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Old 08-19-2016, 08:13 AM   #10
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Natal Transvaal
Posts: 5,063
Default Re: What is the Lord's economy?

Originally Posted by DistantStar View Post
It was this kind of thinking which made me want to run to the door at light-speed and never look back. Nothing scares me more than someone saying "Ye shall be as gods".
The verse you quote from Proverbs is apt: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is death". The LSM Local Church is all about what 'seems right'. They make a big deal of seeming to be rooted in orthodox Christian history and theology. But they've got hidden histories (quarantines, rebellions, storms, lawsuits, bankruptcies) and hidden esoteric theologies and practices, teetering at the brink of heterodoxy, the end of which is isolation and death.

The best way to survive in the Local Church is to practice tight information control. They'll fixate on verses which seem aligned with their theology, and dismiss the "fallen" or "natural" verses that don't line up with "God's New Testament Economy." Related, their version of Church history is absurdly truncated. It's as if there were maybe a dozen or twenty noteworthy Christian authors and thinkers between the age of the apostles and today. Certainly Nee and Lee would brook no peers. So you get a very strange view of the church - supposedly only one or two selected pockets of light; the rest is darkness and can be safely ignored, or even disparaged.

My own take is this: in the first century, there was no "New Testament" and those who lived the events and wrote them down constantly appealed to the scriptures, what we call the Old Testament. But over time the NT writings were held (rightly) to be authoritative in their own. But as oral traditions dropped away and the canon of scripture became more or less fixed, what was said became less important than what was written. This is completely opposite of the first two centuries, where the oral tradition was sacrosanct and written materials were less trusted. (for example, today you can find an Apocalypse of Peter and Acts of Paul and Thecla etc. A lot of books were being written, not all of them aligned with actual events). To know the "truth" in the second century, you'd have to find someone who'd been discipled by one of the original apostles, or by one of their followers, etc.

By the Reformation at the end of the Middle Ages, the burgeoning Protestant theology, supported by the idea of "Scripture alone", began to re-examine all the texts with their theology in mind, and only their theology.

The problem that I see is that the Protestant theologians had the scripture, and their reasoning, or logic, but almost no supporting material. So things could mean whatever they needed to mean for a coherent picture to hold in place. Now, this was still a great advance because there were a lot of smart fellows (it was mostly men who did the heavy thinking; women were held to be too emotionally unstable); but they were still limited in their ability to understand the New Testament texts as the original authors and readers might have. The surrounding conversations and shared understandings were almost fully gone from view. Again, think of the OT; when I grew up in Protestantism the OT was held to be merely a book of "law" (which we know couldn't save anyone - salvation is by grace alone), history, and poetry/wisdom, and some garbled apocalyptic prophecy.

So the table was set for anyone like Nee or Lee to come along and say, "This means that". Oikonomia to Lee means dispensing, calling on the Lord and being filled in spirit/Spirit. Oikonomia in Lee's Local Church doesn't mean stewardship, responsibility, faithful and continual obedience to one's set of tasks from the Master of the house.

What ultimately made the Witness Lee group so wretchedly deformed in understanding and practice was that anyone who'd raise their hand and say, "Hey, not so fast- maybe Oikonomia means responsibility and continual obedience more than merely dispensing" would be charged with being ambitious, divisive, factious, and rebellious. I'm not kidding - in the Local Churches if you attempt to think critically that's verboten. Only the Oracle can think, and reason. The Oracle said, "This means that" and that's it.

I'm a Protestant who sees the Local Church as a cautionary tale for Protestantism gone very wrong, an isolated splinter sect clearly gone off the deep end ("You and your followers have gone into the ditch"[Lu 6:39; Mat 15:14]). Today we can humble ourselves and be open to all believers, not just those who think "exactly the same", and admit we don't know the last word, and don't have the final say on "truth". Today I'm slowly becoming a student of the Word, connected to my fellow students. And that means students of all Scripture, not just a few epistles from the NT which seem beguilingly "high", e.g. Philippians and Colossians. The people who wrote the NT were deeply rooted in shared understandings of first-century Jewish thought. They just happened to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

To ignore first-century Jewish thought as somehow passe is to miss a large part of what was conveyed in NT writings. Lee of course missed this almost completely. In his eyes, scripture could be whatever he needed for his organizational contingencies and merchandising operation. And yes he was a merchandiser; of words and ultimately of the bodies and souls of men. Today there are dozens or perhaps hundreds of young people out there "serving the ministry" on college campus (that's your friendly neighbourhood Christians on Campus group).
"Freedom is free. It's slavery that's so horribly expensive" - Colonel Templeton, ret., of the 12th Scottish Highlanders, the 'Black Fusiliers'
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