just ask him who was the FDS in 1800. or in 700 AD. and if he really comes up with some strange group, ask him, why aren't they the FDS anymore.
Good point, google. The WTS can't point to any one group or individual that constituted the FDS between 100 AD and 1879 AD. This article by Jim Caputo has som interesting points
How old is the faithful slave?
According to the Watchtower of March 1, 1981, the Faithful and Discreet Slave had its beginning in 33 CE with the first century congregation. We read the following:
"Witnesses of Jehovah understand that the "slave" is comprised of all anointed Christians as a group on earth at any given time during the 19 centuries since Pentecost."
How did this 19-centuries old slave perpetuate its unique teachings? That is, how was the "spiritual baton" passed from one generation of the slave to the next? The Watchtower furnishes the following reply in the January 15, 1975 Watchtower :
Jesus Christ is the head of the congregation, his slave, and his words show that he would strengthen them to feed his "domestics" right down through the centuries. Apparently one generation of the "slave" class fed the succeeding generation thereof, as well as continuing to feed themselves.
What was the nature of the food dispensed? The Watchtower of July 15, 1960 defines it as such:
Down through the years the slave like congregation has been feeding its true members faithfully and discreetly, from Pentecost, A.D. 33, up to this very present hour] this has been lovingly and carefully performed. Yes, and these "domestics" have been fed on progressive spiritual food that keeps them abreast of the "bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established."
To summarize, The Watchtower teaches that the faithful and discreet slave has existed since Pentecost 33 CE and that each generation of this slave class has fed the succeeding generation. The quality of the food dispensed, according to the Watchtower Society, has always been of a superior nature than that of the previous generation. Or has it?
In speaking to Jehovah's Witnesses I have noticed a disconcerting confusion on their part as to when the slave had its beginning. In fact, among the rank and file there seems to be no true consensus as to the time of its origin. This is because; contrary to what we just read, the Watchtower has also said the following:
"Thirty years later found a small group of men, not associated with the Adventists or affiliated with any of the religious sects of Christendom, studying the Holy Scriptures at Pittsburgh (Allegheny), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. ...They studied independently so as to avoid looking at the Bible through sectarian spectacles."God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached pgs 185,186
"The true doctrines of the Bible had been so twisted throughout the period of apostasy that no clear vision of Christ's second presence would be possible until these doctrines themselves had been cleared up....It was not yet God's due time to bring about his restoration of true worship."
Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose pg. 14
Here it becomes evident that the society has taught two contradictory teachings about "the faithful and discrete slave." On the one hand they claim that it has always functioned from 33 CE continually dispensing progressive spiritual food down through the centuries, and on the other hand they claim that rather than a perpetual feeding of healthful teachings, it wasn't until 1914 that true worship was restored. This, however, flies in the face of the above-quoted Watchtowers.
If the "slave" has nourished Christians on essentially healthful spiritual food, and if it has done so continuously and uninterruptedly down through the centuries, then why would the great teachings of Jesus and the apostles need to be restored as claimed by the Watchtower? Wouldn't they be perfectly in tact?
Lets say for arguments sake that there really was a faithful and discrete slave class functioning down through the centuries. The following questions would emerge:
1. After the post- apostolic period we find that Christians were in a very wide spread area of the earth. Who formed this one and only "Slave Class?" Who comprised this collective group that allegedly served as God's sole channel of communication to supply the same spiritual food for the genuine Christians of the second, third, and fourth centuries?
2. What about historically? Since history is by no means silent on religious development down through the centuries, why is it nothing can be found that acceptably fits the Watchtower Society's description of a single on-going entity functioning down through the centuries as the one and only feeding source for all true Christians in all places?
3. Why not point to the "slave class" in the 18th and 19th centuries when information is more abundant and where history can be found in minutiae?
4. If the Bible cannot be understood without the "slave class," and if just private study of the Bible is deemed ineffectual and contrary to God's historical way of providing understanding, why didn?t C.T. Russell contact the 1900 year old" Faithful Slave" to understand his Bible?
5. Didn?t Russell act untheocratically by striking out on his own in 1879 "independent" of the then existing "faithful slave organization"?
6. If one generation's spiritual light was followed by even greater spiritual light in the succeeding generation, then it only stands to reason that after 1900 years of ever illuminating light, this light would be dazzling with a blinding brilliance! Why is it then that we find C.T.Russell in 1879 heralding a false presence of Christ, a false resurrection date, teaching that blacks will become white in the millennium, (Watchtower 4/1/1914 Watchtower4/15/1900) looking forward to going to the star Alcyone, believing Michael the archangel to be the pope of Rome, (The Finished Mystery) measuring the floors of the pyramid of Gizeh and making scores of prophetic statements that would one and all prove to be utterly false?
7. Why is it that there is archeological evidence to support the people mentioned in the Bible (which adds to the Bible's credibility and authenticity) and yet such evidence is missing in regard to the" Faithful Slave"?
8. Furthermore, if throughout two-thousand years one is categorically unable to identify a composite body of believers who fits the Watchtower's description of the faithful slave, how is it possible to claim it ever existed - let alone define its teaching content as "progressive"? Based on what data can one make such a qualification if one is unable to identify "the slave" in the first place?
These questions merit answers. Jehovah's Witnesses usually respond to such queries by saying that "there have always been faithful men," or that "Jehovah knows his people." Such vacuous replies however do not even approximate a valid answer. Just imagine if one were to respond in such an imprecise and evasive manner if the historicity of Christ were called into question.
In fact, Unlike the Watchtower's "faithful and discrete slave" teaching which cannot furnish one visible body of individuals over the last 2000 years as a historical link to it's alleged modern-day counterpart, the succession of witnesses to the historical event of the resurrection can be traced generation after generation to our present day.
The chain of invisible links
Interestingly, the Watchtower asks for historic evidence when similar claims of authority are made by other religious organizations.
Under the heading Apostolic Succession in the book _ Reasoning From The Scriptures_ (pg.37) we find that in an effort to undermine the claimed authority of the Catholic Church, Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged to ask the following question:
Has an unbroken line of successors been traced from Peter to modern day popes? (pg.41)
While putting the Catholic on the defense to provide such "an unbroken line of successors" Jehovah's Witnesses are unwittingly asking Catholics to provide the exact same evidence they cannot furnish concerning their historic understanding of the "faithful and discrete slave."