Peter Retzinger

Reseda, California

 

July 8, 1995

 

Mr. Milton G. Henschel, President

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

25 Columbia Heights

Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483

 

Dear Mr. Henschel:

 

The article titled “Can you Trust God’s Promices” in your June 22, 1995 Awake (pages 6 through 9), I find to be somewhat of a side-step of the truth.

In discussing the expectations of Bible Students (i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses) for the years 1914, 1925, and 1975, this article implies that these expectations were “conjectured” or “surmised” by A. H. Macmillan (now deceased) and other Witnesses who had “a fervent desire to realize the fulfillment of God’s promises in their own time.”  Clearly, this is not the case, but rather these good people were responding to the  teachings of TRUTH by the spiritual leaders of the Watchtower, “God’s faithful and discrete slave”.

 

Websters 9th New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1988, defines conjecture as:  1) interpretation of omens; supposition and 2) inference from defective or presumptive evidence; a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork.  Surmise is defined as: a thought or idea based on scanty evidence.

 

RELATIVE TO 1914

 

Macmillan’s discourse given on September 30, 1914 was an expectation of the end of the world (as we know it) and was based on the teachings and prophecies if Charles T. Russel, your founder and first president, who at that time was believed by members of the society to be “God’s Faithful and Discrete Slave”.

 Consider the book by Russell, “the Time is at Hand” (1908 edition, page 101) where Russel states; “---in 1889 the battle of the great day of God Almighty (Rev 16:14) which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of the earth’s present ruler ship, is already commenced.”  Also, consider “Paster Russell’s Sermans” (1914, page 676) where Russell proclaims: The present great war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of the scriptures.”

 

Most importantly, consider how Charles Russell arrived at the date 1914. Russell (and the current Governing Body of the Watchtower) surmised that the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonian Army under Nebuchadnezzar took place in the year 607 BCE.  Overwhelmingly, Jewish, Babylonian, Egyptian and Assyrian recorded historical evidence, as well as archeological and astronomical information points to an  historical date of 587 BCE, a date agreed upon by most credited scholars of ancient history.  To the date 607 BCE, Russell adds seven, 360 day years (2520days), converted to 2520 years and voila!, you get the year 1914. There is no evidence in the Bible or elsewhere that this numerical calculation has any meaning whatsoever and the results can be defined as pure conjecture.

 

Pastor Russell’s  reasoning, based on presumptive evidence to determine certain dates, both past and future, is summarized on page 60 of “The Finished Mystery”, published in 1917 after Russell’s death  To confirm the date of 1914 (and other dates) Russell used a book written by Dr. John Edgar titled “Pyramid Passages, Volume II, by Dr. John Edgar titled “Pyramid Passages, Volume II, in which the lengths of various sections of the passages of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, “add up” to the time intervals.

 

The Great Pyramid was built during the 4th Dynasty (2575BCE---2465 BCE) of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, under the rule of Khufu, Egypt’s pharaoh  from 2552BCA until 2528 BCE. At the time of the construction of the Great Pyramid, the subjects of Egypt worshipped the Sun God, Re, among other gods.  Also at that time, 2500 BCE, the Israelites ancestors and other peoples of the Middle East and Mesopotamia were also polytheistic and looked to Yahweh, El, Ashera, Anat, and Baal, among other deities  for comfort and direction.  It wasn’t until the Israelites, under Moses, about 1000 years later, that polytheistic beliefs and freedom of religion were abolished, and were commanded to their worship only to Jehovah (Yahweh), the Warrior God, who was believed to have freed the Jews form captivity in Egypt.  In Exodus 32: 27, 28 Moses is commanded by Jehovah to have 3000 idolaters killed.

 

In 2500 BCE how the beliefs of Khufu and the Egyptians were reflected in the construction of the Great Pyramid and related to the, as yet to be fully developed, Judeo-Christian beliefs and chronology (and the date 1914) has got to be a real stretch of conjecture. In spite of failed speculation and chronology, based on faulty or non-existent evidence regarding the year 1914. belief in a theological significance of 1914 persists in the Watchtower today, July 1995, over 100 years after Russell’s original calculations.

 

Tell me, who conjectured? Pastor Russell, your founder and “God’s faithful and Discrete Slave”, or Mr. Macmillan, a Bible Student and follower of Russell?

 

REGARDING 1925

 

Again the Awake (June 22, 1995) implies that the good Bible Students surmised that 1925 would bring back the “faithful men of old” such as Abraham, David and Daniel.

