about it. The sequence is detailed in the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13).
They then began to be more dogmatic about 1925, from 1922 onwards. Like everything else about which they were dogmatic, they were wrong.
"The period must end in 1925. The type ending, the antitype must begin; and therefore 1925 is definitely fixed in the scriptures. Every thinking person can see that a great climax is at hand. The Scriptures clearly indicate that the climax is the fall of Satan's empire and the full establishment of the Messianic kingdom. This climax being reached by 1925, and that marking the beginning of the fulfilment of the long promised blessings of life to the people, millions now living on earth will be living then and those who obey the righteous laws of the new arrangement will live forever. Therefore it can be confidently said at this time that millions now living will never die." (Golden Age, Jan. 4, 1922, p. 217)
This was again based on these false time-cycles and commencement dates. Bible prophecy is like map reading. You have to know where you are when you start to get to the end objective.
"The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the "time of the end" began in 1799; that the Lord's second presence began in 1874." (The Watchtower, March 1, 1922)
As in all logic, if you start with a false premise your conclusion will be wrong – and they sure got it wrong.
"We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925. It was on this line of reckoning that the dates 1874, 1914, and 1918 were located; and the Lord has placed the stamp of his seal upon 1914 and 1918 beyond any possibility of erasure. What further evidence do we need? Using this same measuring line.... it is an easy matter to locate 1925, probably in the fall, for the beginning of the antitypical jubilee. There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914." (Watchtower, p. 150, May 15, 1922)
Thus they explain their logic, and an elementary Bible student could have shot holes in it. But their confidence was unshaken.
"It is on the basis of such and so many correspondencies (sic) -- in accordance with the soundest laws known to science- that we affirm that, Scripturally, scientifically, and historically, present-truth chronology is correct beyond a doubt. Its reliability has been abundantly confirmed by the dates and events of 1874, 1914, and 1918. Present-truth chronology is a secure basis on which the consecrated child of God may endeavor to search out things to come." (Watchtower, June 15, 1922)
The text is touching in its appeal to ignorance. They have a “Present Truth Chronology” here, which seems to mean: “What we say at present is the truth, and we will change it after it proves false”. It is astounding to say the least that this bizarre nonsense actually appeals to a large number of people. The readers must suspend judgment when they come into contact with the doctrines. But after all, in 1922 they said it was from God:
"This chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct...." (Watchtower, July 15, 1922, p. 217)
They also said in 1922:
“1914 ended the Gentile Times...The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures...by then the great crisis will be reached and probably passed'” (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262)
They reassured everyone again in 1923 that 1925 was definitely in the Scriptures:
“1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures...the Christian has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the Scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in the coming deluge” (Watchtower, April 1, 1923, p. 106)
And again in 1923:
"Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge." (Watchtower, p. 106, March 1, 1923)
Well, there would have been a fairly stranded Ark with a lot of puzzled animals at this rate.
Then in 1924 they reassured the children:
"No doubt many boys and girls who read this book will live to see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, and those other men of old come forth in the glory of their better resurrection, of perfect in mind and body. It will not take long for Christ to appoint them to their post of honor and authority as his earthly representatives. The world and all the present conveniences will seem strange to them at first, but they will soon become accustomed to the new methods. They may have some amusing experiences at first; for they never saw telephones, radios, automobiles, electric lights, aeroplanes, steam engines, and many other things so familiar to us. (The Way To Paradise, 1924, p. 226)
And for the doubters among them, that Christ was behind it all and had been since 1874, they said in the same year of 1924:
"Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874." (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1924, p.5)
In other words, any fool allegedly should have known that 1925 was more clearly marked in Scripture than even 1914 was, but they told the world.
"The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914. (Watchtower, 1924, p. 211)
To deal with the unconverted sceptics who might be watching, they said in 1924:
"We cannot be blamed for presenting from the Scriptures such evidence as they afford which leads us to believe that a certain event will take place at a given time. Some times the Lord has let His people looking for the right thing at the wrong time, and more frequently they have looked for the wrong things at the right time. But all the enemies of the cause of present truth in the earth are fervently hoping that the Bible students will not be so successful in 1925 in looking for the right thing at the right time as they were in 1914. If they are, however, it will be the other fellow that will have to do the explaining, and not we." (The Golden Age, Feb. 13, 1924, p. 314)
1925 arrived and there was no doubt that Satan would use this year to deceive the true believers into thinking that there might be an end to the work, so they said:
"It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated, the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work." (Watchtower, Sept. 1925, p. 262)
How do we deal with the fact that 1925 showed no signs of the promise and there was great disillusionment? It was all their fault so we were told:
"The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything." (Watchtower, 1925, p. 56)
Don’t lose faith; 1925 is here:
"The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year." (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1925, p. 3)
“God may not do what we said he was going to do so don’t be surprised if we are wrong once again”, or so they seemed to say. As we know, nothing happened and so in 1926 we saw them publish the back tracks.
"Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything." (Watchtower, 1926, p. 232)
Remember, we said this in 1925 so, we got something right didn’t we? The miracle is that their people accepted it all.
But they were not wrong. The scriptural proof was there, or so it seems.
In 1927 they said so:
“The Scriptural proof is that the period of his presence and the day of God's preparation is a period from 1874 A.D. forward. The second coming of the Lord, therefore, began in 1874; and that date and the years 1914 and 1918 are specially marked dates with reference to his coming. (Creation, 1927, p. 289 early editions, p. 310 later editions)
In 1927, the Watchtower people seemed to be saying words to the effect of: “No one is to blame as prophecy cannot be understood until it is past and so, when it happens, we will understand it has happened”. In other words, "When we get run over by the Armageddon war machine, and Christ tells us what has happened, we will then know and so, don’t blame us for being false prophets."
“Prophecy cannot be understood until it has been fulfilled or is in the course of fulfilment. From 1874 to 1914 the prophecy concerning the Lord's coming was being fulfilled and could be understood, and was understood, by those who were faithful to the Lord and who were watching the development of events, but not by others. (Creation, 1927, p. 290)
In other words, some of them did understand, but made the false prophecies anyway. Amazing, is it not?
That year they continued on in justification of the 1799 date by reference to Napoleon:
"Napoleon began this Egyptian campaign in 1798, finished it, and then returned to France on October 1, 1799. The campaign is briefly, yet graphically described in the prophecy, verses 40-44; and its being completed in 1799 marks, according to the prophet's own words, the beginning of "the time of the end." (Creation, 1927, p. 293)
It seems we have shades of Ellen G. White and the false prophecies of the Adventists.
A few pages later they said:
"Twelve hundred and sixty years from 539 A.D. brings us to 1799, which is another proof that 1799 definitely marks the beginning of "the time of the end." this also shows that it is from the date 539 A.D. that the other prophetic days of Daniel must be counted." (Creation, 1927, p. 294)
Again four pages later we read:
“Applying the same rule then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A.D. brings us to 1874 A.D. at which time, according to Biblical chronology, the Lord's second presence was due.” (Creation, 1927, p. 298)
The miracle is that this false prophet was not tarred and feathered.
In 1928 and 1929, they continued developing the same false scenario that had failed them so miserably for the previous half century.
"The time of the Lord's second presence dates from 1874, as above stated." (The Harp of God, p. 236, 1928 edition)
"Both the grantor and the grantee are fully persuaded from the Bible testimony which is the word of Jehovah God and from extraneous evidence that God's Kingdom is now in the course of establishment and that it will result beneficially for the peoples of earth; that the governing power and authority will be invisible to men but that the kingdom of God will have visible representatives on the earth who will have charge of the affairs of the nations under supervision of the invisible ruler, Christ. That among those who will be thus the faithful representatives and visible governors of the world will be David, who was once King over Israel; and Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jepthai, and Joseph, formerly ruler of Egypt, and Samuel the prophet and other faithful men named with approval in the Bible at Hebrews 11th. chapter." (Rutherford’s Original legal deed to Beth Sarim, 1929)
They then made a true statement but not as they imagined.
'If these prophesies have not been fulfilled, and if all possibility of fulfilment is past, then these prophets are proven false.' (Prophecy, 1929, p. 22)
Then they made another false statement.
"The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D." (Prophecy, 1929, p. 65)
No proof is offered or indeed possible for this error.
Many of such had been looking for the Lord to come and take them to heaven, and had particularly fixed the year 1914 as when this should be done. The year 1914 was a marked date; but these had merely contemplated something to happen which did not come to pass. (Prophecy, 1929, 1,589,000 ed., p. 89)
Thus, it was marked but we could not see what happened. How convenient for the false prophets. It is rather like the story of the king with no clothes. They simply needed a little child to state the obvious. They had not been told, “That any who say that they are Christians, and who say that when they die they go to heaven are not Christians, but lie”. We told the Romans that fact in the middle of the 2nd century. Obviously, they had never read Justin Martyr.
But did they really expect David and the others to turn up in the imminent resurrection? No, they did not, as we see below.
"But how will you identify King David or any of the other representatives from God?' Rutherford was asked. 'I thought all that out before I wrote the deed,' the judge replied with a twinkle in his gray eyes. 'I realized the possibility of some old codger turning up bright and early some morning and declaring he was David. The men whom I have designated to test the identity of these men are officers of my societies and have consecrated themselves to the Lord, they will be divinely authorized to know impostors from the real princes."' (The San Diego Sun, Saturday, March 15, 1930)
So the officers of the Society will determine who are the genuine articles. The will caused some notoriety, which was no doubt the intention. In 1930 Time Magazine wrote:
“Judge Joseph Frederick Rutherford 60, lives in a ten room Spanish mansion, No 4440 Braeburn Rd, San Diego, Calif. Last week he deeded No 4440 Braeburn Road, and adjacent two car garage and a pair of automobiles to King David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, Samuel and sundry other mighties of ancient Palestine. Positive is he that they are shortly to reappear on earth, Said he: 'I have purposely landscaped the place with palm and olive trees so that these princes of the universe will feel at home. (Time Magazine, March 31, 1930)
The false prophecies had caused much ridicule of the followers.
"The Watchtower, and its companion publications of the society, for forty years emphasized that fact that 1914 would witness the establishment of God's kingdom and the complete glorification of the church. During that period of forty years God's people on earth were carrying on a witness work, which work was foreshadowed by Elijah and John the Baptist. All of the lord’s people looked forward to 1914 with joyful expectation. When that time came and passed there was much disappointment, chagrin and mourning, and the lord’s people were greatly in reproach. They were ridiculed by the clergy and their allies in particular, and pointed to with scorn, because they had said so much about 1914, and what would come to pass, and their prophecies had not been fulfilled. (Light, Book 1, 1930, p. 194)
Yet, Rutherford was continuing on as though it was all a reality. He said in this year 1930:
"The great climax is at hand. The kings of earth now set themselves against his anointed Stone." (J.F. Rutherford, Light, II, 1930, p. 327)
Having made a complete mess of Bible prophecy, Rutherford and the Society carried on in 1931, insisting that the faithful really did see the king’s new clothes.
"God's faithful people on earth emphasized the importance of the dates 1914 and 1918 and 1925. They had much to say about these dates and what would come to pass, but all they predicted did not come to pass." (J. F. Rutherford, Vindication, vol. 1, 1931, p. 146)
However, Armageddon was still to occur shortly, although they got it wrong three times beforehand.
"God's kingdom has begun to operate. His day of vengeance is here and Armageddon is at hand and certain to fall upon Christendom and that within an early date. God's judgment is upon Christendom and must shortly be executed." (Rutherford, Vindication, ibid., p. 147)
"There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1914, 1918 and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time. Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the Scriptures; and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely (and they do rely) upon the Word of God as to the events that must come to pass. (J. F. Rutherford, Vindication, ibid., pp. 338-339)
So they stopped false prophecy and relied on the Bible. Yet, they still claim that these things came to pass, and they still knock on peoples’ doors and try to convince gullible people of the reality of this insanity.
There was a claimant to the mansion in 1931, but the “Judge” knew it could not be David. Perhaps he had not read the section where Thomas had to put his fingers in the holes to know that it was Christ. However, they were pretty safe, as David had to be resurrected with everyone else. The report of the incident is as follows.
“A gaunt unshaven tramp has been the lone claimant for the $75,000 Southern Californian mansion of David, king of Israel, since it was deeded to the Biblical character a year ago. This was revealed today by Judge James Rutherford, temporary owner of the luxuriantly furnished Spanish type mansion at 440 Braeburn Rd in the exclusive Kensington Heights district. In one of the oddest deeds ever recorded, Rutherford, president of the International Bible Students Association and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, has placed in trust the magnificent estate for ancient kings and prophets of Israel. The slayer of Goliath and his companions may occupy the 10 room modern home with its landscaped gardens and patio as soon as their credentials are approved by Rutherford and officials of his societies, divinely authorised to recognise them. One morning as I was going from the house to the garage, a queer looking creature approached me, tipped his dirty hat and cried 'Howdy Judge, I'm David' 'Go and tell that to the winds', I told him and he left without arguing the matter. I could see at a glance that he was not David. He didn't look like I knew David would look.' Asked how he expected David and his distinguished brethren to look, Rutherford, without hesitation, opened his huge Bible and pointed to a verse which said that the Princes of the Universe would be risen from the dead 'as perfect men'. 'I interpret that to mean', the tall dignified Judge declared, 'that David, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, Joseph and Samuel will be sent here to wrench the world from Satan's grasp, clothed in modern garb as we are, and able, with little effort, to speak our tongue.' Rutherford pictured the arrival of the biblical delegation perhaps in frock coats, high hats, canes and spats. At Beth Sarim (House of Princes) as Rutherford has named his mansion, David will find the most modern appliances that science has devised. When the distinguished guests walk up the circular stairway to the second floor, they will find a large office with red leather chairs and shiny flat topped desk with inverted lighting. Even French telephones await the touch of the princes. Opening a wide door, the native sons of Palestine will behold a large bathroom, resplendent in shiny black tile with needle shower and an amply filled medicine chest. What a thrill giant shouldered Samson, who wrecked a palace with his bare fists might find in the gold safety razor and strop! Rutherford built the second floor bedroom, which he temporarily occupies, large in order to accommodate several of the expected owners. With wide pane windows that look out on the purple Cuyamacas to the East and California's first mission to the north, the bedroom is almost severe in its furnishings. The rulers of the universe will have simple tastes, the judge apparently believes, although the austere end tables sported gaily covered fiction magazines. Rutherford has imported some Koniach, Wasser from Cologne, Germany to freshen the princely faces after shaving. A black skull-cap hangs over one of the bedposts. The coming of David and his companions will be the greatest news story of the ages, Rutherford predicted. 'I am not a publicity seeker,' Rutherford said with a twinkle in his kindly brown eyes, 'but I feel that the world should know about their arrival. It will be a great news story.' Word of his 'House of king David' has reached into every corner of the world, the judge stated. 'Everywhere I went people asked me about this place,' Rutherford said. 'In Chicago a millionaire manufacturer offered to build another house for David, but I declined the offer. 'Literally thousands have driven here to see this place,' Rutherford continued. 'Many have come to the door and my secretary has shown them about the place.' The patio with its silver pool and olive and palm trees is gay with flowers. Down toward the canyon, paths have been landscaped to allow David and his friends to walk in meditation. Many of the fruits and trees, native to their Palestine, will greet the rulers when they arrive. In the two car garage next door stands a new, yellow 16 cylinder coupe which will be turned over to the rulers along with all the personal property on the place. 'Everything will be theirs, the house, the land, the furnishings and even the clothes if they need them,' Judge Rutherford said. 'What will I do? Oh, don't worry about me. I'll manage somehow.' the judge smiled. He had another 'Watch Tower' residence on Staten Island and practically an entire floor at Bethel. The seven famous men will not have long to rest at their San Deigo estate because they soon will lead the forces of the Lord to vanquish the minions of Satan at the battle of Armageddon, Rutherford believed. 'But they will win out. The Lord will punish the devil and will show that the preachers and the politicians have been giving the people false counsel,' Rutherford said confidently. Rutherford will sail May 9 for Europe where he will speak before conventions in Berlin Paris and London. (San Deigo Sun Newspaper, Jan. 9, 1931)
And so we await the return of David and Moses and all the true prophets. Has it stopped the false prophets? We next take up from the rise of Herbert Armstrong on the stage of the Church of God (Seventh Day), and follow both him and his ministry, and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, in their pursuit of the elusive truth of the Bible.
