“Increased Light”— Mindless Justification For Removing Errors

In 2009, the Watch Tower Society published a songbook to replace the one that was in use by Jehovah’s Witnesses for twenty-five years.

Along with new songs, many of the old ones were adjusted because “increased light” during that time caused many Witness doctrines to change and “some of the expressions used in the old songbook have become outdated.” That’s the explanation in the December 15, 2010 Watchtower article, “SING TO JEHOVAH” (pg. 23, par. 15):

As time passes, refinements are made in our understanding of the Scripture. Proverbs 4:19 says: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” Increased light inevitably leads to adjustments in the way in which we ‘sing the truth.’ For the past 25 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in many lands have enjoyed using the songbook entitled Sing Praises to Jehovah. In the years since that book was first published, the light has been getting brighter on a number of topics, and some of the expressions used in that songbook have become outdated. For example, we no longer speak ofthe new order but of “the new world.” And we now state that Jehovah’s name will be “sanctified, notvindicated.” Clearly, from a doctrinal standpoint, there has been a need to bring our songbook up-to-date.

Updating any book is not unusual. It’s done all the time and for different reasons. The Watch Tower Society explained their reason—updating was needed because of doctrinal change. No big deal—religions frequently update beliefs and doctrines. However, the doctrinal expressions “the new order” and “Jehovah’s name will be vindicated” were removed from Witness vocabulary during the time I was in Bethel. I know the removal was not because of direction from some mystical “increased light” from God, but for other reasons.

Removal of the expression, “The New Order”

When I was working in Bethel’s Writing Department, I was told that the term “the new order” was totally a Fred Franz thing. It was Freddie who was responsible for adopting (in the early 1960s) the words “the new order” – instead of continuing to use the words “the new world.”

Watchtower keeps getting new light. Will the light ever get it right?

Watchtower keeps getting new light. Will the light ever get it right?

The term, “the new order” is historically very old. It is usually associated with extremist totalitarianism and nationalism, radical organizations, or political leftist (and far right) movements. Further, the words are often connected with the phrases “one world government” or a “new world order” that secret societies are planning to create.

However, the honest-to-God reason leaders of the Watch Tower Society stopped in the late 1980s using the words “the new order” was because of the association that term had with Nazism. There were complaints about the use of that phrase – especially from Witnesses in Germany. But as long as Freddie was in control, nothing could be done about it. The Watchtower discontinued its use of that term after he became blind and completely incapacitated both mentally and physically.

Nevertheless, according to the current Watchtower, there was a need “from a doctrinal standpoint” for updating this outdated expression because the “light is growing brighter.” To give this impression in the case of “the new order” is just plain ridiculous when the expression was discarded over twenty years ago because the Watch Tower Governing Body and Watch Tower writers were aware and concerned about the Nazi link.

Wikipedia’s explanation of “The New Order”

“The New Order (German: Neuordnung; French: Ordre Nouveau) was the political, economic, territorial, and social system that the Nazis tried to establish first in Europe and eventually wanted to expand to the rest of the world during their reign over Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. The establishment of the New Order was started when World War II had already begun but was publicly proclaimed by Adolf Hitler in 1941: ‘The year 1941 will be, I am convinced, the historical year of a great European New Order.’” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Order_(Nazism) ]

“Vindicated vs. “Sanctified”

Just exactly when did the Watch Tower Society launch the use of the doctrinal expression, “The vindication of Jehovah’s name”?

The term was first traced to the December 15, 1921 Watchtower. After that it’s found a few more times in various Watchtowers until the use expanded, beginning with the August 15, 1929 Watchtower article, “VINDICATION OF HIS NAME.”

Subsequently, during the year 1930, this expression is found scattered nearly 25 times throughout Watchtowers – until, for the first time – it is found on the back of the inside cover of the November 15, 1930 issue of the Watchtower where something new was added to the “Mission” page.

Under the title “TO US THE SCRIPTURES CLEARLY TEACH,” is a list of the Watch Tower Society’s major teachings and the following item was added to that list:

THAT THE GREAT ISSUE before all creation now is the vindication of Jehovah’s word and name…

These words were included in every issue until the October 15, 1931 Watchtower when the “Mission” page featured a new layout.

How important was the belief that God’s name would be vindicated? Note these words in the Watchtower of October 15, 1931, p. 310, par. 24:

…the greatest of all doctrines is the vindication of God’s word and name by and through his kingdom.

