1914 – JW and WT Position and Defense

Outline: would like this to be a table of points made against the doctrine by others that JWs can defend against. Might end up being a sparse matrix if we admit that certain items cannot be defended yet. Although offers to allow gaps to be filled by JWs is possible.

The following are taken from some of the most cogent responses to the 1914 controversies. These may not be the most common responses to the 1914 issues in general, but they are strong arguments in the sense that they are the most difficult to overcome with specific Scriptures or reasoning.

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Our primary defense as JWs is that we are the true religion, therefore what we teach is always true, at least in a general sense. Even if something turns out to be partially incorrect and later changed, it was not because it was not part of a true picture overall, but that it needed further adjustment to be more correct. If you notice we never say that we ever held to a “false teaching.” We are sometimes made fun of for this stance, but there is a good reason that should become clearer with more explanation.

Even if something we teach now turns out not to be fully correct, it is still our duty to defend it because otherwise we would be allowing divisions in Jehovah’s organization, promoting a sect, causing contentions, not speaking in agreement, etc. Peace and unity are our hallmarks because we speak in agreement worldwide. This does not mean that we do not expect that refinements and corrections will be made. We will be appreciative of them when and if they are made clear to us.

This might sound a bit “over the top” to people who are not JWs but it is the basic reason that we do not concern ourselves over those who promote a different teaching from the one we have learned. Most of our basic, foundational teachings have not changed, and are not likely to change in the future. So defending the current teachings, exactly as they are taught to us, is the right thing to do until the light gets brighter and the faithful slave class, our Governing Body, serves food at the proper time.

If the faithful slave hasn’t yet served any changes to this doctrine, then it is clearly not the proper time. It is “the truth” for the present time. (~~macm) In fact the expression was used for many years, that we are in “present truth.”

So although this argument might sound strange for those who are not JWs, you must understand that for JWs our “present truth” is part of our total experience in Jehovah’s organization on earth. We know that this is the only true channel by which Jehovah feeds his people. Things may not always make sense to us at present, but it is not up to us to push for change. That would be like {Dothan Korah Hymaneaus}~~ examples in the Bible. Pushing ahead of the organization, pushing ahead of Jehovah. We should be obedient to those taking the “lead” among us, that does not mean that we push ahead, but we are being led.

But we do not follow without evidence. Remember that we have studied and become convinced to the point of dedicating ourselves to Jehovah and his Son Jesus Christ — but also dedicated to his service, and  to work with Jehovah’s spirit-led organization. We are not putting our trust in men, but in Jehovah’s loving arrangement for our protection.

Any responses to specific issues with respect to the doctrine are not really that important. Those who do not accept our doctrine might even be correct on various points of fact here and there, but these will not effect the overall doctrine.

So again, why would Jehovah’s spirit lead us to make sure we have the correct stance and teachings about so many foundational Biblical ideas, and yet leave us completely wrong on another one of those ideas?

  • Trinity
  • Hell-Fire
  • Immortality of the Soul
  • The Cross
  • Political Neutrality
  • Participation in War
  • Emphasis on Jehovah’s Name
  • Moral Cleanness
  • Pagan Origins of Major Holidays
  • Emphasis on Preaching the Good News of the Kingdom

We know we are right on all these other issues, so why would be wrong on one of the other basic teachings that we have held for as long as the Watchtower Society has existed? There are several other religions that also admit we are right on those other major issues, but there are no other religions that  combine these teachings into a single religion.

So again all other issues that address specific questions on narrow portions of the doctrine are unnecessary. However, just to show that we are willing to defend our beliefs, here are some general answers to the typical questions:

DANIEL 4, 2520 Years, 607, 70 Years 

1. When people point out that there is no evidence for 607 BCE as the time when Jerusalem was destroyed, then what difference would it make? Even if we were to admit that all the evidence continues to point to 587 BCE, then so what? The difference is only 20 years? What does this do in the overall scheme? Change 1914 to 1934? Perhaps our understanding of the 2,520 years is slightly off based on lunar vs solar calculations in ancient calendars, and maybe these adjustments would just end up putting us right back at 1914 anyway. We are still living in the last days, right? Jesus predicted great wars and earthquakes in the last days, and Revelation tells us that Satan would be especially angry in the short period of time after he was cast out of heaven at around the time that Jesus “took his great power and began ruling as king.” So we have to expect that there would be a time to deal with a special anger for a short period of time before the final end. 1914 might still be the right time to have expected Jesus to return his attention to the affairs of the world, even if there had been NO prophecy that put us near the right time period. Also, JWs know that it is always possible that there would be a refinement in our understanding provided by the faithful slave. No JW would be disturbed if, for example, it turns out that the reason Daniel starts out by giving the date of his captivity and rise in the Babylonian royal court is to show that the start of the 70 years might have begun at this very early time in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. If this date turns out to have always been quite close to 607 BCE, and it turns out that we should begin the 70 years with the time given to Babylonian power then this is not in any way devastating to our current understanding. And guess where that leaves us? 2,520 years from 607 BCE and right back to 1914 CE. The difference is only that this was the time period when it was determined that Judah was lose it’s Davidic dynasty for a time period, it does not mean that the tree had to fall immediately in 607, but could have been when it started to be chopped down. The prophecy still leads us to the general time period and indicates that thousands of years of dormancy could have been expected. It lets us know that Jehovah still had the kingdom in mind even though no human might have thought that the world would go on so long after Jesus died and was resurrected. It still gives us hope and a renewed indication that Jehovah has the world in his control. The same lesson that Nebuchadnezzar personally learned in the first fulfillment.

2. Science and archaeology has been shown to be wrong in the past. Just because it seems unlikely that evidence will ever show up to explain 20 “missing years” in the Babylonian documents, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. What if there had been a decree to gather all the documents and tablets in all the land to be destroyed just so that a certain king who was opposed could be completely banished from the record. We have Russian records that show even in recent times that all records of certain people have been erased and “enemies of the state” have even had their photos blotted out from history books. We have Egyptian records of names being systematically crossed out and chiseled away from stone monuments.

Parousia and presence.

Again, what difference does it make? Jesus has said he would be with us until the conclusion of the system of things. In a sense he has been invisibly present wherever two or three are gathered in his name. This very idea would take on special significance at a time when Jehovah was taking out a special people for his name in the last days, during the generation when there was  special need to get out the warning. Remember that we believe that almost anyone who died in past generations will be resurrected, but there is a danger that the last days would get so bad that Jehovah would have to bring a serious judgment against a wicked world. If the majority of people who would die around the time of that final judgment had no  hope of a resurrection, then this would be the special time when a “witness to all the nations” would be needed. Who is doing that witnessing? Obviously it is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Are we not living in a time of special danger where we see a great increase in lawlessness? Doesn’t this alone show the closeness of the end? Then with or without chronological documentation of the exact time that Jesus returned invisibly, we can still just be thankful that Jehovah raised up a people to make this warning clear.

  1. Again, the specific answer to objections to the parousia idea is that if parousia actually refers to a “parade-like” event similar to the “parousias” of Roman times, then this may have actually happened in heaven unknown to us. There was great celebration in heaven that we see in Revelation 12, and just because we didn’t see this on earth doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. We must still live by faith until that final hour of his judgment.
  2. But there is still a good chance that parousia didn’t mean anything more than presence, and since his presence started in 1914, it was obviously an invisible presence, which we know is an idea already in the Bible in the idea of Jesus being “with us all the days”. But when the conclusion starts he is with us all the more in a more special capacity as king.

Kingship, Messianic Kingdom, Jesus as King in 33 CE.

1. We already admit that Jesus was king in 33. But the particular responsibilities of his kingship at that time was not to take over the kingdoms of the world in any active sense. They were to be king over his congregation. In effect, Jesus is the commander and we are subjects to his command. So when Jesus said all authority had been given it was so that we knew just how important is the work he summons us to do in the congregation. Yes he has the power to crush all the other kingdoms, but he doesn’t prepare to do that until he actively sits on the Davidic throne for that purpose. “Sit at my right hand UNTIL I have placed all your enemies as a stool for your feet.” It is in the “MIDST” of his enemies that Jesus will then sit. So it is not surprising that these enemies continue to exist for a short period of time.

2. The argument that Jesus is already King of Kings does not contradict this. Revelation uses the expression because it is about the imminence of the time period when all these things will be fulfilled in the Lord’s day. But this is not in an instant. Pure worship would be restored, and this is a great sign of his power. ~~(cf SDA,LDS)

 More specific questions

Daniel 4 questions:

  1. The argument is made that Daniel already says that Nebuchadnezzar in person is the person whom this dream was fulfilled about.
  2. Answer: Nebuchadnezzar is considered the rep of Jehovah for punishment in …. so it s not impossible that NEb could rep Jesus in effect or at least that his Gentile rulership. Remember too that this was a rulership not in effect so it wouldn’t matter specifically who it was.
  3. Neb learns a lesson, how does the Messianic kingdom learn a lesson.
  4. Was messianic kingdom punished for not recognizing Jehovah’s sovereignty. In effect yes. That can be argued for an thing.
  5. Why mention 3.5 times anywhere if it means that when you mention 7 times it wouldn’t be related. The first whole number one thinks of when one sees 3.5 times is 7 times because 3.5 is not whole and it is half of 7. THerefore any mention of 7 times must be given significance.
  6. 3.5 times are interpreted 1260 days, not years. Because nothing happened in 1260 yrstd but something did happen in 2520. From 587 to 1934 or from 607 to 1914.

Parousia

Chronology in General

  1. The fact taht all previous chron was wrong and yet it would not have been seen at all unless wrong chron was there. Jehovah can use our mistakes to build upon keeps us humble. keeps us from becoming indiscreet.
  2. Wrong calculations made expect right thing at the wrong time is counered by the compaolaint that “OK, it was spiritual food just not serve at the proper time.
  3. What about callling wolf. or crying out that the bridegroom is here. aren’t these the kinds of things that would happen years in the future.

The JW and WT position on 1914 can be defended in a few places.

Make this a table that pits each point against claims already made

Daniel 4 uses language that seems to be incomplete when the dream is applied only to Nebuchadnezzar.

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