Many are familiar with the countless flip flops and contradictions that can be found in the WT publications of the past (for numerous examples of this see http://quotes.jehovahswitnesses.com). However, in reading through the Jan 15 and Feb 15 WT study articles I believe I have found a "modern day" example of a WTS contradictory statement. It pertains to the status of the "other sheep" as sons of God.
In the Watchtower of January 15, 2003 page 14, paragraph 22 under the heading "Maintain Faith in God's Word" it states:
"Jehovah is the Father of spirit-begotten Christians and of their companions with an earthly hope.(Romans 8:15) And faith in our heavenly Father never leads to disappointment."
To encourage the "other sheep" that having faith in God's word does not lead to disappointment, the statement is made that God is the "Father of the other sheep" and the scripture at Romans 8:15 is used to support this. Here is what Romans 8:15 says:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out" "Abba", Father!
The WT of Jan 15/03 p14 clearly states that God is the Father of both the "anointed" and the other sheep, citing the scripture in Romans 8:15 to support this. The natural conclusion to reach from this paragraph is that since God is their "Father", the other sheep would of course be "sons of God" as seen in Romans 8:15. The article makes no attempt to discourage this conclusion. However, when we compare this statement with the Feb 15/03 WT we see the exact opposite conclusion drawn from this same scripture.
February 15, 2003 page 19, paragraph 6 under the heading "Attending as Respectful Observers" it states:
"Should those now doing good to the remnant of the 144,000 brothers of Christ partake of the Lord's Evening Meal? No. God has reserved that privilege for individuals he has anointed with holy spirit to be "joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:14-18)...Since they are not Jesus' joint heirs with a heavenly hope, they attend the Memorial as respectful observers."
In paragraph 7 they go on to quote the same scripture in Romans 8:14,15 (regarding being God's sons) as applying ONLY to the anointed.
Since the WTS has long taught that the "other sheep" are not sons of God, is the suggestion that God is the Father of the other sheep (and they are therefore his sons) an error on the part of the WT from Jan 15/03? Or, is this an example of the Society creating ambiguity concerning one of their more distasteful doctrines - namely that we are not all God's sons, only 8,800 people on earth are?
It's no wonder JWs are confused about issues like this. First, they are given an article to study in January which makes them feel good about their relationship with God as their loving Father, and themselves presumably his sons. The next month the WTS lets the axe fall and tells the flock that they are most certainly NOT God's sons and how dare they think such a thing! Very sad.