The Doctrine of the "faithful and discreet slave"
This is perhaps the most important doctrine of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society( WTS), although strangely most Jehovah's Witnesses are not aware of the acute significance of the teaching.The belief stems from the question Jesus himself posed in Matthew 24:45-47 “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. 47 Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings.
This idea was first promoted in the early days of the wts organisation. The New World Translation (NWT) of the Bible was not yet in use, so the term used was "Faithful and wise servant"- which applied solely to C.T.Russell(president of the WTS) himself. This teaching continued for many years after his death in the year 1916. After J. F. Rutherford had been president for many years the doctrine was modified to the present format where all of the remnant of the "144,000" are in fact the "faithful slave" and are in turn represented by the small group of men at H.Q. in Brooklyn N.Y..
The basic import of this doctrine has not changed at all over the 130 years of the WTS's existence. The Idea is that The WTS is God's "channel of communication" on the earth and therefore the members of the JW faith are required to have unwavering confidence and faith in what the organisation teaches via the published material.The WTS teach that they were "appointed" as the faithful slave circa 1919 C.E.. Jesus apparently made an inspection of all of the Christian groups and decided that the WTS were the most worthy.
The Verses in Question.
There are a number of issues that should be of concern regarding this teaching , and perhaps the best place to start is with the Bible itself. Firstly is it reasonable to conclude that this parable has a real time prophetic application and that the benefactors of Jesus invisible inspection would in fact be placed in a position of absolute authority?
Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott gives the definition of a parable - "it denotes a fictitious narrative , invented for the purpose of conveying truth in a less offensive or more engaging manner than that of direct assertion". So in other words a story....Why are there not a raft of prophecies(and modern day applications) concerning the many, many parables Jesus gave? Could it be that WTS only make application of the one's that suit their purposes, i.e. "the Dragnet" parable?
Can one derive from the Bible any mention of Jesus coming to inspect the worlds religions at a specific time and thereafter "appointing" one as "God's mouthpiece" to the exclusion of all others?
Also worth noting in the verses in question is the fact that it is Jesus himself who does the appointing ,not the slave who appoints himself or makes a claim to that effect.
These are all very valid questions but on close inspection of the context of the verses in question a more startling fact becomes apparent. Remember Jesus has just given his counsel regarding the "signs of the times" and the "end of the system of things". In fact Vs. 36-44 describe the very end of the system, where a comparison is drawn with the destruction of Noah's day and verse 42 shows that this is speaking of the very day of Jesus coming as opposed to a general period of time.
The whole import of Jesus words is of NOT knowing the day of his inspection , hence "keep on the watch" because the son of man will come "at an hour that you do not expect him".And the reward that the faithful ones would receive? ,being given all his belongings, i.e. their Kingdom inheritance.
We then come to the verses in question 45-47 where the "slave" doctrine originates. Is it reasonable to conclude that these verses apply to a time some 90 years ago?
Since the Master's arrival is at a time when the domestics or slaves do not expect , some within the household are warned against "beating" their fellow slaves because they feel the Master is delaying.This is further evidence that the actual meaning behind the parable is to counsel or warn Christ's brothers against both mistreatment of their fellow "slaves" and also that they must remain spiritually alert. Surely the counsel Jesus gave in all his parables were for all his followers for the whole period until the judgement day, which is why there is an element within most of his parables of warning and judgement regarding a Christian's life course. If this parable has already been fulfilled then the whole point Jesus was making in this parable is now moot, an historical curiosity.
Does the evidence support the claim?
When one has a scientific theory the only way that it becomes accepted scientific fact is when the available evidence proves it to be correct.Granted the Bible and spiritual matters cannot always be subjected to analysis in this way as some things are impossible to establish beyond doubt and are in areas which require faith. But in this case let us treat it as a theory to be established or cast aside. Let us suppose that there was a "slave" and the Jesus did appoint the WTS as such. Let us examine the notion by the WTS own criteria.
The nation of Israel were God's chosen people in much the same way as the "spiritual Israel" is today.Moses was the spokesperson and passed on laws , commands and directions to the nation from Jehovah. However when we examine literal Israel's direction we find that Divine wisdom is present, in such matters as sanitation, hygiene in connection with the treatment of dead bodies, etc.The nation themselves would have no idea why they did those things but God's wisdom would have been followed regardless. This is not to mention the ten commandments that Moses passed on to the people. Flawless, eternal, unchanging laws that have stood the test of time many thousands of years later.
Laws and Commands.
Do the "slave's" teachings hold up under the same scrutiny? Firstly the WTS has a long history of making decisions on medical matters and enforcing it as law within the WTS membership.If any JW dared to speak out and disagree or engage in the banned action they would be excluded from the group by disfellowshipping.
