[This article was contributed by Andere Stimme]
You can tell which house is mine, because it’s the only white house on our street. And since it’s green, it blends in nicely with the foliage.
It’s easy to spot an inconsistency when the disagreeing data are close together. When the conflicting details are farther apart in distance or context, however, the inconsistency is not so easily detected. An example of the latter can be found in paragraph 7 of the article Preparing the Nations for “the Teaching of Jehovah” of the February 15, 2015 Watchtower:
“In some ways, the first-century Roman world brought benefits to Christians. For instance, there was the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace. The vast Roman Empire imposed stability on people in its realm. At times, there were “wars and reports of wars,” as Jesus had foretold. (Matt. 24:6) Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E., and there were skirmishes on the frontiers of the empire. For about 200 years from the time of Jesus, however, the Mediterranean world was comparatively free of strife. One reference book states: ‘Never in human history had there been so long a span of general tranquility, and never again was peace to be maintained so steadily among so many people.’”
To see the inconsistency, we need to remember that the official position of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Jesus’ prophecies about the “conclusion of the system of things” (found at Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) is that they have a dual fulfillment. Notice what the July 2013 study edition of The Watchtower says:
“Upon further examination of Jesus’ prophecy, however, we perceived that a part of Jesus’ prophecy about the last days has two fulfillments. (Matt. 24:4-22) There was an initial fulfillment in Judea in the first century C.E., and there would be a worldwide fulfillment in our day.” (w13 7/15 p. 4 par. 4 “Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?”)
With regard to the initial, first-century fulfillment, the article “Questions from Readers” in the November 1, 1995 Watchtower has this to say:
“We have often published evidence that many things Jesus foretold in this same discourse (such as wars, earthquakes, and famines) were fulfilled between his uttering the prophecy and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.” (w95 11/1 p. 31, emphasis added.)
As for the modern-day fulfillment, the recently-revised New World Translation, in the seventh of the introductory topics titled “What does the Bible foretell about our day?“, gives the following reference:
“When you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be alarmed; these things must take place, but the end is not yet.” Mark 13:7 [Also, Matthew 24:6; Luke 21:9]
We should note, then, that this week’s Watchtower is a significant, if undeclared, adjustment. No longer is it claimed that “wars and reports of wars” increased in the 37 years between Christ’s death and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. By this way of looking at things, what Jesus was saying was, “with regard to wars and reports of wars, nothing out of the ordinary will happen”. Of course, if all Jesus meant by referring to “wars and reports of wars” is that, well, it would be business as usual, then it wasn’t much of a prophecy at all – certainly not one that you or I couldn’t make. This interpretation makes Jesus’ prophetic abilities sound like the vague foretellings of horoscopes.
This brings us back to the matter of consistency: On the one hand, we use this passage to show that there would be a marked increase in wars in the “worldwide fulfillment” (i.e. since 1914). On the other hand, we describe the “wars and reports of wars” of the first century as mere blips in a 200-year period of unprecedented peace. Are we not equivocating in so doing? [i]
So, while we continue to hold on to a vague notion of a dual fulfillment, we seem to be abandoning any attempt to be specific and consistent in explaining how Jesus’ prophecies were fulfilled in the years between the time of Jesus’ death and the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. We cannot be sure why, but here’s something to think about: If our interpretation of the initial fulfillment were just as specific as that of the greater fulfillment, would we not run into problems with the generation mentioned at Matthew 24:34 (also Mark 13:30; Luke 12:32)? After all, if the first-century “generation” lasted only 37 years, is it not inconsistent for the end-times “generation” to last over a hundred years?
To be sure, Jesus’ prophecies regarding his ‘presence and the conclusion of the system of things’ had a fulfillment in the first century. However, attempts to unequivocally nail down which aspects of the prophecies have an exclusively first-century fulfillment, which ones have an exclusively end-times fulfillment and which aspects, if any, have a dual fulfillment, have thus far come up dry. Modesty should obligate us to admit that fact, instead of claiming to have it all worked out and then belying those claims through ambiguity and equivocation.
