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The blot not to be seen

In a discussion, which was not to be intended to bring the name up of an ex member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses from 20 October 1971 until 22 May 1980, we notice that the Organisation of the Jehovah Witnesses likes to do if nothing happened way back in the seventies.

For Raymond Victor Franz (May 8, 1922 – June 2, 2010) the seventies became exuberant very promising but also very disappointing. Being the son of a Bible Student he found an other way and joined the group in 1938 which was to become known as the Jehovah Witnesses. , He became a baptized member in 1939 after which he took more time to study the Bible and to grow in to the believes of the Jehovah Witnesses. To get more insight he went to the missionary school of Jehovah’s Witnesses, typically referred to simply as Gilead or Gilead School, founded in 1942by Nathan H. Knorr. After five months he graduated in 1944. Temporarily he served the organization as a traveling representative in the continental U.S. until receiving a missionary assignment to Puerto Rico in 1946. In 1959 he married his wife with whom he continued his missionary work in the Caribbean, traveling to the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, to evangelize for four more years before taking up work at Watch Tower headquarters inBrooklyn,the most populous of New York City‘s five boroughs.

Encouraged by his uncle Frederick W. Franz he put all his efforts to spread the news of the coming Kingdom and to help his brothers and sisters grow in the faith. Both Frederick and Ray joined forces to make a think-tank. Franz was encouraged to put his ideas in writing and got the opportunity to work in the organization’s writing department. He was assigned to collaboratively write Aid to Bible Understanding, the first religious encyclopedia published by Jehovah’s Witnesses in which he put a lot of energy.

English: crop of older photo ca 1981 of previo...

Ray Franz, early 1980s – English: crop of older photo ca 1981 of previous Jehovah’s Witnesses Governing Body members (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For him the climax of his career, if you may call it that, came on 20 October 1971 when he was appointed as a member of the Governing Body. But those 9 final years became a crucial period for the Bible Student. He had had so many dreams and wanted to do so much for the faith, but bit by bit his dreams felt into pieces. Illusions there met up with reality. He always had looked, like his father, for the truth. He thought he had found it in a very well structured organisation, while other members of his family had studied the Bible as individuals and not with such tight connections as he had. The freedom other family members had not being so organised, made him see that the organisation he was with used its structure to tighten rules and regulations and to be more a chain to the Bible Students.  He could see more and more limitations to brethren in the congregation. His eyes were surprised to find that at the top they were not afraid to be quite about certain things are to have no objections for a “little lie for the good”. He found deliberate, contrived and dishonest sayings and actions of which he could not agree with. Looking at all the going ons he began to realize how large a measure of what he had based his entire adult life. To him it came as a certain shock and first he wanted to disbelief.  Though there was no way around, he had to face the trap in which he was fallen and saw the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

At first in unbelief, then doubts, he contacted more brothers and sisters to talk about his findings. This got him in the first problems, having people who he thought were his friends, taking distance or ignoring him. Other reacted strongly at him, trying to get him back on track at all costs. It became more difficult to talk about differences of opinion  with the Governing Body or with others in the community. More and more Ray and Cynthia seemed to become isolated and became very frustrated on their isolated island. The Governing Body’s dogmatism and overemphasis on traditional views rather than reliance on the Bible in reaching doctrinal decisions was a thorn in his flesh. He knew life is not a bed of roses, but the way of thinking and the direction the Watchtower Society took could not be liked any more by Ray and his wife. Ray Franz started also going back to the sources of his father and got back into contact with several Bible Students, not associated with the Jehovah Witnesses.  As such the association of Free Christians (Vrije Christenen) in Belgium also got in contact with his family. Out of those contacts Ray his writings and letters to the Board of Governors where also published, in English and Dutch, in Belgium. But all the letters he wrote to other members of the Governing Body seemed to no avail. He also understood now why previously there had been some very good forces gone away from the organisation. But he also understood the organisation had wrongly put out some very sincere Bible Students.

