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Old 07-24-2008, 02:50 PM   #1
Igzy
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Default The Not-So Practical Expression of the Church

The doctrine of the local ground is one of the foundational principles of the Local Church movement. It, along with idea of oneness manifested through one ministry, form the two sides of the vice which firmly holds LC members in the grip of the movement. Take away these two concepts and LCers would feel free, as led by the Lord, to leave the movement anytime. This we know is not the case.

My assertion in this argument is not that the local ground teaching is true or false, but rather that it is not viable. It is one of the boasts and selling points of the teaching that it produces a "practical expression" of Christ’s Body for the world to see. My assertion is that it can only hope to do that by insisting on assumptions which are arbitrary and thus ultimately sure to cause contention and eventually division.

So, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the local ground one-church-one-city teaching is viable. At first glance this is possible. One can argue that one does not agree with the local ground teaching. But one cannot argue that the Bible has no ground for believing the teaching might be valid. To be fair, there is also ground for believing that one church per city is not a binding principle. So, whether or not the principle of one church per city is binding cannot be resolved simply by consulting scripture. The principle must pass the test of viability in practice—it must really be practical. A practical church is not simply one that manifests in space and time the attributes of the universal church, as the Local Church movement believes. It is one also whose existence does not depend on arbitrary requirements, because any such requirements are the guaranteed seeds of destruction.

It’s the situation of more than one group vying for the title as the true church in a city which exposes the weakness and lack of viability of the local ground principle. Imagine a city in which an LC church exists. In the same city is a separate group of people who begin to be stirred by the Lord to seek practical oneness. These seekers also see something of a pattern of city-churches in the New Testament and decide to begin to meet in such a way if they cannot find an already existing city-church. After finding the LC church and visiting with them for a while, however, they determine amongst themselves that the LC group is actually sectarian. The reason they make this determination is not important. The LC church might protest vigorously, but the fact is any group or individual has the right to determine for themselves whether a group claiming to be “the church” is in fact merely a sect. Though the LC group might complain, thump their chests and even eventually sue the fledgling band of seekers for the rights to be called “the church,” in the end they cannot rightfully expect anyone to accept that they are expressing anything but their own opinion, no matter how much Bible knowledge and pedigree they claim to hold. Yet, this is what real LCers in their error do.

So the little group has the perfect right to go about their business and meet “as the church.” Whatever the LC group thinks is meaningless. They don’t hold the franchise rights to being the church in the city. No one does. They could and most likely would come up with a laundry list of reasons why the little group is not the true church, and would likely convince many of their own members of it. But that and a $1.69 will get them a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Their opinion about who is the church in the city is not binding on anyone.

Both groups, then, have the right to make the claim of being the one church in the city; and since neither can prove in a sense that satisfies the principle of practicality (that word again) that they actually are that church, it must follow that the “one church in the city,” if it exists, cannot conform to the model of one group under one human leadership.

But, in fact, it wouldn’t matter if it did because there is another problem: There is absolutely no way to practically determine who the one human leadership of the one church in the city actually is. People can make claims or form opinions, but, again, none of that can be binding on others. LC practice has fallen back on the principle that the “apostle” appoints elders, so only elders approved by Witness Lee or his successors are really elders, so only the churches they lead are really churches. But that amounts to just kicking the can down the road, because there is neither any way of determining, in this day and age, who is truly an apostle. You can, again, form an opinion about it. But your opinion can never be binding on others to the point that you can decide for them that they are at odds with the true city-church because they do not recognize a group of leaders appointed by someone you think is an apostle.

The LC also falls back on the claim that genuine local churches have fellowship with other local churches. But that, as employed by the LC, is a circular argument, and a convenient means to dismiss any group which doesn't fall in line with their movement. It should be true that a genuine church has fellowship with believers and groups outsides its walls. But for anyone to decide he or she can determine exactly which persons and groups that church should have fellowship with is going a step too far.

So the arbitrary requirement necessary to make the LC model of the church operate is the acceptance of the presumption that one particular set of leaders have indeed been appointed by God to lead all the Christians in that city. We’ve seen that just who these leaders are cannot practically be determined with anything approaching certainty, so the LC model requires believers to simply accept as a matter of course that the elders set forth by them are indeed who they claim them to be. Such a requirement, however, is neither logical nor reasonable, and will eventually be a source of contention and division, which we have seen in various practical historical examples, it has been. When believers go to godless courts asking those courts to decide which one of them is the true Church, something has gone very awry. Yet such a result naturally follows from the completely arbitrary assumptions--who the city elders are and who the apostle is--required by the LC movement.

Ironically, the demise of the LC principle of “the practical expression of the church” is its lack of practicality.
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:30 PM   #2
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Ironically, the demise of the LC principle of “the practical expression of the church” is its lack of practicality.
Igzy, I agree with 99% of what you say here (excepting of course your implicit acceptance of the notion of the "universal church", but I digress)

HOWEVER

I would assert that the real problem is an unclear notion of what is the \ekklesia\ in the first place.

In actuality, the practical expression of the Body in the assembly should be found in BOTH those groups TOGETHER and that the one who separates out is in a division. They should freely intermingle and fellowship and not worry a bit about who can lay claim to a designation of proper churchiness. In fact, if they try to lay hold of that, they would certainly start down the wrong path again.

I apprehend the local ground as the principle of unity with all the believers and not a point of demarcation between me and they. To concern ourselves with the minutia of local administration as an indicator of the presence of God's assembly is the tail wagging the dog. (A so-called international ministry attempting to direct the minutia is the flea wagging the tail that wags the dog.)

Thus, I would agree that the doctrine of the ground as practiced by the Local Church is not viable and it really never has been.

But I never received from that teaching more than an understanding that all the believers in a place were in fact the assembly in that place. It gets manifest practically whenever those believers meet on no other basis than that they are the believers meeting there.

It's really not a big deal, in other words, or at least, it shouldn't be.

I think that's very practical.

You want to break bread in oneness with all the believers. I want to do the same. We do so separately until the Lord joins us up. It's a test of our oneness what we do at that point. Later, we can have a fight but we should still break bread together. If I withdraw or you exclude, it may not be immediately apparent what the reality is but it shouldn't take more than getting back to that bread breaking meeting to be perfectly clear. I have surely seen the practical manifestation of Christ in the assembly and I know it when I see it. To argue something contrary is just self delusional.

Try not to consider a large group of a hundred. Consider a group of only four believers in a little hidden outpost in a despised region. There is nothing wrong for them to meet as the unique assembly in that place and even for many other groups of four or more to do the same thing. They are not multiple assemblies - they are all part of the very same assembly, and, God willing, there will be meetings where all that assembly can assemble. They do not need to be controlled by anything but the flow of life and the headship. No titles, no deputies, no legalistic meeting requirements. If different groups end up being somewhat distant, with different practical administrations and such, this is not healthy but it doesn't end their being part of the same assembly. No one has to meet with me to qualify for credentials of being "in the church." You are the assembly when you assemble with the others. Never exclude or withdraw for preference and opinion and DO NOT TRY TO DO SOMETHING FOR GOD and everything else the Lord will handle.

The Local Church error is way too much top-down thinking. The assembly is bottom-up practical building.

Lee taught that there must be a practical assembly for the brothers to bring problems to when it could not be resolved by two or three. According to this view, the assembly must be mostly about solving the problems. Rather, the assembly is mostly about displaying the riches of Christ that we enjoy with one another.

Meet with the believers and let God's glory shine forth in your gathering and let Him worry about who is right enough.
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Old 07-24-2008, 06:42 PM   #3
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YP,

I follow your point. Basically the problem with the one church one city practice comes in when someone insists on a certain human leadership.

The link between one church and one eldership is stamped in LC thinking. There was one young brother who debated with us for a long time who was firmly convinced that you couldn't have a one church without one eldership. He considered coordination under one leadership as evidence of genuine "practical oneness." But as I indicated, there is no way to determine with whom that eldership rests except by mutual agreement and consent, which most ironically, actually puts the power of leadership with the members, since they determine by consent who the leaders are.

The LC has it backwards. They say that the elders are determined by someone above them (some apostle or "work") and the elders dictate to the members. But the problem comes in with determining who has the authority to appoint elders, or with otherwise determining who the elders are. We have no way of knowing for sure who this is. So difference of opinion are bound to happen. And since there is no practical, objective way to determine who the elders are, let alone the apostles, the whole idea of practicality of the LC city-church model flies out the window.

This is precisely what we see happening today when there is more than one group vying for the privilege of being a particular city's church.

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Old 07-24-2008, 09:49 PM   #4
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You are the assembly when you assemble with the others.
YP:

Your post brought to mind, somewhat, the phrase "to each his own." It is certainly somehting when a Christian group - who internally believes to be following God's way - can nevertheless be unjudgmental of local free groups around them. The question I have, however, is whether there is an affirmative obligation to engage, meet with, coordinate with, etc... the other gorups around you? Or is mutual respect enough?

Put another way, is it the 'local church' when they don't actually, in time and space, assemble?

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Old 07-25-2008, 05:56 AM   #5
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YP:

Your post brought to mind, somewhat, the phrase "to each his own." It is certainly something when a Christian group - who internally believes to be following God's way - can nevertheless be nonjudgmental of local free groups around them. The question I have, however, is whether there is an affirmative obligation to engage, meet with, coordinate with, etc... the other groups around you? Or is mutual respect enough?

Put another way, is it the 'local church' when they don't actually, in time and space, assemble?

Peter
I do not advocate "to each his own" but you have asked a good question, Peter.

Based upon the concept of the locality doctrine I have received, and tell me if you did not hear this, but the brothers and sisters in the Baptist churches in my locality are in actuality part of the unique assembly of God here, simply, and unfortunately, are meeting in a division.

One clear mandate is THAT we assemble. Those who assemble are obviously the assembly. Those who would decline to coordinate for the practical purposes for which coordination is directed in the New Testament demonstrate their intention to remain separate and then we don't need to concern ourselves with further analysis. But the thinking gets off when a group attempts to establish and maintain some form of group identity other than that of the general assembly in our respective places which we are all spontaneously a part of by faith in Christ.

The Local Church makes a pretense of having such a general assembly identity as their only character but, at least, for those of us fellowshipping here, we can honestly state with knowledge that this is not true and that such a claim is unfortunately a false self-delusion. I would like to tell my dear brothers there that no matter how strenuously you insist that you are in the genuine "local churches," your strong will cannot change at least this reality. You are in something else and you can't see it and you need the eye salve, dear brothers. (This really breaks my heart.)

In other words, if I understand you correctly, Peter, you postulate Group A and Group B who decline to cooperate in the breaking of the bread. I don't think you can rely upon "mutual respect" to win the day there. Anyone who declines to break bread with another genuine believer for anything but reasons of gross sinfulness is themselves guilty of causing a division. To say "we break bread as and with Group A and not as and with Group B" is the very definition of a division. Someone else may know the verses better than I do but I think I have seen this principle by now. Again, if we declare that our bread breaking is in oneness but only give lip service to the notion as it relates to someone else doing the same thing, our oneness isn't really oneness. Yet surely our lack of oneness, or any other grave problems that might be seen in the churches in Revelation, doesn't destroy God's desire and purpose in the Christian meetings. He earnestly seeks to be manifested among His saints and will build all the saints together into the unique assembly as those saints afford Him opportunity.

It's not a matter of our declarations or considerations. It's a matter of His inward realities and outward expressions.

On a further point, it is against nothing in the New Testament that there are parties within the assembly, even if the ultimate goal is to be in one accord. Parties are simply not the same thing as making a division. The word "quarantine" comes to my mind in this context. If some brothers feel that some other brother's teaching is problematic, divisive, confusing, etc., does "turning away" really mean "disfellowshipping?" I do not think so. The correct response is to help the saints to understand what the problems are with the other teachings and to show them what the Bible actually says which contradicts such things.

Coming back to my main point, even if that brother's worrisome teachings continue to be a trouble to you, how do you ban him from the table meetings? How do you have that right, unless this is YOUR table meeting, rather than the Lord's table meeting? Those who fail to discern the Body will be dealt with directly by the Lord.

All of these things of churchiness proceed from not honoring the Lord's real headship of His Body in our practical assembly and instead relying upon the notion of the "universal church" and the exercise of the "deputy authority" therein. God's authority is a big theme in the New Testament but it is not something to be played with and immitated as we have seen shamefully done in so many ways. We cannot assume we have God's authority by reason of maleness, age, loyalty, correctness, or any of the other reasons for which people in the world assert they have the right to be acknowledged as the leader in charge. When God's speaking is frustrated, He'll use a donkey.