The next phase covers the period from 1932 until the great failure of the Armstrong false prophecy in 1975.
We will now continue with the examination of false prophecy within the Churches of God, and those Churches that are non-Trinitarian affiliates or offshoots, or have been influenced by the Churches of God.
Herbert Armstrong and the Churches of God
We take up where Herbert Armstrong is commencing to make his silly and outrageous false prophecies after his credentialing by the Church of God (SD) as a minister of theirs in 1932. He was dismissed in 1940 for introducing the Hillel Calendar and corrupting the Passover, among other matters. He was reinstated and worked with Dugger and Dodd and the COG (SD) until 1946 with each on and off.
We will follow the careers of the false prophets of the Radio Church of God (RCG), later the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs). This section will cover from 1934 up until 1975 after the great failure of their prophecies regarding the Advent of Messiah.
The false and silly statements emanating from the Pentecostals will commence to intrude onto the world stage, usually through the US media, after 1975. Towards the end we will see more of their false prophecy emerge and that will be covered later. Once again, or as usual, it appears that not a dint in their credibility ensues when what they say will happen fails to materialise. It is as though being a false prophet is essential to the acceptance of a minister and the well-being and feelings of security of the public, and particularly the US public.
The old US circus buff said there is one born every minute, and it sure seems like it. Remember, the aim is to destroy the reliability and influence of Bible prophecy and the demons gave their power to this end. The people love false prophets because they make them feel more secure.
In 1934 the Plain Truth Magazine (PT), a new magazine started by Herbert Armstrong, began making its false prophecies or false predictions. It said: “Christ will return in 1936”. That was fair, wasn’t it? After all, according to Revelation 11, the Two Witnesses had to be in Jerusalem for 1260 days, and after that lie dead in the streets for three and a half days according to Revelation. As they had not even arrived by then Armstrong must have concluded that they were already here. Later he claimed, or had claimed for him, that he was one of them. However, there will be more of that later.
In 1934 Herbert took a leaf out of the Watchtower system and said:
"...the year 1936 will see the end of the Times of the Gentiles.... we may expect the present worldwide depression, time of trouble and fear of war to continue until the year 1936!... quickly after that time, we may expect to see the heavenly signs of the sun and moon becoming dark, the stars falling.... which shall be followed by the 'Day of the Lord."' (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 5)
In 1934/35 the PT Magazine claimed that Mussolini would become the world dictator. This silly fixation continued for some time.
By 1935 it was obvious that the Germans were not going to accept the limitations of the 1918 Armistice. Hitler and the Nazis were well and truly a force that was bent on changing the map of Europe and that was obvious. Our prophets were to commence:
"...the scriptural evidence and the physical facts strongly indicate that such witness work is now almost done; and when it is done the universal war will begin. Universal war is absolutely certain to come and that soon, and no power can stop it. ...during the few remaining months until the breaking of that universal cataclysm the powers that rule the nations of the earth will continue to make treaties and tell the people that by such means they will keep that world peace and bring about prosperity. (Universal War Near, 1935, p. 3, 26-27)
False Prophecy and the prevention of the birth of the children of Bible students
At the same time the JWs were discouraging people from having children. This bizarre notion was to be adopted by the Radio Church of God, later the Worldwide Church of God, under Armstrong. It came from a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the way in which the millennial system would be introduced. No other doctrine, with the exception of the RCG/WCG healing doctrine, was to be more damaging, anti-biblical and demonically inspired than this teaching. This came to be the dedicated aim of the Nazis in Europe. World War II was on the horizon and only a fool, or Neville Chamberlain, thought it might be avoided. Both Armstrong with RCG, and also Rutherford and the JWs jumped on the bandwagon.
In 1938 the JWs were still at it.
"...mark the words of Jesus, which definitely seem to discourage the bearing of children immediately before or during Armageddon....It would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are." (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1938, p. 324)
By this time blind Freddy knew war was imminent. Armstrong tried to fit the events into the Bible scenario and it seemed at first to fit. At any rate, it fitted well enough for him to use it to his own advantage. In 1938 he said:
"Mussolini and the pope will hatch up an idea between [them] of setting up a world headquarters at Jerusalem-and so Mussolini's armies will enter into Palestine (Daniel 11:41), and eventually will capture just half of the city of Jerusalem! (Zechariah 14:2)." (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, March 1938, p. 8)
Not to be outdone, the JWs decided to have another try at getting the story right.
"They had preached that in an early time God would overthrow "Christendom". Many had emphasized the year 1925 as the date, and then when that date did not materialize the date was moved up to 1932. Again, 1932 came and ''Christendom'' was not destroyed, and now it was discovered that "Christendom" would be spared for a while longer for the sake of the Jonadab class, and this made the proud "elective elder" crowd very mad." (Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1938, p. 54)
In 1938 the false prophets started telling people not to get married and have children. The British Commonwealth had been down this track in WWI, and saw how silly it was and how much damage it did, and so many got married before the war. However, that did not matter to the false prophets:
"Would it be scripturally proper for them to marry and begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the scriptures....It will be far better to be unhampered and without burdens, that they may do the Lords will now, as the Lord commands, and also be without hindrance during Armageddon. … Those... who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone." (Face the Facts, 1938, pp. 46, 47, 50)
They also clung to the failed prophecies as proof of some underlying truth.
“As far back as 1880 The Watchtower pointed to A.D. 1914 as the date marking the end of the world, at which time great trouble would come upon the nations; but at that time it was not seen by God's people on earth that the trouble would be the battle of Jehovah against Satan's organization. For many years it was believed by them, and so stated in The Watchtower, that "the time of trouble" would be a terrific clash between the various elements of the earth, such as capital and labor. Not until 1925 was "the time of trouble" Scripturally understood." (Watchtower, p. 35, Feb. 1, 1938)
Judge Rutherford, our intrepid follower in the shoes of the false prophet Russell, thundered out in 1939:
"The abundance of Scriptural evidence, together with the physical facts that have come to pass showing the fulfilment of prophecy, conclusively proves that the time for the battle of the great day of God Almighty is very near and that in that battle all of God's enemies shall be destroyed and the earth cleared of wickedness." … "Likewise today, all the nations and peoples of earth are face to face with the greatest emergency. They are being warned as God commands, that the disaster of Armageddon is just ahead." (J. F. Rutherford, Salvation, 1939, pp. 310, 361)
The JWs saw this as a way of linking 1939 to 1914, and saving face in the sequence of what was to happen. Herbert Armstrong decided that this coming war had to be the war of Armageddon, so he simply attached the prophecies to the war, and the major figures in WWII became the biblical players. Nothing could have been simpler, and nothing could have been more wrong. He had very little if any understanding of the actual prophetic sequence. Both he and the JWs were wrong continually and have no claim to prophecy.
"Once world war is resumed, it must continue on thru the great Tribulation, the heavenly signs, the plagues of the Day of the Lord, and to the Second Coming of Christ, at the last battle, at Armageddon!... But this you may know! This war will be ended by Christ's return! And war may start within six weeks! We are just that near Christ's coming!" (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Aug. 1939, p. 6)
The Watchtower Bible and Tract owners and leaders told the world once again what they had done regarding Beth Sarim in San Diego. After all it was good advertising.
“At San Deigo, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929 there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth Sarim. The Hebrew words Beth Sarim mean 'House of the Princes'; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there are those on earth today who fully believe in God and Christ Jesus and in His Kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth. The title to Beth Sarim is vested in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in trust, to be used by the president of the Society and his assistants for the present, and thereafter to be forever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes on the earth.... It stands there as a testimony to Jehovah's name; and when the princes do return, and some of them occupy the property, such will be a confirmation of the faith and hope that induced the building of Beth Sarim” (Salvation, 1939, p. 311)
On his bandwagon in the same parade, Herbert made the definitive prophecy in 1939 that:
"Mussolini will fight Christ!" (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Jan. 1939, p. 4)
In this year 1939 Herbert then began to prophetically unfold the course of the hostilities. Nothing Herbert Armstrong said was ever right. He had no idea whatsoever of any of the actual actions and results in the course of the war. He said, "Ethiopia & Libya will join USSR in WW2" (PT, 1939). Any student of the British Commonwealth knows that Ethiopia and Libya were conquered and taken from Italy by Commonwealth Forces within 2 years. The USSR was an ally. Libya was simply part of the theatre of operations. They themselves did nothing.
Herbert decided that Mussolini was the lynch pin in the Satanic plan, and he tried to link Franco and the Spanish to him. In the PT in this year they stated: "Franco will give his power to Mussolini". In fact, Franco avoided direct conflict and stayed in power for 30 years after Mussolini died. In the December 1939 PT they said: "Hitler will give his power to Mussolini". What a profound misunderstanding of the events of WWII and the nature of Hitler and the Nazi Party in Europe.
The phoney war of 1939 was over and the world got down to some serious slaughtering. The US was still deciding on what to do. US business liked and backed Hitler. IBM helped him compile records of the unwanted bits of European society, like the Jews and the Gypsies etc., so they could tidy all that up.
Another false prophet prophesied the end of the world in 1940 or 1941. A Bible teacher from Australia, Leonard Sale-Harrison, held a series of prophecy conferences across North America in the 1930s. He predicted that the end of the world would happen in 1940 or 1941.
The concept of genocide was advocated by Armstrong and the RCG in 1940. This demonic idea was “in the air” being spread by the prince of the power of the air, and it was taken up by those claiming to be prophets of God.
In 1940 Armstrong said:
"God has decreed that Joseph-Great Britain and the United States-are to utterly consume and annihilate the Turks from off the earth!" (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Nov.-Dec. 1940, p. 7)
That would have helped a neutral Turkey to trust in their position. Fortunately, Turkey did not pay attention to his raving nonsense, if they even knew of his existence.
Wrong understanding of the promises to Abraham and Bible prophecy
In 1940 Armstrong said:
"It is part of God's prophesied plan that Britain shall be invaded and conquered ...." (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Nov.-Dec. 1940)
He assumed that the promises God made to Israel would be carried out in WWII to Britain and the Commonwealth. He was warm and comfortable in the USA, which was still some way off from Pearl Harbor.
In 1940 Armstrong made the mistake of adding up numbers of troops and assuming outcomes. He had not studied Cressy and Agincourt, and the multitude of battles fought since then. The Aug-Sept PT stated: "Mussolini will conquer Egypt & Palestine" – this was three months before the collapse of the Italian forces. Armstrong had been taken in by the newspaper reports of the seemingly hopeless position of the British in Egypt. Many people have made the mistake of underestimating the Commonwealth forces. When Italy declared war on June 10, 1940 against Britain and France, the British position in North Africa seemed hopelessly outmatched. UK Army General Percival Wavell commanded 40,000 Dominion soldiers, caught between 200,000 Italian troops in Libya and 250,000 to the south in Ethiopia and Somaliland.
Armstrong took a bet on the outcome and, like many in the US, was completely wrong.
Wavell made a bold gamble on June 10, sending a small force into Libya to show the flag. This was the opening battle in a long campaign that was to see the outcome see-saw between the Axis and the Allies.
The Italians, under Marshal d’Armata Rodolfo Graziani, invaded and occupied British Somaliland on August 17, 1940, possibly cutting off American merchant transit through the Red Sea, and cutting off the British from India. On September 13, Graziani reluctantly invaded Egypt under pressure from Mussolini. This date was the latest publication date for the PT. It seemed as though the Italians in Somalia were in a position to control the Red Sea and cut off the British from India, and hence Armstrong began to bark.
On December 9, Wavell sent 30,000 troops under UK Army General Richard O’Connor to reclaim Sidi Barrani in Egypt, 65 miles inside Egypt’s border with Libya. The Italians had heavily fortified the town, but the British caught them by surprise and took 20,000 prisoners. The enterprising O’Connor then turned the large-scale raid into a full-scale invasion of Libya, taking more prisoners and occupying Tobruk, Benghazi, and the whole of the Libyan province of Cyrenaica. 130,000 Italian prisoners marched towards Egypt.
Then, a major shift in the balance of power occurred. Wavell was ordered to cut back his forces and send them to Greece. Hitler sent the Afrika Korps to help the Italians, led by the effective Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel. Rommel arrived on February 12, 1941. Technically under Italian command, Rommel led an armoured attack that smashed through the smaller British force, capturing O’Connor and almost all of the British conquests except for the embattled port of Tobruk. The British forces, consisting of Australian units, settled in for a long siege.
Churchill overruled his advisors and sent precious military supplies and weapons to Wavell, who tried twice to beat his way through Rommel to Tobruk. Rommel developed new doctrines of desert warfare, using antiaircraft guns against tanks and employing “blitzkrieg” tactics to outflank the British. Wavell had to resign in the face of these defeats. The tactics of armoured fluid penetration were developed by the English Captain Basil Lydell-Hart, after WWI, but the UK and US had ignored them to their cost. The Germans made them required reading, hence the development of the “blitzkrieg”. Only the British General Sir Percy Hobart had bothered to study him.
General Sir Claude Auchinleck arrived in November 1941. The UK Desert Force became the UK Eighth Army. In Operation Crusader, he lifted the 242-day siege of Tobruk, drove Rommel back against El Agheila, and destroyed a quarter of the Afrika Korps and almost half of the Italian Army in Libya.
But the British were hard pressed to supply both Auchinleck and the island of Malta. Rommel consolidated his forces, resupplied, and burst forth from El Agheila, taking Benghazi and driving on Tobruk. The British fell back on the Gazala Line, a series of forts linked by minefields.
Both sides paused to regroup and strengthen their forces. On May 26, 1942, Rommel renewed the attack, but was blocked by strong resistance and caught between two strongpoints on the Gazala Line. Rommel, the “Desert Fox,” wheeled on the British. He smashed the defenders of Bir Hacheim, and took Tobruk on June 17. Rommel captured 30,000 defenders and the supply dump there.
Hitler promoted Rommel to Feldmarschall. When he was told of his new rank Rommel said, “It would be better if he sent me another division”. The British fell back on their first line of defence in Egypt, Mersa Matruh. Rommel pursued them. The line fell at the end of June 1942.
Rommel and the Axis lines of communication were stretched, despite capturing huge stores of British supplies along the way. Rommel could not break the El Alamein line, the last defence before Alexandria. Churchill sacked Auchinleck and replaced him with General William Gott, who was killed in a plane crash while taking command.
Churchill, shaken by the fall of Tobruk under the South Africans, searched for a man to replace Gott who could save Alexandria and the whole of Egypt from surrender. He chose British Lieutenant General Bernard Law Montgomery, who spent a lot of time reorganizing and retraining the Eighth Army. On August 31, 1942, Rommel struck the El Alamein line, and was repulsed by heavy artillery fire.
The Anzac and the Indian divisions were to play a major part in the fall of the Axis forces in Africa. The so-called British Eighth Army was a cohesive Commonwealth force that destroyed the Axis in North Africa. Oil was critical to the war effort. Russia and the Middle East were all part of the same military objectives.
The Battle of El Alamein and the defeat of the Italians should have taught Armstrong a very serious lesson about prophecy, but it seems he was undeterred. The US churches seem to follow outside news and present their “guesstimates” as prophecy. They are seldom correct.
Armstrong’s views of the UK and the British Commonwealth were as bizarre as they were wrong. He claimed in 1940 in the PT: "Christ will come after 3.5 yrs of tribulation in October 43". In the April/May 1940 PT, Armstrong said: "Today England is a dictatorship as absolute as that of Hitler or Mussolini".
Churchill was to say:
“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Hansard, November 11, 1947)
In 1940, others also jumped on the bandwagon of WWII as the war of the end.
"The year 1940 is certain to be the most important year yet because Armageddon is very near. It behoves all who love righteousness to put forth every effort to advertise The Theocracy while the privileges are still open." (Informant, April, 1940, p. 1)
The Kingdom is here, the King is enthroned. Armageddon is just ahead. The glorious reign of Christ that shall bring blessings to the world will immediately follow. Therefore the great climax has been reached. Tribulation has fallen upon those who stand by the Lord. (The Messenger, Sept. 1940, p. 6)
In 1940 Rutherford said:
“The prophecies of Almighty God, the fulfilment of which now clearly appears from the physical facts, show that the end of religion has come and with its end the complete downfall of Satan's entire organization." (J. F. Rutherford, Religion, p. 336, 1940)
Rutherford and the Watchtower said in September 1940:
“The witness work for The Theocracy appears to be about done in most of the countries of "Christendom. ... Now the totalitarian rule has suppressed the Theocratic message, and it should be expected that when they quit fighting amongst themselves all the totalitarian rulers will turn their attention to the complete suppression of everything pertaining to the Theocratic Government. What, then, does it mean that the Theocratic Government is now suppressed in many nations? It means that the hour is rapidly approaching when the "sign" of Armageddon will be clearly revealed and all who are on the side of Jehovah will see and appreciate it.." (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1940, p. 265. [White, p. 335 quotes from the 1942 Yearbook (p. 29), completed by Rutherford just before his death: "The record as herewith published would, on the face of it, show that the Theocratic witness work on earth is about done."])
