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Old 10-18-2008, 07:47 AM   #1
UntoHim
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Default The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

THE EVOLUTION OF LSM’s BIBLIOLOGY1
“Whatever is in the Bible…is the Word of God”—W. Lee (1978)
“Not every word in the Bible is the Word of God—W. Lee (1995)

Evangelical Christians2 maintain the supremacy of Holy Scripture.3 They regard God as the Bible’s ultimate author, believing God’s Spirit inspired its writers to compose their epistles, histories, poetry, and prophecies; “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable…” (2 Tim. 3:16). Moreover, they hold that God overruled4 in the preservation of both Old and New Testaments; hence the Bible’s sixty-six books constitute a complete and closed canon. Evangelicals recognize the Bible as authoritative in matters of Christian faith, teaching, conduct, and church-life. The statement,5 “Because the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God…they are also inerrant and authoritative,” illustrates evangelical Christians’ stance on the primacy of Scripture. Witness Lee, Living Stream Ministry6 (LSM), and LSM’s local churches claim to be orthodox in this regard. LSM recently declared,7 “The Christians in the local churches share common doctrine with all other mainstream, orthodox, evangelical Christians…including the belief that the Holy Bible is the complete divine revelation verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.” Indeed, they claim to surpass other Christians in venerating the Bible; W. Lee proclaims,8 “The very great, particular characteristic in the Lord’s recovery is to do everything according to the Bible.”However, he is also on record saying,9 “The whole Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, but not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” W. Lee also asserts,10 “In the Bible there are a great many words that are not God’s words.” What do these radical statements mean? Does LSM really accept the whole New Testament as the authoritative Word of God or only certain parts of it? Does LSM’s canon contain all twenty seven New Testament books? Is their view of Scripture truly the same as “all other mainstream, orthodox, evangelical Christians”? Is LSM’s bibliology orthodox?

LSM’s Declarations about the Bible
What do Witness Lee, Living Stream Ministry (LSM), and LSM-affiliated churches—collectively “LSM” —believe about the Bible? Their standard response is,11 “We definitely believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, that is, inspired by God.” However, this statement leaves crucial questions unanswered. At what level is the Bible “inspired”—merely its general thought and concept, or literally, word-by-word12? LSM’s Truth Lessons affirm the Bible’s verbal (word-by-word) inspiration.13 “The entire Bible originates from God; every word and every sentence, every iota and every tittle (Matt. 5:18), are God-inspired,” they say. W. Lee also declares,14 “We believe that every word of every book of the Bible has been breathed out by God.”

Scripture is also the Word of God. In view of his later teaching, it is important to note that in the 1970s W. Lee affirmed that the entire Bible is God’s Word. He said,15
The whole Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Do not take any word other than the Bible as the Word of God….Whatever is in the Bible, you may rest assured, is the Word of God.
Similarly the whole New Testament is identified as God’s speaking,16 “We need to consider the entire New Testament, from the first word of Matthew to the last word of Revelation, as God’s speaking through the different mouths and hands of the apostles…the apostles’ teaching.” In technical terms, LSM endorses the Bible’s plenary (complete) inspiration. Finally, W. Lee taught that Scripture is free from error—infallible. The most comprehensive statement we’ve found, says,17
The Bible is the Word of God. We believe that the Bible, word by word, is divinely inspired by God (2 Pet. 1:21), as the breath of God (2 Tim. 3:16). The genuine Christians do not have any doubt about this point. We must believe that the Bible is God’s infallible Word.
Based on these declarations, Witness Lee, LSM, and their affiliated churches affirm the verbal, plenary, infallible inspiration of the Scriptures. They avow the whole Bible is “God’s infallible18 Word.”

LSM’s statements concerning Scripture match those of mainstream, orthodox, evangelical Christians. Hence LSM’s bibliology appears to be orthodox. However, first impressions can be misleading; a few years after affirming—“the Bible is God’s infallible Word”—W. Lee is on record saying,19 “not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” This raises the question—has LSM’s view of Scripture changed? Here we examine the evolution of LSM’s bibliology.

LSM’s Initial Hermeneutic
It appears that LSM’s changing view of Scripture can be traced back to their evolving hermeneutic, their principles of Bible interpretation. In W. Lee’s earliest teaching (in the 1950s) about interpreting Scripture, he emphasized “not sacrificing any portion of the Word,” saying:20
As long as one or two verses do not allow a certain interpretation, we have to give up that interpretation. We have to respect every portion of the Bible. Only when an interpretation harmonizes with the whole Bible can this interpretation be considered reliable. Any verse that forbids a certain interpretation of the truth must not be sacrificed. Instead, that certain interpretation must be abandoned, and we must wait for God’s further revelation. If we study the Bible this way, we will not fall easily into error.
According to this principle every Bible portion is to be respected. Any interpretation is subservient to Scripture; it ought to be abandoned if the Bible contradicts that teaching. Scripture’s preeminence was also emphasized in W. Lee’s 1978 statement that:21
The whole Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Do not take any word other than the Bible as the Word of God; otherwise you can be led into heresy. Apart from the Bible, you have no sure word of God. Whatever is in the Bible, you may rest assured, is the Word of God.
This statement unequivocally equates the Bible with the Word of God. W. Lee states categorically that nothing else is God’s Word. He says, “Do not take any word other than the Bible as the Word of God….Apart from the Bible, you have no sure word of God.” In view of his subsequent teaching, it is important to note W. Lee’s statements about the “word of God.” Beyond merely asserting that Scripture is God-inspired, he affirmed22 “the whole Bible is the Word of God….Whatever is in the Bible…is the Word of God.” However, shortly thereafter, W. Lee’s teaching contradicted this.

LSM’s Later Hermeneutic—Not every word in the Bible is the Word of God”
In the early 1980s, W. Lee conducted the Life-study of the Epistle of James. Concerning the23 “major problem…of the inspiration of the Scriptures,” he introduced a novel idea, declaring,24
We definitely believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, that is inspired by God. We believe that every word of every book of the Bible has been breathed out by God…[But] this does not mean that every word in the holy Book is the word of God…In the Bible there are a great many words that are not God’s words.
Reiterating this notion, he said,25 “We believe that the entire Bible, every word in the Scripture, is God-breathed.Nevertheless, not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” Before examining this new doctrine, let’s look at W. Lee’s later teaching; did he maintain this view?

In his final years, while expounding the “High Peak truths,” W. Lee revisited the subject of interpreting Scripture. He reaffirmed his view that Scripture is God-inspired, saying,26 “All the sixty-six books of the Holy Scripture are written through the inspiration of the Spirit of God.”Yet, once again, he immediately qualified this. Under the heading, “Not Every Word Written through the Spirit of God Being the Word of God,”W. Lee is on record asserting,27
The entire Scripture is written by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but this does not mean that every word written through the Spirit of God as a portion of the Holy Scripture is the word of God. Many portions of the Holy Scripture are rather the words spoken by persons…other than God.
Again W. Lee explicitly asserts that28 “not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God,” adding, “but the record is by the inspiration of the Spirit.” In his final years, W. Lee continued to espouse the radical idea introduced in the 1980s.

Paradigm Shift: From “God’s Inspired Word” to Scripture’s “Utterances of Men”
“In the Bible…a great many words…are not God’s words”—W. Lee
The assertion—“not every word in the Bible is the word of God”—certainly has “shock value.” It is a radical departure from earlier statements quoted above. Local church members sat for decades under W. Lee’s ministry, yet to many, this speaking was novel. Turning to James’ epistle, a new distinction was introduced; never before29 had W. Lee clearly differentiated between God-inspired Scripture and the Word of God. Previously, these exactly coincided as “God’s inspired Word.” Why the new distinction? Has LSM’s definition of “the word of God” changed? When Evangelicals refer to the Bible as God’s Word, they mean it is God’s speaking in the sense that every word proceeded out of God’s mouth (Matt. 4:4). W. Lee’s own exposition says,30 “All Scripture is God-breathed. Hence, the words in the Scriptures are the words that proceed out through the mouth of God”—God’s word. Also,31 “God’s Word is God’s breathing out (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible is God’s breathing out.” So, isn’t the whole Bible “God’s Word”?

In the strictest sense, only words directly attributed to Jehovah (“Jehovah said…” or “Thus saith the Lord…”), words uttered by the Lord Jesus Himself and the Spirit’s speaking (e.g., Rev. 22:17) are the direct word of God. But surely that is not what LSM’s new definition means! God’s word includes more than that! Such a narrow definition contradicts W. Lee’s own teaching about the “word of Christ” (Col. 3:16). Strictly interpreted, the “word of Christ” equals Jesus’ words recorded in the Gospels, which some Bibles print in red letters. Yet W. Lee rejects this definition. Arguing for a broader definition, he says, Christ32 “speaks not only directly in the Gospels, but also through His members, the apostles and prophets, in Acts, in the Epistles, and in Revelation. All these may be considered His word…The word of Christ includes the entire New Testament.” So, the entire New Testament is Christ’s word. Elsewhere he says,33 “The apostles’ teaching in the New Testament is altogether based on the principle of incarnation [that] God speaks in man’s speaking….This is the reason the writings of Peter, John, and Paul recorded in the Bible could become God’s words…the New Testament.” This wider definition of God’s word includes the apostles’ teachings, the entire New Testament. It also matches W. Lee’s declaration, “The whole Bible is the Word of God….Whatever is in the Bible…is the Word of God.” Clearly LSM’s lexicon has changed. In stark contrast to his prior teaching, W. Lee now proclaimed,34 “In the Bible there are a great many words that are not God’s words;” these are35 “merely human… the utterances of men.” Somehow, LSM needs to explain why the “principle of incarnation” has ceased to apply, because under it “the writings of Peter, John, and Paul…become God’s words…the New Testament.” Or does this principle only apply to some New Testament writers and not to others (James, Jude, etc.)? Also, for LSM, which words of Scripture are the “words of God”? Which are merely “the utterances of men”? We return to these questions below.

Thus far, this much is clear—to LSM, the “word of God” is a subset of Scripture! In LSM’s eyes, the Bible has a two-tier system. New Testament writings belong to two categories—some parts are both God-inspired and God’s word; other parts are merely man’s words recorded under divine-inspiration. LSM’s bibliology has undergone a subtle evolution, or (more accurately) a seismic shift. Originally they asserted “Whatever is in the Bible…is the Word of God.” This matches the orthodox definition of “God’s Word,” as all Scripture, “God-breathed and profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16) and “every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). However, in a dramatic paradigm shift, W. Lee asserted that not every Scripture is the word of God. We can summarize LSM’s new position:

[1] Does LSM believe that Scripture’s every word is inspired by God?—YES
[2] Does LSM believe that Scripture’s every word is the word of God?—NO!

LSM denies the exact correspondence between Scripture and God’s Word. Realizing, perhaps, the unorthodoxy of this doctrine, W. Lee declared,36 “I run the risk of being unjustly accused of not believing that every word in the Bible is God-breathed, inspired by Him.” “However …there is no ground to say such a thing,” he responded. But this response deflects attention from the main point. The issue is not whether he concurs that “every word in the Bible is God-breathed, inspired by Him,” (question [1] above.) The crucial issue is his assertion that “not every word in the Bible is the word of God,” (question [2]). The indictment is denying the Bible’s every word is the Word of God! Moreover, the two statements are not independent. Given his denial of the second proposition, what does W. Lee’s assertion—that every word is God-inspired—mean? Does it mean that all parts of Scripture are authoritative? W. Lee himself asks—37“What, then, does it mean to say that the Bible is fully inspired by God?” His response—“It means that it is of God that whatever is recorded in the Bible is included there.” Yes it does; but, is that all? When some portions of Scripture are “God’s word” and others are merely human words—which parts are authoritative? Jesus said, “Your [God the Father’s] word is truth” (John 17:17); only God’s Word is truth. Doesn’t LSM’s denial that all Scripture is God’s word undermine the Bible’s authority?

How Much of the Bible Is Authoritative—All or Part?
Mainline orthodox evangelicals teach that38 “Because the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God…they are also inerrant and authoritative.” Scripture’s authority derives from its being the “inspired Word of God.” For evangelicals the entire Bible is God’s inspired Word; therefore, every part is authoritative. Hence, they say,39 “Each and every part from Genesis to Revelation is the very Word of God. Because it is inspired by God, the Scriptures are therefore authoritative.”

LSM’s stance differs significantly from mainline evangelicals. LSM agrees the entire Bible is divinely inspired. Yet to them, only some parts of Scripture are God’s words; other parts are merely man’s words (recorded under divine inspiration). LSM’s Bible is a hybrid with two distinct, separable parts—one part God’s Word and another man’s words. Only the former are authoritative. Under LSM’s paradigm, some parts of Scripture are mere “utterances of men.” These are not authoritative; they carry no weight in directing the believer’s Christian life and church life. Jesus said,40 “Scripture cannot be broken,” i.e., cannot be emptied of its force (John 10:35). Yet such passages—recorded in Scripture, yet not “God’s word”—are eviscerated of authority by LSM’s bibliology.

LSM’s Bibliology Contradicts Watchman Nee’s Teaching
“The New Testament…is one hundred percent God’s word”—W. Nee
LSM contends that Scripture consists of two distinct, separable parts—one part God’s Word and another man’s words, and that these elements can be distinguished from each other. They claim certain passages are mere human utterances, not God’s words. However, Watchman Nee taught that the New Testament writings are simultaneously God’s word and man’s word. He says,41 “The basic principle of God’s speaking is…it is truly man’s word and at the same time truly God’s word....It is man speaking, yet God recognizes it as His word.” This duality characterizes the New Testament: 42 “We can see this in Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and we can see this in many servants of the Lord. Human elements are present in God’s word….God’s word becomes man’s word and man’s word becomes God’s word.” Watchman Nee regards efforts to separate God’s word from man’s element as misdirected and futile, saying,43 “Man always wants to arrange God’s word into sections, with some parts being…spoken by God…with no human element whatsoever. But we must remember that God’s word always bears the mark of human traits.” Hence Watchman Nee says,44
The outstanding characteristic of the New Testament, from the first page to the last, is that it is a record of man’s speaking. It is absolutely human….At the same time, however, it is absolutely divine; it is one hundred percent God’s word.
In contrast to LSM, W. Nee affirms that “the New Testament…is one hundred percent God’s word.”

Paul’s Human Opinions Recognized as God’s Word
1 Corinthians chapter seven is an obvious passage for LSM to separate man’s words from God’s words. Paul states clearly several times that he has no word or command from the Lord, yet he offers his opinion (vv. 26, 28–9, 32, 35, 40). Surely this fits LSM’s criterion of being man’s word, not God’s word! Yet, Watchman Nee says45 Paul “was very clear that the Lord had not said anything. However in the end, his word became the word of the Holy Spirit….It was the Lord’s opinion.” Again he says,46 Paul “dared not say that his word was the Lord’s commandment. He only told them his opinion. Yet in the end, God acknowledged his opinion. God recognized Paul’s opinion as His own.” An unbiased application of LSM’s new doctrine would conclude Paul’s opinion is merely man’s word, not God’s word. However, W. Nee asserts that God recognized Paul’s opinion as His own; Paul’s word became God’s word. This, he says,47 is the highest point in the ministry of God’s word. What is the basis of W. Nee’s bold assertion? It is the fact that, under divine sovereignty, Paul’s views were recorded and canonized in the New Testament; we read and acknowledge them as God’s word in 1 Corinthians chapter seven. Watchman Nee contradicts LSM’s new paradigm of dividing Scripture into God’s word and man’s word.

Paradoxically, W. Lee applies conflicting principles to the epistles of Paul and James. When expounding Paul’s letter, he follows W. Nee, saying,48 “Everything spoken by Paul in this chapter has nonetheless become part of…the New Testament,” because49 “the Lord becomes one with His apostles….Both speak together. His word becomes their word, and whatever they utter is His word.” W. Lee extends this principle to all the apostles, saying,50 “Because all the apostles are sons of God …their speaking for God is also God’s speaking….Hence all the speakings by the apostles are God’s speaking;” therefore “the Apostles’ teaching” encompasses the whole New Testament. This should include James’ epistle, since he is recognized by Scripture as an apostle (Gal. 1:19). Yet paradoxically, an opposing principle is invoked with James’ writing—that of dividing God’s word from man’s word, because “not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God.” Yet no justification is offered for this asymmetry. When diverse “principles” are applied in evaluating different writers, is it surprising that the implications differ? Shouldn’t the same principles be applied in both cases?

Which Word of Scripture Is the Word of God?
In LSM’s view,which words of Scripture are God’s Word? Responding, W. Lee illustrates:51 “Satan's word is recorded in the Bible…but the word recorded is not the word of God.Thirty-five chapters of Job are discounted because52 “instead of being the word of God, many of the words spoken by Job and his friends were merely human.” Many Psalms53 “are surely not God's words, but words…out of the psalmists' mouth from their natural sentiment;” they are “merely utterances of men.”Peter’s out- spoken responses (e.g., Matt. 16:22)54 are “clearly not the word spoken by God but the word spoken by Peter…usurped by, and even having become Satan.” W. Lee concludes,55 “These illustrations show that in the Bible…a number of words are not by God but by man and even by God's enemy, Satan.”

W. Lee cites Satan’s words,56 recorded in Genesis, to establish the principle that not every word in the Bible is the Word of God.” Yet no one who asserts that the whole Bible is God’s Word ever claims Scripture’s every word is a quote of God’s direct speaking! They mean Scripture is God’s speaking in a broader sense. The apostle John’s Revelation was “made known by signs…to His slave John, who testified the word of God” (Rev. 1:1-2). God’s word in Revelation is not mainly God’s direct speaking; rather it is conveyed through signs, visions recorded as narrative pictures in John’s Apocalypse. The same is true of John’s Gospel (2:11; 20:30) and of Scripture in general. The Genesis record of “Man’s Fall” (including Satan’s speaking) is surely God’s word in this sense. It is a “sign.” W. Lee was a master at interpreting the Genesis 3 “sign”; so why did he try to use this case to establish a “new principle”? The subtle change in defining “God’s word” is (at best) confusing and (at worst) looks like sleight of hand. This major switch in LSM’s lexicon is never explained or justified.

In dividing God’s word from man’s word, W. Lee offered two “governing principles of the interpretation of the Scripture.” The first principle is that57 “all the Scripture should be interpreted with the Scripture. Every portion, even a single word, of the Scripture should be interpreted with and according to the entire Scripture.” This principle makes sense if all Scripture is God’s word. But LSM denies this equivalence. We ask: when only some Scripture is God’s word, how should this principle be applied? We are not told. The second principle,58 “the hermeneutic key to the entire Bible,” is that59 “The eternal economy of God is the central line of the entire Scripture. The interpretation of the Scripture should be strictly governed by this central line. If any interpretation…is not in harmony with God's economy, it is off.” What is this “central line”? W. Lee answers,60 “There is a line…recorded in the Scriptures showing us how God became man to make man God.” This, says W. Lee, is “the essence of the Bible.” It is also LSM’s criterion for determining which Scripture is “God’s word.”

