Chapter 9. The attitude towards the state, “the world” and Israel
Flag, patriotism and demonstrations
The practice of displaying the flag accepted
Thank God for the privilege of living in the United States! While we all recognize that it is not a perfect government, yet it is the best of all earthly governments. Every one who lives under the flag of the United States should be loyal to that Government as against all earthly governments. No citizen of this country could be a Christian and do violence to the Government of the United States. To be loyal to the law of God he must render unto the United States Government everything that is not in contravention of the divine law. – Romans 13:1-9.
DISPLAYING THE AMERICAN FLAG
Suppose the city or state officials should issue an order requiring, or even requesting, that all persons display the American flag. What should we do? We answer, We think it would be right to display the flag in obedience to such order or request. The American flag was adopted as an emblem of liberty. It is the national emblem. While some have insisted that it now represents war, this is hardly in keeping with the facts. It may represent war to those who desire war, but to those who love liberty and peace, the flag represents liberty and peace. However that may be, the displaying of the American flag can do injury to no one. If commanded or requested to display the flag, it should be done, out of respect to the Government under which it is the privilege of Christians to live. If an American was the guest of the British Government and was requested to display the British flag and refused to do so, it would be showing disrespect to the British Government, his host. If a Christian, who is an alien amongst all earthly governments, should, while journeying amongst them, be requested to display a flag of the country whose benefits he is enjoying, and refuse to do so, such refusal would be failing to show the proper respect to such government. Recognizing that the Government of the United States has been the special refuge of Christian people from intolerable persecution; that it was founded as an asylum of religious liberty and freedom of speech, every one in America should take pleasure in displaying the American flag -especially when requested so to do. It does not mean that by putting a flag on your house you would want to go to war. Since the Bethel Home was established, in one end of the Drawing Room there has been kept a small bust of Abraham Lincoln with two American flags displayed about the bust. This is deemed entirely proper, having in mind what Mr. Lincoln did for the Government and for the people of the United States, and in this we see nothing inconsistent with a Christian’s duty. (The Watchtower May 15, 1917 pp. 6085-6086, reprints).
The practice of displaying the flag rejected
On June 3, 1935, at a convention in Washington, D.C., when J. F. Rutherford was asked to comment on flag saluting in the schools, he emphasized the matter of faithfulness to God. A few months later, when eight-year-old Carleton B. Nichols, Jr., of Lynn, Massachusetts, declined to salute the American flag and join in singing a patriotic song, it was reported in newspapers across the country. To explain the matter, Brother Rutherford gave a radio discourse on October 6 on the subject “Saluting a Flag,” in which he said: “To many persons the saluting of the flag is merely a formalism and has little or no significance. To those who sincerely consider it from the Scriptural standpoint, it means much. “The flag representatively stands for the visible ruling powers. To attempt by law to compel a citizen or child of a citizen to salute any object or thing, or to sing so-called ‘patriotic songs’, is entirely unfair and wrong. Laws are made and enforced to prevent the commission of overt acts that result in injury to another, and are not made for the purpose of compelling a person to violate his conscience, and particularly when that conscience is directed in harmony with Jehovah God’s Word. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 pp. 196-197).
Respect for the flag?
Similarly today, Jehovah’s Witnesses respect the flag of the nation in which they live, but they will not perform an act of worship toward it. (The Watchtower May 1, 1996 p. 11).
They do not whistle or shout to disrupt patriotic ceremonies; they do not spit on the flag, trample on it, or burn it. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 672).
This was a deliberate attempt on the part of Satan the Devil, Babylon’s real god, to get these three Hebrews to bow down to the State, the State’s image, be it a monument, standard or flag. (The Watchtower January 1, 1965 pp. 11-12).
Before flags were rejected, singing national anthems was called ‘Satanic’ in 1931:
At the present time many people who claim to be devoted to God, when the band plays “God save the King”, or some similar national air, unhesitatingly stand up, like others, thereby giving approval to a form of adulation of men. That is an endorsement of Satan's organization. (The Kingdom, the Hope of the World 1931 p. 43).
Patriotism as love of one’s country
Patriotism is wrongfully invoked. Patriotism means love of country and love for the people of that country. Love means an unselfish desire to do good and an effort to put that desire into action. True patriotism therefore should lead the people to endeavor to help each other; and if true patriotism were invoked, there would be no deadly wars between peoples. (Government 1928 p. 27).
See The Watchtower July 15, 1903 p. 3223, reprints; The Watchtower August 1, 1911 p. 4865, reprints.
Patriotism comes from the devil
|The Finished Mystery 1917||The Finished Mystery 1918, 1926, 1927||The Finished Mystery 1918 (ed. ZG)|
and a certain delusion which is best described as hatred, but which is in really murder, the spirit of the very Devil. (p. 247).
See amendment: as race hatred (The Watchtower June 1, 1920 p. 170).
|And a certain delusion which is best described by the word Patriotism, but which is in really murder, the spirit of the very Devil. (p. 247).||and a certain delusion which, as exploited by German autocracy, leads straight to brutal wholesale murder. (The Watchtower March 1, 1918 p. 136).|
Patriotism identified with sectarianism and idolatry
Nationalism! Patriotism! Religious sectarianism! Racism! Such emotion-stirring things, when whipped up to a fever heat, will overwhelm involved ones with a sense of duty and obligation. But, after all, humans remain the same persons with whom self comes first. (The Watchtower December 15, 1982 p. 16).
Among 50 legal victories gained by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States Supreme Court have been those guaranteeing the right to declare the good news “publicly and from house to house” and to desist from idolatrous patriotic ceremonies. (Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! 1988, 2006 p. 92).
Beginning in 1936, the convention public talk was advertised by orderly parades of Witnesses who wore placards and distributed handbills. (Those placards were initially referred to as “sandwich signs” because they were worn one in front and one in back.) At times, a thousand or more Witnesses participated in such parades at a given convention. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 266).