In 1940 Herbert continued on with more of the same false prophecy:
“Nazis will conquer Britain.” “Turkey will turn traitor to Britain” (PT). As we know Turkey remained neutral. False prophecy and claims follow one upon another with Armstrong and his ministry.
In 1941 Herbert Armstrong made further errors that indicate that he had confused the actions of Hitler in Operation Barbarossa, and the actions of the King of the North in Daniel, where news from the east and the north alarmed him and he went out to utterly destroy many. The area of Russian operations was in the Ukraine and Stalingrad. These areas were Northwest of Jerusalem and not Northeast.
“Bible prophecy does indicate that Hitler must be the victor in his present Russian invasion!…Hitler will emerge from this Russian campaign stronger than ever, free to turn the entire might of his forces against Britain-and America!” (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Sept.-Oct. 1941, p.7)
The views of Herbert Armstrong show a profound ignorance of Bible timing and prophecy as they applied under God’s Calendar. The JWs likewise, under Rutherford, were just as ignorant and ill advised.
In 1941 Rutherford was still advising that children could and should be deferred.
"Armageddon is surely near, and during that time the Lord will clean off the earth everything that offends and is disagreeable. ... From now on we shall have our heart devotion fixed on The Theocracy, knowing that soon we shall journey forever together in the earth. Our hope is that within a few years our marriage may be consummated and, by the Lord's grace, we shall have sweet children that will be an honor to the Lord. We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the earth." (J. F. Rutherford, Children, 1941, p.366)
Again in 1941 they said:
"Receiving the gift, [Rutherford's book, Children] the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord's provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon." (Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1941, p. 288)
In 1942 the view of the JW system was that this was indeed Armageddon:
"Now, with Armageddon immediately before us, it is a matter of life or destruction. Those who would be of the Lords other sheep that shall compose the great multitude of Armageddon survivors and live joyfully on earth forever must find the answer to a very personal question, and very important." (Watchtower, April 1, 1942, p. 139)
Again in 1942:
"The New World Is At The Doors...The time is short. Those who do not inform themselves and who do not now choose the new world which Higher Powers shall establish will never live to enter into blessings and glories." (The New World, 1942, p. 10)
Also in 1942 they said to “expect the resurrected dead back any day now”. Christ was in the Temple and Judgment had begun. He had gathered the Temple to himself.
"The Lord Jesus has now come to the temple for judgment, and the remnant of the members of 'his body' yet on earth he has gathered into the temple condition of perfect unity with himself (Malachi 3:1-3), and hence those faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now. The Scriptures give good reason to believe that it shall be shortly before Armageddon breaks. In this expectation the house at San Diego, California, which house has been much publicized with malicious intent by the religious enemy, was built, in 1930, and named 'Beth Sarim,' meaning 'House of Princes.' It is now held in trust for the occupancy of those princes on their return. The most recent facts show that the religionists of this doomed world are gnashing their teeth because of the testimony which that 'House of Princes' hears to the new world. To those religionists and their allies the return of those faithful men of old to rule with judgment over the people shall not bring any pleasure. But to the people whom the angels sang about, 'men of good will,' it shall be an occasion for unbounded jubilation, and they shall rally to the side of those princely representatives of the kingdom of heaven." (The New World, 1942, pp. 104-105)
And again in 1942 they explained that their concentration of 1914, and the rapture to Heaven of the Bride Class made them neglect publishing the true message:
Such activity in publishing God's kingdom and clearing his name of the Devil's reproaches by religion was mistakenly given a place secondary to the making of the bride of Christ class ready for the marriage with him in heaven, in 1914 as some thought. (The New World; 1942; 2,000,000 ed., pp. 273-274)
In 1942 they identified the errors in their system, the Job Class and their leader as the Lord’s Messenger:
Before the Lord's Messenger came to the temple and began interpreting God's will and teaching, the Job class had been darkening counsel by words without knowledge, it not then being due time for the disclosure of such knowledge. Some of the consecrated ones thought they must be taken home to heaven at a time certain in order to help God run the universe. (The New World, 1942; 2,000,000 ed., p. 308)
In 1942 they said the identities in the Faith chapter of Hebrews 11 were going to be the leaders of the Church. They were going to come “any day now”.
"The faithful acts of the men who were known as fathers in Israel are recounted in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Genesis 12:1-3; 28:13,14; Acts 7:2-5....These men will be the visible representatives of the Theocracy, which is the government created and built up by the almighty God as his capital organization and which shall rule the world. Further proof that these princes will shortly take office upon earth as perfect men is found in the prophecy of Daniel. But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days (Daniel 12:13). Daniel's lot is that of these princes. Proof is now submitted that we are now living at the end of the days, and we may expect to see Daniel and the other mentioned princes any day now!" (Consolation, April 27, 1942, p. 13)
Meanwhile, Armstrong transferred his views regarding Mussolini to Rommel, and then to Hitler and the Nazis. His views of the war could not have been more completely wrong.
In 1942, Herbert Armstrong said in the PT that Rommel would conquer Jerusalem and Egypt with the help of the German army coming through the Caucasus and southern Russia. The fact of the matter is that the German forces were destroyed in Stalingrad and some 100,000 taken into captivity. The Germans suffered heavy losses all over the Eastern front in the period August 1942 to February 1943. The British Eighth Army destroyed Rommel's army at El Alamein in November 1942 and it then advanced across Africa to join up with the Americans that had landed in the west in Tripoli. The Australians moved through Palestine to Syria and defeated the French Foreign Legion under the Vichy French, who had earlier declared for the Nazis. The Axis forces never set foot in Palestine. The Australian Desert Force (Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF)) then returned to the Pacific to join their countrymen, who had just inflicted the first land defeat on the Japanese in Papua New Guinea. With the Americans, they fought their way north to defeat Japan. New Zealand, India, South Africa and Canada (who had not fought in the desert) remained with the British and defeated the Axis forces in Germany, and also the Japanese in Burma, although many South Africans had been taken captive at the fall of Tobruk.
Herbert Armstrong’s understanding of the timing of the Return of Christ, and the events of the Nazis in WWII, was profoundly ignorant both biblically and politically. Only in the US of the pre-Cold War era could he have uttered his silly prognostications.
In 1943 Armstrong predicted the battle of Christ and the False Prophet, linking them with Hitler.
"But Hitler (or his successor if there is one), and the False Prophet shall fight against Christ!" (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, March-April 1943, p. 6)
The major false prophet to survive that fiasco was Armstrong.
Similarly his knowledge of the Bible as it related to the advances of science was abysmal. He also said in 1943:
"Man cannot by airplane or rockets or other means get above the air envelope which is about our earthly globe..."(The Truth Shall Make you Free, p. 285, 1943 edition).
The advances in the V1/V2 system, no doubt, promoted his comments. However, later in 1943 he came to realise that WWII may not be the final war, as Nazi Germany was getting the worst of it. He thought the war would take years and years to end as we see from his 1944 comments, but he began to hedge his bets so as not to appear a complete fool – although that had not seemed to worry him in the past, and it seemed not to bother him afterwards.
He continued in 1943:
"The final war will come as a most sudden and complete surprise...Nevertheless, the appearing of the 'desolating abomination in the holy place' is an unerring proof that the unknown day and hour of the beginning of the final war is dangerously near." (The Truth Shall Make You Free, 1943, p. 341)
In 1944 the establishment of the United Nations was seen…
"as one of the most positive evidences that 'the kingdom of heaven is at hand' and that the end of the world arrangement is now near. Jesus foretold the setting up of that anti-Christ organization." (The Kingdom Is at Hand, 1944, p. 342)
Armstrong began to transfer the hysteria of the bogeymen to Japan, as Germany was decimated in 1944:
"We have made but the slightest dent in Jap defenses in the Pacific and at the present rate, it will take us about 20yrs" to defeat them (PT).
He then ascribed atomic powers to Japan when even Germany had lost the race to develop them. He said in July 1945:
“although Germany is destroyed Japan will develop atomic bombs to destroy America.”
All this was in spite of the fact that the US atomic bomb had already been tested in Los Alamos. The key components were manufactured in Washington State, which was just north of Armstrong, who was in Oregon. He had no prophetic indications that these things would happen as they did. In August 1945 two US A-bombs were dropped on Japan. That act brought the Japanese to surrender, and ended the war. It was almost as though he caught snippets of news and gossip and turned them against his own people even when it was they that were developing the bombs.
Post-War Delusion and False Prophecy
After the war the prophecies were still unfulfilled and it seemed as though the plan had to be explained through a revival. Anyone with even a cursory reading of the Bible knew that fact, so it was a safe starting point. However, Herbert let his ignorance override simple logic and the increasing technology of the day.
He continued, after the war, in 1946:
"the disaster of Armageddon, greater than that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, is at the door." (Let God Be True, 1946, p. 194)
Over the next decade he was to make a series of silly claims that showed his ignorance of science, but also his grasp of advertising.
In the PT he claimed that Germany would develop super-V2 rockets to destroy America's cities.
He also claimed in 1946/47: “There will be no Jewish state in Palestine”. His reasoning was that since Britain and America are really Israel, Palestine must be kept for them in the Millennium. The fact that the Jews were Judah, seemed to be lost on him. Also the birthright promise to Zebulun of: “Calling the People to Jerusalem”, was completely lost on him (see the paper Calling the Peoples to Jerusalem (No. 238)).
The development of rockets was being conducted in the US and the Soviet Union. The German scientists had all been “co-opted” to work in those locations. Armstrong simply did not see the Cold War and the potential disasters of the world ahead.
In the 1948/49 PT he claimed that Germany would become a nuclear superpower within five years. The reality was that the Soviet Union tested A-bombs from 1949, and in 1953 tested its first H-bomb. He had no grasp of the prophetic development of the Last Days. Germany was partitioned and not allowed to develop anything that might be construed as being dangerous by an occupation force of WWII Allies.
In 1950 in the PT he said: “When Germany becomes united, it will immediately turn on America, armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, and make the whole world tremble”. The fact was that German unification was not to occur for another forty years. Germany remained an ally of America in the NATO alliance, and Germany remained democratic. To date its policies are reserved, and at present concentrating on the establishment of the European Economic Community. The reality is that Britain and the US have become the military arm of the UN and its expansionist globalisation. He saw none of that.
As late as 1950 Armstrong stated that: “Man would never get into space”. As we all know the Russians were the first into space in April 1961 with Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, and the Americans followed thereafter. The US placed men on the moon in 1969 and brought them safely home again.
In the 1950 PT Herbert Armstrong said the: “US will never win another war”. The Vietnam War was the major example of this prediction, as they withdrew from there. However, he got all the rest wrong. UN intervention in Korea in 1950/51 saved South Korea from certain defeat. The US and British Commonwealth were the key nations in that war, backed by others such as Turkey that Armstrong said would turn against Britain and be annihilated in WWII. The US has had the following “victories”: 1982 Grenada; 1989 Panama; 1991 Iraq. The then rated 4th-largest army in the world was destroyed in 40 days. They had to go back into Iraq, and whilst they won a quick victory they are embroiled in a bitter insurgency campaign that threatens to be as bad a Vietnam, and they appear set to take on Iran in the near future. To do that, they will have to reintroduce conscription.
In the early 1950s, Herbert Armstrong predicted in the PT that a native Egyptian would never rule Egypt. This showed a profound ignorance of Bible prophecy and the Book of Ezekiel (see the paper The Fall of Egypt (No. 36): Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms). In 1953, Gamal Abdel Nasser took power. Herbert allegedly responded by claiming that Nasser was a light-skinned Arab and not a real Egyptian. In 1956 the Suez Crisis established Egyptian sovereignty as should have been expected from the time-frames indicated by Ezekiel and Daniel. In 1970, Nasser died and was replaced by Anwar Sadat, a black native Egyptian from southern Egypt. Thus, Armstrong’s prophecy and then his rationalization were again proven wrong. The real prophecy and the explanation of what happened are contained in the paper The Fall of Egypt (No. 36): The Prophecy of Pharaohs Broken Arms.
The JWs were still aware that they had got it wrong regarding 1914, but they were trying to rationalise their errors as well for their credible masses. They said in 1951:
"Under the guidance of God's spirit of freedom the magazine today known as the Watchtower but known back there as Zion's Watch Tower, began to be published in July, 1879. In the first year of its publication it pointed to the date 1914 as marked in the Bible." (What Has Religion Done For Mankind? 1951, p. 308)
Not to be outdone, the RCG under Armstrong began to say in the PT magazines in first half of the 1950s circulation that “Christ would return in 1957”. This theme was just moved ahead as each date arrived and passed, and they were proved once again to be false prophets.
In 1953 Armstrong’s minions said:
"Yes, it seems that God is allowing us another 19-year cycle to complete the carrying of his gospel of the kingdom to this sick and dying world.... There is a tremendous job to be done in the very short period that lies ahead of us." (Herman Hoeh, The Plain Truth, June 1953, p. 13)
He seemed to be trying to justify their simply staggering record of consistent failed prophecies.
In 1953 they said:
"After almost six thousand years of human sorrow, suffering and death, at last permanent relief is near at hand and will be realized within this generation." (New Heavens And A New Earth, 1953, p. 7)
A generation is forty years and, at the very outside, the time-frame ended in 1993. That effectively marked the end of the organisational structure of the WCG and marked its Trinitarian adoption so, in a sense, the world got some relief from their false prophecies, as their lamp-stand was removed from that time.
In 1953 in the Middle East in Prophecy article, HWA predicted Russia and China would never split but would remain united until Christ's coming. They split in 1958 and remained bitter enemies for more than thirty years, fighting many border skirmishes and conflicts. They remain apart, but cooperate on some economic issues, as Russia does with the West. The Armstrong prophecies seem to show no ability to look past the politics of the time in which he was writing.
In a 1953 PT article, HWA predicted that the anti-Communist rising in East Berlin would lead directly to a restored Nazi Germany. The rising was crushed. Fifty years later, no Nazis have taken power in Germany. The youth trained under that system and influenced by its thinking are more dangerous, but they have acted in a circumspect manner as leaders.
A 1953 PT article by Herman Hoeh was to say: "Kremlin plans for 20 years in Korea". The fact was that Eisenhower settled war within one month.
As usual the Armstrong ministry, all of them, were consistently wrong on prophecy.
In 1955 we also saw:
"in the light of the fulfilment of Bible prophecy it is becoming clear that the war of Armageddon is nearing its breaking-out point." (You may survive Armageddon into God's new world, 1955, p. 331)
Herman Hoeh said in 1955:
"God Almighty has spoken through His servants the prophets that He will punish our people for their sins. He will let our own lust cause such droughts, floods, pestilences and famines that we will be totally consumed and carried away captive to other nations as slaves within twenty years." (Herman Hoeh, The Plain Truth, Oct. 1955, p.16)
At that time the improvements in agriculture were important in staving off third world food shortages. Hoeh and Armstrong simply used the problem of the time without understanding the technical solutions.
In the 1955 January PT, Herman Hoeh said,
"We face a national catastrophe by 1975... We will be totally consumed and carried away captive to other nations as slaves within twenty years."
This was just utter drivel. They did not understand the role of the US and BC in establishing the New World Order.
Herman Hoeh also said in a 1955 PT article:
"within 20 yrs this nation will be toppled by worst drought in its history – “
The food surplus over that period was significant, and in 1975, which was a triple harvest year of the cycle for the Sabbath Year of 1976 and the Jubilee of 1977, the US had one of its greatest grain surpluses and sold it to the Soviets.
In an attempt to vague up the 6,000-year period, the JWs began to play with the life period of Adam to cast some doubt on the period of the 6000 years. They had made a mess of it previously, we might recall from above.
