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07-11-2013 03:47 PM
aron
Re: Hiding religion in the church

The Word presents us with the person of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Himself leads us to the Father.

So, if we think that we know the Word, does that keep us from knowing Jesus Christ, and thus the Father?

More and more I have to abandon what I thought I knew in order to progress at all. All those RecV footnotes which I read, the training outlines which I considered, and messages I sat through; they familiarized me with the Biblical text somewhat, but as tools or vehicles to "know" God I think that they were nearly useless.

As James73 says, "Witness Lee convinced people they needed (his) answers." He convinced us that his words and teachings and speakings were keys opening the Word of Christ and showing us details of the Father's kingdom. If we listened to Lee we could know God.

But what does the Word say?

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

and

"You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you."

Like manna from heaven, we may partake of it and still ask what it is, without getting an answer.

The Word, Christlike, leads us into the "bright cloud of unknowing" where we acknowledge an awareness of but cannot fully understand our mysterious God. We sense God's glory, we wonder; we feel God's breath, and an entry of divine presence. And the deeper we may get, the deeper yet lies the mystery. Unlike Lee's teachings, our only consistent answer from the Word is to abandon what lies behind.

I like outlines; I find them neat, concise, and penetrating. I use schematics -- remember the "three parts of man" with the three concentric circles and the arrows? I still do that kind of thing, because something inside wants to try; it is an essential part of my curious nature. But to what extent that I abandon logic and just follow the receding horizons of God's Word, with each new depth suggesting further depths beyond, to that extent I can abide in the wonder and joy that I first felt when I confessed the name of Jesus Christ as Lord. On that day I didn't understand Christ, but I joyfully received Him.

"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."

The longer this journey lasts, the more I feel that true wisdom is surrendering to God's love. That was how my journey began, because that is the journey itself; it is intrinsically and essentially bound up in the revealed truth of God's Word, but the truth is not revealed knowledge, but rather revealed love. The Word continually leads us deeper and deeper into the surrender of love.

"God loved us so much that He sent His only Begotten Son..."
07-05-2013 06:50 PM
aron
Re: Hiding religion in the church

I think what I was trying to say in the previous post (#9) was that reality, if it exists (and I suspect it does, which is why I am Christian) is a singular phenomenon. It isn't something that can be parsed into bullet points on a training outline, and doled out peicemeal to trainees. You either got it, or you don't.

God is one; there is one Spirit, even if there are myriads of "ministering spirits", and the Father and the Son are one.

Reality simply is. We cannot define it like webster's, nor can we ask its name, Moses-like. We can't find a "reality-sized box". We just know that when Jesus came near, that something inside said to us, "now you are not far from the reality itself."

Quote:
Originally Posted by james73 View Post
Where Lee's deceit lies is in convincing the people they need those answers. He creates ambiguity and mystery through this awkward language of God's Economy and the Centrality of God-man etc; and then provides a neat self-contained mythology which contains the answers...
Nee & Lee's "self-contained mythology" caught our attention, energies, and even our hearts for a while. The questions felt so compelling, and the answers so sure, and so comforting. But eventually reality beckoned. It always has, and always will.

"But now, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you once did..."
07-05-2013 05:14 PM
aron
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
It's no wonder that history repeats itself; behind the scenes it is the same spiritual forces at work.
"Wisdom cries aloud in the streets; in the marketplaces she lifts up her voice..." Wisdom cried aloud to Moses, to Solomon and Agur, to the disciples in Galilee, and to the seven churches in Asia. And I daresay it continues to cry out.

The things that are seen may change, but "behind the scenes it is the same spiritual forces at work." That is why the Spirit spoke to the church in Thyatira for tolerating the woman Jezebel, and why Paul wrote that the rock which followed Israel was Christ.

The dark forces hide, and masquerade themselves as something else. Even Satan pretends to be an angel of light. And so forth: WL might decry religion, and we decry WL's religion, and both of us might be in vain.

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." This word is true; it was true (to some degree) in David, it was truth in Jesus Christ, and its truth is still being revealed today. Truth is not something that we can examine like the springs of a clock. We simply believe that it is there in God's Word. What we do by faith is abandon everything that is behind, and go forward. The truth lies before us somewhere; and it is near, even in our hearts and in our mouths.

"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
06-25-2013 12:07 AM
james73
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Quote:
Originally Posted by awareness View Post
Bro James, just watch yourself. Getting into the world of spirits, ghosts, demons, and gods, require extensive use of the imagination. And very quickly your imagination can get filled with scary monsters ; like the ones under a child's bed.
Well thanks for the warning! Don't worry, I'm more Scully than Mulder
06-24-2013 10:38 PM
awareness
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Quote:
Originally Posted by james73 View Post
Thanks Aron, good stuff! I will check out Walter Wink. The reviews on Amazon paint a very promising picture of his theology - unorthodox but highly aware.

