Why Trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave?

How many Witnesses actually read the ‘Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will’ book[1] (“Organized” book)? It’s such a tedious book, so… matter-of-fact; it’s really a piece of legislation, unlikely to enthral the average Witness. It’s a book you refer to – much like a dictionary – only when you need to. But without it, you most likely shan’t begin to ask yourself this one pivotal question: ‘Why trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave?’

Most Witnesses had their first brush with this book while preparing for baptism. I received what was then a freshly-minted edition of the book back in March 20, 2005 in my first congregation, Brixton. I recall standing in line for it and being finally handed my copy of the “green book” by the then Service Overseer, Paul Adams, an Elder serving at the local branch in  South Africa. Specific announcement was made that this book was only available for baptised members and unbaptised publishers. I fell into the latter category although, in truth, I was meant to have been baptised in December 2004 at the District Convention, having successfully gone through the baptismal questions of the previous edition. It was on the actual day of baptism (Saturday), at the aforementioned convention, that two Elders, Neville Bateman and Stephen le Roux, privately approached me with the “proposal” that perhaps I should wait – I had my towel, my costume, and I had invited my friend Lester to witness my baptism… but, a’ight; that’s a story for another day.

Well, now, I intended writing this particular article some time back, but I learnt that a 2015 edition of the Organized book was in the pipeline, so I figured let me wait for the “Parousia” of that edition because I had a certain curiosity about it. You see, having read the 2005 edition of the Organized book, I had come to appreciate that much of what was written in there had since become obsolete what with all the amazing “New Light”[2] that the organisation has since been bathed in. Hhe-hmm.

2005 Edition of the Organized Book

Chapter Three of the 2005 edition bears the title: “Trusting ‘the Faithful and Discreet Slave’.”[3] Under the subheading ‘Identifying the Faithful and Discreet Slave’ it says:

‘Whom did [Jesus] find still faithfully [feeding his followers] when he returned in Kingdom power in 1914? […] The composite body of Christ’s spirit-anointed footstep followers who live on earth at any given time.’[4] [Emphasis mine]

The first paragraph under the sub-heading “The Role of the Governing Body” continues:

“The ‘faithful and discreet slave’ seeks to preserve unity and makes it possible organizationally for all things to take place decently and by arrangement.’ (1 Cor. 14:40) To accomplish this in the first century, a group of anointed Christians from among the faithful and discreet slave class were chosen as its representatives. As such, they did not consult with all anointed elders in the world before making decisions. From their position in the Jerusalem congregation, they served as the governing body for the entire anointed Christian congregation.”[5] [Emphasis mine]

And now we arrive at the pièce de résistance of this article.

Under the subheading “Why Trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave?” we are interested in what the first itemised reason[6] is that Witnesses are said should trust the Slave. The book emphatically declares:

“There are many reasons to have complete trust in the slave class. First and foremost, Jesus has appointed them over all his precious ‘belongings.’ This is a clear indication that he has complete trust in them. ”[7] [Emphasis mine]

Well now, let’s interrogate that statement, shall we. Let’s peel a few layers of some of the most recent “New Light,” as a precursor to unpacking this particular statement.

Recent New Light

The Watchtower, July 15, 2013 coverpage.

The Watchtower, July 15, 2013, dicusses the identity of the Faithful and Discreet Slave.

The July 15, 2013 Watchtower magazine created a lot of centrifugal force when it took a few magnificent sharp turns of New Light – with the vast majority of Witnesses accepting it, seemingly without so much as batting an eye. If it comes from the Governing Body it must be the truth. This “fabric” of New Light began with the “overlapping generation”[8] thing and has since systematically segued into other sections of New Light thus creating an otherwise neatly stitched doctrinal haute couture.

It went from the “overlapping generation” (which is now understood to refer to faithful anointed Christians),[9] to the idea that the Faithful and Discreet Slave exists only as a composite group[10] (not any one individual member of the anointed class), then to the idea that the individual anointed members are themselves only domestics[11] – much like the Great Crowd (“other sheep”) – who themselves need spiritual feeding from the Faithful and Discreet Slave (which, at that time, was the worldwide class of anointed Christians, represented by the Governing Body).

This latter fabric of New Light inspired Governing Body member, David Splane, 71, to effervescently declare: “Brothers, we love this teaching. We love this idea because it really truly does dignify the members of the Great Crowd.”[12] Hm. Does it really, grandpa Splane?

