The Watchtower Society (WTS or WTBTS) claims, as its source of authority, its appointment as the ‘Faithful and Discrete slave’ (FDS) (aka ‘faithful and wise servant’) mentioned in the parable of Matthew ch 24. They claim that in the years directly after Christ’s return in 1914 He inspected the various Christian groups and decided upon the fledgling Jehovah’s Witnesses (then named Bible Students) as His sole channel because of the quality of spiritual food they were providing at the time.
There is much scriptural evidence to deny this interpretation, but there is also much ‘secular’ evidence to show that the WTS is not acting as the ‘faithful and discrete slave’. This article covers some of this latter evidence with WTS and other references. You are encouraged to check out these references for yourselves to show they have not been altered.
The aspects covered here are as follows:
- Who is the FDS?
- Mexico vs Malawi
- The WTS and the UN
- Worship of Christ
- New light only for the WTS?
- Organ Donorship
- Blood Transfusions and Civilian Service in Bulgaria
- Children Dying From Lack of Blood Transfusions
- WTS Political involvement
These are only a small number of the topics which could have been presented, but they do show the problem with the WTS’s claim.
Who is the Faithful and Discrete Slave?
At present, according to the WTS, they were appointed Jehovah’s sole channel in 1919 after the recently returned Christ had inspected the Christians around the world and found the fledgling JWs (then known as Bible Students) providing spiritual food at the proper time. However, the actual identity of this FDS has been a matter of much change within the WTS since then. In fact the Bible Students of the time had identified the FDS since 1881, 7 years after they believed that Christ had returned but 33 years before the later date for Christ’s return of 1914.
Changes to the Identity of the FDS:
- 1881 – “Little flock” (WT Oct/Nov 1881)
- 1916 – Pastor Charles Taze Russell (WT 1 Dec 1916; WT15 Feb 1917; WT 1 Apr 1920)
- 1927 – Christ and the members of His body (WT 15 Feb 1927)
- 1981 – Not some leading ones (WT 1 Mar 1981 p24)
- 1995 – All anointed Christians (WT 15 May 1995)
- 2013 – The Governing body only (when acting as a group. WT 15 July 2013 p 22)
The acceptance of the role by Charles Taze Russell (CTR) was explicitly denied in ‘God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached’ 1973 page 346, despite the WTS’s explicit statement in the 1 Dec 1916 issue that he did accept he role. Is this lie faithful and discrete?
In 2008 the 15 Jan WT page 24 declared that Jesus ‘…was pleased to appoint them [the anointed ones on earth in 1918] over all his belongings’ and again in the 15 Feb 2009 WT p24. This was later rescinded in 15 July 2013 WT p25, where it is stated that this appointment would not occur until after Christ’s later return.
Surely the true FDS would know who it was and when it was appointed?
Mexico vs Malawi
In Malawi in the 1960s and 70s JWs were being violently persecuted because the WTS prevented them from buying membership cards for the Malawi Congress party, the ruling group at the time, which was the law (WT 1 Feb 1968 p71). The Bible does not state that Christians are not allowed to be part of a political party; this is the GB’s interpretation of Scripture (see jw.org “Why Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Maintain Political Neutrality?”).
“Jehovah’s Witnesses remain politically neutral for religious reasons, based on what the Bible teaches. We do not lobby, vote for political parties or candidates, run for government office, or participate in any action to change governments. We believe that the Bible gives solid reasons for following this course.”
This stance contrasts horrifically with the concessions given to Mexican JWs where military service was compulsory for young men. On completion of this service the person was issued with a ‘Cartilla’ card allowing them to obtain a passport, a driving licence and other requirements. Many JWs refused to carry out the military service and experienced persecution and imprisonment because of it. Often JW men would bribe officials to sign them off and gain a ‘Cartilla’ card without actually doing the service. The Governing body, in a letter to the Mexico branch committee on June 2 1960, gave no objection to JWs offering such bribes.
There is much defence of the GB’s action on the internet, mostly concentrating on what the Cartilla was actually about. But, this is not the point here, the point is that the Governing body approved the use of bribery to avoid having to go to jail for obeying Jehovah.
Does this sound like advice from a ‘faithful and discrete slave’?
I have been unable to locate an original copy of the letter from the GB to the Mexico branch committee, but no one has yet denied the authenticity of the advice given in the letter.
Some individuals in Mexico did sign up for military service and the GB sent a further letter, dated
5 Sep 1969 basically washing their hands of any responsibility for what was being done, laying all the emphasis on the individual. The letter contains such helpful advice as;
“If the consciences of these persons allowed them to do what they did and to be registered in the reserves is for them to worry about, if they are worried it is not for one of the Society’s office to be worried about it.”
