Why should anyone have had any special expectations regarding this year? And why should we still be interested? After all, that was almost 50 years ago in the past! It has something to do with these two Bible texts:
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.Luke 16:10 NIV
You will destroy those who tell lies. The LORD detests murderers and deceivers.Psalm 5:7 NLT
We will see that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, by their current statements on the subject in 1975, have proven to be both unreliable and must even be called liars and deceivers. According to Luke 16:10, therefore, they should not be trusted even in major matters, and according to Psalm 5:7, they are even an abomination to Yahweh. I know these are strong words, but the evidence will follow.
When Anthony Morris III was still part of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he completely distorted the facts of events prior to 1975 on JW Broadcasting in 2022. And in the process he made fun of some ‘faithful older brothers’ of that time.
For me, this also has a personal component. My maternal grandparents were already Bible Students in the early 1920s. They themselves witnessed the predictions of the president of the Watchtower organization, J.F. Rutherford for the year 1925, which did not come true: “Millions now living will never die!” This was proclaimed not only by Rutherford for years but by Bible Students worldwide. But this prediction did not come true. But it was also never openly admitted and is transfigured until today (see w22 October p.2 1922—One Hundred Years Ago, w20 October p. 2 1920—One Hundred Years Ago).
When expectations were announced again, this time for the year 1975, my grandfather said to my grandmother, “We have seen that in 1925 the hopes were not fulfilled. And we said that we want to serve Jehovah forever. That is what we are going to do now.” For this reasonable attitude, however, he got quite a beating from his fellow elders: “You can’t say that!”
Well, these were just ordinary publishers in the congregation. And many publishers had simply got carried away with false expectations. This narrative has been spread by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses for a long time. But was it really only some proclaimers who expected too much in 1975? Let us now examine this on the basis of the publications of the Governing Body.
In 1968, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses posed the above question to all preachers and people worldwide in the Watchtower:
In the English edition, the question translates as, “Why are you looking forward to 1975?” The German-language article, however, had a modified theme, “What do you expect from 1975?” Well, what were the expectations of the Governing Body:
Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man’s existence coincides with the sabbathlike thousand-year reign of Christ. If these two periods run parallel with each other as to the calendar year, it will not be by mere chance or accident but will be according to Jehovah’s loving and timely purposes.w68 8/15 p. 499 paragraph 30
One thing is absolutely certain, Bible chronology reinforced with fulfilled Bible prophecy shows that six thousand years of man’s existence will soon be up, yes, within this generation! (Matt. 24:34) This is, therefore, no time to be indifferent and complacent. This is not the time to be toying with the words of Jesus that “concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36) To the contrary, it is a time when one should be keenly aware that the end of this system of things is rapidly coming to its violent end. Make no mistake, it is sufficient that the Father himself knows both the “day and hour”!w68 8/15 p. 499 paragraph 35
However, this is only one article of many. At the end of the article I will list some more. (Many can also be found in English at jwfacts.com and in Raymond Franz book “The Conflict of Conscience” and James Penton book “End Times Without End”).
However, all the hype about 1975 really began with this book in 1966:
It was this table with the calculation leading to the year 1975, as well as some statements about it in the text, that caused enthusiasm already at the 1966 Congress after its publication.
It is worth taking a look at the data in the last part of the table.
- That the conquest of Jerusalem in 607 BCE did not take place has already been sufficiently proven.
- Interestingly, at around 49, there is no mention of the Governing Body in Jerusalem. No wonder, it did not exist among Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years after 1966.
- That in 1492 the pope supposedly died from a blood transfusion … somehow seems to have been very important in the divine timetable.
- The explanation for 1914 (October! ) is interesting, but there is a whole book on that (“The Gentile Times Reconsidered” and the addendum “The Times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24).
- Unfortunately, 1925 is not mentioned, when for about 6 years before that it was preached that “millions now living will never die.”
- But instead, the topic of blood transfusion in 1918.
- Satellites and astronauts in 1957 and 1964: One remembers; “Signs on moon and stars”.
But let’s go back to the development before 1975. Expectations were fueled throughout the following years until 1975 (see quotes below).
If you like, you can also listen to the striking words of the German branch servant Konrad Franke on the subject in 1975 (talk at January 20, 1968 in Hamburg, text here). However, it must be said that two years later he was no longer a branch leader. It’s in German (Note: Its sounds somewhat like a talk in the 1930s, but it isn’t), but you can find similar recordings in English.