As an example the teaching that the medical practice of vaccination was a "crime, an outrage, and a delusion" on the grounds that blood was being misused. This is a striking example of the lack of even basic scientific knowledge. It became clear that the vaccinations in question contained animal matter, but NOT blood.Surely if Jehovah God were directing the WTS as they claim there would be a similar input from God to that of Israel? In other words advanced Divine knowledge that superseded any human reasoning on the matter in question. But instead what do we see? , the exact opposite. Wrong , very wrong teachings,that cost people's health and in some cases lives. Is this an isolated case though? No, unfortunately not. From 1967-1980 the WTS taught and enforced the ruling that human organ transplants were against God's laws as set forth in the scriptures. The argument used was that taking such a transplant was analogous to " cannibalism" and that since JW's do not accept blood( which is an organ) then it would follow that any other organ-transplant would be unacceptable to JW's. Classic WTS circular reasoning at it's best, or worst, tragically as many persons either died or suffered badly because of this intrusion into peoples lives. This policy was quietly reversed in a 1980 W.T. question from readers which stated that there was no Bible injunction which would prevent those whose conscience
allowed them to now accept an organ transplant. Again the question must be asked, does this appear to be an organisation being led by God's Spirit to pass on commands and laws from heaven? Where is the evidence of God's hand in the matter? Would God really cause death or harm to any of his servants by these erroneous and ill conceived teachings being given out via his "channel of communication"?
What I would also ask is How does the process of "truth" being conveyed to the Governing Body actually work? Do they pray and then receive direction from the Holy Spirit as to what to write? That sounds an awful lot like how the Bible was written UNDER INSPIRATION. Since the Governing Body say that they do not have any more Holy Spirit than anyone else why then do all Jehovah's Witnesses have to listen to them as they would "the voice of God". It just doesn't make any coherent, logical sense.
The above "doctrines" are two of the more serious "truths" that JW's have had to accept only for them to be scrapped later. There are of course many examples in a similar vein- "miracle wheat" , the "radio biola" device which could diagnose /cure the sick (both items for sale to the brothers in the publications), the 20 year tirade against the use of aluminium cookware on the grounds that it was thought to cause many death dealing ailments. All these things do not make a very good case for the WTS being appointed as God's "Faithful slave".
The above represents the more extreme and dangerous teachings which could threaten a persons life, but what about the idea that the "slave" is meant to feed his fellow domestics?
It is of course NOT implied in Jesus' words at all that the food is in fact "spiritual food", that is dispensed in the form of literature about the Bible , rather than the bible itself. And that at his "appointed time" a small group of men via international publishing corporation would then assume God-given authority over all JW's spiritual direction.
Let us look at a number of examples of the "food" being provided for JW consumption.
Claims and Dates
The last days began in- 1799. strike that-1874, before agreeing on 1914.( The current teaching is that the year 1914 is not linked by time to Armageddon's coming.)
The year 1914 will see Armageddon and the resurrection of JW anointed living on earth to heaven.
1918 will see the end of all the churches on earth.
The year 1925 will see Isaac ,David and Jacob resurrected to the earth.(a house was built for this purpose).
The end of this system will occur in 1975.
"It is unlikely we will see the the year 2000 before the end of this system". -statement in the publications.
These are just a few of the truly colossal amount of failed prophetic dates that the WTS have provided to the faithful for consumption. Not one of the above predictions materialised.
Even though the Bible says that interpretations belong God, this does not prevent the "slave" from offering such for spiritual consumption.Surely Jehovah would be able to cast light on his word if he was directing the WTS? Also ask yourself do the following examples show the "light getting brighter" when in some cases the "new light" can be the exact opposite of the former teaching?
Will those who perished at Sodom be resurrected? Between 1879 and 1989 the answer went back and forth between yes and no a staggering EIGHT times even changing from no to yes during one year- 1988!
Who is the alpha and the Omega? Between 1955 and 1988(current teaching) this was either Jehovah or Jesus , this changed four times.
Who is Michael? In 1917 in the "finished mystery" book he is rather absurdly said to be none other than the POPE! Nowadays of course it's taught that he is Jesus.
Where is heaven? In the book "reconciliation" It's confidently stated that it is in the "Pleides" constellation, a statement which was later withdrawn.
Who built the great pyramid at Giza and for what purpose? The WTS taught for approximately 50 years that it was built under Jesus direction and was a "witness in stone" to the 1914 teaching and supported the Bible record too. It was later stated that it was in fact Built by Satan and had nothing to do with God's purpose or the bible.
What do the "1600 furlongs" spoken of in revelation refer to? In 1917 it was taught this referred to the distance between the place where the book "the finished mystery" was written and the place where it was published in America, provided u travel by a certain Lackawanna railroad and then take the Hoboken ferry! Truly Amazing......Nowadays it's explained that it just means destruction in a big way.(Rev Climax bk.)
Who are the seven spirits or angels of Revelation? They are the seven volumes of the series "studies in the scriptures"(1917)
The above is only a small fraction of the many strange , clouded views, and interpretations that have been espoused over the 140 years or so of the WTS. Does the doctrine hold up under inspection, and is it sound evidentialy? Is it an explicit bible teaching, and did Jesus intend this parable to have a prophetic application?
However there are far more serious and damaging doctrines that witnesses HAVE to accept, such as the WTS views on who is part of the new covenant and who Jesus is mediator of. These teachings are against the very core of what being a Christian means. All of JW beliefs hinge on the mental acceptance that the WTS's authority is God given through the "slave" class. There have been many books written that deal with the whole subject in an excellent fashion, one such is "Captives of a concept" by Don Cameron, a very worthwhile read for all JW's and those who have left or have any connection with this Organisation.