From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Jehovah's Witnesses Abandon End-of-the-world Prediction

Date 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   Web page: 


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