The Governing Body is, by its own admission, the “highest ecclesiastical authority for the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses” worldwide. (See point 7 of the Declaration of Gerrit Losch.[i]) Nevertheless, there is no foundation in Scripture for a governing authority made up of men to replace Jesus Christ as the one directing the worldwide congregation. Former president Fred Franz argued this point, albeit paradoxically, in his Graduation Speech to the 59th class of Gilead. The only Scriptural text the Governing Body has ever advanced to support its hold on power is the parable at Matthew 24:45-47 where Jesus speaks of, but does not identify, a slave charged with feeding his domestics.
Formerly, Witnesses were taught that all anointed Christians—a small subset of Jehovah’s Witnesses—formed the faithful slave class, with the Governing Body as their de facto voice. However, in the July 15, 2013 issue of The Watchtower, the Governing Body adopted a bold and controversial reinterpretation of Matthew 24:45-47 granting themselves the official status of the faithful slave Jesus appointed to feed his flock. (For a full discussion of this interpretation see: Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave? Even more information is available under the category Faithful Slave.)
It would appear that the Governing Body is feeling the pressure to justify their position of authority. Brother David Splane opened his recent Morning Worship talk with this scenario:
“A studious sister comes up to you after the meeting on Sunday and says, “Now I know that there have always been anointed ones on earth for the last 1900 years, but recently we said that there has not been a faithful and discreet slave providing spiritual food at the proper time during the last 1900 years. Now, what’s the thinking behind that? Why did we change our view on that?”
He then pauses, looks at the audience and issues the challenge: “Well, we’re waiting. How would you answer?”
Is he suggesting that the answer should be obvious? Unlikely. Perhaps, given the wry smile accompanying his mild challenge, he knows there’s not a person in the audience who could properly defend the position. To that end, he next lists four factors in an attempt to demonstrate why Jesus words about the faithful slave that would feed the flock could not have been fulfilled until the 20th century.
- There was no source of spiritual food.
- The bad attitude of the reformers toward the Bible.
- The division that existed among the reformers.
- The lack of support among the reformers for the preaching work.
You may have noticed that these are not Scriptural reasons to argue against a 1900-year-long existence of a faithful slave feeding the domestics. In fact, he quotes not a single scripture throughout this presentation. So we must depend on his logic to convince us. Let’s give it a look, shall we?
1. “The Source of the Spiritual Food”
Brother Splane asks: “What is the source of spiritual food?” His answer: “The Bible.”
He then goes on to reason that prior to 1455, there were no printed versions of the Bible. No Bible, no food. No food, nothing for the slave to feed the domestics with, hence, no slave. It is true that prior to the printing press there could have been no “printed” versions, but there were many “published” versions. In fact, this is what the publications themselves have revealed.
“The zealous early Christians set themselves to producing as many copies of the Bible as they could, all copied by hand. They also pioneered the use of the codex, which had pages like a modern book, instead of continuing to use scrolls. (w97 8/15 p. 9 – How the Bible Came to Us)
The spread of Christian beliefs soon created a demand for translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures as well as the Hebrew Scriptures. Numerous versions in such languages as Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, and Syriac were eventually made. Often alphabets had to be devised just for that purpose. For instance, Ulfilas, a fourth-century bishop of the Roman Church, is said to have invented Gothic script to translate the Bible. (w97 8/15 p. 10– How the Bible Came to Us)
Splane is now contradicting the testimony of his own publications.
For the first four centuries of Christianity, at the very least, there were many copies of the Bible translated into the native tongue of numerous peoples. How else does Splane think that Peter and the apostles were able to obey Jesus’ command to feed his sheep if there was no food to feed them with? (John 21:15-17) How else did the congregation grow from about 120 at Pentecost to the millions of followers in existence at the time of the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine? What food did they eat if the source of spiritual food, the Bible, was not available to them? His reasoning is utterly ludicrous!
Brother Splane does admit that things changed in the mid-1400s. It was technology, the invention of the printing press, that broke the choke-hold the church had on Bible distribution during the dark ages. However, he doesn’t go into any detail as this would further undermine his argument that the absence of the source of food, the Bible, meant no slave for 1900 years. For example, he fails to mention that the first book ever printed on the Gutenberg press was the Bible. By the 1500s it was made available in English. Today, ships patrol the coast to stop the illegal contraband of drugs. In the 1500s, the English coast was patrolled to stop the illegal trafficking of Tyndale’s English Bibles from getting into the country.
