From Watchtower January 2013:
HAVE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES GIVEN INCORRECT DATES FOR THE END?
Jehovah’s Witnesses have had wrong expectations about when the end would come. Like Jesus’ first-century disciples, we have sometimes looked forward to the fulfillment of prophecy ahead of God’s timetable. (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) We agree with the sentiment of longtime Witness A. H. Macmillan, who said: “I learned that we should admit our mistakes and continue searching God’s Word for more enlightenment.”
Why, then, do we continue to highlight the nearness of the end? Because we take seriously Jesus’ words: “Keep looking, keep awake.” The alternative, to be found “sleeping” by Jesus, would prevent us from gaining his favor. (Mark 13:33, 36) Why?
Consider this example: A lookout in a fire tower might see what he thinks is a wisp of smoke on the horizon and sound what proves to be a false alarm. Later, though, his alertness could save lives.
Likewise, we have had some wrong expectations about the end. But we are more concerned with obeying Jesus and saving lives than with avoiding criticism. Jesus’ command to “give a thorough witness” compels us to warn others about the end.—Acts 10:42.
We believe that even more important than focusing on when the end will come, we must be confident that it will come, and we must act accordingly. We take seriously the words of Habakkuk 2:3, which says: “Even if [the end] should delay [compared to what you thought], keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”
Analogies can be used so wrongly. Someone that keeps giving false alarms begins to lack credibility that they know what they are doing. Also, that their future alarms will not be heeded. One reason that two thirds of people brought up in the Jehovah’s Witnesses leave according to Pew.
If you sincerely believe you are the truth, and your past predictions have led to the “falling away” from the truth for many, you may want to give a sincere apology and ask for public forgiveness of Jehovah and humanity you have condemned to supposed destruction come Armageddon.
This is not just about accepting criticism. The organisation encouraged people not to marry, or have children with Armageddon so near. That the only thing that mattered was service to Jehovah as directed by the Society, so careers, education and dreams were of secondary importance to complete devotion.
Hopefully, people will see such leadership as cult behaviour.
See previous blog for history of predictions by the Society which never came to pass.
Thanks to William E Enoch Sr for mentioning the publication and Godfrey Freeman for the link.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog