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Oh Lord, Where Do We Go From Here? Current and former members (and anyone in between!)... tell us what is on your mind and in your heart.

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Old 01-14-2014, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

The title of this thread is drawn from a Peanuts cartoon featuring Linus and Lucy. In it, Linus is deeply considering why a certain person could have done a certain baffling thing. He posits a few explanations, each profound and plausible in its own right. Lucy quietly listens and finally drolly asks, "Have you ruled out stupidity?"

People do stupid things. Particularly in groups. Manias and delusional movements account for much of the history of mankind. But such phenomenons rarely seem irrational to those inside them in real time. In fact, the deluded participants often believe they have discovered some hidden secret or special purpose that outsiders have yet to appreciate. The feeling of "being onto something" pervades. Invigorated and reborn by rarefied ideas and experiences, they seek converts high and low.

Recently I've been reading about monetary reform. There are various ideas for it in circulation. One is the school that believes that the creation of money should be solely performed not by taxation, borrowing or earning it, but simply by government spending it into existence! A nutty idea? Probably. But no nuttier than the idea that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would go to 100,000 by 2010. Or that tulips were the best investment in the world. Or that Jesus would return on Dec. 12, 2012. Or that Witness Lee was the Minister of the Age and that his movement would end the church age.

The point is not the idea themselves, but that people are so willing and eager to believe them and champion them. People seem to need to believe in something, believe it's good, and believe that other people should believe it. This is the beginning of delusional manias. They are rooted in the charmingly flawed mentality (read stupidity) of people, particularly when they operate in groups.

This, when all is said and done, explains the Lord's Recovery. And it is really all the explanation you need. It was yet another mania in the long history of human delusion. Whether it be Internet stocks, brown rice diets, Iraq invasions, Cabbage Patch dolls, Justin Bieber, or Witness Lee, the wave of maniacal fervor can come from any direction. We are susceptible because we have a deep need for reassurance, and we are just stupid enough to seek it from the wrong places.

Why did Watchman Nee do the baffling things he did? Answer: He was deluded. Why did Lee? Same reason. Were they evil, cynical or power crazy? Probably no more than you or I were. No, the real reason is most likely simply delusion and mania. So also with us. We went along with it because it felt right at the time and people tend to get caught up in those kinds of things. That's human nature, which is why we need God's mercy, wisdom and salvation.

My wife tells me I tend to get obsessed with new hobbies and interests. I never thought of it that way. I just liked the invigorating feeling of "being onto something," like I'd discovered "the answer." But I see her point now. This personality characteristic probably made me susceptible to the religious delusion of the Lord's Recovery.

Note: Believing this post could lead to delusional mania.
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; ...they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

-- Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
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Old 01-14-2014, 03:42 PM   #3
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

Interesting theory and one I feel is not all that bad because it could lead to a lot of healing for the folks who left the LC.

But could it be that Witness Lee's delusion was big enough to also justify setting up a patrilineal monarchy within his ministry? He seemed pretty dead set on having his son inherit the mantle of his ministry despite his iniquity. This motivation seems to go against all sorts of scriptural commands found in the bible. It's also something that I could not see Watchman Nee trying to pull off if he had a son.

I'm beginning to see all these parallels with Witness Lee and communist governments.

As Ohio pointed out earlier, the New Way is the spiritual equivalent of the red guard during the cultural revolution of Communist China.

And even though North Korea calls itself a "Democratic People's Republic", in practice it's really a monarchical stalinist dictatorship which follows the male blood line started by Kim Il Sung. Both Kim Il Sung and his son were deadset on having the next dictator be a male son, in the same way that Witness Lee hoped that Philip Lee could succeed him.

On the outset, the LRC is billed to be a democracy of independent local churches without an official headquarters, but in practice this claim is laughable. No one would ever say that Witness Lee is the pope, but in practice he pretty much seemed like a dictator who answered to nobody. He used his platform for speaking and writing to silence, slander and ostracize his critics in his book "Fermentation of the Present Rebellion"

Is it possible that the same evil spirits working in these communist governments were also influencing Witness Lee?
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Note: Believing this post could lead to delusional mania.
Too late. Been there done that.

The webpage I'm presently reading came from looking into the messiah complex. A charge brought by Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe "Boogy" Ya'alon, against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. I wanted to know what he meant by "messianic fervor."

That led me to "God complex" and "grandiose delusions."

My first thought was Lee, and then Nee.

And then I came to your post bro Igzy. It kind of all blended in, like some mysterious force was putting it together. Thinking like that is prolly delusional ... as it might just be a synchronicity, that I'm ascribing more meaning to than is there.

The truth is, the human primate is stupid. Cuz we're so limited. And we can't get at enough data to know what's really going on. We can't even explain this physical world, much less the incorporeal world.

And that's why we fall for someone that claims to have the answers. I was dumb as a box of rocks when I came into the local church. The local church seemed to have answers. I was hooked at the three circles, of the tripartite man. That was really cool at that time.

Then I fell for "the eternal purpose of God," "the building - from Genesis to Revelation," and, "God's economy," so forth and so on.

Now I see that that was just Witness Lee's speculation. That he didn't really know that it's what God was/is doing. Lee sold speculation as fact. And we bought it.

That was the point of entering into delusion.

But for me that bubble was popped, when Lee started claiming to be the one and only apostle on the earth.

By then I had discovered that Lee didn't practice what he preached. And a hypocrite can't be what he claimed about himself. It struck me as delusions of grandeur.

I was excommunicated for not buying into that delusion.

Great post Igzy.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

I like it.

Beware of stupid people in large numbers! (Alas, I was part of one such group.)
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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Originally Posted by bearbear View Post
But could it be that Witness Lee's delusion was big enough to also justify setting up a patrilineal monarchy within his ministry? He seemed pretty dead set on having his son inherit the mantle of his ministry despite his iniquity. This motivation seems to go against all sorts of scriptural commands found in the bible. It's also something that I could not see Watchman Nee trying to pull off if he had a son.
The point of my post was not to say there weren't other negative factors involved in the phenomenon of the LC movement. My point was that religious delusion goes a long way toward explaining most of what occurred. Deluded leaders and deluded followers. People just tend to get deluded; history is a witness to that.

One question that seems to get asked over and over here was "What happened and why did it happen?" Rather than endlessly searching for answers in the enigmatic footprints of Lee and Nee, I think the answer is found in the word "delusion." On their part and ours. Classic group delusion.

You also have to look at the nature of the delusion. Delusion often appears when people feel they have discovered some hidden truth. We certainly had that. But our delusion was also about the significance of the group in a huge cosmic sense. We were going to "bring the Lord back," for cryin' out loud! Plus we were under high pressure to avoid "outer darkness."* All these things conspired to intensify and reinforce the delusion among us, which made it worse.

Were selfishness, ambition, dishonesty, hypocrisy, graft, cowardice, callousness, bullying, nepotism and running roughshod over consciences also involved? Of course. But those weren't the fuel that drove the engine. What drove the engine was yet another case of religious delusion, and a rather high octane brand at that.

You were deluded. I was deluded. Lee was deluded. Everyone was deluded. Our oneness was the oneness of delusion.

Was there truth, too? Yes, some. In fact, ironically, the sprinklings of truth lent validity to the big fat pig of delusion. Which is why the devil usually deals in partial-truths.


*Note, bearbear, how extreme negative incentives unresolved by assurance can force irrational behavior. This is another reason I believe God gives us assurance of salvation.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

There are all kinds of delusional manias. Some are relatively benign, like diet fads. Others are more insidious, like believing some white-toothed politician is the hope of the country.

But there is no delusion like religious delusion. And there is no religious delusion like the kind that claims to be nearest and dearest to God's heart and upon which the fate of mankind rests.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi said in Star Wars, "We must be cautious."
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
There are all kinds of delusional manias. Some are relatively benign, like diet fads. Others are more insidious, like believing some white-toothed politician is the hope of the country.

But there is no delusion like religious delusion. And there is no religious delusion like the kind that claims to be nearest and dearest to God's heart and upon which the fate of mankind rests.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi said in Star Wars, "We must be cautious."
Jedi mind trick: Obi-Wan waving hand, "This is the eternal purpose of God."
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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Originally Posted by bearbear View Post
Interesting theory and one I feel is not all that bad because it could lead to a lot of healing for the folks who left the LC.

But could it be that Witness Lee's delusion was big enough to also justify setting up a patrilineal monarchy within his ministry? He seemed pretty dead set on having his son inherit the mantle of his ministry despite his iniquity. This motivation seems to go against all sorts of scriptural commands found in the bible. It's also something that I could not see Watchman Nee trying to pull off if he had a son.
This seems highly unlikely. PL had zero qualifications for teaching or ministry. He could never be the face of the franchise. Rather WL used him as a back room thug to bring all the LC leaders under subjection to himself as Deputy Authority.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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This seems highly unlikely. PL had zero qualifications for teaching or ministry. He could never be the face of the franchise. Rather WL used him as a back room thug to bring all the LC leaders under subjection to himself as Deputy Authority.
From Ingall's account, it seems like he was placed in a position for teaching and ministry. My understanding was Witness Lee probably gave up on this hope after so much controversy developed around him. I've heard reports (and correct me if I'm wrong- can anyone find the source? I remember reading it in someone's testimony) that when Philip Lee was administering the New Way training in Taiwan, he was teaching that God was four in one and Witness Lee was the fourth member of this quaternity.

