What if Fred Franz had never existed?
Those of you who weren’t around in the days when he was the oracle of JWdom or who at least aren’t familiar with the deeper publications he was responsible for probably won’t be able to comprehend the significance of the question. I believe he influenced JWdom greatly, and the whole feel of JWdom would have been different without him.
During the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s (not sure about 50’s), he was considered to be almost superhuman by some (a lot?) of JWs. He was the guru, the oracle, the sage. He was the scholar. He was the visionary, the prophet. Tales of his feats and abilities abounded in JW land. About ten years ago, I was conducting a Book Study and there was another elder assigned to my group. He was probably in his late seventies at the time and was very familiar with the Franz era. He made a comment indicating that Franz was flying to another country to give a talk in the language of that country and that he (Franz) learned the language on the plane flight so he could give the talk.
Many of us who were around during Franz’s heyday remember how JWdom was then. It was not shiny and shallow as it is now. Yeah, it was wrong then, too, but it was still different. It was deeper. It had a scholarly feel to it. It was bold and there was more dignity. Individual JWs and the org loved doctrine and deeper discussions back then; they weren’t scared of such as are individual JWs and the org of today. There was excitement in the air; the end of the world and our deliverance were imminent. JWdom attracted some really smart, stable people. I was there; I saw it. I remember the deep, exciting poolside discussions after district convention sessions. The look and feel of JWdom were just so different back then.
But what would it have been like if Franz had never existed? What would the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s have been like? What would the literature have been like? Would there have ever been a New World Translation? What about doctrine? I assume there would not have been a 1975 debacle. Would JWdom have had the momentum that it did in that period if Franz hadn’t been in the picture? What would have been the look and feel without him?