Last week, those under the authority of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society participated in the annual memorial to commemorate Christ’s death. I’d like to cover this today.
Some background information on the memorial from the Watchtower point of view if you are unfamiliar with their doctrinal teachings. The Watchtower has a two class system. One group is the 144,000, also known as the anointed. The great crowd is the other. Without breaking it down too much, the 144,000 as the Watchtower teaches it are destined for heaven and the great crowd is to live on a paradise Earth in the future even though the bible explicitly states otherwise. (Read Revelation 19:1 and Revelation 14:1-5). This separation is further delineated since the Greek Scriptures/New Testament is written specifically for the anointed. This is reinforced with the following:
Special attention was being given to making up the government that would rule mankind for 1,000 years, and nearly all the inspired letters in the Christian Greek Scriptures are primarily directed to this group of Kingdom heirs—“the holy ones,” “partakers of the heavenly calling.”
United in Worship of the Only True God. 1983. p. 111
With that in mind, I would like to take a few moments to look and see how did the memorial come to be.
This video clip speaks as to how Charles Taze Russell was influenced (pay attention when George Storrs is mentioned):
So what we have is instead of relying solely on God’s word, young Russell as was stated in the clip went to those who were not part of “God’s channel” for instruction. Ironically this went into the memorial itself.
Now I’d like to quickly cover all of the verses that I can use to pertain to the memorial:
Galatians 3:27, 28 (New World Translation)-For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.
This verse speaks of breaking down the barriers that had existed at this point. There is one common baptism (that doesn’t even follow the baptismal formula in the bible) and that’s where the similarity stops.
I Corinthians 12:22-25 (New World Translation)-On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary, 23 and the parts of the body that we think to be less honorable we surround with greater honor, so our unseemly parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 whereas our attractive parts do not need anything. Nevertheless, God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that had a lack, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but its members should have mutual concern for one another.
This speaks of the body of Christ. One body, many parts, all are necessary to function yet some at times are more prominent than others. Those that aren’t as honorable we surround with greater honor.
Verses specifically about the memorial:
Matthew 26:26-29 (New World Translation)-As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf, and after saying a blessing, he broke it, and giving it to the disciples, he said: “Take, eat. This means my body.” 27 And taking a cup, he offered thanks and gave it to them, saying: “Drink out of it, all of you, 28 for this means my ‘blood+ of the covenant,’+ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins. 29 But I say to you: I will by no means drink again any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of my Father.”
John 6:53-58 (New World Translation)-So Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate and yet died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.
Now what we have is an organization that prohibits the majority from partaking. Hence you can go door to door thinking you will earn your salvation yet you have no life-Jesus said it not me.
Acts 2:46 (New World Translation)-And day after day they were in constant attendance in the temple with a united purpose, and they took their meals in different homes and shared their food with great rejoicing and sincerity of heart,
The organization says to only do it once a year yet there is no explicit verse to agree with this. There are some groups that do this weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly like the organization.
Imagine you’re invited over to someone’s house for dinner, yet eat nothing. What kind of sense does that make? Well that’s exactly what the Governing Body expects out of you. Rationale is:
Since sharing in the bread and wine passed during the Memorial involves all of this, it would obviously be inappropriate for those having an earthly hope to partake. Were they to partake of the emblems, it would signify something that is not true with respect to them. Thus, they do not partake, though they do attend the Memorial as respectful observers.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. February 15, 2006 p.24
However, we have a problem since in the past the Watchtower said this:
However, the time came when the number partaking began to decrease. What did this indicate? It indicated that the number of those called to the heavenly kingdom, namely 144,000, had come to completion and more were dying off than being added.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. June 15, 1966 p. 374
Notice how the number had been completed. The number peaked at: 52,465 in 1935 as stated in Proclaimer’s of God’s Kingdom (1993) on page 717.
The number was to continually decrease. There were a few years where it actually spiked up. However, the Watchtower had to change this teaching with the following quote and it starts to get messy:
On the other hand, as time has gone by, some Christians baptized after 1935 have had witness borne to them that they have the heavenly hope. (Romans 8:16, 17) Thus, it appears that we cannot set a specific date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends.