Jettisoning James’ Epistle as “surely not the words of God”
Luther called James61 “an Epistle of straw,” good for burning! It didn’t fit his justification by faith, so he relegated it (with Hebrews and Jude) to the end of the Bible, beside Revelation. W. Lee’s judgment also is severe. When evaluated against LSM’s “central line,” James is found wanting. W. Lee says,62 “I do not believe that James knew anything about God's eternal economy…He did not…give even a hint that he knew the eternal economy of God.” He finds James63 “devoid of God’s eternal purpose,” “devoid of the visions of God’s high revelation,” and “devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” Hence, he concludes, James’ epistle is64 “surely not the words of God.” Concerning many things,65 “James’ word…may be godly, but it is not God’s word.” James is de facto jettisoned from God’s Word; it is relegated to the second tier, the lower level of human words uttered by godly men, recorded by divine inspiration. This judgment raises more questions—are there other New Testament portions which (according to LSM) are “not the words of God”? Parts of Matthew seem to venerate the Old Covenant law and practices (e.g., Matt. 5:1724)? Should these also be jettisoned from God’s word?

LSM’s Canon within the Canon of Scripture
Under this radical hermeneutic, LSM’s interpretation determines which Scripture is the “word of God.” That’s the reverse of their initial position. Formerly W. Lee said, “Any verse that forbids a certain interpretation of the truth [must] not be sacrificed.” Interpretation was subject to Scripture; the interpretation was abandoned, not Scripture. But now, the reverse is true. Any Scripture judged inconsistent with LSM’s “central line” is not God’s word; it is discounted as mere man’s word. LSM’s interpretation now trumps Scripture; they are the arbiter of which Scriptures are God’s word!

Moreover, for LSM, the scope of acceptable interpretations is narrowed to one “central line.” In W. Lee’s earlier Life-study, James’ practical Christian living was appraised as a needed balance, a supplement, 66 to Paul’s focus on God’s economy. Alongside LSM’s “central line,” James’ “supporting line,” was condoned. However, a decade later, W. Lee issued his Crystallization-study; in this polemic,67 James’ balance was rejected as unnecessary and unacceptable. By this time, not only was God’s economy--that “God became man to make man God”--the “central line of the entire Scripture,” it had become the only acceptable line. This “major” cannot be combined with any other “minor;” LSM demands for their “central line” an uncontested monopoly on Scriptural interpretation! No other “supporting line” is tolerated! Moreover, LSM takes this dogmatic stance despite the fact that Scripture never explicitly affirms that “God became man to make man God.” Rather this is an extra-biblical doctrine with a long history within Eastern Orthodoxy. Bible scholars warn against such extravagant claims. University of Durham Divinity Professor, James Dunn says,68 “It is possible for some Christians to take an interpretation of scripture…to exalt it above all other alternative views of scripture and to use it to deny validity to those others, even when they have at least as strong an exegetical base.” LSM’s dogma fits this description.

Some might argue that every Christian group or denomination has a “canon within the canon of Scripture.”69 This may well be true. However, LSM’s local churches claim they are not just another denomination; they are the Body of Christ,70 receiving all believers! Such a claim requires them to recognize nothing short of the whole New Testament canon. They must include all God includes.71

Does LSM Recognize the Complete New Testament Canon?
The net result of LSM’s evolved hermeneutic is that LSM’s canon—their “word of God”—is less than the whole Bible. It excludes parts of both Old and New Testaments; LSM now has a “canon within the canon of Scripture.” Most of Job and many Psalms are excluded from LSM’s Old Testament canon—“God’s word”; James’ Epistle is de facto jettisoned from their New Testament canon. Yet all Paul’s writings (even his opinions) are accepted as “God’s word;” W. Lee says,72 “Whatever the apostle [Paul] teaches, regardless in what way, becomes the word of God in the New Testament.” There’s an obvious asymmetry here—Paul is accepted unconditionally while James is rejected. Yet, history tells us that, under God’s sovereignty, both Paul and James were recognized as legitimate parts of the New Testament canon (AD 397). We ask—What about books like Matthew? Some Bible scholars73 view James as an exposition of the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 57). If LSM rejects James, what about the “Sermon on the Mount” which also has Old Covenant overtones? Will LSM reject that also? Is LSM sliding down the slippery slope of a shrinking canon?

We ask—does LSM really recognize the complete New Testament canon? W. Lee expresses approval74 for the New Testament’s canonization. Yet doesn’t LSM’s evolved bibliology deny its validity? Evangelicals avow that God overruled4 in the preservation of both Testaments; hence the sixty-six books of Scripture constitute a complete and closed canon. Nothing should be added or subtracted (Rev. 22: 18–19). By definition, the “canon” is the measuring rod defining divinely-acceptable Christianity. All twenty-seven books75 “of the New Testament can claim to be justifiable interpretations of the Christ-event—James as well as Paul, Revelation as well as the Pastorals.” If we believe in God’s sovereignty, there were no “mistakes” of omission or inclusion. Hence believers can take the Bible as their only standard76 and sufficient guide (W. Nee). But this also implies we ought to recognize as divinely-approved all expressions of the Christian faith represented in the New Testament canon. Professor Dunn says,77 “To recognize the canon of the New Testament is to affirm the diversity of Christianity. We cannot claim to accept the authority of the New Testament unless we are willing to accept as valid whatever form of Christianity can [be justified by] the New Testament.” It is an indisputable historical fact that James’ Epistle was canonized, along with Hebrews, Revelation, Peter, etc. Under God’s sovereignty exercised over the canon of Scripture,78 “guidelines were drawn so as to include James as well as…Paul, the Apocalypse as well as Acts, John as well as the Synoptic [gospels].” All twenty-seven New Testament books are divinely-inspired and profitable. They are all, in their entirety, God’s Word.79 LSM denies this.

Conclusion
In his early writings Witness Lee taught that the Bible is God’s infallible word, verbally inspired in its entirety by God (2 Tim. 3:16). This matches evangelical orthodoxy. However, over the decades LSM’s bibliology evolved. Later W. Lee taught that, although all Scripture was recorded by divine inspiration, “not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” This produces a two-tier system. Some Scripture is God’s authoritative word; other Scriptures (e.g., James) are man’s word, eviscerated of authority. The criterion for dividing man’s word from God’s word is LSM’s “central line,” the doctrine that “God became man that man might become God.” Any Scripture judged inconsistent with this is not God’s word. As a result, LSM has a “canon-within-the-canon” of Scripture. Moreover, LSM claims a monopoly for their “central line, their hermeneutic key.” This “major” cannot be combined with any other “minor;” no other “supporting line” of exposition is tolerated. Earlier, in W. Lee’s Life-study, James’ Christian ethics was appraised as a useful balance to Paul’s focus on God’s economy. However, later, James’ writing was rejected; no balance or supplement was necessary. This is LSM’s evolved bibliology. Yet LSM’s recent actions—quarantines, denunciation meetings, DCP’s “Attack Pack” of books,80 law-suits against fellow-believers—suggest James’ Christian ethics are sorely lacking, despite their doctrine of the “God-man living.” LSM has lots of “God-man talk,” but very little “God-man walk.” This is the practical issue of their evolved bibliology.

It is difficult (if not impossible) to reconcile LSM’s initial position with their later stance. Some ask—what is the current teaching among LSM’s local churches? The unequivocal answer is the later doctrine—not every word in the Bible is God’s word. This is part of LSM’s81 “High Peak of the Divine Revelation” which supersedes all prior teaching. For LSM’s churches, the “high peak truth,” that “God became man to make man God,” is the “diamond in the box of the Bible.”82 Apparently for them the Bible itself (“the box”) pales compared to the “diamond” of LSM’s doctrines, including their bibliology.

LSM claims83 their “local churches share common doctrine with all other mainstream, orthodox, evangelical Christians…including the belief that the Holy Bible is the complete divine revelation verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.” However, an inspection of LSM’s bibliology refutes their claim to share common doctrine about the Bible with mainstream, orthodox, evangelical believers. Indeed it seems disingenuous of LSM to publicly state only one-half of their bibliology; full disclosure requires LSM and its affiliated local churches to inform the wider Christian public of the “other half”—their tenet that84

We believe that the entire Bible, every word in the Scripture, is God-breathed. Nevertheless, not every word in the Bible is the word of God.

Evangelicals would surely reject W. Lee’s pronouncement that “not every word in the Bible is the word of God,” and the resulting two-tier “canon-within-the-canon of Scripture.” Mainstream evangelicals disavow W. Lee’s assertions that “James’ word…is not God’s word” and that Scripture’s inclusion of his Epistle was solely to “expose James’ mistake.” They consider LSM’s bibliology unorthodox. It is difficult (if not impossible) to reconcile LSM’s teaching about Scripture with evangelical Christians’ declaration that85 “we believe in the verbal, plenary, infallible inspiration of the Bible.” Observers question whether LSM’s public statements are a facade disguising their unorthodox doctrines about the Bible.