In 1955 they said:
"The very fact that, as part of Jehovah's secret, no one today is able to find out how much time Adam and later Eve lived during the closing days of the sixth creative period, so no one can now determine when six thousand years of Jehovah's present rest day come to an end. Obviously, whatever amount of Adam's 930 years was lived before the beginning of that seventh-day rest of Jehovah, that unknown amount would have to be added to the 1976 date." (Watchtower, February 1, 1955, p. 95)
As they did not follow the 4004 BCE period initially because it did not suit them, so they appear to have wished to vague up the matter so they can continue calling the false dates as it suits them.
Not to be deterred, Armstrong and his minions still kept spouting his false prophecy.
In the 1956 PT they said: “Britain will collapse into famine and anarchy within 3-5 yrs”.
Also in 1956, Herman Hoeh said:
"This seven years of national trouble takes us-if the dates which appear so definitely indicated by these prophecies are correct-from 1965 to 1972!" (Herman Hoeh, The Plain Truth, April 1956, p. 22)
In the howler of all time, in 1956, they had the gall, after twenty-five years of consistent false prophecy in which they did not get one prediction right, to say:
"But who today understands what the prophets foretold? Why, only the ministers today whose word comes to pass!-those who are appointed and guided by God to preach the truth! Those whose utterances do not come to pass have not spoken the prophecies truly. We give you here the record of what we have been proclaiming for the past 2 years-a message which no other voices, to our knowledge, have been proclaiming.... But what we have been warning you about is happening!-precisely as we have stated.... This is how you can know that our work is not of men but of God!" (Dec. 1956, p. 3)
In the 1956 April PT, Herman Hoeh said:
"PLAGUES coming - and, according to this prophetic warning, in about two years from now."
He also said:
"We have about reached our population peak, despite the guesses of our political and industrial planners."
He obviously had no idea. The US population in 1956 was approximately 180 million. The US population had increased by 50% by 1998 to some 270-odd million.
In the same issue Hoeh said:
"Many of you will remember that over three years ago we told you of the strong indication that the last half of this - God's - Work of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all the world would probably end in 1972."
Thus, from this time, they then promoted the 1972 Place of Safety doctrine, and the 1975 end of the current world order scenario. Their understanding of Petra as the Place of Safety was based on false doctrine developed by biblical illiterates of a number of denominations. Herbert Armstrong did very little original research and plagiarized most of his work. The quotations were never acknowledged. He stole much of his writing, often word for word in great slabs, from G. G. Rupert, and from J. Allen’s work, Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright.
In 1956 and onward after Suez, the Radio Church of God (later WCG) began to say that Britain would never regain the seagates she lost. Britain began to develop her “east of Suez policy” over this period. In 1982 Britain went to war with Argentina and retook the Falkland Islands, which was theoretically a seagate commanding the South Atlantic. So again this is a false prophecy.
In 1956 the PT published many false predictions. They predicted Otto Von Habsburg would take over Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian revolution. The revolution was crushed.
In the April 1956 PT an article by Herman Hoeh said: "Disease epidemics threaten US in 2 years".
In a 1956 PT an article under "Who will bury who?" predicts that communism in Russia will outlive the United States. As we know it did not. It collapsed in 1991.
In a 1956 PT they said that Franz Josef Strauss would be the beast and the man of strife in the book of Hosea.
It is a matter of history that Strauss never became leader of Germany. He was defeated by Helmut Schmidt in 1982 and died in 1988. He was a great ally of the US and Israel all his life.
From 1956 onward, after Suez they said that Britain would never win another war. History has shown that to be wrong, although they are becoming more embroiled in these recurring Middle East problems now. The problem is not the war, but winning the peace.
Herman Hoeh said, "In another 10 years for fear of Communist terrorism it won't be safe to live in Asia or Africa". By 1975, US forces were finally driven out of Vietnam and Indochina, but US military bases remained secure everywhere else in Asia. The only part of the world in those years where American civilians faced a real threat of personal terrorism was the Arab Middle East; Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia were fine. Again, these were predictions totally contrary to reality.
Herman Hoeh, still in 1956, refers to "the coming Fascist-religious revival of Europe that will conquer us within a prophetically indicated 17 years". In 1973 President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger proclaimed the "Year of Europe". The European Community expanded to include Britain and Ireland among others. Needless to say, there was no fascism, and no conquest. The challenge to the United States comes from the Arab and other oil-producing nations that quadrupled the price of oil, crippling European economic growth.
The prophecies were the total opposite of the reality.
In 1957, Garner Ted Armstrong, another of the team given to making these false prophecies, stated:
"Two years ago, Mr. Herman Hoeh showed in this magazine how God's word prophesied disease epidemics would strike the United States in two short years! Those epidemics are beginning now! And they will grow much worse! God prophesies that finally, within the next fifteen years, fully one third of our whole population will die of disease and famine!" (Garner Ted Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Dec. 1957, p. 23)
In 1957, Roderick Meredith, one of the team of “prophets” said:
"There is no other church or work on the face of this earth that either understands or dares to proclaim these vital warnings!... This is the very Work of God!... You are now being warned!" (Roderick Meredith, The Plain Truth, Aug. 1957, p. 6)
In 1957 the Armstrong team said: “Britain will never join the European Common Market”, but in 1973 Britain joined the European Common Market. Another false prophecy made and broken in two Sabbatical cycles.
In August 1957 Roderick Meredith reportedly said:
"at the conclusion of the drought and floods we are now just beginning to suffer, this nation is going to be punished by horrifying DISEASE EPIDEMICS - plagues."
When? He approvingly cites a 1956 Plain Truth title: “Disease Epidemics Threaten USA in 2 years!" Clearly, 1958 was meant.
"In addition to those warnings ...we will soon find that hoof-and-mouth disease will spread COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL!"
In the same article, he continued on to prophesy:
"After 1965 we are destined to run into increased trouble with the Gentile nation[s]. America and Britain will begin to suffer from trade embargoes imposed by the Brown and Oriental races and by the coming German-dominated 'United States of Europe.' ...We will begin to experience the pangs of starvation and of scarcity of goods."
This prophecy by Roderick Meredith was not only wrong, it was also completely the reverse of what happened, and it showed no understanding whatsoever of the coming globalisation of the world economy that was so necessary to the formation of the prophetic Beast power. There were no trade embargoes in this period but rather great material prosperity. The Arab oil producers did make an embargo in 1973-4 but Armstrong and his team, such as Meredith, seemed not to recognise what was happening and rationalised it. They appear not to have had the capacity to project the matters into the future and see their likely effects on world activities, given Bible prophecy.
Not to be outdone, just in case something might happen in 1957, in April 1957, The Watchtower magazine quoted Mihran Ask, a pastor from California, as saying that in 1957 (January) that:
"Sometime between April 16 and 23, 1957, Armageddon will sweep the world! Millions of persons will perish in its flames and the land will be scorched”.
In a 1957 PT article they predicted the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Common Market, would lead to Catholic/Nazi dictatorship by 1962. Another false prophecy seen and failed.
In October 1958, Herman Hoeh wrote the article entitled "U.S. and Britain and Nazi UNDERGROUND Behind Arab Crisis". There was never any Nazi influence on the Arabs in this “Arab Crisis”. The Nazis were anti-Semitic and the Arabs were Semites. They would have to be simple-minded fools to be supporters of the Nazis. Herman Hoeh seemed not to really understand the background and ramifications of what he was saying. The crises in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in 1958 were fueled by a wave of Arab socialism. As some have observed, the ideology is still reflected all these decades later in the Ba'athist ideologies of Syria and Iraq. They were supported for political advantage by the communist powers, and especially the Soviet Union.
The WCG preoccupation with the European and Catholic-dominated Beast power taking over Jerusalem has led them to cry wolf many times.
In 1958 Herman Hoeh indulged in some more fanciful raving supported by Armstrong. He reportedly said:
"Germany's coming Führer-who will lead within probably 13 years from now a 10-nation union in Europe (Rev. 17:12-13)-is 'the king of the north.' He will 'stretch forth his hand upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape' (Dan. 11:42). There is going to be a falling out between Nasser and his German supporters. Nasser's Nazi advisers are yet to turn upon him. Germany will take over the Suez from Egypt. Germany will take over Syria's oil pipelines, now under Nasser's control." (Herman Hoeh, The Plain Truth, Oct. 1958, p. 4)
As we know, Germany did no such thing and could not have possibly done what was suggested of them. The WCG understanding was seriously deficient for any political analysis, let alone prophecy.
The idea that the EEC would be “ten nations” comes from a misunderstanding of the ten heads of the system. Clearly, the Armstrong team had no idea of the scope of the EEC and its final form and impact. If they had they would not have made so many silly and embarrassing false prophecies concerning it.
Rod Meredith’s messages echoed the delusion. They uttered false prophecy after false prophecy and Rod Meredith tried to claim the opposite.
"We have been daring, as no other church on earth, to proclaim definite, specific prophetic events to occur-and they have been happening!... For the specific prophesied events which this Church alone proclaims will soon be demonstrated as a physical reality! There will be no reasoning or argument about this. You will see and feel these things happen!" (Rod Meredith, The Plain Truth, June 1959, p. 32)
As reporters of current affairs they were equally abysmal failures. In a 1959 PT article by Herman Hoeh they said: "Red China plans spring invasion of India". They meant spring of 1959 not later. We are still waiting.
In another 1959 PT they said it would be: "Doom for US within 10-15 years”.
In the early 1960s they published in the PT that “Man will never walk on the moon”.
The PT magazines in the1960s published a theme of false prophecy, seemingly aimed at the reality of the current alliances, and activities that were in effect frustrating the plan of the demons for the destruction of the world system. It is as though voices spoke out of their mouths on a consistent basis that ran counter to a reality of which the demons did not approve.
In the 1960s the Plain Truth Magazine repeatedly claimed 1972 would be the year of Christ's coming.
In the PTs in the 1960s, both HWA and his son GTA claimed that the radical Arab threat to the oil fields would lead Germany and Japan to rearm because America could not protect them.
In the 1991 Gulf War, the opposite happened and both nations were reluctant to assist when requested.
In the PTs of the 1960s they also claimed that the United States would never be able to reverse the tide of Communism in the world. Communism died of its own accord, in its own excesses in Russia. The Chinese have now taken action to prevent the same problems and adopt remedial capitalist systems.
In the PT articles of the 1960s Rod Meredith took up the theme that: “Turkey will prevent the United States Sixth Fleet from fleeing from Nazi European air attacks and will stab America and Britain in the back. It will later be destroyed for this treachery”. He was completely wrong and his predictions were not only false, but they also misread the entire structure and thrust of NATO. No doubt it will be projected yet again into the future but the thrust will still be false.
They also produced false prophecy on the agricultural system in the PTs of the 1960s. They said that the new wheat and plant strains of the high-yield "Green revolution" would cause more famine, not less. The opposite happened. Food yields in the hard-pressed and developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America soared over the next 20 years and outstripped population growth.
In the 1960s PTs they said that all the soil of the US Midwestern "Breadbasket" states would erode by 1972. That erosion would lead to large-scale famine. The facts are that Midwest soil erosion was largely reversed in the 1980s. The Reagan administration Department of Agriculture program to plant trees and to take anti-erosion measures in the region responded to the problems; so they had been proven wrong yet again.
The entire system of the Radio Church of God and its ministry uttered false prophecy on a continual basis.
In 1960 they said if John F. Kennedy were elected president, the Pope would have a crucial foothold to seize power in America.
In the same year, another prophecy was proven false. Piazzi Smyth, a past astronomer royal of Scotland, wrote a book, circa 1860, titled Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. It was responsible for spreading the belief in pyramidology throughout the world. This is the belief that secrets are hidden in the dimensions of the great pyramids. He concluded from his research that the Millennium would start before the end of 1960 CE.
In 1960 Ted Armstrong joined the others in barking false prophecy at an increasing rate. He saw himself as the heir apparent to a business empire of false prophecy, and it did not seem to matter what one said as long as one said something. It did not seem to matter if it came true or not; the people still paid their money.
"All of these internal troubles, combined with the rapid rise to power of a frightening huge combine in Europe, are going to spell out great disaster for the United States and Britain in the '60's.... It is going to happen! No amount of reasoning, 'spiritualizing away,' arguing, doubting, scoffing, or disbelieving is going to change it! Almighty God, in His inviolate Word, thunders from His great throne in the universe that these very prophecies are going to come to pass!" (Garner Ted Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Mar. 1960, p. 10)
In 1961, the JW system was still bleating out garbled messages. They said:
“Like Elijah of old, they became quite disconsolate, uncertain of life, thinking the end of existence and work was at hand. This was especially the case since the remnant was part of the virgin class espoused to Christ as his Bride and she failed to realize her hopes of being glorified to heavenly life with him both in 1914 and now in 1918.” (Let Your Name Be Sanctified; 1961, p. 313)
Still trying to predict the rise of the European system within their paradigm in the 1961 PT sequence, HWA prophesied that the Berlin crisis would lead to the collapse of America, and the rise of a united Nazi Germany.
The reverse happened. The strong US response to the Berlin crisis confirmed US leadership in Europe for more than three decades. Germany remained divided for almost thirty years. When it united, it did so as a democratic nation within the E.E.C. and an ally of the US in NATO.
In a 1962 PT article, HWA showed his complete ignorance of economics. He claimed, “There is no boom in sight" – when the US was at the beginning of the biggest growth period in its history and perhaps that of the world.
In 1962 the failure of Armstrongism to understand what was happening both technologically and prophetically was illustrated by the following statements:
"In Joel 1, in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and John 13-in Revelation 6, and in other prophecies, a revolution in the weather-leading to unprecedented famine by around 1970-72 is prophesied. In its wake is prophesied frightful disease epidemics! A third of the people of the U.S. and British Commonwealth nations will die of this scourge." (The Plain Truth. Herbert Armstrong, Feb. 1962, pp. 5, 7)
This aspect of prophecy was taken from the Book of Revelation, but completely misapplied. Global Warming and its role was not even mentioned, let alone comprehended or understood, as part of the sequence.
Ted Armstrong was establishing his father as a true prophet so that he might continue in his footsteps. He did that well enough, as neither he nor his assistants got anything right either.
In 1962 he said:
"It doesn't take an understanding of certain 'Bible doctrine,' or necessary agreement with it, to admit to yourself candidly that what Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was faithfully proclaiming back before, during and right at the close of World War II, and what he and others who have since come to join him in this great work of God have been proclaiming day in and day out ever since-is actually happening before your very eyes!" (Garner Ted Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Nov. 1962, p. 21)
In his first article, in the March 1963 PT, Gene Hogberg said the worst weather in a decade meant the start of the famine cycle. It seemed that each had to follow the leader in false prophecy. They reinforced and believed the false statements of each other as proof of reality.
In 1963 the JWs were not going to be left out of the false prophecy race either:
"Of what significance is this today? It means that by the fall of 1963 mankind has dwelt upon this earth 5,988 years. Does this mean, then, that by 1963 we had progressed 5,988 years into the 'day' on which Jehovah 'has been resting from all his work'? (Gen. 2:3) No, for the creation of Adam does not correspond with the beginning of Jehovah's rest day. Following Adam's creation, and still within the sixth creative day, Jehovah appears to have been forming further animal and bird creations. Also, he had Adam name the animals, which would take some time, and he proceeded to create Eve. (Gen. 2:18-22; see also NW, 1953 Ed., footnote on Vs. 19) Whatever time elapsed between Adam's creation and the end of the 'sixth day' must be subtracted from the 5,988 years in order to give the actual length of time from the beginning of the 'seventh day' until now. It does no good to use Bible chronology for speculating on dates that are still future in the stream of time." (All Scripture is inspired of God and Beneficial, 1963, page 286)
No chronology was identified that demonstrated this sequence, and the Ussher system was never checked. Had it been checked, it would have shown this statement to be yet another false prophecy.
In the November 30, 1963 co-worker’s letter Herbert Armstrong said: "We have only eight years to finish the Work". In a co-worker’s letter of November 22, 1963, he had said that: "In eight years all of our ministers will be silenced". He meant that religious persecution would silence the ministry of the Worldwide Church of God. At least it might have spared us all this false prophecy.
In 1964 Ron Kelly joined ranks with these false prophets and said:
"The unification of Germany? Perhaps it will take place sooner than we expect! The unification of ten nations in Europe is certain to be brought about within a very few years." (Ron Kelly, The Plain Truth, Sept. 1964, p. 20)
They decided that H-bomb warfare had to occur so, to fit it into their time-frame, they said in a 1964 co-worker’s letter that it was "only 7 years before H-bomb warfare breaks out".