 

Consider: “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” ,(copyright 1918 by your second president, Joseph Rutherford, page 89)-quote: “Therefore  we may confidently expect that 11925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the apostle in Hebrews chapter 11, to the condition of human perfection.”  Also consier the Watchtower of April 1, 1922, page 262: The sate of 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the scriptures than 1914.” And consider the Watchtower of April 1, 1923, Page 106: Our thought is that 1925 is definitely settled by the scripture.  As to Noah,  the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had to base his in the coming deluge.”

 

Tell me, who based their expectation for the year 1925 on conjecture and non-existing or scanty evidence: the Bible Students or the Watchtower and in particular Joseph Rutherford whose worldwide campaign “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” , started in 1918.

 

REGARDING 1975

 

Many of Jehovah’s faithful Witnesses confidently expected Armageddon to break forth in 1975, expecting to survive and never have to die.  This lire of the Watchtower, a promise for those who “practice faith in God’s Kingdom Promises” will live forever in Paradise Earth and never have to die, is of course, what attracts new members who have the natural human fear of death.  The June 22, 1995 Awake states: “Their anticipation was based on the understanding that the seventh millennium of human history would begin then.”

 

Consider the Watchtower magazine of August 15, 1968 (page 494): Why are you forward to 1975?”  And consider ‘The Kingdom Ministry” of 1968 (page 4): “Just think  ,Brothers, there are only about 90 months before 6000 years of man’s existence on Earth is completed…. The majority of people living today(1968) will be alive when Armageddon breaks out.”

 

Who conjectured concerning 1975?; The Brothers (and Sisters) or the Watchtower?

 

For many years the Watchtower and other “fundamentalist” Christian sects have advanced the belief that Adam and Eve, the first humans of all time, were created by Jehovah in the Garden of Eden in the year 4026 BCE and hence 6000 years until 1975. In the early years of the Watchtower, Pastor Russell conjectured that the time of Adam and Eve’s creation was 4127Bce (see page 60 of “The finished Mystery)”  The idea of the first humans, (Adam and Eve) occurring only about 6000 years ago, first originated in the year 1650 when James Usser, Archbishop of ////Armagh, Calculated that creation occurred in 4004 BCE, using the genealogy and numerology of the Hebrew Bible.  This calculation, at that time was based on the belief that the Bible was an  historical account, scanty evidence and is clearly a conjecture.

 

The Watchtower’s publication, “Life—How Did It Get Here—By Evolution or By Creation?” copyright 1985, page 96, states that ‘Biblical chronology indicated that about 600 have passed since the creation of humans.”  Also on page 95 of this publication, the Watchtower accepts that many of the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon skeletal remains uncovered in Europe during the last 100 years are essentially indistinguishable from humans and insists, that in spite of overwhelming scientific dating using advanced technology and geological evidence, and with blinders in place, the Watchtower maintains that the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon lived after 4026 BCE.

The Watchtower’s justification is by stating that carbon dating is not accurate.

 

Carbon dating is not accurate to what degree? Using state of the art Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) technology for carbon dating, very small (50 to 1000 milligram) samples of ancient hydrocarbon specimens

(i.e. wood, charcoal, bone, and other once living fossils) can be dated with accuracies which make the belief that that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal are less than 6000 years old totally ridiculous and completely unfounded except through interpreting the bible as historical and literally truthful.

 

By using multiple small samples of a specimen, radio carbon dating with AMS technology that indicated, for example, an age of 20,000 years before present, with high certainty bracket the age of the specimen between 19.000 and 26,000 years (i.e. an error of 5% on the not as old as indicated side).

 

The Cro-Magnon paintings and artifacts discovered in the Chauvet caves near Avigon, France (see Time Magazine, February 13, 1995).  Even if the measurement error were 50% on the “not as old as indicated side” the time of the remains would be 10,00 years ago, well beyond the conjectured date of 4026 BCE for Adam and Eve.

 

It would be wise for the Watchtower to take the advice of the Brethren of Purity, an early sect of Islam: “A seeker of truth must shun no science, scorn no book, nor cling  fanatically to  a single creed.”

 

WHAT NEXT?