I like a quote from Amazon reviewer: "[Wink] brilliantly analyzes Jesus's sayings "Turn the other cheek,"... not as passivity, but actions taken to bewilder and expose the dominators for what they are, and to undermine the Domination System."

Look forward to reading those, could be a new favourite WW

Cheers!
Bro James, just watch yourself. Getting into the world of spirits, ghosts, demons, and gods, require extensive use of the imagination. And very quickly your imagination can get filled with scary monsters ; like the ones under a child's bed.
06-24-2013 09:30 PM
james73
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Thanks Aron, good stuff! I will check out Walter Wink. The reviews on Amazon paint a very promising picture of his theology - unorthodox but highly aware.

I like a quote from Amazon reviewer: "[Wink] brilliantly analyzes Jesus's sayings "Turn the other cheek,"... not as passivity, but actions taken to bewilder and expose the dominators for what they are, and to undermine the Domination System."

Look forward to reading those, could be a new favourite WW

Cheers!
06-24-2013 10:10 AM
Ohio
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron View Post
Wink said that these "forces" were actually quite clever, and would take charge without anyone realizing they were doing so. He said that the churches were often unwittingly duped into setting up systems of command and control with mirrored the fallen systems of the world.

The genius of these dark forces is that their prime movers actually think they are continually serving God.

And the insidious poison of the tree of Knowledge is that we can see this blindness in others but be ignorant of its effects within us. Somehow WL convinced the faithful that by his incessant, scathing critiques of "religion", he was somehow rendering his own potions immune. "Inoculating", he called it. Then all the LC "storms", "rebellions", "betrayals" and so forth are always from "them" and not "us". But as you say, nothing could be further than the truth.
Great insight here.

It was actually Ingalls' STTIL that awakened me to Lee's hypocrisy and unrighteousness at work in Anaheim during all those purported "storms.". Wink takes it one step further by identifying the dark forces at work and unseen. It's no wonder that history repeats itself; behind the scenes it is the same spiritual forces at work.

I have to believe there was a certain delusion at work for us all to think that we were uniquely God's testimony. Lee aroused our pride within to believe that we were more special than all of God's other children. Of course, all of Christianity was blind to their condition, and even we would have to admit ours, but never did we dare to think that our "Seer" was in any way blind. God would never allow that to occur!

So as long as Witness Lee kept informing us that all of Christianity was hopelessly divided and off the mark of God's economy, we felt good about ourselves. God was with us, and probably not with them.
06-24-2013 07:58 AM
awareness
Re: Hiding religion in the church

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron View Post
I bet that WL never got up in the morning and said to himself, "Well, gotta go dupe the gullible sheep today!"
I wouldn't place such a bet. Consider the revelation that Mother Teresa doubted the existence of God.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
The "power" we serve is not God but religion (no different from serving Coca-Cola or the Ford Motor Company, actually, except that with business we don't pretend to be serving God).
I don't know about that, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs said the banks are doing God's work.

Great post Aron ...
06-24-2013 05:45 AM
aron
Re: Hiding religion in the church

I read a neat book some time ago by a theologian named Walter Wink. His book was called "Naming the powers". The apostle Paul had referenced these entities about a half-dozen times in his epistles (Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:15 etc).

Wink said that these "forces" were actually quite clever, and would take charge without anyone realizing they were doing so. He said that the churches were often unwittingly duped into setting up systems of command and control with mirrored the fallen systems of the world.

The genius of these dark forces is that their prime movers actually think they are continually serving God. I bet that WL never got up in the morning and said to himself, "Well, gotta go dupe the gullible sheep today!" He really thought he was doing the Lord's work.

Let me put it another way. Suppose you and I are Christians, and we go to a church meeting to testify of our faith in Jesus. There, we love God and love our neighbor, as the Lord Himself commanded us. But at some point, in our serving God among the flock, these dark forces insinuate themselves, and we may unwittingly become a minister of the organization and not the Lord or His sheep. The "power" we serve is not God but religion (no different from serving Coca-Cola or the Ford Motor Company, actually, except that with business we don't pretend to be serving God).

And the insidious poison of the tree of Knowledge is that we can see this blindness in others but be ignorant of its effects within us. Somehow WL convinced the faithful that by his incessant, scathing critiques of "religion", he was somehow rendering his own potions immune. "Inoculating", he called it. Then all the LC "storms", "rebellions", "betrayals" and so forth are always from "them" and not "us". But as you say, nothing could be further than the truth.

Which I guess is why I have abandoned the "certitude" offered by WL & company. It was attractive when I was a babe; everything I needed was carefully packaged. Just get into the "ministry". Today I realize that the Bible is very mysterious, as is its chief protagonist God. The myriads of angels overwhelm, and then disappear. The Son is near, in my heart and in my mouth, then vanishes as if forever. It is terrifying to "abide" in such mystery! How much I crave certainty, and comfort.

The older I get, the more I realize my own darkness. At the same time, I remain dimly aware of the brilliance of God's light in Jesus Christ. The gap between the two seems so great as to be insurmountable, and I nearly despair, of either being "like Christ" or amounting to anything even vaguely "Christian" in my lifetime. Well, my journey is what it is.

