I was just doing some research on this issue--shows you how my Dec. 25th is going, four-day weekends are notorious for being crappy for my marriage, I wish they were banned sometimes, not that I give a frak about Christmas, I prefer to call it Sithmas, the day when traditionally, Darth Vader, the greatest Jedi-killer like ever, was born--and I was expecting something a lot worse in terms of my findings.
I'd heard about how it was all a bit of a loop-de-loop. Here's what I've got. June 1, 1929 Watchtower is where the change to the "higher powers" is made--although the same principle of 'obey the governments so far as they don't ask you to violate God's law' is still there, the 'higher powers' are referred to as Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. This remained the Witnesses' teaching until the November 1st & 15, 1962 Watchtowers, which had a combined series of articles on the 'superior authorities', where, without mentioning that there ever was a teaching that God and Christ were the 'higher powers', the Society explains that the 'superior authorities' are actually human governments put in their relative positions by God.
Okay. Now that would be okay and understandable, except that here's where the magic trick really comes in. If you want to do further research to verify it, the irony is found in their footnote at the end of one of the November 15, 1962 article:
*** w62 11/15 p. 690 Subjection to "Superior Authorities"-Why? ***
See Zion's Watch Tower, as of June, 1882, page 5. Also The Watch Tower, as of May 15, 1914, pages 158, 159.
Now that's interesting. By referencing older Watchtower articles, which I take it Witnesses must have had some access to free of falling under suspicion of apostasy, it conceals the full history. No reference to the June 1, 1929 Watchtower article is made at all in any of the four articles written for the November 1962 issue. None. With this, someone who was not around in 1929--and perhaps assuming there was no other information they were given on this issue (and I may be wrong, someone better versed in this can feel free to correct me)--would conclude that this is what Jehovah's Witnesses always believed. It makes it appear that there was no change at all.
Granted, the Proclaimers book does refer to this issue as part of history, for those of us around today:
*** jv chap. 10 p. 147 Growing in Accurate Knowledge of the Truth ***
For example, in 1962 there was an adjustment of understanding regarding "the superior authorities" of Romans 13:1-7.
For many years the Bible Students had taught that "the higher powers" (KJ) were Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Why? In The Watch Towers of June 1 and June 15, 1929, a variety of secular laws were cited, and it was shown that what was permitted in one land was forbidden in another. Attention was also drawn to secular laws that required people to do what God prohibited or that forbade what God commanded his servants to do. Because of their earnest desire to show respect for the supreme authority of God, it seemed to the Bible Students that "the higher powers" must be Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. They still obeyed secular laws, but the emphasis was on obedience to God first. That was an important lesson, one that fortified them during the years of world turmoil that followed.
But they did not clearly understand what Romans 13:1-7 was saying.
Years later, a careful reanalysis of the scripture was made, along with its context and its meaning in the light of all the rest of the Bible. As a result, in 1962 it was acknowledged that "the superior authorities" are the secular rulers, but with the help of the New World Translation, the principle of relative subjection was clearly discerned. This did not call for any major change in the attitude of Jehovah's Witnesses toward the governments of the world, but it did correct their understanding of an important portion of the Scriptures. In the process, there was opportunity for the Witnesses individually to consider carefully whether they were truly living up to their responsibilities toward both God and the secular authorities. This clear understanding of "the superior authorities" has served as a protection to Jehovah's Witnesses, especially in those lands where surges of nationalism and clamoring for greater freedom have resulted in outbreaks of violence and the formation of new governments.
The irony in saying the above is highlighted by the paragraphs that precede this discussion:
*** jv chap. 10 pp. 146-147 Growing in Accurate Knowledge of the Truth ***
As reflected in their modern-day history, the experience of Jehovah's Witnesses has been like that described at Proverbs 4:18: "The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." The shining of the light has been progressive, just as the light of early dawn gives way to sunrise and the full light of a new day. Viewing matters in the light that was available, they have at times had incomplete, even inaccurate, concepts. No matter how hard they tried, they simply could not understand certain prophecies until these began to undergo fulfillment. As Jehovah has shed more light on his Word by means of his spirit, his servants have been humbly willing to make needed adjustments.
Such progressive understanding was not limited to the early period of their modern-day history. It continues right down to the present.
Yet, they manage to tell on themselves, though about 45 pages later in this same book, that Russell had the correct understanding about Romans 13:1-7, which was...(progressively???) changed to something that was INcorrect:
*** jv chap. 14 p. 190 "They Are No Part of the World" ***
At that time they understood that "the higher powers," referred to at Romans 13:1-7 (KJ), were the secular rulers. In accord with that, they urged respect for government officials. In discussing Romans 13:7, C. T. Russell, in the book The New Creation (published in 1904), stated that true Christians "would naturally be the most sincere in their recognition of the great of this world, and most obedient to the laws and the requirements of law, except where these would be found in conflict with the heavenly demands and commands. Few if any earthly rulers in our day will find fault with the recognition of a supreme Creator and a supreme allegiance to his commands. Hence, [true Christians] should be found amongst the most law-abiding of the present time-not agitators, not quarrelsome, not fault-finders."
It's not really progress if you take one step forward, then take one step back, then take one step forward. That's the equivalent of standing still. I hadn't done much research on this up until today. I'd mentioned this during my judicial committee. Of course, the chairman waved it off as irrelevant. Yet, the fact remains that for 33 years, a true doctrine was changed into a false doctrine, then changed back to a true doctrine. Yet in hindsight, this is portrayed by the Society as evidence of God progressively revealing Bible truth to those 'taking the lead'--when in fact, no progress was made at all. I find that, in view of the very clear, verifiable evidence, to be dishonest. Wavering on the Bible's truth and then lying to conceal what actually happened is not evidence of the operation of holy spirit.
I hope you are all doing well. I'm back in research mode again, in harmony with the wise counsel of the March 15, 2011 Watchtower, on page 18, that God's organization is "a worthy topic for study".
Somehow, I've found that I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly...