Hello there all,
A while ago the user Vinman started a forum thread called: "Ray Franz was an Idiot". The reaction to it was quite negative but I have to admit that the title of that thread was intriguing to me. By nature I am an iconoclast. If life was a Shakespeare play I would be a Cassius: "...he [Caesar] doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves." This past week or so I have not been able to forget Vinman's thread and so it got me seriously thinking about Raymond Franz.
During his last days at the Watchtower Brooklyn HQ, why did Franz decide to retain all of his governing body correspondence and transport it with him when he left the organization? He had to have taken it all because if he left Brooklyn with only the correspondence presented within his first book, he clearly already had a prepared agenda. The reasonable conclusion is that he took the entire collection of Watchtower historic correspondence with him and so the question becomes why?
It's not as if the letters and documents were like a family photo album and he could warmly reminisce about Malawi/Mexico. He therefore knew that within the stacks of boring correspondence there lurked damnation and he knew that he could use it. Franz' paper trail is immaculate, too immaculate. Perhaps even more complete than Watergate's. Could he actually claim that he didn't already know that he would write a book when he stepped out on the pavement of Columbia Heights (remember this was also before he was disfellowshipped)? Isn't it most probable that he very well knew much earlier than he ever acknowledged, that he would probably end up being a heretic? Perhaps as early as 1975? If this is the case wasn't he just gathering evidence while he was on the 'inside'?
Very late in Raymond Franz' Governing body career, his uncle Frederick Franz challenged more than 70+ points in the James book written by Edward Dunlap, in one chapter alone, while it was being prepared for publication. Raymond took matters up with Frederick and according to Dunlap he got worn out by the whole process. But wasn't it wearing Frederick down too? After all both Raymond and Ed Dunlap were having conversations with the Spanish brethren (the contents of which was being leaked) and they were essentially building a new doctrine behind Raymond's uncles back. They were also clearly setting up preliminary changes through the James book and Frederick obviously picked up on this. Now Raymond was an intelligent man, but then according to him it never occurred to him that the situation would turn into a witch hunt. Really? 70+ points of doctrinal disagreement with the Watchtowers 'Oracle' in one session was not giving him a hint? Isn't it more probable that there was actually more happening than he let on?
Wasn't he in fact indirectly challenging Frederick on his status as the organizations chief theologian? Wasn't he making a power play but with an emergency backup plan? When him and his wife went on a two week vacation before his downfall, how could he claim that he had no clue what the Governing Body would do? Isn't it more plausible that he took a vacation because he knew that if they moved on him, he could burn them in turn, cause a scandal and birth a long term book return? Isn't it most probable that he very well knew that he would have to be a martyr (all the while meticulously documenting the process) and would have to go through the 'Sanhedrin' experience to feel justified in his subsequent actions? By using the term 'Sanhedrin' he characterizes himself as a proto-Jesus. Couldn't his actual inner motivations also have made him a proto-Judas?
Franz' first book was an expose, his second a redefinition of his faith. This was in fact not new in Watchtower history and he was actually a copycat: William J. Schnell wrote 'Thirty Years a Watchtower slave' and then 'Into The Light of Christianity' way before Raymond did. The first book was a best seller and the second was less popular because Schnell tried to sell the reader on established Christianity. I dare say that Schnell's book sequence and themes are uncannily like the Franz efforts (although Franz possessed more dirt). Was Franz' two books natural progressions like Schnells (as part of some evolving catharsis) or did he know about Schnell's work through his own extensive research (including access to the apostasy literature book closet at Watchtower HQ) which was sanctioned by 70's Watchtower President Knorr?
Most worrisome is why Franz didn't gun Leo Greenlees in 'Crisis of conscience'. In the book he mentioned Greenlees having to leave while he still resided on the Governing Body. Franz gave his vote to make him step down and yet he kept absolutely silent on the matter of why Greenlees was kicked out. Wasn't his silence complacency? Franz wrote about everything else, why not this particular subject? The Watchtower pedorist scandal already broke three years before the last revision of his first book (2001 and 2004 respectively), yet he still kept silent. Was it too uncomfortable for him or was he just protecting Greenlees and his own reputation? So why wasn't his conscience in crisis over this particular matter?
In his defense Franz wrote the most influential book concerning Jehovah's Witnesses to date. The book is uppermost important for exposing not only some of the best examples of Watchtower scandal, but it also exposes the internal workings of the Watchtower G.O.D. (Guardians of Doctrine). Franz' first book is still the gold standard for people coming off the Watchtower merry go round and his second effort is a serious attempt to explain his post Watchtower beliefs. Within it he tries to advance Christian understanding from his own evolving Biblical perspective. He also wrote down a most beautiful and quotable book opening: "Life is uncertain and when a man dies what he knows dies along with him - unless he passes it on while still in life." Lastly, and by all accounts and in every public appearance, Raymond Franz was a very very nice and meek man. I actually did like him very much.