Long ago, God told the children of Israel how to test the prophets, test their prophecies, whether they come to pass or not (Deuteronomy 18.29). We should have no confidence in a prophet who cannot accurately prophesy. The penalty for uttering false prophecy was death (Deuteronomy 18:29).
True prophets spoke by the inspiration of God (2 peter 1:21). Since "it is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 8:19, we can know assuredly that any false prophet is not inspired of God.
We are warned repeatedly of false prophets in the New Testament as well. Jesus warned, in
Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly
they are ravening wolves." We are told in 1 John 4.1, "many false prophets are gone out into
the world." The purpose of this tract is to explore several prophecies made by self-proclaimed
prophets during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which have failed the test of time.
Specifically, we will be examining prophecies by the leaders of three major cults. Mormons,
Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. By pointing out their failures, hope to cast
doubt on their credibility as God's spokesmen. For that matter, according to the scriptures noted
above, if what I record is true, it is impossible for them to be prophets at all.
Joseph Smith. the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of. the Latter Day Saints, (or Mormonism) began his prophecy on September 21, 1823, when he claims to have received the first of many "revelations." (The Book of Mormon, copyright 1920, Heber J. Grant, Trustree-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 1)
Smith's prophecies were rife with contradictions and false statements. In the Book of Mormon the claim is made by Orson Pratt one of the original twelve "Apostles" of the Mormon church, that this book must be either true or false, and "if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it." (Mormonism Against Itself, Copyright 1980, Maurice Barnett Printing Service, Cullman, Alabama, p. 1) I intend to show, without a doubt, the falsehood of Prophecies made by Joseph Smith and other, so called, "inspired" Mormon prophets.
Joseph smith prophesied, on April 17, 1838, that David W. Patton should "settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto next spring, in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto the world." (Doctrine and Covenants, Copyright 1974, Spencer W. Kimball,Trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 208)
"Apostle" David Patten was killed October, 1838, BEFORE he could fulfill the revelation about himself! (Barnett, Mormonism, cited above, p. 210)
In May, 1843, Joseph Smith prophesied concerning Judge Steven A. Douglas. He stated that unless the United States redress their "wrongs" against Mormons, they would be "utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left." He then predicted Douglas' aspiration to the presidency of the United Sates and threatened "the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon you" if he ever turned his hand against Smith or the Latter Day Saints. The Mormons have interpreted the overwhelming defeat of Douglas in the presidential election, and Douglas' death some six weeks later, as fulfillment of this prophecy. What they really had done is interpret from the political climate of the day. Any prognosticator of that day could easily have predicted entry of Douglas into national politics. But was this the fulfillment of their prophecy? What about the rest of the prophecy? Has the United States been "utterly overthrown and wasted?" (ibid., p. 204)
Smith, like many other self-proclaimed prophets, was reading the news of the day and making an educated guess as to the eventual outcome. His Civil War prophecies bear this out. Although some of the events predicted did occur, much of the "prophecy" utterly failed. Modern Mormons make much of these prophecies, but old copies of the "Doctrine and Covenants." which carried the full prophecy, have since been edited to by to make the prophecy fit the events. (Ibid. P. 175A-184) Predictions of famine, plagues, earthquakes; the involvement of Great Britain end "all nations" and the ultimate control of the United States by the "Aborigenes" (indians), all prophesied to take part in the Civil War, have all failed to come to pass. (ibid)
Many of the prophecies made by so called "inspired" apostles and elders are bizarre. Such is the case noted by Barnett of O. E. Huntington, who claimed that the moon is inhabited "by men and women the same as the earth, and that they live a greater age than we do - that they live generally to an age of 1,000 years." He further claimed that this was told to him by Joseph Smith in 1837, and that Smith had predicted that he (Huntington) would someday preach to those inhabitants of the moon! (ibid, p. 245)
Brigham Young, in his "Journal of Discourses," July 24, 1870, makes that same claim! Huram Smith, in April, 1843 made a further "inspired" claim that the promise of Jesus, "In My Father's house are many mansions," actually should be rendered, "in My Fathers world are many worlds." He further states, "I will goe and prepar a place for you, & then if there are meny worlds then there must be many gods, for every Star that we see is a world and is inhabited the same as this world is peopled." [spelling his (DAB)] (ibid. p. 247)
Today, I believe we can safely state that these prophecies concerning the universe are false. Certainly, modem science fiction writers would not go so far as to claim that EVERY "star-world" is inhabited "the same as this world is peopled," much less anyone in the sciences.