But back to the starting point. So what did Anthony Morris of the Governing Body say in the 2022 broadcast on jw.org (JW Broadcasting—February 2022: Annual Meeting 2021, Part 2 “JW Broadcasting February 2022: Annual Meeting 2021 (Part 2) German” after about one hour and 44 minutes)? Here are the screen captures of the original video with German subtitles and translation by the Watchtower Society.
„So they’d listen, and they appreciated all theses older ones. We had a number of them in Rhode Island. – Longtime servants of Jehovah God. However, from time to time – this statement – they’d be looking at my sons and say: “
Than he says:
And than this:
Because he told his boys at the time: it “might take until 2020”
This gives the impression of how wise and farsighted this brother, this anointed one, who later belonged to the Governing Body himself, was even then. (In 2023, Brother Morris was removed from the Governing Body. For a few days, this event was available first as breaking news and then as news. Then this news was removed again. As were other videos of him, for example: By Condemning “Despicable Apostates”, has the Governing Body Condemned Themselves?).
How then did these ‚older brothers’ come to their wrong attitude? Straightforward answer: Awake 1969 May 22 p. 14 and 15.
How ‘fortunate’ that the online JW Library does not contain any pre-1970 editions of the Awake (German and English) and that the Governing Body has instructed elders in recent years to destroy older literature in the congregation.
But they still exist, the digitized editions. Some excerpts from the text:
Youg or old, you need to face up to the fact that this system is not going to change its direction. Under Satan’s influence, it will continue to deteriorate rapidly in its remaining years.Awake 1969 May 22 p. 14-15
If you are a youn gperson, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a a few years. Of the generation that observed the beginning of the „last days“ in 1914, Jesus foretold: „This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.“ – Matt. 24:34
Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way toward its finish, if not actually gone!
If you calculate from the year of publication of this article 1969, you come to which year with these statements? 1973, 1975, 1977 … That’s when “the system is on its way to its end, or even gone.”
How could these ‚older brothers’ ever get the idea that Anthony Morris children will not finish their education …?
So Anthony Morris clearly did not teach his children at that time according to the ‘light’ and the ‘truth of that time’ of the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ – Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz respectively and later the Governing Body. Amazing why he was not disfellowship at that time, since the doctrine was not, even in the 1970s, that the end might not come until 2020. Even more amazing, perhaps, is that he then became part of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What did the Governing Body publish after 1975?
SINCE a new Jewish lunar year began in September 1975 a significant point in human history was reached. What was that? According to the Bible’s count of time, mankind then completed 6,000 years of existence on earth. Yes, the first man Adam, if he had chosen to remain obedient under God’s rulership, would have still been alive and 6,000 years old in September of this year.w75 10/1 p. 579 The End of 6,000 Years of Man-Rule Approaches—What Has Been Accomplished?
So somehow they tried to turn the issue around. But the uproar was probably too great. What could you read in 1976?
15 But it is not advisable for us to set our sights on a certain date, neglecting everyday things we would ordinarily care for as Christians, such as things that we and our families really need. We may be forgetting that, when the “day” comes, it will not change the principle that Christians must at all times take care of all their responsibilities. If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.
16 However, say that you are one who counted heavily on a date, and, commendably, set your attention more strictly on the urgency of the times and the need of the people to hear. And say you now, temporarily, feel somewhat disappointed; are you really the loser? Are you really hurt? We believe you can say that you have gained and profited by taking this conscientious course. Also, you have been enabled to get a really mature, more reasonable viewpoint.—Eph. 5:1-17.
17 The Scriptures repeatedly tell us that the end will come as a complete surprise upon the world. … Thereafter he said: “Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” (Matt. 24:42-44) These clear statements of Jesus indicate that God’s servants will never be given the date of Christ’s “coming” for judgment until it actually takes place. In fact, it will come at what appears to them an ‘unlikely’ time.—Luke 12:39, 40.w76 7/15 p. 438ff par. 15-17 A Solid Basis for Confidence
How would you have felt about this in 1976? As a kind of apology? Or did the Governing Body take responsibility? Interestingly, in paragraph 17, using the same text from Matthew, the exact opposite is now said of what was published before 1975. What could one read in the Watchtower article quoted at the beginning “What do you expect from 1975?” then?