You know, Witness Lee used to use the word "inoculate" when discussing how to deal with various dissenting opinions. That's a good word. It means you are working on something to help fight off the sickness from within. "Quarantine" has a similar relationship to the semantic domain of "health" but it implies that a diagnosis has been made by an expert and that the recommended solution is further separation. I don't think that's such a good word. And practically speaking, I'll be frank, "quarantine" as I have heard practiced by the Local Church, is really just "amputation." That's the technique of either the most extreme life-saving last-hope measure or an unskilled surgeon. And there is no hope of healing from an amputation.

I have more within me but I have no more time at present.

I apologize that I must stop here.
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Old 07-25-2008, 07:54 AM   #6
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Default The practicality of meeting vs. divisiveness?

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Based upon the concept of the locality doctrine I have received, and tell me if you did not hear this, but the brothers and sisters in the Baptist churches in my locality are in actuality part of the unique assembly of God here, simply, and unfortunately, are meeting in a division.

One clear mandate is THAT we assemble. Those who assemble are obviously the assembly. Those who would decline to coordinate for the practical purposes for which coordination is directed in the New Testament demonstrate their intention to remain separate and then we don't need to concern ourselves with further analysis. But the thinking gets off when a group attempts to establish and maintain some form of group identity other than that of the general assembly in our respective places which we are all spontaneously a part of by faith in Christ.

The Local Church makes a pretense of having such a general assembly identity as their only character but, at least, for those of us fellowshipping here, we can honestly state with knowledge that this is not true and that such a claim is unfortunately a false self-delusion. I would like to tell my dear brothers there that no matter how strenuously you insist that you are in the genuine "local churches," your strong will cannot change at least this reality. You are in something else and you can't see it and you need the eye salve, dear brothers. (This really breaks my heart.)
A quick question from the Baptist bleacher seat...from my perspective, I assemble at a "local" church in my community...one of say, 8-10 meeting places. The "local" assemblies meeting places happen to have "Baptist," "Church of Christ," "Community Church," "Foursquare Church," and a few other titles on their signs. However, I know that I could walk into any one of them on any given Sunday and break bread with these fellow believers. Likewise, if other believers show up to break bread in our fellowship, no one is withholding the bread. So, where does the assumption come that we (who attend a fellowship with a sign on the lawn) are divisive or are insisting that "we are the one genuine church" in the neighborhood. That really just isn't happening...at least not in my small community. So, could it be the group that is doing that kind of "insisting" is the one who is divisive?

We do have "community" gatherings, where we invite all believers in the area to join in at one of the buildings...but again, the practicality of it all is that there is not a building large enough to hold us all on a regular basis. So, we coexist, each congregation, or assembly if you will, worshipping with our "few" brothers and sisters -- our group meets at 10:45 a.m, while there are two services 8:30 (contemporary) and 11:00 (traditional) worship services at a group who assembles a few miles away. Why is the assumption (not yours, necessarily, but someone is assuming and teaching), that there is something wrong with that model or practice. And furthermore, in my rural community of a couple of "sister towns," there is no Lee-like or Nee-like assembly that I know of...so what do the local believers in our area do? Do we wait for someone to claim the ground and then all head over there? Or, should we build a giant church in the middle of town and all meet there? Or, should we not be meeting in our current buildings at all becauses the group that has gathered in one place might speak in tongues, and in another place they might not? Or, in one congregation they sing hymns and in another they sing with a guitar and drum? I don't see us as divisive Christians...rather, we are all just "practically" assemblying with brothers and sisters where we seem to "fit," but we are not fighting one another or "insisting" we've got it all figured out...my guess is that we would all find that while we "disagree" on some things, we all agree that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we are saved by His grace, and that we long to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Can you explain why (or if) (from the LC perspective or from any of your individual perspectives) this would be considered a wrong way for Christians to meet on a Lord's day, or to break bread with one another?

Thanks...trying to understand the mindset...
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:19 AM   #7
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A quick question from the Baptist bleacher seat...from my perspective, I assemble at a "local" church in my community...one of say, 8-10 meeting places. The "local" assemblies meeting places happen to have "Baptist," "Church of Christ," "Community Church," "Foursquare Church," and a few other titles on their signs. However, I know that I could walk into any one of them on any given Sunday and break bread with these fellow believers. Likewise, if other believers show up to break bread in our fellowship, no one is withholding the bread. So, where does the assumption come that we (who attend a fellowship with a sign on the lawn) are divisive or are insisting that "we are the one genuine church" in the neighborhood. That really just isn't happening...at least not in my small community. So, could it be the group that is doing that kind of "insisting" is the one who is divisive?

