Most students of the Bible as well as those that are familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses realize the problems surrounding the date 1914. Biblical calculations claiming to point to specific dates in history have, without exception, either been proved wrong or have simply not come to pass because they are far in the future. Sir Isaac Newton, as quoted in the article “The Shoulders of Giants” said this about end-time calculations:
The time times and half time [Mentioned in Revelation] do not end before 2060. …. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner. This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, and it is not for us to know the times and seasons which God hath put into his own breast. -From An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture (1704), regarding his calculations “Of the End of the World” based upon the prophecies of Daniel.
Have all these failed predictions brought discredit upon Christianity? Many would agree with Newton on this point and answer yes. Harold Camping, another Christian minister who appears to be sincere has just recently embarrassed himself and his followers. If you feel like reviewing the very long line of failed predictions asserted by people over the centuries, the page entitled: Library of Date Setters of The End of the World! is offered as a quite thorough compilation. As you would assume, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Organization have many entries on this page of well over 200 mistaken predictions. No doubt some of these date-setters are/were people that we can say were honest truth seekers. Should Harold Camping be forgiven? Or condemned? Should Isaac Newton be included in a similar category, since he asserted the year 2060 as a possible candidate? What about Charles Russell and the others that reached the date 1874? And then the revised year of 1914? Can Charles Russell be forgiven for this “failed-prophecy”? Remember, Brother Russell predicted not the end of the Gentile times for 1914, but the beginning of the thousand year reign for this date. This has of course been revised by the publications used by Witnesses today, and most of the unpleasant portions surrounding those late 1800s and early 1900s were expunged from Witness history in the Proclaimers book and subsequent DVD presentations.
And does the date really even matter to most of Jehovah’s Witnesses? It has been de-emphasized considerably in the last few years. In my experience, most newly baptized brothers or sisters know very little or nothing about Bible chronology and don’t even feel it is a “big deal”. One told me that even if the 1914 date is proved wrong it wouldn’t make any difference in dissuading them from faith and belief in the “faithful slave”. This psychological phenomenon is a topic for another discussion though.
A question to ponder then, is how important is it that we prove or disprove the 1914 end-time prediction to be right or wrong to ourselves? Was it the end of the Gentile Times as asserted by Jehovah’s Witnesses? Was it a marked year in history? Or does it just belong in the long list of failed predictions? It can only be one or the other. And the fact that we are nearing the 100 year point past 1914 is considered by some as a weakening of the “proof” that others feel exists for 1914.
Carl O. Jonson in his scholarly book “The Gentile Times Reconsidered”  quoted the July 1, 1914 Watchtower magazine, page 5496 and then made the comment:
“Russell seemed to be on the point of rejecting his chronology altogether. Answering a colporteur, who wanted to know if the Studies in the Scriptures were to be circulated after October, 1914, “since you [Russell] have some doubts respecting the full accomplishment of all expected by or before October, 1914,” Russell replied:
It is our thought that these books will be on sale and read for years in the future, provided the Gospel age and its work continue. . . . We have not attempted to say that these views are
infallible, but have stated the processes of reasoning and figuring, leaving to each reader the duty and privilege of reading, thinking and figuring for himself. That will be an interesting matter a hundred years from now; and if he can figure and reason better, he will still be interested in what we have presented.”
Thus, by July 1914, Russell now seemed ready to accept the thought that the 1914 date probably was a failure, and that his writings on the matter were going to be merely of historical interest to Bible students a hundred years later!
Examining the history since this statement was made by in the magazine by Brother Russell brings us to the views of a later president, Frederick Franz. Brother Franz while presiding at the Bethel table on November 17, 1979 was reported  to have said:
The sole purpose of our existence as a Society is to announce the Kingdom established in 1914 and to sound the warning of the fall of Babylon the Great. We have a special message to deliver.
So as the primary writer and speaker for Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times, Brother Frederick Franz certainly had no doubts about the veracity of 1914, at least not spoken publicly. It remains a cornerpost teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses and one that could land a member in hot water if they were to deny.
With this in mind, the following information has been collected, compiled, and refined by a poster named “Lonely Sheep”. It appears below as he sent it to me. It serves as more food for thought regarding the 1914 calculation as used by Jehovah’s Witnesses:
1914 is ONE of THE most important years in history after the death of Christ for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their motivation to preach and to make monumental personal sacrifices is based on the proof given by the Society that Jesus returned in 1914. With only a generation from the time of Christ’s arrival to destruction of this world, many honest hearted folk feel obliged to do whatever it takes to preach and save lives and in many cases to give their own lives.
 The Gentile Times Reconsidered, page 55
 In Search of Christian Freedom, page 33