A personal view of Raymond Franz

June 14th, 2010

By Terry Walstrom

The death of Ray Franz hit me harder than I would have thought.

I had to reflect for awhile…alone…and quietly.

After all, fine people die every day and some of them are indispensable, and yet we go on…don’t we?

But, Ray Franz was someone who can only be described by the phrase “sui generis” (one of a kind).

My task was to ask myself what it was that made Ray so singular, potent, and admirable – without a trace of scandal or ill will attached to his memory.

Now, I’m ready to talk about it. Call it “venting,”  if you like. Or – “processing”…

Dedicating yourself to the finest work on Earth is noble. Ray, like the rest of us, signed on – by putting his energy and intelligence into his teaching work, no matter what the personal cost to himself.

It was in the course of research that something special in Ray’s character triggered a chain reaction.

Ray was assigned the work of writing articles for one of the Society’s new reference books. He committed himself to doing that job as perfectly as possible without a cursory “cut and paste” parroting of what had been done before. During the course of his research, Ray Franz found what amounted to evidence of dissonance in “The Truth.”

What Ray discovered amounted to doctrinal error. Immediately there was conflict between his rational mind and his religious loyalty!

The sum of a man’s life can come down to a vanishingly small moment. This was Ray’s…

What choices did he have and what would they cost him?

Would he:

  • Gloss over the discord between research and Watchtower “Truth”?
  • Pass the buck to somebody higher and let them bear the burden?
  • Let it go and “wait on Jehovah” to correct it?
  • Raise hell and fight it out with naysayers?
  • Or –

  • Write the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

Here was Ray’s moment of sparkling integrity. Ray Franz trusted the rational mind God had given him enough to write, speak, and live what was real.

We all know what came next.

Ray lived with it…

Ray Franz never lost his temper. Ray never hurled insults. Ray fought the fine fight of the faith quietly – but as solid as a rock.

Without grandstanding – or calling a press conference – or starting a new religious movement – Ray Franz quietly walked a straight line right out the door of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ temple of human error and into…what?

The pristine flowering majesty of a clean conscience – and an ordinary life!

His former “glorious” peers, with their impeccable credentials as Jehovah’s spokesmen, scrambled to plug the dam. The Governing Body saw their first duty as far different from Ray’s: they thought only about covering their collective asses and getting a little “payback.”

They found Ray Franz “guilty” of having lunch with a disassociated person – and sentenced him to die at Armageddon.

Sit back a moment a think hard on that.

Jesus taught us that The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to rescue the one that strays. On the other hand, the Governing Body “Shepherds” had other ideas, motives and means. They shot an arrow through the heart of their stray sheep – and then left him to die alone.

Shakespeare said it best:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

To their everlasting shame, the Governing Body bound themselves in the shallows and miseries. Ray sailed on – in the fair breeze of a clean heart.

Ray wrote Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom without rancor or hysterics. Unlike books written by many Ex-JWs, apostates, or so-called “Evil Slaves” – Ray Franz wrote calmly, assuredly, and with total commitment to fact. (No personal animus!)

The drip, drip, drip of powerful reality burning holes in Watchtower doctrine is where Ray Franz’s words have their immortality!

He threw a lifeline into the flood, while his fellow truth seekers grappled with error and confusion. Many grabbed hold of Ray’s words and pulled themselves to safety.

The power of reality is blast of pure white light! Ray Franz flipped the switch on a beam of light that would shatter Watchtower darkness once and for all.

We stand blinking into that light…even today. And for that bright knowledge revealing our entrapment – what we owe Ray is beyond value.

The Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses is no longer the “Eden of the Truth” we once held it to be. Ray Franz exposed it as a “Tar Pit of Extinction” that the unwary wander into – only to find themselves stuck – and then preyed upon.

The calm, unwavering solidarity of total faith based in reality, as opposed to unquestioning obedience to authority, is Ray Franz’s legacy.

We could all do a lot worse than to learn his lesson and walk his path. We can close our eyes on that final day knowing we’ve left this world a better place than we found it.

Ray, I salute you! I am in awe.

May the True God, whom you sought to serve, have mercy and loving kindness in store for you.

And may each of us find our own way…into that peace.

Now – each of us must face our own quiet moments of decision every day we are alive. Remember Shakespeare’s words…

“On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

Some Additional Thoughts

The “tone” of Ray’s writings could only be described as modest and real.

The character of the person in the words really comes through. I think even the most rabid apostate-hater could see this if they took the trouble to read even one paragraph of either of his books.

Emotionally, Ray was solid because his personal values were clean, honest and without puff.

So rare!


Terry Walstrom, Texas resident and frequent contributor to several Jehovah’s Witness discussion forums and websites, was kind enough to allow us to republish his comments about the passing of Raymond Franz on June 2, 2010. Terry is quite prolific and writes with a deeply honest and sincere style. We hope he will allow us to publish more of his essays here at Ex-JW.com in the future. Here is the link to the original version of the above article.

Categories: Biographies, Testimonies

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  1. anne g ryan

    @anne g ryan – [See English translation below…] Etter å ha lest boken om hans samvittighetskrise sitter jeg igjen med inntrykket av at ledelsen i Brooklyn foretrekker å beskytte tradisjonene fremfor dokumentert sannhet.Der deres sannhet ikke strekker til løgner,omskrivninger,utelatelser og en stor mengde historieforfalskning slik at konseptet om Guds ledelse kan holdes intakt uten å ta hensyn til at Gud hater løgn.Dessuten bør de vite at sannheten er fullkommen og kan ikke endres,gamle sannheter er derfor utopisk ig finnes ikke.Mennesker som forfalsker og omskriver virkeligheten er ikke intressert i sannheten der sannheten avslører dem.Der de føler at den tradisjonelle fårståelse er truet tyr de til splitt-og-hersk-mentalitet under paranoide forestillinger slik kjære Raymond smertelig fikk erfare.Han måtte lide for uforfalsket sannhets skyld.God bless Raymond, [Gud være med] denne hjertevarme mannen.

    Anne writes us from Norway. Here is a very rough and edited translation of what she is trying to say to us:

    After reading the book about his [Ray Franz] crisis of conscience, I sit back with the impression that the leadership in Brooklyn prefers to protect their traditions rather than documented truth. Their truth does not extend to the lies, re-writing, omissions, and an extensive history of fraud – so that the concept of God’s leadership may be held intact without taking into account that God hates lies. Moreover, they should know that truth is absolute and can not be changed, their old truths are so utopian and therefore ultimately not [true]. People who falsify and rewrite reality are not interested in the truth when the truth is revealed. They feel that [to protect] the traditional beliefs [that were] threatened, [they would] resort to the [use of] divide-and-conquer mentality during the paranoid notions that dear Raymond experienced. He painfully had to suffer for the [sake of] unadulterated truth. God bless Raymond, this heartwarming man.

    If someone can provide a better or more accurate translation in English, please feel free to submit it. Our language skills are very limited and we must resort to online translation software to assist us.

  2. Steve

    Like a stone that breaks the surface of still water, and moves the water in all directions, the ripples go outward and ever onward.

    So is knowledge to mankind. Knowledge awakens the soul to understanding. With understanding comes wisdom.

    Raymond Franz has contributed his life’s knowledge,
    with it comes understanding….. what matters is not to just apply the law, but more importantly, apply the spirit of the law. The latter always moves people for the better.
    They then not only gain knowledge and understanding but more valuable than gold, wisdom that results therefrom.

    Truth always comes from free speech. Ignorance hobbles
    understanding and wisdom is stunted.

    Raymond Franz is one of many who have opened the door to understanding the Watchtower Society, and looking to the wisdom that comes from above.

  3. Wilfried

    After receiving approval from the Committee of French translation of the book “Crisis of Conscience”, it is now available for free download in PDF format in several languages ​​here:
    http://chretien.et.homo.free.fr/telechargements.php#crise_de_conscience

  4. Editor

    Thank you for that link, Wilfried. It’s a little hard to navigate and understand, but if you look carefully down the page you will also find both Crisis and In Search of Christian Freedom in accessible formats. Also a complete set of all English language magazines (WT, Aw!, Golden Age, Consolation) back to the beginning. There is also a link to the current Watchtower Library. But for serious students of the Watchtower Society’s history, especially those with limited libraries of their own, this is a wonderful resource.

  5. Silverado Mom

    I’m curious what churches ex Witnesses have gone to with what Raymond taught us through his books? That’s assuming you went to any new churches.

  6. Editor

    Siverado Mom – I never met Raymond Franz, but know several former JWs who did have that privilege. Mr. Franz remained a steadfast Christian until his passing, but a far as I know never took membership in any church. While he would not shy away from discussing the Bible and religious themes, he avoided any direct debate about either the Watchtower’s policies or their teachings, preferring to keep his own opinions to himself. He would point out weaknesses in the WT logic and would agree that they either misinterpreted or distorted some Bible teachings. The best way to really understand how Ray Franz felt is to read both of his books, Crisis of Conscience first, and then In Search of Christian Freedom. If you look hard enough you should be able to find a copy of either book at a Goodwill or Salvation Army book store or buy a used copy on line. There are also PDF versions available. You can usually get a copy through Amazon.com or Freeminds.org. They are easy to read and very revealing. Both books are available in the rotating Amazon link in the sidebar.

  7. Silverado Mom

    Thank you for your kind reply. I tend to deal with religious discussions in a similar fashion. One’s religious beliefs are a very personal matter, close to one’s heart. I have one of his books. I absolutely love it. I will search for the other. I’m sure it will enlighten me even more. I did not know of his passing till today. Not sure why. But it saddened me greatly.

  8. George Atkins

    I had made comment in an earlier remarks about my associating with jehovah,s witnesses and kingdom hall, but have never been a jehovah witness. I have asked many questions concerning the deity of christ, and some of the strict rules set by the governing body of the watch tower organization. The answers given have seemed to be deceitful in content.

  9. Editor

    George, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I understand what you meant. Were the “deceitful comments” from us, or from the Witnesses? Many of us who were Jehovah’s Witnesses know that it is hard to get a straight answer from those who come to your door. It’s mostly because they don’t really know the answers and they are afraid to guess. If you send a question to the WT headquarters, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get an answer. If your question expresses some doubt about the foundation or support for a certain belief, they’ll just assume that you are an “apostate” wanting to waste their time or “jerk their chain.” If it was something written on this website, please let me know and I will try to reply back to you.

  10. Silverado Mom

    George, I would like to encourage you to take the Editor up on his offer. I agree with his reply.

  11. baidoo

    we all thought we are in the truth, the society has deceived us all and still giving out guess explanations, is god using the them?

  12. Lois Poppelreiter

    My brief experience with Ray and his wife Cynthia was in San Jose and Santa Cruz, California. He stayed at a friends home in Santa Cruz and I was so very humbled with having them stay at my home in San Jose. My most vivid memory that will remain forever in my heart was the gentle, kind and loving way both Ray and Sylvia displayed and their love for Scriptures – unadulterated. He never spoke an unkind word about his experience with the Watchtower Society. I also had several phone conversations with him and as busy as he was he never failed to have time to speak with me.
    I loved him and hope God will allow me to see him gain in His due time.

  13. Silverado Mom

    Always nice to hear of any new comments on this page. It keeps such a fine memory alive. I just noticed recently that there is a newer version of JW scriptures on their website. I thought to myself what would Raymond have to say about the changes that were made. I would love some insightful comments.

  14. john newsome

    Ray Franz to me was a hero. How could he be so calm and loving to a group of evil men? To this day I will also believe that the wt should have gave Ray 1 million dollars for each year of service. Ray spent 45 years in that nonsense. A man is worth of his wages.

  15. john newsome

    Again I salute Ray for showing his love for God. He could have stayed there and got all the goodies that a governing body person gets.He chose truth over a lie.He did say he was a captive of concept. A concept is an idea,or a myth, or something that is make believe.Ray chose to get outta a lie.A great example of a christen.

  16. Liesbeth

    His book was an eyeopener for my husband. With children in the “truth” we are more or less cornered and must stay silent or we will lose them. Nevertheless they know about our disbelief but we can’t talk about it, that is the deal.

  17. Garth

    Am in awe of this wonderful man without rancour or vile he stands a s a tower of integrity and admiration unlike the cowards that passed as his peers.

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