Nigel Tomes
Toronto, Canada.
October, 2008

NOTES:
1.
“The term Bibliology (from Greek biblos meaning “book”) refers particularly to the study of the nature of the Bible as divine revelation. It often includes such topics as revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, canonicity, textual criticism, illumination, and interpretation.” [“Bibliology: The Bible,” byGreg Herrick, Th.M., Ph.D.]My thanks to those who commented on earlier versions of this article. As usual, the author alone is responsible for the views expressed in this piece. These views should not be attributed to any Christian workers, elders or local churches with whom the author is associated. 2.British historian David Bebbington [David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), pp. 2-17.]defines Evangelical Christians in terms of four specific hallmarks of evangelical religion: [1] conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed [by receiving the gospel of Christ]; [2] activism, the expression of the gospel in effort [e.g. evangelism]; [2] biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and [4] crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross [Christ’s redemption for justification]. Note the emphasis on the Bible in point [3]. 3.Bishop Ryle said evangelicalism is characterized by “the absolute supremacy assigned to Holy Scripture” e.g. all spiritual truth is to be found in its pages. Quote from David W. Bebbington (above). 4.Abilene Christian University Professor, Neil R. Lightfoot expresses this thought as follows, “each book on its own merit—not without, Christians believe, a guiding Providence—took its place in the accepted canon of New Testament Scripture.” [Neil R. Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, 2nd Edition, p. 109] The late University of Manchester Professor, F. F. Bruce said, “There is no better example of [the Holy Spirit’s] operation than in the recognition by the members of the Early Church of the [New Testament] books which were given by inspiration of God to stand alongside the books of the Old Covenant…and with them to make up the written Word of God.” [F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, p. 111] Some scholars appeal to Jesus’ statement in Matt. 24:35 that ‘Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.’ They say this applies to the Bible in whole and in part. Thus, God protects His Word in history as it is copied, recopied, translated and distributed. They call this "Providential Preservation.” 5.This particular quote is from: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-inspired.html The websites authors describe themselves as: “Christian, Protestant, conservative, evangelical, fundamental, and non-denominational.” 6.Living Stream Ministry is a registered not-for-profit organization established by W. Lee which publishes the writings of W. Lee and LSM’s “blended brothers.” Most of the quotations cited here are from W. Lee’s own writings. However, some LSM-publications were authored by people other than W. Lee, even though they appeared in his name (for example, LSM’s “Truth Lessons,” “Life Lessons” etc). LSM’s booklet, “The Beliefs & Practices of the local churches” was written by “The Co-workers in the Lord’s recovery”—no specific names given. Hence, strictly speaking the designation “LSM says” encompasses more than “W. Lee says.” However, for most occurrences in this article, they are synonymous. For the sake of brevity, we use the term “LSM” in the remainder of this article as a short-hand term for Bro. Witness Lee and the “blended (blending) brothers” associated with Living Stream Ministry (LSM) and LSM-affiliated local churches. From the context it will be clear whether quotes are from Witness Lee’s LSM-published books, the “blended brothers’” LSM-published writings (e.g. The Ministry magazine) or LSM-affiliated Internet websites (e.g. note 7 below). Quotations from LSM’s publications are covered under “fair use of copyright” provisions. 7.This statement appears on a DCP-website (i.e. LSM’s “Defense & Confirmation Project”). No indication is given on this website as to who the actual authors are. Given this lack of identification, we designate it as “LSM says.” Entry under: “Living Stream Ministry & The Local Church: Background Information--Description of The Local Church and Living Stream Ministry” posted on the “ContendingForTheFaith Internet website at: http://www.contendingforthefaith.com.../ministry.html 8.Witness Lee, Elders’ Training, Book, Vol. 7, p. 107 9.W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3, p. 33 emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “The whole Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, but not every word in the Bible is the word of God. The word itself may not be the word of God, but it was recorded by some writer under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.” The following paragraph contains a similar assertion: “The entire Scripture is written by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but this does not mean that every word written through the Spirit of God as a portion of the Holy Scripture is the word of God. Many portions of the Holy Scripture are rather the words spoken by persons (including Satan) other than God. I would like to present seven evident illustrations to show this. Three are from the Old Testament. First, there is Satan's word in Genesis 3. Second, there are Job and his three friends plus Elihu in Job 3—37. The third illustration from the Old Testament is the psalmists' natural sentiment. Three illustrations from the New Testament are concerning Peter, and the fourth one is concerning James.” [Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, pp. 88-89] 10.W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 128, emphasis added. W. Lee also says, “Not every word in the Bible is the word of God…Many words recorded in the Scriptures are the words of Satan, evil men, God’s opposers, and even the nonsensical talk of godly men.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 132] 11.W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 127 A similar statement appears in Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3 12.This possibility is discussed by: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-inspired.html . They state: “While there are different views as to what extent the Bible is inspired, there can be no doubt that the Bible itself claims that every word, in every part of the Bible, is inspired by God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This view of the Scriptures is often referred to as “verbal plenary” inspiration. What that means is that the inspiration extends to the very words themselves (verbal inspiration), not just concepts or ideas; and that the inspiration extends to all parts of Scripture and all subject matters of Scripture (plenary inspiration). There are some people who believe that only parts of the Bible are inspired, or only the thoughts or concepts that deal with religion are inspired, but these views of inspiration fall short of what the Bible itself claims. Full verbal plenary inspiration is an essential characteristic of the Word of God.” 13.W. Lee, Truth Lessons, Level 1, Vol. 1, p. 4. The quote, in context reads: “The entire Bible originates from God; every word and every sentence, every iota and every tittle (Matt. 5:18), are God-inspired. Hence, men should neither add to or take away anything from the Holy Scriptures (Rev. 22:18-19).” Note that (according to my knowledge) LSM’s Truth Lessons were not written by W. Lee, nor are they edited versions of his messages. Nevertheless, W. Lee supervised this set of publications and they appear under his name. 14.W. Lee’s statement, quoted above (see note 11) continues: “We definitely believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, that is, inspired by God. We believe that every word of every book of the Bible has been breathed out by God.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 127] 15.W. Lee, Life Messages, message #24, p. 216 (emphasis added) message given Nov. 11, 1978, in Spokane WA, USA. The statement in context reads: “The whole Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Do not take any word other than the Bible as the Word of God; otherwise you can be led into heresy. Apart from the Bible, you have no sure word of God. Whatever is in the Bible, you may rest assured, is the Word of God (p. 216)…The Life-study messages are rich, but not one of them is as rich as the Bible.”(p. 217) [W. Lee, Life Messages, #24, pp. 216-7 message given Nov. 11, 1978, Spokane WA.] 16.W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching & Fellowship of the Apostles, p. 22 The quote in context reads: “We need to consider the entire New Testament, from the first word of Matthew to the last word of Revelation, as God’s speaking through the different mouths and hands of the apostles. This is the apostles’ teaching.” This quote appears at the conclusion of a section defining “the apostles’ teaching” [W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, pp. 19-22] W. Lee defines “the teaching of the apostles’ ” as “consisting of” [1] “The teachings of the Lord Jesus in the four Gospels” (p. 19) [2] “The teachings of the Apostles in the Acts” (p. 10) plus [3] “The teachings of the Apostles in the Epistles from Romans to Revelation” (p. 20) W. Lee says, “Surely the Lord’s speaking in the four Gospels was God’s speaking. However, we may think that it is wrong to say that the apostles’ speaking…also is God’s speaking. According to Hebrews 1:2, today God speaks in the Son…Because all the apostles are sons of God…their speaking for God is also God’s speaking…Hence all the speakings by the apostles are God’s speaking.” [W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, p. 20] 17.W. Lee, The Speciality, Generality & Practicality… Chp. 1. The 1978 booklet, The Beliefs & Practices and Practices of the local churches, contains the following statements concerning the Bible: [1] “We believe that the Holy Bible is the complete divine revelation verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.” [2] “We stand on the Holy Scriptures, not according to any traditional interpretation, but according to the pure Word of God.” [3] “All teachings, inspirations, and guidance which claim the Holy Spirit as their source must be checked by God's revelation in His Word.” 18.W. Lee and LSM affirm Scripture is infallible; but they fail to address the issue of Bible inerrancy championed by conservative evangelicals. Does LSM regard the Bible as inerrant? The distinction, Claremont College Professor, Stephen T. Davis, explains is that:18 “The Bible is inerrant if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any topic whatsoever [including recorded historical events, matters of science, geology, geography etc.]. The Bible is infallible if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any matter of faith and practice.” The difference reflects a divergence in scope—Inerrancy is more encompassing, including, not only matters related to God, Christ and salvation, but all subjects. Inerrancy is the “litmus test” of orthodox bibliology for conservative evangelicals. LSM’s silence on this issue leaves the question of inerrancy unanswered. Perhaps this reflects LSM’s self-imposed isolation from Christianity. Whatever the reason, the fact that LSM’s statements ignore the issue of the Bible’s inerrancy, leaves LSM’s orthodoxy suspect in the eyes of this vocal sector of evangelicals. Stephen T. Davis, The Debate about the Bible: Inerrancy versus Infallibility, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), p. 23. Professor James D. G. Dunn points out that “The word ‘infallible’ was [considered] more flexible than the word ‘inerrant’: a fact that we should not ignore.” [James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, p. 91] The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy declares: “We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit. We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientifichypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” The following statement highlights the central issues in this debate: “The heart of the disagreement is the accuracy of the Bible's account of items not integral to salvation, for [all evangelicals insist] on the complete authority of the Bible's presentation of the gospel. Therefore, inerrancy tends to be a position about how precisely the Bible reports scientific, geological, and similar information, as well as whether it contains any internal inconsistencies about historical events. The issue is not about authority per se, but about the particular view of authority to which one subjects the Bible. What happened in the evangelical debate is that the detailed inerrancy position became a test of orthodoxy among conservative evangelicals.” [John Perry, “Dissolving the Inerrancy Debate: How Modern Philosophy Shaped the Evangelical View of Scripture,Quodlibet Journal: Volume 3, Number 4, Fall 2001] 19. W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3, p. 33 emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “The whole Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, but not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” See also Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, (1995) Message 7, p. 89 where W. Lee says: “Satan's word is recorded in the Bible, and that record is by the inspiration of the Spirit, but the word recorded is not the word of God. The serpent said, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?...Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:1b, 4-5). This is Satan's word, but it is recorded by Moses as a part of the Holy Scripture. This shows that not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God, but the record is by the inspiration of the Spirit.” [Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89] Contrast this 1995 statement—“not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God”-- with W. Lee’s earlier (1971) affirmation--“The Bible is the Word of God. We believe that the Bible, word by word, is divinely inspired by God (2 Pet. 1:21), as the breath of God (2 Tim. 3:16)…We must believe that the Bible is God’s infallible Word.” [W. Lee, The Speciality, Generality & Practicality… Chp. 1] and his (1978) statement that “The whole Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Do not take any word other than the Bible as the Word of God…Whatever is in the Bible, you may rest assured, is the Word of God.” [W. Lee, Life Messages, message #24, p. 216 message given Nov. 11, 1978, in Spokane WA, USA] 20. Witness Lee, On Knowing the Bible, chp.4, emphasis added. Messages given in Taipei, Taiwan in the 1950s (translated). A further principle W. Lee taught was distinguishing between dispensations. He said “We have to differentiate the ages; that is, we have to know clearly to which dispensation a word belongs. If you are not in a certain dispensation, then the words for that dispensation have nothing to do with you.” [Witness Lee, On Knowing the Bible, chp.4] 21.W. Lee, Life Messages, #24, p. 216. Message given Nov. 11, 1978, Spokane WA. USA 22.W. Lee, Life Messages, #24, p. 216 (selected statements from the paragraph above (see note 21). 23.W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 127 24.W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, pp. 127-8 25. W. Lee, Life-study of James p. 132 26.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 78 & p. 88 27.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, pp. 88-89 (see also p. 78-9) 28.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89 The statement in context reads: “Genesis 3:1b, 4-5 is the word spoken by the old serpent, the devil, but recorded by Moses through the inspiration of the Spirit of God for God's purpose to expose His enemy Satan's subtle deceiving and his devilish temptation that mankind may know that Satan is a real deceiver and devilish tempter (1 Tim. 2:14; Matt. 4:1-3; 6:13; 1 Thes. 3:5). Satan's word is recorded in the Bible, and that record is by the inspiration of the Spirit, but the word recorded is not the word of God. The serpent said, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?...Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:1b, 4-5). This is Satan's word, but it is recorded by Moses as a part of the Holy Scripture. This shows that not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God, but the record is by the inspiration of the Spirit.” [Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89] The phrase quoted in the text is highlighted. 29.Perhaps we should qualify this statement: “never before (at least, according to my knowledge) had W. Lee clearly differentiated between God-inspired Scripture and the word of God.” We are thinking particularly about local church members in North America who heard W. Lee expound the New Testament systematically through his semi-annual Life-study trainings. 30. Footnote 5 on Matt. 4:4, RcV. 31.W. Lee, The Full Knowledge of the Word of God, p. 16. The quote in context reads: “God’s Word is God’s breathing out (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible is God’s breathing out; that is, it is the breath breathed out by God.” 32.W. Lee, Life-study of Colossians, pp. 245-6 (see also footnote 1, Col. 4:16, RcV.) In context, the quote reads: “The word of Christ is the word spoken by Christ. In His New Testament economy God speaks in the Son, and the Son speaks not only directly in the Gospels, but also through His members, the apostles and prophets, in Acts, in the Epistles, and in Revelation. All these may be considered His word…[p. 245] The word of Christ includes the entire New Testament.”(p. 246) 33.W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p. 378-9, emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “The apostles’ teaching in the New Testament is altogether based on the principle of incarnation. According to this principle, God speaks in man’s speaking….This is the reason the writings of Peter, John, and Paul recorded in the Bible could become God’s words. Furthermore, these words are among the contents of the New Testament.” This view is confirmed by W. Lee’s teaching, “Surely the Lord’s speaking in the four Gospels was God’s speaking. However, we may think that it is wrong to say that the apostles’ speaking…also is God’s speaking. According to Hebrews 1:2, today God speaks in the Son…Because all the apostles are sons of God…their speaking for God is also God’s speaking…Hence all the speakings by the apostles are God’s speaking.” [W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, p. 20, emphasis added] Notice there is an important distinction between how God speaks in the New Testament (the “principle of incarnation”) and in the Old Testament. In this article (for the sake of brevity) we focus on the New Testament. 34.W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 128 35.W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 128 These phrases appear in the context of W. Lee saying, “Instead of being the word of God, many of the words spoken by Job and his friends were merely human. Furthermore, in the Psalms certain words are merely the utterances of men, whereas others are truly the word of God.”(W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 128, emphasis added) 36.W. Lee, Life-study of James p. 132 37.W. Lee, Life-study of James p. 75 38.Entry under the Question: "What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?" From: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-inspired.html 39.Entry under the Question: "What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?" From: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-inspired.html 40.See James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, p. 95 for a discussion. Prof. Dunn quotes Leon Morris concerning the verse John 10:35 “The Scripture cannot be broken.” Morris says, “The term ‘broken’ is not defined…But it is perfectly intelligible. It means that Scripture cannot be emptied of its force…” Dunn says “The first half of Morris’ last sentence catches the sense well (‘Scripture cannot be emptied of its force’)…” [James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, p. 95] 41.W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 16. The quote in context reads: “the basic principle of God’s speaking is…that God’s word has been seasoned with man’s flavor. However, it is preserved as His pure word. It is truly man’s word and at the same time truly God’s word. It is genuinely God’s word and at the same time genuinely man’s word…It is man speaking, yet God recognizes it as His word.” In his Life-study of 1 Corinthians, W. Lee gives a similar definition, saying, “The New Testament principle of incarnation, that is, God and man, man and God, becoming one…In the New Testament the Lord becomes one with His apostles and they become one with Him. Both speak together. His word becomes their word, and whatever they utter is His word.” [W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p.383, emphasis added.] 42.W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 17. Watchman Nee’s phrase, “many servants of the Lord,” should include the apostle James, who introduces himself as “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 1:1). Witness Lee expressed the same idea as W. Nee in his Life-study of 1 Cor. saying “The apostles’ teaching in the New Testament is altogether based on the principle of incarnation…God speaks in man’s speaking…On the day of Pentecost the apostles and disciples also began to speak according to the principle of incarnation. This is the reason the writings of Peter, John, and Paul recorded in the Bible could become God’s words. Furthermore, these words are among the contents of the New Testament. Although Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 that certain things he says are not the Lord’s word or the Lord’s commandment, everything spoken by Paul in this chapter has nonetheless become part of the divine revelation in the New Testament. This is because Paul was a person absolutely one with God. Even when he says that he does not have a word form the Lord, the Lord speaks in his speaking.” [W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, pp.378-9, emphasis added.] Moreover, under the heading: “The Apostle’s Teaching Becoming the Word of God in the New Testament,” W. Lee says, “Whatever the apostle [Paul] teaches, regardless in what way, becomes the word of God in the New Testament.” [W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p. 383, emphasis added.] W. Nee makes the important point that God’s way of speaking in the New Testament (the “principle of incarnation”) is significantly different from in the Old Testament. E.g., W. Nee says, “There are two kinds of ministers of the word. In the Old Testament there is one kind and in the New Testament there is another.” W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 47] In this article (for the sake of brevity) we focus on the New Testament. 43.W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 20 44.W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 15, emphasis added 45.W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, pp. 36-7 46. W. Nee, The Ministry of God’s Word, Collected Works, Vol. 53, p. 55. W. Lee expresses the same idea, saying “The New Testament principle of incarnation, that is, God and man, man and God, becoming one…In the New Testament the Lord becomes one with His apostles and they become one with Him. Both speak together. His word becomes their word, and whatever they utter is His word. Hence, the apostle’s charge is the Lord’s charge (v. 10). What he says, though not by the Lord, still becomes a part of the divine revelation in the New Testament (v. 12).” [W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p.383, emphasis added.] 47.“The Highest Point in the Ministry of the Word,” is the title of Chapter Four of Watchman Nee’s “Ministry of God’s Word,” Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol. 53, pp. 47-60. This chapter is an exposition on Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians chapter seven. 48.W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p. 379. The quote in context reads: “Although Paul writes in 1 Cor. 7 that certain things he says are not the Lord’s word or the Lord’s commandment, everything spoken by Paul in this chapter has nonetheless become part of the divine revelation in the New Testament.” 49.W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p. 383, and footnote 2 to 1 Cor. 7:40 RcV. emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “In the New Testament the Lord becomes one with His apostles, and they become one with Him; thus the two speak together (RcV footnote). [Life-study: “Both speak together”] His word becomes their word, and whatever they utter is His word. Hence, the apostle’s charge was the Lord’s charge (v. 10). What he [Paul] said, though it was not spoken by the Lord, still became part of the divine revelation in the New Testament.” [footnote 2 to 1 Cor. 7:40 RcV, emphasis added] 50.W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, p. 20 The quote in context reads, “Surely the Lord’s speaking in the four Gospels was God’s speaking. However, we may think that it is wrong to say that the apostles’ speaking…also is God’s speaking. According to Hebrews 1:2, today God speaks in the Son…Because all the apostles are sons of God…their speaking for God is also God’s speaking… Hence all the speakings by the apostles are God’s speaking.” [W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, p. 20] The wider context concerns W. Lee’s definition of “the Apostles’ Teaching”--“We need to consider the entire New Testament, from the first word of Matthew to the last word of Revelation, as God’s speaking through the different mouths and hands of the apostles. This is the apostles’ teaching.” [W. Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament & the Teaching…of the Apostles, p. 22] 51.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89 The quote in context reads: “Satan's word is recorded in the Bible…by the inspiration of the Spirit, but the word recorded is not the word of God...This shows that not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God.” 52.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89-90. Elsewhere W. Lee describes the dialogue between Job and his ‘comforters” as “very much according to their concepts…which contradict God's purpose in man.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 128] 53.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 91. This is a further development of W. Lee’s earlier teaching regarding Psalms, that “part of the Psalms are of the human concept, and part are of the divine concept; part are the expression of the godly saints, and part are the declarations of God.” [W. Lee, Christ & the Church in the Psalms, p. 16]. Therefore (W. Lee declares) “we must put Psalm 2 upon our head and Psalm 1 under our feet. How can we put part of the Bible under our feet? This is not my thought, but the thought of the Bible itself.” [W. Lee, Christ & the Church in the Psalms, p. 22] 54.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 91 Peter is roundly condemned by W. Lee, who says, “Peter’s intention in speaking this word [Matt. 16:22] was to frustrate the Lord from going to the cross to accomplish His death and resurrection for the accomplishment of God’s eternal redemption and His dynamic salvation” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 92] This critique retroactively attributes to Peter [in Matt. 16] the foresight that Christ’s impending death would be followed by resurrection and that Christ’s death was “for the accomplishment of God’s eternal redemption and His dynamic salvation.” Most Bible expositors refrain from attributing such marvelous foresight to Peter! Hindsight is always 20/20! 55.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 93 The quote in context reads: “these illustrations show that in the Bible, which is a book of God's inspiration, a number of words are not by God but by man and even by God's enemy, Satan.” 56.“Satan's word is recorded in the Bible…by the inspiration of the Spirit, but the word recorded is not the word of God...This shows that not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God.” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 89] Also Satan’s speaking is used as the prime example in W. Lee’s Life-study of James. He says, “although every line and word of the Scripture is inspired by God, this does not mean that every word in this holy Book is the word of God, but we must be very careful in our understanding of this matter. In the Bible there are a great many words that are not God’s words. We may give several examples to make this matter clear. In Genesis 3:1, 3-5 we have words spoken by the serpent. First the serpent asked the woman, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (v. 1). Then the serpent went on to say, “Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (vv. 4-5). These words spoken by the serpent are actually words uttered by the Devil, Satan.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, pp. 127-8, emphasis added] 57.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 84 & p. 96
58.
LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, Vol. IV, No. 3 (July 1999) p. 64 refers to, “The economy of God, the hermeneutic key to the entire Bible.” It also says: “God’s economy is the key to the Bible…the central hermeneutical principle…the central line of the divine revelation…” We note that, in presenting their “central hermeneutical principle…the central line of the divine revelation,” LSM’s Affirmation & Critique makes no assertion that any Scripture deemed inconsistent with their “central line” is not God’s word. When presenting their doctrines to a theologically-informed audience, LSM does not mention that, according to LSM’s bibliology not every word in the Bible is the word of God.” This raises the question—is LSM’s teaching that “not every word in the Bible is the word of God,” intended for “internal consumption only” (i.e. within the ‘Lord’s Recovery among LSM’s local churches)?
59.
Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 84 & p. 96. LSM’s “blended brothers” adopt the same attitude: “We have one unique teaching, and there is one unique teaching in the Bible—the teaching of God’s eternal economy.” [EM, The Ministry, Vol. 10, No. 6 (September, 2006) p. 19, emphasis added] 60.[W. Lee, The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, (1994) chapter 2, emphasis added] The statement reads “…there is a line concerning the economy of God recorded in the Scriptures showing us how God became man to make man God.” (see the quote in context below) Under the Heading:“GOD BECAME MAN THAT MAN MAY BECOME GOD” BEING THE ESSENCE OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, W. Lee, quoting the saying of the “Church Father,” Athanasius (c. A.D. 297 - 373), says, “‘God became man that man may become God’ in the economy of God….Strictly speaking, these words are the essence of the entire Bible.” [W. Lee, The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, (1994) chapter 2, emphasis added] Later in the same chapter, he says, “‘God becoming man and man becoming God’ is the economy of God; it is beyond the comprehension of angels and men. This is the point that I want to cover tonight. The Scriptures tell us clearly that God became a man to be our Savior and then He redeemed and regenerated us. Orthodox Christians and fundamental teachers all have seen these truths. However, they do not see that there is a line concerning the economy of God recorded in the Scriptures showing us how God became man to make man God. The Bible shows us how man can become God to have a God-man living and thus become an organism of God, which is the Body of Christ. This is something that they do not see.” [W. Lee, The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, (1994) chapter 2, emphasis added] The highlighted statement (above) is quoted in the main text. 61.Luther used the phrase“‘A Right Strawy Epistle’ in the 1st edition of his German New Testament. However, “after 1522 Luther withdrew his characterization of James as a “right strawy epistle” from subsequent editions of his New Testament.” See Timothy George, [Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.]“‘A Right Strawy Epistle’: Reformation Perspectives on James” in Review and ExpositorVol. 83 (Summer 1986) pp. 369-382. The implication of Luther’s phrase, “A Right Strawy Epistle” was that James ought to be burned (1 Cor. 3). Prof. George indicates that, despite his critique of James, “Luther did not, as is commonly repeated, excise James completely from the canon. He included James in all of the editions of his German New Testament, although he did detach it from the usual order and placed it, along with Hebrews, Jude, and the Apocalypse, at the end of the Bible.” (pdf. p. 23) Other reformers (e.g. Calvin & Zwingli) sought to reconcile James’ view of faith & works with Paul’s view. Luther’s drastic actions and style of rhetoric characterized 16th-century Reformation debates; it does not belong in 20th or 21st century Bible exposition. Watchman Nee discusses the “Relationship between Faith & Work in James 2” in Collected Works Vol. 28, chapter 10, pp. 187-205 62. Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 1, p 14. The quote in context reads: I do not believe that James knew anything about God's eternal economy. He knew only how to be pious, how to be godly, how to fear God, how to behave righteously, how to be perfect, and how to be upright. He did not mention anything to give even a hint that he knew the eternal economy of God.” [Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 1, p. 14, emphasis added] Also W. Lee says, “James was very much devoid of God’ eternal purpose and His ultimate goal.” (p. 40) “James was devoid of the visions of God’s high revelation.” (p. 47) and “The book of James is devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” (p. 61) The second phrase—“surely not the words of God” —quoted in the text occurs on p. 83 & p. 95 (see below for the context). Notice that W. Lee’s Crystallization Study of James forms part of the “High Peak” Books (1992-7), along with his The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ quoted in the previous footnote. Hence the definition of Scripture’s “central line” and “God’s eternal economy”-- “‘God becoming man and man becoming God’ is the economy of God”-- are relevant to W. Lee’s evaluation of James’ Epistle. Please see Appendix A for more discussion of James. 63.W. Lee finds James “devoid of God’ eternal purpose and His ultimate goal.” (W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, p. 40) “James was devoid of the visions of God’s high revelation.” (W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, p. 47) and “The book of James is devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” (W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, p. 61) 64.The quotation in the text--“The words in the Epistle of James spoken…according to his Old Testament concept” [are] “surely not the words of God”—is extracted from W. Lee’s 97-word sentence quoted below. The highlighted core statements numbered [1], [2] & [3] below have been reordered, while preserving their meaning. W. Lee’s statement was: “The words in the Epistle of James spoken [1] by him that exalt the Mosaic law and charge the New Testament believers to keep it, that confuse God's dispensation of the ages, and that are devoid of Christ, His death, His resurrection, and the Spirit are surely not the words of God [3], but words spoken by James according to his Old Testament concept [2] concerning the Mosaic law which is in contrast to the grace in God's New Testament economy, and according to his vague vision of the difference between God's Old Testament dispensation and His New Testament dispensation.” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 83 & p. 95] In his Life-study W. Lee asserts that (concerning many of James’ prescriptions) “James’ word…is not God’s word.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 131] This quote in context reads: “In his Epistle James wrote… concerning many things: visiting widows and orphans, keeping oneself unspotted from the world…fulfilling the perfect law of freedom, saying ‘If the Lord wills’…pray[ing] according to [Elijah’s] example…James’ word regarding these things may be godly, but it is not God’s word.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 131, emphasis added] 65.In his Life-study, W. Lee says, “In his epistle James wrote in a godly way concerning many things: visiting widows and orphans, keeping oneself unspotted from the world, fulfilling the perfect law of freedom, and saying ‘If the Lord wills,’ concerning the future, encouraging the believers to pray according to the example of Elijah. James’ word regarding these things may be godly, but it is not God’s word. Nevertheless, such a book is included among the holy writings, which were breathed by God, inspired by God.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 131, emphasis added] The highlighted portions are in the main text. 66.In the early 1980s, during his Life-study training of James, W. Lee appraised James’ epistle as a useful supplement to Paul’s epistles. He said, “The epistles of Paul are concerning God’s economy…This economy is vital and crucial. But in order to carry out God’s economy, we need practical Christian perfection…we should not be careless in our living.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 20, emphasis added] W. Lee regarded James’ as a needed balance to Paul. “In our Christian life we need to have a balance between practical Christian living and God’s New Testament economy,” W. Lee said [W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 41, emphasis added] 67.Reported W. Lee’s Crystallization Study of James was a polemical response to the Church in Anaheim’s study of James. During the period (1994-5) the Church in Anaheim (and possibly other local churches in S. California) spent time in James’ Epistle. W. Lee’s Crystallization Study was his polemical reaction and his attempt to correct their de tour from the “central lane.” Evidently it achieved its intended result--since that time, the author is not aware of any of LSM’s local churches focusing on James’ Epistle. Readers of the Crystallization Study of James would not be surprised by such a report. 68.James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, SCM Press, 1987, p. 109. The statement in context reads: “It is possible for some Christians to take an interpretation of scripture whose hermeneutical justification within scripture is weaker than other interpretations, to exalt it above all other alternative views of scripture and to use it to deny validity to those others, even when they have at least as strong an exegetical base.” [James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, SCM Press, 1987, p. 109] Prof. Dunn’s statement was made in the context of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Prof. Dunn also states, “The stronger any claim that the canon as such offers a single unifying pattern, the more sure we can be that it is a pattern abstracted without due regard for a properly historical exegesis or for the diversity of ecclesiastical traditions which all claim authentication from the canon.” [James D. G. Dunn, The Living Word, SCM Press, 1987, p. 166] 69.Scholars argue that every Christian group or denomination has a “canon within the canon of Scripture.” For example, Professor James D. G. Dunn says, “The reality is that all Christians have operated with a canon within the canon.” [James D. G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, (2nd Edition) p. 374, emphasis original] He also says, “Like it or not, then, all Christians have operated and continue to operate with a canon within the New Testament canon.” [James D. G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity, (2nd Edition) p. 375] 70.On occasion W. Lee equated the “Lord’s Recovery” to the Body of Christ. For example, speaking in Taipei, Taiwan, W. Lee said, we should “allow God to have the Body of Christ on the earth. From now on, not only are we who are in Taipei in one accord, but the entire recovery of the Lord in the whole universe is also one. We are the one Body of Christ.” (p. 58) [W. Lee, Words of Training in the New Way, vol. 1, pp. 57-8 (Sept. 1987)] LSM “Blended brother,” Minoru Chen confirms this equality, saying: “I would say that practically speaking, for us the Body today is just the Lord’s recovery. …In Brother Lee’s understanding, the Body equals the recovery. We know that the mystical Body of Christ includes all the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space, but practically for us today, the recovery is the Body.” [MC., The Ministry, v. 7, no. 6, Aug. 2003, p. 196] LSM President, Benson Phillips is also on record saying, “Surely we have seen that when a brother leaves the church life his situation tends to worsen. This occurs because he has become an individual again. He is no longer a part of the Body.” [BP, The Ministry, vol. 9, No. 3, March 2005, p. 130] 71.This matches Watchman Nee’s statements: Whatever the Bible has, we must stand on the positive side. For whatever matter the Bible allows both sides, we must stand on both sides. And whatever the Bible does not have we must rejectWith whatever the Bible allows people freedom, we also should allow people freedom…” (Watchman Nee, Further Talks on the Church Life, p. 64) “Whatever the Bible does not have, the church must by all means reject. Otherwise, all those who follow the Lord faithfully will leave when they see the church having what the Bible has not.”(Watchman Nee, Further Talks on the Church Life, p. 64, emphasis added) 72.W. Lee, Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Message 43, p.383, emphasis added. W. Lee makes this comment in the context of 1 Cor. 7. However, that section is particularly relevant to the present discussion in that it highlights the distinction between the Lord’s command, Paul’s instruction and Paul’s personal opinion (i.e. man’s word). In W. Lee’s treatment of Paul’s word in 1 Cor. the principle of incarnation—man’s word becoming God’s word—is invoked. In his treatment of James’ word in the Epistle of James, however, a different principle is invoked—dividing Scripture into two distinct categories--God’s word and man’s word! 73.See for example, Virgil V. Porter Jr. “THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT IN THE BOOK OF JAMES,” BiBLiOTHECA SACRA Vol. 162 (October-December, 2005): pp. 470-82. An obvious example is James 5:12 which echoes Matt. 5:34-36. 74.Examples are: “The Bible is a wonderful book. It is "The Book" among all books! It took 1600 years to complete, starting with Moses, the greatest prophet of God, and ending with the Apostle John. It was confirmed 300 years later (397 A.D.) at a council held at Carthage in North Africa.” [Witness Lee, Life-study of Genesis, Message 1, emphasis added]“After the apostles passed away, there was some confusion due to the fact that some people wrote books in the names of the apostles. Therefore the leaders of the early churches, the so-called [Church] Fathers, collected all the books written by the apostles and put them together with the Gospels. Not long after Polycarp was martyred, the New Testament was viewed basically the same way among all the different churches. However, there were still disagreements as to whether or not the seven books of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation should be included. Since these books were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and have spiritual authority and value, after a long time of testing, in a council of the leaders of all the churches, these seven books were acknowledged to be part of the New Testament in A.D. 397, at Carthage in North Africa. The New Testament was recognized as having the same twenty-seven books as we have it today. Hence, by A.D. 397 at the Council at Carthage, the whole Bible, including both the Old and the New Testament, was recognized and acknowledged by God’s people.” [Witness Lee, On Knowing the Bible, chp.2, emphasis added.] W. Lee also describes the process of canonization, saying, “Probably many early disciples wrote different gospels—not only four. The four gospels were selected from many, perhaps from over 100 biographies written by the early disciples. History tells us that there were a lot of writing by the early disciples, besides what was collected into the New Testament. Since most of them were not so accurate, not many of them were selected….seven books…were not selected until 397, in the council of Carthage, North Africa. That final selection completed the entire New Testament. Those many books written by the apostles were full of the word of Christ.” [W. Lee, The Divine Speaking, p. 48, emphasis added] 75. James D. G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, (2nd Edition) p. 386 76.Of course this is Watchman Nee’s famous statement on the primacy of Scripture: “The Bible is our only standard. We are not afraid to preach the pure Word of the Bible, even if men oppose; but if it is not the Word of the Bible, we could never agree even if everyone approved of it.”(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Vol. #7, p. 1231) Other statements by W. Nee include: “Whatever the Bible does not have, the church must by all means reject. Otherwise, all those who follow the Lord faithfully will leave when they see the church having what the Bible has not.”(Watchman Nee, Further Talks on the Church Life, p. 64) “Whatever the Bible has, we must stand on the positive side. For whatever matter the Bible allows both sides, we must stand on both sides. And whatever the Bible does not have we must rejectWith whatever the Bible allows people freedom, we also should allow people freedom…” (Watchman Nee, Further Talks on the Church Life, p. 64) 77.James D. G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, (2nd Edition) p. 377, emphasis original. 78.James Dunn, Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, (2nd Edition,) Foreword, p. xxxi 79.The schizophrenia inherent in LSM’s attitude towards the Bible is reflected in their teaching concerning “pray-reading,” which recognizes that every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16). For example, one of LSM’s “blended brothers” says, “In Matt. 4:4 the Lord said, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.’ The first time I heard about pray-reading, my wife and I and a newly saved couple decided to try it together. We simply opened the Bible, and the verses before us were Proverbs 30:24-28, which talk about ants, rock badgers, locusts and lizards…we simply began [to pray-read].” [DT, The Ministry, Vol. 8, No. 7 (July/Aug. 2004) p. 275] The “blended brother’s” point is that any and every Scripture can be used for “pray-reading” because it all God’s word—“every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4). LSM’s “blended brothers” do not direct believers to discern which part of Scripture is “God’s word” (as opposed to man’s word) and to “pray-read” those portions. 80.LSM’s affiliate, “Defense & Confirmation Project” (DCP) published a 28-book “Attack Pack” in May 2007. These publications were recommended by LSM’s “blended brothers” and distributed at LSM’s conference in St. Paul MN. An earlier LSM-publication in the same genre was “The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion” published in W. Lee’s name. 81.This phrase--“High Peak of the Divine Revelation”--was used by W. Lee & LSM’s “blended brothers” to designate W. Lee’s messages from 1994 until his passing in 1997. For example LSM’s Senior Editor, Ron Kangas explains “From 1994 until early 1997 the vision of the age reached a phenomenal development, which is the reason we call it the high peak, even the highest peak, of the divine revelation.” [RK, The Ministry, Vol. 9, No. 8, Sept. 2005, p. 12]. Moreover, LSM’s Ron Kangas also says, “By 1994 the ministry in the Lord’s recovery had brought the recovery into a new realm, a new stage, and a new culture with a new language.” [RK, The Ministry, vol. 9, No. 5, May, 2005, p. 51] In the teaching of LSM’s “blended brothers” and in the concept of typical LSM-local church members the “High Peak truths” supersede W. Lee’s prior teachings. 82. This saying about the “Diamond in the box of the Bible” has been quoted by LSM’s “blended brothers” on several occasions. For example, LSM’s Senior Editor, Ron Kangas: “The high peak of the divine revelation—the ‘diamond’ in the ‘box’ of the Bible—is the revelation that in Christ God has become man in order that man might become God in life and nature but not in the Godhead.” [RK, The Ministry, vol. 9, No. 8, Sept. 2005, p. 23, also on p. 36] Also LSM’s Senior Editor, Ed Marks, “The ‘diamond’ in the ‘box’ of the Bible is the revelation that in Christ God has become man in order that man might become God in life and nature but not in the Godhead (2 Sam.7:12-14a)” [EM, The Ministry, Vol. 10, No. 1, (Jan./Feb. 2006) p. 301 83.Entry under: “Living Stream Ministry & The Local Church: Background Information--Description of The Local Church and Living Stream Ministry” posted on the LSM-DCP “ContendingForTheFaith Internet website at: http://www.contendingforthefaith.com.../ministry.html 84.W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 132, emphasis added. The statement in context reads: “We do not have the slightest doubt about the divine inspiration of the Bible. On the contrary, we have proper understanding concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures. We believe that the entire Bible, every word in the Scripture, is God-breathed. Nevertheless, not every word in the Bible is the word of God. As we have seen, many words recorded in the Scriptures are the words of Satan, evil men, God’s opposers, and even the nonsensical talk of godly men.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 132. The highlighted words appear in the main text.] A similar statement by W. Lee is: “Although every line and word of the Scripture is inspired by God, this does not mean that every word in this holy Book is the word of God...In the Bible there are a great many words that are not God’s words.” [W. Lee, Life-study of James, Message 14, p. 127, emphasis added]. An equivalent statement appears in W. Lee’s 1995 Crystallization-study, which says, “The entire Scripture is written by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but this does not mean that every word written through the Spirit of God as a portion of the Holy Scripture is the word of God. Many portions of the Holy Scripture are rather the words spoken by persons…other than God.” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 78 & p. 88] 85.Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology. Ryrie explains why these different adjectives are used: “These differences call for precision in stating the biblical doctrine. [1] Formerly all that was necessary to affirm one’s belief in full inspiration was the statement, “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible.” [2] But when some did not extend inspiration to the words of the text it became necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible.” [3] To counter the teaching that not all parts of the Bible were inspired, one had to say, “I believe in the verbal, plenary [definition: full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified] inspiration of the Bible.” [4] Then because some did not want to ascribe total accuracy to the Bible, it was necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant inspiration of the Bible.” [5] But then “infallible” and “inerrant” began to be limited to matters of faith only rather than also embracing all that the Bible records (including historical facts, genealogies, accounts of Creation, etc.), so it became necessary to add the concept of “unlimited inerrancy.” Each addition to the basic statement arose because of an erroneous teaching.” [From Charles C. Ryrie’s Basic Theology] Note: According to my knowledge, W. Lee & LSM don’t use the term “inerrant.” They only use the term “infallible.”
APPENDIX A: LSM’s DEPRECIATION OF JAMES
James’ Practical Christian Living Balancing Paul’s Economy of God In the early 1980s, during his Life-study training of James, W. Lee appraised James’ epistle as a useful supplement to Paul’s epistles. He said,86 “The epistles of Paul are concerning God’s economy…This economy is vital and crucial. But in order to carry out God’s economy, we need practical Christian perfection…we should not be careless in our living.” W. Lee regarded James’ as a needed balance to Paul. “In our Christian life we need to have a balance between practical Christian living and God’s New Testament economy,” W. Lee said.87 Measured in terms of Paul’s theology, James falls short. Nevertheless, W. Lee acknowledged James has some88 “positive matters concerning God’s New Testament economy.” However, applying his hermeneutic that “not every word in the Bible is God’s word,” W. Lee’s Life-study simultaneously depreciates parts of James’ epistle. He said,89 “In the Epistle of James certain words were not spoken by God, on the contrary words such as ‘twelve tribes’ and ‘synagogue’ were spoken by James, but recorded by God’s inspiration.” Moreover,90 “In his Epistle James wrote…concerning many things: visiting widows and orphans, keeping oneself unspotted from the world…[etc]… James’ word regarding these things may be godly, but it is not God’s word.” Obviously W. Lee was not enthusiastic about James’ epistle; he asserted that parts are “James word…not God’s word.” Nevertheless overall W. Lee’s Life-study found some value, certain “New Testament characteristics” and some words of God in James’ Epistle. However, a decade later, his assessment was decidedly more negative. LSM’s Denigration of James: “Genuine Christian Perfection is for Building the Body, Not loving our Neighbors, Helping Orphans and Widows”—W. Lee In W. Lee’s 1995 polemical Crystallization-study, James is roundly condemned for his ignorance of God’s economy. W. Lee declares,91 “I do not believe that James knew anything about God's eternal economy. He knew only how to be pious, how to be godly…He did not…give even a hint that he knew the eternal economy of God.” Moreover,92 “James was very much devoid of God’ eternal purpose and His ultimate goal,” “devoid of the visions of God’s high revelation” and “devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” Previously James was interpreted in the light of the New Testament. For example, James says the believers were “brought forth by the word of truth” (1:18). The Life-study and Recovery Version footnotes say, concerning the “word of truth,”93— “The word of the divine reality, of what the Triune God is. This word is the seed of life, by which we have been regenerated (1 Pet. 1:23).” Hence James 1:18 is interpreted according to Peter’s statement that we are “regenerated…through the living and abiding word of God.” However, W. Lee’s later Crystallization-study gives a totally different interpretation. Witness Lee now equates James’ “word of truth” with the Mosaic law; he asserts that94 “James said that God regenerated us with the word of the law.” Why the drastic change in interpretation? In W. Lee’s earlier Life-study, James’ practical Christian living was appraised as a needed balance to Paul’s emphasis on God’s economy. Now, such balance is not necessary. Not only is God’s economy the “central line of the entire Scripture,” evidently it is the only acceptable line. In their view, this “major” cannot be combined with any other “minor;” LSM’s “central line” must have a monopoly on Scriptural interpretation! Based on this judgment, W. Lee effectively rejects James’ epistle as God’s word; he says95 “The words in the Epistle of James spoken…according to his Old Testament concept” [are] “surely not the words of God.” Evidently nothing good can come from James; W. Lee’s denigration is total and complete. He considers James’ epistle a “tragic mistake;” it is a hindrance, not a help. He says,96 “Thousands and thousands of real believers have been blinded by James's vague teaching from seeing the clear view concerning the economy of God.” W. Lee denigrates James’ admonition to visit orphans and widows (James 1:27). He says,97 “genuine Christian perfection is for the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). It is not for us to love our neighbors, to help the needy orphans and widows…That is James's perfection.”Yet many would ask—isn’t this a false dichotomy between “building Christ’s Body” and Christian good works? Why can’t believers do both? Why does “building the Body” preclude visiting orphans and widows? Indeed, doesn’t this critique risk falling into the very pitfall James warned against—substituting an ethereal, “building the Body” (faith without works) for practical good works which express genuine faith (James 2:14-18)? In contrast to W. Lee, Watchman Nee did not disparage caring for the poor; rather he taught that,98 “Helping the poor is a principle as well as a requirement in the Bible. The Lord always cares for the poor.” What is James’ Raison D'état?
“God inspired James to write the Epistle…to expose James’s Mistake”—W. Lee Doesn’t LSM’s negative attitude towards James contradict the view that “all Scripture (including James) is profitable”? (2 Tim. 3:16) Indeed LSM’s Truth Lessons state that James was among the books99 “definitely written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, possessing divine authority and value,” which were therefore “recognized…as a part of the New Testament.” Since LSM now asserts the “tragic issue of James's mistake is the blinding of thousands of believers,” isn’t James’ Epistle essentially “unprofitable,” and withoutdivine authority and value”? If LSM’s view is correct, why did God inspire James to write his epistle? What is James’ raison d'état? Why did God’s sovereignty include James’ epistle in the New Testament canon? W. Lee’s answer is—to expose James’ mistake! He asserts100 “God inspired James to write the Epistle of James with a purpose…to expose James's mistake,” and “The purpose of God in having James as a book in His holy Scriptures…is just to expose James.” In his view,101 “James’s defective words” were recorded “for the divine purpose to expose him in his wrong concept concerning the law and in his vague vision concerning God's dispensation.” Yet, this response raises more questions than it answers—many “mistaken writings” (e.g. the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Barnabas) which circulated during the “apostolic era” were not included in the New Testament; why was James’ Epistle the only “mistaken writing” included in the New Testament canon? LSM’s argument doesn’t add up; God’s (alleged) goal in including James’ epistle was to “expose James's mistake.” Yet W. Lee admits that “thousands and thousands of real believers have been blinded by James's” writing. Are we to conclude that God failed abysmally to achieve His goal with respect to James’ epistle? So, why did God do such a “poor job” in “exposing James’s mistake”? This argument is not convincing. It violates the principle102 “axiomatic among evangelicals that Scripture is to be interpreted according to its natural sense, unless the context of the passage dictates otherwise.” There is nothing within James’ Epistle suggesting “the divine purpose [was] to expose him in his wrong concept.” Hence LSM’s interpretation of James’ raison d'état contradicts the natural sense as understood by Bible scholars and Christian readers. LSM’s rationale for James’ inclusion in the canon leaves readers with the impression that God misled believers by including James’ (alleged) “mistaken writings” in the New Testament. What kind of motives does LSM’s argument implicitly attribute to God? Nor is James an isolated example, LSM also discounts most of Job and many of the Psalms as mere expressions of the writers' “natural sentiment.” Yet, if we accept the formation and preservation of the scriptural canon under God’s sovereignty, we cannot reject any of the writings found in the canon of Scripture. God is His sovereignty included James’ writing in the New Testament canon. This fact implies that James’ epistle is an acceptable expression of the Christian Faith. Its canonical status means the Christian life and church-life depicted by James is a valid form of Christianity (despite its Old Covenant Judaism). As Professor Dunn says,103 “all the diversity of the New Testament can claim to be justifiable interpretations of the Christ-event—James as well as Paul, Revelation as well as the Pastorals.” NOTES to APPENDIX A 86.W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 20 87. W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 41 88.W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 65. He writes, “James says that we have been begotten by the Father of lights by the word of truth (1:17-18). This is New Testament regeneration. James also speaks of receiving with meekness the implanted word (1:21). This is also a New Testament matter.” (W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 65) He refers to these as “positive matters concerning God’s New Testament economy” (W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 65), In context he says “However, along with these positive matters concerning God’s New Testament economy, James brings in things of the Old Testament.” In another place, W. Lee asks, “What does James say in his Epistle concerning God’s New Testament economy?” (W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 40) He answers: “James emphasizes, as New Testament characteristics, only God’s begetting of us (1:18), the perfect law of freedom (1:25), the indwelling Spirit (4:5), and a little regarding the church (5:14).” (W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 40) Nevertheless, according to W. Lee’s Life-study, James does exhibit some New Testament characteristics. 89.W. Lee, Life-study of James, pp. 75-6 90.W. Lee, Life-study of James, p. 131 The quote in context reads: “In his Epistle James wrote… concerning many things: visiting widows and orphans, keeping oneself unspotted from the world…fulfilling the perfect law of freedom, saying ‘If the Lord wills’…pray[ing] according to [Elijah’s] example…James’ word regarding these things may be godly, but it is not God’s word.” 91.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 1, p. 14 The quote in context reads: “I do not believe that James knew anything about God's eternal economy. He knew only how to be pious, how to be godly, how to fear God, how to behave righteously…He did not…give even a hint that he knew the eternal economy of God.” 92. Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, W. Lee makes the following statements: “James was very much devoid of God’ eternal purpose and His ultimate goal.” (p. 40) “James was devoid of the visions of God’s high revelation.” (p. 47) and “The book of James is devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” (p. 61) The last statement, in context reads: “The New Testament is composed of mainly nine items. These items are the economy of God…, the all-inclusive God…, the all-inclusive Christ…, the all-inclusive Spirit…, the divine life…, Christ's death…, Christ's resurrection…, and the Body of Christ…The book of James touches only two of the above items: the begetting Father and the indwelling Spirit. But even these items are spoken of by James in an inadequate way. Thus, the book of James is devoid of the main items in the New Testament.” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 5, p. 61] 93.James 1:18 footnote 2, RcV. 94.W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3, p. 31. Along the same lines, “the implanted word” in James 1:21—“receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls” (1:21)—is also equated with Moses’ law. W. Lee says, “The implanted word here also refers to the Mosaic law….all the different terms used by James for the law refer to the Mosaic law…the word of truth, and the implanted word refer to the same Mosaic law.” [W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3, p. 31] An obvious question is—why does the “word of truth” in James refer to the Mosaic law, while the “word of God” in 1 Peter 1:23 refer to God’s “seed of life”? Why is James given an Old Testament interpretation, while Peter is given a New Testament interpretation? 95.W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 83 & p. 95 96.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 6, p. 74 97.W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 7, p. 87 98.W Nee, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 61, p. 82 99.W. Lee, Truth Lessons, Level 1, Vol. 1, (1985) p. 11. The context of this statement is a description of the formation and recognition of the New Testament canon of Scripture. The Truth Lessons say: In the 2nd century “all the churches generally agreed in their view concerning the New Testament except for [the 7 books:] Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation… Nevertheless, because these seven books [including James] were definitely written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, possessing divine authority and value, after another long period of testing by time, in the year A.D. 397, during the Council of Carthage…the leaders of the churches…recognized these seven books as a part of the New Testament.” [W. Lee, Truth Lessons, Level 1, Vol. 1, (1985) p. 11] 100.W. Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 3, pp. 32-3 The second quote, in context, reads: “In a later message we will see more concerning the purpose of God in having James as a book in His holy Scriptures. The purpose of God is just to expose James.” (p. 33 highlighted phrases quoted in Appendix A) 101.Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 6. Similarly, W. Lee asserts, the “tragic issue of James's mistake is the blinding of thousands of believers from James's time to today.” [Witness Lee, The Crystallization Study of James, Message 6] 102.RICHARD J. COLEMAN, “Another View: The Battle for the Bible,” Journal of American Scientific Affiliation (JASA) vol. 31(June 1979) pp. 74-79. 103.James D. G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity, p. 386
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Old 10-19-2008, 04:01 PM   #2
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"Yet no one who asserts that the whole Bible is God’s Word ever claims Scripture’s every word is a quote of God’s direct speaking!"

I dearly love Dr. Tomes and appreciate his writing. I tend to find myself in agreement with him much more often than not. However, in this case I must disagree with his assessment.

Halfway through this long article, Dr. Tomes points out that "no one who asserts that the whole Bible is God’s Word ever claims Scripture’s every word is a quote of God’s direct speaking!" However, from my personal recollection (and I am open to being corrected), when Witness Lee said not all scripture is the word of God, that was exactly the point he was making. Often when someone boldly claims belief in every word of the bible, there is an unspoken assumption that every word is God's speaking. Yet, there are the words of the serpent in Genesis: "Yea, hath God said?" There are the words of Peter in Matthew: "Lord, be it far from Thee!"

Yes, each utterance is written in the word of God. Yes, each utterance is to be received as a fact -- a word that was indeed spoken. However, it is also clear that we are not to learn from the serpent to question "Yea, hath God said?" Nor are we to understand that Peter's word to Jesus was the counsel of God, rather (according to the Lord's rebuke to Peter) it was the very speaking of Satan. This is what Lee had in mind when he said that not every word in the bible is the word of God -- to be received, agreed with, and obeyed. There was no change in Lee's bibliology between 1978 and 1995; rather his words have been taken out of context.

I come much closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes in his discussion of the book of James. Apparently, Lee felt it did not accord with his view of God's new testament economy and thus somehow was not qualified to be the word of God. I fear that Lee ventured onto much thinner ice with these remarks.

However, it might be well to consider Lee's word in the context in which it was spoken. He was not claiming that the book of James is not a part of the scriptures, but rather that it was included as a bad example (much like the empty expoundings of Job's friends). In Lee's view (as I understand it) James represents the legalistic musings of a godly but wholly religious person who did not understand spiritual things. In Lee's defense, we might do well to recall that even Martin Luther considered James to be a "book of straw".
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:32 PM   #3
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..There was no change in Lee's bibliology between 1978 and 1995; rather his words have been taken out of context.
As with much of what Lee spoke and wrote, the context here is just as horrific and dangerous and some of the individual words and phrases themselves:

"Today's Christianity, just like James, is devoid of divine revelation.
James was a sincere, god-fearing man, but was lacking spiritual discernment and revelation".

"The Uniqueness of the Lord's Recovery" HWMR

"..lacking spiritual discernment and revelation"
There is no context in which this kind of insult towards one of the writers of the New Testament can be considered acceptable. Of course Witness Lee could not resist throwing in "today's Christianity" with the the poor, poor, undiscerning and lacking-of-revelation James. Gee, I guess all those years James spend in the presence of the Word of God Himself don't count as much as a bunch of trainings with Watchman Nee. Go figure.


CRYSTALLIZATION-STUDY
of the Epistle of James
Message Three: The Mistake of James
THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN HAVING
JAMES AS A BOOK OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
"We need to see that God inspired James to write the Epistle of James with a purpose. This purpose is to expose James's mistake. James's own writing exposes his fault. In a later message we will see more concerning the purpose of God in having James as a book of His holy Scriptures. The purpose of God is just to expose James; however, throughout the centuries most of the readers of the Bible approve James. The whole Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, but not every word in the Bible is the word of God. The word itself may not be the word of God, but it was recorded by some writer under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). The word in the Scripture and the scriptural record itself are two distinct things. For example, the word in Genesis 3:1 is the word of Satan, but the record of that word is through Moses. Moses wrote that word under the inspiration of the Spirit of God"[/i]

Excerpt from "CRYSTALLIZATION-STUDY of the Epistle of James" by Witness Lee (emphasis added)

"This purpose is to expose James's mistake"
Really? So our Holy and righteous God allowed thousands of dear saints to sacrifice life and limb so that we could have a record of Jame's mistakes? What notable, reputable Bible teacher, theologian or scholar has ever proclaimed such outrageous hogwash?

"most of the readers of the Bible approve James"
If Witness Lee had ever bothered to get a complete Christian education he would of known that "James" (the epistle) was "approved" by not a small number of godly and educated men, you know, those fellows whom God saw fit to select the canon of writings we now call the Holy Bible. (the kind of men who Witness Lee was not fit to hold their book markers) You see, I think "most readers of the Bible" approve of James in the same sense that they (ought to) approve the other writers of the New Testament. I would venture to guess that most readers of the bible know about Peter's denial of the Lord and Paul's huge faux pas in Acts 21. Yet they also realize that they are mere human beings who made mistakes, and this takes NOTHING away from the authority of their epistles. If God wanted to "expose" James He would have written his mistakes into the gospels or the book of Acts. Nuff said.

Quote:
I come much closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes in his discussion of the book of James. Apparently, Lee felt it did not accord with his view of God's new testament economy and thus somehow was not qualified to be the word of God. I fear that Lee ventured onto much thinner ice with these remarks.
How about now? Are you any closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes now? Lee not only ventured onto much thinner ice, he fell totally through the ice and sunk to the bottom.

Quote:
In Lee's defense, we might do well to recall that even Martin Luther considered James to be a "book of straw".
So? What's your point? If Witness Lee taught that the bread and the wine at the Lord's Supper turn into the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus would you call that a biblically sound teaching? I'm sure some of our Lutheran brothers out their might tell you that brother Luther was just taken out of context on that one. Luther is NOT a point of reference. Lee is NOT a point of reference. That would be my point here.

Ok, sorry Toledo, I don't mean to hammer you so bad on this. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the keyboard or something. I think Nigel did a fine job here.
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:30 AM   #4
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I come much closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes in his discussion of the book of James. Apparently, Lee felt it did not accord with his view of God's new testament economy and thus somehow was not qualified to be the word of God. I fear that Lee ventured onto much thinner ice with these remarks.
From God creating the world to the Bridegroom receiving His Bride, the divine romance is definitely the central line of God's New Testament economy. For Lee, the focus was on the supposed nuts and bolts of dispensing and transformation. Not bad, but in many ways fundamentally short.

One brother I know forced me to repent of having taken Lee's harsh view of the epistle of James. He noted that James was in fact focused on commending to us fulfillment of the Lord's two great commandments - loving God and loving our neighbor - the biggest gap in Lee's exposition of God's economy - the practical realization of the divine love.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:36 AM   #5
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As with much of what Lee spoke and wrote, the context here is just as horrific and dangerous and some of the individual words and phrases themselves:
"Horrific and dangerous"? Alas, I tend to forget the sort of site this is. I was hoping for a reasoned response rather than simple outrage and name calling. Silly me...
Quote:
"Today's Christianity, just like James, is devoid of divine revelation.
James was a sincere, god-fearing man, but was lacking spiritual discernment and revelation".
I dunno, I watched the installation of the new pope on television a year or so ago. I didn't see a whole lot of divine revelation there. I grew up in a United Presbyterian denomination that would hardly even mention the name of Jesus (they'd close their prayers with "In Thy son's name we pray"). I read just yesterday about another Episcopal assembly that is voting to separate itself from the greater Episcopalian denomination -- you know, the one that ordains women and homosexuals.

Is there divine revelation in modern Christianity? I do not doubt it. Did Witness Lee overstep with this speaking? Yeah, I think he probably did. Did he apologize for doing so on his death bed? Maybe. Does it make any difference? I don't know

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There is no context in which this kind of insult towards one of the writers of the New Testament can be considered acceptable.
"No context"? So you are saying that this sort of discussion is completely off the table? Where were you when in another thread YP was calling the book of Titus a poorly collated collection of texts falsely published under Paul's name? So it's okay to call Titus a pseudo-Pauline falsehood, but it's not okay for Lee to question the purpose of the book of James?

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Of course Witness Lee could not resist throwing in "today's Christianity" with the the poor, poor, undiscerning and lacking-of-revelation James. Gee, I guess all those years James spend in the presence of the Word of God Himself don't count as much as a bunch of trainings with Watchman Nee. Go figure.
Nope, sorry, "all those years James spend in the presence of the Word of God Himself" don't count for anything at all. In the gospels, James was notable only for his unbelief. After the resurrection, James had no more claim on Christ than any other believer, as Paul remarked "so that henceforth we know no man according to flesh, and even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know him no longer".

However, you are responding to my remark, that Dr. Tomes took Lee's words out of context, by changing the subject and using the word "context" with a different meaning. What is that about? Are you claiming that it's okay to take Lee's words out of context because he made disparaging remarks about Christianity?
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Really? So our Holy and righteous God allowed thousands of dear saints to sacrifice life and limb so that we could have a record of Jame's mistakes? What notable, reputable Bible teacher, theologian or scholar has ever proclaimed such outrageous hogwash?
I'm sorry, what are you talking about? What do the deaths of thousands of saints have to do with anything here? Our God is in fact holy and righteous -- are you declaring that He is not? Perhaps you should use more care in making such over the top remarks.

What does "notable" and "reputable" bible teacher mean? The Lord Jesus Himself was mocked by the notable and reputable bible teachers of His day. So were Peter and John.

And "hogwash"? You don't refute Lee's remarks; you only call names.

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"most of the readers of the Bible approve James"
If Witness Lee had ever bothered to get a complete Christian education he would of known that "James" (the epistle) was "approved" by not a small number of godly and educated men, you know, those fellows whom God saw fit to select the canon of writings we now call the Holy Bible. (the kind of men who Witness Lee was not fit to hold their book markers)
Actually, that's just what Lee said:"most of the readers of the Bible approve James". Apparently he did know...

So WL didn't get a complete Christian education, according to your preference. He only spent a half dozen or so years meeting with the Brethren and another few decades serving with Watchman Nee. It's too bad he didn't go to Moody Bible Institute rather than wasting his time in China...

Does this somehow disqualify him from teaching the bible. Isn't that the same sort of charge brought against the Lord Jesus, and Peter, and John?

By the way, the canon of the the New Testament was selected by the Holy Spirit. Those "godly and educated men" to whom you refer simply gave their official recognition (as if that were needed...) to what was already being read in the churches throughout the earth.

But Lee is somehow not "fit" to hold their book markers? Is it because you are not able to respond to his arguments that you have to resort to ad hominem attacks?

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You see, I think "most readers of the Bible" approve of James in the same sense that they (ought to) approve the other writers of the New Testament.
But it is the very "ought to" that is the question in Lee's remarks. He raises another theory about the interpretation of James. It is up to us to determine whether or not we agree with it. However, it is the content and support of Lee's theory that needs to be at issue here -- not his lack of "christian education", nor his capacity to hold the book markers of godly men, nor "hogwash". Dr. Tomes managed to keep his arguments based on Lee's written works without resorting to attacks on Lee's person. We would do well to emulate him.

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I would venture to guess that most readers of the bible know about Peter's denial of the Lord and Paul's huge faux pas in Acts 21. Yet they also realize that they are mere human beings who made mistakes, and this takes NOTHING away from the authority of their epistles. If God wanted to "expose" James He would have written his mistakes into the gospels or the book of Acts. Nuff said.
Oh, by the way, the book of Acts does indeed refer to the ones from Jerusalem who caused problems in the gentile churches, preaching circumcision. Acts also shows James boasting of myriads of believers in Jerusalem "all zealous for the law". And Paul refers to "certain come from James" who caused problems in the Galatian churches. Perhaps Lee draws some support for his theory from such passages.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
How about now? Are you any closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes now?
Well, to be fair, since I wrote this just yesterday, I think I still hold that view.
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Lee not only ventured onto much thinner ice, he fell totally through the ice and sunk to the bottom.
Very clever. Do you have any scripture for this? Can you make any argument at all? Or are we left to clever offhand remarks?
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Quote:
In Lee's defense, we might do well to recall that even Martin Luther considered James to be a "book of straw".
So? What's your point? If Witness Lee taught that the bread and the wine at the Lord's Supper turn into the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus would you call that a biblically sound teaching? I'm sure some of our Lutheran brothers out their might tell you that brother Luther was just taken out of context on that one. Luther is NOT a point of reference. Lee is NOT a point of reference. That would be my point here.
What is my point? I think that question would more fairly be asked of you at this juncture. Lee did not teach transubstantiation. Why would you say something like that?

You might want to check with your Lutheran brothers. You'll find that Luther was not taken out of context at all. As far as a point of reference, Luther will do as well as any of the "godly and educated men" you mentioned. Luther is a notable, reputable Bible teacher, theologian and scholar. He referred to James as a "book of straw". My point is simply that Lee is not alone in his query with regard to James.
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Ok, sorry Toledo, I don't mean to hammer you so bad on this. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the keyboard or something. I think Nigel did a fine job here.
And in my turn, I hope I haven't hammered back too hard. I always admire the scholarship and erudition of Dr. Tomes -- even when I disagree with him. There was a time when it was unthinkable to disagree with Witness Lee. I hope we haven't entered a time when it is unthinkable to disagree with Dr. Tomes.
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:23 AM   #6
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...all those years James spent in the presence of the Word of God Himself don't count as much as a bunch of trainings with Watchman Nee.
I am with Toledo on this one. The record in the gospels clearly shows James as an "opposer", to use the LSM lingo. Look at John chapter 7. The Lord's brothers were mocking Him. "Show yourself, if you are the Christ." I also was a brother "in the flesh" once, and I and my siblings had horrible fights. The brothers of Jesus are on record only as being nasty, petty, and jealous, like the brothers of Joseph in Genesis. This "in the flesh" adversarial posture doesn't count, to me, as being "in the presence of the Word of God Himself" that UntoHim alleges.

Finding the presence of the Word of God is in our hearts, not in physical proximity. Remember all the crowds pressing on Jesus, and only the woman with the flow of blood "touching" Him(Luke ch. 8)? I daresay James did not "touch" Jesus that way; the record testifies clearly to the opposite. And the chronology of the "appearings" of the resurrected Christ has Him coming first to Peter, then to the twelve, then to over 500 at one time, then to James, then to Paul(1 Cor. ch. 15). James arrives somewhat late on the scene.

UntoHim, I think you overreacted. You do have a point to make in the discussion, but you are over-reaching to try to make it.

I myself understand the complaints against James' epistle, but at the same time I have grown to love it. I say this for two reasons: one, he strongly echoes the Lord's word to live for each day (ch 4, vv 13-16). No one else besides Jesus has made this point so forcefully to me. It is a great "amen" to the words of the Master. Secondly, he also echoes the Lord in admonishing the saints not to be respecters of persons in the outward sense (ch 2, vv 1-13). Those, to me, are BIG applications of BIG spiritual truths.

In conclusion, I can understand that others had points of contention with James. John and Paul both seem to clearly have had issues with him, as have many through the years; however I have found some pearls in his writings to be of great worth. In fact, if the LSM crowd had taken James to heart in the matter of not being respecters of persons, they would never have dared to elevate Witness Lee as they have done.

But I'd rather see brother Tomes produce writings of fresh light from the word, rather than these laborious point-by-point refutations of Lee. I'd much rather see him go forward, rather than go backwards to do battle with ghosts.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:02 AM   #7
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I'd much rather see him go forward, rather than go backwards to do battle with ghosts.
I would hope the same for all of us.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:33 AM   #8
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"Horrific and dangerous"? Alas, I tend to forget the sort of site this is. I was hoping for a reasoned response rather than simple outrage and name calling. Silly me... .
Yes, this is the sort of site where people are free to express their outrage and maybe throw in a name or two. Sorry you’re disappointed. Hang in their bro, if you have been a Local Churcher for any length of time you are certainly used to somebody expressing their outrage and the calling of names. Of course you are free to express outrage about my outrage, and so on and so on…..but that can get really old really fast. You made your point.

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I dunno, I watched the installation of the new pope on television a year or so ago. I didn't see a whole lot of divine revelation there. I grew up in a United Presbyterian denomination that would hardly even mention the name of Jesus (they'd close their prayers with "In Thy son's name we pray"). I read just yesterday about another Episcopal assembly that is voting to separate itself from the greater Episcopalian denomination -- you know, the one that ordains women and homosexuals.
Yes, yes, and I witnessed first hand Witness Lee install himself as a virtual pope, hey and he did so without even bothering to wait for the smoke to come from the chimney over there on Ball Road! I have been to lots of Local Church meetings where they would hardly even mention the name of Jesus as well. And a church or group of churches voting to separate themselves from an immoral situation among another church or group of churches? Good for them! This is exactly what John So decided to do with some of the Local Churches their in Europe when Witness Lee refused to address the gross immorality of his son Phillip, whom he had placed second in command of entire “ministry”. Your confusing 2008 with 1978 my friend….the cat is out of the bag. When it comes to immorality, The Local Churches of Witness Lee have NOTHING on poor, poor degraded Christianity…and they never have.

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Is there divine revelation in modern Christianity? I do not doubt it. Did Witness Lee overstep with this speaking? Yeah, I think he probably did. Did he apologize for doing so on his death bed? Maybe. Does it make any difference? I don't know
You don’t doubt it? I would venture to guess that one of the big reasons you don’t doubt it is because of hearing from ex members and other outsiders who have been letting us know about all the green grass on the other side. Witness Lee did his best to keep his followers from taking a peek over the fence (and even in death he seems to do a fair job of this), but quite a few of us found our way over the pickets anyway. This is why some of us see many of Lee’s teachings and the practices of the Local Church so differently now. Some are on the other side of the fence. It does NOT make them any better people or any better Christians, it just makes them on the other side of the fence. Now, since I’ve been on both sides of the fence (along with a few years teetering on the top) I can assure you and others that there is indeed divine revelation in modern Christianity. In fact, the further away from the Local Church one gets the more they find that Lee was wrong, dead wrong.

Quote:
"No context"? So you are saying that this sort of discussion is completely off the table? Where were you when in another thread YP was calling the book of Titus a poorly collated collection of texts falsely published under Paul's name? So it's okay to call Titus a pseudo-Pauline falsehood, but it's not okay for Lee to question the purpose of the book of James?
If YP was denying the authenticity of Titus then I would have a problem with that. If he claimed that God put it in the canon of Scripture simply to show somebody’s lack of spiritual discernment and revelation then I would have a problem with that as well. Nothing is being taken off the table.

Quote:
Nope, sorry, "all those years James spend in the presence of the Word of God Himself" don't count for anything at all. In the gospels, James was notable only for his unbelief. After the resurrection, James had no more claim on Christ than any other believer, as Paul remarked "so that henceforth we know no man according to flesh, and even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we know him no longer".
Ok, fair enough. That’s your opinion. Thankfully neither Lee, Luther or you got to decide what was included in the New Testament and what was not.

Quote:
However, you are responding to my remark, that Dr. Tomes took Lee's words out of context, by changing the subject and using the word "context" with a different meaning. What is that about? Are you claiming that it's okay to take Lee's words out of context because he made disparaging remarks about Christianity?
I took nothing out of context. I am fully and intimately aware of the context of just about everything Witness Lee ever taught, and so is Dr. Tomes.

Quote:
I'm sorry, what are you talking about? What do the deaths of thousands of saints have to do with anything here? Our God is in fact holy and righteous -- are you declaring that He is not? Perhaps you should use more care in making such over the top remarks.
Read this part of my post again. You missed the point.

Quote:
What does "notable" and "reputable" bible teacher mean? The Lord Jesus Himself was mocked by the notable and reputable bible teachers of His day. So were Peter and John.
Please, you’re not going to go comparing Witness Lee to The Lord Jesus Himself again are you? Now you really are being silly. I mean, it would be bad enough to compare him to any of the original apostles. I have already stated that Witness Lee does not even belong in the same ballpark as the men who put together the canon of the New Testament. Really this should go without saying. To anybody but a diehard follower of Witness Lee this is laughable, simply laughable.

Ok, lots more to your post I see, in much of it you are misunderstanding me on purpose. The main point I would leave you with is that we are warned to NOT “take away or add” to the Word of God. When Lee states that “James was devoid of divine revelation” he is taking away from the Word of God. When somebody casts dispersion upon the writer it has the effect (intended or not) of casting dispersion upon the writings of said writer. This is not hard. This is very basic.
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Old 10-20-2008, 08:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by aron View Post
..This "in the flesh" adversarial posture doesn't count, to me, as being "in the presence of the Word of God Himself" that UntoHim alleges.
Ok, fair enough. To me it does.

Quote:
James arrives somewhat late on the scene.
So, what does this have to do with the authenticity of his epistle?

Quote:
UntoHim, I think you overreacted. You do have a point to make in the discussion, but you are over-reaching to try to make it.
UntoHim overreact? Say it ain't so! It isn't the first time and won't be the last. It's part of my DNA it seems. If there was a way to have it removed I would check my insurance and see if it was a covered procedure. Thanks for admitting I have a point though...that was nice.

Quote:
But I'd rather see brother Tomes produce writings of fresh light from the word, rather than these laborious point-by-point refutations of Lee. I'd much rather see him go forward, rather than go backwards to do battle with ghosts.
Now this point is very, very well taken! Go forward is always the way to go. The problem is that Tomes is not only having to deal with the ghost, he is having to deal with a whole religious system this ghost invented before he departed us. Now, being the wise man that he is, Nigel has chosen to go after the religious system (with all it's various teachings and practices) and try to stir clear of the ghost himself for now. (unlike yahoos like me who just don't know any better). Good for Dr. Tomes and others, like John Myer. They are wise to do it this way and that is why God has chosen them as shepherds over the flock.
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:13 AM   #10
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Yes, this is the sort of site where people are free to express their outrage and maybe throw in a name or two. Sorry you’re disappointed.
Oh, have I somehow breached your precious freedom by expecting a reasoned response? Have I not be cowed by your name calling?

Yes, I am disappointed with your response. I was hoping for something better.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Hang in their bro, if you have been a Local Churcher for any length of time you are certainly used to somebody expressing their outrage and the calling of names. Of course you are free to express outrage about my outrage and so on and so on…but that can get really old really fast. You made your point.
I spent many years in the local churches, but I am not at all used to people calling names instead of making an argument from the scriptures.
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Yes, yes, and I witnessed first hand Witness Lee install himself as a virtual pope, hey and he did so without even bothering to wait for the smoke to come from the chimney over their on Ball Road!
I remarked on the pope with regard to the lack of revelation in christianity. You seize upon my remark to change the subject and attack Witness Lee. And you wonder if I am disappointed...

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And a church or group of churches voting to separate themselves from an immoral situation among a church or group of churches? Good for them! This is exactly what John So decided to do with some of the Local Churches their in Europe when Witness Lee refused to address the gross immorality of his son Phillip, whom he had placed second in command of entire “ministry”.
No, this is not at all what John So did. He responded to a specific matter that had not been handled properly. The Episcopalians ordain women and homosexuals as a matter of church practice and doctrine. Not even LSM has gone quite that far as yet.

Again, I was referring to the lack of revelation in christianity, and you try to turn it to an attack on Witness Lee. Do you not have any legitimate arguments at all?
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Your confusing 2008 with 1978 my friend….the cat is out of the bag. When it comes to immorality, The Local Churches of Witness Lee have NOTHING on poor, poor degraded Christianity…and they never have.
But we weren't discussing immorality; we were discussing the apparent lack of revelation in christianity. The improprieties of the Living Stream Ministry are indeed worthy of discussion, but this is not the thread for it. You seem to have deliberately missed the point.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
You don’t doubt it? I would venture to guess that one of the big reasons you don’t doubt it is because of hearing from ex members and other outsiders who have been letting us know about all the green grass on the other side. Witness Lee did his best to keep his followers from taking a peek over the fence (and even in death he seems to do a fair job of this), but quite a few of us found our way over the pickets anyway.
I read remarks like this repeatedly on this site. Lee never kept me or the churches I served from "peeking over the fence". We regularly kept our libraries stocked with the writings of many other authors. In principle, as members of the body of Christ, all things are ours. I have always felt very free to read other authors, and I encouraged the brothers with me to do likewise.

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This is why some of us see many of Lee’s teachings and the practices of the Local Church so differently now. Some are on the other side of the fence now.
What is "why"? Are you only now beginning to read things other than the LSM ministry. I am not clear on your meaning on this point.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
It does NOT make them any better people or any better Christians, it just makes them on the other side of the fence. Now, since I’ve been on both sides now (along with a few years teetering on the top) I can assure you and others that there is indeed divine revelation in modern Christianity. In fact, the further away from the Local Church one gets the more they find that Lee was wrong, dead wrong.
That may well be true, though I confess I've not seen much of it. I certainly haven't seen anything to make me think Lee was "dead wrong". If he were indeed "dead wrong", why is it that you cannot make the case, and instead have to resort to name calling?

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
If YP was denying the authenticity of Titus then I would have a problem with that. If he claimed that God put it in the canon of Scripture simply to show somebody’s lack of spiritual discernment and revelation then I would have a problem with that as well. Nothing is being taken off the table.
1) The authenticity of Titus was indeed impugned on this site, with no apparent rebuttal.

2) The bible is full of places showing "somebody’s lack of spiritual discernment and revelation". We have already referred to Peter in Matthew 16. How about the church in Laodicea? Or how about Eve in the garden...?

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Ok, fair enough. That’s your opinion. Thankfully neither Lee, Luther or you got to decide what was included in the New Testament and what was not.
What do my remarks about James before his salvation have to do with Lee, Luther, or what is included in the New Testament? Are you responding to my post at all, or are you simply flailing about?

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
I took nothing out of context. I am fully and intimately aware of the context of just about everything Witness Lee ever taught, and so is Dr. Tomes.
You didn't just take something out of context; you used the word "context" itself in an entirely different manner. It is one thing to refer to the writing and speaking of Witness Lee as the context from which Dr. Tomes produced his article. It is quite another to speak of the context of the practical LSM church life.
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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Read this part of my post again. You missed the point.
I have read and re-read this portion of your post. I agree that I must have missed your point. I cannot see where you get the deaths of thousands of saints out of a discussion of the interpretation of James.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Please, you’re not going to go comparing Witness Lee to The Lord Jesus Himself again are you? Now you really are being silly. I mean, it would be bad enough to compare him to any of the original apostles.
No, I did not compare Lee to Jesus or to the original apostles. It is you who are being silly here. You referred to the "notable" and "reputable" bible teachers. I simply pointed out that the scripture is full of "notable" and "reputable" bible teachers who persecuted both the Lord Jesus and His disciples.

And what do you mean by "again"? When have I compared Witness Lee to the Lord Jesus? You have overstepped.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
I have already stated that Witness Lee does not even belong in the same ballpark as the men who put together the canon of the New Testament. Really this should go without saying. To anybody but a diehard follower of Witness Lee this is laughable, simply laughable.
This is simply another unsubstantiated attack on Witness Lee and on anyone who would seem to dare to disagree with you. Why would you say "Witness Lee does not even belong in the same ballpark as the men who put together the canon of the New Testament"? I have made no such claim. That has nothing to do with the questions before us.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Ok, lots more to your post I see, in much of it you are misunderstanding me on purpose.
No, let's at least try to maintain the appearance of fairness. I have shown repeatedly that your remarks are off the point and amount to little more than baseless attacks on the person of Witness Lee (and anyone who does not join you in attacking him). It is not I who is doing the misunderstanding here.
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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
The main point I would leave you with is that we are warned to NOT “take away or add” to the Word of God. When Lee states that “James was devoid of divine revelation” he is taking away from the Word of God. When somebody casts dispersion upon the writer it has the effect (intended or not) of casting dispersion upon the writings of said writer. This is not hard. This is very basic.
Interpreting the bible, discussing the bible, and asking questions about the bible do not amount to adding to or taking away from the Word of God. Rather these are all within the prerogative of a responsible believer. We are encouraged to study to show ourselves approved. How are we to do that without interpretation, discussion, and questioning?

In like manner, we do well to consider the character and actions of the men we find written of in the scriptures. David was the king after God's heart. Am I taking away from the Word of God in the book of Psalms if I say he was an adulterer and a murderer? How about when he numbered the people and brought a plague on them from God? Why did he do that? What was wrong with doing that? Why was God angry? It is quite legitimate to ask about David.

How about when Paul agreed to offer sacrifices in the temple? Was he wrong to do this? Why did he do it? Am I casting aspersions on Paul if I say I think he was wrong to do so. How about when the temple doors were then shut? Am I casting aspersions on Paul if I say that maybe God Himself showed his divine disapproval? Does this somehow take away from the Word of God in Paul's epistles?

Are we casting aspersions on these brothers by considering who they were or what they did? And even if we are, does casting aspersions upon one of the New Testament writers amount to taking away from the Word of God. You raise some interesting points.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:44 PM   #11
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I read remarks like this repeatedly on this site. Lee never kept me or the churches I served from "peeking over the fence". We regularly kept our libraries stocked with the writings of many other authors. In principle, as members of the body of Christ, all things are ours. I have always felt very free to read other authors, and I encouraged the brothers with me to do likewise.
To be fair, I specifically recall Lee discouraging the younger brothers from wasting their time reviewing the "old junks" even though I wasn't 100% certain what works he was referring to at the time. (And I can't provide that precise citation just now, unfortunately. Perhaps someone will recall this speaking also and provide the citation.) Basically, Lee testified that he'd done all the heavy lifting by slogging through all the dross and only presenting the refined gold to us. We didn't need to read the other stuff because anything that was of any value in any of it, Lee himself presented. I never fully took that counsel, but I did take him to mean that it would be better to be immersed in the Life-Studies and RcV notes than to study at least Murray, Guyon or Darby, even though he might himself quote them regularly. I was in turn benefitted by a generous leading brother who introduced me to Vine, Wuest and Darby and I am grateful for that grace to me.

Here's an excerpt on point to illustrate the issue:
Quote:
I am not narrow and I do not like to dictate, but by His mercy and grace I have gone through the proper process to get into the truth. I am so grateful that the Lord brought me into contact with Brother Nee. I could never forget him and I am still grateful to him. He was surely the unique person, according to my observation, from whom I could get the unique help. By His mercy I did get the help. After that I spent more time to investigate and dig into the holy Word with the help of many reference books. When I came to the United States, I had the boldness and the assurance to pass on what I had received to you. I am not narrow. I do not like to dictate or control, yet I love you all. I do not like to see you waste your time. This is why it seems I am so narrow. I would just ask you to study all the publications that come from the Living Stream Ministry. You may get some help elsewhere, but with the help there may be some poison. I like to see you save your time to concentrate your entire being on the Lord’s ministry. You will get the best help within the shortest time, and be assured you will never be poisoned. This is much purified.
- Witness Lee, Elders' Training, Book 8
Lee's comments in context appear caring and generous but there is a heaping helping of hubris involved as well to presume that he hadn't missed anything. For those who honor this word, they would be cheated out of that portion as well. After all, we want to be safe from the poison. How could we seek anything out that wasn't an LSM-certified poison-free publication?

Brother Toledo, Witness Lee tried to protect and keep you from the poison in those other writings but you seem to have rejected his advice and wasted your time anyway.

Me too.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:49 PM   #12
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Brother Toledo, Witness Lee tried to protect and keep you from the poison in those other writings but you seem to have rejected his advice and wasted your time anyway.

Me too.
Alas, ours is a kind of suffering that all too few seem to have experienced...
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:47 AM   #13
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More outrageous craziness from Witness Lee:

“Thus, the book of James is devoid of the main items in the New Testament”

The Epistle of James IS PART of the New Testament itself, thus it IS one of the main items in the New Testament. Don’t need to go to seminary to figure that one out. In fact, Vacation Bible School would probably due nicely. Just another proof that Witness Lee was unqualified and seemingly incapable of telling anybody what was and what was not a main item in the New Testament.

“James’ word regarding these things may be godly, but it is not God’s word.”


Again, Lee is treading on very, very dangerous ground here. “James’ word…not God’s word”? You have to wonder what this man was thinking. I guess when you think you are the only person speaking as God’s oracle on earth you get a little cocky. Still, it is a very slippery slope when a supposed “teacher” starts picking and choosing what parts of the Bible are, or are not, to be considered “God’s word”.

“I do not believe that James knew anything about God's eternal economy. He knew only how to be pious, how to be godly, how to fear God, how to behave righteously…He did not…give even a hint that he knew the eternal economy of God”

Ah, now here we get to the meat and potatoes of Lee’s real problem with James. He just didn’t say what Lee wanted him to say, or say it the way Lee wanted him to say it. I wonder what made Witness think that any of the writers of the New Testament had to conform their teachings to some guy born about 1900 years later? God’s eternal economy is God’s eternal economy, and this economy was brought to us by the Holy, abiding and living Word, and the Epistle of James is part of that whether Mr. Lee liked it or not. And maybe, just maybe, if Witness Lee had spend less time telling people that they were becoming God, and more time being pious, godly and fearing God, then things might have turned out a little differently for him and the religion he invented.

Again, I suppose if I had thousands of people hanging on my every word, then I might get a little loose and fast with my “interpretations”, especially if there was nobody around to check or challenge me. It’s too bad this kind of freewheeling and loose speaking ended up affecting so many people. May God have mercy on us all.
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:52 PM   #14
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"...I come much closer to agreement with Dr. Tomes in his discussion of the book of James. Apparently, Lee felt it did not accord with his view of God's new testament economy and thus somehow was not qualified to be the word of God. I fear that Lee ventured onto much thinner ice with these remarks...".
In interpreting the Epistle of James Witness Lee took the liberty to decide not to adhere to some biblical teachings based on his interpretation of the book of James. In particular we can look at James 1:5

“But if any one of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and does not reproach, and it will be given to him.”

We can examine Witness Lee’s expounding of this portion in the following excerpts:

“It was by His wisdom that God, in Christ, made His eternal plan and carried it out. And in His New Testament economy God made Christ first our wisdom. The wisdom of God is needed for practical Christian perfection. Hence, we need to ask God for it.”

Sounds like good sound interpretation of the verse. As we go on -

“James speaks of the wisdom given by God, not to know how to fulfill God's eternal economy but to know how to be perfect (1:5; 3:13, 15, 17). James said that if we are not wise in our behavior, we should pray for God to give us the wisdom. He did not speak of a high wisdom according to God's New Testament economy but of a low wisdom according to perfection in behavior,”

Starting to give his interpretation. He goes further -

“We have pointed out that James encourages us to pray for wisdom. But as long as we exercise our spirit to contact the Lord by praying, we actually do not need to pray specifically for wisdom. As we are contacting the Lord in the spirit, Christ will become wisdom to us. In order to contact the Lord, we need to exercise our spirit and pray unceasingly.”

As we read through the Life Study of James, especially Message Eight we see the LSM logic at work, as follows:

1) Paul’s view was that Christ is our wisdom
2) James states that we should pray for wisdom
3) Paul knew and understood God’s economy
4) James, though a good and holy man, did not know God’s economy
5) Concluding that we should not pray for wisdom as taught by James but rather just let wisdom come to you as you touch Christ in your spirit.

The interpretation by LSM concludes that we should not follow the teaching of James to pray for wisdom. As a matter of course many adherents to the LSM teaching feel condemned when they pray for wisdom because it is not according the higher peak truths. Many would feel they were too low if they prayed for wisdom, especially after reading this word.

I present another way to interpret these same verses as follows:

1) Paul had his teaching under the anointing of the Spirit
2) James had his teaching under the anointing of the Spirit
3) Examining the light given to both Paul and James, without stating “I am of Paul, or I am of James”
4) We could interpret James’ word in conjunction with the Gospel of Matthew where the Lord states, “you receive not because you ask not”
5) Examining other words of Paul, such as where Paul prays that the Lord would grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
6) Concluding that not only should I pray for wisdom, but in doing so my prayers are answered by experiencing Christ Himself becoming my wisdom according to my asking in faith.

