Millerite Adventism and Fred Franz

I believe that researchers have adequately confirmed the Millerite Adventism connection to Russell.

However, after Russell died, who in the organization was a Millerite man at heart? For what it's worth, it was none other than Fred Franz. I found out the connection when I was working in the Writing Dept. doing research for the Proclaimers book.

When I was going through each of his books in Fred Franz's personal library searching for some material that was thought to be there, I saw that Franz had extensive reading material about the Millerite movement. Much later after I left Bethel and was no longer attending the meetings, I was reading the book "MILLENNIAL FEVER AND THE END OF THE WORLD, A STUDY OF MILLERITE ADVENTISM,” by Georg R. Knight, (1993), and read statements that opened my eyes to where Franz's unusual interpretive “oracle” style of preaching came from--It was William Miller. In fact, when I was a new Witness attending one of my first large conventions in New York, I'll never forget Fred Franz's oratory. In one talk he bombastically told the audience that the initials "D. D." written after a clergyman's name does not stand for Doctor of Divinity, but stood for "Dumb Dogs." (Everyone applauded.) I don’t know if Rutherford ever used that statement, but if he did, I do know that Franz was a writer and researcher with the WT since the 1920s. In fact, he penned many of Rutherford’s lectures.

Getting back to when I was reading Knight's book: I found a paragraph on page 53 I'll never forget because it helped explain to me where Fred Franz got his material.

"From time to time he [Miller] felt himself pushed too far or too hard by his critics and would lash out. Thus he could refer to the clergy as 'DUMB DOGS,' 'ravening wolves,' 'Wise-heads,' and 'wiseacres' who loved the word 'reverend' attached to their names. God, he held, would ultimately deal with such 'priestly dandies,' who had their 'consciences cased in corsets of steel.''

Of great interest to me was Knight’s explanation of the Millerite movement found on page nine that could be explaining the Witness movement under Franz's direction:

"Beyond the usual sociological explanations that highlight external factors for that success, the present work argues that the vital internal dynamic that thrust the Millerites into the flow of history was a deep certainty, based upon concentrated study of the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, that Christ was coming soon and an impelling conviction of personal responsibility to warn the world of that good yet fearful news. In short, the Millerites were mission driven because they saw themselves as a prophetic people with a message that the world desperately needed to hear. That perception appears to be the internal mainspring that led the Millerites to dedicate their all to their task.

"Such a deeply held conviction seems to be a precondition to success in all types of millennial movements. Without that prophetic certainty and its accompanying sense of urgent responsibility, millennial movements begin to atrophy; with their main-spring absent, they lose their dynamic for vitality and growth." 

From about the late-1980s, WT literature began to be devoid of this interpretive millennium excitement which resulted later in our seeing A LACK OF VITALITY AND GROWTH BECAUSE THE "MAIN-SPRING" WAS ABSENT.

What happened to cause this change? Fred Franz was put in the Bethel Infirmary. He no longer could write; he was blind and ill. He dictated long, rambling disconnected information into a recorder which information the Writing Dept. never used and then he died in 1993. Franz was the MAIN-SPRING that pushed the movement along with his dynamic messages. (Although when I look back now those messages were quite silly for our day and age, but they were different and that attracted people.)

Now, two decades later we can see the atrophy in the Witness organization which I believe BEGAN with Franz’s decline and death. He was the Millerite connection in our age. What we see now in the beliefs of the Witnesses are some residual beliefs, but nobody is really carrying on the dynamic Wm Miller tradition like Freddie Franz did. (To forestall any criticism of this thought, I'm not saying it is a loss, just a fact.)