What happens when the Watchtower Society makes a mistake? In 1984, Karl Klein a member of the Governing Body, addressed this issue in the October 1, 1984 Watchtower page 22. He says, "World War I was raging, and even though the most prominent brothers had been unjustly imprisoned over the war issue, the need for Christian neutrality was not fully appreciated by those taking the lead. A few who saw the issue clearly took offense and separated themselves from the Bible Students, calling themselves Standfasters. They warned me that if I stayed with the Bible Students I would lose out on being of the 'little flock' of Jesus' anointed followers." Karl Klein although he appears to have agreed with the Standfasters in principle, goes on to say, "Mother, though not yet dedicated, helped me to make the right decision. I could not see myself leaving those from whom I had learned so much, and I decided to take my chances with my Bible Student brothers. It was a test of loyalty."
Did the Watchtower
organization make a mistake? Apparently so because just
prior to World War II, they adjusted their viewpoint. Their
new viewpoint was now identical to that
of the Standfasters. (See the Watchtower, Dec. 1, 1981 pg.
29.) This is a perfect example of the Watchtower's position
that it is not important if the organization is right or
wrong. What is important is loyalty to the Watchtower
Society. The fact that faithful followers of the
organization believed in a position before the organization
did, was not looked at with favour. Apparently it was not as
important who was right but
who was loyal to the
Did the Watchtower
Society, realizing their error and changing their doctrine,
reach out to the Standfasters and ask them to return to the
fold? The offical history of the Society, the Proclaimers
book published in 1993 does not even mention the
Standfasters. The Society's 1930-1985 Index lists the
Standfasters as an apostate group. Apostate in what way?
Apostate in that loyalty was more important than truth.
Apart from the 1984 Watchtower there appears to be only one
other instance where Society literature talks about the
Standfasters. The reference is the July 15, 1964 Watchtower
pages 441-3 where the Standfasters are portrayed in a
negative light. "As if persecution was not enough trouble,
the Devil began to cause divisions and fighting within the
ranks of God's people in an effort to disrupt the
organization from within. Some ambitious individuals in the
organization began selfishly to seek power for themselves.
They claimed that those in the headquarters of the
organization, known as the Bible House, were compromising
and were too broad-minded. They called them 'broadviews.'
This, of course, led to confusion and misunderstanding among
the brothers. What were they to do? Should they remain loyal
to those in the Bible House or leave the organization? A
number of persons who had prominent positions of oversight
in the congregations left the organization. They called
themselves the 'Standfasters,' getting their name from the
Bible book of Galatians where, in the Authorized Version of
the Bible, it speaks of standing fast in the 'liberty
wherewith Christ hath made us free.' (Gal. 5:1) The
Standfasters soon began wrangling among themselves." The
nature of the "wrangling" is not described. It is worth
noting that the writer said that the Standfasters considered
the Society too compromising without revealing the specific
issue. Nor does he mention that the Society eventually
decided that it was indeed too compromising and changed
their viewpoint on Christian neutrality.
This brings to mind
a quotation from the Watchtower Dec. 1, 1981 pg 30
discussing patriotism: "One patriot even expressed it this
way: 'Our country! . . . may she always be in the right; but
our country, right or wrong.'" Many Jehovah's Witnesses
still in the organization say "The Watchtower Society! May
she always be in the right; but I will be loyal to her right