In a 1965 PT article they said that by 1969 Britain would be helpless and impoverished seeking help from Germany. Roderick Meredith said in 1965 that:
"Frankly, literally dozens of prophesied events indicate that this final revival of the Roman Empire in Europe-and its bestial persecution of multitudes of Bible-believing Christians-will take place within the next seven to ten years of your life!" (Rod Meredith, The Plain Truth, Feb. 1965, p. 48)
In the same issue Rod Meredith reportedly said that there was "documented proof Hitler did not die in his bunker".
In May 1965 he went on to say:
"Bible prophecy indicates that the final attack on the U.S. and Britain by this coming 'Beast' power could easily be launched perhaps as early as the spring of 1972-or earlier ...." (Rod Meredith, The Plain Truth, May 1965, p. 45)
Rod Meredith claimed that a "trade embargo by the European Common Market will ruin Britain and US".
1965 was to be littered with silly and false statements that showed no prophetic insight whatsoever. Some were just bizarre. They said that East Jerusalem would remain in Gentile hands until Christ's coming, and less than two years later the Israelis conquered it.
The May 1965 PT claimed that: "Hitler will be falsely resurrected by the Pope".
In the 13 December 1965, co-worker’s letter Herbert Armstrong said: "We are in the grand smash climax - only 6 years left".
Herman Hoeh’s prophecy runs out of time and is proven false like everything else he said.
"The sword of Communism and of the revived fascism in Central and Southern Europe will begin (by 1965) to bring us to our knees."
Forty years later it is still an unrealized false prophecy.
In the late 1960s they began to claim that by the mid-1970s Britain would have lost all her seagates. Britain established her “East of Suez” policy at this time and after helping Malaysia and Singapore establish as major nations, withdrew from there. Britain relinquished Hong Kong at the end of the 200-year lease period at the end of the 20th century but still holds bases on Gibraltar, Cyprus, Ascension, Mauritius, and other places. It was announced publicly, but they had to turn it into a prediction on their part, and got it wrong even then.
In a 1966 PT article by Dale Schurter we were all told to “prepare for famine in US within 3-5 years”.
The failure of the RCG/WCG ministry to understand the Jubilee Calendar, or farming at all, meant they gave out wrong advice and then used that wrong advice as proof that there would be famine and things would not work.
Herbert Armstrong taught against fertilizer, and hundreds of WWCG farmer-members were bankrupted as a result of following his teaching that it was sinful. Their failure to restore the Jubilee Calendar also meant that the farmers never were in sync with the true calendar.
Roderick Meredith reportedly said in a 1966 sermon that within three years, by 1969, society would have collapsed in America. He said that millions would flee into cities. Why one would go to the city in a social collapse is baffling to the observer, but he said it. It did not happen, as we all know.
In 1966 the Ussher chronology was again thrown away and people came up with 1975 as the end of the 6,000-year period. What they based it on is as mysterious as the calculations of the JW system previously.
"According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man's creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E Six thousand years of man's existence on earth will soon be up, yea within this generation. The rein of Christ...to run parallel with the 7th millennium ..." (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, pp. 29-30)
So in 1966 we see that the JWs were running with 1975 as well as the RCG. This seemed to be a case of “my dogs barks when my neighbour’s dog barks”.
"Discussion of 1975 overshadowed about everything else. 'The new book compels us to realise that Armageddon is, in fact, very close indeed,' said a conventioneer." (Watchtower, 15/10/1966, p. 629)
In 1966 they ran with this book and used it as proof of a new (and equally false) system.
"In this twentieth century an independent study has been carried on that does not blindly follow some traditional chronological calculations of Christendom, and the published timetable resulting from this independent study gives the date of man's creation as 4026 B.C.E. So six thousand years of man's existence on earth will soon be up, yes, within this generation." (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, p29, 1966)
It seemed to be based on a date of 4026 BCE ending the 6000 years in 1975. If we took the creation of Adam in 4004 BCE, which is according to the Ussher chronology, then we take the fact that Adam was created as a man and we can arrive at a notional date of the Jubilee in 4024. This may well be the assumption that was used, but the dates were two years out as the JWs often are. The capacity for them to plagiarise from one another and their lack of historical education probably is at the root of this error. Thus the Jubilee 1977/8 is the one meant. The problem is then extended to the fact that the Earth was not cursed for another Jubilee. That is, it was not commenced until the end of Adam’s period of accountability until he was thirty years of age. Thus the end of the 6,000 years is at the earliest to end in the Jubilee of 2027 and not in 1977. If Herbert Armstrong and the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were keeping God’s Calendar and the Jubilee system correctly, they would never have made this or the previous errors (see also the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156)).
Both churches and ministries carried on in this vein in 1967.
"Just think, 1975 marks the end of 6,000 years of human experience.....Will it be the time when God executes the wicked?....It very well could be, but we will have to wait to see.' (Watchtower, 1/5/1967, p. 262)
"The 'Day of the Eternal'-a time foretold in more than thirty prophecies-is going to strike between 5 and 10 years from now!... I am not writing foolishly, but very soberly, on authority of the living Christ!" (Herbert Armstrong, The Plain Truth, Feb. 1967, p. 47)
So Herbert Armstrong claimed to speak on the authority of Christ and made Christ complicit in this false prophecy.
In the July 5, 1967 co-worker’s letter, HWA stated that: "the Jews will demolish the Dome on the Rock".
He also made agreements with powers that would have no power to do what he arranged within a short period. These facts showed he really had no prophetic knowledge of even the short-term realities.
He was to say "Right now, just prior by not more than five to seven years, to the coming terrible Day of the Lord, the living Christ has moved swiftly to open the all-important door that has been closed since the days of the original apostles!"...Almighty God has opened to The World Tomorrow [broadcast], exclusively, the gigantic door of superpower radio from Jerusalem!... We have signed with the Hashemite Government of Jordan, a five year binding contract...." "And when this time came, to whom did God open up these precious radio facilities? Not to Roman Catholics... nor the Protestants! Nor the Coptics [sic].... No, He has opened it exclusively, by binding contract with the Government of Jordan, to His Work.... This proves which voice on earth today is God's own voice.... If you ever had any doubts whatever about where the real Work of God is, you ought to be sure now!" (Ibid, p. 6) (Herbert Armstrong, Co-worker letter of April 17, 1967, pp. 3-4)
Armstrong was to say:
"There will very soon be a Temple in Jerusalem, with daily sacrifices once again being offered.... Jerusalem will be surrounded and captured...by the Fascist-Nazi armies of the European Empire, already starting to rise now out of the Common Market." (Herbert Armstrong, PT, June 1967, p. 2)
In the same year 1967 in the PT he said: “The Israelis will make a deal with the Vatican to build a Third Temple by 1972”.
In 1967 at Passover, speaking at Bricket Wood, England, Herbert Armstrong said that within the year Jordan would conquer west Jerusalem from Israel. The reality was that within six weeks Israel conquered all Jerusalem and took it from Jordan.
The JWs said in 1968:
"The immediate future is certain to be filled with climatic events, for this old system is nearing its complete end. Within a few years at most the final parts of Bible prophecy relative to these last days will undergo fulfilment resulting in the liberation of surviving mankind into Christ's glorious 1000 year reign!" (Watchtower, 1/5/1968)
They took up the time-frame advanced the previous year and in 1968 said:
“Eight years from the Autumn of 1967 would bring us to the Autumn of 1975, fully 6,000 years into God's seventh day, his rest day. (Watchtower, May 1, 1968, p. 271)
Again they said:
"Why Are You Looking Forward To 1975?" … "What about all this talk concerning the year 1975? Lively discussions, some based on speculation, have burst into flame during recent months among serious students of the Bible. Their interest has been kindled by the belief that 1975 will mark the end of 6,000 years of human history since Adam's creation. The nearness of such an important date indeed fires the imagination and presents unlimited possibilities for discussion." (Watchtower, Aug. 15, 1968, p. 494)
In the same issue they said:
"'Adam Created At Close Of 'Sixth Day' Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man's existence coincides with the Sabbath-like thousand-year reign of Christ....It may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years.” (Watchtower, Aug. 15, 1968, p. 499)
This false prophecy and hysterical scenario seemed to spread to the White House administration and not solely in 1968 either.
"I know enough of what is going on to assure you that, in fifteen years from today, this world is going to be too dangerous to live in." (Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, p 9, 1968 edition, Quoting USA Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1960, [1981 edition deleted "in fifteen years from today" i.e. in 1975])
They also carried on the false system of the RCG. It seemed to be that they fed off one another’s false prophecy. The JWs said:
"More recently, the book entitled "Famine-1975!" [by W. & P. Paddock, 1967, pp. 52,55,61.] said concerning today's food shortages: "Hunger is rampant throughout country after country, continent after continent around the undeveloped belt of the tropics and subtropics. Today's crisis can move in only one direction -toward catastrophe. Today hungry nations; tomorrow starving nations." … "By 1975 civil disorder, anarchy, military dictatorships, runaway inflation, transportation breakdowns and chaotic unrest will be the order of the day in many of the hungry nations." (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, pp. 88-89, 1968)
"1914 a marked year. Years in advance Bible Scholars realized that 1914 was to be a year of great significance. They expected great changes to take place, and the facts confirm that 1914 was, indeed, a marked year." (The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, 1968, 40,000,000 ed., p. 91)
"The Bible speaks of the time in which we are living as the "last days" or the "time of the end." (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 11:40) The facts show that this is a limited period that has a definite beginning and a definite end. It began in 1914 when Jesus Christ was enthroned as king in the heavens. It will end when God destroys this present wicked system of things. … How soon will that be? God's own Son, Jesus Christ, gives the answer. After drawing attention to the many things that mark the period from 1914 onward as the "time of the end," Jesus said: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Matthew 24:34) Which generation did he mean? Jesus had just referred to persons who would "see all these things." "These things" are the events that have taken place since 1914 and those yet to occur down to the end of this wicked system. (Matthew 24:33) Persons born even as much as fifty years ago could not see "all these things." They came on the scene after the foretold events were already under way. But there are people still living who were alive in 1914 and saw what was happening then and who were old enough that they still remember those events. This generation is getting up in years now. A great number of them have already passed away in death. Yet Jesus very pointedly said: 'This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. This means that only a short time is left before the end comes!" (Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, p. 94, 1968)
Here the JWs twist the 1914 scenario as a marked year or year of great significance rather than the end of times as they said in earlier years.
In 1968 they said:
"Just think, brothers, there are only about ninety months left before 6,000 years of mans existence on earth is completed... The majority of people living today will probably be alive when Armageddon breaks out, and there are no resurrection hopes for those who are destroyed then. So, now more than ever, it is vital not to ignore that spirit of wanting to do more." (Kingdom Ministry, March 1968, p. 4 [the calculation is based on 1968 + 90 months = 1975]).
Once again they had the sequence wrong.
In 1968 they explained that it was God that prevented things from happening in WWI and so they did not make the same mistake in WWII. Or did they? Nevertheless, they were making it again now, no matter what they had said and done before.
"During World War 1, God's people expected it to lead directly into Armageddon, but Jehovah prevented such a climax at that time. We didn't succumb to such an expectation during World War II. (Kingdom Ministry, Jan. 1968, p. 5)
They continued on in 1968 as follows. The end was here and the Bible signs foretold it.
"But what about today? Today we have the evidence required, all of it. And it is overwhelming! All the many, many parts of the great sign of the last days are here, together with verifying Bible chronology." (Awake!, Oct. 8, 1968, p. 23)
In 1968 the JWs even declared such people making these statements that did not come true as false prophets. They said that what was missing from these people was God’s Truth, and the evidence that He was using and guiding them. Amen. We agree.
"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an "end" to the world, even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from such people were God's truths and the evidence that He was using and guiding them.'' (Awake!, Oct. 8, 1968)
The scenario was carried on into 1969 with the JWs developing the theme. It was from this year as we will see that the RCG began to develop their time-frames more explicitly.
"There is only a short time left before Jehovah will destroy this wicked system of things." (Watchtower, Jan. 15, 1969)
"in view of the short time left, a decision to pursue a career in this system of things is not only unwise but extremely dangerous....Many young brothers and sisters were offered scholarship or employment that promised fine pay. However, they turned them down and put spiritual interests first." (Kingdom Ministry, June 1969, p. 3)
In 1969 they said they had made a recheck of their chronology, and said that the sixth millennium would end in the mid-seventies. No such calculation was possible if their previous dates were correct. Indeed, according to their dates, the commencement of Satan’s rule had been started from the Jubilee before the creation of Adam, and not afterwards. That was a simple but critical error. In other words they had Satan ruling even at the Garden of Eden. Their earlier chronology bore no resemblance to the late one and had it ending in 1874/1876, which was plainly absurd. Yet even today they still defend the 1914 structure starting from 1874/76 as we see above.
More recently earnest researchers of the Holy Bible have made a recheck of its chronology. According to their calculations the six millenniums of mankind's life on earth would end in the mid-seventies. Thus the seventh millennium from mans creation by Jehovah god would begin within less than ten years. Apart from the global change that present-day world condition indicate is fast getting near, the arrival of the seventh millennium of mans existence on earth suggests a gladsome change for war-stricken humankind. ...In order for the Lord Jesus Christ to be Lord even of the Sabbath day, his thousand-year reign would have to be the seventh in a series of thousand-year periods or millenniums. (Matt 12:8, AV) Thus it would be a sabbatic reign. Since early in the existence of mankind Satan the Devil has been on the loose, making the human family to toil in hard bondage, causing the earth to be filled with violence before the global flood of Noahs day and inducing the same old earth to be filled with even greater violence today. Soon now six millenniums of his wicked exploiting of mankind as his slaves will end, within the lifetime of the generation that has witnessed world events since the close of the gentile times in 1914 till now, according to the prophetic words of Jesus in Matthew 24:34. Would not, then, the end of six millenniums of mankind's laborious enslavement under Satan the Devil be the fitting time for Jehovah God to usher in a Sabbath millennium for all his human creatures? Yes, indeed! And his King Jesus Christ will be Lord of that Sabbath." (Watchtower, Nov. 15, 1969, pp. 622, 623)
After 1969 Herbert Armstrong (by design or default) began to agree with the JWs and claimed that Christ’s coming would be 1975, whereas in the 1960s he had claimed it would be 1972, as we see above.
A bevy of strange and false prophecies and prophets were to emerge in the 1970s.
In early 1970s co-workers’ letters a number of prophetic claims began to emerge. Herbert Armstrong said that: “Prince Charles will become king of England and become the wicked prince prophesied in the Book of Isaiah”.
The Armstrong claims were that Germany would make a deal with the Soviets to take over Eastern Europe. However, it was the US that negotiated the Soviet withdrawal from East Europe in 1989-91
The late Moses David (formerly David Berg) was the founder of the Christian religious group, The Children of God. He predicted that a comet would hit the earth, probably in the mid-1970s and destroy all life in the United States. One source indicated that he believed it would happen in 1973.
Tele-evangelist Arnold Murray taught an anti-Trinitarian belief about God, and Christian Identity. In the 1970s, he predicted that the Antichrist would appear before 1981.
In 1971 The JWs said:
"Shortly, within our twentieth century, the "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom." (The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah, 1971, 2nd ed., p. 216)
After Leonid Brezhnev became Soviet leader in 1964, nuclear tensions with the West eased dramatically. By 1972, Brezhnev, with Nixon, had inaugurated the era of superpower détente. This détente was at the very time that Herbert Armstrong and Herman Hoeh had for so long claimed America would be destroyed. It is almost as though they gave utterance to a deep desire of the demons that was not allowed to surface for some time to come.
As 1972 approached and the time came to flee to the “place of safety” we heard all sorts of things from the Armstrong system. In 1972 Herbert Armstrong said:
"We do not set dates!... Yet in our human zeal and enthusiasm for getting this greatest mission on earth done, we have a few times come close to it or appeared to-and that we deeply regret...if we...appear to set a date, I feel I do not need to apologize!" (Herbert Armstrong, Tomorrow's World, Feb. 1972, p. 31)
What does one have to do to qualify for setting dates if they had not done that?
The JWs meanwhile were on the way to another embarrassing failure. In 1972 they said:
"Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?" (Watchtower April 1, 1972, p. 197)
"Does this admission of making mistakes stamp them [Watchtower] as false prophets? Not at all, for false prophets do not admit to making mistakes." (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1972, p. 644)
If we admit we were false prophets we are not actually false prophets or so they seemed to say here. Yet look at what they said above. That was clear enough. They were guilty of false prophecy clearly enough.
"If it is his purpose to have this beautification of the whole earth accomplished by the end of his seventh creative day - Scripturally a period of seven thousand years, then the time is near at hand for the ruining of the earth by exploiters to be stopped by theocratic power and the blessed transformation to a delightsome garden to begin. Already, nearly six thousand years of man's existence from the close of the sixth creative day have run their dreary course. We must be approaching the threshold of that thousand-year-long reign of Jesus Christ, which must be accompanied by Paradise according to what Jesus promised the sympathetic evildoer on the stake there at Mount Calvary." (Paradise Restored to Mankind - By Theocracy, 1972; p. 18)
The newly named and articled Worldwide Church of God was to say, from 1973 onwards, that:
Britain will leave the European Community.
It is now thirty years and Britain is still in. No referendum is allowed to its people to leave. Although they may well opt to leave if they had a referendum.
In 1974 Herbert Armstrong claimed that:
There have been two wars in the Persian Gulf and Iraq and there is no sign of an end to the conflict. It is escalating and pressure is mounting now on the US. Armstrong and his ministry saw none of this.
In 1974 the JWs were still rationalising their prophetic error-filled scenario.
"this remnant of anointed ones have identified themselves on the pages of history since 1914 C.E. Before this year members of this anointed remnant had been earnestly studying God's Word apart from Christendom. They put the Holy Bible ahead of man-made religious traditions. As early as 1876 they were publishing that the Gentile Times of 2,520 years would terminate in the year 1914. Events that have taken place from that year onward prove they were not wrong." (God's "Eternal Purpose" Now Triumphing For Man's Good, 1974, pp. 178-179)
"Yes, the end of this system is so very near! Is that not reason to increase our activity?...Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world's end." (Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3)
'It also tells us that this millennium must be preceded immediately by the most destructive war in all human history. We can now see the political rulers... being gathered... for that War of all wars....' (Watchtower, July 1, 1974, p. 397)
The only thing they have right is that the Millennium is indeed preceded by the most destructive war in human history. However, neither Armstrong, nor the JWs ever understood how or when.
In 1974 the Astronomers John Gribben and Stephen Plagemann predicted the "Jupiter Effect". They wrote that when various planets were aligned on the same side of the sun, tidal forces would create solar flares, radio interruptions, rainfall and temperature disturbances and massive earthquakes. The planets did align in 1984 as they had done many times before in history. The alignment, as seen from the Earth, saw nothing unusual happen.
1975 came and the problems were the same as the JWs experienced with their false prophecy in 1925:
"The year 1925 came and went. Jesus' anointed followers were still on earth as a class. The faithful men of old time - Abraham, David and others - had not been resurrected to become princes in the earth. (Ps. 45:16) So, as Anna MacDonald recalls: '1925 was a sad year for many brothers. Some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed...Instead of it's being considered a 'probability,' they read into it that it was a 'certainty.' and some prepared for their loved ones with expectations of their resurrection." (Yearbook, 1975, p. 146)
In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for brother Rutherford’s use. Concerning this property the 1939 book Salvation stated: 'At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth Sarim. (Yearbook, 1975, p. 194)
"Does this mean, then, that mankind has now reached 6,000 years into the 7,000 year period that God blessed and made sacred as his rest day? ... No, It does not mean that." (Watchtower, 1/10/1975, p. 579)
They said the opposite up until now. It seems as though their followers will simply adjust to any restatement without appeal to the facts of the past. Our people are being conditioned to this form of propaganda all over the world. This practice will ultimately destroy our freedom and all accountability on the part of our leaders in all walks of life.
They also said in 1975:
However, suddenly, there came an end to World War 1. It did not lead on, as Bible students expected, into world revolution and anarchy or the battle of Armageddon. And the sincere worshippers of Jehovah who were in the new covenant with him through his Mediator Jesus Christ, found themselves still in the flesh on the earth. (Man's Salvation Out Of World Distress At Hand, 1975, p. 98)
Furthermore, the remnant of spiritual Israel had for decades, yes, since 1876, been looking forward to the ending of the Times of the Gentiles in the autumn of 1914. They were expecting God's Messianic Kingdom to be fully established in the heavens by then and also for the remnant of spiritual Israel to be glorified with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom at that time. All understanding of the Holy Scriptures was slanted in that direction or adjusted to that idea. And when the year 1914 ended amid the flames of World War 1 and the remnant of spiritual Israel found themselves still here on the earth, then they were inclined to think that they would be glorified in the year 1918, three and a half years after the end of the Gentile Times. (Man's Salvation Out Of World Distress At Hand, 1975, p. 136)
But as usual it seemed to make no real difference to either them or the Worldwide Church of God. This failure was a great disappointment to both churches. Many people sold their property and gave the proceeds to the Church expecting to be taken away to the Place of Safety in 1972. The properties were not returned. The ministry simply used the funds for their own purposes. These problems had been experienced in 1844 with the Adventists, and the later times as we see above under the JWs. It appears that the homes were kept each time. Many lost everything.
A major point of note in this sequence is that after the 1972-1975 failure and the withdrawal of 1975 in Prophecy by the WCG, a number of definitions were rewritten. Herbert Armstrong revised his definition of what spreading the gospel meant, to buy his way into brief meetings with leaders around the world.
Curiously, many of the leaders were toppled from office or even murdered (like President Allende of Chile) within a month of meeting him.
The accepted view of the Worldwide Church of God on that aspect was that: "Satan is removing these men before they can act on God's message". No one remarked that this interpretation made Satan out to be more powerful than God. The common sense "religious" interpretation might be that these people came under a curse for meeting Herbert Armstrong, or listening to him in the first place. It is also possible that they became accountable for some reason even though Herbert Armstrong himself could not have been, given his performance.
The magnitude of the scale of false prophecy began to abate after this time, as the leaders became too old and industrially senile to concoct scenarios of the same magnitude without altering their written background work. The others simply did not know enough.
By this time Christ had not arrived as predicted. Indeed, the WCG had not only not gone to Petra as their Place of Safety as stated by Armstrong and his ministry, it also did not even look like going anywhere. The false doctrine surrounding this prophecy is explained in the paper The Place of Safety (No. 194). As we have seen, not a single prophecy they or the JWs made had come to pass.
The back-pedalling and self-justification had begun, mind you, without actually admitting any errors.
In the middle of the 1970s Herbert Armstrong had trouble with a large number of ministers over errors and internal politics.
In an effort to control them he said in a newsletter in the middle of the 1970s:
"Ministers who rebel against me and leave this organization are reduced to working with their hands."
It was observed by other writers and by people who have left the WCG system that this comment was a revealing statement on how he saw "the dignity of labor". Indeed, much of his ministry had never worked with their hands and many had barely worked at all, unless we count a midweek Bible study and a Sabbath sermon as work.
Regardless of the facts of the matter, there were two of these ministers who left him and who became wealthy. Art Makarow and Robert Kuhn became millionaires. Another, Ernest Martin, became prosperous, successful and was also respected in the biblical academic community. Indeed, had Ernest Martin been listened to while in WCG, many of the errors of Armstrongism would have been corrected and perhaps many more people might still be alive over the healing doctrines.
1975 was held to have “marked the beginning of a period of education in the written Word of God from the standpoint that Bible prophecy is best understood after it has been fulfilled. So there needed to be a correction of our previous views, and the surviving remnant of spiritual Israel needed to be readjusted to the post-war realities and opportunities. ... This revised program of Bible education had a profound effect on the remnant. It oriented their work in the right direction.” (Man's Salvation Out Of World Distress At Hand, 1975, p. 191)
"It may be that some who have been serving God have planned their lives according to a mistaken view of just what was to happen on a certain date or in a certain year. They may have, for this reason, put off or neglected things that they otherwise would have cared for. But they have missed the point of the Bibles warnings concerning the end of this system of things, thinking that Bible chronology reveals the specific date." (Watchtower, July 15, 1976, p. 440)
After so many failures the JW system now began to deny that Bible Chronology reveals the dates. In other words, they did not understand the Mysteries of God and thus denied their existence.
Herbert Armstrong had not given up making false statements, even though he had been wrong on every single occasion he made a prophecy. For an unexplained reason, and perhaps he did not know the reason himself, he used the year 1927 as a reference point. It was the previous Jubilee year from the year in which he was speaking, and which was itself a Jubilee year. He could have made some sense of that fact but did not do so. Instead he said:
"During this generation-within 60 to 90 years or less-from 1927-Christ will come again...." (HWA, Co-worker letter, Jan. 20, 1977, p. 4)
This was the only prophecy Herbert Armstrong ever uttered that had a chance of becoming true, but at the latter ninety years and not the sixty years which was the earlier period. If he had understood the Jubilee timings and system he would have made much more of this potential period, which was in fact the approximate end of the age. If the six thousand-year period symbolised by the six working days of the week has any validity, and the 4004 BCE date of the Bible Chronology is correct, then Satan’s period of rule ends in 2027 CE. That year is 6,000 years from 3974/3 BCE, which marked the cursing of the Earth and the beginning of the time-frame in the first year of the cycle in 3973 BCE. The time by which it is cut short is the time from which Messiah is sent to the Earth to save those who eagerly await him. This simple understanding was not even comprehended by Armstrong, Hoeh, Meredith or any of the other WCG ministry, or the Church of God (Seventh Day), or the RCG/WCG offshoots; or by the Adventists, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is the most basic and critical of all the prophetic tables of reference and it was never used or correctly calculated. God’s Calendar is fundamental to understanding all Bible Prophecy. To understand it, we have to keep it properly, and we have to keep the Astronomical New Moons (or Conjunctions) as its basis.
In 1977 also, the JWs were looking to the Sabbath year of 1926 in the previous Jubilee cycle. They seemed not to even comprehend its significance although it simply followed the disappointment of 1925 and this seems to have been the reason. It also may be the reason Herbert Armstrong took 1927 up, and perhaps from, or using, their garbled theories. Herbert was a great plagiariser and he may well have been stealing the errors from the JWs as well as the material of Rupert and Allen, and the others. The JWs said:
Truly the year 1926 deserved to be marked as the happy climax of the close of the 1,335 days. Those of Daniel's "people" who kept in expectation and reached the end of the 1,335 days were launched off into a happiness that has not diminished, but that, despite mounting persecution and World War II (1939-1945) and subsequent world troubles, has persisted and increased. (Our Incoming World Government-God's Kingdom, pp. 146-147, 1977)
By this time televangelism had taken off in a big way and there were budding false prophets everywhere.
In 1978, Chuck Smith, Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Cost Mesa, CA, predicted the rapture in 1981.
In a 1978 co-worker’s letter, HWA predicted that the next Pope would very rapidly unite Europe. This matter of the Pope in 1978 was a major element of prophecy, but he did not seem to understand the ramifications. John Paul I was murdered in the Vatican after a month in office, and before he could bring in the reforms he planned. John Paul II, who did not unite Europe, succeeded him. However, the EEC has expanded under his papacy. John Paul II was severely disabled and had been expected to die for long a time. (He finally succumbed in April 2005.) See the paper The Last Pope: Examining Nostradamus and Malachy (No. 288).
In 1979 The Jehovah’s Witnesses published some comments on the inspiration of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society leaders. They call them “faithful and discreet slaves”, and they are of the so-called “slave class”. They claimed that the parts that formed the Christian part of God’s Word were inspired and infallible, but the later writings were not inspired and infallible. This is the first real admission that these endless false prophesies of Russell and Rutherford were uninspired. From this admission we can form two observations and discrete divisions.
1. The Bible is inspired.
2. The writings of the JWs are not inspired and have not been since their inception.
“Because of this hope, the "faithful and discreet slave" has alerted all of God's people to the sign of the times indicating the nearness of God's Kingdom rule. In this regard, however, it must be observed that this "faithful and discreet slave" was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the "slave" class that came to form the Christian part of God's Word were inspired and infallible, but that is not true of other writings since. Things published were not perfect in the days of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; nor were they perfect in the days of J.F. Rutherford, the succeeding president. The increasing light on God's Word as well as the facts of history have repeatedly required that adjustments of one kind or another be made down to the very present time. But let us never forget that the motives of this "slave" were always pure, unselfish; at all times it has been well meaning. (The Watchtower, March 1, 1979, p. 24)
If they were well meaning, the failures would have resulted in a different reaction and modifications to the procedures and activities of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. They gave no evidence of their bona fides in that regard. They also said:
“Partly because of eagerness to be alive when Jesus Christ reveals himself in glory, there have been believers throughout the centuries who began looking for a particular period or a year for the windup of the ungodly system of things. This has happened right down to these "last days." Since certain expectations were not realized, many stumbled and returned to the ways of the world. In fulfilment of Peter's words, even today we hear the voice of ridiculers. (2Peter 3:3,4)” (Choosing The Best Way Of Life, 1979, p. 169)
In 1979, an article by Gene Hogberg in the PT said that the Panama Canal Treaty means the US has forever lost control of the canal.
In 1989 the US invaded Panama and ousted the anti-American dictator, Noriega. However, the loss of the canal to permanent US control is still a worrying factor in international politics.
In 1980 Leland Jensen, the leader of a Baha'i World Faith group, predicted that a nuclear disaster would happen in 1980. This would be followed by two decades of conflict, ending in the establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth.
The nuclear hostilities are seemingly evident from the Bible texts. However, aside from Japan, they did not occur in the 20th century despite these many prophecies.
The JWs were still hedging their bets and making statements regarding their prophecies in 1975. They were now claiming that some had said it was more a probability than a possibility. Readers can see for themselves what they actually did say. They seem to continually rewrite matters to fit their statements. Their comments regarding earthquake activity are also being examined elsewhere, to show it is the opposite of what was claimed for the 20th century after 1914, but that is another matter for another day.
"With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, and its comments as to how appropriate it would be for the millennial reign of Christ to parallel the seventh millennium of mans existence, considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. Unfortunately, however, along with such cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. There were statements made then, and thereafter, stressing that this was only a possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a build-up of the expectation already initiated....In saying anyone, the Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah's Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the build-up of hopes centered on that date. (Watchtower, March 15, 1980, pp. 17-18)
However, they still cannot give up the false statements. They also said:
If the wicked system of this world survived until the turn of the century (the year 2000), which is highly improbable in view of world trends and the fulfilment of Bible prophecy, there would still be survivors of the World War I generation. However, the fact that their number is dwindling is one more indication that "the conclusion of the system of things" is moving fast toward its end. (The Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1980, p. 31)
The fact is that the people who were alive in 1914 are now almost all dead, and the century has ended. We are still not through the necessary events that must take place before the coming of the Messiah. The youngest would have been 90 years of age in the beginning of 2005.
In 1981 the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, predicted that the Kingdom of Heaven would be established in that year. It was not, and he thus joined the ranks of the false prophets.
In 1982 the JWs began to say that their predictions were actually correct, and that things began right on time in 1914 as they had predicted. One needs only to look at what they said above to realise the falsity of these claims. Even their claims about what was said or claimed by the world leaders were false. The world powers drifted into WWI with certain inevitability about it and a sense of adventure and empire. They said:
"The Bible not only foretold these things, but indicated that they would occur on a worldwide scale. Also, the Bible said that all these things would happen upon the generation that was alive in 1914. Yet what were prominent world leaders foretelling just before 1914? They were saying that conditions promising world peace were never more favorable. Yet the terrible troubles the Bible foretold began right on time, in 1914! In fact, world leaders now say that 1914 was a turning point in history. After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, Jesus said: 'This generation will by no means pass away until all these things [including the end of this system] occur.' (Matthew 24:34, 14) Which generation did Jesus mean? He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914. Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old. However, some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. So of this we can be certain: Shortly now there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon." (You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, p. 154, 1982)
In 1982 Pat Robertson joined the ranks of the false prophets. He predicted a few years previously that the world would end in the fall of 1982.
In 1982, Herbert Armstrong made another false prophecy showing his total ignorance of the British. In a co-worker’s letter he told the faithful to expect Argentina to sink Britain's Royal Navy in the Falkland War. That did not happen, although the British destroyers were actually found to have a weakness in the deck systems. The steel had been replaced by inflammable aluminium compounds for lightness and hence speed. A few were lost, but otherwise it was a total victory for Britain in less than two months. The Argentine Navy was crippled or trapped in port, and the Argentine Air Force was destroyed. The Argentine dictator and his supporters and their system fell.
