Charles Taze Russell
Not all religious groups claim to foretell the future. Those that do can be exposed as false if they fail a simple test. If their prophecies fail, God has not spoken through them (Deuteronomy 18:22). Hence, they are of human origin.
In his six volumes, Studies in the Scriptures, Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) made many predictions that were tied to specific dates (e.g., 1878, 1910, 1915). As these volumes were reprinted, some of the dates were changed because the original dates passed without the predictions being fulfilled. In time, all of the dated prophecies failed and the movement had to reinterpret the predictions or ignore them altogether.
One example (of many) is striking. In Volume II, Mr. Russell predicted:
In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of 1915. Then the prayer of the Church, ever since her Lord took his departure—“Thy Kingdom come”—will be answered; and under that wise administration, the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord—with knowledge, and righteousness, and peace (Psa. 72:19; Isa. 6:3; Hab. 2:14); and the will of God shall be done “on earth, as it is in heaven” (p. 101, emp. in orig.).
Realizing that even as late as 1995 (when this article was written), the world still does not know the peace promised in this “prophecy,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to “spiritualize” what Russell plainly intended to be taken literally. But, say what they will, an objective observer must conclude that this prophecy failed and that the prophet was false.
[See related article: “Prophecies—True and False”]