Below this post are my responses to your questions, but I thought I should preface my responses with a few remarks. I didn't realize when I was writing this that so many of them would be needed to explain my responses. I would suggest that you please review the "Questions from Readers" article, w54 10/15, pp. 648, 639, which may help you to understand my responses to your questions below (slightly edited). I am not aware of the existence of the concept of either "retroactivity" or "reverse retroactivity," which is why a few of the questions below can only be answered with a "No." To paraphrase the Bible principle on which my responses here is based, 'in the absence of a law, there cannot be any transgression.' (Romans 4:15)
Consider the following scenario: Almost 15 years ago, there was a bombing at Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996, during the Olympics being hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, and a man named Richard Jewell, who was a security guard at Piedmont College there in Georgia, discovered a bag that contained three pipe bombs and who was instrumental in perhaps saving many people's lives at the time (although two were killed and over a 100 people were wounded by the explosion), becoming a "person of interest" to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who pored through the man's life making it impossible for the man to make a living until he finally got his life back upon his being exonerated in 2005 when a man named Eric Rudolph pled guilty to having been responsible for the 1996 bombing at the park.
During the eight-, almost nine-year period between July 27, 1996 and April 13, 2005, were you to ask anyone that knew Richard Jewell -- whether it was someone at Jewell's old job at Piedmont College or someone that lived here in Los Angeles, California, and didn't know the man at all, but believed the media reports which implicated him as being the man that exploded a bomb during the Atlanta Olympics -- everyone would tell you that Jewell "did it," that everyone knows that the man was responsible for the deaths of those two people and the injuries that some 100 people sustained as a result of the explosion, but there was no evidence that implicated Jewell for these crimes, which is why he was never arrested during the nine years that he fought to get his life back.
My question to you is this: If you were a school teacher during the above nine-year period between 1996 and 2005, and were to have taught your students during this period of time that Richard Jewell to have been responsible for killing two people and wounding 100, do you think you have been guilty of slander had you told someone to the effect that you believe Richard Jewell killed two people and wounded 100 even though you had no evidence to support your false statement? Do you think you would have been guilty of libel had you included as a question on one or more of the quizzes you handed out to your classes during this nine-year period a question positively naming Jewell as if you knew it to be a fact that he was responsible for these crimes? The answer to both of these questions is no, because you can only be held criminally responsible for what you said or wrote about Jewell if it can be proved that you knew at the time, or had reason to know at the time, that Jewell had not committed these crimes.
Similarly, if you were able to prove that the WB&TS knew at the time that it had published anything that is now known to be false that it knew those things to have been false, only then could it rightly be suggested that it was guilty of prophesying falsehoods in God's name and stealing God's words away from the people for whom Christ died. (Jeremiah 23:21, 22, 25, 30) So when any of Jehovah's Witnesses becomes aware of a doctrinal inconsistency with the Bible or an inaccuracy that it has been teaching, a letter spelling out the issue becomes forwarded to the WB&TS for consideration, and the matter is resolved immediately by way of a letter to all of the congregations impacted by the matter, and corrections are printed in the Watchtower and/or may be included as a KM article.
The Watchtower dated January 1, 1935, when Joseph F. Rutherford was at the helm at president of the WB&TS, stated as part of its "mission" statement, that "[i]t publishes Bible instruction specifically designed to aid Jehovah’s witnesses. It arranges systematic Bible study for its readers and supplies other literature to aid in such studies.... It adheres strictly to the Bible as authority for its utterances.... It is not dogmatic, but invites careful and critical examination of its contents in the light of the Scriptures."
As a footnote contained in an article that appeared in the Awake! dated March 22, 1993 ("Why So Many False Alarms?"), the following statement is made:
"The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit 'does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.' (May 15, 1947, page 157) 'The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.' (August 15, 1950, page 263) 'The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)'--February 15, 1981, page 19."
