A local brother I just met at one of our Christian gatherings told me that he had exchanged emails with Raymond Franz before he died in 2010. I asked him if he would be so kind to share them with me and allow me to share them with all of you. This is the first one he sent along. His initial email was to the email@example.com address, which he was unsure was the direct line to Raymond or not.
I’ve attached the body of Kevin’s email followed by Raymond’s response. I’ve taken the liberty to reformat for readability and correct a few spelling mistakes, but other than that, the text is unaltered.
Your brother in Christ,
I have read the Crisis book and am now reading the Freedom book and I am now thanking God that I have them. I left the org in 1975 at 19 years old but my parents now 86 & 87 are still are devout. They also have brought my sister back after over 30 years of inactivity. You see I was not baptized so they still treat me mostly the same. I would love to write to Raymond Franz if the is some way to thank him for the yoke of guilt that has been lifted from me. 30 years of “why don’t you take a stand?”. I feel I just have to thank Mr. Franz that I am now able to thank both God and Jesus for my new found freedom.
From: Commentary Press [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 4:44 PM
Subject: <no subject>
I received your message and thank you for it. I am happy that you found the books of some assistance to you.
As of May 8, I am 83 and in the year 2000, I suffered what was diagnosed as a moderate stroke. No paralysis resulted, but it left me tired and with a reduced energy level. So, I am not able to keep up with correspondence as I would like. Crisis of Conscience is now in 13 languages, which brings in more mail. My wife’s health has undergone some serious problems as well, requiring the giving of time in that direction. Cynthia underwent a heart catheterization process which revealed six blockages in her heart. The doctors wanted to do bypass surgery but she opted not to do so. On September 10, I underwent a surgical operation on my left carotid artery (one of the main arteries supplying blood to the brain). It took an hour and a half, and I was conscious during the operation since only a local anesthesia was applied. The surgeon made about a 5-inch incision in the neck and then opened the artery and cleared out the blockage in it. My right carotid artery became totally blocked causing the stroke in the year 2000 and thus it was important to keep the left open and free of blockage. I only had to spend one night in the hospital, for which I was grateful. Now I have undergone a test of a nodule on my thyroid gland to determine if it is benign or malignant, and the results indicate it is not presently a problem. The popular use of the term “golden years” certainly does not describe what old age really brings, but Ecclesiastes chapter 12 gives a realistic picture.
Many who write have expressed recognition that bitterness and anger only take away credibility from any discussion of the Witnesses. Unfortunately, a large portion of the books and material put out by “ex-JW” sources on the subject are almost entirely negative. A man from England recently wrote:
I’m currently an “active” Witness from England, and I just wanted to say how absolutely relieved I was to read your books (Crisis of Conscience and In Search of Christian Freedom). I must confess, reading them was nothing like I expected. My only contact with ex-JWs has been through browsing the net, and to be honest, a lot of what’s written doesn’t merit much by way of consideration. A lot of sites are so absolutely blinded by bitterness that even the truth they do provide is soured and unpalatable.
I can sympathize with the adjustment you and others face. One invests so much as regards relationships and the seemingly unavoidable loss of many of these is painful. As you evidently recognize, simply withdrawing from a system that one has found to be seriously flawed is not a solution in itself. It is what one does thereafter that determines whether there has been progress and benefit or not. It is also true that any transition—even if only one in outlook—can require not only time but also mental and emotional adjustments. Haste is obviously not advisable as it often only leads to new problems or to new errors. There is always need to exercise patience, trusting in God’s help and direction. – Proverbs 19:2.
It seems, however, that we can often learn as much from the “unpleasant” experiences of life as we can from the pleasurable ones—perhaps more that is of lasting value. While separation from a large organization and former associates unquestionably produces a degree of loneliness, even that can have its beneficial aspects. It can bring home to us more than ever before the need for full reliance on our heavenly Father; that only in Him have we genuine security and the confidence of his care. It is no longer a case of flowing along with the stream but of developing a personal inner strength, gained through faith, of growing up so as to no longer be children but grown men and women; a growth achieved through our growth in love for God’s Son and the way of life he exemplified. (Ephesians 4:13-16)
I don’t view my past experience as all loss, nor feel that I learned nothing from it. I find great comfort in the words of Paul at Romans 8:28 (the New World Translation changes the meaning of this text by inserting the word “his” in the expression “all his works” but this is not the way the original Greek text reads). According to a number of translations, Paul states:
“We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him.” – Jerusalem Bible translation.
Not just in “his works” but in “all things” or in “everything”, God is able to turn any circumstance—however painful or, in some cases, even tragic—to the good of those who love him. At the time, we may well find this difficult to believe, but if we turn to him in full faith and allow him to do so, he can and will cause that to be the result. He can make us the better person for having had the experience, enrich us in spite of the sorrow we may undergo. Time will demonstrate this to be so and that hope can give us courage to continue on, trusting in his love.
You will find that many of what are called “ex-JW ministries; have often simply exchanged their previous beliefs for what is known as “orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy undoubtedly contains its measure of what is sound. But it also contains elements that are the result of imposition of religious authority, rather than belief clearly set forth in Scripture. It is difficult, for example, to find any reputable reference work that does not acknowledge the post-Biblical origin of the Trinity doctrine. I feel that the main problem with the Trinity doctrine is the dogmatism and judgmentalism that customarily accompanies it. That to me is but another evidence of the fragility of its foundation. Were it clearly taught in Scripture, there would be no need for authoritarian imposition of the teaching and heavy pressure to submit to it.
So many former Witnesses are at a disadvantage when pressured by others to conform to views these have adopted. Dogmatic assertions from sources that claim to base their arguments on knowledge of Biblical Greek often awe former Witnesses—even as they were previously awed by claims of a similar nature from the Watch Tower organization. So many points could be clarified if people were simply to read the same text in a variety of translations. They would then at least see that where translation is concerned, dogmatism is greater evidence of ignorance than of learning. I find this to be the case with many who adopt the Trinity doctrine.
Paul stressed that knowledge has merit only when it is expressive of, and productive of, love; that while knowledge often puffs up, love builds up. Human language, remarkable though it is, is limited to expressing what relates to the human sphere. It could never adequately be used to describe in detail and fullness things of the spirit realm, such as the exact nature of God, the process whereby He could beget a Son, the relationship resulting from such begettal, and similar matters. At the very least, it would take the language of angels, themselves spirit persons, to do this. Yet Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”—1 Corinthians 8:1; 13:1-3.
When I listen to some harp on a particular doctrine which professes to express in specific terms things which the Scriptures state in general terms, to set out explicitly things on which the Scriptures are not explicit, and define what the Scriptures leave undefined, I ask myself how much love this shows? What loving benefit they think results from this? How it could possibly be of comparable benefit to discussing something that is presented straightforwardly and unambiguously in Scripture and the appreciation of which would have real meaning and benefit in the person’s life? I’m afraid much of what many hear carries echoes of the noisy gong and clashing cymbal.
It reminds me of a statement found in the book, The Myth of Certainty, in which university professor Daniel Taylor writes:
The primary goal of all institutions and subcultures is self-preservation. Preserving the faith is central to God’s plan for human history; preserving particular religious institutions is not. Do not expect those who run the institutions to be sensitive to the difference. God needs no particular person, church, denomination, creed or organization to accomplish his purpose. He will make use of those, in all their diversity, who are ready to be used, but will leave to themselves those who labor for their own ends.
Nonetheless, questioning the institutions is synonymous, for many, with attacking God—something not long to be tolerated. Supposedly they are protecting God . . . Actually, they are protecting themselves, their view of the world, and their sense of security. The religious institution has given them meaning, a sense of purpose, and, in some cases, careers. Anyone perceived as a threat to these things is a threat indeed.
This threat is often met, or suppressed even before it arises, with power…. Institutions express their power most clearly by enunciating, interpreting and enforcing the rules of the subculture.