We do have "community" gatherings, where we invite all believers in the area to join in at one of the buildings...but again, the practicality of it all is that there is not a building large enough to hold us all on a regular basis. So, we coexist, each congregation, or assembly if you will, worshipping with our "few" brothers and sisters -- our group meets at 10:45 a.m, while there are two services 8:30 (contemporary) and 11:00 (traditional) worship services at a group who assembles a few miles away. Why is the assumption (not yours, necessarily, but someone is assuming and teaching), that there is something wrong with that model or practice. And furthermore, in my rural community of a couple of "sister towns," there is no Lee-like or Nee-like assembly that I know of...so what do the local believers in our area do? Do we wait for someone to claim the ground and then all head over there? Or, should we build a giant church in the middle of town and all meet there? Or, should we not be meeting in our current buildings at all becauses the group that has gathered in one place might speak in tongues, and in another place they might not? Or, in one congregation they sing hymns and in another they sing with a guitar and drum? I don't see us as divisive Christians...rather, we are all just "practically" assemblying with brothers and sisters where we seem to "fit," but we are not fighting one another or "insisting" we've got it all figured out...my guess is that we would all find that while we "disagree" on some things, we all agree that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we are saved by His grace, and that we long to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Can you explain why (or if) (from the LC perspective or from any of your individual perspectives) this would be considered a wrong way for Christians to meet on a Lord's day, or to break bread with one another?

Thanks...trying to understand the mindset...
I think maybe your small-town situation is significantly different from many but still I would say that it should be better without a sign on the lawn since the tendency is to rally around the flag, at least on some level. (Which, not coincidentally is the precise error of a group of people moving somewhere and "taking the ground!") And surely you are aware that there are some, even many, groups who would refuse the bread breaking in oneness that you suggest is possible among the congregations in your place.

The problem is partly one of terminology on a certain level. You consider each of the meeting places to be an "assembly" but we are discussing the fact that each of the believers in those congregations is actually part of the one "assembly" in that place and your special group meetings are potentially a difficulty for the practical oneness with the other believers in that place. It's not that saying you are the "one true church" is the problem; rather in your case, it's the opposite issue entirely. Probably your fitting in in a particular congregation is according to your personal preference or family tradition rather than the cross of Christ and we really should submit to the Lord with regard to where and how we meet. Your memberships in the various groups are certainly not fully interchangeable, even if they aren't as rigid as they once were in Christian history. And surely there are other groups which do not feel to participate in what might be called a trans-denominational fellowship that you would invite them to, probably mostly on the basis of your particular sign, which they do not accept or condone. Your sign can become a cause for stumbling both to yourselves and to others. At the same time, you don't need to have a properly constituted establishment of LSM either. You and the other believers in that town are completely in control of whether or not you meet as the Lord desires. No imprimatur from a pope or college of cardinals could affect the reality anyway.

At the end of the day, I think the Lord is a whole lot less concerned about the sign on the lawn than Local Church people think He is. Lee dismissed the Lord's blessing and presence in the other places and I believe this is evidence of his lack of clear vision concerning the reality of the assembly. For Lee, the assembly was something of a defintion which we should endeavor to have precisely match the scriptures and, hopefully, but sometimes almost as an afterthought, there should be the life and love and glory of God present there. What I've been studying and discussing recently is the opposite view entirely, a view that is aided by discarding the antiquated notion of catholicism but instead focusing on the the reality of what really is the assembly. When you meet and do not exclude and God is manifest among you, I would defy any one who insisted that their definition is greater than the reality of God's glory. Talk about an empty form! If we meet and Christ is there, while we can always seek to do better, we should not be too critical of the details and problems.

Essentially, you propose an analysis of denominational groups as "parties" within the local assembly rather than true "divisions." Without going too much into the issues of heirarchy and practical functioning of the members at this point, I think you see my point about practicality. Ultimately, one giant building isn't practical anyways, as any large city-church among the Local Church denomination with multiple meeting halls is testimony to. At the same time, some believers could carefully avoid meeting with the believers in Hall 3 for one reason or another and that would be no different than the signs on the lawn as far as that goes. And also, I know the Chinese and Spanish-speaking saints always have their own kind of things going on in the Local Church and that can be quite practically divisive as well.