Your writing is good; just don't mistake your writing for reality. That is probably how WL got snared into 'religion'.
06-24-2013 04:48 AM
OBW
Re: Hiding religion in the church

A different way of putting it. But very true.

And if you reject the notions of irreligion that people like Lee insist upon, you are left with the positive of religion.

Oh, for sure people will sometimes follow a way more than Christ, or instead of Christ. But that will be accomplished by ignoring the very thing those outward "ways" point, which is Christ.

Not every way creates burning exuberance and a desire to spring up and shout out one-liner testimonies. But they do create belief, following, and obedience.

I keep noting that Jesus taught masses of people, yet only a relative few continued following along the road. Not all were called to leave all and follow. Many were told to "go and sin no more." The extremes of groups like the LRC, and of evangelical movements of so-called "radical Christians" are pushing the idea that true Christianity is only for those who abandon all and go out to follow. I remember some of the messages in my last year in the LRC in which they attempted to provide a grounds for "citizens" along side of the "army." But they seemed to really only care for the army. And in private, the citizens were sometimes referred to as "marginal."

I don't recall Jesus ever suggesting that you had to leave all to avoid being marginal.
06-23-2013 07:09 PM
james73
Hiding religion in the church

Seems the greatest trick Witness Lee ever pulled, (to paraphrase a favourite movie of mine), was convincing the world he did not exist. He convinced the Local Churches there was no "religion" around their operation, that they were the only ones who had broken free of the denominations, and he did this while all the time existing right in their midst, bold as the gold leaf embossing on a Recovery Version bible in the Truth Book Room.

I think that's probably obvious to most here, but for me it was a blinding revelation.... I had this moment of enlightenment reading a book called "Psychology & Religion", a great volume of around 30 published papers studying religion and man. (Published 1973, Penguin Education, Edited by L. B. Brown)
A quote from a paper by J.E. Dittes (1959) had me sitting up straight, thinking immediately of the trick Witness Lee had pulled.

Quote:
"Religion, according to the man in the street or the woman in the pew, is almost always defined in terms of creeds, practices, codes or institutions. Yet most of those whom the people in the street revere as their teachers and saints have insisted that such things are as likely to be the marks of irreligion as of religion. Their position has been that creeds, codes and practices frequently become but scrambling, desperate grasping for a religions certainty and security which is not only illusory, but is rendered unnecessary by what, in the heritage of Paul and the Reformers, has been called justification by faith."
Lee's trick spun this around. He sold this "revelation" as, first, his own idea; and second, pretty much his own exclusive idea (ie other Christians are all wrong); but then he implemented exactly the opposite by constructing this mysterious system of revelation through which salvation was to be achieved.

Dittes continues:
Quote:
"Ambiguity and uncertainty are terrifying, Paul and the Reformers seem to say, only if one somehow has the feeling that his salvation, integrity, self-image, is critically dependent on having clear answers to such questions. When one discovers within a faith relationship that this fundamental worth and value is basically assured, then all frantic efforts to grasp both at the supposed evidence and the supposed means of justification lose their desperate imperative."
To me, this is the Gospel. The Good News is, faith alone is all we need. We don't need answers. We don't need religion - most of us in this forum know this.

Where Lee's deceit lies is in convincing the people they need those answers. He creates ambiguity and mystery through this awkward language of God's Economy and the Centrality of God-man etc; and then provides a neat self-contained mythology which contains the answers, right down to the number of days they will suffer in darkness should they not be sufficiently "in Christ". That they are "babes", they are immature, they need a whole library of books, CDs, and educational training materials to assure their salvation. He's done this using the smokescreen that religion will not guarantee salvation, that his message is free of religion. And of course it's easy to believe. The one who gives you such good news, you are going to believe. It's like the salesman who tells you "the secrets other salesmen won't tell you about the extended warranty" - using that as a disingenuous hook to sell you all sorts of junk policies you never even knew you needed.

And the worst thing is, the Church in Skokie, Illinois, for example, doesn't even know it's subscribed to that policy. Ask any member "are we the church of the Living Stream Ministry?" and they'll just give you at best a pitying look, at worst they will be enraged at such a suggestion. Perhaps drug dealing is a better example than extended warranties...

Of course, there is a paradox - how to spread the Good News over billions of people and countless generations without a religion? It could be that what I call Lee's "deceit" is in fact just good practice, ensuring continuation of the Gospel. Perhaps it is necessary to make compromises, to make money to ensure a long-standing future, to control materials and teachings to ensure the message is not degraded and polluted over time.

But then, we have the example of Alcoholics Anonymous. Now THAT is an organization which genuinely operates as a "local church", which is sustainable, which genuinely preaches the "good news" (of sobriety) to an ever growing number of people. It does this without resorting to behaviour such as LSM's rather controlling tactics - and shows that it IS possible to have "religion without religion". Actually AA is a pretty good model for a church

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