[This article was contributed by Apollos]
On this site we have spent considerable time discussing whether Jesus Christ was enthroned in heaven in 1914 and whether he has been invisibly present since then.
JW doctrine on 1914 has bundled together many scriptures that are not explicitly related. By making the year 1914 a focal point for everything, it seems to make it difficult for some Bible students to step back and examine scriptural texts in their own right. It is as if the doctrinal framework maintains a gravitational pull that cannot be escaped, so that inconsistencies and errors are persistently overlooked or ignored.
Let us list some of the key events and scriptures that we still claim were fulfilled in 1914*:
1) The “Gentile times” were ended (Lu 21:24)
2) The “seven times” were ended (Dan 4:25)
3) The end of “a waiting period” of Jesus sitting at God’s right hand (Ps 110:1,2)
4) The beginning of “the last days” (2 Tim 3:1)
5) The casting out of Satan from heaven (Rev 12:9)
6) The setting up of the Kingdom that will never be brought to ruin (Dan 2:44)
7) The enthronement of Christ Jesus (Rev 12:10; Dan 7:13,14)
8) The “final part of the days” (Isa 2:2-4; Mic 4:1-4)
9) The “day coming belonging to Jehovah” begins; Jerusalem attacked by the nations (Zech 14:1,2)
10) The “Lord’s day” begins (Rev 1:10)
11) The “parousia” of Christ Jesus begins (Matt 24:3,39)
12) The first resurrection begins shortly thereafter (1 Thes 4:16; Rev 20:6)
13) The start of the “generation” that will not pass away without seeing the end (Matt 24:34,35)
14) The messenger of the covenant arrives (Mal 3:1-3)
15) The preaching of the two witnesses (Rev 11:3-13)
This is perhaps not an exhaustive list, but it will do for now.
First of all, let me say that I can see the attraction in believing this doctrine. If we don’t dig too deep in order to avoid our shovel hitting on the rocky problems that this framework presents in scripture, then it’s nice to have a single peg that we can hang everything on. It somehow feels like an anchor, and if it just happens to be a unique doctrine to our religion then it also provides the wonderful assurance that we have “the truth”.
But what if it’s not? What if #1 is not the same as #5, or #9 is not the same as #12. Take away the simple premise and some interesting (and consistent) possibilities emerge.
What I would like to ask you is how much time have you personally spent looking at each of the above scriptural accounts with an open mind (i.e. not with your 1914 lenses on)? Do you feel that it is even possible for you to do so?
There is a form of cognitive bias known as subjective validation. It essentially means that we are drawn to perceive that something is true if our underlying preconception depends on it, and we tend to make connections to support that even when they are non-existent.
For me to tackle the above list exhaustively would create a very long article indeed (and I’ve already done one of those recently). Therefore I simply invite you to do your own analysis.
But to get you started, and by way of example, take #1 in isolation. Do you honestly see evidence that the “Gentile times” have ended? It is a term mentioned only once in scripture (as cited). The early Bible students following C.T. Russell accepted something that should be quite obvious to us, and yet seems to have been obfuscated: When the Gentile times have ended, the Gentiles will no longer be ruling.
Do you feel that the rulership of the Gentiles is somehow different in 2013 to what it was in 1913? Is there a tangible element to this that you can put your finger on and say that Jesus’ words in Luke 21 were fulfilled, or in your heart do you acknowledge that the emperor may need a new suit of clothes?
Patchwork garments are prone to fall apart. The same is true of patchwork doctrine. Rather than simply accept that all of the above scriptures are somehow centered around 1914, why not make an examination of each subject for yourself? By no means are they all unrelated, but you will see where clear connections exist and where they do not.
When was the Kingdom really established? When did Christ become King? What is the true meaning of “parousia”, and how does it relate to the signs that Jesus gave?
If you are willing to take the journey, I believe that you will find it a rewarding one indeed.
* There are other prophecies that used to be tied to 1914 that we have dropped along the way, but I will only deal with what has been termed “present truth” in this article.