I did have one thought as I went through your post. The WTBTS after the death of the first and at the time only "Faithful and Discreet Slave" claimed that Charles T. Russell continued to guide the Bible Students.
In effect, that is still their position. As late as the Revelation book, they have maintained that resurrected members of the "anointed" class take part in dispensing "new truths" to the organization:
*** re chap. 20 pp. 124-125 A Multitudinous Great Crowd ***
17From the time of the apostle John and on into the Lord?s day, anointed Christians were puzzled as to the identity of the great crowd. It is fitting, then, that one of the 24 elders, representing anointed ones already in heaven, should stir John?s thinking by raising a pertinent question. "And in response one of the elders said to me: ?These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?? So right away I said to him: ?My lord, you are the one that knows.?" (Revelation 7:13, 14a) Yes, that elder could locate the answer and give it to John. This suggests that resurrected ones of the 24-elders group may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today. For their part, those of the John class on earth got to learn the identity of the great crowd by closely observing what Jehovah was performing in their midst. They were quick to appreciate the dazzling flash of divine light that emblazoned the theocratic firmament in 1935, at Jehovah?s due time.
If the leaders of the Watchtower are claiming that they receive information from persons who have died, then they are admitting that they are guilty of the occult practice of necromancy. They wouldn't frame the doctrine that way, of course, but that is what it really boils down to. They've always been quite vague about exactly what process is used in communicating new truths through the organization's leadership (now, I personally believe that is because they are making it all up, though I wouldn't rule out an occult influence).
Do you think that once the "Anointed" class is gone from earth, they would continue thier guidance through the "Nethinim" class and "Chieftain" class?
Apart from a major doctrinal shift in this area, I don't think the "anointed" class will ever disappear, but there will be simply more and more younger men declaring themselves "anointed" in order to rise through the ranks. This is nothing new; the process has been going on for decades. Remember, the call supposedly ended in 1935, and those who were called were adults at the time of their calling (or at least old enough to make a decision to be baptized).They should all be approaching 100 years old by now, yet the number of "anointed" has not decreased significantly in many years. In 1969, the year I was baptized as a JW, there were 10,368 partakers, most of whom were along in years - maybe not yet very elderly, but at least past middle age. It had already been nearly 35 years since the call had ended, so nearly all of the "anointed" of whom I knew were at least in their 50's, and most even older than that - since not everyone had been called into the class as a young person. Now, 35 years later, the number has only dropped to 8,565 partakers. The ones who partook back in 1969 would have to be at least in their 80's today, if they are still alive at all. Just the same, more and more younger "anointed" persons have come along, and I believe they will continue to do so as long as the doctrine remains in place. As far as the "Nethinim" and "Chieftain" classes, I think that is simply the leadership throwing a bone to the laborers. They will never ascend to true power, since the "anointed" will always be there to take the lead. However, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a coup d'etat at some point.
To become a member of the "Anointed" class today, an "Anointed" has to die apostate. If there are little over 8,000 "Anointed" today. The most that could continue on would have to 8,000 if all pass away.
Ah, but what if one of the replacement "anointed" also becomes unfaithful? The cycle could theoretically go on indefinitely, and has in fact gone on far longer than any reasonable understanding of the doctrine would allow. Certainly, of the 10,368 who partook in 1969, most of relatively advanced age, it seems impossible that 8,565 could still be alive. Rather, thousands of new "anointed" have arisen, and will, I believe, continue to do so as long as the present arrangement continues (and as long as it is the only way to advance to the highest ranks of power in the organization). One has to wonder what kind of trouble all those 80 and 90 year olds are getting themselves into to get themselves disqualified.
Fifteen years ago I thought that the WBTS would become more mainstream. But it hasn't happened and instead it has kept its grip while being beset with scandal and the eroding effect of the internet.
Personally, I had thought that after the passing of Fred Franz, things might improve, but that has not proven to be the case. As I said above, I don't think that new GB members will introduce significant change, except perhaps over very long periods of time. One of the prime qualifications to be a member of the GB seems to be having the same mindset as the existing members.
I think a more likely future is a schism along the lines of 1917 that will produce a "reformed JW" religious organization that will maintain the "basic true teachings" like the denial of the Trinity, immortality of the soul, hell, that we are in the time of the end, etc. but ditch the harmful repression and Talmudic rules and the presumptuous FD&S/God's organization teachings.
That could indeed happen, but would such a "reformed" group really be significantly different from the Bible Student groups that already exist? Perhaps a mass defection from the JW's to the Bible Students would be more likely (and would make our friend RR very happy ).
More likely that a movement for reform would rise (or is currently rising) within the Witnesses that would lead to mass disfellowshippings in a short period of time, creating a base for the new more mainstream church, and future disfellowshipped ppl would feel attracted to the group as manifesting a far more Christian attitude while keeping the basic doctrines....
Again, I think that's probably the biggest draw that today's Bible Students have going for them. When I was getting out of the JW's, I attended some Bible Student meetings, and found them to be wonderful people. By that time, however, I couldn't agree with them about many of the doctrines that they share with the JW's, nor about the devotion that many of them seemed to have to Russell's writings. But I truly enjoyed meeting them, I think they are fine, reasonable people, and I can certainly see why a JW who has been abused by the organization would find their group attractive.