This is, therefore, no time to be indifferent and complacent. This is not the time to be toying with the words of Jesus that “concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36)w68 Aug. 15 pp. 500-501 paras. 35 “Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?” (English); w68 Nov. 15 pp. 692-693 paras. 35 „Was erwartest du von 1975?” (German)
That probably led to even more disappointment for many, and so this was written in 1980:
5 In modern times such eagerness, commendable in itself, has led to attempts at setting dates for the desired liberation from the suffering and troubles that are the lot of persons throughout the earth. With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God, and its comments as to how appropriate it would be for the millennial reign of Christ to parallel the seventh millennium of man’s existence, considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. There were statements made then, and thereafter, stressing that this was only a possibility. Unfortunately, however, along with such cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated.
6 In its issue of July 15, 1976, The Watchtower, commenting on the inadvisability of setting our sights on a certain date, stated: “If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” In saying “anyone,” The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date.w80 3/15 p. 17 Choosing the Best Way of Life (Italics in article)
Is this an excuse or is there not another attempt here to roll the responsibility onto the ordinary Witness? It is admitted that the Watchtower wrote only about ‘someone’ in 1976. And then those responsible for the Governing Body place themselves in the ranks of the “disappointed Jehovah’s Witnesses”: “also those who had to do with the publication of the information”. And what about those who were responsible for writing and publishing, namely the Governing Body? Also, paragraph 5 distorts the facts regarding publications: There were far fewer “other statements.” And if anything was left open, it was only what would happen. This can also be seen if one reads more closely in the Proclaimers book what F. Franz said at a congress:
“Say, What Does This 1975 Mean?”
The Witnesses had long shared the belief that the Thousand Year Reign of Christ would follow after 6,000 years of human history. But when would 6,000 years of human existence end? The book Life Everlasting—In Freedom of the Sons of God, released at a series of district conventions held in 1966, pointed to 1975. Right at the convention, as the brothers examined the contents, the new book triggered much discussion about 1975.
At the convention held in Baltimore, Maryland, F. W. Franz gave the concluding talk. He began by saying: “Just before I got on the platform a young man came to me and said, ‘Say, what does this 1975 mean?’” Brother Franz then referred to the many questions that had arisen as to whether the material in the new book meant that by 1975 Armageddon would be finished, and Satan would be bound. He stated, in essence: ‘It could. But we are not saying. All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that.’
In the years following 1966, many of Jehovah’s Witnesses acted in harmony with the spirit of that counsel. However, other statements were published on this subject, and some were likely more definite than advisable. This was acknowledged in The Watchtower of March 15, 1980 (page 17). But Jehovah’s Witnesses were also cautioned to concentrate mainly on doing Jehovah’s will and not to be swept up by dates and expectations of an early salvation.Proclaimers jv chapter 8 p.104
So what did Vice President F. W. Franz really say? That nobody should say something definite about what happens before 1975! But there would be no doubt that the time is short and runs out. Nothing more really needs to be said about that, does it? Apparently it does, because in the next paragraph it is shown again that it was the preachers who would not have listened to the admonition. By the way, of the four sources given, two are from 1974 and 1975 … someone must have gotten cold feet. In the same years, however, this was also published:
How Are You Using Your Life?Kingdom Ministry May 1974 (English page 4-5)
Yes, since the summer of 1973 there have been new peaks in pioneers every month. Now there are 20,394 regular and special pioneers in the United States, an all-time peak. That is 5,190 more than there were in February 1973! A 34-percent increase! Does that not warm our hearts? Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end. —1 John 2:17.
A letter from people who are concerned about you
September 1, 1974
…Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world would hold two special meetings in September…..Kingdom Ministry km 74/8 p. 4 German
Why is this special meeting being held? Because the times in which we live make it imperative that you carefully and prayerfully consider your position before Jehovah God. You are probably already aware that for the present godless world in 1914 CE the “last days” – as the Bible calls them – have dawned, which will now soon end with the destruction of this world….
Consequently, the generation that was an eyewitness to the events of 1914 CE will be the generation that will also experience the “great tribulation.” Nearly sixty years have already passed. The number of those who consciously experienced the year 1914 is decreasing. It is thus clear that the time has come near when Jehovah God will act. …
Since the “great tribulation” is obviously near, we would urge you not to delay now. …
Finally, a video was shown at a district congress a few years ago, where it was also shown how some people at that time probably got the idea that the end would come in 1975. Who has seen only this congress video, would never have come on the idea, what was really published. And we only watched a small excerpt.
But I think that is enough to ask oneself quite openly and honestly the question: Should we trust the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even entrust our lives to them? Let us remember Jesus’ words:
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.Luke 16:10 NIV
Some more detailed quotes from the German publications. Newer publications have the same publishing date in English. Before, the English version of the Watchtower was published about 3 months earlier. :