To advertise the public talk, sandwich-sign parades were organized. Before the first information march was due to take place, Brother Rutherford asked to see me. While we were discussing convention matters, he was doodling with his pen, which at times he did when talking with someone. He peeled from a pad what he had written and handed it to me. “What do you think of that?” he asked. “RELIGION IS A SNARE AND A RACKET,” it read. “It looks blazing hot,” I replied. “I meant it to be strong,” he said. He then instructed that placards with this wording be made in time for our first convention information march Wednesday evening. The next night Nathan Knorr and I led the march of about a thousand brothers for six miles [10 km] through the center of London. Brother Rutherford called me to his office the next morning and asked for a report. “Many called us communists and atheists and made other hostile remarks,” I said. So he thought for a few minutes and finally peeled off a sheet with the suggested slogan “SERVE GOD AND CHRIST THE KING.” He thought that interspersing signs with these words might neutralize the catcall reaction, which it did. This 1938 convention went off well. (The Watchtower March 1, 1988 pp. 13-14).
July 30, 1933, at Plainfield, New Jersey, the president of the Watch Tower Society delivered a public address on the subject “Why Religious Intolerance in America”, and throughout that speech the speaker was surrounded by armed policemen bearing revolvers and machine guns. (The Watchtower April 1, 1939 p. 102).
On the occasion of the lecture above mentioned, and without invitation from anyone who had to do with the lecture, and without any excuse or reason therefore, about sixty policemen appeared at this theater at Plainfield under the direction of a superior officer, and all of these men, policemen and private detectives, were armed with heavy pistols and other deadly weapons, which included sawed-off shotguns, riot guns and other instruments of destruction. They took their positions on the stage and throughout the building and remained in this attitude during the lecture. Before the lecture began police officers tried to provoke the speaker and others into a controversy, with the hope, no doubt, of having an excuse or opportunity to use their guns. The speaker delivered his lecture literally surrounded by many men bearing deadly weapons. There could have been no reason for this except to coerce the people and prevent them from attending, and to coerce the speaker and prevent him from saying his speech. They failed, however, in both purposes. (The Watchtower November 1, 1933 pp. 326-327).
Abandonment of ‘demonstrations’
Grant Suiter reminds us that, by Watchtower announcement, information marching was discontinued after October 1939, but he adds: “This unusual and successful means of directing the attention of many persons to the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses was unique in its time. Its termination, as well as its use, shows Jehovah’s direction in the matter. At this late date [the 1970’s], public demonstrations of all kinds are carried on, but we are not participating therein in any way, nor can anything that we are doing be confused with such demonstrations.” (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 161).
They do not pressure political leaders to promote a certain point of view, and they do not resort to demonstrations and violence against those with whom they disagree. They have found a better way. (The Watchtower March 1, 1997 p. 6).
Military and alternative service
Military service allowed
Because of the uncertainty that prevailed among them, not all the brothers followed a course of strict Christian neutrality toward the affairs of the nations. A considerable number of brothers performed military service and fought at the front. Others refused to perform combatant military service but were willing to serve in the army medical corps. Some, however, taking a firm stand, refused to participate in any way, and were sentenced to prison. (1974 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 83).
This was understood by some to mean total submission to the powers that be, even to the point of accepting service in the armed forces during World War I. Others, however, viewed it as contrary to Jesus’ statement: “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) (The Watchtower May 1, 1996 p. 13).
For example, The Watch Tower had encouraged its readers to set aside May 30, 1918, as a day of prayer for victory for the democratic powers, as requested by the U.S. congress and by President Wilson. This amounted to a violation of Christian neutrality. (The Watchtower June 15, 1987 p. 15).
In August 1914 people crowded outside the local newspaper building reading about the outbreak of World War I. Father came up and saw what was happening. “Thank God!” he exclaimed. He recognized in the outbreak of war the fulfillment of Bible prophecies about which he had been preaching. (Matthew 24:7) Many Bible Students then believed that they would soon be taken to heaven. When this did not occur, some became disappointed. (The Watchtower October 1, 1997 p. 22).
Military service forbidden (strictly since 1952?) and correspondence of J.F. Rutherford with A. Hitler
 The copy sent to Hitler was accompanied by a letter that, in part, read: “The Brooklyn presidency of the Watch Tower Society is and always has been exceedingly friendly to Germany. In 1918 the president of the Society and seven members of the Board of Directors in America were sentenced to 80 years’ imprisonment for the reason that the president refused to let two magazines in America, which he edited, be used in war propaganda against Germany.” (1974 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 111).
But it was not until 1939 that they saw clearly the issue of Christian neutrality.—See The Watchtower, November 1, 1939. (The Watchtower May 1, 1994 p. 25).
A large number of the brothers who signed the declaration were drafted into the military and taken to the front, where most of them lost their lives. Even though there is proof enough that those brothers who signed thereby placed themselves outside of Jehovah’s protection, it did not hold true in most cases that they were “traitors.” Many had their signature annulled before their release, once understanding, mature brothers had helped them to realize what they had done. Repentantly asking Jehovah to give them another chance to prove their faithfulness, many of these, after the breakdown of Hitler’s regime, spontaneously joined the publishers’ ranks and began working as congregation publishers, in time as pioneers, overseers, even as traveling overseers, promoting in an exemplary way the interests of Jehovah’s kingdom. (1974 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 178).
But some of their business operations got them involved in violations of Christian neutrality, the work being done on the pretext of providing funds and supporting the pioneers during the ban. (…) This had led even to indirect involvement in the war effort. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 641).
Many of us, before we studied God’s Word, may have shed human blood or been members of bloodguilty religious or political organizations. In this we may be compared to the unintentional manslayer in Israel. (The Watchtower September 1, 1986 pp. 21-22).
Starting in 1952, the more formal Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshiping wrongdoers was instituted. Those who committed gross sins such as adultery and fornication were expelled from the congregation, if they did not repent. (1 Cor. 5:11-13) God’s organization would not tolerate persons who refused to keep unspotted, clean and pure in the sight of Jehovah. (The Watchtower February 15, 1976 p. 122).
True Christians love peace. They stay completely neutral in the world’s military, political, and ethnic conflicts. But, strictly speaking, they are not pacifists. Why? Because they welcome God’s war… (Awake! May 8, 1997 p. 23).