Brigham Young made several "scientific" claims which have proven false. For example, he claimed, "Gold and silver grow, and so does every kind of metal, the same as the hair upon my head, or the wheat in the field; they do not grow fast, but they are all the time composing and decomposing." He made that claim in 1852. In 1856 he claimed that people, "receive a greater portion of nourishment from .... the water you drink and the air you breathe .... than from the food you consume. Many are not aware of this, for they are not apt to reflect how much longer they can live when deprived of food than they can when deprived of air." (ibid., p. 249)
When "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" 2 Peter 1:21) THEY SPOKE TRUTH!! Whatever subject they touched upon, whether physics, astronomy, biology, or any other science, THEY ALWAYS SPOKE TRUTH. They were NEVER in error! Obviously, the Mormon prophets we have studied thus far can make no such claim. In 1 Nephi 3:7 of the Book of Mormon, the statement is made, "for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (Book of Mormon, p. 5) Maurice Barnett points out a contradiction between this passage, penned by Joseph Smith in 1830, and a statement made in "Doctrine and Covenants" (noted D and C), first issued in 1835. D and C 124:49 reads, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work under my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accepr their offerings." (Barnett, Mormonism, p.) Already under fire for failures in his revelations, Smith had to "doctor" his doctrines! (ibid., p. 211)
The "gathering of the saints to Zion," originally predicted by Smith in July 1831, was one such attempted and failed work. Independence, Missouri, was designated as the place where the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem, was to be located. The Mormons were instructed to buy all the land in Jackson County, Missouri, that they possibly could. (Doctrine and Covenants, p. 89) September 11, 1836, was the first date set by smith for the "gathering." (Barnett, Mormonism, p. 162) Later, in April, 1838, Smith predicted that the house of worship in Zion would begin on July 4, 1839, and that it would take one year to build it. (Doctrine and Covenants, p. 209-210)
All predictions by Smith, Orson Pratt, Heber Kimball, and other "inspired" prophets definitely stated that the present generation would not pass away until Zion was established. On January 10, 1871, Orson Pratt flatly denied the Second Adventist claim of an early 20th century date for the establishment of the Kingdom, and stated that it would definitely occur before the end of the 19th century. That gathering was to be the beginning of a 1000 year reign of Christ. (Barnett, Mormonism, p. 194)
As late as 1945, Joseph Fielding Smith stated, "Over one hundred years have passed since the site of Zion was dedicated and the spot for the temple was chosen, and some members of the Church seem fearful lest the word of the Lord should fail .... I firmly believe that there will be some of this generation who shall be living when this temple is reared .... No matter what the correct interpretation may be, the fact remains that the City Zion, or New Jerusalem, will eventually be built in Jackson County, Missouri, and the temple of the Lord will also be constructed." (ibid., p. 172)
Almost another-half century has passed and neither the temple nor the city has been built; a definite prophetic failure. In 1851, "Apostle" Orson Pratt stated, "Now the doctrine of the gathering of the saints in the last days must either be false or true; if false, then J. Smith must be an imposter. It matters not how correct he may have been in all other points of his system, if this one point - the gathering - be false, he MUST be a deceiver. Why? Because he professed to have received this doctrine by direct revelation and commandment." (ibid., p. 157) I couldn't have said it better myself!!
Mormon leaders often felt they were invincible. Brigham Young even boasted, "I have dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, and the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention .... We can beat them, because we have men here that live in the light of the Lord." (ibid., p. 248)
Joseph Smith also made many predictions concerning his own invincibility. In August of 1843, he made one of many predictions concerning his power to "overcome his enemies." He repeatedly challenged the world to try to kill him, and boasted of facing death and surviving. These predictions failed, too. On Wednesday, June 19, 1844, Smith claimed in the Nauvoo Neighbor, "as sure as there is a God in Israel, we shall ride triumphant over oppression." Only a few days after this, he was dead; murdered with his brother, Hyrum, in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. (ibid., 197-200)
The Mormons were prolific prophets. I have not herein even touched the hem of the garment as far as their speculations are concerned. They were certain, in the early days, that Zion would be set up, and Christ would return, before the end of the 19th century. Smith at least twice set the date as 1890. In February, 1835, Smith "gave a revelation of some of the circumstances attending us while journeying to Zion - our trials, sufferings; and said God had not designed all this for nothing .... It was the will of God that those who went to Zion .... prune the vineyard for the last time, for the coming of the Lord, which was nigh - even fifty-six years should wind up the scene." (ibid., p. 187)
Again, in 1843, Smith predicted that if he lived to be eightyfive years old, he would see the face of the Son of Man. (Doctrine and Covenants, p. 238)
Smith claimed to have been promised he would live until Christ returned. (ibid., 185) Even after
Smith's death, Orson Pratt as, well as others, predicted the "second coming and descent of the
savior with a shout" as "at hand" or "in this century." (ibid., p. 185, 193-194) These prophecies
never came to pass.