[i] The following study article in the same magazine, “Jehovah Guides Our Global Teaching Work”, reveals inconsistency even within the “worldwide fulfillment”. In paragraph 7, it says: “Between 1946 and 2013…many countries enjoyed relative peace, and Jehovah’s people took advantage of that situation to proclaim the good news”. Here both an increase of wars and a preaching work facilitated by peace are taken to show that we are in the last days.
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Good points. In a way 70 CE “the end” did not come under a period marked by “wars and reports of wars”. Rather the end of the Jerusalem “a system of things” (Matt13:36-42) came in 70 CE, during the Roman parallel of regional Roman “peace and security” of the Pax Romana just getting fully founded. The future parallel seems to imply 8th King world government will assume a similar “Pax World Government” (1Thess5:1-3), well after this upcoming phase of final “wars and reports of wars” (Matt24:6; Rev13:3 “sword stroke”) and “disorders” (Luke21:9) phase “heals” into world government. (Rev13:3; Rev17:8-13) Thus… Read more »
Peter compares prophecy to “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Pet 1:19). It allows us to see what the future holds. Without prophecy we would be in the dark, not knowing what is going to happen. The prophet Hosea warned us not to be “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6)
True but prophecies are not merely visions of the future but actually announcements of future acts of God, in order that believers act and be saved. Hence a prophecy is only of value if the believer has a clear and crystal understanding of the prophecy, and what he/she should do.
And so it’s important that we understand prophecy then. Jesus Christ knew what he wished to say, and how to say it in such a way that we would understand what he meant. The Bible is a book for everybody, and it is written to convey plain information of God’s intentions for the whole world. Sadly many view it as a book of unsearchable wisdom, and thus making it impossible to know the Truth.
Interestingly the verse says you are going to hear of wars and reports of wars . From whom though the preceding verse contains a warning about being misled by false christs and all this in relation to the timing of the conclusion of the age . It is very possible that these common occurances such as wars and the rest of the so called signs earthquakes famines ect . Would be proclaimed by false prophets as proof that the end is upon us. This is not the case as a careful review of the text shows that the real sign… Read more »
WT prophecies not bible prophecies.
qspf- Thank you for your observations and providing a bit of humor, or irony. As to “take the lead to do what is right,” you lament that no one seems able to get beyond documenting what is wrong. It is true that the WT comment series appearing in this space for the last year is closely tied to the WT publishing sequence. Part of the reason for sticking to this is to allow honest-hearting ones researching questions about individual articles to find the scriptural truth, free of WT dogma or doctrine. By your comments there, it is clear you are… Read more »
Rufus, The general proposition of “what is the next step forward” or “where do we go from here” is an enormous question. Meleti is in possession of an essay I wrote on this topic, which spanned some 25 pages, but even that barely scratched the surface. And, I most certainly do NOT have all the answers. The enormity of this question obligates us to concede that it is too large for any one person to answer. So, take what I say below with a grain of salt, as they say. I can tell you what I personally think the general… Read more »
This idea of a “chistian constitution” or a charter of some sort would be a great place to begin, outlining a basic set of doctrines that can be worked around as knowledge increases and revelations become evident,without marginalising anyone or taking away the right to question. I’ve been pondering it for some time, and now I realise what you need an organization for, it’s to get the information into people’s hands not dictate their beliefs or control their salvation.Things the GBcould easily do without spending the millions of dollars they are at this time. The Internet makes so much possible… Read more »
What I termed a “constitution” could also be called a “declaration of principles”. I didn’t use that specific expression just to avoid confusing it with the declaration of independence I also talked about. But, having a list of principles is important for mature persons to form an adult relationship with God. For instance, parents will tell their children not to touch the stove. That is a rule. They say this because a child may not have experienced or understood the concept of burn injuries or the causes of house fires. All they know is they have to do what their… Read more »
