Moving Christ’s parousia
from 1874 to 1914 –

Kris Marlow

(Investigator 26, 1992 September)

According to Watchtower founder and first president Charles T. Russell, Christ's parousia and the beginning of the kingdom in heaven took place in the year 1874.

This year was one of the pillars of the original chronological doctrine of the Watchtower Society.

But in 1930 the date for the beginning of Christ’s parousia was moved from 1874 to 1914:

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives His disciples some proofs that He would be present... These tangible evidences will be the beginning of the work of destroying the present evil conditions and systems. This work of destruction began in 1914...
If it is true that Jesus has been present since the year 1914, then it must be admitted that nobody has seen Him with his natural eyes. (The Golden Age 1930 p.503)

  Surprisingly, the book God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached places this change in the year 1943 rather than 1930:

In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book The Truth Shall Make You Free. In its chapter 11, entitled "The Count of Time," it did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia. (God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached 1973 pp. 209-210)
Why would the Society publish this obviously incorrect statement?

It is very unlikely that it was by mistake. The book God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached was written by Frederick W. Franz (so his nephew Raymond Franz told me personally).

Frederick Franz, now the president of the Watchtower Society, had been proofreading all of the materials published by the Society since 1927:

Q. Were You proofreading all that time?
A. Yes sir - no, not all that time. Since 1927.
Q. You told us you checked every article that was prepared?
A. Yes.(Court Transcript, Fred W. Franz under cross examination. Olin R. Moyle vs. Fred W. Franz, Nathan H. Knorr, et al. New York Supreme Court 1940 p.845)

Proofreading gave Franz detailed knowledge of the doctrinal development of the Society. It is virtually impossible that he would be unaware of the fact that the Society had been placing the parousia in the year 1914 since approximately 13 years prior to 1943.

Is there any reason he would not want to mention the original statements in which the new doctrine was originally introduced?

If we carefully examine the early statements dating the parousia to the year 1914, we will see that they just stated the new date without any explanation or support of the changed doctrine.

The change from 1874 to 1914 was made solely because of the necessity to deal with the failed prophecies for the year 1914, and it was not based on any new chronological information.

On the other hand, the explanation offered in God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached comfortably avoids any mention of unfulfilled prophecies for the year 1914. Instead, the change from 1874 to 1914 is attributed to new chronological information regarding the length of the period of the Judges.

Thus, a reader unfamiliar with the background will get the impression that the dating of the parousia was moved from 1874 to 1914 for sound chronological reasons based on biblical research, rather than because of failed prophecies for the year 1914.

The only logical explanation for the incorrect statement in God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached is that the writer tried to hide the true reason for the changed doctrine, because it is not favorable to the Society.

For obvious reasons, this explanation will remain only a theory. However, it is consistent with how the Watchtower Society misrepresents its own history and teachings in order to cover up mistakes and present an image as God’s organization.

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: