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Old 08-28-2018, 06:14 AM   #15
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,243
Default Re: Law Suits and the Local Churches

Originally Posted by awareness View Post
I remember reading that. Do we have a copy out here of that deposition?
This is as close as I can get to the actual deposition. It came from the "other forum," now defunct. This deposition, as noted below, is a matter of public record and can be requested (and paid for) by anyone. You would have to know the court where it was filed and the case number. It would help to have the style of the case, e.g.,

In the 9th District Court of Last Resort
Case Number: ________________

Local Church, Witness Lee, et al, Plaintiff
Mindbenders, et al, Defendant

Title: Witness Lee's Sworn Statements vs. Local Church Teachings
Post by: afazio on November 11, 2005, 02:39:21 AM

Although this was written many years ago, the contradictions in Lee's sworn statements are directly in opposition to many of the Local Churches most recent publications, as well. Compare them to the currect "One Publication" article:

May 27, 1989
Dear brothers and sisters in the Local Churches,

Many of us who have been in the Lord’s recovery for many years and even decades were quite disturbed at the content of the April 10, 1989 letter entitled “An Open Letter to the Speakers in the Meeting of the Church in Anaheim” on August 28, 1988. Much that was stated in that letter was in direct contradiction to what Witness Lee swore in the 1982 legal deposition to be both his teaching and the beliefs and practices of the saints in the Local Churches. Could those eight brothers be so ignorant and far afield from Witness Lee’s heart, mind and teachings, as well as what is commonly accepted among the saints, or, was Witness Lee lying about so many of the issues when he swore, under penalty of perjury, in 1982, concerning both what he teaches and what is practiced among the churches?

That deposition is a matter of public record, for those who would like to familiarize themselves with it. However, some of the brothers who signed that letter are on record as having been present at least part of the time, so they should be able to recall some of those matters. How can they make public statements which so directly refute what the man they hold as the oracle of God swore to be so?

Which are we to believe is an accurate representation of our beliefs and practices - that which Witness Lee swore under penalty of perjury in the 1982 litigation, or that which those eight brothers have drawn up as a public letter which, just about point by point, directly contradicts the avowed stand of the brother they regard as “the apostle”?

Let us look at these issues ourselves and determine which of the contradictory positions are more according to the Word of God and how our current practices compare with them.

You will remember that the lawsuit never went to court because the defendants (the authors of “The Mindbenders”) were unable to afford legal counsel to match what the saints in the Local Churches were able to pour into the matter. Therefore, those defendants went bankrupt and simply lost by default.
Those of you who were a part of the Local Churches at that time may remember that it was the opinion of the authors of “The Mindbenders” that the Local Churches were a cult. As a matter of fact, they specifically stated, “The brainwashing or mind bending of the Local Churches is the most powerful and lasting of any cult on the contemporary scene”(that would have included Jim’s Jones’ People’s Temple at that time). They based their opinion that the Local Churches were a cult upon several factors which Witness Lee repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Among those factors were:
1) that Witness Lee referred to himself or was referred to; by others as an apostle. When asked if he ever referred to himself as an apostle, Witness Lee answered “Never”... “I don’t, assume, I don’t take the standing that I am the apostle” (page 59) . He said that the term “apostle” is just today’s term, “missionary.” He said that the Greek term “apostle” is the same Latin term “missionary,” and applies to all the co-workers (page 262).

He said, “In my teaching I encourage, I say, ‘Don’t say certain, certain, certain brothers, so and so, they are apostles.’ I say. ‘All of you can be apostles, and I encourage you all to be apostles, even the little sisters’” (page 438).

He stated that, to his knowledge, there are no persons in the United States who are referred to by other members of the; Local Churches as “apostles.” He said, “We don’t have this habit to use this title,” and, “We never attribute such a kind of title to anyone” (page 57).

Witness Lee said that only one or two times had he ever heard members refer to him as “the apostle” and when he heard this he said “Don’t say this. Don’t say this. We don’t have among us positions, ranks and titles. Don’t say this. Because in the Bible we are taught the best way is to practice the brotherhood, the brotherhood. Jesus already told us, “Don’t control others, don’t think you are the master over others. You all are brothers. You only have one Master, that’s Me, that means Christ; that’s Christ” (page 439).

When pressed further on the same matter and asked, “So on those occasions when members of Local Churches have attempted on their own to put you on a pedestal as something special as an apostle or some other form of exaltation, you have always warned those people when it came to your attention”...
Witness Lee responded, “Actually, I would say the same thing concerning people saying me being an apostle occurs only very few times, very, very few times. I answered already. I asked them not to do this” (page 442).

If Witness Lee’s answer was both honest and scriptural, then the brothers who wrote the letter of April 10, 1989 are coming not only against his avowed stand, but the scriptural basis he cited for that stand, when they refer to him as “our apostle Brother Lee” and designate him an apostle of any “order,” as they did in that letter.