Utterly disappointed and frustrated he decided, late 1979, to leave the international headquarters. Being depressed, health reasons seemed logic and acceptable to give leave of absence. They moved to Alabama, where he took up laboring work on a property owned by a fellow Witness.

Diagram Representing Organisational Structure ...

Diagram Representing Organisational Structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A committee of the Governing Body raised concerns over the spreading of “wrong teachings” emanating from headquarters staff and began questioning headquarters staff on their beliefs. The previous discussions and correspondence between brethren about faith-matters, beliefs and worship, came under fire. Because they could find that Ray Franz had contradicted certain Watch Tower doctrines they considered it necessary to tell Ray that he had been implicated as an apostate. His claims that he was not the only one who questioned certain teachings of the Watch Tower Society that may have constituted apostasy, was taken ill.

After a questioning for three hours about his Bible viewpoints and commitment to Watch Tower doctrines, Franz agreed to a request to resign from the Governing Body and headquarters staff, on 21 May 1980. The Governing Body investigation resulted in the disfellowshipping of several other headquarters staff.

When Franz continued to socialize and eat with his employer in Alabama, he was summoned to a judicial hearing on 25 November and disfellowshipped for disobeying the edict.

Treated very badly by the Watchtower power structure, he took on writing about the case, after a number of Watchtower articles criticised the motives, character and conduct of former Witnesses who conscientiously disagreed with the organization. Ray claimed that many Jehovah’s Witnesses who choose to leave because they cannot “honestly agree with all the organization’s teachings or policies” are subsequently disfellowshipped, or formally expelled, and shunned as “apostates”. He wrote that he hoped his book might prompt Witnesses to consider the conscientious stand of defectors with a more open mind. He hoped that a discussion of deliberations and decisions of the Governing Body during his term would illustrate fundamental problems and serious issues within the organization: “They demonstrate the extremes to which ‘loyalty to an organization’ can lead, how it is that basically kind, well-intentioned persons can be led to make decisions and take actions that are both unkind and unjust, even cruel.” {Franz, Raymond (2004). Crisis of Conscience. Atlanta, Georgia: Commentary Press. pp. 37–40. ISBN 0-914675-23-0.}

File:Franzcrisis.jpg

Illustration of book cover Crisis of Conscience (1983) American edition

His Crisis of Conscience (1983) got a sequel by In Search of Christian Freedom (1991).

Former Witness James Penton, who included the book in the bibliography of his 1985 history of the Witness movement, described the book as “remarkably informative” and “thoroughly documented” and noted it was “written more in a tone of sadness than of anger”. {Penton, M. James (1985). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 149, 401. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3.}

Frederick W. Franz was in 1992 found a fine example of faithfulness (Watchtower 1/1/92, Love for Jehovah Stimulates True Worship), “He served faithfully as a member of the Governing Body down till his death, on December 22, 1992, at the age of 99.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom; Jehovah’s Word Keeps Moving Speedily)

Upon the death of then president Nathan H. Knorr in 1977, he became the president of the Watch Tower Society. He served in that capacity until his death. In his lifetime, Brother Franz saw the number of Witnesses of Jehovah increase from a few thousand to some four and a half million. He enjoyed many privileges of service, including speaking at international conventions and visiting branches and missionary homes in many parts of the world. His life story appeared in the May 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower. (Watchtower 3/15/93, Rewarded With “the Crown of Life)

When research was being done under the supervision of the Governing Body in preparation of the reference work Aid to Bible Understanding, attention was once more directed to the way in which the first-century Christian congregation was organized. A careful study was made of such Biblical terms as “older man,” “overseer,” and “minister.” Could the modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses conform more fully to the pattern that had been preserved in the Scriptures as a guide? (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom; Development of the Organization Structure)

Insight on the Scriptures includes much of what was formerly in the book Aid to Bible Understanding and a great deal more. In what respects is it different? Scores of sections have been revised and updated. There are also many new articles as well as added features in Insight on the Scriptures. (Watchtower 3/15/89, “Insight on the Scriptures”—A New Bible Encyclopedia)

Material from Aid to Bible Understanding seems to have found its way into Insight on the Scriptures, but no where anything is mentioned about one of the main inspiration persons behind the book: Ray Franz or Raymond Victor Franz. When we do mention the family Franz to Jehovah Witnesses they do not want to hear any bad word about the family Franz.

