I tend to believe that Raymond Franz’s significance within the Jehovah’s Witness movement can be traced to three specific things. First and foremost, he was the highest-ranking member to both leave and speak out against the Watchtower Society’s organizational leadership and practices. This factor more than any other provides authority and authenticity to his polemic works, something that cannot be matched by other authors on the topic. Secondly, scholars, journalists, and other social commentators tend to intellectually neglect the topic of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a point that elevates Franz’s importance (rightly or wrongly) within the canon of works on the subject. Finally, as an author Raymond Franz has become well loved by his audience (mainly people who have some form of association with Jehovah’s Witnesses) because he delivered his arguments free of ad homenem attacks and personal bitterness. He also remained rather accessible in the years following his exit from the Watchtower, a factor that allowed many to follow up with him regarding various aspects of his books and experiences.
I tend to believe that those with a high opinion of his books (mainly former JWs) do sometimes blur the line between what his books are and what they are not. Both of his works are probably best described as autobiographical polemics, works that seek to make an argument against the exclusionist claims of the Watchtower Society through personal experience and opinion. There is also, however, a research component to his books as well. Yet his research remains linked to a single controversy, namely, whether or not the Watchtower Society is the only Christian organization on earth that is both approved of and used by God. In my own personal opinion, the works of Raymond Franz stand as the go to source for settling this controversy.
Outside of this basic controversy, however, I feel that there is a need for more research about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Research geared towards developing a theoretical understanding of the movement (through the disciplines such as the sociology of religion, millenarianism, etc.), rather than weighing the claims of the organizations leadership would probably reveal some interesting things about the impacts new religious movements like JWs are having on society. Research about Jehovah's Witnesses is very different from research aiming to validate or discredit a religions claims. I believe that more of the former is needed, and that there is already enough of the latter to go around.
Like many other former Jehovah’s Witnesses I remain forever grateful for the work that Raymond Franz did in compiling detailed arguments against the claims of the Watchtower Society. For those that need them, his books will continue to stand as an authority on the authenticity of the Watchtower’s claims to being connected with the divine.