These were giant leaps of “refinements.” Eventually, though, it was a small step to holding that only the Governing Body is the Faithful and Discreet Slave.[13] Thus, the Governing Body was no longer the face of some global community of the Faithful and Discreet Slave, comprised of anointed Christians, no. The Governing Body itself, holistically, was now transformed into the Faithful and Discreet Slave – exclusively. A stroke of genius.

Female Anointed

One latent effect of this latter New Light – and I think the average Witness might not have registered this point – is that this effectively disenfranchised, not simply the global community of anointed Christians from the Slave class, but, perhaps more interesting, skirted out all the female anointed from this class, not only symbolically this time, but quite literally now, because, as we know, women can never be members of the Governing Body, they can never teach in the congregation, it’s strictly patriarchal.

Future Appointment of the Slave

Regarding the appointment of the Faithful and Discreet Slave over all of Jesus’ belongings, the July 15, 2013 Watchtower had this to say:

“In the verses the lead up to Matthew 24:46, the word ‘coming’ refers consistently to the time when Jesus comes to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation. […] So it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful and discreet slave over all his belongings, mentioned in Matthew 24:46, 47, also applies to his future coming, during the great tribulation.”[14]

Having read the above quote, a thinking person might conclude that this means that there is no Faithful and Discreet Slave to speak of today; meaning, the present-day Governing Body in Brooklyn, New York, cannot correctly claim this role for themselves. And if such is the case, then they have no authority, right?

That’s what I thought… but there’s more. Keep Calm, The Light Gets Brighter.

A distinction is made between Jesus appointing the Slave over his “domestics” and his appointing them “over all his belongings.”[15] Currently, the former is said to have taken place in 1919, while the latter is said to be future, namely, sometime during the great tribulation:

“When did Jesus appoint the faithful slave over his domestics? […] In 1919, a time of spiritual revival, Jesus selected capable anointed brothers from among [the Bible Students] to be the faithful and discreet slave and appointed them over his domestics. […] When Jesus comes for judgment during the great tribulation […] [he] will then delight in making the second appointment – over all his belongings.”[16]

Conversation with an Elder

In my penultimate week as a Witness (September 2015), during the time when I was informing everyone that mattered that I was parting ways with the organisation, I recall having a tête-à-tête with an Elder buddy of mine and I said to him, inter alia, that the Organized (2005) book as it currently stood was outdated. I told him that the current teaching is that Jesus hasn’t yet appointed the Faithful and Discreet Slave over all his belongings; and if the statement in the Organized book is credible, namely, that Jesus has “complete trust” in the Faithful and Discreet Slave (a trust that Witnesses should similarly adopt) by virtue of his having appointed them over all his belongings, then, by the same logic, subsequent to the New Light, we must now necessarily accept that the current understanding as to the second appointment has the concomitant effect of diluting the aforementioned trust that Witnesses should place in the Governing Body.[17] Correct?

He took my point on board, grasping the simple and concise logic of it. Little did I know at the time that the 2015 edition was in the pipeline.

2015 Edition of the Organized Book

Organized to Do Jehovah's Will (2015)

Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will (2015) front cover.

With all of these aforementioned “pyrotechnics” of New Light, I got to wondering how exactly the Governing Body was going to re-write this “first and foremost” reason as to why Jehovah’s Witnesses should have “complete trust” the Faithful and Discreet Slave.

After a cursory look, suffice is to say that that particular section is now conspicuous by its absence. The original subheading “Why Trust the Faithful and Discreet Slave” has been replaced with “Why ‘Remember Those Taking the Lead’?”[18] They effectively “Control+Shift+Deleted” that section.

Evidently they understood that they can’t plausibly galvanize that level of trust on the same premise, quite simply because Christ hasn’t as yet appointed them over “all of his belongings.” Therefore, it follows, no “complete trust” is to be had in them, for they are still essentially being “vetted” by Christ; this, of course, notwithstanding the fact that the scriptures plainly state that we are not to put our trust in nobles or the sons of earthling men. – Psalms 146:3, 4.

Conclusion

Only time will tell what further “tweaks” the Governing Body will make to this vast body of New Light. In the meantime, thinking Witnesses do well to view whatever comes from the Governing Body with the requisite circumspection… it’s the astute thing to do.