Who will ride with Jesus at Armageddon? Included among ‘the armies in heaven’ that join Jesus in God’s war will be angels as well as the anointed conquerors who have already received their heavenly reward. (The Watchtower February 15, 2009 p. 5).
Alternative service forbidden
An examination of the historical facts shows that not only have Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to put on military uniforms and take up arms but, during the past half century and more, they have also declined to do noncombatant service or to accept other work assignments as a substitute for military service. Why? Because they have studied God’s requirements and then made a personal, conscientious decision. No one tells them what they must do. Nor do they interfere with what others choose to do. (United in Worship of the Only True God 1983 p. 167).
Alternative service allowed since 1996
What if the Christian’s honest answers to such questions lead him to conclude that the national civilian service is a “good work” that he can perform in obedience to the authorities? That is his decision before Jehovah. Appointed elders and others should fully respect the conscience of the brother and continue to regard him as a Christian in good standing. If, however, a Christian feels that he cannot perform this civilian service, his position should also be respected. He too remains in good standing and should receive loving support. (The Watchtower May 1, 1996 p. 20).
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to all you dear brothers for taking such good care of us spiritually. Having spent some nine years in prison because of my Christian faith, I truly appreciate the wonderful thoughts in the May 1, 1996, issue of The Watchtower. (Isaiah 2:4) This was a wonderful gift from Jehovah. (The Watchtower November 1, 1996 p. 27).
The Watchtower Society and texts about “beating swords”
The prophecy applied to the nations and Jerusalem
For instance, Isaiah prophesied that God would establish on earth a righteous government which shall rest upon the shoulder of the Messiah. (Isa. 9:6, 7) Also that all the nations would go up to Jerusalem and learn of Jehovah, follow his teachings through his government, and learn war no more. (Isa. 2: 2-4) (Prophecy 1929 p. 22).
When the government of Christ is over all the world, the peoples of earth will learn the truth; they will cease for ever in the preparation for war, and will reduce their war machines and instruments of destruction to instruments that may be used to beautify the earth. — Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-4. (Prophecy 1929 p. 306).
The prophecy applied to the nations living in the time after Armageddon
Under that righteous rule there will never be another war, nor even the fear of war, because Armageddon will mark the end of all war. The kingdom of God will be over all the nations. (Isaiah 2:4) “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Who Shall Rule the World? 1935 pp. 50-51).
The prophecy does not refer to nations, but to Jehovah’s Witnesses
To illustrate: At the Divine Will International Assembly in 1958, Jehovah’s Witnesses resolved: “THAT, figuratively speaking, we have beaten our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning shears and, although of so many nationalities, we will not lift up sword against one another because we are Christian brothers and members of the one family of God, neither will we learn to war against one another any more, but we will walk in God’s paths in peace, unity and brotherly love.” (The Watchtower August 15, 1978 pp. 15-16).
What heartening words we find at Micah 4:1-4! Says Micah, in part: “(…)” Who are the “many peoples” and the “mighty nations” mentioned here? They are not the nations and governments of this world. Rather, the prophecy applies to individuals out of all nations who turn to united sacred service in Jehovah’s mountain of true worship. (…) Having beaten their swords into plowshares, even today they live at peace with fellow Witnesses of Jehovah and with others. What a delight to be among them! (The Watchtower August 15, 2003 p. 17).
The years 1884 to 1929. Human governmental authorities
As early as 1886, Charles Taze Russell wrote in the book The Plan of the Ages: (…) This book correctly identified “the higher powers,” or “the superior authorities,” mentioned by the apostle Paul, as human governmental authorities. (Romans 13:1, King James Version) In 1904 the book The New Creation stated that true Christians “should be found amongst the most law-abiding of the present time—not agitators, not quarrelsome, not fault-finders.” This was understood by some to mean total submission to the powers that be, even to the point of accepting service in the armed forces during World War I. (The Watchtower May 1, 1996 p. 13).
Up till 1928 they, too, had held to the ecclesiastical interpretation of Romans 13:1-7 concerning the “higher powers”. (The Watchtower November 15, 1950 p. 441).
The years 1929 to 1962. Jehovah and Jesus
In 1929 the clear light broke forth. That year The Watchtower published the Scriptural exposition of Romans chapter 13. It showed that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, rather than worldly rulers and governors, are “The Higher Powers”... (“The Truth Shall Make You Free” 1943 p. 312).
In 1929, at a time when laws of various governments were beginning to forbid things that God commands or demand things that God’s laws forbid, it was felt that the higher powers must be Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (The Watchtower May 1, 1996 pp. 13-14).
No longer do they look to men as the higher powers whom they must serve and obey. (Rom. 13:1) (The Watchtower July 1, 1950 pp. 200-201).
In view of not recognizing worldly political powers as the “superior authorities” ordained by God, but recognizing only God and Jesus Christ to be such now, the Christian witnesses conscientiously refrain from taking part in the politics of this world, yes, even from voting. (The Watchtower November 15, 1950 p. 445).
The years since 1962. Human governmental authorities
The Watchtower of November 15 and of December 1, 1962, shed clear light on the subject in discussing Jesus’ words at Matthew 22:21: “Pay back . . . Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” Relevant were the apostles’ words at Acts 5:29: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” Christians are subject to Caesar—“the higher powers”—only so long as this does not require that the Christian go contrary to God’s law. Subjection to Caesar was seen to be relative, not absolute. Christians pay back to Caesar only what does not conflict with God’s requirements. How satisfying it was to have clear light on that subject! (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 22).
The confusion related to changes in the interpretation of Romans 13:1
The change of interpretation of Romans 13:1 made in 1962 was introduced in several countries with delay. The new understanding reached Ukraine only in 1964 (Poland in 1963)! Some Jehovah’s Witnesses just could not believe that such fundamental change of the interpretation originated with the Watchtower Society. They were rather inclined to think that their secular government invented and send such new interpretation of Romans 13:1. It was hard to believe that one should be subjected to a government who used to put Jehovah’s Witnesses to prison and to forced-labor camps (gulags).
