THE REINVENTION OF THE MAGISTERIUM
In Catholicism, the magisterium is the authority that lays down what is the authentic teaching of the Church. For the Catholic Church, that authority is vested uniquely in.....
A) the pope and
B) the bishops who are in communion with him, and
C) Sacred Scripture and Tradition
Historically, this is rejected in protestantism in favour of sola scriptura. This is described as the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God.
Sola scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant Christian denominations. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers, who taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Some Evangelical and Baptist denominations state the doctrine of sola scriptura more strongly: Scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.
For their part, Jehovah's Witnesses would laugh at any suggestion that they model their paradigm of doctinal authority on any triangulated idea like a magisterium. Rather, they would most likely have an intellectual affinity with sola scriptura. For example, in lesson 3 of the 2012 released brochure "Who Are Doing Jehovah's Will Today?", the following is portrayed as normative practice regarding bible study method and interpretation...
"Sincere men carefully studied the Bible. Those earnest Bible Students, our predecessors, pursued a method of study that we still use today. They discussed the Bible subject by subject. When they came across a Bible passage that was difficult to understand, they looked for other verses to explain it. When they arrived at a conclusion that harmonized with the rest of the Scriptures, they wrote it down. By thus letting the Bible interpret itself, they rediscovered the truth about God’s name and Kingdom, his purpose for mankind and the earth, the condition of the dead, and the hope of the resurrection. Their search set them free from many false beliefs and practices.—John 8:31, 32."
But in reality, this is not quite the case. For example, despite what is reproduced above, the reality is more like that stated in the Ministry School text (Study 22 - Scriptures Correctly Applied) where it is said....
Make sure that any application of a scripture is in harmony with the context and with the Bible as a whole. The application should also be in harmony with what has been published by “the faithful and discreet slave.”
Thus, Brothers and Sisters are to be deprived of the freedom to interpret scriptures for themselves. So here we have the duality of the Bible being a source of information in interpreting itself; but one has to be in deference to the understanding of the "faithful and discreet slave". Are we creeping towards the paradigm of a magisterium here? From this statement, it seems that the "faithful and discrete slave" no longer agree with the Apostle Paul who stated that via scripture, the man of God can be "completely equipped". No, it is both Scripture and the "faithful and discreet slave" which are needed to be "completely equipped". So the unstated reality seems to be that Jehovah's Witnesses have rediscovered the Magisterium....
A) The Governing Body and Sacred Scripture
B) The GB helpers and writing committee
C) The vast body of writings published hitherto and body of established institutional legalisms
Thus we have a significant connceptual emulation of the institutions of Christendom, and of the Catholic Church in particular. A highly stratified institution of Jehovah's Witnesses which paradoxically seeks to portray itself as a "brotherhood" despite the reality being that it is a "hierarchy". Several years ago, a Dr. Christine King was lauded for her work in positively portraying the Witnesses for their stand against the Nazi state in the 1930's. However, the GB's writing committee remained silent about her written statement in that same work, that the organisation is a "hierarchy". A "Brother" is unlikely to be seen as "noble minded" for being a diligent student of the scriptures in the pattern of sola scriptura. Indeed, he may find that he is labelled negatively as "independent".
Instead of a Papacy and conclave of Cardinals, we have a Governing Body with its helpers and Branch Overseers (Cardinals) in many countries. One difference is that the Catholic Church openly documents and extolls its Magisterium for arriving at its doctine and teaching. However, the WTBTS / GB / FDS portrays a confused (perhaps even duplicitous) picture of extolling sola scriptura, whilst in reality emulating a type of Magisterium structure. For decades, they have severely disparaged the Catholic Church. This having been said, I note that when a youngster my seniors made use of the idiom that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"!