"In the summer of 1987 I began to be concerned for the first time about some of the things taking place under the direction of the Living Stream Ministry Office. The things that were done and promoted in the high school training in Irving, Texas, in August 1987 greatly disturbed me, especially knowing that Philip Lee, the manager of the LSM office, was giving direct instructions and “fellowship” for the training’s execution. The despising attitude that was instilled in the young people towards the elders of their churches was appalling. This was manifested in the arrogance and rudeness with which they addressed a good number of elders who were present, exhorting them to be baptized again. I was there and saw it."

"During that time Bill explained to me how he had suffered in various ways by events that had transpired in recent months in the churches and in the work in the Southeast. I came away from our talks with one deep impression: Philip Lee was becoming increasingly involved in spiritual things concerning the Lord’s work, the churches, the elders, and the co-workers. I had already noticed this in Irving, Texas the preceding month. This, I felt, was completely untenable, incompatible with his position and person, and intolerable. Philip Lee was employed by his father, Witness Lee, to be the business manager of his office and was reportedly instructed to deal only with business affairs. He was totally unqualified both in position and character to touch spiritual matters related to the work of the Lord and the churches. I became alarmed and began to fear for the Lord’s testimony. With this burden I determined upon my return to Anaheim to fellowship with Godfrey Otuteye, who then was involved in coordinating with Philip Lee in the Living Stream Office. I wanted to frankly ask him about Philip’s role, expressing my alarm and concern."

"In addition we began to hear reports, see video tapes, and read printed messages published by the Full-time Training in Taipei of some of the things that were being said and done. Now this really alarmed us. Foremost among these was the fact that Philip Lee was the administrator of the training, supposedly only on the business side, but actually exercising supervision in much more than business affairs. He was in daily fellowship with twenty-four of the trainers and leading ones who called and reported to him all activities (failure to do so resulted in an offense). The trainees were even told that Philip was administrating the training. His power and position were growing immeasurably.

Statements made by some of the trainers in Taipei amazed us, as I am sure they did many others. Some examples are as follows:

1) “There is no need to pray about what to do; just follow the ministry.”
2) We don’t even need to think; we just do what we are told.”
3) “Follow Witness Lee blindly. Even if he’s wrong, he’s right.”
4) “If you leave the training, you’ll miss the kingdom.”
5) Our burden is to pick up Brother Lee’s teaching and way to make us all Witness Lees, like a Witness Lee duplication center.”
6) “To be one with the ministry is to be one with Brother Lee, the office, and Philip Lee.”
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:42 AM   #11
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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You also have to look at the nature of the delusion. Delusion often appears when people feel they have discovered some hidden truth. We certainly had that. But our delusion was also about the significance of the group in a huge cosmic sense. We were going to "bring the Lord back," for cryin' out loud!
The brother I got saved thru commented to me once about the church in Cleveland, "they have something we don't." He had met with them several times.

What they had was the same Spirit we had, but over time all the members got convinced that what we had were "hidden truths," recently recovered by WL. That became our delusion. Long after the anointing Spirit departed, we still convinced ourselves that we were so special to God because we were on the "proper ground."
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:52 AM   #12
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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The point of my post was not to say there weren't other negative factors involved in the phenomenon of the LC movement. My point was that religious delusion goes a long way toward explaining most of what occurred. Deluded leaders and deluded followers. People just tend to get deluded; history is a witness to that.
The bible also describes many cases where people become deluded thereby deceiving themselves (see Matthew 7:21-23). It takes wisdom to overcome and recognize delusion, and not just any human wisdom, but wisdom that comes from God. Our human wisdom is no match for Satan's deceptions, he's the Father of lies and has been lying long since we were born. He's the ancient dragon who's been deceiving people for ages, so he's probably pretty good at it. If he's been lying for more than 6000 years what makes us think we can outsmart him?

In fact I think Satan is so good at lying to people that I don't think it's possible to know whether or not you're being lied to unless you rely on the wisdom of God which comes from his word and Spirit. The only spiritual weapon available to us that the bible describes is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

The book of proverbs is an excellent book for Christians to build discernment on. It gives many warnings for pitfalls that can await those of us trying to walk the narrow way that leads to life.

I think the reason why so many of us became deceived was Witness Lee weaned the saints from the diet of the word of God which is the source of true discernment. This goes against Jesus' admonition that we are to live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth God (Matthew 4:4). He pulled a quick bait and switch by tricking everyone to exalt his life studies and ministry above the word of God, which was explained to be "mysterious" and impossible for us lay people to understand by ourselves, requiring revelation that only his ministry could provide.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:01 AM   #13
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Default Re: "Have you ruled out stupidity?" The Mania Theory

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The book of proverbs is an excellent book for Christians to build discernment on. It gives many warnings for pitfalls that can await those of us trying to walk the narrow way that leads to life.
A brother used to come to our home group when we lived in California. He was a simple man, whose speech and other movement were a bit slurred by a head injury he received in a car accident. But he displayed a deep wisdom. I mentioned it once and he just laughed and said, "Maybe that's because I read the Proverbs a lot."
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