In addition, we should expect Witness Lee to be faithful to his word and publicly, for both the benefit of those brothers and the many saints who received that letter, admonish those brothers not to set him up as an apostle because it is against both the brotherhood of the believers and against Christ’s word that we only have one Master, Christ.
It is impossible to reconcile Witness Lee sworn statement that “We don’t have among us positions, ranks, and titles,” (page 439) and (in answer to the question if there is any clergy-laity distinction whatsoever among us in the Local Churches-page 339). “All the believers are priests, no different, serving God in the same way” with the hierarchical structure of
1. first-order apostle
2. second-order apostle
3. third-order apostle
4. elder, and
5. saint
outlined in that April 10 letter.

The hierarchical structure delineated by those eight brothers perfectly parallels Roman Catholicism’s papal order with its
1. Pope
2. Cardinal
3. Archbishop4. bishops
5. priests, and
6. parishioners.

However, it bears no resemblance to the universal priesthood of believers apart from a clergy-laity Structure, which we at One time were encouraged to practice.

In all fairness to the eight brothers who wrote that April 10, 1989 letter, we realize that even though that hierarchical structure totally contradicts what Witness Lee swore in the deposition, it is fully in accordance with what he spoke in Taipei in October, 1988 and printed in “A Timely Trumpeting and the Present Need” that publication might well have been what they based their delineation upon.

Another item which the authors of “The Mindbenders” attempted to prove in their determination that the Local Churches were a cult was Witness Lee’s excessive influence on or domination of the Local Churches. Among the points supporting this was that Witness Lee, as an apostle, appointed various elders in the Local Churches. This, again, Witness Lee denied. He said that, although he had a part in the migration of the saints from Los Angeles to Anaheim, he played no “special role,” in any migration of saints to form a local church in any locality. He also swore that, since there was no such thing as any designated apostles among us, there was also no such thing as appointment of elders by apostles, but that the elders “just became elders without any kind of appointment” by becoming “more mature in the eyes of all the saints” (pages 58 and 59).

At that time, 1982, he swore that for the previous ten years there had been no appointment of elders by apostles in any of the churches (page 5). Since the church in Anaheim came into existence during that period, Witness Lee’s statement directly contradicts the statement made by those brothers that Witness Lee is “the apostle who established the church in Anaheim and brought you (John Ingalls, Godfred Otuteye, and Al Knoch) into the eldership” (page 19).

When asked if he had “ever used the analogy that there can Only be one driver per car and that you, by analogy, are the driver of the car, and the car is the Local Church.” Witness Lee said firstly that he didn’t understand the question. Then he asked what “analogy” meant. After that, he said he couldn’t remember. When Witness Lee repeatedly denied that he remembered saying such a thing, the defending attorney asked, “If you did in fact use it as an illustration, it would not have been your intent at the time to convey that you were to be one running the show, so to speak? To which Witness Lee replied, “I never had this kind of concept, that I was running any show.” (page 365).

Also, when asked in the deposition regarding the autonomy of the local churches, Witness Lee declared that each was indeed “autonomous,” “separate, distinct and unconnected from one another,” “independent” (pages 326-328).

Surely this directly refutes the federation of churches appealed for in that letter. If, indeed, as Witness Lee swore, and we believe, each local church is autonomous, separate, distinct, independent, and unconnected from the other, how can those eight brothers state that, “Theirs (the local elders’) is not an all-inclusive leadership for their locality”? Whom do they expect will augment that leadership but an extra-local minister - thereby violating the God-ordained local nature of the church.

In addition, those eight brothers contend that “though they (the elders) may relate the truth to the saints, they do not ascertain, discern, and define the truth, for this is the gifted function of the apostles” (page 17). And, “in a local church there is no need for the elders to define truth, for God has given apostles for that very purpose.”

This, too, was a critical point to the authors of “The Mindbenders” in their effort to prove that the Local Churches were a cult. In fact, even by the definition of Witness Lee, himself, , if he is the sole authority and interpreter of God’s truth, this is a sign that the Local Churches are a cult.

Specifically, the attorneys for “The Mindbenders” stated, “In addition to these differences in doctrine, there are a number of practices which are characteristic of heretical cults and which are inconsistent or contrary to biblical injunctions and the orthodox theology. Among these are:... Domination by one man who is considered the sole authority and interpreter of God’s truths.” (page 430).

Witness Lee responded, “If anyone claims that his interpretation is the unique interpretation, this is a kind of sign of a cult. But in the church every believer has the right to interpret the Bible. So to have interpretations of the Bible in a universal way, that is not a cult. Rather, that is a proper practice” (page 430).

When then asked, “Are you an authority and interpreter of God’s truth?” Witness Lee answered, “I am just one of so many saints who have the right to interpret the Bible and who have some authority under certain things.”
When asked, “How many others in the Local Churches have the authority to be interpreters of God’s truth? Witness Lee answered, “Quite a lot. It is really quite hard for me. I would say, in our churches, everyone, even including little sisters. I heard in our meetings quite often a little sister stood up and told us, ‘Well, this verse, or what book means this and this, and we all accept it ‘“ (pages 430-432).

This is surely directly contradictory to the charge of those eight brothers that even the elders “do not ascertain, discern or define the truth, for this is the gifted function of the apostles” (page 17).

Last edited by Nell; 08-28-2018 at 06:45 AM.
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