In another 1982 co-worker’s letter he said:
"I hope to arrange for the use of Petra as a possible refuge or place of safety during the Great Tribulation when I see King Hussein. Pray for this please."
Anyone who had been to the area would have been praying for the reverse. Even in 1992 there were still people of the opinion that the Place of Safety existed and it was Petra. There were articles published on the matter. One of the CCG leaders heard a sermon given on Petra by a WCG evangelist in 1988. It was a mixture of Scriptures combined to show that the word Selah in Hebrew meant Rock, and that word applied to Petra. Where any reference was made to Selah it meant Petra. Selah was used in a relationship to Kadesh Barnea, which was conveniently misplaced by a hundred-odd kilometers to the other side of the Dead Sea. Selah was dragged from sections in the Psalms and used as a reference to Petra, no matter what the context – it was used completely out of context and meaning. The sermon was fascinating in its appeal to ignorance.
Herbert Armstrong’s prophecies were never right and no one took him seriously except the people in WCG who had suspended judgment.
It has been observed by a number of people that, on his last visit to Jerusalem, in 1984, Herbert Armstrong began to realize that he was regarded as irrelevant, or worse. The Israeli leaders did not take him seriously. By this time he was industrially incompetent at the very least. It is alleged that he raved before an audience of diplomats saying, that ruin and destruction would come after him. He died in January 1986. The date of 16 January then became a date in subsequent years for which subsequent false prophets in the offshoots, such as the Philadelphia Church of God, continually made false prophecies.
His curses on Israel seemed to be of no effect. The war with Lebanon ended almost immediately afterwards. The decade that followed saw much greater peace and economic stability and prosperity for Israel and Jerusalem, with inflation now under control. The 1987 Palestinian uprising was unable to dislodge Israeli control.
It was perhaps that the loss of Jerusalem by Jordan and the kingdom, to Israel, rankled Armstrong. It stopped him broadcasting from there. One might say that God silenced him from spreading his false prophecy from Jerusalem.
At the very least, we must assume God was indifferent to it as He did not intervene and Herbert Armstrong never undertook that function. Thus, he cannot have been in any capacity as a witness, or indeed a prophet at all from all of the above.
In 1984 the JWs were still speculating on how the survivors of the 1914 era might last until the end. Even after all that error and false prophecy they were still setting dates for which Christ obviously had no plan keeping.
“Some of that "generation (of 1914)" could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that "the end" is much closer than that! (The Watchtower, March 1, 1984, pp. 18-19)
In 1984 they had to rewrite the customary understanding of the term “generation”. It was usually understood to mean a period of forty years and that period usually applied to a period of repentance also. They had to stretch it then to mean those actually born at the time and still alive at present. Even then they were running out of time and live bodies. They said:
"These definitions embrace both those born around the time of a historic event and all those alive at that time. If Jesus used 'generation' in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80's or 90's, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them 'will by no means pass away until all things occur." (Watchtower, 15 May 1984, p. 5)
The fact is that no matter how wrong, they will not give up an erroneous theory. They don’t understand the biblical time-frames and don’t know how to correct what they have said. If they kept God’s Laws and obeyed Him they could all learn, and correct their views, simply by following what the CCG had done and said. They all have to start with the Laws of God and keep the Sabbaths of God first, and then understanding will be added to them as they are obedient. Herbert Armstrong corrupted God’s Calendar in the Church of God, among other sins, and thus knowledge was deprived from him and his ministry.
In 1986 the JWs were still trying to justify 1914 as some significant date in prophecy, which it was not. They said:
“As far back as 1876, Jehovah' s Witnesses realized that Bible prophecy marked the year 1914 C.E. as a time when major events would take place that would have far-reaching effects on human affairs. They gave the reason for this fact wide publicity. (True Peace And Security, 1986, p. 70)
On the same page they said:
“Prophetic information in the Bible about our day detail the following: ... (4) The survival of at least some of the generation that saw the beginning of "the conclusion of the system of things." (True Peace And Security, 1986, p. 70)
Now this explanation is directly contrary to the Bible prophecy of these matters, because they do not understand The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143) (ibid.). God said, through the prophet Isaiah, that the righteous were taken away to protect them from these things (Isa. 57:1-2).
The Rapture was predicted to occur on 3rd October 1988 by Edgar E. Whisenant. No such thing occurred, as we all know. Indeed it could not have occurred. It is contrary to Bible prophecy as we explained in The Millennium and the Rapture (No. 95). He then explained that his maths had been incorrect.
In 1989 the JWs were still hard at work getting it wrong.
"The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century." (Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1989, p. 12 [the bound volume changed "20th century" to "day"])
In this year they started to rationalise how the early JWs (Bible Students) were really part of a personality cult based around the exaltation of Russell and the Judge. Thus, the leadership were distancing themselves for the false prophecy and the false prophets even though they themselves had been and still were pushing that bandwagon. They said:
“In the early part of our 20th century prior to 1919, the Bible Students, as Jehovah's Witnesses were then known, had to be released from a form of spiritual captivity to the ideas and practices of false religion. Although having rejected such false teachings as the Trinity and immortal soul, they were still tainted by Babylonish practices. Many had developed a self-righteous attitude in character development. Some were exalting creatures, indulging in a personality cult that focused on Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Without any Biblical basis, they were observing birthdays and Christmas. The cross was still prominent in their thinking. Some even wore a cross-and-crown lapel emblem, while others sought the respectability accorded Christendom” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1989, p. 3)
Notice they had still retained their “Church of God” doctrines, being Unitarian, and rejected the soul doctrine, birthdays, Christmas etc. But the basis of their rejection of these practices stemmed from the Laws of God, which they then claimed had been done away with in order to reject the Sabbath and the Calendar. Their theology is logically untenable. It is based on the errors of a proven false prophet whom they now acknowledge to be part of a personality cult. Why then do they not repent and restore the Laws of God? It is simply too hard and they don’t understand it.
In 1989 they also had to explain the fact that they had grown and much more was now at stake. They were happy with the way things were, thank you.
"Back in 1904, the book The New Creation called attention to this new organization that came into existence in the first century C.E. (Studies In The Scriptures, Series VI, Study V, entitled "The Organization of the New Creation") Owing to its view of what the end of the Gentile Times would mean, that book did not envision the remarkable organizational work that was due to take place after the crippling effects of the first world war of human history." (The Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1989, pp. 12-13)
They even reversed some of their earlier predictions and timings. They labelled the Roman Catholics for doing something they themselves had done. In 1989 they said:
"Some Roman Catholics have claimed that Jesus Christ's thousand Year Reign ended in 1799 when French armies captured Rome and deposed the pope as its ruler, so that he was deported as a prisoner to France, where he died." (Watchtower, Sept. 1, 1989, p. 12. In the 1927 Creation work they made the same argument on pages 293 and 294.)
They carried on to justify the fact that they were kept alive in the flesh after 1918, and that perhaps prevented them from properly understanding the Resurrection of the Dead.
The preservation of the remnant of spiritual new creation to the end of World War 1 in 1918 and their being kept alive in the flesh in the post-war year of 1919 came as a wondrous surprise. (The Watchtower, Sept.1, 1989, p.13)
They further distanced themselves from the false prophecies but referred back to the so-called “slave class” of which their leaders claim to follow in the path of the apostles. If they followed the apostles they would do as they did and keep the Sabbaths, the News Moons, and the Feasts of God. They said that they have:
“a modern Governing Body of older Christian men from various parts of the earth who give needed oversight to the worldwide activities of God's people. These men, like the apostles and older men in Jerusalem in the first century, are anointed members of the faithful and discreet slave class designated by Jesus to care for all of his Kingdom interests here upon earth. History has proved that they can be trusted to follow the direction of the holy spirit and that they do not rely on human wisdom in teaching the flock of God the ways of genuine peace” (The Watchtower, Dec. 15, 1989, p. 6)
In these days of conjectural prophecy the Pentecostals did not want to be left out in the cold, so they joined the bandwagon as well in 1989, in the form of Benny Hinn. On 31 December 1989, Benny Hinn, speaking at the Orlando Christian Centre, reportedly said words to the effect of:
"The Spirit tells me … Fidel Castro will die … in the 90's. Some will try to kill him and they will not succeed. But there will come a change in his physical health, and he will not stay in power, and Cuba will be visited of God." – (Benny Hinn, Orlando Christian Center, 31 Dec. 1989)
He also reportedly went on and said at the same meeting:
"The Lord also tells me to tell you in the mid 90's, about '94-'95, no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community of America. [A this point the audience applauded] But He will not destroy it - with what many minds have thought Him to be, He will destroy it with fire. And many will turn and be saved, and many will rebel and be destroyed." (Benny Hinn Orlando Christian Center, 31 Dec. 1989)
In 1990, Elizabeth Clare, prophetess of Church Universal and Triumphant, prophesied that nuclear war would occur in that year. This was yet another false prophecy.
In this year the JWs were still trying to calm ruffled feathers and disillusioned brethren.
“Adult Christians too can be disappointed, and this has in some cases led to spiritual disaster. Some set their hope on a date when they were sure Armageddon would come. When nothing happened on that day, they felt let down. (The Watchtower, 4/15/1990, p. 27)
In spite of their false prophecy the JWs still had not learned and gave us another dose in 1992.
"Today, a small percentage of mankind can still recall the dramatic events of 1914. Will that elderly generation pass away before God saves the earth from ruin? Not according to Bible prophecy. 'When you see all these things,' Jesus PROMISED, 'know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that THIS generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' - Matthew 24:33, 34." (Watchtower May 1, 1992, page 3: The Year That Shocked The World)
We saw new members added to the ranks of the prophets in 1992 also. The Church of the Living Stone Mission for the Coming Days prophesied that Jesus would return on October 28, 1992.
In 1993 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society began to rewrite its history of prophecy and prediction. The Society produced a work that allegedly contained a history of events and important dates for the Society and the religious movement. It was titled Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, and was published in 1993. As many have observed at the end of this book there is a chronological section called “Notable Dates”. Most observers are appalled that the predictions for 1925 and 1975 which, as we see from this work seemed endless in their speculation, were not even listed. Some observers have said that it was a revision of history for the gullible new converts.
Yet they did mention 1914 and 1925 in their writings of that year. This seems to be the use of a sort of cognitive dissonance.
"Further, the widely circulated booklet Millions Now Living Will Never Die presented the view that in 1925, God's purposes regarding the restoring of the earth to Paradise and the resurrecting of the faithful ones of old would begin to be fulfilled. ... The year 1925 came to its conclusion, but the end was not yet! Ever since the 1870's, Bible Students had been serving with a date in mind - first 1914, then 1925. Now they realized that they must serve for as long as Jehovah wishes" (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1993, p. 12)
In 1995 the JWs introduced another version of the term this generation used in Matthew 24 by Christ, than they had used previously in applying it to the 1914 generation. They said the term
"apparently refers to the peoples of earth (now) who see the sign of Christ presence but fail to mend their ways." (Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p.12)
However they had also said in June of 1995:
Bible Students, known since 1931 as Jehovah's Witnesses, also expected that the year 1925 would see the fulfilment of marvellous Bible prophecies. ... More recently, many Witnesses conjectured that events associated with the beginning of Christ's Millennial Reign might start to take place in 1975. Their anticipation was based on the understanding that the seventh millennium of human history would begin then. (Awake!, June 22, 1995, p. 9)
The change reflected in the text of the 1 November 1995 article of the Watchtower was reflected in the publishing of the Awake in 1995, "Why Awake is Published". Before 8 November 1995 they said:
“Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away."
After 8 November 1995 the reference to “1914 generation” was deleted. The edition said:
"Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things."
Thus, like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in the novel 1984, in which Winston worked ceaselessly rewriting the records of the past to fit the politics of the present, we see the prophecies reworked and rewritten, or erased to hide the fact that the leaders are fallible and what’s more, purport to speak for God when they have been given no such command. More importantly, they are endlessly in error.
The most important thing to note is that if anyone who asserts to speak for God and does not speak according to the Law and the Testimony, there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20).
Herbert Armstrong not only was not a prophet of God, but he also never made a prophecy that was correct or came to pass. Thus, he failed the first test. He was a simple minister of the Church of God (SD) who became an independent, and performed in an independent ministry of the Churches of God. He was recognised by the JWs as a true minister of God.
So also we may dismiss Charles Taze Russell, and Judge Rutherford, and everyone else who has produced a false prophecy in this record. They were not prophets. They were simply officers of the Adventist system who took those doctrines and used them to their advantage, as had Herbert Armstrong.
History of the Leaders of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
Charles Taze Russell, was born February 16, 1852, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was originally raised a Presbyterian but became a Congregationalist. At 16 years of age in 1868, he found himself losing faith. He had begun to doubt not only church creeds and doctrines but also God and the Bible itself. At this critical juncture a chance encounter restored his faith and placed him under the influence of Second Adventist preacher, Jonas Wendell.
He came under the influence of various Adventist laymen and clergy. The most notable of these were Advent Christian Church minister, George Stetson and the Bible Examiner's publisher George Storrs. He came to meet locally on a regular basis with a small circle of friends to discuss the Bible, and this informal study group came to regard him as their leader or pastor.
Russell came to be associated with an Adventist system to which he became exposed in January 1876 when he was 23 years old. Russell had received a copy of The Herald of the Morning, an Adventist magazine published by Nelson H. Barbour of Rochester, New York.
The reader might recall from our other publications, that the Adventists had reached “The Great Disappointment” in 1844 when the proclaimed coming of the Messiah failed to materialise. The Advent covered the period commencing in 1842 proclaiming the Advent from March 1843 and readjusted to March 1844, and end at Atonement in October 1844. The prophecies had failed to produce a Messiah. The Adventists called this “The Great Disappointment.” Ellen G. White had grown from this aspect, and her particular brand of false prophecy was directed at proving vegetarianism. The heavenly Millennium was directed at hiding the prophecies that proved an earthly system with meat consumption during the millennial system. We have drawn attention to these errors and false prophecies in the papers The Pre-Advent Judgment (No. 176) and The Millennium and the Rapture (No. 95).
The Church of God (Seventh Day) had been formed from a group of the Churches of God that had not been embroiled in this same false prophecy, and had split from the Adventists following the Whites’ errors and the false prophecies of Ellen G. White. Others, under the broad heading of "Adventism", included the Advent Christian Church, the Life and Advent Union, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and various Second Adventist groups.
Barbour’s group had arisen among the Adventists that had been affected by “The Great Disappointment”. They managed to get around this failure by projecting an invisible return, and by the 1870s they had an independent organisation such that they could publish these claims. Barbour's group at that time claimed that Christ returned invisibly in 1874.
Barbour had come up with a basis for reinterpreting the Second Coming as an invisible event in this way. In Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott translation of the New Testament, the word rendered coming in the King James Version of Matthew 24:27,37,39, is translated presence. This rendering served as the basis for Barbour's group to advocate an invisible presence of Christ based on their time calculations for that event.
In January 1876 Russell saw this concept in the Herald and it got his attention. He saw the potential of this Adventist splinter group. In this way, the failure of Christ to appear in 1844 as Adventist leaders had predicted was overcome. It is an error to assert that the group simply said that Christ did return in 1844, but invisibly. They may have done so earlier, but there is no published record of that assertion. However, the date published was organised around 1874, some thirty years later and probably after the publication of Wilson’s Diaglott.
Russell was moderately wealthy and so he paid Barbour's way to Philadelphia and met with him to discuss their common beliefs and finances. From these negotiations, Russell became the magazine's financial backer. He was made an Assistant Editor. He reportedly contributed articles for publication as well as monetary gifts. In the same way, the small study group meeting with Russell became affiliated with Barbour's group, and the system was developed to exploit this new approach.
As a result, the public reluctance to accept this revisionist view was overcome enough to attract support.
Originally, Russell and Barbour developed the belief and taught that Christ's invisible return in 1874 would be followed by the bodily snatching away of believers to Heaven, termed the “Rapture”, in 1878.
The “Rapture” was a false teaching that did not originate in the Adventists, but seems to have been exploited by Russell and Barbour for their own purposes.
They had thus become infected with a false teaching, which may itself have been the precursor to the false teachings adopted by the Whites regarding the Millennium being in Heaven.