#FaithfulAndDiscreetSlave
#ThinkingWitnesses


[1] ‘Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will’ Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York (2005).

[2] A Watchtower concept contrived from the bible book of Proverbs 4:18.

[3] Organized (2005) book page 15.

[4] Ibid page 16.

[5] Ibid page 17.

[6] The other reason given in the book for trusting the faithful and discreet slave is apparently because the bible encourages us to do so, namely: ‘Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.’ (Hebrews 13:17) We won’t canvass this particular ground of justification in this article.

[7] Organized (2005) page 18.

[8] The concept of the overlapping generation was first introduced in a 2008 Watchtower article which said: “The word ‘generation’ usually refers to people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period or event.” – ‘Christ’s Presence – What does it mean to you?’ The Watchtower February 15, 2008 page 25, under the box ‘Can We Calculate the Length of “This Generation”?’

[9] The Watchtower said: “Jesus said that it was his disciples, soon to be anointed with holy spirit, who should be able to draw certain conclusions when they saw ‘all these things’ occur. So Jesus must have been referring to his disciples when he made the statement: ‘This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.’ […] As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day ‘generation’ of contemporaries that will not pass away ‘until all these things occur’.” [Emphasis mine] – Ibid paras. 10-15.

[10]Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?The Watchtower, July 15, 2013 page 22 para. 10. See also the Insight book Vol. 1 page 806 para. 1.

[11] Ibid para. 13. This idea, however, was nothing new. The Insight book had said as much: “Thus the entire anointed Christian congregation was to serve in a united stewardship dispensing such truths. At the same time, the individual members making up such a composite body, or the ‘domestics’ making up the ‘house’ of God, would also be recipients of the ‘food’ dispensed.” – Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1 (1988) page 806. See also the Organized (2015) book which states: “Who, then, are the ‘domestics?’ Simply put, they are those who are fed. Initially, all the domestics were anointed ones. Later, the domestics came to include the great crowd of other ‘sheep.’ Both groups feed on the spiritual food that is dispensed by the faithful slave.” – Organized (2015) page 19 para. 7.

[12] I remember watching that video where Splane uttered those words and I remember thinking: “This has nothing to do with the Great Crowd. It’s a survival mechanism.” The Governing Body is representative of the global community of anointed Christians (who, at least at that time, were globally viewed as the Faithful and Discreet Slave). By contriving this “composite vs. individual” New Light in respect of the anointed, the Governing Body not only minimised the voices of the growing global community of the anointed Christians, but also, more importantly, ensured that should any individual member of the Governing Body deviate – mistakenly or roguely – from the official teachings of the composite group, then that individual member’s deviation wouldn’t carry the weight of something originating from the Faithful and Discreet Slave (as most Witnesses would understand it to be if a member of the Governing Body proclaimed something new). Simply put, this New Light ensured that if an individual Governing Body member were to pull a “Raymond Franz” then the rest of the Governing Body members could ensure their own survival by – if need be – throwing that individual member under the bus. They could say: “Well, that didn’t come from the “Faithful and Discreet Slave,” that came from, say, Anthony Morris (the “domestic”).” Already what’s becoming clear is that any idea – radical or not – that has the support of the majority of the Governing Body can never be apostasy. They have immunised themselves from that definition. They could pull a teaching right out the rear-end and it’d still be amazing New Light. On the other hand, a simple and logical (but deviant) explanation of scripture by the minority – even if scripturally sound – could be labelled apostasy if promoted without the support of the majority. This approach has political overtures. Clearly. I imagine that even if the Governing Body hotly disagrees about something, they would nonetheless project a face of uniformity towards the global community of Witnesses.

[13]Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?The Watchtower, July 15, 2013 page 22 para. 10.

[14] Ibid ‘Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?’ page 8 para. 18.

[15] Prior to the July 15, 2013 Watchtower the appointment over the domestics was said to have taken place in 33 C.E. and the one “over all his belongings” in 1919. – page 20 para. 3.

[16] ‘Who Really is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?’ The Watchtower, July 15, 2013 page 22 para. 12, and page 25 para 18.

[17] Not to mention that it goes against the bibles warning of putting one’s trust in nobles or in the sons of earthling man to whom, it is said, no salvation belongs. – Psalms 146:3, 4.

[18] Organized (2015) page 20.