Just exactly when did the Watch Tower Society launch the use of the doctrinal expression, “The vindication of Jehovah’s name”? The term was first traced to the December 15, 1921 Watchtower. After that it’s found a few more times in various Watchtowers until the use expanded, beginning with the August 15, 1929 Watchtower article, “VINDICATION OF HIS NAME.”
Subsequently, during the year 1930, this expression is found scattered nearly 25 times throughout Watchtowers until, for the first time, it is found on the back of the inside cover of the November 15, 1930 issue of the Watchtower wheresomething new was added to the “Mission” page.
Under the title, “TO US THE SCRIPTURES CLEARLY TEACH,” is a list of the Watch Tower Society’s major teachings and the following was added to that list:
THAT THE GREAT ISSUE before all creation now is the vindication of Jehovah’s word and name…
These words were included in every issue until the October 15, 1931 Watchtower when the “Mission” page featured a new layout.
How important was the belief that God’s name would be vindicated? Note these words in the Watchtower of October 15, 1931, p. 310, par. 24:
…the greatest of all doctrines is the vindication of God’s word and name by and through his kingdom.
Greatest doctrine ousted
Nearly sixty-four years later, the May 15, 1995, Watchtower, p. 25, par. 17-18, explains that “…for a long time, Witnesses spoke of the vindication of Jehovah’s name” and then the anonymous author pointed to Matthew 6:9, “Let your name be sanctified,” and explained this is “…why recent publications do not speak of Jehovah’s name as being vindicated.”
That same article pointed out that the replacements, the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty instead of the vindication of Jehovah’s name, and, Jehovah sanctifies his name, not vindicates it began to appear in the early 1970s in Watch Tower literature although the changes wasn’t specifically called to the reader’s attention.
For example: In the 1971 Witness publication, The Nations Shall Know That I am Jehovah—How?, notice the following statement:
Jesus Christ fights… for the vindication of Jehovah’s universal Sovereignty.”
And in 1973, another Witness publication, God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached, remarked:
The coming ‘great tribulation’ is the time for Almighty God Jehovah to vindicate his universal sovereignty and to sanctify his worthy name.
Then the 1975 book, Man’s Salvation Out Of World Distress at Hand!, states:
The greatest event of universal history will then have been accomplished, the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty and the sanctification of his sacred name.” See Watchtower, May 15, 1995.
Or maybe it wasn’t ousted
In spite of that, six years later, in 1981 the use of the outdated expression, “vindication of Jehovah’s name”was still being used. From a doctrinal standpoint, why in the world did the Society continue to use an expression that they thought wasn’t correct?
Read the paragraph for yourself from the December 1, 1981 Watchtower, “The Path of the Righteous Does Keep Getting Brighter”
However, the Bible shows that there is something far more important than our personal salvation. It is the great issue involving Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, which Satan called in question at the time of the rebellion in Eden. It calls for the vindication of Jehovah’s name. Indeed, the entire theme of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the Messianic kingdom whereby that glorious Name is vindicated. Exalted for all time!
If the “path of the righteous” was supposedly “getting brighter” in 1981, why still use an expression “from a doctrinal standpoint” that was outdated?
And note in the 1988 book, Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 311 another instance:
This Kingdom under Christ the Promised Seed is the means by which the vindication of Jehovah’s name will be accomplished.
Probably, just to be on the safe side, the author in that same paragraph decided to do it both ways because he wasn’t sure which way the light was beaming:
We would not know the Creator’s name, the great issue raised by the Edenic rebellion involving this name, or God’s purpose to sanctify and vindicatethat namebefore all creation…
Even by 1990, recipients of “flashing light” were having a difficult time figuring out which expression to use. This can be seen when the author of the book, All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial (revised), pp. 11-12, didn’t write either “name” or “sovereignty” after the words, “vindication of Jehovah…”
Outstandingly, it sets the theme for the entire Bible, namely, the vindication of Jehovah through the Kingdom ruled by the promised “seed.”
Karl Klein(Governing Body Member) to the rescue
Did “flashing light” finally straighten out the confusion? Around 1990, enter Governing Body member, Karl Klein into the picture, a doddering old fellow that lacked good sense or judgment at this point in his life. In the past, I wrote this about him:
One time at morning worship, Karl Klein talked to the Bethel family about an idea he came up with even before he told the other Governing Body members about it. He explained to us how we shouldn’t speak of Jehovah’s name being vindicated, but that Jehovah’s name will be sanctified. I remember Karl was so excited about “his” brainchild that when he arrived at work that morning it was as if he had been given his youth back. He was kind of hopping and jumping around and running his idea by anybody who would listen, including me. And, what do you know, lickity-split, that idea became “new light.”
From my personal encounters with Karl, he most often sat idle at his desk trying to look busy whenever he wasn’t reading draft copies of Watch Tower literature. It was common knowledge that Karl was so mentally feeble that often errors escaped his notice. However, in the 1970s he was a very active participant in the affairs of the Writing Department, even writing articles. (It was Karl Klein who wrote that sour-note “tacking” Watchtower article to try to justify the 1975 end-of-the-world fiasco.)
In my opinion, I believe it’s likely that Karl knew about the “vindication” vs. sanctification” issue in the early 1970s and how staff writers meandered between both terms. Twenty years later, in the early 1990s, in Karl’s befuddled mental state, he must have believed he just then came up with something original to discuss with the Bethel family by introducing this “vindication” vs. “sanctification” idea that he actually told me he had recently come up with.
Finally, “Vindication” was out, “Sanctification” was In
By 1993, the book, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers Of God’s Kingdom, page 124, discontinued using the old “vindication of Jehovah’s name” term by substituting “sanctification of Jehovah’s name,” yet, did not point out the switch in the publication.
But it took until the publishing of the May 15, 1995 Watchtower for the Society to call attention to this change. On page 24, under the sub-heading, “Increased Light on Terminology” is the reason for discontinuing the use of “vindication of Jehovah’s name” that even they admitted began to be phased out in the early 1970s. However, the article claimed that “light” caused the term to be “adjusted” beginning with “recent publications.” Of course, I know it wasn’t “increased light” that caused the change, but it started with Karl Klein’s announcement of his “discovery” and that happened in the early 1990s.
When the new songbook was released in 2009, the Watch Tower Society said in the December 15, 2010 Watchtower that the previous one, Sing Praises to Jehovah, was in use for twenty-five years. That means it was published in 1984. As already shown, it was in 1971, 1973 and 1975 that the expression, “vindication of God’s name” was being replaced by “vindication of God’s sovereignty.” Why did “increased light” not penetrate lyric-writers to use updated “doctrinal” terminology in their songs published in the 1984 songbook? And where was Watch Tower’s Writing Department’s editing staff in 1984? Why didn’t they get the message that “increased light leads to adjustments” and this old term under discussion had already been adjusted?