Confusion Over Romans Chapter 13 (…) Then in The Watchtower of November 15, 1962, which appeared later in the Ukrainian edition of July 1, 1964, a new understanding of Romans chapter 13 was presented. Until that time, we had understood “the superior authorities” mentioned in verse 1 to be Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, but The Watchtower noted that “the superior authorities” actually represent the earthly governments and that these are “placed in their relative positions by God.”—Romans 13:1. Some of the Witnesses found it hard to believe this adjusted view, since the heads of the earthly government in the Soviet Union had been so cruel in their attempts to wipe out the true worship of God. These Witnesses, therefore, thought that The Watchtower containing the new understanding had not originated with the official organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instead, they thought that the information had been fabricated by those compromising with the authorities in order to make the Witnesses more obedient to the Soviet State. So each servant of Jehovah in Ukraine was faced with the question, Which group is right, and which is wrong? I observed the Witnesses supporting each side of the argument and asked myself, ‘What motives do they have?’ Soon I was able to identify a clear difference between the two sides. The majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, some of whom may not have fully understood the new explanation of Romans chapter 13, wanted to stick loyally to Jehovah and his organization. Others, however, had begun to doubt that recent publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society still came from the official organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such ones were also inclined to have extreme views on a number of matters. For instance, they felt that it was wrong for a bride to wear a white dress at her wedding and for marriage partners to wear a wedding ring. A number of individuals left the organization. In time, however, quite a few of them recognized their error and returned to serving Jehovah. (Awake! October 22, 2000 p. 21-23).
The earliest stand
A law has been proposed that would compel all men to vote. Whenever that law shall be passed, the New Creatures, becoming subject to it, should render obedience, and that without murmur. And in exercising this requirement they should use their best judgment and vote for those whom they consider to be the best nominees. Meantime, however, while there is no such demand made upon them, our advice would be that they maintain a strict neutrality in respect to politics, and avoid voting altogether. (The New Creation 1909 p. 593).
Different stand since 1929
There are those in present truth claiming full devotion to the Lord who think it their privilege to vote in the elections held for the purpose of selecting men to public office. The question therefore arises, Is it possible for one who is God’s anointed to ‘make straight paths for his feet’ and at the same time indulge in the election of men to public office by voting at such elections? The proper answer to that question should be seen by asking another, to wit: Whose organization is holding and conducting the election for the selection of men to public office? Certainly not God’s organization. Then it must be Satan’s organization, because he is the god of this world. No child of Jehovah should have the slightest difficulty in seeing what is his duty concerning such elections. If he belongs to Jehovah God and his organization, then he can not have anything to do with Satan’s organization… (The Watchtower April 1, 1929 p. 101).
In view of not recognizing worldly political powers as the “superior authorities” ordained by God, but recognizing only God and Jesus Christ to be such now, the Christian witnesses conscientiously refrain from taking part in the politics of this world, yes, even from voting. (The Watchtower November 15, 1950 p. 445).
The current stand since 1999
As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and to the State. (Matthew 22:21; 1 Peter 3:16) (…) In view of the Scriptural principles outlined above, in many lands Jehovah’s Witnesses make a personal decision not to vote in political elections, and their freedom to make that decision is supported by the law of the land. What, though, if the law requires citizens to vote? In such a case, each Witness is responsible to make a conscientious, Bible-based decision about how to handle the situation. If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator. (…) What if a Christian woman’s unbelieving husband insists that she present herself to vote? Well, she is subject to her husband, just as Christians are subject to the superior authorities. (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 2:13-17) If she obeys her husband and goes to the polling booth, that is her personal decision. No one should criticize her.—Compare Romans 14:4. What of a country where voting is not mandated by law but feelings run high against those who do not go to the voting booth—perhaps they are exposed to physical danger? Or what if individuals, while not legally obliged to vote, are severely penalized in some way if they do not go to the polling booth? In these and similar situations, a Christian has to make his own decision. “Each one will carry his own load.”—Galatians 6:5. There may be people who are stumbled when they observe that during an election in their country, some Witnesses of Jehovah go to the polling booth and others do not. They may say, ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses are not consistent.’ People should recognize, though, that in matters of individual conscience such as this, each Christian has to make his own decision before Jehovah God. (The Watchtower November 1, 1999 pp. 28-29).
Carrying weapons and the use of violence
Carrying weapons forbidden
They do not arm themselves or carry carnal weapons in anticipation of or in preparation for trouble or to meet threats. (The Watchtower February 1, 1951 p. 75).
Tolerant stand on carrying weapons
Is it compatible with maintaining a Christian conscience for one to accept employment that involves being armed, carrying either a gun or a club? (…) Jehovah God himself allowed human governments to exercise authority for law enforcement, by means of arms if necessary. (…) Hence no Scriptural objection can be raised against the existence of armed law-enforcement agencies nor against a government’s authorizing certain men to carry weapons when protecting property and/or people. However, whether a Christian would choose employment, such as that of policeman, guard or night watchman, if he were required to carry a gun or another weapon is something that he would have to determine for himself. (The Watchtower February 15, 1973 pp. 127-128).
Carrying weapons criticized but tolerated (since 1983)
During these “last days,” many employees are expected to carry a firearm. Bank or security guards, watchmen and policemen may even be required to do so to hold employment. But what of the Christian, who is obligated to “provide for those who are his own”? (1 Timothy 5:8) His Bible-trained viewpoint would be different from that of worldly persons, who feel free to carry such weapons and to use them as they see fit in any dangerous situation that may arise. (…) A mature Christian should try to find unarmed employment. (…) As the world becomes increasingly violent we can no longer regard as exemplary a brother who continues in armed employment. He could be allowed six months to make a change. If he does not make a change, he would not be in a position to hold special privileges of service and responsibility in the congregation. (The Watchtower July 15, 1983 p. 26).
Carrying weapons criticized
True Christians, therefore, do not arm themselves so as to harm their fellowman. (Compare Isaiah 2:4.) (Awake! September 22, 1995 p. 14).
