Terry, a very astute poster on JWN recently started the following thread of interest:
When I read the posts on Terry’s thread, I was reminded that in my last two articles, which can be read on Freeminds and were posted recently on JWN by Randy Watters, I discussed the changes made to two major OLD Watch Tower doctrines that have definitely affected today’s door to door ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
1) The teaching, “Vindicate Jehovah's name," officially changed in 1993, after seven decades of use, to "Sanctify Jehovah's name" (which is more in line with the Lord's Prayer, "Let your name be sanctified").
2) And the teaching that the Witnesses, when engaged in the preaching work, separate the sheep-like people from the goat-like people under the direction of the anointed class, who are under the direction of Jesus Christ. This was changed in 1995 when the Society explained that Jesus does the separating work when the entire wicked system of things ends (which is what Christendom has taught for 2,000 years).
Both of the above doctrines were Rutherford’s creations intended to increase the Society’s membership. The plan was simple—Give the flock compelling reasons to preach and the preachers would convert others to become preachers, and growth of the religion would be guaranteed.
The “Judge” launched this drive starting with the 1922 campaign of “Advertise, Advertise, Advertise the Kingdom...” The emphasis on the Kingdom replaced the emphasis on the “Ransom” which Russell believed was the most important doctrine of all. (Watchtower, May 15, 1995, p. 20, par. 17)
Then, in 1923, Rutherford introduced a new explanation of who does the separating of the sheep and goats—Watch Tower preachers! And by 1929, vindicating Jehovah's name was the catchword and the other key reason to be a Watch Tower preacher. And to top it all off, Rutherford gave the preachers an official name in 1931 that effectively manipulated the bearers to do what their name, Jehovah's Witnesses, implied. The name emphasized what Watch Tower's flock was told would be the most important thing a “true” Christian should do: Witness about God by advertising the Kingdom; separate the sheep from the goats; and by doing this they would be vindicating Jehovah's name.
(See how nicely it all fit together to attract people to a reinvented religion that, by the way, stamped out traces of Russell.)
Up until the early 1990s, these very important doctrines remained the same until a sort of house cleaning went into effect. Out went the interpretation of separating the sheep from the goats and out went vindicating Jehovah’s name. However, they kept as their psychological reason-to-be-in-existence, the Kingdom message (whatever that entailed in the range of “present truth”).
Of course, not to be overlooked was another Rutherford teaching to get rid of: Starting in the 1990s, the “generation” doctrine had to be “re-clarified.” (Remember, I was in the Writing Dept. at this time.) The old way (1914, etc.) that JWs taught until the mid-90s was out because time ran out for that 1914 generation who didn’t see the end before they died as they were told they would.
Basically, with all the other changes that “increased light” caused, the old “Way” is now effectively gone. The Watch Tower Society reinvented itself just like Rutherford reinvented Russell’s organization in the 1920s when he needed to refuel a dying organization. In 1918, there were only 3,868 persons actively involved with the Watch Tower Society in all the world. Watchtower, January 1, 1950, p. 11.
Rutherford’s manipulation and/or erasure of the old Russell teachings, along with other factors, did bring success in numbers. The religion also grew and prospered both in money and power. Now traces of the Rutherford reign are gone replaced by present-day lawyer-influenced “updated” doctrines for a different era that is not attracted to the “ole’ time” Adventist-type religions.
What has been the result? Constant doctrinal change has Witness preachers knowing little about their religion and they generally prefer it that way. And they don’t know exactly why they go door to door because they are no longer separating the sheep from the goats or vindicating Jehovah’s name. They continue to say that they are the only ones on earth advertising, advertising, advertising a Kingdom that is supposedly ruling that few people on earth know about or associate with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If the Society can’t come up with a way to motivate their bored preachers to zealously participate in the preaching work, Rutherford’s admonition to advertise the Kingdom will soon go the way that his “vindicating God’s name,” “separating sheep and goats,” and “generation” teachings went—into oblivion.
Witnesses believe they have the absolute religious truth and God’s favor because they don’t espouse the three major doctrines of Christendom—burning hell, immortality of the human soul and the Trinity—and this is the major factor that makes them overlook the constant so-called “updating” of previously held—even to the death—beliefs.
The May 15, 1995 Watchtower featured three articles about “Flashes of Light” which the Society claims are refining the doctrines, organizational structure, terminology, Christian conduct, etc. of the Watch Tower religion. And this refining will continue for one reason only—to try to keep the flock’s interest in an out-dated religion in a fast-paced world that keeps on tickin’ despite the Witnesses never-ending promise of God’s lickin’.