How should a person be viewed who has determined in his heart that he is now anointed and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He should not be judged. The matter is between him and Jehovah.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. May 1, 2007 p.31
So in short the statements pertaining to the Judge Rutherford era were discarded. However in this instance, the old teaching wasn’t completely dead with the following:
While the number of anointed ones on the earth has decreased over the decades, the number of the other sheep has increased. When those who have an earthly hope share in the witness work, serving if possible as full-time evangelizers, they support the spirit-anointed ones in fulfilling the disciple-making assignment.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. February 15, 2009 p. 27-28
Now with this in mind, I’d like to cover the anointed numbers. These numbers are for the previous year:
Yearbook. 1992 p. 33
Yearbook. 1993 p. 33
Yearbook. 1994 p.33
Yearbook. 1995 p. 33
Yearbook. 1996 p. 33
Yearbook. 1997 p. 33
Yearbook. 1998 p. 31
Yearbook. 1999 p. 31
Yearbook. 2000 p. 31
Yearbook. 2001 p. 31
Yearbook. 2002 p. 31
Yearbook. 2003 p. 31
Yearbook. 2004 p. 31
Yearbook. 2005 p. 31
Yearbook. 2006 p. 31
Special note the number was supposed to be decreasing, notice the trend upward....
Yearbook. 2007 p. 31
Yearbook. 2008 p. 31
Yearbook. 2009 p. 31
Yearbook. 2010 p. 31
Yearbook. 2011 p. 51
Yearbook. 2012 p. 55
Yearbook. 2013 p. 178
Yearbook. 2014 p. 176
Yearbook. 2015 p. 176
How does the organization account for the increasing number? There are two explanations:
This is the number of baptized individuals who partake of the emblems at the Memorial worldwide. Does this total represent the number of anointed ones on earth? Not necessarily. A number of factors — including past religious beliefs or even mental or emotional imbalance — might cause some to assume mistakenly that they have the heavenly calling. We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on earth; nor do we need to know.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. August 15, 2011 p.22
Notice though how the organization is laying blame at the feet of the members. Again, the organization takes no responsibility. However this assumption does’t hold any water since the anointed partakers is increasing at a greater rate than the general population of those within the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This means long standing Witnesses who have been in the organization for some time have started rejecting this doctrine and elect to now partake.
The other explanation came out just a few months ago:
WHAT ABOUT THE NUMBER OF THOSE PARTAKING AT THE MEMORIAL? In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of those partaking at the Memorial of Christ’s death. That trend contrasts with the decrease in the number of partakers that we saw for many decades. Should this increase trouble us? No. Let us consider some key factors to keep in mind. “Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Tim. 2:19) Those taking the count at the Memorial cannot judge who truly have the heavenly hope. The number of partakers includes those who mistakenly think that they are anointed. Some who at one point started to partake of the emblems later stopped. Others may have mental or emotional problems that lead them to believe that they will rule with Christ in heaven. Therefore,the number of partakers does not accurately indicate the number of anointed ones left on earth."
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. February 2016 Study Edition 2016 p.25-26
So what we have from this quote is the organization now shouldn’t worry about the partakers even though the organization said in 1966 that the number finalized. This is also a reversal because the number of truly anointed was a line of evidence:
Sixth, the number of genuine anointed disciples of Christ is dwindling, though some will evidently still be on earth when the great tribulation begins. Most of the remnant are quite elderly, and over the years the number of those who are truly anointed has been getting smaller.
The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. January 15, 2000 p. 13
So with the number increasing, should the Watchtower officially push back the great tribulation?
So this organization that says the is yet again giving conflicting view points on yet another simple Bible teaching. Jesus said to partake yet this organization implores the majority to not do so. Who will you follow? Jesus’ words in the Bible which haven’t changed or the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society that has changed in less than 100 years continually? Again, will you consider placing the Watchtower literature down and reading the Bible alone?