Finding a proper balance between freedom and responsibility is a problem
that has faced every serious Christian. For those raised in a highly structured
religious environment, balancing loyalties to a religious organization,
family, and personal conscience may raise difficult issues. Raymond Franz's
first-hand account of the issues with which he struggled forms the theme
of his first book, Crisis of Conscience.
A third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Franz served for over forty years
at every level of the organization's structure. He spent nine of those
years as a member of its central executive council, the Governing Body.
His experience gives him a unique perspective on the issues facing sincere
Jehovah's Witnesses who may question their religious beliefs or the structure
of their organization. It also provides a rare look into the words, actions
and attitudes of a small group of men who serve as administrators, legislators,
and judges for Jehovah's Witnesses.
In Search of Christian Freedom, the sequel to Crisis of Conscience,
provides an even more comprehensive study. Of this work, Professor Stephen
Cox, of the University of California, writes :
" In Search of Christian Freedom is one of the fullest and
most perceptive accounts available of the life of a modern religious group.
Never before, perhaps, has the relationship between religious belief and
institutional practice been so closely examined. The author has at his
command unparalleled sources of information on the religious organization
on which his study focuses ; he also has a firm grasp of the problems of
faith and freedom that have challenged Christianity since its beginning. In Search of Christian Freedom is of unique importance as a study
of the Watchtower movement, and a commentary on its current condition,
but the relevance of the book is not limited to that movement. It is helpful
in understanding a wide variety of social and psychological forces that
shape people's interpretations of the Bible and religious life, often without
their knowing it. Raymond Franz provides fresh illumination on the issue
of freedom, as it arises in Scripture, in religious history, and in the
decisions of today's men and women ".
The issues raised and options discussed herein, although relating particularly
to the structure of Jehovah's Witnesses, are not so very different from
issues other Christians have faced and continue to face when they seek
to reconcile considerations of conscience, loyalty, responsibility and
freedom. This work will move readers - of any religion - to consider seriously
how much they value Christian freedom and to ask how genuine their own