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Representatives of the “Slave Class” or the Real “faithful and discreet slave”

In the past when we spoke with Jehovah Witnesses they often had a double tongue on the “faithful and discreet slave” (FDS). To us it did not always seemed clear who they considered to be the “faithful and discreet slave”.

We understood that the Governing Body (GB) would be mostly presented as the humble “representatives” of the “Slave Class”, which comprised the 12,000 or more anointed remnant of Christians with a heavenly calling still on earth.

Despite claiming to be “representatives” of this group of people, suspicions were raised in the minds of many thinking Witnesses after reading articles such as the Questions From Readers of the August 15th 2011 Watchtower, where it was admitted that the Governing Body has no actual communication with memorial partakers (the “anointed”) and even feels that some of these ones may be mentally imbalanced. (see w11 8/15 p. 22) ???!!???

According to the New Light of the Witnesses “The Faithful and Discreet Slave” would be a small group of anointed brothers during Jesus’ presence serving at Watchtower Headquarters. Under Jesus guidance they would be directly involved in the preparing and dispensing of spiritual food. The individual members of the Governing Body would not be the Faithful and Discreet Slave but only acting as the Faithful and Discreet Slave when they are working as a collective body in making decisions regarding the dispensing of spiritual food.

At memorial services it were only the chosen members of the 144 000 who could be partakers of the symbols. Strangely enough those people who thought to be one of those 144 000 became considered as possible not so good by their head, not to say ‘insane’. Looking at the Questions From Readers article of the August 15th, 2011 Watchtower they had already suffered the indignity of being labelled as potentially “mentally or emotionally imbalanced”.

This “new light” stops short of expressly naming “the Governing Body” as the Faithful Slave – rather a “group” of anointed brothers serving at Watchtower headquarters, which can only be applied to the Governing Body in our present day. According to Cedars this distinction is significant, because it acknowledges that there was no Governing Body as we know it prior to 1971 – only the Watch Tower Society Board of Directors who, as I have explained in a previous article, were informally described as a “governing body” (lower case) only from 1944 onwards.

Since the death of Freddy Franz the Governing Body (and previous Presidents) have acted independently of the supposed FDS class and never acted as their representatives. Don Cameron in his book Captives of a Concept blows the supposed 1919 choosing by Christ myth apart.

Having told for so many years that  Russell and Rutherford have been the founders of their association, but finding that more people are noticing the big differences in their teaching and the present organisation their teaching, makes it understandable that they now would like to distance themselves from certain teachings of the 19° and early 20° century.

For the present board it is high time to distance themselves from the WTS eyebrow raising beginings and Russell’s quirky and for them embarrassing ideas and relegate him to place they keep people like George Storrs, Tyndale et al-people who were searching for the truth but had not yet been chosen by Jesus who according to them, came invisibly in 1918.

In case they have now the true anointed Faithful slave, it is strange that they still have connection with worldly organisations, NGO’s like the OSCE, which is also connected to the United Nations, while they ask their members not to have any connection with UN related organisations because they would be from the devil and be the coming eighth king.

In the Bible we do find that Jesus is the only one mediator between God and men, though the WTS always presented their FDS as a mediator for the thoughts and new light to be given to Gods People. Luckily there were more JW who saw how the WTS has presumptuously placed itself as mediator between Christ and his followers, uninvited by Christ to replace him as the mediator.

