Questions From Readers
● At times there are changes in viewpoint on Biblical subjects discussed in the Watch Tower Society’s publications. We speak of what we believe as “the truth.” But does “truth” change?—W. P., U.S.A.
Really it is the Bible that speaks of beliefs that are in harmony with the Scriptures as “the truth.” At 2 Peter 2:2 the worship based on such beliefs is termed “the way of the truth.” Yet concerning that “way of the truth” we read 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.” So we do not know all there is to know. In fact, even when the post-Armageddon system of things is ushered in we will not know everything. Throughout all eternity there will always be more to learn. This is indicated by what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:33: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!”
It is to be expected, then, that at times there may be changes in viewpoint. Our basic belief may be sound Scriptural truth, but there may be some details that we did not fully understand in the past. In time, with the aid of Jehovah’s spirit, we get those matters cleared up.
For example, a few years ago we had a fine series of articles in The Watchtower on the “superior authorities.” (Issues of November 1–December 1, 1962) Before those articles were published, we knew and taught that Jehovah is the Most High, and that Jesus Christ is the second to Him in power and authority. We knew that we should be law-abiding persons, but that, when there was a conflict between man’s law and that of God, we would obey God as ruler rather than men. Those basic truths are the same today as they were before; they have not changed. However, by careful scrutiny of the Scriptures we have come to appreciate that certain Bible texts ought to be applied in a different way. For example, we realized that the “superior authorities” mentioned in Romans 13:1 are, not Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, but the political rulers. That is also true of Titus 3:1 and; 1 Peter 2:13, 14. Yet the basic truth is unchanged. Our viewpoint toward God and toward the State is the same as before.
Similarly with our study of the resurrection. We believed in the resurrection of the dead before our recent series of Watchtower articles (issues of January 15–March 15, 1965) on the subject and we believe in it now. We also believed that 144,000 would be raised to heavenly life with Christ. We believed that many more would be resurrected as humans; that some of them would be persons who had faithfully served God in the past, and that others would be those who had lived ‘unrighteously.’ We also believed that a great educational work would take place when they would be raised. Those truths have not changed. But now we see that, according to the Scriptures, more are to return than we expected. So, rather than setting aside the truth of the resurrection, it has been magnified, and our appreciation of Jehovah’s love and mercy in providing for the resurrection has been enhanced.
This is in direct contrast to what occurred among certain men of whom the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, as recorded at 2 Timothy 2:18: “These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” Those men no longer had any hope in the resurrection; they believed that what was in the past was all there was to it. But they were setting aside the truth that Jesus had taught. Likewise in Christendom there have been changes in viewpoint; but they are rejecting the Bible as myth and setting aside its moral code as out-of-date.
What a tremendous difference between what is taking place among them and what Jehovah is doing for his people in order to bring our thinking even more closely in line with his inspired Word of truth!