chapter  10
22 Pages

Prophecy

One of the key topics with which Jehovah’s Witnesses are associated is prophecy. ‘ey keep changing the dates’, is a comment one frequently hears about the Watch Tower organisation. It is a popular perception that Jehovah’s Witnesses previously set dates for the world to end in 1873, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975 and an array of various other dates. Some quick searching of the Internet using key words such as ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses failed prophecies’ will yield a host of websites by the Society’s detractors suggesting a large range of dates which Jehovah’s Witnesses allegedly used unsuccessfully. One website has published alleged predictions for almost every year between 1877 and 1995, and attempted to demonstrate continual failure.2 Even academics can believe that the Watch Tower Society has a history of prediction, failure and revision. us Andrew Holden (2002) writes:

Such misunderstandings are caused by a variety of factors. In academic circles scholars continue to be inuenced by Leon Festinger et al., whose work When Prophecy Fails (1956) continues to suggest a model of prophecy as failed prediction, which leaves those who have trusted it to have to cope with ‘cognitive dissonance’, reconciling belief with apparent failure. It is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses have at times made changes in their end-time calendar, and it is also true that there have been a number of expectations that have not materialised. It is certainly not my purpose to contend that the Watch Tower Society has been

thoroughly consistent throughout its history; on the contrary, the Society itself acknowledges that there have been errors.