Based on my examination I have concluded the following

1) The LSM teaching is not logical, where is the difference in these prayers “Lord I take you as my wisdom” or “Lord, Grant me a spirit of wisdom”, or “Lord, I need wisdom in this situation, I ask you in faith for wisdom?”
2) We have much more freedom in our spirit as we pray for wisdom, according to the teaching of both Paul and James
3) We can accept both Paul and James as vessels of God who wrote an inspired word that became God’s word.
4) As a result I am not a respecter or persons, i.e. Paul over James, Witness Lee over other Christians, but I receive the entire God-breathed bible as not just the word of man but the Word of God.

And I must conclude this is also according to my experience,

Dennis
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:11 PM   #15
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However, it might be well to consider Lee's word in the context in which it was spoken. He was not claiming that the book of James is not a part of the scriptures, but rather that it was included as a bad example (much like the empty expoundings of Job's friends). In Lee's view (as I understand it) James represents the legalistic musings of a godly but wholly religious person who did not understand spiritual things. In Lee's defense, we might do well to recall that even Martin Luther considered James to be a "book of straw".
I wonder if those who are inclined to interpret James the way Lee does would also think the Sermon on the Mount is the musing of a godly but wholly religious person who didn't understand spiritual things, that is if the muser weren't the Lord Jesus Himself.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:09 PM   #16
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Default James and Jesus

James: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)

Jesus: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matt 7:24)


James: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Jesus: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matt 25:34-36)


James: What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (James 2:14)

Jesus: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matt 7:21)


James: The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)

Jesus: But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. (Matt 15:18)


James: My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:12)

Jesus: By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matt 7:16-19)


James: But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12b)
Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9)

Jesus: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matt 7:1)


James: Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17)

Jesus: That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. (Luke 2:47-48)


James: As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. (James 5:11)

Jesus: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:10)


James: Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. (James 5:12)

Jesus: And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt 5:36-37)
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:32 AM   #17
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This used to hang in my office. It is easy to find on the internet and is attributed to Witness Lee. The second request in this prayer is relevant to Dennis' observations regarding asking for wisdom.

Steve

A prayer of Brother Witness Lee

6 09 2007 A prayer of Brother Witness Lee:
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted, I received everything I needed.
My prayer has been answered
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Old 10-22-2008, 03:46 AM   #18
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This used to hang in my office. It is easy to find on the internet and is attributed to Witness Lee. The second request in this prayer is relevant to Dennis' observations regarding asking for wisdom.

Steve

A prayer of Brother Witness Lee

6 09 2007 A prayer of Brother Witness Lee:
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted, I received everything I needed.
My prayer has been answered
That completely does not sound like anything Lee ever said or wrote that I ever heard or read.

And it here is is, posted as "unknown" from 2004:
http://www.boardofwisdom.com/mailquote.asp?msgid=15618
And another location, from 2000:
http://www3.calvarychapel.com/dumaguete/may2000pn.html
Here's a beautiful universalist version in video format:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpr1So34PCo

A real "prayer of Witness Lee" would probably be more like this:
Quote:
I asked for strength and God gave me Christ.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me Christ.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me Christ.
I asked for courage and God gave me Christ.
I asked for love (ok, well, he most probably wouldn't have asked for love)
I asked for favors and God gave me Christ.
No matter what I asked for, I always got Christ, Christ, Christ and more Christ.
Hallelujah!
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:11 AM   #19
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That completely does not sound like anything Lee ever said or wrote that I ever heard or read.
YP, I agree. The only thing is I bought my plaque at the semi-annual training book table (probably in 1992-1996 timeframe). And it attributed the prayer to Witness Lee.

And yes YP, I also agree that your rewritten version is more consistent with what we heard over the years.

Steve
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Old 10-22-2008, 04:36 AM   #20
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I received this message in reference to my post. Obviously my sensors were disabled and I fell into the duped category.

Interestingly, my wife recently told me that she was bothered from the beginning about the merchandising aspect of the semi-annual trainings. However, as we were taught, she kept it to herself, even from her husband.
Steve

Steve:
My guess is that the "W. Lee quote" came about because someone at LSM realized if you just have the prayer "I asked for wisdom...etc" it won't sell well. But, if you attribute the quote to Witness Lee, it will sell "like hot cakes"--voilla!! Looks like "local church people" are pretty naive & gullible!!

[I believe that Phillip Lee was directly involved with selling plaques & other trinkets at LSM trainings (even after W Lee passed away.) Even LSM tax returns have an entry about selling goods]
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:01 AM   #21
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YP, I agree. The only thing is I bought my plaque at the semi-annual training book table (probably in 1992-1996 timeframe). And it attributed the prayer to Witness Lee.

Wow.

That would be an amazing story to me.

That Lee's words have now travelled all over the world
so far as to be embraced by Sikhs:
http://www.sikhism.us/inspirational-...-strength.html
and Roman Catholics:
http://www.catholiclinks.org/ctosist...fabuterfly.htm
and so much of the world!

But I think maybe you just bought a lie at that table.

This appears to be the true source, which seems to date from 1980 :
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-asked-god-4/
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:24 AM   #22
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[Even LSM tax returns have an entry about selling goods]
OK, which of you guys is out there reading LSM tax returns?

Y'all need a new hobby.
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:42 AM   #23
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I myself understand the complaints against James' epistle, but at the same time I have grown to love it. I say this for two reasons: one, he strongly echoes the Lord's word to live for each day (ch 4, vv 13-16). No one else besides Jesus has made this point so forcefully to me. It is a great "amen" to the words of the Master. Secondly, he also echoes the Lord in admonishing the saints not to be respecters of persons in the outward sense (ch 2, vv 1-13). Those, to me, are BIG applications of BIG spiritual truths.
I merely listed these two of James' "applications" of the truths in Jesus' teachings as representative examples. I in no way meant it to be complete. Igzy listed some others. And there are depths beyond, I daresay, waiting to be plumbed, that Witness Lee and Martin Luther and others never saw.

But I defend the right of Lee or anyone else to critically examine James, or any other "sacred writing" for that matter, canonical or otherwise.

I make the above remarks as a preface to my main point: the irony, for me, of Lee examining James' writings in light of the "revelation of the divine economy", and yet anyone attempting to critically examine Lee's thought getting shown the door at the LSM-oriented meetings. If we (inc. Mr. Lee) can parse James, cannot others also examine our writings, our thoughts? Or are the LSM publications even above the Bible? That's the drift I get when in the orbit of those who closely follow Lee's teachings. James can be critically examined, and remanded according to "further light", but not Lee.

The spiritual implications of this inconsistency bother me greatly.
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:56 AM   #24
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If we (inc. Mr. Lee) can parse James, cannot others also examine our writings, our thoughts? Or are the LSM publications even above the Bible? That's the drift I get when in the orbit of those who closely follow Lee's teachings. James can be critically examined, and remanded according to "further light", but not Lee.

The spiritual implications of this inconsistency bother me greatly.
As well it should.

I heard Lee himself one day tell the young saints to get into all of his stuff with a view to standing on his shoulders, as he had done by standing on the shoulders of others, because in fact, even with the Life-Studies, he had barely scratched the surface of the fullness of the riches of Christ.

Something like the next day, I repeated this quote to the elder who eventually gave me the boot and he wanted to argue with me that we should never go beyond what Lee had himself set forth in all the publications. And he was oblivious to the real problems with the contradiction which includes the irony you have indicated.

I really upset him the day I pointed out the that all the Recovery Versions were part of the old creation and would be burnt up at the end of the age.

Still baffles me, what religion does to the mind...
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:01 AM   #25
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I received this message in reference to my post. Obviously my sensors were disabled and I fell into the duped category.
"My sensors were disabled ..." Today's chuckle. Thank You.

.................................................. ..............................................

I wonder how many other items, which were really plagiarized, were considered by us "dupes" as "recovered."
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:17 PM   #26
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Thanks YP! Laughed so hard at your updated WL prayer. I needed that! I have been ENJOYING James lately. He packs some hard truths, but this is indead often Gods hard practical truth to us. Today I was reading CH1: Count it all joy when you suffer various trials. That is a hard call, and testing of our faith. But, as we wait on the Lord in our various troubles, what is produced but patience, which perfects us.
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:20 PM   #27
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"I wonder how many other items, which were really plagiarized, were considered by us "dupes" as "recovered."
Hello dear brother Ohio,

Recently I have been reading through many of the "Classic Portraits" books that dear brother F.B. Meyer wrote. (For those who may not be familiar, F.B. Meyer wrote a whole series of detailed studies based upon the lives of many of the well-known godly men in both the Old and New Testaments: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc.)

I am reading through Abraham and Joseph (the OT Joseph) and I have been shocked by how many of the deeper points in the Life Study of Genesis that I always thought originated with WL really came from brother F.B. Meyer. It is now very obvious to me that WL relied heavily on Meyer's works during all his Life Study messages concerning Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph. WL really should have clearly acknowledged Meyer while speaking these Life Study messages because Meyer's influence appears over and over again.

For example, here are three points that have always deeply impressed me from the LS of Genesis messages on Joseph:
  1. It was proper and just for Joseph to require the Egyptians to pay whatever they had for the food supply during the seven years of famine. God's "riches" should never be considered common and cheap.
  2. Joseph's slow and gradual unveiling of himself to his brothers is a picture of how our Lord is slowly and lovingly unveiling Himself to the Jews in these last days.
  3. Genesis begins with a marvelous account of God's working but Genesis ends with a dead man in a coffin in Egypt.
While these points may not have utimately originated with Meyer, they were all stated very clearly in Meyer's book Joseph and were repeated in WL's LS of Genesis. For decades, I have always thought that these points were "recovered" by WL.
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Old 10-24-2008, 04:45 AM   #28
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Hello dear brother Ohio,

While these points may not have utimately originated with Meyer, they were all stated very clearly in Meyer's book Joseph and were repeated in WL's LS of Genesis. For decades, I have always thought that these points were "recovered" by WL.
KTS, thanks for the post.

Here's my take on the matter. I personally find no problem with researching others' writings in order to minister the word. I don't think we even need "running footnotes" during these messages. But here's where the problem starts. The LSM editorial staff considered every word WL spoke to be original and uniquely inspired and anointed. As such, they rarely referenced the source. If WL were merely writing books from scratch, he would then be required to reference source material. Anyone know the rules of plagiarism here? Is there some transparency enabled via transcribing spoken messages?

Thus the talk about "standing on the shoulders of others" eventually became transmuted into "WL's ministry is all-inclusive and subsumes all others." Since most LC members spent little time receiving from other ministers, they typically believed all this rubbish, considering WL to be God's "unique oracle" since ~1948. All other ministers - within and without - were all discredited as worthless - why waste your time reading that?

The reason was simple. If they never read outside sources, then they will believe whatever they are told. Hence the numerous warnings we received about venturing outside the confines of LSM. Those insiders who dare to "crack the shell" and emerge, are slandered as being "ambitious" and "having their own work."

The GLA was not as vulnerable to this exclusivity because the radical LSM zealots spent so little time there. Regardless of what WL might have said in some training, these kind of exclusive practices require constant and local reinforcement to become effective, since it is normal for a seeking Christian to go "outside the camp."
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Old 10-24-2008, 04:52 AM   #29
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Is this article available as a .pdf or .doc to print out? I prefer to read the old-fashioned way, from a piece of paper.
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:14 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by kisstheson View Post
Recently I have been reading through many of the "Classic Portraits" books that dear brother F.B. Meyer wrote.

I am reading through Abraham and Joseph (the OT Joseph) and I have been shocked by how many of the deeper points in the Life Study of Genesis that I always thought originated with WL really came from brother F.B. Meyer. It is now very obvious to me that WL relied heavily on Meyer's works during all his Life Study messages concerning Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph. WL really should have clearly acknowledged Meyer while speaking these Life Study messages because Meyer's influence appears over and over again.
Interesting this observation has been brought up because I recently purchased a couple of books by Clarence Larkin. One in particular is called 'The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World.'

He authored this book in 1918. He was born in 1850 and died in 1924. What's so 'important' about this info?
Well. In his extremely laid out book, which is filled with all kinds of awesome charts, he has a page on the threefold nature of man. It is the famous 3 circles within a circle of spirit, soul and body we are all soo familiar with.

He describes the spirit, the most innerpart of man as the Pneuma where the Holy Spirit resides (even in more detail than the ones we are familiar with.) Then the soul, the Psyche, the natural realm of the body and then there is the body (soma) the carnal part of man.

Did Witness Lee or Watchman Nee give credit where credit is due?

I know Lee gave credit to Pember...for his discovery that something happened between Genesiss 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

(And btw, I have TRIED to read Earth's Earliest Ages but it is written in such a archaic English, I'm really surprised Lee, was able to read it...IF indeed he actually read it.

Btw, the book I mentioned by Clarence Larkin is an awesome and excellent book...very, very well put together. It is not sold in bookstores, although B&N will order it for you.
I purchased it from http://www.armageddonbooks.com/vnewrel.html


On a sidebar everyone.........wayyyyyyyy off topic...
But being the watchman on the wall that I am.

Keep lookin' up everyone...for our Redemption truly draws nigh!

Revelation 13:16-17 tells us a time will come when

he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Not only is the American economy is crashing, so are the global markets..the entire world economy is crashing. Joe Biden made a very profound, sobering statement this past week that should Obama (or whoever) is elected, the 1st six months, we are going to experience an international CRISIS of great magnitude and it will be a time of our leadership being tested (to the max).

[I paraphrased some of his wording to emphasize his statement]

The world leaders have been gathering together in the last 2-3 weeks to come up with a solution...and even a one world monetary system is being considered.
Hmmph. Let not your hearts be troubled dear saints! Look up, 'cause we're going UP !!!
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:23 AM   #31
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Is this article available as a .pdf or .doc to print out? I prefer to read the old-fashioned way, from a piece of paper.

Ask and ye shall receive:
See attachment below.



Attached Files
File Type: doc EVOLUTION_OF_LSMs_BIBLIOLOGY.doc (154.5 KB, 311 views)
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:37 AM   #32
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(And btw, I have TRIED to read Earth's Earliest Ages but it is written in such a archaic English, I'm really surprised Lee, was able to read it...IF indeed he actually read it.
"If indeed he actually read it"...? What a tacky thing to say. This seems like it could be such a valuable website, but so many here seem to go out of their way to find fault (that shouldn't be too hard...) and to say unkind things. Is it really necessary?

With regard to reading Pember, I find that many of the Chinese brothers actually do better than Americans when it comes to some of the more archaic writings. It is the same with Darby.

I think that because they have to read the material with a dictionary and a lexicon and a grammar book in order even to understand the English, they don't notice (or don't know!) that the language there is nearly incomprehensible to a modern reader.

I know that many serious followers of the Lord Jesus appreciate Pember, Darby, Kelly and others, but I confess I have a hard time reading them for myself.

It is my understanding that at one point Speakscorner had considered writing an update of Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages in more readable english. I don't know whether he had time to finish that project or not.
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:33 AM   #33
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I know that many serious followers of the Lord Jesus appreciate Pember, Darby, Kelly and others, but I confess I have a hard time reading them for myself.

It is my understanding that at one point Speakscorner had considered writing an update of Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages in more readable english. I don't know whether he had time to finish that project or not.
Dear brother Toledo,

Do I assume correctly that Speakerscorner's updated version covers only the first half of Earth's Earliest Ages, i.e. the first nine chapters? Having read through Earth's Earliest Ages, I found the frist nine chapters to be an extremely rich study of Genesis chapters one through six. There is lots of very edifying material in these first nine chapters, covering subjects like the pride that led to the fall of Satan, the tripartite man, the Seed of the woman, Cain and Abel, calling upon the Name of Jehovah, the "days of Noah", etc. Great stuff!

The second half of the book, chapters 10 through 16, are altogether different. In this second half of the book, dear brother Pember is trying to prove that the same kinds of fallen spirits that operated in the days before the great flood are operating on the earth again today through Spiritualism, Theosophy, Buddhism, etc. To prove his point, Pember gives very graphic and very detailed accounts of seances and other sessions where unclean spirits are contacted. Really creepy, scary, stuff. I did not enjoy this part of the book at all. It was not edifying to me and it was a real labor to get through it.
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Old 10-24-2008, 09:44 AM   #34
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"If indeed he actually read it"...? What a tacky thing to say. This seems like it could be such a valuable website, but so many here seem to go out of their way to find fault (that shouldn't be too hard...) and to say unkind things. Is it really necessary?
Toledo,
So many things have come to light regarding Lee's teachings in particular, sometimes it's hard to see the forest from the trees.

I don't think by saying "IF he read it" was unkind at all !! If he read it, GOOD for him!

Many of us were led to believe Nee but especially Lee, were the 'all in all' on God's earth today. Lee was known as God's oracle, was he not? He had such a unique way of presenting the messages at meetings followed by saints giving testimonies or re-enforcing the message he spoke, that many of us believed God was giving him and only him true revelation from the Word of God.

Many people in the LC/LSM never read anything other than what Nee or Lee wrote with the exception of what Lee gave his blessings to.

So, many of the things we thought God had revealed to him were NOT revealed to him first! That is the point we are making.

I would hope all of God's children, read the Word of God prayerfully and carefully, examining the teachings we've received and continue to receive so we don't get duped!!

May the LORD give us all wisdom, insight, understanding, patience and forgiveness towards one another...in Christ Jesus.
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:46 AM   #35
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KTS, thanks for the post.

Here's my take on the matter. I personally find no problem with researching others' writings in order to minister the word. I don't think we even need "running footnotes" during these messages. But here's where the problem starts. The LSM editorial staff considered every word WL spoke to be original and uniquely inspired and anointed. As such, they rarely referenced the source. If WL were merely writing books from scratch, he would then be required to reference source material. Anyone know the rules of plagiarism here? Is there some transparency enabled via transcribing spoken messages?

Thus the talk about "standing on the shoulders of others" eventually became transmuted into "WL's ministry is all-inclusive and subsumes all others." Since most LC members spent little time receiving from other ministers, they typically believed all this rubbish, considering WL to be God's "unique oracle" since ~1948. All other ministers - within and without - were all discredited as worthless - why waste your time reading that?

The reason was simple. If they never read outside sources, then they will believe whatever they are told. Hence the numerous warnings we received about venturing outside the confines of LSM. Those insiders who dare to "crack the shell" and emerge, are slandered as being "ambitious" and "having their own work."
Amen, dear brother Ohio. Thank you for your post as well. I hear what you and dear sister countmeworthy are saying. While it is very cumbersome in a spoken message to always be referencing sources, the written messages are a whole different matter. At the very least, to be fair and to honor the portions of other gifted ministers of Christ, a list of "Works Cited" should have been included in the back of each Life Study volume. Now that I have finished both Abraham and Joseph by F.B. Meyer, I see Meyer's ideas all through the Life Study of Genesis.

This idea of WL as God's "unique oracle" since 1948 is simply not true. The list of other very annointed ministers of Christ since 1948 is a long list indeed. I can list only the ones I am most familiar with: TAS, Stephen Kaung, Bakht Singh, Ian Thomas, Paul Billheimer, Roy Hession, Basilea Schlink, Titus Chu, etc. The ministries of all these ones are full of the "healthy words" of God's New Testament revelation.