In 1611, the King James Bible began to change the world. Historians report that everyone was reading the Bible. Its teachings were affecting every aspect of life. In his book, The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible, 1611-2011, Melvyn Bragg writes:
“What a difference it made to ‘ordinary’ people, to be able, as they did, to dispute with Oxford educated priests and it is reported often better them!”
This hardly sounds like a shortage of food, does it not? But wait, we have to consider the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Millions of Bibles were printed and distributed around the world in virtually every language. All of this abundance of spiritual food occurred prior to 1919, when the Governing Body says their predecessors were appointed as Christ’s faithful slave.
2. “The Attitude of Some Who Had Access to the Bible Was Not Always the Best”
Since the Bible was readily available during the Protestant Reformation, Splane introduces a new factor to argue against the existence of a faithful slave. He states that there was very little difference between the Protestant reformers and the Catholic clergy.
“Many of the Protestant reformers took from the Bible what pleased them, and rejected the rest.”
Hold on just a minute! Cannot the same be said of today’s Protestants? How is it that in a similar climate, Splane now says that the faithful slave exists? If seven Jehovah’s Witnesses can constitute the slave now, could not seven anointed men have also represented the slave during the Reformation? Is Brother Splane expecting us to believe that even though—by his own admission—there have always been anointed on earth during the past 1900 years, Jesus could never find seven qualified men to serve as his faithful slave? (This is based on the Governing Body’s assumption that the slave constitutes a governing authority.) Is he not stretching our credulity beyond the breaking point?
There is still more.
3. “The Tremendous Division Among the Reformers”
He speaks of the persecution of faithful Anabaptists. He mentions Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, who was executed in part because she was a secret evangelical and supported the printing of the Bible. So the division among the reformers is cause for them not being considered the faithful and discreet slave. Fair enough. We could charge that they are the evil slave. History shows that they certainly acted the part. Oh, but there’s a rub. Our 2013 reinterpretation has relegated the evil slave to the status of a warning metaphor.
Still, what about all the Christians that these evil reformers persecuted, tortured and killed because of their faith and zeal for disseminating the word of God – for printing the Bible, like Anne Boleyn? Are these not to be considered by brother Splane as worthy slave candidates? If not, then what in fact is the criteria for slave appointment?
4. “The Attitude toward the Preaching Work”
Brother Splane points out that Protestant reformers were not active in the preaching work. He shows how it was the Catholic religion which is most responsible for disseminating the word of God around the world. But the reformers believed in predestination and so were not zealous in the preaching work.
His reasoning is specious and highly selective. He would have us believe that all reformers believed in predestination and eschewed the preaching work and Bible distribution and persecuted others. Baptists, Methodists, Adventists are but three groups that have engaged in missionary work throughout the world and have grown in numbers far outstripping our own. All these groups predate Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups, and many others besides, have been active in getting the Bible into the hands of the local population in their own language. Even today, these groups have missionaries in as many countries as do Jehovah’s Witnesses. It would seem that for the past two or three hundred years there have been several Christian denominations that have met Splane’s qualification criteria as the faithful slave.
There can be no doubt that if presented with this objection, brother Splane would disqualify these groups because they do not teach complete Bible truth. They have some things right, and other things wrong. Jehovah’s Witnesses often paint with that brush, but fail to realize that it covers them just as well. In fact, it was none other than David Splane himself who proved that.
Last October he unwittingly cut the pegs out from under virtually every doctrine which is unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. In his talk to the annual meeting delegates concerning types and antitypes of human origin, he stated that the use of such types would amount to “going beyond what is written.” Our belief that the other sheep are a secondary group of Christians is based on a typical/antitypical application not found in Scripture. (See “Going Beyond What Is Written.”) Our belief in 1914 as the start of Christ’s presence is based on an antitypical application of the seven times of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness which is also not found in Scripture. Oh, and here’s the kicker: our belief that 1919 marks the point in which Jesus appointed the faithful and discreet slave is based on antitypical applications such as the inspection of the temple and the messenger of the Covenant which have no Scriptural application beyond their first century fulfillment. Applying them to 1919 is to engage in the non-Scriptural application of antitypes which Splane himself condemned just last year.