“We cannot decide the lives of everyone in the world”
“The society has always said that people should comply with the law…”
See the section on the UN to see how the WTS made itself a member of the world’s biggest political organisation. Their denial of ‘mercy’ for the Malawian JWs whilst joining the UN and the effective allowing of bribery are hardly the signs of a Faithful and Discrete slave.
Transcript of Letter to the Mexico branch dated 2 June 1960
“As to those who are relieved of military training by a money transaction with the officials who are involved therewith, this is on par with what is done in other Latin American countries where brothers have paid for their relief through some military official in order to retain their freedom for theocratic activities. If members of the military establishment are willing to accept such an arrangement upon the payment of a fee then that is the responsibility of these representatives of the national organisation. In such a case the money paid does not go to the military establishment, but is appropriated by the individual who undertakes the arrangement. If the consciences of certain brothers allow them to enter into such an arrangement for their continued freedom we have no objection. Of course, if they would get into any difficulties over their course of action then they would have to shoulder such difficulties themselves, and we could not offer them any assistance. But if the arrangement is current down there and is recognized by the inspectors who do not make any inquiries into the veracity of the matter then the matter can be passed by for the accruing advantages. Should a military emergency arise and confront these brothers with their marching card it would oblige them to make a decision by which they could not extricate themselves by a money payment and their mettle would be tested and they would have to demonstrate outright where they stand and prove that they are in favor of Christian neutrality in a determined test.
Faithfully yours in the Kingdom ministry,
Watchtower B.&T. Society of Pennsylvania
The WTS and the UN
The distaste the WTS has for the United Nations and its precursor, the League of Nations, is legendary, identifying it as “the image of the wild beast” and the “visible, political, commercial organisation of the “god of this system of things” Satan, the devil” (WT 15 Sep 1984 p15). The WT of 15 Nov 1963 identifies the UN as the “scarlet wild beast” of Rev 17 v 3.
And yet between 1991 and 2001, when it’s duplicity was exposed by an article in the UK Guardian newspaper, the WTS was an NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) as an Associate Member of the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (DPI) (you can only be a full member if you are a nation). There is no doubt that the WTS was a member (UN Letter dated 11 Oct 2001) as they admitted as such (Letter to the branches dated 1 Nov 2001).
They gave reasons why they were members in various letters and articles, but the reasons for joining are irrelevant. The WTS and its FDS aligned themselves with the Scarlet beast despite it being in direct opposition to Jehovah’s Kingdom. It is also significant that the WTS rescinded their membership two days after the newspaper article was printed and yet they state the reason was that they realised that the criteria to be an associated NGO “…contain language we cannot subscribe to.”, not simply that they had been outed!
There are, again, a number of attempts to justify their actions on the internet, but surely there can be no justification to formally associate with perhaps the most political organisation in the world, one so opposed to everything Jehovah’s kingdom stands for. Simply associating themselves with the scarlet beast was bad enough, but to then try and lie their way out of their embarrassment can hardly be described as ‘faithful and discrete’. Many of the relevant documents can be found on the excellent website jwfacts.com.
Worship of Christ
From its inception until 1991 the WTS ‘officially’ promoted the worship of Christ (not the paying of obeisance. WT 15 July 1898) as this was included as part of the Corporation’s Articles, as amended in 1945, printed in the 1945 WTS Yearbook.
However, since 1954 (WT 1 Jan 1954 p31) worship of Christ was abandoned as ‘old light’ and worship was only to be given to Jehovah (WT 1 Nov 1964). But, because the company articles were not formally revised until the 1990s the statement about worship of Christ remained as ‘official’ policy. In order to avoid the embarrassing aspect of their charter, when it was later quoted the words were suitably redacted or modified; see the 1969 yearbook page 50 and the 15 Dec 1971 WT page 760.
Are such deceptions indicative of a Faithful and discrete slave?
New Light Only for the Watchtower Society
The WTS makes much of Proverbs 4 v 18 (“But the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light that grows brighter and brighter until full daylight.”) to avoid admitting they have made a mistake. Whenever a doctrinal change is made they claim this verse gives them the right. However, they criticise any other religion which either uses this tactic (Eg. The Mormons; WT 1 Feb 2013 p9) or simply those that change their theology (Eg. The Catholics; Awake 22 Apr 1970).
To roundly criticise someone else for doing exactly what you’re doing is not indicative of a Faithful and discrete slave.
