Damage Control

Norman Hovland


The change of the Watchtower's "1914 generation" doctrine in 1995, sent shockwaves through the Watchtower Society. The rank and file had been force fed for decades about the certainty that "the end" would come before the 1914 generation was dead. In the Aid and Insight books, the Watchtower Society had in reality set the ultimate limit for the length of the "generation" to 80 years.

So in 1994, it dawned on the senile leadership in Brooklyn that yet another embarrassing failure had to be covered up as best it could be done. In the November 1, 1995 issue of the Watchtower we find the weasel worded "change" which Brooklyn now prefers to call an "updated understanding", another code word for the fact that they screwed up royally (as usual) and have absolutely no clue (as usual). Anyway, thanks to some active "apostate" effort, the press published some articles about this new failure and that way Brooklyn had a hard time to ease it past the rank and file. Let us look at the "masterpiece":

"A Time to Keep Awake"
"Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah's people have at times speculated about the time when the "great tribulation" would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we "bring a heart of wisdom in," not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we "count our days" in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term "generation" as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics." (The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p. 17)

Analyzing the use of words here we notice this: "Jehovah's people have at times speculated". Notice the expression "at times" and also the word "speculated". If you look at the incessant pounding about the 1914-generation in the Watchtower literature through decades it can hardly be termed "at times". If you look in the Watchtower literature for all the times they have written about the 1914-generation you will never find the word "speculation" used anywhere, on the contrary. It was held out as a certainty, it was promised by the Bible, by Jehovah and by Jesus.

After decades of promoting the "rubber band" generation the "elastic" broke and of course it presented Brooklyn with many problems. One quite logical thought that surfaced among the friends was that after so many years of yelling "wolf" and ranting about how few of the "generation" was left and how imminent the end "therefore had to be", now they were yet again without a clue as to how distant the "end" might be. Of course the thought that the "end" isn't right around the corner strikes panic and hysteria in Brooklyn, because this might cause the Witnesses to "slow down", so here they had to do some "explaining". After having succeeded in stretching the "generation" into a period of 80 years, it was now comically enough imperative to achieve the exact opposite. Finally through a miraculous bout of "a heart of wisdom", the "generation" had to be short, as short as possible:

"Questions From Readers"
"Could it be said that the recently updated understanding of the word "generation" at Matthew 24:34 allows for the idea that the end of the system of things could be delayed into the distant future?

That is certainly not the case. On the contrary, the recent improved understanding of this matter should help us to keep in constant expectation of the end. How so? Well, as The Watchtower of November 1, 1995, explained, Jesus applied the phrase "this generation" to contemporary wicked people. (Matthew 11:7, 16-19; 12:39, 45; 17:14-17; Acts 2:5, 6, 14, 40) It was not, as such, a description of a fixed length of time beginning with a specific date." (The Watchtower, May 1, 1997, p. 29)

As we can observe, the Watchtower hurries to assure the rank and file that of course the end is just as imminent as always. We are treated to the following complete nonsensical sentence: "That is certainly not the case. On the contrary, the recent improved understanding of this matter should help us to keep in constant expectation of the end." Yes folks, a new and improved "understanding" will allow us to, instead of focusing on how long time it is left to the end, we can now expect the "end" constantly! How great! It will apply to any generation of "wicked" people!

"Questions From Readers"
"In fact, "Questions From Readers" in that same issue of The Watchtower focused on two key points: "A generation of people cannot be viewed as a period having a fixed number of years" and, "The people of a generation live for a relatively brief period."

We often use "generation" in this way. For example, we might say, 'The soldiers of Napoléon's generation knew nothing about airplanes and atom bombs.' Would we be referring just to soldiers who were born in the very same year as Napoléon was? Would we be referring merely to those French soldiers who died before Napoléon did? Of course not; nor would we by such a use of "generation" be trying to fix a set number of years. We would, though, be referring to a relatively short period, not hundreds of years from Napoléon's time into the future." (The Watchtower, May 1, 1997, p. 29)

Here are some more gems: "A generation of people cannot be viewed as a period having a fixed number of years". How hilarious. After at least 60 years of promoting that very idea as the gospel truth, the Watchtower tells us that a generation cannot possibly be viewed that way! Without reminding their readers about Watchtower articles calculating how old those who "saw what happened in 1914" had to be, to be part of the generation, etc, they of course emphasize how "short" it must be.

"Questions From Readers"
"It was thus appropriate that The Watchtower of November 1 carried the subheading "Keep on the Watch!" The following paragraph aptly said: "We do not need to know the exact timing of events. Rather, our focus must be on being watchful, cultivating strong faith, and keeping busy in Jehovah's service -- not on calculating a date." Then it quoted Jesus' words: "Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch." -- Mark 13:33, 37." (The Watchtower, May 1, 1997, p. 29)

With this burst of more meaningless drivel the Watchtower magazine hammers home their "improved understanding". What this improved understanding boils down to is that they are now back to same old drivel as any of the other apocalyptical Churches has been engaging in for years, namely the end can come any minute now, just look at how horribly bad everything is!

The rank and file naturally also wondered about how this now elusive "generation" should now be considered relative to the year 1914? Of course statements like this: "It was not, as such, a description of a fixed length of time beginning with a specific date." It looked as though the Watchtower Society tried to disconnect the "generation" from the date 1914. Thus we had the next "explanation":

"Questions From Readers"
""The Watchtower" of November 1, 1995, focused on what Jesus said about "this generation," as we read at Matthew 24:34. Does this mean that there is some question about whether God's Kingdom was set up in heaven in 1914?

