Introduction

Autor: Włodzimierz Bednarski

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The title of our work refers to words used in one of Watchtower publications, which after a failure of 1975 stated as follows:

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. Unfortunately, however, along with such cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated. (The Watchtower March 15, 1980, p. 17).

The same approach is presented in a well known handbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

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.’ (...) However, other statements were published on this subject, and some were likely more definite than advisable. (Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993, p. 104);

This later led to the idea - sometimes stated as a possibility, sometimes more firmly - that since the seventh millennium of human history would begin in 1975, events associated with the beginning of Christ’s Millennial Reign might start to take place then. (Jehovah’s Witnesses - Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993, p. 633).

In our work we will try to point to the following issues: what The Watchtower Society taught about the year 1975, how many publications discussed the matter, and how variously ‘probability’ of the coming Armageddon was accented. We will investigate, if expectation of „such realization of hopes” concerning 1975 was more a ‘probable’ than a mere ‘possible’ scenario.

First chapter of the work contains a list of Watchtower literature in which year 1975 was discussed or mentioned. The remaining chapters contain a discussion of predicted events connected with that date and other issues relevant to the mid-seventies.

It is proper to sign that my personal contact with the 1975 problem was included in Polish edition of that work in an Appendix „Why I did not become a Jehovah’s Witness?”.

A broad presentation of our topic was presented by Raymond Franz (1922-2010). As a former member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (in 1971-1980) he wrote about it in his book Crisis of Conscience (2004), chapter “1975: ‘The Appropriate Time for God to Act’” (pp. 237-253; see also pp. 72-73, 97, 109).

A generation of Watchtower publishers waiting for year 1925 is almost extinct, but thousands of former and present Jehovah’s Witnesses who remember hopes connected with year 1975 are still alive. Although 36 years passed after that once important date for The Watchtower Society, even recalling it rouses emotions in many people.

After 1975 failure thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses left their organization, which in their eyes became a corporal ‘false prophet’.

Now, after over 40 years since 1966, in which “1975 campaign” was started, we can in non-emotional manner follow through some issues concerning The Watchtower Society’s argumentation applying to the date expected by its followers.

And if Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that they did not produce a single clear statement predicting with 100% certainty that Armageddon would come in 1975, the truth is that they directly stated in their publications that it will take place in the twentieth century (!):

But then it also speaks of a group of people preaching about the righteous kingdom of God, a war of God against all wickedness, followed by a paradise earth without death - all to be realized in the twentieth century. (Awake! February 22, 1961, p. 5, article The 20th Century In Bible Prophecy);

That now-operating kingdom in heaven will, within the twentieth century, cleanse the entire earth of wickedness. (Awake! February 22, 1961, p. 7);

What day was Jesus speaking of? The beginning of World War III? No, Zephaniah 2:3 identifies it as "the day of Jehovah's anger." Revelation 16:16 calls it the "war of the great day of God the Almighty," Armageddon. This war will come in the twentieth century. It will come right on schedule, as have the wars, food shortages, earthquakes and other events' fore told. This generation will see its fulfillment. (Awake! February 22, 1961, p. 8);

Shortly, within our twentieth century, the “battle in the day of Jehovah” will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom. (...) Jehovah’s “sword” of warfare will cut off from this position that Christendom’s clergy claim for her all religionists who depend upon her having an acceptable standing with God. However, Jehovah’s “sword” will not be applied merely to those adhering to Christendom. It will also be brandished against “all flesh from south [Christendom] to north.” Religionists belonging to all the rest of the world empire of false religion will feel the cutting edge of Jehovah’s “sword.” Their being non-Christians will not cause them to be spared. (“The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah” - How? 1971, pp. 216-217).

As we see from the quotations, no sophistry can change the meaning of these statements. The conclusion is unambiguous that Armageddon was expected in the twentieth century, and even precisely in the year 1975, as we will see after reading other publications.

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Opracował: Piotr Andryszczak
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