Life Everlasting – In Freedom of the Sons of God and 1975
At the first we will present the titles of headings in this article:
Advertisement of Life Everlasting....
Life Everlasting... and Misunderstandings.
Life Everlasting... and Schisms.
Life Everlasting... and Nicolae Ceausescu.
Life Everlasting... and 1975.
Life Everlasting... and The Watchtower March 15, 1980.
Life Everlasting... in Memories.
The book entitled Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God created a big sensation among Jehovah’s Witnesses in the second part of the sixties and in the first half of the seventies in the twentieth century. It was published in 1966 and was distributed mainly at the convention in Baltimore (USA), where it was advertized by the Watchtower Society’s President N. Knorr (d 1977) and Vice President F. Franz (President since 1977). It was the first publication discussing the year 1975. According to R. Franz (1922-2010), the former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (in years 1971-1980), his uncle, F. Franz was its author (see Crisis of Conscience R. Franz, 2004, pp. 72-73, 238). Only the first English printing reached 3 million copies, although there were only 1,118,665 publishers worldwide (The Watchtower January 1, 1967, pp. 24-27). One of the Watchtower Society’s publications, which we will quote, called the bestseller “the absorbing book”! It was advertized in English publications till 1978 when possibly the supplies ran out (see Our Kingdom Ministry No. 1, 1978, p. 3). So we can just imagine how many copies were ‘produced’ in the further English printings. Today the Watchtower Society and its publishers hesitate to recall the old book which gave them so much hope.
And what can we tell about the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses entitled Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God?
Actually we can only tell that the book is not very different from other Watchtower Society’s publications published in those years. There is one different element: a standard teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses living in those years, namely “the year 1975”! We may add that the said book was the first Watchtower publication announcing the year 1975 as the most appropriate time for the millennial reign of Christ.
Before we will quote several passages from that book so popular among publishers, let us include words of advertisements of that book, published in other Watchtower Society’s publications.
Advertisement of Life Everlasting...
The first quoted advertisement of the said book was a bit vague, although it mentions “this critical time”:
To give aid today in this critical time to such prospective sons of God the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania has now published a new book in English, entitled “Life Everlasting - in Freedom of the Sons of God.” We can heartily recommend that you read it, study it with the Holy Bible, and so safeguard your priceless freedom that is the gift of God through Christ. (The Watchtower November 15, 1966, p. 694).
However, the other advertisement is more powerful, because it personally involved President and Vice President of the Watchtower Society during convention in Baltimore, in 1966. The following chart contains both their statements and words of anonymous people.
|President N. Knorr||Vice President F. Franz|
|“Jehovah, the God of freedom and liberty, has freed his people from Babylonish bondage and has given them a work of liberation to do. That work of liberation and salvation must go on to the finish! To give aid today in this critical time to prospective sons of God,” announced President Knorr, “a new book in English, entitled ‘Life Everlasting - in Freedom of the Sons of God,’ has been published.” At all assembly points where it was released, the book was received enthusiastically. Crowds gathered around stands and soon supplies of the book were depleted. Immediately its contents were examined. It did not take the brothers very long to find the chart beginning on page 31, showing that 6,000 years of man’s existence end in 1975. Discussion of 1975 overshadowed about everything else. “The new book compels us to realize that Armageddon is, in fact, very close indeed,” said a conventioner. Surely it was one of the outstanding blessings to be carried home! (The Watchtower October 15, 1966, pp. 628-629).||At the Baltimore assembly Brother Franz in his closing remarks made some interesting comments regarding the year 1975. He began casually by saying, “Just before I got on the platform a young man came to me and said, ‘Say, what does this 1975 mean? Does it mean this, that or any other thing?’” In part, Brother Franz went on to say: ‘You have noticed the chart [on pages 31-35 in the book Life Everlasting - in Freedom of the Sons of God]. It shows that 6,000 years of human experience will end in 1975, about nine years from now. What does that mean? Does it mean that God’s rest day began 4026 B.C.E.? It could have. The Life Everlasting book does not say it did not. The book merely presents the chronology. You can accept it or reject it. If that is the case, what does that mean to us? [He went into some length showing the feasibility of the 4026 B.C.E. date as being the beginning of God’s rest day.] ‘What about the year 1975? What is it going to mean, dear friends?’ asked Brother Franz. ‘Does it mean that Armageddon is going to be finished, with Satan bound, by 1975? It could! It could! All things are possible with God. Does it mean that Babylon the Great is going to go down by 1975? It could. Does it mean that the attack of Gog of Magog is going to be made on Jehovah’s witnesses to wipe them out, then Gog himself will be put out of action? It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that. ‘When we were approaching the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, there was no sign that the Gentile Times were going to end. Conditions on earth gave us no hint of what was to come, even as late as June of that year. Then suddenly there was a murder. World War I broke out. You know the rest. Famines, earthquakes and pestilences followed, as Jesus foretold would happen. ‘But what do we have today as we approach 1975? Conditions have not been peaceful. We’ve been having world wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences and we have these conditions still as we approach 1975. Do these things mean something? These things mean that we’re in the “time of the end.” And the end has to come sometime. Jesus said: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) So we know that as we come to 1975 our deliverance is that much nearer.’ “Let us make the most of the time and get in all the good hard work to Jehovah while the opportunity affords,” he urged. (The Watchtower October 15, 1966, p. 631).|
Let us add that the advertized book does not contain itself such reservations, as presented by Franz at the convention. Did he withdraw from his earlier firmness expressed in the publication?
