History of Failed Predictions

I have posted a PDF version of a paper I wrote some years ago to provide an overview of the many failures over the centuries by Christian prognosticators and erstwhile prophets. Please feel free to download, copy, and distribute it as you please. The material is not copyrighted (A History of Failed Predictions).

Although the details have varied in the teachings of failed prophetic movements, one element is present in almost every case: the failure to heed Christ's warning that no one but God alone knows the timing of Christ's advent; it is not for his disciples "to know times and seasons."

In virtually every case, much intellectual effort is expended to find loopholes in the words of Jesus, to rationalize why his warning does not apply to us today, or simply to invent new loopholes and time gaps, then to sledgehammer them into Christ's saying. Today's Prophecy Industry is no different.

This holds true for popular interpretations of the books of Daniel and Revelation. For example, the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel only fits into Dispensationalist chronology by inventing a time gap of "indeterminate length" and inserting it between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth "week." 

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash
Stumped by Zach Lezniewicz
The Prophecy Industry has thrived over the last several decades despite its failure to produce any verifiable and significant prophetic fulfillments and several major failures. For example, up until 1988, the party line was that Jesus would come within a "biblical generation" of the founding of modern Israel in 1948, and a "biblical generation" was defined as approximately forty years in duration. Ever since the Industry worked diligently to redefine a generation so that now it ranges between forty and one hundred and twenty years in length.

Today's Industry is too shrewd to resort to predicting exact dates so, instead, it presents approximate timeframes and general "seasons." Jesus declared, they claim, that we cannot know the exact "day or hour" but said nothing about us not knowing the "season." Putting aside the logical fallacy, an argument from silence, Jesus said that very thing in Mark 13:32-33 and Acts 1:7 ("The Son of Man is coming in a season you least expect him." "It is not for you to know times and seasons").
According to the Prophecy Industry, the Soviet Union would become "Gog and Magog" and invade Israel from the north. Instead, the former Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight, an event of great historical import that none of the self-anointed prophecy experts saw coming.
After each failure, the Industry's reaction is the same. Rather than admit error, prophecy teachers go into overdrive to redefine terms and recalculate chronologies. Or the Industry simply goes quiet on the subject, hoping no one will notice. 

This history should warn us to heed Christ's words and recognize the Prophecy Industry for what it is - a collection of some of the very deceivers Jesus warned us to avoid.


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