[I had originally decided to write a post on this topic in response to a comment made by a sincere, but concerned, reader concerning the advisability of the public nature of our forum.  However, as I researched it, I became increasingly aware of how complex and far-reaching this particular subject is. It cannot be properly addressed in a single post. Therefore, it seems advisable to stretch it out into a series of posts over the next few months to give ourselves time to properly research and comment on this important topic. This post will be the first of that series.]
 

A Word Before We Get Going

We started this forum with the intention of providing a virtual meeting ground for brothers and sisters from around the globe who wanted to engage in deeper Bible study than that which is possible in our congregation meetings. We wanted it to be a secure environment, free from the pigeon-hole judgment such discussions often evoke from the zealots among us. It was to be a place for the free, but respectful, interchange of scriptural insight and research.

It has been a challenge to keep to this goal.

From time to time we have been forced to remove comments from the site which are overly judgmental and hypercritical.  This is not an easy line to trace, because the difference between an honest and open discussion which results in proving that a long-held, cherished doctrine is unscriptural will be taken by some as a judgment upon those who have originated that doctrine. Determining that a particular teaching is scripturally false does not imply judgment upon those who promote said teaching. We have a God-given right, indeed, a God-given obligation, to judge between truth and falsehood. (1 Thess. 5:21) We are obliged to make that distinction and indeed are judged on whether we hold to truth or cling to falsehood. (Rev. 22:15) However, we go beyond our authority if we judge the motivation of men, for that lies within the jurisdiction of Jehovah God. (Rom. 14:4)

Who Else Could the Slave Be?

We frequently get emails and comments from readers who are greatly disturbed by what they perceive as an attack upon those whom they believe Jehovah has appointed over us. They ask us by what right we challenge such ones. The objections can be categorized in the following points.

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses constitute the earthly organization of Jehovah God.
  2. Jehovah God’s appointed a governing body to rule over His organization.
  3. This Governing Body is also the faithful and discreet slave of Matthew 24:45-47.
  4. The faithful and discreet slave is Jehovah’s appointed channel of communication.
  5. Only the faithful and discreet slave can interpret Scripture for us.
  6. Challenging anything this slave says is equivalent to challenging Jehovah God himself.
  7. All such challenges amount to apostasy.

This line of attack puts the sincere Bible student on the defensive immediately.  You might merely want to research Scripture as the ancient Beroeans did, yet suddenly you are accused of fighting against God, or at the very least, of running ahead of God by not waiting on him to deal with matters in his own time.  Your freedom of expression and in fact your way of life is put into jeopardy.  You are threatened with disfellowshipping; being cut off from family and friends that you have known all our life. Why? Simply because you’ve discovered a Bible truth that has been previously hidden from you? This should be a cause for rejoicing, but instead there is displeasure and condemnation. Fear has replaced freedom. Hatred has replaced love.

Is it any wonder that we must engage in our research using aliases? Is this cowardice? Or are we being cautious as serpents? William Tyndale translated the Bible into modern English. He laid the foundation for every English Bible that would follow right down to our day. It was a work that changed the course of the Christian congregation and indeed of the history of the world. To accomplish it, he had to hide and often had to flee for his life. Would you call him a coward? Hardly.

If the seven points we have outlined above are true and scriptural, then we are indeed in the wrong and should desist from reading and participating in this website immediately.  The fact is that these seven points are taken as gospel by the great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, because that is what we have been taught to believe all our lives.  Like Catholics taught to believe the Pope is infallible, we believe that the Governing Body is ordained by Jehovah to direct the work and teach us Bible truth.  While we acknowledge they are not infallible, we treat everything they teach us as the word of God.  Essentially, what they teach is God’s truth until they tell us otherwise.

Fair enough.  Those who would accuse us of going against God by our research on this site often challenge us with the question: “If you don’t think the Governing Body is the faithful and discreet slave…if you don’t think they are God’s appointed channel of communication, then who is?”

Is this fair?

If someone is making the claim that they speak for God, it isn’t up to the rest of the world to disprove it.  Instead, it is the one making this claim to prove it.

So here is the challenge:

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses constitute the earthly organization of Jehovah God.
    Prove that Jehovah has an earthly organization.  Not a people. That is not what we teach.  We teach an organization, an entity that is blessed and directed as a single unit.
  2. Jehovah God has appointed a governing body to rule over His organization.
    Prove from Scripture that Jehovah has chosen a small group of men to rule over his organization.  The Governing Body exists.  That is not in dispute. However, their divine ordination is what remains to be proven.
  3. This Governing Body is also the faithful and discreet slave of Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:41-48.
    Prove that the faithful and discreet slave is this governing body.  To do so, you must explain Luke’s version which mentions three other slaves.  No partial explanations please. This is too important a point to explain only part of the parable.
  4. The faithful and discreet slave is Jehovah’s appointed channel of communication.
    Assuming you can establish point 1, 2, and 3 from Scripture, that doesn’t mean more than that the Governing Body is appointed to feed the domestics.  Being Jehovah’s channel of communication means being his spokesman.  That role is not implied in “feeding the domestics”.  So further proof is required.
  5. Only the faithful and discreet slave can interpret Scripture for us.
    Proof is needed to support the idea that anyone has the right to interpret Scripture unless acting under inspiration, in which case it would still be God doing the interpretation.  (Gen. 40:8)  Where is this role granted in Scripture to the faithful and discreet slave, or anyone else during the last days for that matter?
  6. Challenging anything this slave says is equivalent to challenging Jehovah God himself.
    What scriptural basis is there for the idea that a man or group of men not speaking under inspiration is above being challenged to support their statements.
  7. All such challenges amount to apostasy.
    What Scriptural basis is there for this claim?

I am sure we will get those who will try to answer these challenges with statements such as “Who else could it be?” or “Who else is doing the preaching work?” or “Isn’t Jehovah’s evident blessing on His organization proof that he has appointed the Governing Body?”

Such reasoning is faulty, because it is based on a number of unsubstantiated assumptions being true.  First, prove the assumptions. First, prove that each of the seven points has a basis in Scripture.  After that, and only after that, will we have the basis for seeking corroborating empirical evidence.

The commenter cited at the start of this post has challenged us to answer the question: If not the Governing Body, then “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave?”  We will get to that.  However, we are not the ones claiming to speak for God, nor are we the ones imposing our will on others, demanding that others accept our interpretation of Scripture or suffer the dire consequences.  So first, let those challenging us with their claim to authority establish the basis for the authority from Scripture, and then we’ll talk.

Click here to go to Part 2