“Greatest Doctrine” ousted

Nearly sixty-four years later, the May 15, 1995, Watchtower, p. 25, par. 17-18, explains that “…for a long time, Witnesses spoke of the vindication of Jehovah’s name” and then the anonymous author pointed to Matthew 6:9, “Let your name be sanctified,” and explained this is “…why recent publications do not speak of Jehovah’s name as being vindicated.”

That same article pointed out that the replacements, the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty instead of the vindication of Jehovah’s name, and, Jehovah sanctifies his name, not vindicates it began to appear in the early 1970s in Watch Tower literature although the changes wasn’t specifically called to the reader’s attention.

For example: Notice the following statement in the 1971 Witness publication, The Nations Shall Know That I am Jehovah—How?:

Jesus Christ fights… for the vindication of Jehovah’s universal Sovereignty.

And in 1973, another Witness publication, God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached, remarked:

The coming ‘great tribulation’ is the time for Almighty God Jehovah to vindicate his universal sovereignty and to sanctify his worthy name.

Then the 1975 book, Man’s Salvation Out Of World Distress at Hand! states:

The greatest event of universal history will then have been accomplished, the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty and the sanctification of his sacred name. (See Watchtower, May 15, 1995.)

Or maybe it wasn’t ousted

In spite of that, six years later, in 1981 the use of the outdated expression, “vindication of Jehovah’s name”was still being used. From a doctrinal standpoint, why in the world did the Society continue to use an expression that they thought wasn’t correct?

Read the paragraph for yourself from the December 1, 1981 Watchtower, “The Path of the Righteous Does Keep Getting Brighter”

However, the Bible shows that there is something far more important than our personal salvation. It is the great issue involving Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, which Satan called in question at the time of the rebellion in Eden. It calls for the vindication of Jehovah’s name. Indeed, the entire theme of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the Messianic kingdom whereby that glorious Name is vindicated. Exalted for all time!

If the “path of the righteous” was supposedly “getting brighter” in 1981, why still use an expression “from a doctrinal standpoint” that was outdated?

And note in the 1988 book, Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 311 another instance:

This Kingdom under Christ the Promised Seed is the means by which the vindication of Jehovah’s name will be accomplished.

Probably, just to be on the safe side, the author in that same paragraph decided to do it both ways because he wasn’t sure which way the light was beaming:

We would not know the Creator’s name, the great issue raised by the Edenic rebellion involving this name, or God’s purpose to sanctify and vindicate that name before all creation…

Even by 1990, recipients of “flashing light” were having a difficult time figuring out which expression to use. This can be seen when the author of the book, All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial (revised), pp. 11-12, didn’t write either “name” or “sovereignty” after the words, “vindication of Jehovah…”

Outstandingly, it sets the theme for the entire Bible, namely, the vindication of Jehovah through the Kingdom ruled by the promised “seed.”

Karl Klein to the rescue

Did “flashing light” finally straighten out the confusion?

Around 1990, enter Governing Body member, Karl Klein into the picture, a doddering old fellow that lacked good sense or judgment at this point in his life. In the past, I wrote this about him:

“One time at morning worship, Karl Klein talked to the Bethel family about an idea he came up with even before he told the other Governing Body members about it. He explained to us how we shouldn’t speak of Jehovah’s name being vindicated, but that Jehovah’s name will be sanctified. I remember Karl was so excited about “his” brainchild that when he arrived at work that morning it was as if he had been given his youth back. He was kind of hopping and jumping around and running his idea by anybody who would listen, including me. And, what do you know, lickity-split, that idea became ‘new light.’ ”

From my personal encounters with Karl, he most often sat idle at his desk trying to look busy whenever he wasn’t reading draft copies of Watch Tower literature. It was common knowledge that Karl was so mentally feeble that often errors escaped his notice. However, in the 1970s he was a very active participant in the affairs of the Writing Department, even writing articles. (It was Karl Klein who wrote that sour-note “tacking” Watchtower article to try to justify the 1975 end-of-the-world fiasco.)

In my opinion, I believe it’s likely that Karl knew about the “vindication” vs. sanctification” issue in the early 1970s and how staff writers meandered between both terms. Twenty years later, in the early 1990s, in Karl’s befuddled mental state, he must have believed he just then came up with something original to discuss with the Bethel family by introducing this “vindication” vs. “sanctification” idea that he actually told me he had recently come up with.

Finally, “Vindication” was out, “Sanctification” was in

By 1993, the book, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers Of God’s Kingdom (page 124) discontinued using the old “vindication of Jehovah’s name” term by substituting “sanctification of Jehovah’s name.” However, it did not point out the switch of words in the publication.