A Doctrine in Crisis
The Governing Body exercises a level of control over its flock which is quite rare these days in Christian religions. To maintain that control, it is necessary for the rank and file to believe these men have been appointed by Christ himself. If that appointment didn’t start in 1919, they are left to explain who the faithful slave was prior to then and back through history. That becomes tricky and would seriously undermine their newly enhanced authority.
For many, the superficial logic that Splane uses to make his case will seem comforting. However, for anyone with even a modicum of knowledge regarding the history of Christianity and a love of truth, his words are disturbing, even disdainful. We cannot help but feel insulted when such a transparently meretricious argument is used in an attempt to deceive us. Like the prostitute the word derives from, the argument is dressed up to entice, but looking past the provocative clothing, one sees a creature full of disease; something to be abhorred.
[i] This declaration is part of a submission to the court in a child abuse case in which Gerrit Losch refuses to obey a subpoena to appear in court on behalf of the Governing Body and also in which the Governing Body refuses to surrender court ordered documents of discovery. For this, it was held in contempt of court and fined ten million dollars. (It should be noted that this appears to be a violation of the Scriptural command to submit to the governmental authorities if doing so does not violate God’s law. – Romans 13:1-4)
[…] excellent analysis of this talk can be found on Bereoan Pickets. Contrary to Watchtower teaching, Jesus did not promise to set one up in 1919. Rather, at the time […]
[…] However, we no longer believe that. We’ve recently received “new light” that there was no first century faithful and discreet slave, so Jesus’ words to Peter cannot relate to the Governing Body if we stick with JW doctrine. The […]
[…] There is no doubt that the apostles took the lead in the early Christian congregation. However, does that mean that Jehovah chose them as the new leaders of the Christian congregation? Did they consider themselves leaders? Additionally, do any of the things they accomplished imply that another group of men similar to the apostles exist today? Do we have some sort of apostolic succession at work here? This article would have us believe, based on what paragraph 3 says, that there is indeed such an arrangement in existence today. This arrangement involves the appointment of the Governing Body by… Read more »
[…] in the face of the reasoning given us just a few months ago by David Splane when he claimed that for 1900 years there was no faithful slave providing food for […]
[…] To see Bible proof that the slave was not appointed in 1919, see The “Slave” is not 1900 Years Old. To see Bible proof that the slave cannot be a tiny cabal of men, see Identifying the Faithful […]
On the point of the revised baptism questions, which as was shown, attaches the baptismal candidate to a legally enforceable contract with the organization . The implication is that really all those who got baptised after 1985 have an unscriptural baptism,this has been the quandary that has troubled me, in reality we have millions of worshippers who are in a spiritual no mans land, good people who are not properly baptised, not covenanted or in a genuine standing with Jehovah ,how can the GB maintain a good conscience allowing this and teaching it as truth is beyond me? They are… Read more »
….so the apostles were not faithful and discreet? Is that what is implicated hear?
I believe we all can be thankful to God for removing the scales from our eyes. Because of Him we are able to see the organization for what it is! And at the same time, we are free to find truth while being led by His Spirit. Praise Yah!
To follow the scriptures about steps Jesus took to empower Peter to do his feeding and shepherding, Jesus remained with the disciples for about 40 days, appearing to large and small groups. As he ascended to his father, he commissioned them “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 New King James Version (NKJV) Ten days later this spirit power was given in what was arguably one of the greatest events in… Read more »
Luke 3:16 “John answered them all, I baptise you with water. But the one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of who sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with Holy Spirit and fire.”
John 6:63 “The spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (before Pentecost)
When you try to speak to JWs about Rutherford or anything else, it just doesn’t seem to register. They have been so convinced that there is “nowhere else to go” – they believe they are the only ones doing the preaching work and using God’s name and so the Organisation must be the truth, and they believe that whatever the problems may be, then Jehovah will sort it all out in his time.
What the GB of today actually says is that they are the only ones capable of being faithful and discreet ..
