Why Have Jehovah’s Witnesses Changed Some of Their Beliefs?

What JW.ORG says:

“We have always used the Bible as the sole authority for our beliefs, so we have adjusted our beliefs as our understanding of the Scriptures has been clarified. 

“Such changes are in harmony with the Bible principle stated at Proverbs 4:​18: “The path of the righteous is like the bright morning light that grows brighter and brighter until full daylight.” Just as the rising sun reveals details of a landscape gradually, God grants an understanding of divine truth progressively, in his due time. (1 Peter 1:​10-​12) As the Bible foretold, he has accelerated this process during “the time of the end.”​—Daniel 12:4.

These adjustments in our understanding should neither surprise nor disturb us. Ancient worshippers of God also had mistaken ideas and expectations and needed to adjust their viewpoint.

God later corrected their misunderstandings, and we pray that he will continue doing the same for us.​—James 1:5.”

The Truth

Watchtower begins by misapplying Proverbs 4:18, which they present as a prophecy about changes in Bible understanding. Examining the context shows that Proverbs 4 is not a prophecy, but a series of pieces of practical wisdom being passed on from a father to his sons:

  • Listen, my sons, to the discipline of a father;Pay attention in order to gain understanding,  For I will give you good instruction; Do not forsake my teaching.” Proverbs 4:1,2

Leading up to verse 18, the “father” begins to contrast the path of a wicked man with the path of a righteous man:

  • 13  Hold on to discipline; do not let it go.Safeguard it, for it means your life.14  Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil men.15  Shun it, do not take it;Turn away from it, and pass it by.16  For they cannot sleep unless they do what is bad. They are robbed of sleep unless they cause someone’s downfall.17  They feed themselves with the bread of wickedness, And they drink the wine of violence.18  But the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light That grows brighter and brighter until full daylight.

Nowhere in these verses is the slightest hint as to the understanding of bible prophecies growing “brighter.

Really, Watchtower has changed many of their beliefs not because of God “correcting their understandings,” but because they have made predictions that the passing of time has proven false.

As just one example, let’s look at Watchtower’s former belief that Armageddon would come in 1925. In 1918, Watchtower proclaimed the following:

  • “Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection,” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89).

In 1922 they doubled down on this:

1923:

  •  “Our thought is that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge,” (Watchtower, Apr. 1, 1923, p. 106).

1925 came and went. None of these things came to pass, despite Watchtower being “confident,” despite the prediction supposedly being “distinctly indicated” and “definitely settled by the scriptures.” Was there an apology? An admission of error? A display of humility?

Here’s what was said in 1926:

  •  “Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything,” (Watchtower 1926, p. 232).

The date having come and gone, Watchtower now said some anticipated that the end would come in 1925. The obvious truth is that all Jehovah’s Witnesses anticipated the end would come in 1925, because that was the official Watchtower teaching. But all the blame was placed on faithful members of the congregation for “inflating their imaginations beyond reason,” when all they really did was believe the publications they were told they must trust in order to gain salvation.

Why did Watchtower change their beliefs? Was it “light getting brighter”? Was it direction from God? Or was it because Watchtower asserted that something would definitely happen, and then it definitely didn’t happen?

For a deeper dive into changed Watchtower beliefs, check out the wonderful resources at jwfacts.com

For a detailed timeline of failed endtime predictions, head over to readjw.info

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