A Responsible Discussion on Ray Franz's Role in the Lives of Former JW's

by AllTimeJeff 36 Replies latest jw friends

  • drew sagan
    drew sagan

    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.

  • crazyblondeb

    Does anyone know if AP ever picked up on Ray's death?

    I'd love to find it, maybe sending it to local news media.

  • cantleave

    I'll put my two pennies in here.

    Ray never set himself up to be followed. He left the governing body of the Jehovah's Witnesses and was subsequently hounded out the organisation by it's leadership. This after 40 years of a life completely dedicated to the organisation.

    He wrote two books that have helped many to realise that the religion they have been brought up in / converted to, is a man made organsation and is extremely flawed. A very large number of the people who read those books, came to the conclusion that this organisation can in no way be directed by a divine being. The result is that they have have left the organisation mentally as well as physically.

    The insights on the inner workings of the WTS, found in Franz's books, can only have come from someone who was formally part of the Governing Body. This made him unique. He felt to expose the corruption and flaws of the leadership of the Jehovah's Witnesses the right thing to do. He wrote without bitterness, malice or toxicity, yet his words are so powerful, so potent. He made the rock solid, in-penetrable Watch Tower Society seem a vunerable. He exposed dishonesty in a group of people who promoted themselves as the touchstone of truth. He helped many who had doubts about the "truth" to find the confidence to ask the questions, that would lead to the answers that they needed.

    I was one of those people. My respect for Raymond Franz is immense. But I don't follow him, infact my belief is now very different from that which he put his faith in. I am saddened by his death, and feel that the world lost a great man, but if I started to revere him, I feel that would undo the work that he initiated, it would be the last thing he wanted.

  • I quit!
    I quit!

    I was just looking over all the posts about Ray's passing. I was already out when I read his book it but it helped me to see just how corrupt the Watchtower is. I think it important to remember that he wasn't young and didn't have a whole lot when he left. The Tower doesn't provide pensions for it leaders like other religions do. They only provide for you as long as you stay in step. He could have faked it and stuck around like a I believe a lot of them do but he didn't. RIP

  • BurnTheShips

    Franz's writings were icing on the cake for me. By the time I had built up the courage to read them, I had baked the cake.

    No major change of direction, for me.

    To be quite honest, at this point in time, the army of apostate Davids on the Internet does the Watchtower Goliath far more grief than Ray Franz's excellent book.

    Wherever he is, I am sure this would please him.


  • WuzLovesDubs

    We all have followed some belief or another, or some set of writers, speakers, organizational creedos in our lives. Thats what people do and how they shape their own ideas and actions. So as soon as I decided to change the direction of my "beliefs" to being a JW..which was a RADICAL change of direction from being a Methodist...I was accused of being a Russelite. As soon as I traded in THAT set of "Truths" for the "Truth about the Truth" as presented by Ray, David Reed, Jim Penton, Rand Watters and others....I was accused of being followers of THEM. But the only ones who gave a shit about my change of beliefs were the ones still stuck in the OLD set who were miserable and still stuck there and mostly jealous of my new found freedom and life.

    I didnt follow Ray. Ray opened the door, like the gentleman he was, and the choice to walk through it or not was entirely my own. And thats the way he wrote as well. "I need to write this. Here it is." And that was the end of it.

    Love you Ray.

  • Heaven

    I can appreciate very much the courage it took Ray Franz to go public with his discovery about the Watchtower and Jehovah's Witnesses. He could have just left quietly, say nothing, and got on with life. But he didn't. He lost almost everything and at that stage of his life that must have been very difficult. And to suffer the insults from this organization and its members must have torn at his heart. I understand the pain of being accused of something you are not guilty of doing.

    Because of Ray Franz, as well as many others, I am now well informed about the WTS and JWs. His insight is unique in that he was at the top of the organization. His books have confirmed for me my suspicions all these years that something wasn't right at all with this group. I can now speak from a truthful and knowledgable viewpoint and not be railroaded by family or others trying to convert me into a destructive cult. I no longer carry the baggage I used to because I resisted joining. I can also continue a legacy of warning and helping others.

    I do not 'follow' Ray Franz or anyone else. I follow my heart. I listen to what others have to say and weigh it against the criteria of goodness, the first one being does this support treating people the way I wish to be treated (the Golden Rule).

    I hope Ray has gone to a better place. I hope we can all go there when our time here in this physical realm has concluded. It would be wonderful to meet up with Ray.

  • lepermessiah

    Ray is a real hero to me. My definition of a hero is someone who displays courage, self-sacrifice, and does something they do not have to do for the greater good of others.

    Do I idolize him? Of course not. Do I think he came up with a new, better way of Christianity? No.

    To me, he is the greatest type of hero. The one who becomes one simply by being a great HUMAN being and going with his conscience and doing the right thing. He could have left the organization and become bitter and angry, but he chose the best response. He continued to go with his conscience and his true compassion for people and gave them an honest, eye-opening glimpse inside a religion organization that has millions of people captive. He was willing to offer his unique perspective inside the governing body and show that these were simply men making decisions based on their honest opinion, feelings, or whatever mood they were in that day, depending on the member. He showed the hypocrisy and the true motives of the organization without ever coming across with "an axe to grind". Crisis if Conscience was great and started the chains to be removed, but In Search of Christian Freedom was the final liberation - that to me was where Ray really destroyed WT doctrine and made me realize how EASY true Christianity should be to those who choose to pursue it, unlike those of us who simply became WT slaves.

    That man helped countless people gain the relief that they needed when coming out of the WT. I read along with his books in shock, denial, anger - I laughed, I cried, but most importantly, I healed. He showed that the WT is just another man-made religion and it was a group of rulers making rules. I had felt that way for years, and to have a voice of reason who was raised the same way I was confirm it for me was liberating.

    I dont see him as the leader of the Ex-JW movement, I simply see him as a great man who continued to give to others right down to his last day. There are so many others on this board and in other places that continue to do that as well. I would love to list all your names that have touched me, but I would get sore fingers typing all those names!!

    My only regret? I have been procrastinating in writing him a thank-you letter for months now. I guess I didnt want to bother him in his ill health, I didnt know quite what to say. But, I know Ray would appreciate the fact that I read his books and that they had a huge impact on me. I will be grateful to him forever, and indebted in a way as well. The best thing I can do is try to imitate his example and "Pay It Forward". I will do all I can to assist others who need comfort and relief from a religion that left them hurt and confused.

  • Damocles

    A significant number of people who leave do so because they can no longer tolerate living that awful life. Yet, many I have known still wanted to retain the doctrinal beliefs which led to all sorts of emotional problems when they quit. I think one thing Franz' books did was help those people recognize that, not only is it an awful place, its dead wrong in the beliefs.

    For myself, COC was just one of many anti-dub books I read along the way. I never bought the idea that reading books against the religion was dangerous. If you are correct, you have nothing to fear from criticism. I enjoyed the book but it was not particularly influential in my decision to quit. I quit because it was an awful place and the beliefs are dead wrong. I waited so long because my family was held hostage.

    I don't think its wrong for people who are particularly grateful for his help to express it with some emotion. How others interpret that emotion is really their problem.

  • JustHuman14

    Ray was an honest Christian. He have seen from inside all the flaws of the WT, and realized that God had nothing to do with that cult. He had to came out and speak of what was happening within the GB.

    Most of all he didn't tried to create a new religion, like many ex-cult leaders do. I had the chance to talk with him few times and indeed I could see the reason writting the 2 books.

    He helped hundred of thousands of JW's to breake free from that cult and have a real life.

    He will always live in our hearts

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