Up until Nov 1967 Organ donorship and acceptance of an organ was not considered as against Jehovah’s laws according to the WTS (WT 1 Aug 1961 p480). Suddenly, in Nov 1967 (WT 15 Nov 1967) it became akin to cannibalism. In the article they openly admit that “…we cannot expect to find legislation in the Bible on transplanting human organs” and therefore this denunciation must be from the FDS’s understanding. In the above WT there is no indication of what led to the change in policy (they don’t even indicate that a change was made).
Then, without warning, in 1980 (WT 15 Mar 1980 p31) the policy was once again reversed and acceptance of organs was now “…a matter for personal decision”. As before, no reason was given for this drastic change in theology, but they highlighted that “…there is no biblical command pointedly forbidding the taking in of other human tissue”. Unusually, there is no call back to Proverbs 4 v 18 to show new light. Both the prohibition and later retraction were ‘announced’ in answers to ‘Questions from Readers’ which hardly seems appropriate for such a life affecting matter.
How many JWs died in the years between 1967 and 1980 due to their faithful refusal to accept an organ to save their lives? How would you feel if your son, daughter, mother or father died in early 1980 due to refusing an organ, only for them to be allowed a few months later by the FDS?
Does this sound like the actions of a faithful and discrete slave?
Bulgaria – Blood Transfusions and Civilian Service
In 1994 Bulgaria refused to renew the WTS’s registration as a religion due mainly to its stance on Blood transfusions and military service. After a number of years of discussion between the WTS and the Bulgarian authorities a compromise was reached.
This compromise was enshrined in a EU document (internet Search for EU Commission of Human rights application No.28626/95). Basically the Bulgarian Government agreed to set up a civilian option to military service and the WTS agreed not to sanction its members if they took blood transfusions (see para 2.1 of Part II of the document, this can be translated using Google Translate).
Civilian service in place of military service had previously not been allowed by the WTS (WT 1 Feb 1951 p77), but was now changed to “…his [the individual JW’s] decision” (WT 1 May 1996 p 21).
So, the WTS adamantly states that blood transfusions are against Jehovah’s laws and unrepentant acceptance of a transfusion will lead to the person being disfellowshipped – except in Bulgaria! Civilian service in place of military service is also now allowed, simply so that the WTS can retain its religion status in Bulgaria.
Does that sound like the actions of a faithful and discrete slave?
For more information see www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/bulgaria-blood-transfusions.php
Children Dying From ‘Refusing’ of Blood Transfusions
The WTS has blatantly lied regarding the number of deaths of children from not accepting blood transfusions.
In the 1 Dec 1998 WT (p14) they call the accusation that JW are dying as “…barefaced lies…” and “…totally unfounded”. However, the 22 May 1994 issue of the Awake magazine states(p2); “In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue.”
Clearly, the WTS is deluding itself and its members by denying what is clearly written in its own paperwork.
Is this the action of a faithful and discrete slave?
WTS Political Activity
The WTS repeatedly strongly condemns any involvement in the political aspects of the world (among other ‘worldly’ aspects) including lobbying. See the jw.org article on “Why Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Maintain Political Neutrality?”
“Jehovah’s Witnesses remain politically neutral for religious reasons, based on what the Bible teaches. We do not lobby, vote for political parties or candidates, run for government office, or participate in any action to change governments. We believe that the Bible gives solid reasons for following this course”
However, the WTS is actually quite active in high level political groups such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which is closely aligned with the UN. The OSCE is primarily a political organisation, describing itself as;
‘The OSCE has a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses politico-military, economic and environmental, and human aspects. It therefore addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities. All 57 participating States enjoy equal status, and decisions are taken by consensus on a politically, but not legally binding basis.’
Representatives from the Watchtower have regularly attended at (OSCE) conferences, Eg. The 2005, 2006 and 2015 conferences. More recently the situation where Russia was looking to ban the WTS prompted the WTS to ask its members to write to the Russian government asking them not to do so. This is political lobbying.
See jw.org “Jehovah’s Witnesses Mobilize Global Response to Threat of Ban in Russia”
“Threatened with an imminent ban on their worship in Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses are responding with a direct appeal to Kremlin and Supreme Court officials for relief through a global letter-writing campaign. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is inviting the over 8,000,000 Witnesses worldwide to participate.”
Considering the WTS’s public stance on political activity, particularly for its members, are the above actions those of a faithful and discrete slave?
The ‘indiscretions’ listed above are only a small proportion of those that could be presented for the FDS over the decades. But even this snapshot puts serious doubt on the WTS’s claim to be the faithful and discrete slave mentioned in Matthew Ch 24.
If indeed they are not the FDS then they have nothing to offer their adherents and their interpretation of Scripture cannot be trusted.