I had to read that Watchtower paragraph twice. (May 1, 2007) Some Christians baptized after 1935 have apparently been given the heavenly hope. Looks like we can’t set a date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends, the article said!
This is new. Until recently, there was a such a date: 1935.
This kind of thing used to send Tom Barfendogs, that perennial apostate, into orbit. You could just look at him, see him slowly redden, and then he'd explode into a tirade of.....ring!....ring!.......hello?
It was Barfendogs!
Did ya see that? Tommy, he screamed. They flipflopped! See that? Didya? What about 1935, huh?! They just changed it! Just like that! When you gonna open your eyes, pal?! When you gonna smell the music? Hah? When you gonna see....
So help me, I don't know why I give this guy the time of day. He's got an axe to grind so big it would scare off Paul Bunyan.
Actually, I don't give him the time of day. I put down the phone, and went off to check the mail, made some coffee, put a load in the wash, and cleaned out the cat litterbox. When I returned, he hadn't noticed a thing.
False prophets! That's what they are, Tommy, like I try to tell ya if ya'd just listen. But no! You'd just rather be led by the nose and just like that.....
I hung up the phone, but it made no difference! I could still hear his shrill voice!
They didn't flipflop at all. Nobody ever said adjustments like this wouldn't happen. In fact, we've been assured many times that they would, in accord with scriptures such as this:
"And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant." Dan 12:4
Jehovah's Witnesses do believe we're in the "time of the end," and that "true knowledge will become abundant" during that time. With regard to prophetic matters, it's progressive. It happens by degrees. The Watchtower has stated this innumerable times. Illustrating it with this scripture, for example:
But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established. (Prov 4:18) Just like how at dawn you can't make out too much, maybe only shapes, but as the day progresses the details steadily become more clear.
So adjustments in understanding are to be expected, same as how it happened in the first century.
When Jesus' disciples began their ministry, they spoke to no one but Jews. Why would they not? Jesus was a Jew. They themselves were Jews. Jesus, they believed, was the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures. And Jews kept their distance from non-Jews. They didn't mingle.
Early congregation growth was explosive. (Acts 2:41; 4:4) Acts, the history of early Christianity, tells us:
Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of [Jewish] priests began to be obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
Then, indeed, the congregation throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying. (Acts 9:31)
It all happened within the Jewish community.
The first disciples to tell the Kingdom message to non-Jews had some explaining to do. Should they really be doing that? Weren’t they stepping out of bounds? The matter was not settled by scripture. It was settled by holy spirit, and scripture was bought in afterwards to support what holy spirit was already doing. Specifically, believing non-Jews were receiving gifts of the spirit (healing, speaking in other languages, (tongues) prophesying) just like the Jewish believers. So who were those disciples to forbid what God was obviously approving?
Now the apostles and the brothers that were in Judea heard that people of the nations had also received the word of God. So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, the [supporters] of circumcision [Jewish believers] began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them. At this Peter commenced and went on to explain the particulars to them, saying.......when I started to speak, the holy spirit fell upon them just as it did also upon us in [the] beginning. At this I called to mind the saying of the Lord, how he used to say, ‘John, for his part, baptized with water, but you will be baptized in holy spirit.’ If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should be able to hinder God?” Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: “Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.” Acts 11:1-18
Something similar can be seen in the present day. From the standpoint of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, only two centuries count: the first and the twentieth (plus a few years). The ones in between suffer the apostatizing of "primitive" Christianity and then witness its gradual re-awakening. The last days spoken of in the Bible are seen to have started in the early 20th century....with a bang....with World War I, and continue to the present amidst ever-worsening conditions.
As in the first century, the governing body tracks specific developments with regard to Kingdom increase today. And they make statements based on what holy spirit appears to be accomplishing, just as was done in the first century. For example, the heavenly calling, the call of certain Christians to rule with the Christ in his heavenly kingdom (manifested in their partaking of the emblems at Memorial time) has long been thought to have ceased in 1935.
Now, I freely confess it sounds weird to link a specific year to a heavenly event. Yet, it was in that year that the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9 was identified. This is the group that survives the end of this system and lives right on under Kingdom rule on earth. There's really no point in gathering this group beforehand, since by definition, they must live long enough to survive the "great tribulation."
Prior to the 1930's, nearly all congregation members professed the heavenly calling. But in time, folks began packing in who simply didn't feel that the heavenly calling applied to them. They just didn't identify with it. Instead, the scriptures about living forever on earth is what rang true to them.
...and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth. Rev 5:10
They began to identify, not with the ones who would rule, but with the ones who would be ruled over, living forever on earth.
Revealing the identity of the great crowd (Revelation 7:9) cleared in all up, and all these ones instantly found their place. Did this all take place at the lead of the holy spirit? Today, it is rare for one of Jehovah's Witnesses not to have the earthly hope.
Since the great crowd was identified at a summer convention in 1935, that year has long been thought to be the date in which the heavenly calling ceased, since the number of that group, while large, is finite. (unlike that of the great crowd) (Rev 7:4-10)
So in more recent years, when someone began partaking of the emblems, people didn't know what to make of it. Maybe they were nuts! Or at least unbalanced. Or presumptuous, thinking the heavenly call would give them special prestige. Some of them were genuine, no doubt, since an anointed member who falls away would have to be replaced. But, realistically, how often would that be? Not very. And you'd expect a replacement to come from the ranks of those who had served God for many decades. So if a new partaker came along who didn't fit the profile, you'd sort of scratch your head and shelve the matter, curious how it would all play out.
We still don‘t know, but that latest Watchtower advances things a bit, and the adjustment process will continue to run its course. It always has. It will continue to.
Furthermore, adjustments of understanding must always be taken in context. The essential teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the foundational points, have remained unchanged since the movement began in the late 1800's. What is God's Kingdom? What will it do for humankind? What happens at death? Where are the dead? Why do we die? Why does God permit suffering and evil? Who is God? How may we fit in with his purpose? Who is Jesus Christ? What is the Holy Spirit?
These are the basic building block teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the answers to which have not essentially changed in 100 years.