But it took until the publishing of the May 15, 1995 Watchtower for the Society to call attention to this change. On page 24, under the sub-heading “Increased Light on Terminology,” is the reason for discontinuing the use of “vindication of Jehovah’s name” that even they admitted began to be phased out in the early 1970s. However, the article claimed that “light” caused the term to be “adjusted” beginning with “recent publications.” Of course, I know it wasn’t “increased light” that caused the change, but it started with Karl Klein’s announcement of his “discovery” and that happened in the early 1990s.

When the new songbook was released in 2009, the Watch Tower Society said in the December 15, 2010 Watchtower that the previous one, Sing Praises to Jehovah, was in use for twenty-five years. That means it was published in 1984. As already shown, it was in 1971, 1973 and 1975 that the expression, “vindication of God’s name” was being replaced by “vindication of God’s sovereignty.” Why did “increased light” not penetrate lyric-writers to use updated “doctrinal” terminology in their songs published in the 1984 songbook? And where was Watch Tower’s Writing Department’s editing staff in 1984? Why didn’t they get the message that “increased light leads to adjustments” and this old term under discussion had already been adjusted?

“Increased light” idea is just an excuse

The issue I have with Watch Tower writers is not for waiting so long to update their publications such as their old songbook. Updating written material is important, but saying “increased light” leads to updating is ridiculous. In my opinion, if this religion would just be honest and with candor express why they see a need to adjust some dogma or “expressions” instead of their writers using that tired-out old refrain about “increased light” leading to adjustments, their image would improve radically.

Watch Tower’s leaders and writers should act like sensible adults and admit that it’s not “light” from God, but men who change beliefs when needed. This comes about due to different reasons, such as in the case of the discontinued use of the term, “the new order.” Or in the case of the term, “vindicating Jehovah’s name” when it was seen to be in direct conflict with Matthew 6:9 where it is written “Let your name be sanctified,” not vindicated.

Topical investigation and research, not “increased light” enlightens! Enough with the claim of some sort of supernatural light getting brighter on topics that causes changes in dogma. If the “light” is synonymous with “Holy Spirit,” then it was God’s Holy Spirit that was responsible for allowing an expression used for decades called “the greatest of all doctrines” to mislead the flock. How silly it is to posture that God has something to do with Watch Tower’s constant rectifications in beliefs and terminology when facts prove otherwise.

Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders should note what the founder of the Watch Tower Society, C. T. Russell, stated in the February 1881 Watchtower (italics Russell’s):

“A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. New light never extinguishes older light, but adds to it. … Our pathway has been one of increase of light in harmony with former light.”

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Note: An early version of this article was first posted on Randy Watters’ Freeminds.org and also on Jehovahs-Witness.com {LINK}. Most of the original references and links provided in that version are no longer available – and are not included here. The above article has received edits for clarity, style and minor errors. – Webmaster


Comments

“Increased Light”— Mindless Justification For Removing Errors — 4 Comments

  1. Great article! One question, the picture above has the year 2034 listed…is there a reference to that year somewhere? Or was it just to show how “the light is always getting brighter” when the old light went out? Lol
    Thanks for the site!

  2. Good question, hagithachristie! The illustration we used was intended to demonstrate many of the Watchtower’s critical years when they expected something (not that “something” was ever truly defined) to happen that would have an effect on Jehovah’s Witnesses. Remembering that 7, 10, 12, 40, 70, 120, 1000, 6000, 7000, and 140,000 are all important in some way to Watchtower doctrines and predictions. There have been some rumors that following that pattern that the “Great Tribulation” might arrive on or before 2034 (AD 1914 + 120 years). At the moment, no particular importance has been assigned to that year, but knowing that the Watchtower’s writers are always looking for something to drum up expectations, it is likely that 2034 could be the next year with some potential for prophetic significance for JWs – even if totally imaginary and unsupportable as 1975 was.

  3. More of the Wt semantic gymnastics; in English dictionaries sanctification has as a synonym vindication. To-May-Toe vs Tu-Mah-To. But, more to the point, some MAN at HQ finally got his WAY in making the Watchtower align more precisely with the rest of Christianity by bringing “sanctify” to the fore. Maybe a little less puzzled looks in presenting the literature? Of course, this goes back to the great core doctrine that Satan accused [insert Tetragrammaton] of being a mean vicious deity with dictatorial tendencies, thus [insert Tetragrammaton] (who apparently got His feelings hurt) has to prove He’s not a mean dictator and just a genteel Ancient One. All this ignores the root of Judaic principle that The Name is unutterable and should never be put in position to be defiled, thus it is sanctified, set apart and consecrated, above defilement–not some everyday word tossed about loosely. An act of cleansing would be in line with tradition before uttering or writing The Name.

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