But, I'd challenge you about this much, anyways: what's practical about the sign on the lawn except to distinguish your group from the other groups? In what way do these things help you to gain Christ or minister Christ to others? I'm not trying to be condemning here but just asking you to recognize that the signs aren't maybe such a great idea. And the signs actually represent your preferences and that's probably not the best idea in either since Christ wants us to be practically one with both the tongues-speakers and the non-tongues-speakers. The sign doesn't actually say "tongues-speakers only" but it kind of does once you get inside and the people meeting there pressure you to seek "The Baptism." Surely we can all come up with other examples of this sort of thing.

But if there are practically separate groups and there are non-sinful customs that grow up among them in their meetings but they remain in real and living fellowship with all the other believers in the general assembly of God in that place, and not merely among those with the same sign, the sign doesn't really mean much anyway, does it? In fact, the rigid enforcement of uniformity not only among the smaller groups but even among the general assemblies is just a huge error that is born out of the concept of "universal church" that I just can't seem to get over.

So, in other words, I hear you but I'd suggest that it's way too easy to become accustomed to and even protective of the distinctions and separations and this is precisely what the enemy is always attempting to engineer among us...
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:02 AM   #8
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Probably your fitting in in a particular congregation is according to your personal preference or family tradition rather than the cross of Christ and we really should submit to the Lord with regard to where and how we meet.
Are we free to choose among assemblies (all other things being "equal") according to personal preference?

I think is a key sticking point. Of course, I would agree that we can't just meet anywhere we like IF the Lord has somewhere particular He desires me to meet, even if it is against my preference.

However, are we certain - in a context where there are numerous free groups or others that aren't in division to choose from - that meeting based on our personal preferences is contrary to God's will?

This issue is a similar discussion to whether God permits freedom to use rock-bands or freedom in how we preach the gospel to wide varieties of people.

While slightly off-point, below is something I had written previously in a conversation with someone about the use of rock-music to reach young people, both as a gospel tool as well as a practice in the regular assembly. I think it bears on this question concerning the liberty we may or may not have in pursuing "preferences" - be it in choice of assembly, in practices of the assembly, or in preaching the gospel:

Christ Himself, Paul and the other apostles spoke much about and often confronted the need for freedom in the gospel. The point, of course, is not "freedom for freedom sake," but rather should have one end, to bring the all-inclusive Christ to others! At the end of the day, people should be not be focused on "methods," but rather their First Love, Christ. However, Christ is so expansive and he himself made himself all things to all men, that He might reach people where they were at. Whereever Christ, or Paul, went they could build bridges to their hearers.

The open invitation of the gospel brought the clash of Jewish and Gentile customs and lifestyles. As Christ became "the end of the law for righteousness," Old Testament ceremonial laws had to be approached in a way that now clarified the grace and freedom we enjoy in the gospel (Colossians 2:13-3:2). As Paul and others expanded the reach of the gospel to other peoples, the ways of approaching people changed.
On one hand, in the one new man, there is no Jew and there is no Greek. (Col. 3:11). There is only Christ who is all in all. The Lord is Lord of all, with abounding riches for all who call on Him (Rom 10:12). On the other hand, when preaching the gospel, Paul became "all things to all men" in order to reach unbelievers with the gospel of Christ. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 9. He became a Jew to reach the Jews. He lived under the law to reach those who lived under the law. He became weak to reach the weak.Consider Paul at Athens beginning a philosophical discussion using their heathen poets. (Acts 17). Consider Paul’s reasoning for circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3)) but refusing to circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3-5).

Yes, it is true that gospel is just “just Christ Himself” and our various methods or preferences could get in the way of that. But we should not say that as a slogan "We must preach Christ alone" in retort to those who would use "methods" or "culture" to reach people. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul was being extremely practical, not simply speaking "high truths." When he said he became all things to all men, it was a practical statement. He compares preaching the gospel to the training of an athlete. His "methods" were so that his preaching wasn't mere "shadowboxing." The phrase, "the gospel is just Christ Himself" is a true one, but if we are not reaching people, we might be "shadowboxing." What we think is "just Christ" may actually be our own unexamined practices, habits or culture.