There was no GB in 1919, as said the WT was run by a president, no collective slave group has a united as one final decision that was done by only one man Rutherford and the right up till the 1970’s where the GB recognised as a group of anointed men that ran the WT, but representing all other anointed. Rutherford never claimed represent all other anointed, he was the boss any disagreeing with him got the boot. And as said he did not go out in the door to door ministry, so he never set the lead or example… Read more »
Hi Meleti, There is another very serious problem with the explanation that there wasn’t a faithful and discreet slave (FDS) for 1900 years: According to the current understanding of the Governing Body, the FDS was appointed in 1919 CE. Yet, in keeping with point 4 in David Splane’s discourse, the attitude toward the preaching work was a critical factor in Jesus’ consideration of who to appoint. Paradoxically, the man taking the lead at this time did not engage in the preaching work!* Consequently, we can construct an inductive argument as follows: 1: In order to be chosen, the FDS was… Read more »
According to the July 2013 WT, it was in 1919 CE that Jesus selected “qualified men” from among the early Bible Students to be the FDS. As such, premise 5 in the argument above should read:
5a: Therefore, Judge Rutherford was not qualified to be part of the FDS (1 & 4).
Thanks to Katrina for the clarification.
Something else just occurred to me. Jesus told Peter to feed his little sheep. Thus Splane’s statement that the source of the food was not readily available dishonors Jesus. It would mean that Jesus, the loving shepherd, set poor Peter up for failure by telling him to feed the sheep but denying him the food needed to make that happen?
Whenever men try to honor themselves, they dishonor God.
In the same vain as when Peter said, “Lord, whom are we to go away to?”, this time when Jesus was giving Peter instructions would have been the “golden opportunity” for Peter to respond with, “Lord, what am I supposed to feed the little sheep WITH? I don’t know how or by what means to do this”. Yet, Peter said no such thing. Surely if Peter had any doubt whether he could comply with Jesus’ instructions, he would have said something. If he remained silent, but actually felt unqualified, or prevented by circumstances, to carry out his instructions, would Peter… Read more »
There is clumsy mis-direction at work here: Peter: Whom shall we go away to? JW “studious sister” : Where could I go? David Splane: “A studious sister comes up to you after the meeting on Sunday and says, ‘Now I know that there have always been anointed ones on earth for the last 1900 years, but recently we said that there has not been a faithful and discreet slave providing spiritual food at the proper time during the last 1900 years. Now, what’s the thinking behind that? Why did we change our view on that?’” JW “Studious Elder” reply: Why… Read more »
Yes, and each time the WT makes statements like that, they are elevating themselves as the source of salvation. It is hard to see how that could judged as anything but tantamount to blasphemy – humans putting themselves in the place of God or Christ, taking from Them and assuming for themselves something that doesn’t belong to them. And, in doing so, WT relagates Christ to a bit player and afterthought at best, demeaned and ignored at worst. Shouldn’t the words of Peter remind us that CHRIST has the sayings of everlasting life – not an organization of men?
The JW Organisation, by it’s teachings, excludes a person from Jesus – this must be corrected.
Well researched Meleti, most who aren’t sure what to make of all the new adjustments, leaving gaps and loopholes , as it were…will probably reason this way as I do myself…..taking from watchtower 2006 2/15 para 21 “Accepting a change when it comes and adapting to it can be difficult,” admits one longtime elder. What has helped him accept the many refinements he has witnessed in the 48 years that he has been a Kingdom proclaimer? He answers: “Having the right attitude is the key. Refusing to accept a refinement is to be left behind as the organization moves ahead.… Read more »
You’re right. That is the reasoning we come up against time and again. The minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been delicately tuned to translate Peters words which ask “To whom?” into the Governing Body’s words which ask “To where?”. If Peter were to have doubted Jesus’ words, to whom else would he have turned for sayings of everlasting life? However, if we doubt the Governing Body’s “refinements”, we don’t have to turn to another “whom”. We can stay with Jesus. They don’t want us reasoning that way, so they translate Peter’s words which pointed to a person, Jesus, into their… Read more »
Yes, good scriptural explanation..its misguided loyalty, because most are sincere in their worship to God, however do follow men. Another fellow full time servant said, what the C.O said how the GB feel-about how close to the end we’re living…my reply was then, cause he said it, must be true, however if some other brother or sister would say the same thing, we would raise our eyebrow!! With a smile-Thanks again.
