From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Jehovah's Witnesses Abandon End-of-the-world Prediction
04 May 1996 19:49:42
95431 Jehovah's Witnesses Abandon End-of-the-world Prediction
by John Dart
Religion News Service
LOS ANGELES--After warning for decades that the generation aware of events
in 1914 would not die off before seeing an Armageddon bloodbath and the
dawn of a new world, Jehovah's Witnesses are now saying, in effect, "Never
A spokesman for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based sect said that a
reexamination of scripture prompted the leadership to see "this generation"
as the people of an historical era rather than the lifespan of certain
individuals. "It doesn't change our belief that we are living in the time
of the end," said Robert Johnson, media spokesman for the 4.7 million
Witnesses, including 900,000 Americans.
Johnson and other Witnesses contended the shift will not lead to a
falling away of members. But some prominent ex-Witnesses predicted the
change will take away much of the urgency of the Witnesses' door-to-door
message that time is short.
"This is a monumental change after all this time," said Ray Franz of
Winston, Ga., who was on the Witnesses' governing board from 1971 until he
quit in 1980. "They've been insisting on this as a definite truth for more
than 40 years," he said. "Now they are somewhat robbed of the main source
for a sense of urgency."
Ex-Witness James Fenton, professor emeritus of history and religious
studies at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, said, "Now that
they have changed the generation' argument, they won't be able to put the
same pressure on Witnesses to go house to house."
However, Harley Breneman of Reseda, Calif., said he had received no
questions over the change from the 21 Kingdom Halls he oversees. "I don't
expect any problems," he said.
Claire Weissman of Tujunga, Calif., who left the Witnesses eight years
ago because she disagreed with the group's biblical interpretations,
predicted most Witnesses "will step in tune with whatever The Watchtower'
[a Jehovah's Witnesses publication] tells them."
Another active Witness, William Gorby of Glendale, Calif., said the
change should be put into perspective -- that adjustments in religious
understanding have taken place throughout biblical history. "Yes, we have
misunderstood some dates for certain Bible events," he said. "It takes
humility and honesty to admit mistakes and be willing to make corrections
and then go on serving God."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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