Carrying weapons criticized but tolerated
Can a Christian maintain a good conscience if he accepts armed employment? Engaging in secular work that requires carrying a firearm or another weapon is a personal decision. But armed employment exposes one to possible bloodguilt if one uses the weapon and to the danger of injury or death from an attack or reprisal. A Christian carrying such a weapon would not qualify for special privileges in the congregation. (1 Timothy 3:3, 10) (The Watchtower December 15, 2005 p. 30).
Violence of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The worldwide Christian convention held on June 23-25, 1939, was viewed by hoodlums as an opportunity to harass God’s people. Direct wire connections linked New York city, the key city, with other assembly locations in the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Australia and Hawaii. While J. F. Rutherford’s discourse “Government and Peace” was being advertised, Jehovah’s servants learned that Catholic Action groups planned to prevent the public meeting on June 25. So, God’s people were ready for trouble. Blosco Muscariello tells us: “Like Nehemiah raising the wall of Jerusalem and supplying his men with both instruments to build and instruments to fight (Neh. 4:15-22), we were so armed. . . . Some of us young men received special instructions as ushers. Each was supplied with a sturdy cane to be used in the event of any interference during the main talk.” But R. D. Cantwell adds: “We were instructed not to use it unless it was a matter of being cornered in final defense.” (…) C. H. Lyon tells us: “The attendants did their work well. A couple of the more obstreperous Coughlinites were rapped on the head with a cane, and all of them were unceremoniously hurled down the ramps and out of the auditorium. One of the Coughlinites rated some publicity in a daily tabloid the next morning, as they printed a picture of him with his head wrapped, as with a turban.” (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses pp. 180-182).
Illustration shows the president J. F. Rutherford with two young vice presidents holding sticks. Also at least one young individual in the row of “bodyguards” holds a stick (See God’s Kingdom Rules! 2014 p. 55).
After 1930 Jehovah’s Witnesses used also another form of ‘violence’.
By 1933 they were making use of powerful transcription machines to play recordings of straightforward Bible discourses in public places. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 566).
Sound cars and sound boats also were used to let the Kingdom message ring out. (…) With a sound car on a hilltop, the Kingdom message could be heard miles away (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 87).
Violence rejected, but self-defense allowed to the point of killing the attacker
The Witnesses reject violence in all its forms and let themselves be motivated by Jehovah’s spirit. (The Watchtower May 15, 2006 pp. 21-22).
The Bible thus indicates that a person may defend himself or his family if physically assaulted. He may ward off blows, restrain the attacker, or even strike a blow to stun or incapacitate him. The intention would be to neutralize the aggression or stop the attack. This being the case, if the aggressor was seriously harmed or killed in such a situation, his death would be accidental and not deliberate. (Awake! No. 6, 2008 p. 11).
Tobacco, drugs and gambling
The Watchtower, in its issue of March 1, 1935, made it clear that no one who was a user of tobacco could be a member of the headquarters staff of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society or be one of its appointed representatives. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 181).
The Watchtower of July 1, 1942, stated that the prohibition on tobacco use also applied to all these appointed servants. In some areas a number of years passed before this was fully implemented. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 181).
As a further forward step in consistent application of that Bible counsel, none who were still smoking were accepted for baptism from 1973 onward. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 181).
Those who were already baptized and who still smoked were given six months to quit the habit if they wanted to remain a part of the congregation. (1997 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 136).
It was therefore time for God to remove those who refused to see the need of cleansing themselves of every defilement of the flesh and spirit. As of May 1974, in the United States alone, more than 2,000 had been disfellowshiped for not quitting this unclean practice. (The Watchtower February 15, 1976 p. 123).
Tobacco allotments before and after 1973
There are brothers who are renters of land on which there is a tobacco allotment and the same principles would apply. A Christian farmer would avoid any objectionable employment by producing crops other than tobacco or similar addictive drugs. (…) But as soon as the contract is finished, if the Christian farmer enters into another contract for growing tobacco, he would be subject to expulsion from the Christian congregation. (Kingdom Ministry No. 2, 1974 p. 5).
From time to time, this journal has identified unscriptural conduct that would disqualify a person from remaining a part of God’s organization. In 1973, for example, Jehovah’s people came to understand fully that drug abuse and the use of tobacco are serious sins. (The Watchtower October 15, 1998 p. 16).
A few years ago, there was a shocking situation of wrongdoing in certain congregations in the central United States. More recently this developed in certain European congregations. Many young folks were involved in fornication, drug abuse, and the like. Not a few of these were children of elders, some of whom apparently winked at the misconduct of their offspring. When the facts came to light, a number of these elders were removed because of their misuse of their prerogatives as elders, or more specifically, because of their failure to use their power aright. (The Watchtower August 15, 1986 pp. 14-15).
Is gambling a violation of Bible principles? Is it wrong for a Christian to have secular employment in a gambling project, such as a legalized lottery or gambling house? (…) Each one will have to decide individually whether he can or cannot do so conscientiously. (…) It is a matter each one must decide for himself and in accord with his circumstances and conscience. The Watch Tower Society does not decide as to an individual’s employment, as we previously stated in the September 15, 1951, Watchtower, page 574. (The Watchtower February 1, 1954 pp. 93, 95).
Gambling is not mentioned specifically in the Bible. (The Watchtower October 1, 1972 p. 593).
In 1976 it was clarified that no Witness could be employed in a gambling establishment and remain in the congregation. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 p. 23).
Secondary and higher education
Criticism of secondary education in the forties and the fifties of the 20th century
I was born in 1928 (…) In 1944, while World War II was at its height, Gert Nel, a traveling overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses, asked me whether I was planning to enter the pioneer ranks. “Yes,” I replied, “in two years, when I finish high school.” Reflecting the outlook of many of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time, he warned: “Be careful that Armageddon does not catch you sitting on the school benches.” Since I did not want that to happen, I quit school and entered the pioneer work on January 1, 1945. (The Watchtower April 1, 1993 pp. 19-20).
Should We Go to School or Quit?
