From Ray's last email to me, something that shows how much he valued that individual realtionship with Christ:
Re: Where people manifest and express the wisdom from above that is ‘pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and free from partiality or hypocrisy,’ then peace results. The history of the religions that have sprung from Christianity is, by contrast, distressingly one of “conflicts and disputes,” some of them raging for centuries and settled only by the heavy hand of authority, expressed through powerful religious councils, and with even these followed by subsequent disputes that have resulted in fragmentation into scores of denominations. (James 3:13-18; 4:1) Many former Witnesses do not realize that they are practicing on a small or individual scale the same unwise course practiced on a larger scale for centuries with very unhealthful results.
It reminds me of a statement found in the book The Myth of Certainty, in which university professor Daniel Taylor writes:
The primary goal of all institutions and subcultures is self-preservation. Preserving the faith is central to God’s plan for human history; preserving particular religious institutions is not. Do not expect those who run the institutions to be sensitive to the difference. God needs no particular person, church, denomination, creed or organization to accomplish his purpose. He will make use of those, in all their diversity, who are ready to be used, but will leave to themselves those who labor for their own ends.
Nonetheless, questioning the institutions is synonymous, for many,with attacking God—something not long to be tolerated. Supposedly they are protecting God . . . Actually, they are protecting themselves, their view of the world, and their sense of security. The religious institution has given them meaning, a sense of purpose, and, in some cases, careers. Anyone perceived as a threat to these things is a threat indeed.
This threat is often met, or suppressed even before it arises, with power. . . . Institutions express their power most clearly by enunciating, interpreting and enforcing the rules of the subculture.
Having seen the truth of this in the Witness religion and its organization and creed, we should not nearsightedly fail to realize how equally true it is in the larger religious field.