Out of a sense of morbid curiosity, I recently attended the Sunday afternoon session of the District Convention. The session consisted of a drama and the infamous "Remain in the Secret Place of the Most High" talk. Overall, I got a sense that the WTS is in damage control mode because The End hasn't come yet. The friends are getting discouraged because the Society misled them into believing they would never get old. Thus, the Society tried to salvage its credibility by (1) drawing false analogies to the First Century Christians, and (2) tinkering with the "generation" doctrine.
First, in the "Walk by Faith and Not by Sight" drama, one of the themes was that the First Century Christians who fled Jerusalem in 66 A.D. were wondering when The End (in their case, Jerusalem's destruction) was going to come. The primary message was to equate this to the situation of JWs today, who have been waiting for The End to come for many decades.
Of course, like most WTS "parallels," this one failed miserably. Assuming that the Gospels accurately describe what Jesus said when he said it, around 33 A.D. Jesus said that "all these things" would occur before "this generation" passed away. About 33 years later, Rome attacked and withdrew so that the Christians could flee to the mountains. Then, four years later, Rome took Jerusalem. Thus, Jesus' predictions regarding Jerusalem came true within 37 years from when he spoke them--definitely within "a generation." To compare this to the Watchtower Society's ridiculous chronology is an insult to Jesus and the First Century Christians. The Watchtower Society has been falsely predicting The End for over 130 years. To compare this abysmal track record to the Christians who waited four years for Rome to destroy Jerusalem is disingenuous.
Second, the final talk of the day was basically a pep talk to keep people from leaving the organization or "slowing down" their activity. The first half of the talk discussed several factors that can cause discouragement (such as not getting a desired "privilege of service"), and how we shouldn't let that discourage us.
There was also a nice little dig at "higher education." The speaker gave an experience of a young man who started college, then saw that people in his field were dedicating their entire lives to studies/career. He said he was dedicated to Jehovah, so he couldn't be dedicated to studies/career. Thus, he left college, pioneered, went to MTS, and was sent to a foreign country as a missionary. The implication was clear: don't go to university.
Then, there was the famous "generation" new light. Here's a transcription of that part of the talk:
That brings us to the question here, or the topic, that at no time would we want to leave the "secret place." This is not the time to leave the "secret place," for that matter there wouldn't be any time to leave the "secret place." But especially now is no time to leave the "secret place." Why? Well, particularly in view of the recent clarification we had with regard to Matthew 24 and verse 34. Now turn over there, Matthew 24 and verse 34.
We just had a Watchtower lesson last week with some fine material about this verse. Matthew 24:34: "Truly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all things occur." Of course, the accurate or proper understanding of that really underscores the fact that we're living deep in the time of the end and there's a need at this time as never before for us to have an increased sense of urgency. Of course, that generation consists of contemporaries of individuals who lived at the same time.
Now the Watchtower of--the 2008 Watchtower--the 12/15 issue, page 25 made this comment about the word "generation": it says the word generation usually refers to people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period or event. Now we've got an example of that: Exodus 1, and verse 6. "Eventually Joseph died, and also all his brothers, and all that generation."
Just think about what's written there--it refers to Joseph and all his brothers as "that generation." Now 10 of Josephs brothers witnessed events before Joseph's birth and at least 2 of those brothers lived after his death. So they were of a variety of ages but they were contemporaries and viewed as one "generation."
Now, correspondingly, the word "generation" there at Matthew 24:34 is comprised--or comprises--two groups of anointed Christians. The first group was on hand in the year 1914 when the sign of Christ's presence first became observable. The second group of anointed Christians are those who were anointed later and for a time were contemporaries of the older group. Now in view of that, Jesus' words there in Matthew 24:34 indicate that some of the second group will witness the beginning of the Great Tribulation, so the length of the generation, while not specified as far as the number of years, but it's a limited period of time.
Now we might illustrate it this way, F.W. Franz was born in the year 1893, he was baptized in the year 1913, so brother Franz was alive to discern the sign in 1914. Now Brother Franz, escuse me, Brother Franz lived until the year 1992, and many present-day anointed ones were his contemporaries and part of the generation that Jesus said would not pass away until all these things occur.
Now in view of that, Brother Franz, and for that matter, other faithful anointed ones lived in very challenging time period. A very challenging time period where strong faith was needed in order for them to remain in the secret place of the most high.
[moved on to discussion of C.T. Russell, Rutherford, and release of new DVD]