THAT old question of last summer still haunts our minds. We still are wondering if we did the right thing in returning to finish high school. Or would it have been better if we had entered the full-time ministry in the service of our God Jehovah? You see, because of our dedication to do the will of God, we are not like the others here in school, whose only ambition is to get ahead, attain a high social position and make a lot of money. We know this old system of things will soon be destroyed at Armageddon, so why the reasons for attending high school when we could be out warning others? And besides, there is a great risk that one will be caught in the quicksands of immorality or lose one’s faith altogether due to the godless conditions in the schools today. (…) The short remaining time before Armageddon should be spent as profitably as possible. (The Watchtower February 15, 1952 p. 117).
It is a calamitous fact that most of the boys and girls today will not have the opportunity to waste their youth and prime of life and get to the calamitous days of old age, where life has been a vain thing for them. According to God’s timing the calamity of the universal war of Armageddon will strike them down while yet in their youth and prime of life because they are not remembering their grand Creator, serving him with worthwhile works. (The Watchtower November 15, 1957 p. 701).
Secondary education accepted
The essentials of education for a useful life can be obtained by studying well at high school, and beyond that there is also the ‘highest education’ that Jehovah provides through his organization, preparing for a satisfying career of full-time service that goes on forever. (The Watchtower September 15, 1971 p. 563).
In many schools there are courses that teach you the fundamentals of different skills. For young men, there may be classes in carpentry, installing electrical equipment, welding, accounting and others. Young women can take courses in secretarial work, homemaking arts, such as cooking and sewing, and other valuable subjects. (Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It 1976 p. 81).
Criticism of higher education
All worldly careers are soon to come to an end. So, why should today’s youth get interested in ‘higher education’ for a future that will never eventuate? The colleges are falling into chaos, anyway. The essentials of education for a useful life can be obtained by studying well at high school, and beyond that there is also the ‘highest education’ that Jehovah provides through his organization, preparing for a satisfying career of full-time service that goes on forever. (The Watchtower September 15, 1971 p. 563).
IT HAS been said that by reading the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, along with other publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a person will receive, over a period of years, a considerable and broad education. (…) Would you like to grow in knowledge, obtaining an education of even much greater value than can be received in any college? You can do so by reading regularly this magazine and its companion, Awake! (The Watchtower June 15, 1983 p. 31).
Moderated position on higher education
Therefore, if the job market calls for training in addition to the minimum required by law, it is up to the parents to guide their children in making a decision about supplementary education, weighing both the potential benefits and the sacrifices that such additional studies would entail. (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Education 1995 p. 6).
Criticism of higher education
For others, secular education as a means to attain financial success becomes a snare. Granted, a certain level of schooling may be useful to obtain employment. However, the truth is that in the time-consuming pursuit of obtaining advanced education, some have harmed themselves spiritually. What a dangerous situation to be in as the day of Jehovah nears! (The Watchtower December 15, 2003 pp. 23-24).
(3) At that time, the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not. (4) Now is the time for any who may be putting their trust in secular education, material things, or human institutions to adjust their thinking. The elders must stand ready to help any who may now be wavering in their faith. (The Watchtower November 15, 2013 p. 20).
Birthdays and name days
Celebrating birthdays and name days
We do our friends and neighbors a valuable service when we call the "Manna" to their attention and assure them that it is merely Christian - not denominational. Some use them as birthday presents and holiday gifts… (Daily Heavenly Manna for the Household of Faith 1905, PROFITABLE DAILY TITHING).
Well, early in this century, Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, did take note of birthdays. Many of them kept small books called Daily Heavenly Manna. These contained a Bible text for each day, and many Christians put a tiny photograph on the pages corresponding to the birthdays of fellow Bible Students. Also, The Watch Tower of February 15, 1909, related that at a convention in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A., Brother Russell, then president of the Society, was ushered onto the platform. Why? He was given a surprise birthday present of some boxes of grapefruit, pineapples, and oranges. That gives us a glimpse of the past. (The Watchtower October 15, 1998 p. 30).
Biblical texts about birthdays accepted and rejected
Outstanding among the Bible Students was Charles Taze Russell. (The Watchtower March 15, 2000 p. 13).
Without any Biblical basis, they were observing birthdays and Christmas. (The Watchtower May 1, 1989 p. 4).
Applying this to Esau and Jacob: Presumably the occasion was a celebration of the birthday of their grandfather Abraham, from whom proceeded the great blessing of God, which, as the elder son of the family, Esau had inherited. It was a day, therefore, in which it was incumbent to fast, but a holiday and special lentil festival to Jacob. (The Watchtower December 1, 1910 p. 4722, reprints).
Job was wealthy, honored and prosperous. Suddenly disaster came upon him. A bolt of lightning struck the house where his sons and daughters were having a birthday party. They were all killed. (Scenario of the Photo-Drama of Creation 1914 p. 26).
Did Job’s children observe birthdays? No, they did not. The original-language words for “day” and “birthday” are different, each having its own meaning. (Genesis 40:20) At Job 1:4, the word “day” is used, denoting an interval of time from sunrise to sunset. The seven sons of Job apparently held a seven-day family gathering once a year. As they made the circuit, each son was the host of the banquet held at his house on “his own day.” (The Watchtower March 15, 2006 p. 13).
Rejection of birthdays and approval of wedding anniversary celebration
Then in 1927/28, God’s people recognized that Christmas and birthday celebrations are unscriptural, and they discontinued observing such. (The Watchtower February 15, 2006 p. 29).
Another publication states that only in 1936 birthdays were criticized:
Birthdays. “There are but two such celebrations mentioned in the Scriptures, one of the heathen king Pharaoh of Egypt, in the days of Joseph, and the other of [Herod,] whose birthday cost John the Baptist his life. In the Bible there is no instance of celebrations of birthdays by any of God’s people.”—The Golden Age, May 6, 1936, page 499. (God’s Kingdom Rules! 2014 p. 105).
It is of interest to note that the most important day in the religion called Satanism is one’s birthday. (“Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” 2008 p. 150).
Birthday Celebrations Have Left a Trail of Death (The Watchtower July 15, 1994 p. 25).
Some try to remember the bereaved on important anniversaries, such as the wedding anniversary or the date of the death. (The Watchtower November 1, 2010 p. 11).
The Bible contains no such command to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, nor, for that matter, any other person’s birthday. (The Watchtower December 15, 2002 pp. 5-6).
