WELL, 'REALLY'? - WATCHTOWER STUDY ARTICLES 15 JULY 2013
As most people will know, the Watchtower magazine is the principle publication used by the Watch Tower Society (WTS) to teach its own brand of religious doctrine to those known as Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). The 15 July 2013 issue of that magazine heralded a modified interpretation of what I would call the central doctrine which distinguishes JWs from any other group claiming to be Christian. This doctrine will instantly be recalled to the minds of JWs whenever they hear the expression "the faithful and discreet slave" (the FADS). It is based upon verses 45-51 of the 24th chapter of the gospel of Matthew.
Why is this doctrine so important to the WTS? The reason is that the current ecclesiastical authority wielded over the lives of JWs depends upon it. Why is the 15 July 2013 Watchtower so important? Because it clearly identifies, as never before, the Governing Body (GB) of JWs as fulfilling the role of the FADS. As an aside, most JWs will probably not be aware that back in the year 2000 an official document of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Great Britain had already defined JWs as being a group under the authority of the GB.
The series of study articles from the Watchtower magazine also revealed a shift away from Charles Russell to Joseph Rutherford. The focus point when Jesus supposedly attached himself exclusively to the JWs is during the WTS presidency of Joseph Rutherford. This should come as no surprise to many of those who have conducted an intensive study of the WTS's history since it is obvious that Rutherford, not Russell, was the true founder of the organization known as "Jehovah's Witnesses".
"Throughout the last days, the anointed brothers who make up the faithful slave have served at headquarters. In recent years, that slave has been the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses." - From page 22, paragraph 10 (Simplified English Edition)
From my understanding after reading all the articles, the message being presented is that from 1919 onwards, although faces and names may have changed, the FADS has essentially lived all the while at Brooklyn NY USA. So whether in the guise of the WTS President and the Board of Directors, or the Governing Body alone, apparently Jesus Christ has all the while been doing his invisible earthly work through an American corporation. And now, based on the Watchtower article "Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?", it is beyond question that the GB regards itself as acting in the capacity of Vicar of Christ. Sound familiar?
If you are an active JW, where do you think your congregation's elders' and ministerial servants' loyalties ultimately lie? According to this Watchtower it is evident that it is to 'headquarters' (see paragraph 9 of the article "Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?"). Of course, this should not be surprising since they are in fact local representatives of 'headquarters' by virtue of their appointment by the corporation. Whether or not their appointment is really by God's spirit is debatable, but their appointment by men certainly is not.
I noticed a very important point relating to the way in which the reader is led to a certain conclusion without it being explicitly stated. At the beginning of the article "Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave", in the second paragraph we are told:
"That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel." - Standard Edition
"In this time of the end, Jesus is feeding his true followers through that faithful slave. It is extremely important that we know who the faithful slave is. Our friendship with God depends on receiving spiritual food through this faithful slave." - Simplified English Edition
The loyal JW is set up at the beginning of the article to accept the Watchtower's teaching that their "spiritual health" and even their "friendship with God" depends upon getting their "spiritual food" from the FADS. Notice that neither the Governing Body nor 'headquarters' is mentioned here. However, by the end of the article, when all is revealed as to the current identity of the FADS, that loyal JW will have made the connection which in plain English would read:
"Unless you get your religious instruction [exclusively] from the Governing Body you can't be a friend of God."
This reminds me of a similar, but more forceful, warning appearing in the Simplified English Edition of the 15 July 2011 Watchtower, page 21, paragraph 17:
"But we are acting against Jehovah's purpose if we do not obey the faithful and discreet slave or if we choose to obey only what we think is important. And if we act against Jehovah's purpose, we cannot be his friends."
Something in particular that I took exception to was the argument in paragraph 7 of the article "Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave". Here it focuses on the highlighted word 'really'. In the Greek of the text of Matthew 24:45, there is no such word! The original expression is "tis ara estin ..." which literally means "who THEN is ..." Likewise with Luke 12:42 where exactly the same three words appear consecutively.
The New World Translation is, in my opinion, taking somewhat of a liberty in choosing to insert 'really' rather than 'then'. I think this is improper because it moves the emphasis away from 'who'. Thus the Watchtower article writer seeks to make an argument from a non-existent word.
However, the actual change in word is not really my main concern, but rather the way in which the emphasis is placed upon it in such a way as to make what at first reading may appear to be a reasonable argument. It seems to me that the problem of trying to understand the identity of the FADS is impeded by not taking into consideration the context of the parable as reported at Luke 12:41. Here we have Jesus just having uttered a parable being asked by Peter if the parable was meant for all in the crowd listening or just the disciples. So the understanding of Jesus answer with reference to the 'wise steward' must be ascertained from the context. In Matthew 24:45 we don't get that context.