Consider that the book does not contain even one mention about such Jesus’ warnings as from Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32 or Acts 1:7.
But there are such firm words in it:
We are near that point of time now! Bible time-scheduling indicates it.* A world storm must therefore be shortly ahead. [* See Chart on pages 31-35] (Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God 1966, p. 357).
The third advertisement was included in the Awake! magazine of 1967 and it was presented as a letter written by someone in “the full-time ministry” (the article Life Everlasting Book Appreciated). We will quote just a passage:
Among the many expressions of appreciation for the new Bible-study aid Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God that have been received by the Watch Tower Society is the following from one who has been in the full-time ministry for the past forty-two years. (...) And how comforting to read of the present 'Earth-wide Movement of "Men of Good Will" to Freedom,' and to be assured 'that soon they will be enjoying 'A Paradise of Freedom'! "How soon? 1975? It was truly exciting to peruse the chart at the end of chapter 1 on 'Significant Dates from Man's Creation to 7000 A.M.' and yet how carefully the book worded matters: 'How appropriate it would be for Jehovah God to make of this coming seventh period of a thousand years a sabbath of rest and release.' Undoubtedly 'this would be most timely for mankind,' and judging by the fulfillment of such prophecies as that found in Matthew 24, we cannot escape it: Whether 1975 sees the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ or not, 'the long-awaited time for this is at hand.' (Awake! January 22, 1967, p. 26).
The advertisements of the said book were also printed in the following Watchtower Society’s publications:
Awake! October 22, 1966, p. 24;
The Watchtower January 1, 1967, pp. 28-29;
1967 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 49-50, 52 (The new book was enthusiastically received in Toronto, both the regular and the pocket edition. By evening time excitement was running high because of comments in the book about 1975 being the end of six thousand ears of human history. p. 50);
Kingdom Ministry No. 1, 1968, pp. 3-6.
Life Everlasting... and Misunderstandings
The said book was a reason for misunderstandings, for example among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Czechoslovakia, so that the country’s office had to correct them. Here is the report:
“Six Thousand Years of Human Existence” In 1969 the Watchtower magazine in Czech began publishing a series of articles based on the book Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God. Chapter 1, under the subheading “Six Thousand Years of Human Existence Closing,” contained an explanation of the Jubilee and of Bible chronology. This material influenced some in a positive way; it also led to many questions and much speculation. The office in Czechoslovakia sent a letter dated February 22, 1972, to all congregations. It set out a lengthy explanation of reasons why we should not make any definite assertions about the date when Armageddon will strike. It pointed out that no publication of the Society had said that Armageddon will come in a certain year. The letter concluded: “Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world are familiar with these facts, and no one should add any personal claims as to what will happen before or during the year 1975. There are no Scriptural grounds for any claims, and they could have a detrimental effect on the preaching work. Strive, therefore, that you ‘all speak in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.’ (1 Cor. 1:10) For concerning that day and hour nobody knows.” - Matt. 24:36. (2000 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 196-197).
It is a pity that the Watchtower Society did not quote the mentioned letter in its entirety. It would be interesting to know if the letter discussed for example the following words from the said book:
We are near that point of time now! Bible time-scheduling indicates it.* A world storm must therefore be shortly ahead. [* See Chart on pages 31-35] (Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God 1966, p. 357).