Several serious Bible students warned already for several years that the FDS had taken in the same position as the pope has in the Catholic Church. the organisation has be willing to have control over all those associated with them. Those who could not come to agreement with their ideas had to go. Often they were cast out with the consequence that families were asundered. The way to follow or way to go brought division they always repudiated. Several people who had given their full life felt used and found their life was waisted with this “mess of a religion”. Several people who where cast out found a few years later their ideas bck into the teachings under the new light, but they were never asked to return back to the community or where never restored.

John Fatty writes: “For the last few years, there has been MUCH discussion and debate on the sites regarding this subject. Many XJW’s have made the claim the GB has already taken this position by their ‘subtle’ comments. (Perhaps to soften up the field of understanding for the coming change) Only to be villified by debating JW’s for being so wrong. “They would NEVER take that position!.” Well, there are quite a few certain argueing JW’s that must feel abit humiliated right now. I wonder if this will cause them to awaken?”

It is also strange that nobody questioned that if Rutherford and his anointed associates were selected in 1919 on what scriptural basis it could be automatically assumed that their roles as the Faithful and Discreet Slave were transferable, or could be “inherited”, by successive generations of the Board of Directors of the Watch Tower Society – which, after all, is merely a legal entity?

We always would appreciate it when people could show us where the bible provides an example of how those appointed by God to be his representatives may pass their duties on to someone else in the event of their death without God’s clear and unambiguous approval. (Numbers 27:18-20) The idea of someone inheriting someone else’s position because they have died is clearly a fleshly concept rather than a spiritual one.

We do agree that in the Roman Catholic faith they consider that the power of a certain apostle goes over to other living people when they die. According to us the twelve apostles appointed by Christ, once these died off they were not replaced by successors. Matthias, who had shown great interest in Jesus and had followed him, was the only apostle “of the twelve” who wasn’t appointed directly by Jesus, but he was only appointed as a replacement of unfaithful Judas by the casting of lots.

“23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:23-26 NIV)

When the faithful apostle James died (as with the rest of the apostles) there is no record of any concern over whether a replacement should be appointed.

The JW Insightbook also lets the JW  know:

“Sometime during the ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost it was viewed as necessary that another be selected to fill the vacancy left by Judas, not simply on the basis of his death but, rather, on the basis of his wicked defection, as the Scriptures quoted by Peter indicate. (Ac 1:15-22; Ps 69:25; 109:8; compare Re 3:11.) Thus, by contrast, when the faithful apostle James was put to death, there is no record of any concern to appoint anyone to succeed him in his position of apostle.—Ac 12:2.” – Insight On The Scriptures, Volume 1, Page 129

The Governing Body has long pointed to Christ’s apostles as a divinely approved model for their collective authority, but they have never once explained how Christ has any involvement in their individual appointment. They ask their members to believe that Christ directly chose Joseph Rutherford and his anointed associates as his modern-day “apostles”, or Faithful and Discreet Slave, in 1919 – but do not give any satisfactorily explanation, once Rutherford and his associates died, how the divinely appointed authority of these ones was conferred to successive generations of Watchtower leaders.

Now, the Society has effectively scrapped the idea of the Faithful and Discreet Slave as a “class”, and now insists that the office of the Faithful Slave was bestowed by Christ on the shoulders of Rutherford and his associates in 1919, and this office was somehow passed down to successive members of the Watch Tower Society Board of Directors until the Governing Body arrangement was introduced in 1971. Thereafter, they insist that this “succession” continued as Governing Body members died and were replaced until we arrive today at a situation where eight individuals, none of whom had even been born in 1919, are now Christ’s “Faithful and Discreet Slave”. Not only does this sound incredibly implausible – most significantly there is absolutely no scriptural precedent for things to be done by God in this manner whatsoever.

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Please do read:

Governing Body says: “We are the Faithful and Discreet Slave!”

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Find also:

Watchtowers’s new face

Slave for people and God

Servant of his Father

The Ecclesia in the churchsystem

Getuigen van Jehovah, Data en Waarheid

Getuige of Broeder

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