As with so many articles here, all this started with a post to the Jehovah’s Witness Forum on AOL. A Jehovah’s Witness there wrote:
The Society has never lied to us (the learners, the readers). A mistake is different, very different than a deliberate lie. The scripture says that imposters will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled. This is not the case with the WT Society. Mistakes have been discerned, they have been corrected in the proper light.
That is a wonderful sentiment, one that I held for many years. But on closer examination, it does not hold up. In the 8/15/1993 Watchtower, page 9, in the article ” Why You Need to Attend Christian Meetings”, the Watchtower made the following statement:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently shown from the Scriptures that the year 1914 marked the beginning of this world’s time of the end and that “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” has drawn near.
An examination of older Watchtower publications shows that Jehovah’s Witnesses (or Bible Students as they were previously known) did have NOT “consistently shown from the Scriptures that the year 1914 marked the beginning of this world’s time of the end…” Rather, the Watchtower pointed to another date for the beginning of the “time of the end.” In the Finished Mystery book, on page 239, the Watchtower Society says:
This is without question a fulfillment of the prophecy testifying to the “time of the end.” These physical facts can not be disputed and are sufficient to convince any reasonable mind that we have been in the “time of the end” since 1799.
Also, from the March 1, 1922 Watch Tower:
The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the “time of the end” began in 1799; that the Lord’s second presence began in 1874.
The book Creation, published by the WTS in 1927 has a very detailed explanation as to why they felt 1799 was the beginning of the time of the end. Here are a few quotes. Creation, page 293:
Napoleon began this Egyptian campaign in 1798, finished it, and then returned t.o 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, page 294
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 “.
Creation, page 295
From shortly after 1799, the date of the beginning of “the time of the end”, we should expect to find an increase of knowledge, particularly with reference to the Bible.
Going back just a few years to 1921, in the book The Harp of God says on page 236:
“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.”
Another example is from the 1/15/93 Watchtower, page 5 in the article “Caught Away to Meet the Lord’-How?”:
The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence to honesthearted students of Bible prophecy that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914. Events since that year testify to Jesus’ invisible presence.
The WT actually taught for many years that Jesus returned (invisibly, of course) in 1874 and that he took power in heaven in 1878. So, are these just “mistakes” that were corrected in due time, or were both statements from the 1993 Watchtower deliberate attempts to misead the readers of the Watchtower as to what the Watchtower taught in the past?