Having seen the truth of this in the Witness religion and its organization and creed, we should not nearsightedly fail to realize how equally true it is in the larger religious field.
As regards association and fellowship, I recognize the dilemma some face. But I do feel that as time goes on one can find others whose association and companionship can be healthful and upbuilding, whether among former Witnesses or others. In one’s daily course of life one meets a variety of people and over a period of time may find at least some whose association is healthful and upbuilding. We get together with others for Bible discussion and though our group is quite small, we find it satisfying. Naturally, there is a certain benefit to similarity of background, but it doesn’t seem as if this should be a major goal. I personally have no interest in affiliating with a denomination. Some have expressed that most denominations have more in common than the points on which they disagree, which has some truth in it. Yet they still prefer to remain as separate denominations and affiliation with any of them does have at least some divisive effect, since one is expected to uphold and favor the growth and distinctive teachings of the denomination involved.
In a recent letter from Canada a brother writes:
I have started witnessing informally to people who have Bible questions or when I see it is an appropriate time to witness. I offer a free discussion on the Bible, its theme concerning Jesus and the Kingdom, the main divisions and how to study it to profit personally. No obligations, no church, no religion, just a Bible discussion. I do not associate with any group and do not feel the need to really. I also do not give personal opinions wherever the Scriptures are not clear or are a decision of conscience. However, I do feel the need to let folks know that the Bible’s way is the only way to live and freedom, true freedom, comes through knowing Jesus Christ. On occasion I see myself saying things that must be verified for the correct understanding, but I at least feel I know the basics to help someone profit from a personal study of the Bible. It takes a long time to get out of the woods, and I sometimes ask myself if total eradication of WT influence is possible. When it has been a part of your adult life for so long, you still find yourself thinking a certain way and then realize it is learned thoughts, not logically thought out sometimes. There are some things you want to hold on to of course, but their programming gets in the way more often than you would like to believe.
I hope that things may go well for you and wish you God’s guidance, comfort and strength as you face up to life’s problems. Where are you living now?
Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks Eric, There is truth and wisdom in his words. Insightful. James 1:5 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 3:17 ESV But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious… Read more »
Thank you Lazarus for those fine scriptural reminders. I think many of us here will attest to the truth of these scriptural sentiments. I just want to draw attention to James chapter 1 verse five and how God gives generously to all without reproach, and that it will be given him! I think many of us here may realise that this has actually come about, but only after a great deal of patience and persistence has been shown. And I think given the value of this knowledge and wisdom it is well worth it. Every bit as much as Proverbs… Read more »
Although I was just becoming a teenager at the time of Ray’s “departure”, which seemed like he got the raw deal. I have been able to be a witness to his life after the WATCHTOWER/WATCH TOWER tenure, and how he handled himself. He wrote two or three books and left it at that and pretty well went in partial seclusion, in my view. He had a lot of years behind him after he got shafted, and I think he heard the Lord Jesus Christ knocking on the door so he let him in to sup. (Rev 3:20). LJ, I’m not… Read more »
Psalmbee, I agree Eric is his own man. All I meant was that he imitates Ray in that he has done his best to provide us with a platform that we can talk freely, while discouraging the rants and raves that exist so freely over the Internet. If I met Eric, I would give him a hug, and, like Ray, feel I could learn a lot by just talking with him.
I understand LJ, no harm, no foul. Let’s not forget that when Ray left, the green NWT was still in circulation and they were still using the Aid book, Eric has got two more revisions and the insight volumes under his belt and many more years of WT’s, so I will say that Eric has overlapped Ray several times.
If we see farther than those who came before, it is because we are standing on their shoulders. ?
That’s what I am inspired about you the most Meleti, always on the ready with a full shaker of salt and always so modest. Continually trying to make the cut, like we all should be. Ray mentioned the book “Myth of Certainty” and after reading the title I realized the only thing certain is uncertainty.
IMO, Ray showed his uncertainty with his closing statement, where he used the word “wish” and did not mention Jehovah’s name and for that matter he didn’t use it in the letter at all except to say JW’s!
