Did Jehovah’s Witnesses Predict 1914 As Christ’s Coming?

I just have some questions for you. Truthfully at the moment I am open to almost anything.

I read something about how the Branch (The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society-Ed.) came up with the year 1914. I had never personally thought that before but it’s got me thinking. I have asked both my parents about it and gave me the answers you would commonly expect. What is your take? I’d really like to know.

Charles Taze RussellMy Answer:

The date setting was a progressive thing Anonymous.

Charles Taze Russell originally set the date of Christ’s invisible presence beginning in 1874. This is all a matter of public record.

Any of the publications cited below can be verified to show that this is all just a matter of an elaborate shell game. I’m including links where appropriate to see these books online via www.archive.org as well as Google books.

Both of these sites are well respected and have to do a tremendous amount of work to substantiate that these books are in fact the “real McCoy”. I love the fact that the internet has made almost all of the Watchtower publications from yesteryear readily available online. This makes my work of highlighting their falsehoods quite easy and, in fact, indisputable.

It was not until Golden Age 1930 p.503 that Rutherford for the first time stated that Christ’s return and “presence” were 1914, instead of 1874. This was not mentioned again until 1943. It has only been from 1943 onwards that 1914 has been consistently stated to be the start of the Last Days and the beginning of Jesus presence and rulership.

From 1876 Charles T Russell (who founded the Watchtower Society-the publishing/legal channel of the Jehovah’s Witness sect) promoted 1874 as the date for Christ’s return and the start of Christ’s “invisible presence”.

That Christ returned in 1874 was official doctrine until 1930. Note:

…the Bridegroom came in the Autumn of 1874, and he appeared to the eyes of faith-seen by the light of the lamp-the Word.
(Zion’s Watch Tower Reprints October/November 1881 p. 289)
You can find the original articles and read them for yourself at:

Our Lord’s presence as Bridegroom and Reaper was recognized during the first three and a half years, from A.D. 1874 to A.D. 1878. Since that time it has been emphatically manifest that the time had come in A.D. 1878 when kingly judgment should begin at the house of God. (Studies in the Scriptures Vol. II 1889 p. 239)

…he [Jesus] would in reality assume the kingly office, power, etc.; viz., in the spring of 1878, three and a half years after his second advent at the beginning of the harvest period, in the fall of 1874.
(Studies in the Scriptures Volume III 1891 p. 234)

Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874, A.D., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it: and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, A.D.
(Studies in Scriptures Vol. IV 1897 p. 621)

Pastor Russell…believed and taught that we are living in the time of the second presence of our Lord, and that his presence dates from 1874… (WT December 1, 1916 p. 5998)

Fall 1874 A.D. Second Advent of the Lord
(The Finished Mystery 1917 p. 60)

Some of the Scriptures, which, when understood in their connections and significance, prove that the Lord’s Second Advent occurred in the Fall of 1874 are as follows:
[A list of 88 interpretations followed]
…and these are but 88 of the proofs hastily collected.
(The Finished Mystery 1917 pp. 68, 71)

The time of the Lord’s second presence dates from 1874…
(The Harp of God 1921 p. 231)

The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D.
(Prophecy 1929 p. 65)

From 1874 onward is the time of the Lord’s second presence, as above stated…
This circumstantial evidence fulfilling prophecy is what constitutes the physical facts, and is proof corroborative of the Lord’s presence since 1874…
His presence beginning in 1874, he has carried on his harvest work from 1874 forward…
(Our Lord’s Return 1929 pp. 27, 33, 37)

In 1930 Christ’s return and “presence” was switched from 1874 to 1914 and it has been there ever since. This is because their chronology simply didn’t work. Their failed predictions about the end-times had fallen flat and it was time to make their story fit the timeline. This was when they changed their song to say that 1914 was in fact the time of Christ’s spiritual “return” and that he would rule from the heavens. This wasn’t what was originally taught. It was taught that 1874 was when Christ took His throne and that 1914 would be when Armageddon would come. They simply bumped the dates to correspond to reality.

This is found to be true with all “new light”.

When it becomes abundantly clear to all but the hopelessly obtuse that something isn’t true that is when the Watchtower comes out with “new light”.

For example the view that the generation that saw these things occur (1914) wouldn’t pass away until all things had taken place. Well here we are approaching 2012 and the generation (we were taught that it was at least twelve year old children who would have seen these things and “understood them”.) that was old enough to understand 1914 has all but died out.

What does the Watchtower do? They come out with “new light” and change it again. They only do this every so many generations. This is because there aren’t many “old timers” around to tell them they’re lying and of course in the case of a centenarian calling their bluff they can simply accuse him of apostasy and disfellowship him. (Ray Franz notwithstanding!)

Another thing; people say we are a cult and that really bothers me sometimes. I know what a cult is anyone with a dictionary does and when you put the meaning of cult and JW’s lifestyles together, I don’t really think that were a cult at all. I know you have used that word before in your posts and I was wondering whether you were just fired up or you actually thought we were a cult.

I maintain that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a destructive cult. There’s a big difference. It could be said that anyone who follows the teachings of a particular man is a “cult member”. However it is more precise when used in the context of a “destructive cult” as I have.

Any cult that splits family members up on the basis of belief or conscience and that demands total conformity and belief of their dogma with the penalty for questioning it being disfellowshipping and removal from family and friends is a destructive cult.

Alright, that’s all for now.

Look, all I want is the truth. I’m a philosopher. I can come up with all types of weird ideas about the world that even people in the ‘world’ would find strange. I don’t care about restrictions as some people my age would. I think a lot of the things that we as JWs are told not to do really are to our benefit. In the end, I want to know the truth. It’s not easy for me to have faith and I need to know if what I am following is true or something else, whatever it may be. So, that’s it. Thank you for your time. 

Hopefully this helped you to understand that 1914 was just one date of many that the Watchtower has pointed to as the year for Armageddon. One more recent date was 1975 which I lived through while in the organization. We had elders, circuit overseers and even district overseers setting their watches to the fall of 1975 and whipping up the “faithful” into group hysteria. Brothers were selling their homes, quitting their jobs, making their children quit school, and donating their life’s savings and all of their time to the preaching work for the remaining short months before Armageddon came. It was a very scary time and then…the year came and went without a peep.

I lived through that. I watched what happened to these poor people who had frittered away their pensions and homes pursuing a pipedream that was designed to increase the membership and the coffers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide to the financial and emotional detriment of the “faithful”.

These people were manipulated but on a much larger scale than the very small number back in 1914. This time there were millions of members instead of just thousands.

It is sad that those in the Watchtower would misuse their power in misleading their followers and then, when their followers start to question them, turn around and blame their own followers for their “folly”. This happened and I was there to watch it. Oh and there were many explanations as to why Armageddon didn’t come. One memorable explanation was that there was a time differential between the time that Adam and Eve were created. This “nebulous” time differential was the amount of time between 1975 and the actual coming of Armageddon.

A lot of people took that at face value. The sad fact? The very same argument was used back in 1915 when the same failed prophecy was being questioned.

This, my dear friend, is the mark of a cult, pure and simple.

When you manipulate people, distort the truth, making it up as you go along, and defraud people of their money, their jobs, their homes and their families then you are truly destructive and you are truly a destructive cult.

Doug Shields is an activist against religious oppression, control and manipulation. He has many years of experience dealing with this issue because he was an active Jehovah’s Witness himself for over twenty-three years. Doug has been privileged to help elders, ministerial servants, full time pioneers and even a circuit overseer to find the strength and determination to finally face the real truth and leave the organization.