Another self-proclaimed, latter-day prophet was Ellen G. White, the founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church. She claimed that all she said came from God. "I am just as dependant upon the spirit of the Lord in relating or writing a vision, as in having the vision. It is impossible for me to call up things which have been shown to me in the time that He is pleased to have me relate or write them." (Ellen G. White and Inspiration, Copyright 1983, Maurice Barnett, Gospel Anchor Pub. Co., Louisville, KY. P. 6)
Maurice Barnett quotes the Adventist Review, "We believe that Ellen White was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that her writings, the product of inspiration, are particularly applicable and authoritative to Seventh-day Adventists .... We do not believe that the quality or degree of inspiration in the writings of Ellen White is different from that of scripture." (ibid.)
Mrs. White was greatly influenced by William Miller, a prophet of the "Second Adventism" movement. He and his followers believed in six distinguishing doctrines: No Hell for punishment for the wicked; No conscious existence after death; The destiny of man is everlasting life on earth; The end of the world is nearly here; After Jesus came, He would judge the world, resurrect those in the grave, and renovate the earth to sinless perfection; His coming would be sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. (Jehovah's Witnesses, Maurice Barnett Printing Service, Cullman, Alabama, p. 1)
When their expectations failed to materialize, they set a second date of October 22, 1944. According to Mrs. White, when these prophecies failed, she received in a vision, a message from God. Thus began her "ministry." (The Story of Redemption, Copyright 1947, Ellen G. White Publications, Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., Washington D.C., p. 379)
Mrs. White made health reform rules a matter of faith. Adventists, for the most part, are vegetarians. Barnett quotes from Counsels on Diet and Food, page 380, "Again, and again, I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design - that man should subsist upon natural products of the earth .... Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh-foods should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural." (Ellen G. White, p. 22) Mrs. White further claimed, "We are composed of what we eat, and eating much flesh will diminish the intellectual activity .... A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activities, lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature. 'The flesh warreth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.' .... From the light of God has given me, the prevalence of cancers and tumors is largely due to gross living on dead flesh .... cancers, tumors, scrofula, tuberculosis, and numbers of other like afflictions." (ibid.)
Mrs. White originally forbade the use of butter, eggs, milk, and cheese, but she later changed her teaching. (ibid., p. 34)
Obviously, not only are Mrs. White's "inspired" dietary demands now known to be medically unsound, but they are specifically warned against in the word of God in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, God specifically mentions false prophets who will command, "to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
Ellen G. White, in 1849, said, "If any among us are sick, let us not dishonor God by applying the earthly physicians, but apply to the God of Israel. If we follow His divine directions (James 5:14-15) the sick will be healed. God's promise cannot fail." However, in 1864, in Vol. 2 of Spiritual Gifts, she denied that earlier statement and claimed to have "always held" the position that consulting an earthly physician could "sometime .... be very necessary." (ibid., p. 34) Her writings are full of such obvious contradictions.
Mrs. White also taught that acquired conditions or characteristics could be passed on to one's children in some way. In Health Reformer, Vol. 6, No. 5, p. 157, she states, "'but my waist is naturally slender,' states one woman. She means that she has inherited small lungs. Her ancestors, more or less of them, compressed their lungs in the same way that we do [tight corsets (DAB)], and it has become, in her case a congenital deformity. This leads us to one of the worst aspects of the whole matter - the transmitted results of indulgence in deadly vice." (ibid., p. 35) Genetic science absolutely refutes such claims!!
Note, also, her teaching on the use of wet-nurses for one's babies: "A stranger performs the duties of the mother and gives from her breast the food to sustain life. Nor is this all. She also imparts her temper and her temperament to the nursing child. The child's life is linked to her. If the hireling is a course type of woman, passionate and unreasonable; if she is not careful in her morals, the nursling will be, in all probability, of the same or similar type. The same course quality of blood, coursing in the veins of the hireling nurse is in that of the child." [spelling errors are hers (DAB)] (Health Reformer, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1871, p. 45) (ibid., p. 35-36) Barnett asks, "Will a baby fed on cow's milk have a tendency to eat grass and run in the fields?"
Obviously, there is no basis in medical science for such teaching.
Another of Ellen G White's "inspired" teachings concerned the wearing of wigs. "The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificials induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood on the lower, or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and the heart are in danger of being corrupted. As the animal organs are excited and strengthened, the moral are enfeebled. The moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal. Such lose their power to discern sacred things." She further claimed that the wearing of wigs produced congestion and baldness. (ibid., p. 36)
It is obvious that Mrs. White's "prophecies" concerning science and health contained major flaws, to say the least, yet she is considered an inspired prophet her word is equal in quality to Scripture, according to Adventists.
According to Mrs. White, William Miller in 1840 predicted that the second coming of Christ would occur in 1843. When this event failed to happen, she and other "faithful" disciples of Miller began to search for answers. (Story of Redemption, p. 356-357))
Soon, Mrs. White was, speaking on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventists, a group which "discovered" that Christ had not returned yet because the church, through the influence of Roman Catholicism, had discarded observance of the Sabbath. (ibid., p. 378-379)
Mrs. White, in November, 1848, claimed the "time of trouble" just prior to the second advent "had begun." (Ellen G. White, p. 49)
On January 5, 1849, she said the "time of trouble" had not begun yet, but was "nearly finished." (ibid.)
Present Adventists still believe the second coming of Christ is "at hand." (Story of Redemption, p. 360)
Like the Mormons, Adventists try to "explain away" these failures, but if a prophet is truly
inspired, his or her prophecies will he true. (Deut 18:22).
The Jehovah's Witnesses began in 1872 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Their founder, Charles Taze Russell, predicted the end of Catholic power in 1899 and the times of the Gentiles end and the kingdom to come in 1914. (Now they say the HEAVENLY kingdom was set up in 1914.)
Russell was born February 16, 1852. He died at Pampa, Texas on November 1, 1916. He was 64. He was best known among his followers as Pastor Russell.
Charles T. Russell became interested in a splinter group of Adventists, who believed the second advent would take place in 1874. He became associated with them in 1868. By 1877, he had published a book claiming that Christ's second advent had begun invisibly in the fall of 1874. (Jehovah's Witnesses, Barnett, p. 1) On July 1, 1879, Russell printed the first edition of Zion's Watch Tower and had severed all connections with the Adventists. (ibid.)
The appeal of the Jehovah's Witnesses is due largely to the odd mixture of doctrines that they teach. It is a mixture of Universalism, Unitarianism, Adventism, and especially Materialism.
Russell had first published his doctrine under the name of "Millenial Dawn." He later changed the title to "Studies in the Scriptures." His writings were both unscriptural and anti-scriptural. He was smart enough to mix in just enough truth to make a plausible. But just as with the other cults we have looked at, he is exposed by the fact that his prophecies were false and unfulfilled.
Russell claimed, in 1889, in the coming 26 years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved. (ibid.)
The Jehovah's Witnesses have set date after date for the second coming and establishment of the kingdom. On July 15, 1894, Russell predicted the end of the "time of trouble" to occur in 1914. (The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, Copyright 1972, Edmond C. Gruss, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 83-84) In 1914, he said Armageddon "may begin next spring." (ibid., p. 84) In 1920, J. F. Rutherford predicted the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, "and other faithful ones of old.," fully restored to perfect humanity. This was to take place in 1925. In 1929, Beth Sarim, a mansion for the "worthies of old" was built. (Gruss, p. 88)
In 1941 Armageddon was predicted as being "soon." (ibid. p. 91) In 1942 a date of 1972 was set for. Armageddon. (ibid.) And on February 10, 1975, F. W. Franz predicted Armageddon to begin at sundown, September 5, 1975. (ibid., p. appendix ii)
In Russell's Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 3, p. 122, Russell reported that the end of Catholic power was in 1799. He said, "At the exact 'time appointed,' 1799, the end of the 1260 days, the power of the Man of Sin, the great oppressor of the church, was broken and his dominion was taken away."