Psalmbee, (Is 59:5,6)
Leonardo coincido contigo… A mi tambien me vienen ganas de abrazar a un hombre tan valiente como Erick… Y con tanta sabiduria… Y tambien cioncido y aprecio tu comentario.
Ciertamente el hermano Raymud Frand inicio una nueva era junto con Erick y otros mas venimos por detras.
Todo por conocer la verdad.
Thank you so much for this information, Eric. I guess what we learn is that the way to highlight error is not to rant and shout about it, but to give people information and dignity and allow them to draw their own conclusions. We may have an opinion, but we usually do not need to attack what someone else thinks. Our model is Jesus. Most of the time, he highlighted what was the right way to go about things. When he focused on his enemies teachings, they were often present. The best form of defence is said to be attack.… Read more »
Ray makes some good points about what determines the success after leaving the Org. It is what one does thereafter. Only finding fault with the org and expressing it in bitter terms is really very easy, and not really productive but imitating Jesus is and is the real goal, the real challenge. On the one hand we may be frustrated and want to achieve “great things” in the way of exposing the org or gaining attention to ourselves over a particular subject or matter we think is crucial, this can lead to the bitterness that is so obvious in many… Read more »
Ray makes some good points about what determines the success after leaving the Org. It is what one does thereafter. This is an excellent point. I’ve seen any number of people leave the organization and, sadly, many do poorly. Many lose their faith. Some abandon the moral standards of the Bible and some become fully atheist. If that happens, then the victory is Satan’s, because someone allowed human leadership to alienate us from God. When I see what has been published by various ex Witnesses, it strikes me that many of these people seem as if they were never truly… Read more »
Correction de traduction (Fani française) :
Que toute amertume (bitterness en anglais?) ou toute colère disparaisse de nos coeurs
Tout mon amour
Quelle bénédiction et quelle douceur ce matin nous avons reçus grâce à ce mail. J’ai été tellement émue !
Oui, que l’amour soit toujours notre moteur et que toute amertume disparaisse de nos cœurs.
Merci encore pour votre travail et que nous puissions encore progresser dans nos Bons sentiments envers tous nos frères à nos côtés ou pas. Soyons des adultes dans ce domaine.
Que notre Père céleste vous bénisse.
Unie à vous dans l’amour et la foi.
One thing I appreciate about your blog is that you refrain from the bitterness that so often marks the ex JW discussions on line. While I have no sympathy for the way the organization has behaved, I don’t appreciate the way some people bash them. The responsible parties will have their accounting with God, so justice will be served. I’ve seen several ex JW channels on YouTube which seem to have become showcases for unlikely YouTube stars. The peril of this is that they have pressure to keep on releasing new material, even if there’s little new to say. Such… Read more »
This is so inspirational! In so many ways Ray gave us a good head start. Now it’s up to us to follow Jesus the rest of the way. Thank you so much for sharing this Eric and your contributor for being willing to allow you to post it.
Yes, an encouraging form email that brother Franz sent out in his later years. I received this email in February of 2010. I just now have realized it was a form email. Nonetheless, the email expressed my sentiments very closely, especially the part about love being the main criteria in validating any of our activities. Brother Ray was the best of the GB. They got their chance to get on the path of reform but they blew it. Ray wrote the article in the 70s about disfellowshipping using a milder, reformed outlook which was dismantled, sadly, in the early 80s.… Read more »
A beautiful expression as to why we need to always rely on God & His Son to understand his word and not any manmade organization.
Thank you, Truth_seeker, for telling us that Ray’s email was a “form email”. I wondered at how he could have given so much of himself in a personal email, being that he was having such severe physical problems at that time. It makes sense that he would have sent such a well-made letter to more than one person. I found especially timely Ray’s thoughts in these two paragraphs, so I’ll paste them here: “Nonetheless, questioning the institutions is synonymous, for many, with attacking God—something not long to be tolerated. Supposedly they are protecting God . . . Actually, they are… Read more »