Meleti, you noted, “The reasoning of the Governing Body is that they are the light. Once again, they supplant Jesus and seat themselves in his place.” Precisely. And it is for that very reason they are guilty of blasphemy. A prime example of that is the revised 1985 baptism questions, that replace baptism in the name of the spirit with dedication to an earthly organization of men. God would never anoint people with His spirit for the purpose of serving an organization of blasphemers against Him. The claims of the WT organization about being God’s people, God’s organization, the FDS,… Read more »
We wonder at times how closely the Central Body keeps tabs on the “wayward children” …My last two months on my youtube Channel has covered “the easy view” of my boning up on the reformation and a collection of videos and histories of the reformers (ok I admit they are refreshers of history read already as the videos are a mite easier to digest than rereading the likes of Josephus and Eusebius and other historians ) My living in the open like Robert I guess is bound to get some “viewing” . methinks now even more the sites are carefully… Read more »
Mr Splane has done many of us a great big favour in giving this preposterous talk. He has opened a can of worms with his casual dismissal of history both ancient and recent. It is going to be very easy to discredit “all” of his claims here. And it had to happen sooner or later. I personally can’t wait to investigate his claims and I am no bible scholar. I do however have a brain and a sense of right and wrong.
This talk is disgustingly arrogant and ever so “Catholic” in nature.
Hi Meleti, Nicely reasoned. If I may, allow me to add a few further cogitations: Point 1: Yes, spiritual food must have a source. Yet, even Peter, a man sourced in presumptuousness, was encouraged to feed Christ’s sheep prior to there even being a Bible, let alone a readily available one (Joh. 21:17). Point 2: Yes, the attitude of some reformers who had access to God’s word wasn’t the best. Yet, even Peter, a man who had access to the living word of God, was guilty of displaying a bad attitude even toward this one (Mat. 16:22f). Point 3: Yes,… Read more »
Thanks for adding your rational voice to the discussion. Good points!
JW always have said that even in the dark ages God had his people and anointed, they used Tyndale and Wycliffe as examples, seems to me every time I listen to a presentation from the GB its full of contradictions.
You’re right, Katrina. Splane attacked Wycliffe by name. Here is what the book The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg has to say about Wycliffe: From page 79: “… He maintained that if something is not in the Bible there is no truth in it, whatever the Pope says – and, incidentally, the Bible says nothing at all about having a Pope.” Substitute “Governing Body” for “Pope”, and we can easily identify ourselves with Wycliffe. On page 80 the book says, “His prime and revolutionary argument, one which, if accepted in any shape or form, would have toppled the church… Read more »
How would you answer?
My favorite part of the whole Nine minute Video. I would give them the governing body address and let them right a letter to them saying You Need to ask Them, Cause the New Light Might Change on That one Anytime.
It is also noteworthy that he didn’t wait for an answer. In fact, a true Q and A is not a practice of the Governing Body. I have been to many an elders school and never seen a forum where the elders are free to ask any question, or question any premise, free of fear of reprisal or marking. The foundation of all our education is summed up in this oft-repeated refrain: “They instruct us. We don’t instruct them.”
Oh I agree Brother, it just. Seems they got all the Answers and. Yet they don’t , But they think they do, until they dont
I love that GB Splane said yes maybe, just maybe the other men of different religion’s of the past might have been Annotated, Maybe. And then he has the Nerve to say all the things those other religion’s of the past messed up and some of there half truth, and he Said Yup we Too Also have made mistake’s……. And yet explains not One. And of Course he never used any scriptures.
One step at a time, qspf. One step at a time. 🙂
P.S. I hope you realize what I wrote above is a hypothetical scenario. I don’t intend it to refer to you personally Meleti when I say “you”. It applies to anyone.
I did. No worries. It is a question that comes up often and we’re all trying to work our way through it. Our group has plans which are already in motion, but due to limited time owing to limited resources, these plans are moving slowly.
Meleti, Such an elegant presentation. Such sound arguments, clear reasoning, and pointed conclusions. Well done. And yet … With each such article you produce, evidencing and piling up yet further reasons why WT is not what they claim to be, they also present with depressing regularity how we have been used and misled. These facts are even more sad than they are true. And yet, for many or most of your readers, they still remain part of it. Imagine that we were trying to study the Bible with someone, carefully showing them through scriptural references how their beliefs from Christendom… Read more »
You’ve done it again Meleti,shown how our leaders are lost in their infatuation with their position of FDS.
They seem to not be able to see that a lot of spiritual work in the past has made it possible to hold a copy of the scriptures today, and that doesn’t include the New World mistranslation.