 

Shortly after the failure of Pastor Russell’s conjecture concerning “The End” in 1914, Joseph Rutherford began his Millions Now Living Will Never Die” campaign and the year 1914 took on a meaning of “the beginning of the End Times” or the beginning of the time of the last days of Earth as we know it.  The three successors to Rutherford (Nathan Knorr, Fred Franz, and yourself)

and their Governing Bodies (the Faithful and Discrete Slave of Jehovah) have continued to spread the TRUTH and accurate knowledge of God,  assuring all members that Armageddon will break forth “before the Generation that saw the events of 1914”, passes completely away”.

 

Most notably, the Watchtower publication titled “you can Live forever in Paradise on Earth” (copyright 1982), proclaims two fundamental TRUTHS of the Watchtower:  1.) You can live forever in paradise on Earth; and 2.) Armageddon will break forth before all of the Generation of 1914  has passed away, leaving only those “who exercise faith in God’s Kingdom promises, (currently about 5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide).  All others on Earth, almost 6 billion humans will be totally destroyed and liquefied (Watchtower, April 15, 1995).

On page 154 of the “You Can Live Forever book, the following Truth is proclaimed: “After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, JESUS SAID: ’this generation will by no means pass away until these things (including the end of the system) occur’ (Matthew 24: 34,14)  Which generation did Jesus mean?  He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914.  Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old.”

 

At the time of the publication of “You Can Live Forever” in 1982, the generation of 1914 was “very old” at 68 years. Currently, 1995, the generation is very, very old ---time is running out for the Generation of 1914!  In a final statement on page 154 of “You Can Live Forever”, the following TRUTH is stated:  “So of this we can be CERTAIN: shortly now, there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon.”

 

As of the 1989 edition of  You Can Live forever in Paradise on Earth”, 60,400,000 copies of this elegantly bound and embossed book had been printed in 109 languages.  This “TRUTH” and “accurate knowledge of God” has surely been spread throughout the whole world (one copy for every 100 men women, and child on the Earth.)

 

With the “1914 Generation”  conjecture rapidly fading in credibility, it seems to me that as rational, thinking persons, there certainly must be concern among members of the Governing Body that we are about to face a “time of truth”  We may have to conclude that the 1914 Generation premise onle a thought or idea based on scanty evidence or guesswork---nothing more than conjecture, passed off as CERTAIN TRUTH and accurae knowledge of God, and propagated for a whole generation The Governing Body may soon have to conclude that the Creator “conjectured” or that there was static in the “Faithful and Discrete Slaves communication channel to God, and God was misinterpreted.

 

As for Rutherford’s original speculation, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” and the current Watchtower proclamation  “You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth”, all evidence regarding living individual biological humans, and all other living things, plant or animal, Certainly does not support this claim, and it is abundantly clear from the Watchtower’s TRUTH failures that the  organizations biblical interpretations does not make it  so!or more by the spiritual authorities of the Watchtower.  Perhaps the June 22, 1995 Awake reflects this concern of the Governing body, in a subtle hint, where Macmillan is quoted as saying, No matter what adjustments we would have tom make from time to time in our views, that would not change God’s promise of eternal life”. (Eternal life, where, on Earth or in the beyoud?)

 

On page 4 of each Awake (12,000,000 copies printed in 75 languages, semi monthly) the following is stated as TRUTH:  “---- this magazine builds confidence in the Creators promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.”

 

Humans living here on Earth are like passing clouds---here there and gone.  All we can do is show love and caring for one another and give thanks for having had the chance to experience the joys and sorrows of life while passing through.  As a passing cloud may leave rain, refreshing the Earth, so each person has the chance to leave the world with some small measure o a brighter outlook for those to follow.

 

Faith implies trust.  How can one :exercise faith in God’s Kingdom promises ahen the Watchtower’s proclamations, prophecies and stated accurate knowledge of God cannot be trusted and is often only conjecture?  Hoe can one, without extensive objective research, discern what is often only Watchtower conjecture and speculation, and what is unchanging truth---NEW LIGHT doesn’t cut it!

 

So why this letter and expose to the Watchtower.  As the father of eleven children, the grandfather of twelve and the great-grandfather of three, I have concern for the mental and emotional well being of all my family, especially those few that have been taken in by the Watchtower organization’s faulty speculations and conjectures.  I am well aware of the conflicts of conscience a member of an authoritative organization may experience by being indoctrinated is a belief system which presents a distorted view of the world and reality and plays on the “us and them”, “judge thy neibor” and “fear” themes to gain and hold members. Many tens of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t buy all of the Watchtower’s  theological conjectures suffer from these conflicts of conscience but quietly “go along with it” and “don’t make waves” for fear of disrupting  family relationships or associations with long time friends because of Watchtowers shunning policies of baptized members who depart the organization or are des-fellowshipped.  In addition many leave your organization each year for theological reasons, not moral reasons.  Those who leave often suffer from the loss of family members and friends (who were, after all, only conditional friends), and sometimes the readjustment to the “real World” can be long and painful.