Life Everlasting... and Schisms
The said book was allegedly a material against dissenters who appeared in 1975, for example among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mozambique. Here is the report:
Apostasy and Village No. 10. A movement that stirred up much trouble was started by an apostate group that called themselves “the anointed.” Originating mainly from the Malawian villages, this group claimed that the “time of the elders” had ended in 1975 and that they, as “the anointed,” should be the ones taking the lead. The material in the Society’s book Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God was a great aid in helping some who had doubts to understand what was involved in the genuine anointing. But the influence of the apostates spread, and many who listened to them were led astray. As part of their doctrine, they said that it was not necessary to send in reports to the Society. They would simply throw these into the air after saying a prayer. It is estimated that about 500 were disfellowshipped as a result of this apostate influence. They decided of their own accord, and with the permission of the authorities, to build their own village. This became Village No. 10. Later on, the leader of the movement was attended to by a train of young women, many of whom bore him children. Village No. 10 and its group continued in existence throughout the remaining period of life in the camps. They caused many difficulties for the faithful brothers. Some who were initially influenced to join the group later repented and returned to Jehovah’s organization. The apostate community was finally disbanded when life in the camps came to a close. (1996 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, pp. 158-159).
The Watchtower Society ‘forgot’ to add that “the year 1975” is not a part of that event by a mere coincidence. So it seems that in Mozambique the book could be ‘blamed’ for the situation, and it was not only a ‘publication’ helpful to ‘faithful’ Jehovah’s Witnesses. Surely frustrated dissenters left the organization when nothing of suggestions or teachings from the said book were fulfilled in 1975.
Life Everlasting... and Nicolae Ceausescu
It is a curiosity that in 1971 the Watchtower Society sent among other things the said book to a communist dictator of Romania, so called “the Sun of Carpathians”, Nicolae Ceausescu (d 1989). In its letter it demanded from him that he should give more freedom to publishers in Romania, and by the sent book it hoped to convert him or threaten him with Armageddon expected in 1975. It is reported in a book 2006 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses (p. 130).
This event was by no means a novelty in the activity of the Watchtower Society, because as early as in 1949 Jehovah’s Witnesses sent their petition to the USSR government and Joseph Stalin and showed their “neutrality” by threatening them with Jehovah, who will allegedly be active in Armageddon:
“We demand that Jehovah’s Witnesses be released from prison and that the persecution against them be stopped. Jehovah God’s organization, by means of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, should be permitted to preach, unhindered, the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom to all the inhabitants of the Soviet Union; otherwise, Jehovah will utterly destroy the Soviet Union and the Communist Party.
“This we demand in the name of Jehovah God...” (Awake! February 22, 1999, p. 12).
Life Everlasting... and 1975
The following are all the passages referring directly to the year 1975:
SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE CLOSING
The time is fast drawing near for the reality that was foreshadowed by the Jubilee of liberty to be proclaimed throughout the earth to all mankind now oppressed by many enslaving things. In view of the earth-wide situation and the world's condition, it appears most urgent for the liberation like that of the Jubilee to come soon. Most certainly the near future would be the most appropriate time for it. God's own written Word indicates that it is the appointed time for it. (Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God 1966, pp. 26-27);
By doing this it becomes evident that man is nearing the end of six thousand years of his existence and the beginning of the seventh period of a thousand years of his existence. (p. 27);
and the published timetable resulting from this independent study gives the date of man's creation as 4026 B.C.E. According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man's creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E. (p. 29);
How appropriate it would be for Jehovah God to make of this coming seventh period of a thousand years a sabbath period of rest and release, a great Jubilee sabbath for the proclaiming of liberty throughout the earth to all its inhabitants! This would be most timely for mankind. It would also be most fitting on God's part, for, remember, mankind has yet ahead of it what the last book of the Holy Bible speaks of as the reign of Jesus Christ over earth for a thousand years, the millennial reign of Christ. Prophetically Jesus Christ, when on earth nineteen centuries ago, said concerning himself: "For Lord of the sabbath is what the Son of man is." (Matthew 12:8) It would not be by mere chance or accident but would be according to the loving purpose of Jehovah God for the reign of Jesus Christ, the "Lord of the sabbath," to run parallel with the seventh millennium of man's existence. (p. 30);
4026 - Creation of Adam (in early autumn) (p. 31);
1975 - 6000 - End of 6th 1,000-year day of man’s existence (in early autumn)
2975 - 7000 - End of 7th 1,000-year day of man’s existence (in early autumn) (p. 35).