In addition, the above-cited Watchtower dated May 15, 1947, p. 155, ¶24, cites John 14:16, 26, in making the point that it is 'the spirit of the truth that teaches us all things and brings back to our minds all the things that Jesus tells us in Scripture,' and it can be a wonderful feeling to the one that studies and meditates on what things he or she reads in the Bible that God's spirit is not given by measure at all (John 3:34), but it is only by studying God's word and praying for it (Luke 11:13) that one is able to hear "what the spirit says to all of the congregations." (Revelation 3:6)
For example, although those jailers and their respective households back there in the first century AD may have already heard the message that was being preached at the time, but didn't just "instantly" become believers by listening to a sermon, but as indicated at Acts 16:30-33 they first needed to study with Paul and Silas before they could be baptized in water. And think about his: Apart from studying the Bible, how then would it be possible for the spirit to bring back to one's mind what one has neither read nor learned? Without their cultivating God's spirit, many leave our ranks or are shown the door, as it were, which is sad, but it's 'not like God is unrighteous as to forget our work or the love we showed for his name.' (Hebrews 6:10) Since one of the things we all learn is that just as God appointed men having weakness as high priests (Hebrews 7:28), He uses imperfect men in his visible organization today, and like us, they are also dust. Some of these "imperfect men" are going to do and say some pretty dumb things over time, so what we all need to do is to 'continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another'; this is often hard to do and for some might be the one trial that tests your faith in Jehovah. (Colossians 3:13)
While some do fail this test and end up leaving us, some others return with an even greater determination to serve God and to do His will. Because some spiritually immature elder might lord the fact that he is an elder over you should not make you blame Jehovah, even if you cannot help doing so. But if you cannot help but blame Jehovah for the conduct of any elder in the congregation, then you would do well to take your complaint directly to Him daily and wait patiently for His answer. Look around for yourself and you'll notice that there is no other channel that God is using on the earth.
Would you be disfellowshipped today from the Watchtower, if you believed and taught the Society’s doctrines of 1920? _____YES __x__NO
Would a J. W. of 1920 have been "in the truth" if he at that time then believed and taught present-day Watchtower doctrines? _____YES __x__NO
Would a J. W. living in 1913 have been disfellowshipped from the Watchtower if he believed and taught that 1914 was not going to be the "battle of the great day of God Almighty" or Armageddon, as the Society was then saying (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. II, The Time Is At Hand, 1908 ed., pp. 101, 172 and 245)? _____YES __x__NO
Did you know that the Watchtower once taught that 1874 was the "exact date" of the Lord’s return (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. II, The Time Is At Hand, 1908 ed., p. 170)? __x__YES _____NO
Could the 1874 "exact date" change to 1914? __x__YES _____NO
Since the Watchtower’s doctrines and practices are continually changing, would you say that thousands of J. W. s in the past were not really "in the truth," as they confidently confessed, according to present-day Watchtower teachings? _____YES __x__NO
Have thousands of J. W. s died believing and teaching Watchtower "errors," according to present-day Watchtower teachings? _____YES __x__NO
Are you sure the same won’t happen to you? __x__YES _____NO
Do you agree with the founder and first president of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Charles Taze Russell) who said that if one lays aside the Scripture Studies and goes to the Bible alone, "within two years he goes into darkness" (Watchtower, 9-15-10, p. 298)? _____YES __x__NO
"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an ‘end to the world,’ even announcing a specific date .... Yet, nothing happened. The ‘end’ did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? ... Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them" (Awake, 10-8-68, p. 23). _____TRUE __x__FALSE.
Why doesn’t the Watchtower [apply] the preceding bit of information [to itself]? __x__THE WATCHTOWER DOES NOT DO SO_____THE WATCHTOWER HAS A DOUBLE STANDARD
In Acts 10:34-43, we read the [Apostle] Peter’s sermon that brought instant salvation to people who "received the word of God" (Acts 11:1). How much "accurate knowledge" did Cornelius and others have to take in to become Christians? __x__MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE HAVE TODAY _____NOT VERY MUCH
Did they have to submit to a 6 month book study, then join an organization before they were "saved" (Acts 11:14)? _____YES __x__NO
Are you going to try to forget about any Watchtower inconsistencies, deceptions, false prophecies, false claims, and heresies? _____YES __x__NO
If you were wrong, would you change? __x__YES __x__NO