Millennial Dawn

The “Seven Thunders” of Millennial Dawn—Part 3


Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 024

HELLO AND WELCOME TO EPISODE 24 OF ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon, and in this episode, I’m continuing my review of the 1928 booklet The “Seven Thunders” of Millennial Dawn by Methodist minister B H Shadduck. The “Seven Thunders” was an exposé of the Millennial Dawn series of books highlighting some jiggery-pokery that had gone on after the fact. When comparing early editions of the books with later editions, it was very clear that alterations had been made to a number of prophecies made by Charles Taze Russell—prophecies that had failed to come true. This is demonstrated very well on page 9 of The “Seven Thunders” where Shadduck wrote:

Basically, if a prediction didn’t come true, Watch Tower just changed the dates and sometimes even the publisher’s date in the front of the volume so that the books appeared untampered with, hiding the failure of the prophecies within. It would even appear that the books were originally typeset in such a way that if the dates failed, revisions could be easily made without them being apparent to the reader, but Shadduck, who was in possession of multiple editions of the Millennial Dawn books was able to spot where the changes had been made and highlight the failed predictions.

Under the heading “Thunders Re-Thundered” Shadduck notes regarding the rapture:

It seems so obvious that a false prophecy does a false prophet make, but Watch Tower has always tried to wriggle out of this allegation. The Watchtower January 1883 p. 425 said, “We have not the gift of prophecy” and Awake! magazine March 22, 1993 p. 4 tried to excuse its past failings by stating: “Jehovah’s Witnesses… have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’”

That all sounds very convincing, but elsewhere, Watch Tower has claimed to be a prophet. Watchtower April 1, 1972 p. 197 reads: “Does Jehovah have a prophet to… warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?… This ‘prophet’ was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.” So, there you go—Watch Tower has very clearly stated that the International Bible Students, and in modern-times Jehovah’s Witnesses, are God’s prophet. The aforementioned Watchtower continued: “Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?” Indeed, what does it show?

Well, Shadduck, all the way back in 1928 was reviewing the Bible Student’s record and in The “Seven Thunders”, he drew attention to a number of failed prophecies in just the seventh volume of Millennial Dawn alone. The Finished Mystery, which was written after Russell’s death in 1916, was shown to contain several dates that contradicted earlier volumes in the series—volumes that were still being printed and distributed. Shadduck wrote:

These expectations couldn’t have been more wrong really. Rather than upheaval, collapse, and calamity, 1918 saw the end of the First World War. Then in 1920, the League of Nations was created and half a million prisoners of war were returned home. True, the Spanish Flu was raging between 1918 and 1920, but as far as I’m aware Russell failed to prophesy that one. Nevertheless, the Bible Students continued to boast that they had “the truth”, much as Jehovah’s Witnesses do today.

On page 8 of The “Seven Thunders”, under the heading “Truth People” and “Present Truth”, Shadduck writes:

Nothing has changed really, has it? Although 1920, 1921, and 1925 were dropped, Jehovah’s Witnesses today continue to cling to one date—1914—as the basis for much of their doctrine, and they keep “setting the clock” whenever their interpretation starts to run slow. In September 2015, 101 years after 1914, at a time it was obvious that the generation of 1914 had, for the most part, all “pass[ed] away”, David Splane presented the Watch Tower’s new understanding of “this generation”, making it an overlapping one. In doing so, he—knowingly or unknowingly, I’m not sure—reset the date of Armageddon to somewhere, I’ve calculated, between 2034 and 2074. No doubt, as the clock ticks down and we get closer to those dates, the present governing body, or a subsequent one, will find itself having to reset its clock again. The thing to note is that each time these predictions fail, they are not merely “mistakes” but false prophecies.