(…) the Bible does not contain a specific prohibition against birthday celebrations… (The Watchtower July 15, 1980 p. 31).
Wedding anniversaries and death
The concept of an annual observance to commemorate a significant event is certainly not unusual. Consider, for example, when a couple celebrate their wedding anniversary or when a nation commemorates an important event in its history. The commemoration usually takes place once a year on the anniversary of that event. (The Watchtower April 1, 2003 p. 5).
Some try to remember the bereaved on important anniversaries, such as the wedding anniversary or the date of the death. By making yourself available at such times, you may become a valued companion during difficult moments. (The Watchtower November 1, 2010 p. 11).
Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses were neither Communists nor Zionists but were neutral in matters of politics and race. (Awake! April 8, 1989 p. 13).
In 1978, when asked for a statement for the press as to the position of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding Zionism, the Governing Body said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to take the Biblical stand of being neutral as to all political movements and governments. They are convinced that no human movement will achieve what only God’s heavenly kingdom can accomplish.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 141).
Down till 1932, they understood these to apply specifically to the natural Jews. Thus, they believed that God would show Israel favor again, gradually restoring the Jews to Palestine, opening their eyes to the truth regarding Jesus as Ransomer and Messianic King, and using them as an agency for extending blessings to all nations. With this understanding, Brother Russell spoke to large Jewish audiences in New York as well as in Europe on the subject “Zionism in Prophecy,” and Brother Rutherford, in 1925, wrote the book Comfort for the Jews. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 141).
The hopes of Zionists were revived at the great Hippodrome meeting in 1910 when Pastor Russell delivered his address on Zionism in Prophecy to 5,500 Jews (…) This is a sign of the early approach of returning favor to the Jew now manifest in Zionism. (Millions Now Living Will Never Die! 1920 p. 109).
His chosen people, the Jews, will God bring by the agency of the resurrected Ancient Worthies to Palestine, where He will feed them upon the historic mountains of that hallowed land, in the then great cities of a realized Zionism. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 536).
As a result of Pastor Russell's teaching, Zionistic hopes have gained new vitality; and in due time the Hebrew dead will come forth from the Adamic death in multitudes. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 555).
Thus, in the year 1929, more attention and interest were being paid to the natural, circumcised Jews than to the “sheep” of Jesus’ parable on the sheep and the goats. These “sheep” were made secondary to the Jews, and after Armageddon they were to line up under the Jews. No special effort was made to gather them at that time into the “one flock” of the “Fine Shepherd,” Jesus Christ. (The Watchtower February 15, 1966 p. 118).
Interestingly, for many years the Watchtower Society had the word “Zion’s” in its name and in the magazine’s title (until 1908):
Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. First formed in 1881 and then legally incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania on December 15, 1884. In 1896 its name was changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Since 1955 it has been known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 229).
To reach and feed others spiritually, C. T. Russell began publication, in July 1879, of the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. (Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p. 122).
The rejection of Zionism in 1932
In the second volume of Vindication, published by the Watch Tower Society in 1932, a flash of light revealed that the restoration prophecies recorded by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets did not apply (as once thought) to the fleshly Jews, who were returning to Palestine in unbelief and with political motivations. Rather, these restoration prophecies, which had a minor fulfillment when the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C.E., had their major fulfillment in spiritual Israel’s deliverance and restoration beginning in 1919 and in the resultant prosperity in the spiritual paradise enjoyed by Jehovah’s true servants today. (The Watchtower May 15, 1995 pp. 19-20).
Catholics and Protestants, Jews, Christian Scientists, Theosophists, and others, are all made one by their father the Devil. (The Watchtower August 1, 1932 p. 233).
Amongst her instruments that she uses are ultraselfish men called “Jews”, who look only for personal gain, and who therefore readily yield to and join with the Hierarchy in any unrighteous schemes. (The Watchtower May 1, 1937 p. 135).
Zionism comes from God
Thus says the Lord God: One of the highest branches of ecclesiasticism is Judaism. I will establish Judaism. I will take, in Judaism, one of its young and tender aspirations — Zionism — and will plant it, establish it at the very pinnacle of the coming Kingdom of God — the Jews ruling, through the resurrected Ancient Worthies — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. — over the earthly phase of that Kingdom. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 450).
All the people (trees) of the world (field) shall know that the Lord has brought down nominal ecclesiasticism and exalted the Ancient Worthies, has dried up "Christianity" and given vitality to Zionism and Judaism. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 450).
During the Time of Trouble God will cause the power (…) of the Jews to bud forth in Zionism, and make known the glad tidings of the Kingdom, taught in Studies in the Scriptures. (The Finished Mystery 1917, 1926 p. 506).
Zionism comes from the devil
Restoration of genuine worship of the living God in 1919 did not mean gathering together throngs of native or natural “orthodox” Jews in a so-called “Holy Land” (Palestine) under the slogan of “Zionism.” (John 4:21-23) Indeed, such a long-expected and popularly heralded event the earnest students of the Bible came to understand by 1932 as being not Jehovah’s way but only the way of self-serving men subtly stirred into action for creatures’ purposes and benefits. By the publication of Volume 2 of the book Vindication that year, Jehovah’s witnesses came to see that such a “back to Palestine” movement was by the spirit of Jehovah’s archfoe, Satan, who has deceived the entire inhabited earth. (The Watchtower May 15, 1955 p. 296).
Christians like the Smyrna congregation do not copy those of the “synagogue of Satan” in their materialism, their sticking to traditions instead of to God’s Word, their political Zionism of modern times, and their rejection of the established kingdom of God. Men who now claim to be spiritual Jews, or Jews inwardly, but who are not the true, spiritual “Israel of God,” imitate those faithless natural Jews, and they also are the “synagogue of Satan.” (The Watchtower January 15, 1958 p. 53).
“The olive tree”
“The olive tree” is a natural Israel
Later, in Romans chapter 11, Paul likened the nation of Israel to an olive tree that is linked to “Jehovah’s friend,” the patriarch Abraham. (James 2:23) (The Watchtower September 15, 1984 p. 11).