The sealing of the last of these, a mere remnant finally, would be accomplished before the thousand-year reign of the “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ, begins. This would mean that the remnant of these “slaves of our God” would be sealed in their foreheads as God’s special property toward the end of six thousand year of humankind’s existence. We are near that point of time now! Bible time-scheduling indicates it.* A world storm must therefore be shortly ahead. [* See Chart on pages 31-35] (p. 357).
Life Everlasting... and The Watchtower March 15, 1980
In the publication quoted below The Watchtower Society tried to excuse its publishers and itself of “the year 1975”. An ‘accomplice’ in that failure was the said book, which was – as it seems – presented in false way. It is stated that the book pointed to 1975 as a “possibility” for the beginning of the millennium. But we will quote a passage from the book which expresses a certainty, although The Watchtower Society is now silent concerning that certainty.
|The Watchtower March 15, 1980, p. 17||Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God 1966, p. 357|
|In modern times such eagerness, commendable in itself, has led to attempts at setting dates for the desired liberation from the suffering and troubles that are the lot of persons throughout the earth. With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God, and its comments as to how appropriate it would be for the millennial reign of Christ to parallel the seventh millennium of man’s existence, considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. There were statements made then, and thereafter, stressing that this was only a possibility.||The sealing of the last of these, a mere remnant finally, would be accomplished before the thousand-year reign of the “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ, begins. This would mean that the remnant of these “slaves of our God” would be sealed in their foreheads as God’s special property toward the end of six thousand year of humankind’s existence. We are near that point of time now! Bible time-scheduling indicates it.* A world storm must therefore be shortly ahead. [* See Chart on pages 31-35].|
Life Everlasting... in Memories
The Watchtower Society recalls the said book in two of its known publications. Firstly in 1975, when it was yet uncertain if Armageddon comes that year. The other mention was published in 1993, in the handbook entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses - Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom. Here are the both quotations:
Just think where we are in the stream of time! Its importance was deeply impressed on our minds back in 1966. God’s people then received the absorbing book Life Everlasting - in Freedom of the Sons of God. It did not take long for most of them to note the chronological chart in it that identified 1975 as the “end of 6th 1,000-year day of man’s existence (in early autumn).” This certainly raised questions. Does this mean that Babylon the Great will go down by 1975? Will Armageddon be over, with Satan bound, by then? ‘It could’ acknowledged F. W. Franz, the Watch Tower Society’s vice-president, after posing similar questions at the “God’s Sons of Liberty” District Assembly in Baltimore, Maryland. However, he added, in essence: ‘But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that.’ Among other things, Brother Franz urged: “Let us make the most of the time and get in all the good hard work to Jehovah while the opportunity affords.” Some years have passed since then, but this has only heightened the urgency of the preaching work. Jehovah’s servants know that they have not dedicated their lives to God until a certain year. They are his dedicated people forever! (...) May we remain alert, active, as the end nears. We must “keep on the watch.” This is not the day for spiritual sleepyheads! It is the time for wakefulness, diligence, faithfulness, in serving the Divine One whose marvelous and incomparable purpose cannot and will not fail. (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 256);
The Witnesses had long shared the belief that the Thousand Year Reign of Christ would follow after 6,000 years of human history. But when would 6,000 years of human existence end? The book Life Everlasting - In Freedom of the Sons of God, released at a series of district conventions held in 1966, pointed to 1975. Right at the convention, as the brothers examined the contents, the new book triggered much discussion about 1975. At the convention held in Baltimore, Maryland, F. W. Franz gave the concluding talk. He began by saying: “Just before I got on the platform a young man came to me and said, ‘Say, what does this 1975 mean?’” Brother Franz then referred to the many questions that had arisen as to whether the material in the new book meant that by 1975 Armageddon would be finished, and Satan would be bound. He stated, in essence: ‘It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that.’ (Jehovah’s Witnesses - Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993, p. 104).
It is worthwhile to compare the above words of F. Franz with his actual statement of 1966 (see above: Advertisement of Life Everlasting...). Notice that Vice President’s statement was ‘shortened’ a bit, so that the dramaturgy of those events was lost.