Paul explicitly addresses this freedom in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22: 19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. …21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
and in Galatians 5:1: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery
Note that it doesn't just say "Christ has set us free." That phrase would mean simply we are free from sin. Rather, this verse doesn't just tell us what we are free from, but also what we were freed for: namely, for freedom. Of course, this is not a freedom to do whatever we wish. Indeed, we are slaves of Christ. But, in order for the multifarious wisdom of God (which far exceeds our human-contrived methods) may be made known through the church, we must realize that we are free from our traditions, our cultural ways of doing things - to pursue and to preach Christ however He might lead us.
And again, the purpose is always to lead others to Christ. The gospel itself should never be perverted simply for "success"- but the message of the gospel far exceeds the boundaries of any one method.

The way that Jesus dealt with the woman at the well (John 4) was out of the norm and in the end he brought the conversation and focus back to the central foundation – Christ Jesus reminded the disciples (John 4:34-35) to keep their eyes open and look around to see the fields ripe for harvest. We need to see that we’re free to make changes in anything to which God’s Word doesn’t speak directly. So, for example, we can change musical instruments used in worship, or the times of worship, or the technologies we use. The bottom line still needs to help us to be better able to share the Word with more clarity with more people so that in the end they can clearly see Christ.

In conclusion: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love" (Galatians 5:13).

If our object is Christ, and to serve one another in love, do not restrict one another freedom to fulfill this command unconstrained by our limitations of traditions or methods.


Is there a parallel to the "choice of assembly" question?

Peter
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:06 AM   #9
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I like Igzy’s basic discussion and also YP’s addition of the question about what is the assembly.

Taking Igzy’s approach of practicality, we might even take the issue to an even greater extreme. What if there are so many Christians in an city that even the idea of one controlling eldership is absurd. But assembly by assembly the faithful meet together on a regular basis. They may develop differences in understanding of side issues over time, and my also develop differing outward practices. But they continue to be fully open to each other and to the believers within each other group. If any happen to be at the meeting of one of the other groups when the Lord’s Table was observed, they are fully welcome. In fact, they are treated in all respects as if they are a regular part of the group even when they are otherwise strangers only there for a visit.

In short, does having a preference in who you regularly meet with create a problem if there is practically no barrier between the groups?

If the answer is “no,” then what must be added in the separation of these groups to make their separate existence “sectarian” (in an un-scriptural sense)? Does more regular fellowship with other groups with similar preferences make them sectarian relative to the groups with which fellowship is more sporadic? Does the amount of fellowship with any other particular group in and of itself create a situation of sectarianism?

Now. Let’s go the last step. If an affiliation of assemblies of like minds decides to have some of their leaders join in a process of doing the “heavy lifting” of studying scripture and providing more consistent direction for the group (such as through a seminary or even a (gasp) headquarters) are they now sectarian if their stance remains open to all believers?

I know what I think about these questions.

So in terms that the LC understands, is a denomination by definition sectarian (in an unscriptural way), or is it so only if it willfully excludes other believers or insists on more than the common elements of faith for inclusion in their group?

If the answer is the latter, then I submit that my observation is that the LC is clearly sectarian and some denominations are not.

So returning to the original question, I think YP is more correct. An assembly is an assembly. There is nothing sacred about city boundaries so that a discussion about multiple groups in an area is irrelevant as a point of contention. The issue is not separate assemblies. It is not even names on a sign outside the assembly. It is the inclusion or exclusion of any particular Christian that walks through their doors because of something outside of the basics of the faith or heresy.
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:55 AM   #10
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So in terms that the LC understands, is a denomination by definition sectarian (in an unscriptural way), or is it so only if it willfully excludes other believers or insists on more than the common elements of faith for inclusion in their group?

If the answer is the latter, then I submit that my observation is that the LC is clearly sectarian and some denominations are not.
Hold on!

I'm asserting that being sectarian is all about practicality not theory.

Thus, groups can be more or less sectarian and it's not a question of some kind of either/or fallacy. Moreover, all the members of those groups are part of the one unique assembly in that place, which is not under any kind of an earthly universal coordinated administration.