The Witnesses do not believe in the “Rapture” in modern-day doctrines, but that only a 144,000 will go to Heaven.
In the early days of the 19th-century Adventism, the Adventists were a mixture of Unitarians and Trinitarians as well as dividing into Sabbath-keepers and Sunday-worshippers. This aspect is also dealt with in the paper Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170). This situation was much the same as it had been at the beginning of the Reformation when the Sabbatarians called Waldensians failed to deal with the people who had not repented of the Trinitarian error.
The Waldensians were allegedly but incorrectly held to be named after Peter Waldo, one of their middle period elders. The reverse is the case. He was named Valdez or Waldo, after the Vallense, being the valley in which they predominated.
The people joining the Advent movement did not just come from the Churches of God, but they were also from Protestantism.
After the failure of the 1878 Rapture, Barbour, editor of the Herald, revised this and other doctrines. Russell and some other members rejected some of the new ideas. Russell quit the Adventist magazine and started Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. It published its first issue dated July, 1879. He also married Maria Frances Ackley in the same year. Using the Herald’s mailing list Russell began a subscription war.
Charles Russell continued to view Miller and Barbour as instruments chosen by God to lead His people in the past. Russell did not break with Adventism, but with the doctrines of N. H. Barbour and the Herald.
Zion’s Watchtower made progress by appealing to Protestant denominations, and Russell spoke in these churches often as well as to his own followers in some 30 study groups from Ohio to New England.
Originally, Russell followed a non-confrontational process of not denouncing Trinitarianism as heretical. Trinitarians had in fact co-existed in his association with Barbour and the other assistant editor of the Herald, John H. Paton, who were allegedly Trinitarian, or at least Trinitarian sympathisers. In 1882 Paton broke with Russell over this issue and the magazine became openly Unitarian and anti-Trinitarian.
Russell’s followers came to view him as the "faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24:45 and "the Laodicean Messenger", God's seventh and final spokesman to the Christian church.
He lived to see the failure of his false prophecies. He died on 31 October 1916, more than two years after the current world system was supposed to have ended, according to his calculations, in early October 1914. This was Halloween and the festival serves as a focal point for some to commemorate his death. Even the pyramid monument near his tomb carries the unbiblical and Masonic cross and crown symbol that he favoured. The inscription on his tomb identifies him as the Laodicean Messenger. Thus his own followers saw themselves as the Laodiceans. This identification has been applied also to the Adventists from whom he came.
They sprang from the Sardis era of the Churches of God. That era ended, as prophesied in Revelation 3:1, with the formation of the Living Church of God. These two eras comprised the basis and the structure of the false prophets and false prophecy of the 19th and 20th centuries and they continue to this very day.
Russell had instructed that his successor to the presidency would share power with an editorial committee and with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's Board of Directors, whom Russell had appointed "for life".
However, the vice president (who was Joseph Franklin "Judge" Rutherford), a trained legal mind, soon set about wresting all organisational authority into his own hands.
Joe (Judge) Rutherford was born in near-poverty in Missouri on November 8, 1869. Rutherford studied law under an apprentice system and passed his bar exams in 1892, later serving on occasion as a substitute judge, from which occasions his nickname was derived.
He was Russell's chief legal advisor. He may well have even orchestrated the events as he used a loophole in their appointment to unseat the majority of the Watch Tower Directors without calling a membership vote. He allegedly even had a subordinate summon the police into the offices of the Society's Brooklyn headquarters to break up their Board meeting and evict them from the premises. (A. H Macmillan, Faith on the March, pp. 78-80)
Rutherford secured the sect’s corporate structure. He then secured control of the rest of the organisation through the gradual replacement of locally elected elders with his own appointees. In that way the democratically organised, semi-autonomous congregations were constricted into a tight-knit structure under his personal control.
This improper concentration of power saw Russellite splinter groups form, such as the Chicago Bible Students, the Dawn Bible Students, and the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement. They still exist. However, Rutherford retained control of most of the Bible Students and he renamed them Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931, to distinguish them from these other groups.
Russell had concentrated on individual character development. Rutherford appealed to a different personality type by change of direction to a form of vigorous public witnessing work and began distributing the Society's literature from house to house.
By 1927 Rutherford required door-to-door witness and distribution of publications of all members. Rutherford concentrated his attacks against four areas: government, prohibition, so-called big business and the Roman Catholic Church. At this time Rutherford forged a huge radio network. He exploited populist and anti-Catholic sentiment to attract thousands of additional converts.
Much of the hostility or persecution claimed to have been levelled at the Witnesses over this period, and up until WWII, is due to the hysterical and accusative attacks the Witnesses made on others from portable loudspeakers and phonographs, both hand-held and in cars parked across the road from churches and outside homes. In this way they invited mob violence. Their behaviour would not be tolerated today.
Rutherford was a false prophet as we saw above. However, he did admit the fact. As printed in the 1984 Watchtower, he said:
"I made an ass of myself." (The Watchtower, October 1, 1984, p. 24)
Rutherford reportedly supported the Nazi movement in Europe even though the Nazis later killed many as Bibelforschers or Bible Researchers.
It was reported that Rutherford said:
“The present government of Germany has declared emphatically against Big Business oppressors and in opposition to the wrongful religious influence in the political affairs of the nation. Such is exactly our position: Instead of being against the principles advocated by the government of Germany, we stand squarely for such principles and point out that Jehovah God through Christ Jesus will bring about the full realization of these principles.” Joseph Franklin Rutherford. (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
Much of this was like the early cultivation of the Nazis by all groups. Most were under the illusion that it would not be their turn later.
Vice-President Nathan Homer Knorr inherited the presidency upon Rutherford's death in 1942. Knorr left doctrinal matters largely in the hands of Frederick W. Franz, who joined the sect under Russell, and had been serving at Brooklyn headquarters since 1920.
Knorr lacked the personal magnetism and charisma of Russell and Rutherford. Instead he concentrated on developing the organisation. Knorr focused followers' devotion on the “Mother” organization rather than on himself.
Under Knorr, for the first time, the Watchtower Society began producing literature that was written anonymously. The organization itself was virtually personified in this way. Readers were directed to
"show our respect for Jehovah's organization, for she is our mother and the beloved wife of our heavenly Father, Jehovah God." (The Watchtower, May 1, 1957, p. 285)
It was the same system that the WCG adopted to try to focus loyalty on the Church after the death of Armstrong, as he had become a cult figure there, and an idol in his own right.
Knorr allegedly shifted the sect's focus from dynamic leadership to dynamic membership. He initiated training programs to transform members into effective recruiters. The average Jehovah's Witness began receiving instruction on how to speak persuasively. Men, women, and children were instructed to give mini sermons at the doors on a variety of subjects.
As its theologian, Fred Franz worked behind the scenes to restore faith in the sect's chronological calculations. As we saw, the legacy of the prophetic failures from 1925 was a disaster, but the leadership could not admit error until many decades later. They were still making errors after 1975 and did not admit Rutherford’s mistake in his own words until some forty-two years had passed.
The revised chronology established Christ's invisible return as having taken place in 1914 rather than 1874. During the 1960s, as we have seen in this work, the Society's publications began pointing to the year 1975 as the likely time for Armageddon and the end of the world.
The prevailing propaganda among Jehovah's Witnesses today is that the Society never predicted "the end" for 1975, but that some over-zealous members mistakenly read this into the message. However, the official prediction is well documented as we have seen. Other articles are, for example, "Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?" in The Watchtower of August 15, 1968, pp. 494-501.
The lengthy discussion ends:
"Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man's existence coincides with the sabbathlike thousand-year reign of Christ. . . . It may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years." (p. 499) (For other 1975 quotes see also David A. Reed, Index of Watchtower Errors, Baker Book House, 1990, pp. 106-110)
The training programs instituted by Knorr for proselytizing, combined with Franz's apocalyptic projections for 1975, combined to produce rapid growth in membership.
Herbert Armstrong instituted the same techniques over this period from 1932 regarding radio broadcasting. This was in common with Rutherford’s initiatives. They were less successful than the JWs under Knorr because Knorr developed the individuals as recruiting machines from door to door, utilising the system Rutherford had set up. Armstrong did not trust or develop his people to the same extent, and they were restrained because of the Sabbath restrictions themselves. It was quite frankly easier to ignore the Sabbath and the Feasts than to keep them, and the exhibitionism of going door to door had a greater appeal to some of the more self-righteous of the populace.
The annual growth rate reportedly peaked at 13.5 percent in 1974. Attendance at JW Kingdom Halls increased from around 100,000 in 1941 to just under 5 million in 1975. There has been slower, but fairly steady growth in most years. There were nearly 11.5 million in 1992 for the Witnesses' annual "Memorial" service commemorating Christ's death with unleavened bread and red wine. The numbers reportedly now stand at around 13.5 million.
This growth rate is similar to the Seventh-Day Adventists who have somewhat near the same figures of membership, although different annual rates of growth.
During the 1970s one-man rule from Watchtower headquarters was challenged. In trying to emulate authentic apostolic Christianity in 1971, an expanded Governing Body was created with a total of eleven members, including the original seven Directors that had been seen to moderate the sole presidential rule that in fact existed and was registered under Pennsylvania law. This was held to be evidence of them being the authentic One True Church.
In reality, Nathan Knorr continued to rule Jehovah's Witnesses much as Russell and Rutherford had done before him. In 1975, the Governing Body members began insisting on exercising the powers granted to them in theory but denied in practice.
Franz had been discredited through his 1975 failures in prophecy as had Armstrong before him in the WCG. Despite his objections, the body he helped to create began governing and, on Knorr’s death in 1977, Franz did not enjoy the same power as his predecessors.
It was reported that even at the Brooklyn headquarters, private Bible study groups began to question the 1914-based chronology that produced the 1975 deadline.
The theology was also in respect of persons. The old guard had taught that the "heavenly calling" of believers ended in 1935. New converts after that date were consigned to an earthly paradise for their eternal reward. This view was also rightly questioned, as it is entirely unbiblical.
1975 saw a great reduction of figures and losses of people that was masked by “statistics” from HQ. The losses were reported in an investigative article in the Los Angeles Times of January 30, 1982 (pp. 4-5). This article caused the president, Franz, and the conservative majority on the Governing Body, to crack down on dissidents in the spring of 1980. They formed judicial committees and broke up the independent Bible Study groups. They then placed the ringleaders on trial for “disloyalty” and “apostasy”.
This purge culminated in the forced resignation and subsequent excommunication of the president's nephew, and fellow-Governing Body member, Raymond V. Franz. Time magazine devoted a full-page article to this event (Feb. 22, 1982, p. 66).
Under an hysterical siege mentality, even those who had left quietly and voluntarily for personal reasons were denounced as disloyal. They were ordered to be shunned.
Frederick W. Franz was the sect's chief theologian from the start of Knorr's presidency in 1942 until his own death on December 22, 1992. He served for fifty years and outlived his failed prophecies by more than fifteen years.
Herbert Armstrong did the same thing only he lived longer. Armstrong maintained a rule of fear over criticism. In the same way, Franz imposed a mini-Inquisition on the JW membership.
Whereas the WCG simply pretended that they had never said what they said, both they and Franz suppressed dissents. Franz did that in order to keep his doctrinal and chronological framework in force for the remainder of his lifetime. The WCG simply had no idea as to what to do for theological redirection, as Armstrong was industrially senile by the mid-1980s and died in January 1986. His successor, Joseph W. Tkach, simply was not intelligent enough to reorganise and had no idea of what to do theologically. He simply did what his close advisors told him. They came in from outside and destroyed the organisation. In both instances, the people got what they deserved.
Milton G. Henschel was selected as the fifth Watchtower president on December 30, 1992. He was seen as probably the conservative old guard's last stand against radical change in the sect's leadership and doctrines.
At age 72 Henschel became the second-youngest member of the Governing Body. The average age and the median age at the time of Henschel's appointment calculated out to about 82 years. Members in their eighties were known to sleep through meetings and to vote on matters upon being awakened. (See eyewitness an account in Raymond Franz's Crisis of Conscience, p. 40.)
The Body was thus seen to be losing its ability to provide purposeful and decisive leadership. Because the doctrines were in error from the very beginning and the leaders did not understand the Bible structure, they relied on false prophecy. The successors of Russell and then Rutherford were forced to rewrite their theology. Their false doctrines on healing are no less dangerous and deadly than those of the WCG and the followers now in the offshoots that adhere to them. In the meantime, through error, many more continue to die and misunderstand the intent and the Plan of God.
[Some of the above comments on the recent JW activities and errors are adapted from the books by David A. Reed, Worse Than Waco: Jehovah's Witnesses Hide a Tragedy, copyright © 1993, (P.O. Box 819, Assonet, MA 02702); BLOOD ON THE ALTAR, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Publishers, 1996; and Index of Watchtower Errors, Baker Book House, 1990.] The behaviour and scandal reported and attributed to the Society is not reported here, as the subject of this paper is False Prophecy and the effect of organisations on Bible prophecy.
It has even been claimed by some Witnesses that Loma Armstrong was a Witness herself, and that Herbert Armstrong was inspired and part of the 144,000. This assertion has allegedly been repudiated, at least recently.
It is thus not too difficult to see the tangled web of prophecy that has evolved from the exposure of these opportunists to the Mysteries of God within the Churches of God. The toleration of Trinitarianism and Binitarianism/Ditheism in the Churches of God has led some Protestants to claim that their Unitarianism was either non-existent, or derived from their own views, which is demonstrably false. Adventism itself was solidly Unitarian throughout the 19th century, and for the majority of the 20th century. The opportunism of these people harmed the Church of God and its doctrines regarding the Nature of God.
The people of the organisations who hold them up to be inspired prophets of God are to be dismissed. More importantly, the second test is applied also to everyone who purports to speak for them, and that is the basic and most important test of all: “Do they speak according to the Law and the Testimony?” And the answer must be “NO!”
They do not keep the Calendar of the Bible and the Temple of God. Many mentioned herein do not even keep the Laws of God at all. They knock on one’s door and when cornered admit that the Laws of God are done away. They do not even keep the basic Ten Commandments, let alone the New Moons, and Sabbaths, and Holy Days.
Much of false prophecy has been the deliberate insertion of “white ants” in the system. Some of the people who would undermine or exploit it would enter the branches to use and corrupt the doctrines.
To this day, CCG has people come in purporting to want to be part of the Church and then spend their time trying to gather information on and attack our people, our doctrines and history. When they find there is not much to attack, they make it up. Sometimes it is to cover their own particular corrupt activities or weaknesses.
Some of the more unbalanced individuals allege all sorts of things that on investigation are figments of their own warped imaginations. Each allegation is independently investigated, as our Constitution requires, no matter whom it is against. Reformed alcoholics, or “wowsers”, allege alcoholism, when their definition of an alcoholic is anyone who drinks at all. At best, they seem to think that an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than they do. Some people see conspiracy theories. Some see Freemasonry everywhere. Sometimes it is Masonic people who try to undermine us for many reasons down to simple monetary gain. Some people even claim to be ex-Masons, when they are not, for whatever reason. Sometimes the unbalanced allege mental problems in others. Sometimes the people attacking us are ex-Churches of God, or Catholics, or Baptists, or Adventists, or Animal Liberationists or whoever. The thing they usually have in common is that they seem to want to attack someone, and at that time it happens to be the Churches of God we represent. Often people want to put their particular twist on doctrine and that is usually how the false prophecies intrude into the Mysteries of God.
Many of these people are businessmen like Charles Taze Russell and F. B Rutherford, and to a lesser extent Herbert Armstrong, who saw opportunities to milk a gullible public who were not dedicated enough to follow the Bible teachings fully and correctly.
To be fair, it is important to note that each of us starts out in a world that has corrupted the Bible and when the Bible is studied it is found to be far different to what is taught by the so-called Christian religions. That is the story of most of the members of the Churches of God. We come to the truth out of a desire to know the truth, and that is where these false teachers are most culpable. They intrude on the capacity of the elect to reach the truth from their own self-interest.
The only thing of which we can be sure is that each person called into the Body of Christ is a sinner, and in need of baptism and the Holy Spirit. All of us have sinned. Some of the brethren have committed crimes and some of those have been tried and sentenced.
It is matter of doctrine that we are not to idolise men and organisations. The success of the Body of Christ depends on the faithfulness of each person in it to the truth and the Mysteries of God.