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Crisis of Authority?

Written by: Abba II    Posted on: 04/25/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

Crisis of Authority?

Watchtower President Franz, Dead at 99

Frederick W. Franz, fourth President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, died at the age of 99 on Tuesday, December 22nd, 1992.  Franz was ordained a Jehovah's Witness minister in 1913 - three years before the death of Watchtower founder, Charles Taze Russell.  Franz was known as the primary theologian of the Watchtower Society. Before becoming President he held the Vice Presidency of the Society.

While Franz was Vice President, the Watchtower published its own version of the Bible, The New World Translation.  He was the closest the Watchtower had to a Greek or Hebrew scholar on the New World Translation Committee that produced the Watchtower's Bible, the New World Translation.

Though the committee sought to keep their names anonymous, former Watchtower headquarters staff have identified the principle members as Nathan Knorr (third Watchtower President), Fred Franz, George Gangas, and A.D. Schroeder (Crisis of Conscience, p.50, n.15).  However, according to former Jehovah's Witness, M. James Penton, "to all intents and purposes the New World Translation is the work of one man Frederick Franz" (Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses, p.174).

The Society's Vice President, Milton G. Henschel, has been named as Franz' successor. Chosen by an eight member Board of Directors, Henschel, age 72, will probably preside over the Society during the time when some form of transition is made from rule by the Anointed Remnant or Heavenly Class, to rule by the Great Crowd or Earthly Class.

The death of Franz also highlights the question of when "this generation" of Matthew 24:34 will end.  The Watchtower teaches that the generation that saw the events of 1914 wil not pass away before Armageddon occurs, and the earthly kingdom is established.  This prophecy is repeated in every Awake! magazine.  Every year that passes and every member of the Governimg Body who dies makes their problem more acute.

Changing Channels?

Franz' death highlights one of the more interesting potential developments in the society relating to the issue of authority.  A major change in leadership structure may be in the works.  Currently Jehovah's Witnesses teach a two class system of believers: the Anointed Class (144,000) and the Great Crowd (originally called the Jonadab class).  The vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses fall in the Great Crowd class, which is also called the "other sheep."

They have traditionally been excluded from upper-level leadership and decision making because the Watchtower teaches that those of the Great Crowd have no hope of heaven, but instead have an earthly hope. Their goal is to survive Armageddon and live forever on a paradise earth. More importantly, they are also taught that they are not annointed with the Holy Spirit nor does God communicate directly with them.

The Watchtower insists that only the Annointed are "born again" and that technically Jesus is mediator only for that small group.  They teach that the Great Crowd cannot look to Jesus as their mediator (Watchtower, 1 April, 1979, p.31). Instead, the average Jehovah's Witness believes that they must "come to Jehovah's organization for salvation" (Watchtower, 15 April 1981, p.21).

"Jehovah's organization," the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is controlled by the Governing Body made up of a handfull of members of this Annointed Class.  Members of the Annointed Class do have the Holy Spirit and God directly communicates through them to lead his organization today. These Annointed ones are supposedly commissioned by Jehovah to dispense "spiritual nourishment at the right time" according to their interpretation of Matthew 24:45 (Watchtower, 1 December 1981,p.27).  Thus all authority flows from the Anointed class -- more specifically the Governing Body -- down to the Great Crowd.

Anointed are Aged

A problem with this theory unfolds in the parallel Watchtower teaching that the entire number of Anointed from the first century until 1935 was to be only 144,000.  They teach that in 1935 this number was completed and no new members of the 144,000 can be added.  Thus, the pool from which the Society can choose new Governing Body members is quickly drying up.

Franz's death at age 99 underscores the fact that the Governing Body itself is aged and feeble.  Simple math reveals that a very young, 15 year-old Jehovah's Witness in 1935 is now 73 years old.  The Society keeps a careful count of living Anointed members.  At their annual memorial meal (Lord's Supper) they count those who partake of the bread and wine.  (Only Anointed ones can partake while the rest simply pass the elements without eating or drinking).

In 1991 the society reported over ten million in attendance at the memorial meal -- but only 8,850 partook of the memorial meal (Watchtower, 1 January 1992, p.13).  That means that less than 9,000 of the 144,000 are still alive and these are quite elderly and are steadily dwindling.  In a 1989 edition of the Watchman Expositor, David Henke reported that steps were apparently already underway to slowly replace aged Anointed with younger members of the Great Crowd (Vol.6, No. 9, p.1).  Henke pointed  out that in the September 1989 Watchtower, three separate articles indicated that nonanointed ones will be given new responsibilities previously reserved only for the Anointed.

Great Crowd in Governing Body?

The Society has already taken a major step in that direction.  In a recent newsletter, Comments from the Friends, former Jehovah's Witness, David Reed, pointed out that men of the "great crowd" have now been invited to sit on Governing Body Committees (Summer 1992, pp.14-15).  The Watchtower stated:  "Therefore it has been decided to invite several helpers, mainly from among the great crowd, to share in the meetings of each of the Governing Body Committees, that is, the Personnel, Publishing, Service, Teaching, and Writing Committees" (Watchtower 15 April 1992, p.31).

Reed explained that these new helpers will probably serve a very limited role at  first but noted the reason for the change is obvious.  He explained that of the 8,850 remaining Anointed, over half are women and therefore ineligible and of the remaining men, most are in their late seventies or older.  Reed summarized the Watchtower's dilemma stating:  "The organization faces turning over leadership to men who are eligible but incompetent, or else changing the rules of eligibility to permit competent younger men to assume control" (Ibid).

The Watchtower teaches that God's sole "channel of communication" today comes from the class known as the "faithful and discreet slave" (KJV "faithful and wise servant" Matt. 24:45-47) who "provide spiritual nourishment at the right time for all his followers" (Watchtower, 1 December 1981, p.27).

They also insist that this channel or, "faithful and discreet slave' is to be made up of spirit-anointed ones" and that "unless we are in touch with  this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do" (Ibid, see also Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, pp. 805- 06).  The reasoning is that the other sheep are not anointed with the Holy Spirit and therefore cannot fully come to truth by themselves through prayer or Bible reading.  They must rely on this sole channel made up of individual "slaves" lead by the Holy Spirit and positioned in the "discreet-slave body" (Watchtower, 1 February 1952, p.79).

Now the Watchtower must begin a slow transition away from this fundamental doctrine and begin conditioning their followers to accept non-anointed "other sheep" as that channel of communication.  Franz' death is symbolic of a growing crisis of authority.

The clock is beginning to run out on another Watchtower doctrine.  The generation of 1914 and the 1935 "anointed class" is quickly coming to an end.  As it does, the aged leadership of the Watchtower must struggle to change their authority structure to a new system while simultaneously inventing some new logic and juggling a new collection of Bible verses to justify this change.

It is hoped that this ongoing change may spark re-evaluation on the part of rank-and-file Jehovah's Witnesses.  Perhaps many will re-think the Governing Body's claim to authority as well as the Jehovah's Witness doctrine supported by these false claims. ============================================================     Copied with permission from the Watchman Expositor.       For a free subscription to this monthly newspaper       write the Watchman Fellowship office nearest you:

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