Paul indicated that since unfaithful Jewish “branches” of the olive tree had been lopped off, the same could happen to anyone else who through pride and disobedience did not remain in Jehovah’s favor. (Romans 11:19, 20) (The Watchtower May 15, 2000 p. 29).
“The olive tree” is a spiritual Israel (teaching since 2011)
Evidently, there is no typical or antitypical olive tree. Although natural Israel did produce kings and priests, the nation did not become a kingdom of priests. (…) Therefore, natural Israel did not serve as a typical olive tree. Paul is illustrating how God’s purpose to produce “a kingdom of priests” is fulfilled in connection with spiritual Israel. This updates what was published in the August 15, 1983, Watchtower, pages 14-19. (The Watchtower May 15, 2011 p. 23).
The human race and racism
The curse for the black race
(…) for the Scriptures record that present races had their start in father Noah and that only his descendants survived the flood. And in the New Testament our Lord and several of the Apostles corroborate this record – of Noah and the flood. The negro race is supposed to be descended from Ham, whose special degradation is mentioned in Gen. 9:22, 25. (The Watchtower August 1, 1898 p. 2344, reprints).
While it is true that the white race exhibits some qualities of superiority over any other... – (The Watchtower July 15, 1902 p. 3043, reprints).
It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race. They have been and are a race of servants, but now in the dawn of the twentieth century, we are all coming to see this matter of service in its true light and to find that the only real joy in life is in serving others; not bossing them. There is no servant in the world as good as a good Colored servant, and the joy that he gets from rendering faithful service is one of the purest joys there is in the world – (The Golden Age July 24, 1929 p. 702).
The curse does not apply to the black race
There is no basis for the religious claim that the native inhabitants of Africa became black-skinned because of God's curse pronounced upon Canaan by Noah. (“The Truth Shall Make You Free” 1943 p. 157).
For example, consider the black race. Some so-called Christians claim that black skin color is the result of a divine curse placed upon Canaan and his descendants, consigning them to a position of servitude. In this they err. The black race descended not from Canaan but from Cush and possibly Put. And no curse was placed upon either of them.—Genesis 9:24, 25; 10:6 (The Watchtower July 1, 1986 p. 4).
Racial segregation of members
If the Watchtower Society is free from racial prejudice, why does it tolerate segregation at its assemblies in certain sections of country? Is this not a course of compromise? (...)
Why do we tolerate the segregation laws and policies of certain governments and organizations of this world? Because Jehovah has not commissioned us to convert the world, which is wicked beyond recovery and hence will be destroyed. Jehovah has commissioned us to preach the gospel. Now what should we do? Drop preaching to fight racial issues? We never have separate meetings and baptisms when we can have them together. But when impossible, shall we have separate meetings and baptisms, or none at all?
Shall we serve spiritual food to all, even if separately, or serve it to none? Shall we provide baptism for all, even if separately, or provide it for none? Should we buck Caesar’s segregation laws, when they do not force us to violate God’s laws? God does not forbid separate assembly and baptism, and he commands assembly and baptism. (Matt. 28:19; Heb. 10:25) So should we disobey God to fight a racial issue? To buck the segregation laws would bring on disruption of the witness work, halting of it, mob violence, and possible loss of life. Only laws prohibiting gospel-preaching will we buck at that price.(...)
Even within the Christian congregation Paul did not protest the slavery of his time. (…) Kingdom preaching and Jehovah’s vindication are the issues to keep foremost, not creature equality and racial issues. (The Watchtower February 1, 1952 pp. 94-96).
Those were years of great change. Before our moving to the South, the races had been segregated. Blacks were forbidden by law to go to the same schools, eat at the same restaurants, sleep in the same hotels, shop at the same stores, or even drink from the same drinking fountains as whites. But in 1964 the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act that banned discrimination in public places, including transportation. So there was no longer any legal basis for racial segregation. Therefore the question was, Would our brothers and sisters in all-black and all-white congregations integrate and show love and affection for one another or would pressure from the community and deep-seated feelings from the past cause them to resist integration? (The Watchtower September 1, 1994 p. 23).
No racial segregation of members
Jehovah’s Witnesses have already been delivered from many of the plagues that afflict this world. Intolerance, aggression, and racism—to name but a few of society’s ills—have all but been eliminated among them, and they look forward to the time when the whole world will be free of such problems. (The Watchtower July 1, 2007 p. 10).
The first black member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses was appointed in 1999, namely Samuel F. Herd (The Watchtower January 1, 2000 p. 29).
Who is a “brother in Christ”?
Followers of Christian churches treated as brothers
Although the Bible Students saw the need to withdraw from religious organizations that were friends of the world, for years they continued to view as Christian brothers individuals who, although not Bible Students, professed belief in the ransom and claimed to be dedicated to God. (God’s Kingdom Rules! 2014 p. 17).
We will see in Chapter 5 that prior to 1935, it was thought that the “great multitude,” as described at Revelation 7:9, 10 in the King James Version, would include countless members of the churches of Christendom and that they would be made a secondary heavenly class as a reward for siding with Christ at the very end. (God’s Kingdom Rules! 2014 p. 17).
Great is the privilege of those who have part in this witness work. These have the consolation of informing their brethren in Christ who are held as prisoners that the time has come for them to show themselves and take their stand on the side of the Lord. (Government 1928 p. 217).
Only Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian brothers
Jehovah’s witnesses refer to one another as “brother” and “sister.” This denotes the close relationship that should exist among all servants of Jehovah God. (The Watchtower September 15, 1969 p. 569).
On the other hand, interested persons who have only recently begun to attend our meetings have not yet taken the steps that would identify them as part of God’s household. These individuals would not be addressed as “Brother” or “Sister,” since the spiritual relationship of God’s family does not exist in their case. So during the meetings, we would address them more formally, using an appropriate title such as “Mr.” with their last name. (Our Kingdom Ministry No. 4. 1996 p. 7).
A change of the term “brethren” since 1950
In time, the New World Translation had profound effects upon the speech of Jehovah’s people in general. For instance, instead of “brethren,” it used “brothers,” and so God’s servants began using the modern term. (Rom. 1:13) (1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses p. 220).