The Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine is one of the most important, yet flimsy, doctrines that the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to. For this reason it is crucial to not only stress the importance of this doctrine to the Jehovah’s Witnesses but also to graciously point out its errors. If a Jehovah’s Witness begins to question such an important doctrine as 1914, it may lead to the questioning of other important Watchtower teachings.
The following will consist of a brief survey of some of the important Watchtower statements as it relates to the 1914 doctrine.
“Let the honest-hearted person compare the kind of preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom done by the religious systems of Christendom during all the centuries with that done by Jehovah’s Witnesses since the end of World War I in 1918. They are not one and the same kind. That of Jehovah’s Witnesses is really “gospel,” or “good news,” as of God’s heavenly kingdom that was established by the enthronement of his Son Jesus Christ at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914.”1
Notice that the date of 1914 is included in the “gospel” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While the emphasis is on the establishment of the kingdom and the enthronement of Jesus Christ, the date of 1914 cannot be overlooked. If Jesus was not enthroned in 1914 in addition to the establishment of God’s heavenly kingdom, then when could these events have occurred? It turns out that a date is completely integral to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine of the kingdom of God and the very enthronement of Jesus Christ.
“Of all religions on earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones today that are telling the people of earth this “good news.”2
What does the “good news” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses include? As stated above, it is the 1914 date. The Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves in their evangelism efforts in claiming that no other religion comes close to what they teach and accomplish. Yet, they add this date to their message. Why?
“What vital thing has now been added to the good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus Christ and his zealous apostles used to preach nineteen hundred years ago? This, namely, the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914.”3
This quotation shows that the “gospel” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not only different from evangelical Christians but also different from what Jesus Christ and the apostles taught. The Watchtower is preaching a different gospel from that of scripture. Consider what the Apostle Paul has to say about a “different gospel,”
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6–9)
While the Jehovah’s Witnesses may not admit to preaching a “contrary” gospel, it is certainly not the same gospel as the Bible declares. However, adding a complex and speculative chronological system to the gospel couldn’t be anything but another gospel!
“Approved association with Jehovah’s Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. What do such beliefs include? ... That 1914 marked the end of the Gentile Times and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the heavens, as well as the time for Christ’s foretold presence.”4
Some may be unaware that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that a person must worship Jehovah in association with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in order to be saved. Therefore, if someone is not in “approved association,” then he is not saved. Thus, the acceptance or rejection of 1914 can affect your very salvation. It is important to stress to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that they should consider whether the early church could have had anything like this in mind, namely, a salvation requirement that includes complex, speculative chronologies.
“So Christendom’s clergy refuse to take a stand for Jehovah’s Kingdom by Jesus Christ. For failing to support it, they will be destroyed in the “great tribulation” just ahead. But unlike them, Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and are preaching the Kingdom message in 203 lands. This unparalleled work is an outstanding feature of “the sign” proving that in 1914 Jesus was installed as heavenly King, to rule amid his enemies."5
According to the Watchtower, what is missing in the preaching of so-called “Christendom” that would warrant destruction in the great tribulation? It is the lack of believing that 1914 as the date when Jesus “was established by the enthronement of his son Jesus Christ.” Given their assertion, it would be helpful to point out to a JW that 1914 has no foundation in Scripture, nor does it have anything to do with the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ.