Successful Prophecy? Jehovah’s Witnesses, Covid-19 and the War in Ukraine

Jehovah’s Witnesses have acquired a reputation for making prophecies that have failed. In this presentation, it is argued that such accusations are unfair: on the contrary, they have denied themselves plausible opportunities to claim success. In December 2005, the front page of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Awake! magazine bore the heading: “The Next Global Pandemic – When?” Despite the Watch Tower Society’s interest in prophecy, they did not claim the Covid-19 pandemic as fulfilment of this warning, but as one of a number of signs that the end of the world’s present system is near. The King of the South, to whom the biblical prophet Daniel refers (Daniel 11: 5-13) is identified with Russia, and predicted to wage a large-scale war. Although such predictions could be used as examples of successful predictive prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses have merely regarded such catastrophes as signs that we are living in the earth’s last days. Instead of boasting successful prediction, Witnesses have prepared themselves for such disasters, and the presentation examines some of the ways in which they have anticipated natural and human disasters, and adapted their practices accordingly.

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