He predicted that the end of the Gentile rule and establishment of the kingdom on earth would take place in 1914. In Watchtower Reprints, March 1880, p. 82, Russell writes, "The times of the Gentiles' extend to 1914, and the heavenly kingdom will not have full sway till then, but as a 'Stone' the kingdom of God is set up in the days of these (ten Gentile) kings,' and by consummating them it becomes a universal kingdom - a 'great mountain and fills the whole earth."
The predictions, for 1914 were a complete failure!! Very few Jehovah's Witnesses have gone back and taken a look at what Russell actually stated as his belief concerning the 1914 predictions.
The Jehovah's Witnesses present interpretation of this passage says that 1914 was the date "for God's kingdom to be fully set up in heaven." But listen to what Russell stated in "The Time is at Hand," published in 1889. You be the judge whether he was prophesying of an EARTHLY or HEAVENLY kingdom. He writes, "In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A. D. 1914; and that that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men. And be it observed, that if this is shown to be a fact firmly established by the scriptures, it will prove: --... That at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying , 'thy Kingdom come,' will obtain full, universal control, and that it will then be 'set up,' or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions. ... That the great 'time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,' will reach its culmination in a world-wide reign of anarchy; and then men will learn to be still, and know that Jehovah is God and that he will be exulted above the earth. (Psa. 46:10) .... It will prove that before that date God's kingdom, organized in power, will be in the earth and then smite and crush the Gentile image (Dan. 2:34)" NOTICE that over and over Russell is predicting this kingdom to be established ON THE EARTH. And that this world-wide kingdom will be established by 1914.
In Watchtower Reprints, Vol. 5, p. 4067 (October 1, 1907) and Vol. 6, p. 5368, (December 15, 1913) Russell himself admits, "...Suppose that A. D. 1915 should pass with the world's affairs all serene and with evidence that the 'very elect' had not all been 'changed' and without the restoration of natural Israel to favor under the New Covenant (Rom. 11:12, 15). What then? Would not that prove our chronology wrong? Yes, surely! Would not that prove a keen disappointment? Indeed, it would! It would work irreparable wreck to the parallel dispensations and Israel's double end to the Jubilee calculations, and to the prophecy of the 2300 days of Daniel, and to the epoch called 'Gentile times,' and to the 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335 days .... none of these would be available longer."
'Millions Now Living Will Never Die,' a book written by Judge J. F. Rutherford, another one of their "prophets," is filled with his prophecy concerning the coming kingdom. Once their "Bible," it is now an embarrassment to the Jehovah's Witnesses. They let it go out of print and ceased using it as a teaching tool among their followers.
The Jehovah's Witness prophets have predicted that there would be a physical resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in 1925.
In 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die,' (International Bible Students' Assn., 1920, p. 88, 90) the prophecy is made that "The chief thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favor, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth. .... we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection." In 1929, the Jehovah's Witnesses raised a great deal of money and built a house, Beth Sarim, for these patriarchs to live in. When it was obvious their prophecies failed, it was eventually... quietly sold.
On page 91 of this book it was predicted "that millions of people now on the earth will still be on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die." On the next page we read, "When the time of restoration begins there will doubtless be many men on the earth who will be very old and almost ready for the tomb. But those who learn of the great ransom-sacrifice and who accept the Ransomer shall return to the days of their youth; they shall be restored to perfection of body and mind and live on the earth forever."
It is obvious that these predictions for 1925 never took place. When you consider Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Deuteronomy 18:20-22, 1 Samuel 3:19, can there be any doubt about the validity of the prophets of the Jehovah's Witnesses?
As we see these prophecies fail, one by one, we have to ask, "Why do these prophetic speculators
still have followers?" I am sure that many of their followers are completely ignorant of the facts
presented in this tract. Each of these cults cleverly omit the many failed prophecies and magnify
those that seemingly have merit. That means that we have the responsibility to lovingly bring
them the truth. For those who want to continue to follow these cults, after knowing the truth, are
the ones that Paul clearly portrayed in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, "For the mystery of lawlessness is
already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way And then
that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring
to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the
activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of
wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be
saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might
believe what is false, " in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but
took pleasure in wickedness.