 

This world can offer comfort for those who leave the Watchtower, in spite of the Watchtowers long and continuing diatribe on “this wicked system of things” whose governments and other religions are ruled by Satan, who was hurled down to Earth in 1914 ( Watchtower, July 15, 1995m page 5).  Another conjecture about 1914.  Enough is enough, already!

 

For one who is a seeker of truth and giver of love, this world can offer a plentiful supply of love, compassion, understanding, tolerance, wisdom, knowledge and truth from all races, and creeds of mankind.

 

Instead of focusing on the” evil and wickedness” of this world I believe it would be well for the Watchtower to have Johnny Mercer’s recording of “You Got to Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative”, played daily in Bethel’s writing department for inspiration to the writers.

 

Sincerely, 

 

 

Peter Retzinger

A free lance seeker of truth.

 

PR/jr

 

CC. Members of the Governing Body

 

Enclosure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENCLOSURE, Page #1

 

P. 60          The Finished Mystery                   REV. 3

                                             (Published 1917)

 

--Joachim heretics”   His application of the correct prin-

ciple, “a year for a day” made in the very depths of the

history of mankind;  but his study of the time-prophecy

brought him peace and joy of the heart. He was an opponent

of the prevailing “doctrine of the Trinity.”        William

Miller, in the year 1829, was privileged to see  (approxi-

Mately) the correct date for the setting up of the abomi-

Nation of desolation (539 A, D,), and for the beginning of

The Time of the End (1799 A, D, )  Morton Edgar, author

of  Pyramid Passages, has found forcshown in the Great

Pyramid of Egypt abundant evidence of the accuracy of

The Bible chronology of Pastor Russell and the supple-

ments therein supplied by Dr. John Edgar, deceased.

These finds are set forth in his work,  Pyramid Pass-

Ages, Vol. II, of which we recommend sections numbered

in the following table.  For convenience we give the cita-

tions to Pastor Russell’s works in which the same items

are discussed.  The Pyramid is still there, and the meas-

urements can be made by anybody.  Pastor Russell’s

chronology was written before he ever saw the Pyramid.

 

 

 

 

 

ENCLOSURE, page #2

 

Date                                                          Pastor Russell’s   Sections of                                            

Foreshown                Event                            Works         Pyramid Passage

Fall,     4127 B.C.   Fall of Adam                Z 04-343         25-30-68

Fall,     3127 B.C.   End of Adams 1000     Z 04-343         25-28

                               year day

Fall,      2473 B.C.   Flood                            B 42               24-30

Fall,      2081 B.C.   Birth on Isaac               B 231             45

Spring  1813 B.C.   Death of Jacob              B 218-238     16-17

Spring  1615 B.C.    Exodus and the giving 

                                the Law                          B 42              11

Spring  1575 B.C.    Entrance into Canaan    B 42              43-46

Fall         626 B.C.    Last Jubilee                   B 165            50

Fall         607 B.C.    Desolation of the Land B 52             19-46-48

Fall         455 B,C.    Nehemiah’s com-

                                  mission-                         B 67            51-52-53

Fall             2 B.C.     Birth of Christ               B 54            10-43

Fall           29 A.D.     Baptism of Christ          B 60            10-24-

                                                                                               43-68

Spring       33 A.D.     Death of Christ              B 61           10-11-14

                                                                                             32-38-49

Fall            36 A.D.     Conversion of

                                    Cornelius                       B 71            61

Spring    1378 A.D.     Wycliffe                        Z 05-185     37

Spring    1521 A.D.     Diet pf Worms               Z 05-181     28

Fall         1846 A.D.    Evangelical Alliance      C 95-119     14-52

Fall          1874 A.D.   Second Advent of the

                                    Lord                       B 173-247    16-32-50-51

Spring     1878 A.D.   Favor to the Jews and

                                   Sleeping Saints                 C 233          17-28

Fall           1914 A.D.    End of the Times of the

                                      Gentiles                           B 73            19-48

Fall            2875 A.D. Restitution completed        Z 04-344      37

Fall           2914 A.D.  Dominion restored             Z 04-343      58