Actually, here 8. may, 12.33 pm, you have written down the sign og the end ..spiritual signs to a spiritual nation..: war and rumours of war / truth vs lies; earthquakes / the ground under our belief system is shaking ; diseases / spiritual do to hunger / lack of sound spiritual food …
‘The hearts of these people have grown tick, so they listen heavily with their ears, and their eyes are all closed, so they can’t see with their eyes, hear with their ears,or understand with their hearts, then TURN BACK so I can send healing to them’
Your 25-page article made many fine points, and our group is in agreement with a number of them. A few months back, we published an article called “Help Us Spread the Good News”. It provided a link to a survey so that we could get a feel for how the holy spirit was guiding our little internet congregation. We will be publishing the results of that survey soon, but suffice it for now to say that there was overwhelming support for the idea of a site dedicated to publishing the positive message of the good news free from the doctrinal… Read more »
The matter of being, or not being, a religion is a difficult one. Organized religion is indeed a snare and a racket. On the other hand, we have the counsel in Hebrews not to forsake gathering. Once people “gather”, would they not be definition become a religion? How could you avoid that happening? I don’t have a good answer to that question. I find it interesting that Watchtower actively discourages two or more families from gathering as a group for a joint Family Worship night. I suspect they do this for the same reason they disbanded the book studies in… Read more »
The WBTS is saying it is a must to become a member of organized religion (see here http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/organized-religion/ But as usual, the misapply the verses referring to the council of Paul to gather. Paul indeed recommends that people to encourage one another. He does not use the word WORSHIP. In other words, it is not really necessary to gather f or worship. But to gather with believers can be very motivating and encouraging. It is to incite to love and fine works. Not the WBTS works but he Christian works, shown in the love for your neighbour, your love for… Read more »
I think the idea of a Declaration is interesting, but would be of limited value unless the “colonists” were willing to sign their names to it. If it could (a) be worded carefully enough that brothers with concerns could sign it without fear of automatic disfellowshipping, it might provide both a gathering point and (b) a way for the GB to understand the magnitude of the problem.
I am almost certain that (a) would be impossible and (b) would provoke, not piety but the inquisition. Still, it’s an idea worth considering.
Certainly, if/when people were willing to sign their names to it, that would add some weight and force behind the assertions that were contained within it. However, I see that as a separate issue. This document could be formulated over time, and made publicly available. The GB keeps close tabs on what is going on with the Internet. They would come to be aware of this, even if no one signed their names. And, persons who have already left the organization and agreed with this would have no reason not sign. Hopefully, these things would be sufficient for the GB… Read more »
Well, it certainly would be interesting to post the document with a proposed, future “JW Independence Day” and see how HQ would handle it. I’m guessing the direction from on high would be to deal summarily with the first dissenters in order to dissuade the masses. I would propose, not a “JW Independence Day” exactly, but a declaration of things that worry us about the organization. No direct contradiction and no denunciation, just a list of things that bother thinking JWs. Something that an active JW could sign with the intent of letting HQ know he/she is dissatisfied with the… Read more »
I am afraid there is no easy way out for those wanting independence. The GB directs the elders in judicial hearings to make a point blank loyalty test of anyone they deem as potential “apostate”. The sort of question they pose is, “Do you or do you not agree one hundred percent with all teachings, policies and practices of the WT? Yes or No?” Unless you say Yes, you’re out. They will not debate or even discuss questions of doctrine or Bible truth, or consider any proof you may have to offer. You are not allowed to question those things,… Read more »
FYI, did you know there is actually no such town or city called Cedar Point, Ohio? There is an AMUSEMENT PARK with that name, but not a town. The park is in Sandusky, Ohio, and it has always been within the city limits of Sandusky. Yet, every single WT publication that mentions this place refers to it by the name of the PARK, not the name of the CITY. Isn’t that weird?