That discussion in The Watchtower offered no change at all in our fundamental teaching about 1914. Jesus set out the sign to mark his presence in Kingdom power. We have ample evidence that this sign has been in course of fulfillment since 1914. The facts about wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and other evidences bear out that since 1914, Jesus has been active as King of God's Kingdom. This indicates that since then we have been in the conclusion of the system of things.

What, then, was The Watchtower clarifying? Well, the key was the sense in which Jesus used the word "generation" at Matthew 24:34. That passage reads: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." What did Jesus mean by "generation," both in his day and in ours?" (The Watchtower, June 1, 1997, p. 28)

Of course the Watchtower hurries to explain that the "improved understanding" doesn't really change anything. Well, apart from revealing yet again how utterly and universally clueless the Watchtower Society really is about everything, it doesn't change much in Brooklyn. Then we get the old hopeless "prune" argument: "We have ample evidence that this sign has been in course of fulfillment since 1914. The facts about wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and other evidences bear out that since 1914, Jesus has been active as King of God's Kingdom. This indicates that since then we have been in the conclusion of the system of things."

As has been demonstrated time and time again, these so-called "signs" are something that has been evident in all generations of mankind, all the time. The only difference we have seen in our generation since 1914, is that virtually every aspect of this "sign" has improved immensely since 1914, leaving us the fact that the previous generations was far worse off than ours. How's that as a "sign"?

"Questions From Readers"
"So the recent information in The Watchtower about "this generation" did not change our understanding of what occurred in 1914. But it did give us a clearer grasp of Jesus' use of the term "generation," helping us to see that his usage was no basis for calculating -- counting from 1914 -- how close to the end we are." (The Watchtower, June 1, 1997, p. 28)

It is quite hilarious and remarkable that something, which has been crystal clear for the majority of the "clergy of Christendom" for thousands of years, didn't occur to the leaders of "Jehovah's organization" until November, 1995. My, does the "spirit" move slowly through "God's Channel". Maybe they should consider installing fibre cable? Anyway, now the rank and file Jehovah's Witness doesn't have to be preoccupied with when the "end" will come. Why? It will come "soon". Here are some examples of this "improved understanding":

"The Greater Glory of Jehovah's House"
""It will not be late," says the prophet. Jesus said that the present wicked generation would not pass away until "all these things occur." (Matthew 24:34) Does our updated understanding of his words mean that our preaching activity is not so pressing? The facts show that just the opposite is the case! Our contemporary generation is plunging into a state of wickedness and corruption unparalleled in all previous history." (The Watchtower, January 1, 1997, p. 12, §3)

"Serving Loyally With Jehovah's Organization"
"Recently, "the faithful and discreet slave" has helped us to refine our understanding of the term "generation" used at Matthew 24:34 and of the timing of the judgment of "the sheep" and "the goats" mentioned at Matthew 25:31-46, as well as of our view toward certain types of civilian service. (Matthew 24:45) No doubt some apostates would have been delighted if many of Jehovah's Witnesses had stuck rigidly to the previous understanding of such subjects and refused to progress. Nothing of the kind has happened. Why? Jehovah's people are loyal." (The Watchtower, August 1, 1997, p. 12)

Notice the nonsense in the last two sentences: "No doubt some apostates would have been delighted if many of Jehovah's Witnesses had stuck rigidly to the previous understanding of such subjects and refused to progress. Nothing of the kind has happened. Why? Jehovah's people are loyal."

Wonder who those "apostates" are? Being one myself I have never met anyone who have ever mentioned such a thing. On the contrary, we "apostates" know very well that whatever changes is decreed in Brooklyn, the "faithful" will automatically "believe" what the Watchtower Society writes.

If Brooklyn tomorrow decided that blood transfusions was A OK, all "faithful" Witnesses would go around the next day claiming that this is nothing new, "we have always believed this". That's exactly how it works.

It is interesting to notice that in spite of the "updated/improved understanding" the Watchtower continues to allude to the good old "obsolete understanding", just take a look at this:

"The Greater Glory of Jehovah's House"
""It will not be late," says the prophet. Jesus said that the present wicked generation would not pass away until "all these things occur." (Matthew 24:34) Does our updated understanding of his words mean that our preaching activity is not so pressing? The facts show that just the opposite is the case! Our contemporary generation is plunging into a state of wickedness and corruption unparalleled in all previous history." (The Watchtower, January 1, 1997, p. 12, §3)

As late as in 1992, when Brooklyn was staggering around in the dark steeped in their "speculations" it sounded like this:

"1914 -- The Year That Shocked the World"
"Today, a small percentage of mankind can still recall the dramatic events of 1914. Will that elderly generation pass away before God saves the earth from ruin? Not according to Bible prophecy. "When you see all these things," Jesus promised, "know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." -- Matthew 24:33, 34." (The Watchtower, May 1, 1992, p. 3)

The Watchtower Society has made every mistake possible when it comes to all their grand cock sure claims about "knowing" the future. In this they share the legacy of the entire Bible thumping wolf criers since the first century. The sad thing is that these people never learn, and no doubt there will be idiots ranting about the imminent "end" a thousand years from now.


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