Here is a list of four points that have always deeply impressed me from the LS of Genesis messages on Abraham. Like the points I mentioned previously related to Joseph, I always thought that these rich points in the LS had originated with WL, but I just found out that they were definitely spoken by F.B. Meyer way before WL ever spoke them:
  1. Abraham's initial "obedience" to God's call was full of compromise and was partial obedience at best.
  2. The two outstanding characteristics of Abraham's life in the land of promise were the altar and the tent.
  3. The reason Abraham had the opportunity to intercede for Lot before the Lord was because Abraham had waited and lingered in the Lord's presence.
  4. Abraham's sin before Abimelech was a very shameful situation because in this situation a Gentile unbeliever was more righteous than the servant of God.
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Old 10-25-2008, 02:01 PM   #36
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Here is a list of four points that have always deeply impressed me from the LS of Genesis messages on Abraham. Like the points I mentioned previously related to Joseph, I always thought that these rich points in the LS had originated with WL...
An interesting take...

I always considered WL's word that he was standing on the shoulders of those who went before him to be a confession that he got his stuff from other brothers. It gave me the freedom to read the books from many other sources.

There are a number of items that Brother Lee claimed that either he or Watchman Nee had "recovered", but I never accounted that to mean that everything he ministered was original.

Nor, by the way, did I ever consider that Witness Lee himself was the oracle of God. Rather it was my understanding that the oracle of God was not a person but a place -- the ground of oneness. Once the tabernacle was set up in the wilderness, God spoke from the tent of meeting.

I am, of course, open to correction. However, it would appear that my view on some matters has saved me from a lot of the bitterness that has afflicted so many brothers.
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Old 10-25-2008, 02:25 PM   #37
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An interesting take...

I always considered WL's word that he was standing on the shoulders of those who went before him to be a confession that he got his stuff from other brothers. It gave me the freedom to read the books from many other sources.

There are a number of items that Brother Lee claimed that either he or Watchman Nee had "recovered", but I never accounted that to mean that everything he ministered was original.

Nor, by the way, did I ever consider that Witness Lee himself was the oracle of God. Rather it was my understanding that the oracle of God was not a person but a place -- the ground of oneness. Once the tabernacle was set up in the wilderness, God spoke from the tent of meeting.

I am, of course, open to correction. However, it would appear that my view on some matters has saved me from a lot of the bitterness that has afflicted so many brothers.

I understood the claim to be that the oracle was vested in a person, ordinarily whoever was speaking forth the latest word from the Throne, usually meaning Witness Lee, but not necessarily exclusively or permanently so.

Other than that, I share your view on the other points and feel I have been similarly preserved.
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:52 PM   #38
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An interesting take...

I always considered WL's word that he was standing on the shoulders of those who went before him to be a confession that he got his stuff from other brothers. It gave me the freedom to read the books from many other sources.

There are a number of items that Brother Lee claimed that either he or Watchman Nee had "recovered", but I never accounted that to mean that everything he ministered was original.

Nor, by the way, did I ever consider that Witness Lee himself was the oracle of God. Rather it was my understanding that the oracle of God was not a person but a place -- the ground of oneness. Once the tabernacle was set up in the wilderness, God spoke from the tent of meeting.

I am, of course, open to correction. However, it would appear that my view on some matters has saved me from a lot of the bitterness that has afflicted so many brothers.
Hello dear Toledo,

Blessed are you, dear brother! I say that in all sincerity. When I compare my region with the GLA, it makes me realize how much the GLA needs to be thankful for dear brother Titus Chu. It sounds like a lot of the fellowship from Anaheim that was not so healthy and was rather mean-spirited was never shared and never implemented in the GLA. In my region we had no such filter and we exerted much effort to always be quick to line up with whatever was the latest speaking and the latest "flow" out of Anaheim.

My understanding of the oracle was that WL was a modern-day Moses, one in a long line of "the minister of the age". I believe it was in the Elders' Training book 9 where WL strongly stated that the oracle was one person in each age. To hear the BB's understanding of "the oracle", just listen to how they sneered at brother Titus's book The Divine Stream at Whistler. Listen to how they mocked and ridiculed TC for daring to suggest that there were multiple "streams" of ministry when WL had declared that there was only one such "stream" in any age. Only one stream, only one minister of the age, only one oracle. The speaking in the Elders' Training books and the speaking at Whistler is the kind of speaking I sat under for decades.

I was bitter for a while when the whole house of cards starting crashing down, but our God is rich in mercy and grace! Whatever others may have meant for evil, God has turned to good. What an awesome God we serve! I can't tell you how much I love Him!
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:44 AM   #39
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

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Originally Posted by kisstheson View Post
To hear the BB's understanding of "the oracle", just listen to how they sneered at brother Titus's book The Divine Stream at Whistler. Listen to how they mocked and ridiculed TC for daring to suggest that there were multiple "streams" of ministry when WL had declared that there was only one such "stream" in any age.
I would like to hear this.

Please, I have tried many times to hear this.

Where is "Whistler" so that I may hear this??
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Old 10-26-2008, 06:07 AM   #40
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

Here is Whistler:

http://www.afaithfulword.org/quarantine/index.html
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:40 AM   #41
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

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I have seen this link before but I am unable to access the audio or video content.

Is it just me?
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Old 10-26-2008, 09:50 AM   #42
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

No, it seems no matter what I do it does not work for me either.

I DO know that if you approach folks in "The Local Church" they can obtain a copy or tell you what it says. They all watched it, it was sent out to all the LC.

Sue
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Old 10-26-2008, 10:40 AM   #43
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Dear brother YP0534,

I am having the same trouble that you and dear sister Suannehill are having. A good while ago I downloaded the video and audio versions of the Quarantine meeting at Whistler. I have since deleted the video version (it was really huge - 650 Meg), but I still have the mp3 version of the audio. The mp3 file is 52 Meg in size.

If dear brother UntoHim is willing, perhaps the mp3 version of the audio could be attached to one of the threads here? Or, perhaps someone like dear brother Matt already has the audio version available on their web site?

In the meantime, I will do my best to put together a transcript for you that covers the relevant portion. You really should hear the audio to pick up the tone of voice used in the speaking, but a written transcript will at least give you the spoken words.
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Old 10-26-2008, 12:45 PM   #44
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

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Dear brother YP0534,

I am having the same trouble that you and dear sister Suannehill are having. A good while ago I downloaded the video and audio versions of the Quarantine meeting at Whistler. I have since deleted the video version (it was really huge - 650 Meg), but I still have the mp3 version of the audio. The mp3 file is 52 Meg in size.

If dear brother UntoHim is willing, perhaps the mp3 version of the audio could be attached to one of the threads here? Or, perhaps someone like dear brother Matt already has the audio version available on their web site?

In the meantime, I will do my best to put together a transcript for you that covers the relevant portion. You really should hear the audio to pick up the tone of voice used in the speaking, but a written transcript will at least give you the spoken words.

Brother Lee spoke about the "index of the eyes" and I truly wish I could see the aspect of the speakers. But I would be most willing to receive more information about this as I have been seeking it for some time.

I find it odd that no official transcript appears to exist.
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Old 10-26-2008, 12:50 PM   #45
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Default Partial Transcript from Whistler

Dear brother YP0534,

I too wish I could still veiw the video and see "the index of the eye" of the speaker.

I definitley found out that producing a word-for-word transcript from a spoken message is much harder than it looks! At any rate, here is what I truly believe to be an exact word-for-word transcript of brother Dan Towle's critique of TC's book The Reality of the Divine Stream spoken during the Whistler quarantine meeting back in October of 2006. Only the words like "um" and "ah" have been excluded. (This speaking starts at 02:13:05 hours into the speaking. There is more relevant speaking beginning at 03:33:30 which can be transcribed later.)

Quote:
“He would take Brother Lee’s terms and put his own meaning to it. And a classic example, only one of many, is his book here called The Reality of the Divine Stream. The Reality of the Divine Stream by Titus Chu. Well, I think you brothers know, you should know, that when Brother Lee came to America, almost the first book, I believe the first message, he put out, was called “The Divine Stream”. And by that he meant, and he said clearly, that the ministry of the Lord has the Divine stream throughout all the ages. And he put himself following Brother Watchman Nee in the one ministry. That was the point of the Divine stream. That there is one ministry in every age and that one ministry is the Lord’s stream in that age. Well, of course, that doesn’t leave any room for Titus Chu . . . if you define in that way. And so, he wrote The Reality of the Divine Stream.

What is the reality of the Divine stream? Well, among other things, he said that . . . concerning what would happen when Brother Lee was passed away. (I am not sure if this is before or after . . . yeh, this is after 2003.) He [Titus Chu] said “According to our understanding of the Bible, the Lord will continue to flow, uplifting and increasing the tide of the flow for His move on the earth until He returns. Only the Lord knows whether or not He would raise up before His return another oracle such as Witness Lee. We should be very open regarding this, realizing that the Lord is able to supply yet more riches, yet more light, yet more encouragement, and to raise the tide of the flow to a higher level than we have thus far experienced. Praise the Lord for this.”

On the surface it sounds … not bad. I mean, in the universal realm of possibilities [pause and laughter from the audience], there is, exists, the possibility that the Lord would raise up another Brother Lee. But, the point was that Brother Lee already made clear how he wanted the recovery to go on. And that was in a blended way. And even he told the brothers in Taiwan and other places, he told us: “The age has changed, brothers. It’s a different age. It’s no longer the age of one man speaking. The God-ordained way and the high peak of the divine revelation changed. In the last ten years, Brother Lee received a higher revelation and he believed that THAT revelation was for the producing of the Bride. And we believe the same thing. And so, to print that there will be another one like Brother Lee is actually quite a subtle suggestion.

So, as we got into the book, we realized, you know . . . and then, he picks up the word “flow”. And I won’t read you the points, brothers, but he says we should be very careful about our use of the word “flow”. Well, Brother Lee used the word “flow”. The Divine stream, the flow, etc. And he said this word is used to control people, just like the Communist Chinese used the word “people” to control people in that era. And so . . . that’s the reality of the Divine stream. So if anyone uses the word “flow”, your antenna go up, because someone is trying to control you. Is that . . . is that the Divine stream? And, and many writings, brothers, full of sowing of suspicion, full of . . . really . . . ambiguous and unambiguous dissension to Brother Lee’s teaching.

And concerning the one flow, he reinterprets at the end of the book . . . that the river in the Garden of Eden, went into four heads. And so, there were actually four flows [laughter from the speaker], meaning the four ministries. Peter, Paul, John, and guess who the fourth one is? Who included? Fourth one in the Divine flow, four Divine flows, the fourth one? James! [laughter from the audience]. Can you believe? If you listen to Brother Lee’s Life-Study [SIC] of James and you would put James in there?! Four flows. Now there are four flows, four Divine streams.”
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Old 10-26-2008, 01:44 PM   #46
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Default Re: Partial Transcript from Whistler

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Dear brother YP0534,

I too wish I could still veiw the video and see "the index of the eye" of the speaker.

I definitley found out that producing a word-for-word transcript from a spoken message is much harder than it looks! At any rate, here is what I truly believe to be an exact word-for-word transcript of brother Dan Towle's critique of TC's book The Reality of the Divine Stream spoken during the Whistler quarantine meeting back in October of 2006. Only the words like "um" and "ah" have been excluded. (This speaking starts at 02:13:05 hours into the speaking. There is more relevant speaking beginning at 03:33:30 which can be transcribed later.)
OK, this is truly awful and it's really a poor interpretation of brother Lee's little pamphlet which I have right here. Whether Titus Chu was correct in daring to disagree with Witness Lee regarding the flow through brother James, I don't care. None should mock such an idea. The notion has some merit to the careful student of the Bible, even if the ultimate conclusion might be to agree with Lee's interpretation of such issues.

The amazing thing is how close the words are but how off the understanding is!
Quote:
[Lee] put himself following Brother Watchman Nee in the one ministry. That was the point of The Divine Stream. That there is one ministry in every age and that one ministry is the Lord’s stream in that age.
If you are a careful student of Witness Lee, you will have an astonishing realization from reading this little booklet. The word "ministry" doesn't appear it in at all even once! To say this is the point? Brother Lee did not make his point very well, I would say, to leave the word out altogether!

Moroever, it is just ignorant to state "there is one ministry in every age" in this fashion. Clearly, there is only one ministry ever! Our God is one! But this statement implies that there are multiple "ages" of God's move in His New Testament economy, which is simply not so. There has been no "Age of Luther" nor "Age of Darby" nor "Age of Nee" nor "Age of Lee" and NEITHER an "Age of Blended Brothers." To the extent that Lee himself gave credence to such a notion, he was just mistaken. We are all ever in the ONE age of the unique New Testament Ministry, of which, yes, even dear brother Titus Chu, no doubt, has his appropriate function and labor in the one divine stream.

Horrible that such words were ever spoken by fleshy men in the name of our precious Head and Master, Jesus.

They should be cautioned not to plan on approaching His judgment seat with these words "one ministry" upon their lips in this fashion!

This is exactly why some will be told "I never knew you" in that great day.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:04 AM   #47
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Default The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

Nigel's article focuses on WL statements such as this:
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The entire Scripture is written by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but this does not mean that every word written through the Spirit of God as a portion of the Holy Scripture is the word of God. Many portions of the Holy Scripture are rather the words spoken by persons…other than God.
The notable example that WL uses is from Genesis:
Quote:
Satan's word is recorded in the Bible, and that record is by the inspiration of the Spirit, but the word recorded is not the word of God. The serpent said, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? ... Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:1b, 4-5). This is Satan's word, but it is recorded by Moses as a part of the Holy Scripture. This shows that not every word recorded in the Bible is the word of God, but the record is by the inspiration of the Spirit.”
These comments of "later-Lee" were a radical departure from those of "early-Lee" which all LC'ers swallowed without discernment. Let me say this in plain words -- whatever is recorded in the Bible is the word of God -- whether originally spoken by God or not. Satan has spoken many things in the history of mankind, none of which I care about, and none of which has any value to us believers. But ... whatever Satan has spoken, and God has decided to inspire writers and record in the Bible, that is the word of God.

Nigel spends much time to carefully prepare his articles. You know this when the article is six pp. and the footnotes are eleven pp. (Knowing LSM, I guess he has little choice.) For him to introduce the concepts of "inerrant" and "infallible" was quite educational concerning evangelical views of the God's word. But ... all this ... just spawns other questions for me. Why was WL critiquing the scripture in this way, but not his own books?

It's hard for me not to conclude that "early-Lee" was a humble minister and that "later-Lee" became somewhat puffed-up, promoting his own ministry at the expense of the Bible. LC faithful were often left with the distinct impression that LSM books were more spiritual than the Bible itself.

Why didn't WL tell us that not all of his books were inspired and anointed by the Spirit? Why not critique his own ministry? How many times were we reminded how much revelation was in all his speaking? Early-Lee was a minister of the word. Later-Lee used the word of God to promote his own ministry.
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Old 11-08-2008, 06:54 AM   #48
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

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It's hard for me not to conclude that "early-Lee" was a humble minister and that "later-Lee" became somewhat puffed-up, promoting his own ministry at the expense of the Bible. LC faithful were often left with the distinct impression that LSM books were more spiritual than the Bible itself.

Why didn't WL tell us that not all of his books were inspired and anointed by the Spirit? Why not critique his own ministry? How many times were we reminded how much revelation was in all his speaking? Early-Lee was a minister of the word. Later-Lee used the word of God to promote his own ministry.
Here's a tip on the Later-Lee/Post-Lee promotion phenomenon. Google "Witness Lee rich ministry" and see what you get. I got seven different web sites on the first page, the "official sites" from what I could tell, all promoting the "rich ministry of Witness Lee". On the second page I got various local-church-affiliated sites (i.e. churchinroseville.org) which also used the same verbiage.

Christ is still mentioned, thankfully, but the rich ministry of Witness Lee is certainly elbowing its way up the table, into a share of the glory.
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Old 02-25-2009, 08:37 PM   #49
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Hello
This is a sticking point for me so I'd like to way in on it even, though the thread is long since dead.
If we are to truly believe that the epistle of James is a book that doesn't result in God's Economy, and blinds believer's then it can be rightly assumed that in the end the teachings are poisonous and in the line of the knowledge of good and evil, and results in death (unless you happen to be one of the small percentage of believer's who has had it revealed to you that this is actually in the bible to expose James). This is a problem because the bible says in 2 Tim 3:16 that all scripture is God-breathed, and then goes on to say that it is also profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Then in 1 Peter 2:2 the word is likened to Guileless milk.

Given that the Bible is considered to be God's word and that James is in the Bible this would seem to give the casual reader of the Bible the assurance that whatever he gets in James is in fact good for him. Furthermore if he did get the feeling that maybe James was a bit of he would have to contend with Rev 22:19 which says if you take away from the words of this scroll God will take away your portion from the tree of life. Which is scary.

Furthermore in Genesis 2:17 we see the principle that God doesn't just put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden and leave Adam to work out for himself that it's poison. No he explicitly tells him you eat this you die. Not allowing him to rely on wholly unreliable inward feelings. Likewise for pretty much all the examples given in the crystalization study of God's word but not God's speaking it is made clear within the text that this is not to be taken as God's speaking. I:E genesis 3:1 "he (the serpent) said", Job, it clearly said that at the time this was the individual person's speaking and God came in to rebuke them all at the end. The exception to this of course would probably be the psalms although I would argue that the psalms does not seem to be intended to be a book of teaching but rather to be the praises to God whereas James is. So your in a much better position there to realize that the individual believer's spewing forth hatred against his enemy is coming from himself.

James however does not seem to have such a warning. The best you could probably do is cite Acts 22. The problem thier is that Acts 22 does not even really try to cause the reader to think that their was much untoward going on here, and even if it did it certainly doesn't attempt to show how Paul (who had previously circumcised Timothy in Acts 16:3 and shaved his head for a vow in Acts 18:18 (after the writing of Galatians)) was reluctant to go along with him. Therefore if your going to use it on James you may as well use it on Paul as well.

Basically it seems to me that not even the Bible is spiritual enough for Brother Lee.
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:23 AM   #50
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Default Re: The Evolution of LSM's Bibliology

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If we are to truly believe that the epistle of James is a book that doesn't result in God's Economy, and blinds believer's then it can be rightly assumed that in the end the teachings are poisonous and in the line of the knowledge of good and evil, and results in death (unless you happen to be one of the small percentage of believer's who has had it revealed to you that this is actually in the bible to expose James).
I don't understand why James seems to get a bad rap...not only from Lee but other Christian teachers do the same. I personally have gotten a lot of help and understanding of my life and life in general through James.

One of my favorite scriptures is from James. James 5:16bThe effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

This scripture brings me much comfort because the Lord answers my prayers constantly! People even tell me the Lord answers my prayers ! I pray without ceasing pray..giving Praise, Honor, Glory with Thanksgiving to the Lord. I pray for the Body of Christ, for us to be sanctified, to be set apart..to be filled with the Wisdom of God as He renews our mind and takes us from Glory to GLORY. I pray for our spiritual and emotional healing. I pray for unbelievers to repent and come to KNOW the LOVE of GOD through Christ Jesus.

Yeppers......the effectual fervent prayer of a Righteous man availeth much.

Praise You Lord Jesus for revealing Yourself to me/to us through Your Word. For You are the WORD of GOD who became flesh that we would come to KNOW YOU and LOVE YOU. Thank You Holy Spirit for interceeding for me and through me. Thank You Abba Father for receiving my prayers as I present them to You at the Throne of Glory.
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