Was Jesus really talking about the IDENTITY of an as yet unknown group of people who would do the spiritual feeding? Or rather was he talking about the QUALITY ('faithful' and 'wise') of service provided by those whom he had already appointed and was training for that assignment? Unfortunately for us, Jesus doesn't give a straight answer to Peter's question. However, knowing the context helps us to realize that the answer had to do with the question concerning the previous parable of the master of the house ('oikodespotes') and the coming of a thief ("kleptes") into the household. In answer Jesus gives another parable about the steward ('oikonomos') and the coming/return of the master ('kyrios'). Both parables seem to be concerned with the quality of the service rendered rather than the identity of who rendered it. There certainly is no hint that the FADS would be an entity first appearing some 1900 years or so in the future.
Although there seems to be no conclusive proof as to the identity of the FADS, my research into the earliest mention of the FADS among 'so-called' Christian writers as well as various commentaries and of course the Christian Scriptures themselves seem to point to the Apostles in particular and Christian elders in general as being the most likely candidates for the role. I know there is a school of thought that applies it to all Christians, but I think it is quite clear that a distinction is being made within 'the household of God' between those served and those serving them (by way of teaching). I found this interesting comment from Barnes Notes on Matthew 24:45:
"This passage is, in fact, 'a parable', though it is not expressly so called. The design is to show that his disciples should act as if they were each moment expecting his return, who acted with great impropriety, and who was accordingly punished. Matthew 24:45 Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant ... - By the conduct of a faithful and wise servant Jesus intends to denote a faithful Christian, a servant of God, or a teacher of religion."
Well, 'really'? - Watchtower Study Articles 15 July 2013
WELL, 'REALLY'? - WATCHTOWER STUDY ARTICLES 15 JULY 2013
Excellent article, JWB.
I think, if nothing else, the most disturbing aspect of the "new light" nonsense is a point you made partway through your article:"Unless you get your religious instruction [exclusively] from the Governing Body you can't be a friend of God."
While this is not a new thought coming from WT, it is being hammered on more frequently. Apparently, the WT god is so impotent he cannot deal with Christians individually; he can only work through eight very imperfect, wishy-washy Christians who have little grasp of what god wants them to do and teach, therefore they must continually revise, modify or throw out god's instructions to them on a regular basis. Either god is very confused or the GB is not under his direction. You be the judge.
AndDontCallMeShirley, thanks so much for your comments. It took me a lot of reading preparation and a few hours writing and getting my thoughts together on this subject so I appreciate your input. I haven't posted here for a long time (needed a rest!), but I felt inclined to do express my thoughts on the 'new light'.
They keep changing their interpretation of who is the Filthful and Disgraceful Slavebugger on purpose--to confuse people. This makes them feel as if the Filthful and Disgraceful Slavebugger is inherently more important and that they cannot hope to understand anything any other way. This is a popular way to keep the truth suppressed--make a simple concept so difficult to understand, and keep altering the meanings up slightly to make it even more confusing.
Who really is the FADS relates to more than one parable in the Bible. One about two brothers, an older an younger, who were called to do some work. The older brother agreed but the younger brother did not at first. In the end, the older brother failed to do what he promised, but the younger brother felt bad and changed his mind and actually did the work. So who really was the faithful one?
Likewise, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the GB sitting at the table with all the food represents the WTS' governing body who is in charge of providing spiritual food for the temple organization, that is, to JWs. Lazarus in the beginning is cast out and outside the gate. This paralels the older and younger brother. Lazarus represents the younger brother and the GB represents the older brother. But in the end, the older brother fails his mission just as the rich man does, and thus ends up in torment. But Lazarus' position did a complete about face. Rather than being rejected he is now in the bosom position of father Abraham, which is the messianic position. Thus it is Lazarus who really is the faithful and discreet slave, and the GB fulfills the evil and sluggish slave.
Since Lazarus represents Jesus Christ at his return at the second coming, the true "faithful and discreet slave" is a reference to Jesus Christ himself, who indeed ends up being over all his father's belongings. Now isn't it rather classical that Jesus Christ himself fulfills being the FADS? Of course.
In the meantime, the WTS ends up being the failed "evil slave" and being cast into spiritual darkness.
The FADS is Jesus Chrat at the second coming; the "evil slave" is the now apostate GB of JWs.
You might be a little "late" to this party. But I fully enjoyed your take on the subject. I found it to be clear and understandable, quite unlike the actual "stuff" from the tower.
This July 2013 study addition will be the hottest subject for years to come, especially since Armageddon STILL hasn't come yet, as predicted by the FDS.
"Armageddon STILL hasn't come yet"
It has come...invisibly.
Only the spiritually awake people understand that.
"I fully enjoyed your take on the subject. I found it to be clear and understandable, quite unlike the actual "stuff" from the tower."
There's a reason why WT stuff is not clear and understandable. When something isn't true or you don't understand it yourself it must, by design, be confusing.
Yes a friend of God, because you can't be an adopted son of god thats reserved for only us, Thier full of sh*t!!!!! Any way maybe ones here should focus more one the BS that is how they come up with the idea of Jah and Jesus inspecting the world looking for an group using Mal.3:1-5, none of it holds water and if you notice in thiers articles they never do explain in detail how they come to this conclusion or the funky math they use. Its all BS
Thanks for all your efforts JWB, I enjoyed reading it and it really shows just how the JWs are becoming more cultish by the day