Before getting too far into this subject, I’d like to make a prediction:
Ten years from now, when you ask Jehovah’s Witnesses why the Watchtower changed its teachings about “this generation will not pass away” in April 2010, they will have no memory of the release of this “new light” – and many will simply deny that it ever happened.
Or, it is more than likely that there will be NEW “new light” released between now and then that will change the Watchtower’s teaching on this subject once again.
Back to the new “generation” teaching in just a moment, but first I want to remind my readers about a similar situation involving the Watchtower’s promotion of “1975” as the year that Armageddon would begin.
From late 1967 until the end of the year 1975, that’s all you heard from the Watchtower and Awake! It was the only thing that every Jehovah’s Witness you knew or met on the street wanted to talk about. “Stay alive till ’75!” was a common greeting among the Witnesses at meetings and conventions. Everyone – from Circuit Overseers to the late Fred Franz, (then the Vice-President of the Society) – urged rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses to set aside their plans and reschedule their lives for events that they were assured would come in 1975.
Witness families and individuals moved from their homes to “go where the need is greater.” Young people completely gave up their plans to go to college or to prepare for a career. Some canceled marriage plans, or put off having children, because they were so sure that Armageddon was coming by 1975. They heard comments like, “we’re not talking years, we’re talking months…” from high-ranking Watchtower leaders. Comments and speculation about “1975” was a part of almost every Witness conversation.
When 1975 came and went and life went on pretty much as before, the Watchtower first denied that it had ever promoted that particular year as anything special. In fact, it actually accused the rank and file in local congregations of spreading that rumor and only imagining that the leadership in Bethel had promoted the idea – because it was they who wanted to believe that 1975 would see the start of Armageddon. The Governing Body claimed that the suggestion that 1975 was anything special never received any direct encouragement from the Watchtower Society.
Of course, everyone knew that was a lie, but like sheep, the rank and file simply accepted the responsibility for the failure of 1975 and then refused to challenge the Watchtower’s accusation that they had “run ahead of Jehovah.”
It took a few years, but the Watchtower eventually accepted some (but not all) of the responsibility for that false prophecy it had so eagerly promoted. The leadership still refused to make amends to all those faithful followers and their families who suffered by quitting good jobs or selling their homes at a discount. Nothing could be done for those who put off their personal plans for going to college, getting married, or having kids. I guess that as far as the Watchtower Society was concerned, that was just bad luck for them…
All along the Watchtower has continued to remind Jehovah’s Witnesses that “this generation (those that lived during 1914) would not pass” until all of their “end-of-this-system-of-things” prophecies were fulfilled.
In April (2010) that will all officially change – along with the Watchtower’s definition of the word “generation.”
A “generation” has always been used to describe transitions between particular populations. For example:
- A “familial generation” would be considered as a time period starting from the birth of parents and ending at the birth of their children (the “next generation”), normally a period of 20 to 30 years.
- Another version of a “familial generation” would expand a period of time to 50 to 70 years. This would account for a time period for a previous generation (grandparents / great grandparents) to completely die away.
- A “lifetime generation” would be considered as the length of a typical lifespan of an individual. The Bible referred to “three score and ten” (70) years as the expected lifespan of a man. That would also match the “familial (grandparent) generation” definition.
- “Generation” can also be applied to populations who lived around the time of a significant event. For example, those who lived during the French Revolution, the American Civil War, or World War 2. “Baby Boomers” and the “Woodstock Generation” would also fall in this category.
But now the Watchtower has decided to create an entirely new definition of what a “generation” is – and will then apply it to their presentation of the “this generation will not pass” prophecy.
This is how the Watchtower defines this prophetic “generation”: “…The lives of the anointed who were on hand when the sign began to become evident in 1914 would overlap with the lives of other anointed ones who would see the start of the great tribulation.”
In other words, any of the newly anointed class living now, whose life overlapped with someone from the original 1914 “anointed” class (although very old, a few are still alive today), could live to see the beginning of Armageddon.
Based on that Watchtower definition, we could assume that some of the anointed who were born in 1914 might live to be 100 years old, and someone born before they die might live to be 100 years old, it could be 2114 before Armageddon actually happens.
Since 1920 the Watchtower Society has constantly preached that Armageddon is “just around the corner” and that “millions now living will never die!”
I want to direct you to Danny Haszard’s great article on this subject. He’s done such a great job, anything else I could write would be simply redundant and would not be so descriptive. Click here to read his great presentation on this subject. Among other things, it should also make you reconsider the issue of the Watchtower Society’s credibility and truthfulness to its own followers.
A thoughtful review of the WT’s new “generation” policy…
For more information on this subject, also check out this excellent article at JWfacts.com.