You see, great things were claimed about Russell so when he got stuff wrong, it was really wrong, and lots of people were affected. Under the heading “Do Angels Blunder?” a reference to a number of Revelation’s angels being applied to Russell himself, Shadduck noted:

Likewise today, the governing body claims great things about itself—it is God’s spokesperson, it is Jesus’ “faithful and discreet slave”, it is the sole channel of truth on earth. In past years, many Bible prophecies were applied to the anointed class as a whole—those that identify with heavenly hope—and they still are, but since 2012, when the governing body claimed that they, and they alone, were the “faithful and discreet slave”, the term “anointed”—for most Jehovah’s Witnesses—has become synonymous with “governing body”. When a Witness refers to the “anointed” today, they are usually referring to the 8 members of the governing body. Other anointed ones have effectively been sidelined, and the governing body has placed itself front and centre, publicly, for all to see on JW Broadcasting. That means that when their “overlapping generations” doctrine fails—and it will fail—it will be on a very public stage and, millions will be affected by it—and they won’t be able to share the blame with other anointed ones, because they’ve completely pushed them out of the picture. The prophecies are theirs, and theirs alone, and the inevitable failures will also be theirs and will continue to show them up as false prophets, much as Russell’s prophetic blunders showed him to be a false prophet.

Shadduck continues:

And so it was that Shadduck highlighted how Russell and the Bible Students were found not only to get their predictions wrong time and time again but also to change the dates after the fact to make it appear the prophecies still had time to run. In modern times Jehovah’s Witnesses—”God’s prophet”—has hyped up anticipation for 1975 as the possible start for Jesus’ millennial reign. Nothing happened, many disappointed ones left the organisation, and so they had to “reset their clock”. As late as 1989, they were claiming that the preaching work would be “completed in our 20th-century”—that too failed—and in later editions of The Watchtower magazine they changed it from “in our 20th-century” to “in our day”, and now, with their overlapping generations doctrine, they are providing a 40-year window—sometime between 2034 and 2074—for Armageddon to come. If Armageddon is a thing though, there is no scriptural reason why it couldn’t be 100 years away, 500 years, 1000 years, but Watch Tower continues to pedal the idea that we are “on the threshold of a new world” and Armageddon is “just around the corner”, with absolutely no supporting evidence. It’s just wishful thinking, the way it’s always been, and when the prophecies fail they just “reset the clock” again.

Shadduck next makes a brilliant point that is impossible to refute. The Bible Students tried to downplay Russell’s failed predictions—much as Jehovah’s Witnesses do today—but they were forgetting something really important. According to the Bible Students, Russell, who died in 1916, was supposedly resurrected immediately to heaven, where, “beyond the veil”, he continued to direct the Watch Tower organisation and its work—including the publication of the seventh volume of Millenial Dawn. Yet the seventh volume, as Shadduck next pointed out, was riddled with errors and dishonest changes after the fact. Shadduck wrote on page 12 of his booklet:

Today, the governing body tries to excuse itself when its predictions fail but are they forgetting where their predictions are supposed to originate from? As they like to remind everyone, all the anointed ones who have ever died, including Jesus’ apostles and every member of the governing body since 1919—except themselves—are now in heaven managing the work of the Watch Tower organisation via some unstated method. Not to mention, Jesus is supposedly running the entire show. With all those perfect spirit beings on the case, and the very Son of God too, you would think the governing body would get their predictions right at least once in a while, but as far as dates are concerned they have a 100% failure rate. Nothing they have ever prophesied has come true. Instead, they just keep changing their minds and resetting their clocks and dishing up more “new light” for Jehovah’s Witnesses to get excited about.

Shadduck concludes his argument by referring to what he calls “Mr Russell’s Confession”. On page 15 of The “Seven Thunders” he writes:

The governing body today proudly claim that its literature can be read in over 750 languages, but far from this being a good thing, this is a terrible thing because that’s 750 languages in which errors—false prophecies—are being promulgated to millions, billions of people. As Proverbs 10:19 says: “When words are many, transgression cannot be avoided.” Yet, just like Charles Taze Russell, the governing body today provides no meaningful apology for the many many times they’ve got it wrong.

Okay, so that’s all for this time but join me again when I’ll be taking a look at how the Bible Students predicted the restoration of Palestine for 1925 from the combined ages of a cow, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove and a pigeon. I kid you not. Thanks for listening again. Have a great day!

Further reading