Cedar Point is an established place name, park area and resort quite separate across the waters of Lake Erie from Sandusky, Ohio. On the other hand, to Google images of Cedar Point gives a fair idea of what the place is about today. Here is a more dignified historical marker:
There is a passage in the movie “Planet of the Apes”, where ancient evidence of a human settlement was found on the ape world in a cave. This ran contrary to what the orthodox ape beliefs were. So, it was decided that the cave would be blown up. The ape characters were not in agreement about this, one side saying that it provided proof that humans had existed first, and were superior to the apes – an unpopular view. The response? ‘There IS no proof. There CAN’T BE. Blow it up, and you two will be tried for heresy.’ I… Read more »
I agree with your point here, but let’s try not to ‘ape’ the disrespectful tone taken by less civilized primates:)
Sorry, I succumbed to a momentary lapse of reason. It was intended to be funny rather than disrespectful, per se. I have noted that in web sites and other forums where those opposed to the WT discuss these matters, there is remarkably little humor or happiness. Everyone is angry at everyone else. Were the WT still under the Law (instead of just interpreting doctrines as if they were) everyone else would have been stoned by now. It is regrettable that every participant in this battle, from the WT on down, only views others as opponents, and there is no happiness… Read more »
Surprisingly, discussing subjects like eternal salvation and the ills of organized religion isn’t always a barrel of laughs. Even so, I hope you’ve noticed that this site is not devoid of humor. I think we can rightly pride ourselves on having the only analysis of the Watchtower that includes references to Star Wars and Planet of the Apes. However, in an effort to avoid the chimp-speak so often found on other sites, we sometimes succumb to our stodgy inner silverback. Separating good bananas from bad is, necessarily, a subjective process, so please don’t be offended if the moderator seems to… Read more »
anderestimme , I am not offended. You made the right call in snipping off the part you did. This forum is for grown ups, and we all need to behave, including me. I humbly stand corrected.
Elder Goodcop came up to me and said:
“What? Jesus was responsible for the success of the preaching work?! That’s a radical thought, Brother Rufus. I think we should discuss this, because that is not what the article said. Do you think you are smarter than the Faithful and Discreet Slave?
“Wait, I’ll get a couple more elders and we can go have a nice little chat in the elders room.
“Why don’t you take a seat, Rufus. Elder Fang, fetch the comfy chair, and I’ll go find Elder Badcop.”
This is why I have basically stopped commenting at the meetings (I do comment to individuals before and after to encourage them). Commenting at the meetings is only for the purpose of ingraining into the commentor and the listeners what the WT is saying. This is why both disagreeing with the WT and/or not commenting at all are disapproved of.
Kudos to you for speaking your mind.
My Watchtower comment on Pax Romana, spoken loudly while standing up: “What, are you kidding me? Do you really think the Greek language, Roman law or engineering and the Jewish diaspora were responsible for the success of 1st century kingdom preaching? Christians were routinely eaten or ripped apart by wild animals just for entertainment of the beneficiaries of Pax Romana. Persecution of Christians under Roman rule lasted 200 years. So why was 1st century preaching a success? What about the spirit of our Lord, Jesus Christ, personally directing witness bearing to him? What about his direct commission to go and… Read more »
It seems that the prophecy was only a guide for first century Christians , as was pointed out this has come up dry for every would be/ wannabe prophet, clearly( I sound like a watchtower) no one knows as Jesus said.
This whole reference to Pax Romana to suggest it helped or benefited the early Christians is “bad”.The complete reference reads: “For some two hundred years following the accession of Augustus, the Mediterranean world was virtually at peace. War, when it was waged at all, was confined almost entirely to frontier areas. Never in human history had there been so long a span of general tranquility, and never again was peace maintained so steadily among so many people.” Augustus reigned from 31BC to 14AD. The peace mentioned during this period was not for Christians. Jesus was killed, all apostles killed, Paul… Read more »
Nice reasoning, Andere. Thanks!
In the Wikipedia article about Pax Romana, the story seems to be quite a bit more involved. There were various “Pax” periods in the region that comprised the Roman Empire, and each region’s Pax varied in start/end dates and degree of peacefulness. Some region’s Pax times were even much longer than 200 years. It depends on what part of the empire we are referring to. Could SOME of the empire have had times of relative peace that helped SOME Christians of that era? Yes, but the overall Pax didn’t help everyone, everywhere all the time the general notion of Pax… Read more »
If there is only one fulfilment of Matthew 24, ie the last days beginning in the first century, and the final stage of those last days coming to a close at the end of the age when Jesus returns, then there is no problem with Matt 24:34 “this generation”. Mark 8:38 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Therefore “the generation” = the wicked society which will prevail during the present evil… Read more »