An assembly with some congregations meeting with the dreaded works of the Nicolaitans is still one of the Lord's own assemblies. The majority of the various meetings of believers in town might hold to those teachings and works and it might work as a strong frustration to the Lord's practical building in that place. This is not good and should not be celebrated or condoned. Moreover, to the extent that others would require that I submit to the authority of their particular hierarchies, well, that's a practical problem, isn't it? People become sectarian by insisting upon such things.

All I'm suggesting is that it is theoretically possible for believers who are nominally associated with various denominations to still participate in the practical manifestation of the assembly which is God's own intent and purpose. The groups, the denominations, do not really exist. All that really exists are all the believers and the problems that the enemy continually raises to prevent God's glory from being shown forth in the oneness.

In the Local Church, we were all taught that the only way to go on was to abandon all the denominations and only meet as "the local church." Well, without saying the denominations are healthy or preferable or even acceptable, they really aren't the issue, either. We need to stop trying to put God in our kind of a box. We need to accept that Christ may do some building within the meetings of the denominations. In fact, I would testify that at least I have seen some of this. God's ultimate goal is thwarted at some point because the new wine always bursts the old wineskins but, here's the point to consider: how does the wineskin remain forever new? It can only be so if it is Christ Himself alone.

THAT is my point. If we meet in Christ and fellowship in Christ and magnify Christ ONLY, the other sectarian matters become poor historical anomalies and not a big deal to the Lord.

The LC uses the most dire terms to describe the denominations but although there's perhaps some ground to go off about Mystery Babylon the Great as the Mother of all the Harlots of the Earth, someone please find me the denunciation of all "her daughters" in the Bible. I'm having trouble finding that for some reason and, to be blunt, "harlotry" and "adultery" really aren't the same thing at all. In fact, "taking another name" is kind of by definition NOT the role of the harlot.

Did everyone just fail to perceive this confusion of terms in the zeal of putting down the sectarian believers?
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Old 07-25-2008, 01:35 PM   #11
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YP,

I think we’re talking past each other again. I understand what you are saying.

But I was going back to Igzy’s original postulate that began with the assumption that the LC’s doctrine of “one church in one city” is viable. Then if working it out results that one group is that one and another is not defeats the very doctrine. That effectively refutes the presumption that it is true.


My postulates are more from the angle of, assuming it is true in some way other than as the LC defines it:
  1. How do you define the church for purposes of that doctrine?
  2. What demarcations among assemblies are acceptable?
  3. What demarcations among assemblies are not acceptable?
While you may not have said it this directly, I understand you to say that the “ground of unity” should be more a statement of fact than a line of demarcation. I think that my examples are consistent with the notion that we are all one. I just took it from the arena of single assemblies in an almost first century kind of context into the 21st century where there are many assemblies and they are actually different in some aspects from one another, even within the same “denomination.”

As for my questions above, my answers, in brief, are:
  1. That for purposes of this doctrine, the church is universal and is expressed in assemblies that, while not homogenous, are actually one with each other because they realize their oneness is in Christ.
  2. Differences that are not in the nature of excluding others are acceptable.
  3. Differences that are an exclusion of participants in another group are not acceptable.
I have omitted issues relating to determinations of true heresy, and church discipline. These are viable exclusions even if there really is only one actual assembly in any particular city.

As to the notion of “quarantine” that is something other than excommunication, I wonder if this is not more accurately in the realm of refusing certain ones to speak without necessarily excluding their participation. In any case, I’m not sure that however such a thing is practiced it would prove or disprove the LC’s ground doctrine.

I think that the problem with the teaching of oneness is in its ramifications. If it is about agreeing on all points, then it is a fallacy that cannot actually be practiced since the ones claiming to be “it” violate their own teaching. But if it is a general openness to, and oneness with, all Christians for the very reason that they are Christians, then it is very real truth that is in operation in the midst of differences of opinion and ways of practice.

I may not be saying exactly what you are, or approaching the discussion in the same manner, but I think we are saying roughly the same thing.

Igzy has postulated that the LC’s “ground” teaching is a circular fallacy if it is about unifying all believers in all assemblies within a single city under one eldership and therefore one primary set of teachings and practices. You appear to agree, but ask “what is the church?” I like that question and have included the question in my hypotheticals. But until I reread Igzy’s post, my first question was “why do we even assume that there is anything doctrinal about ground relative to the church?” The answer is because Igzy said we would assume it to be so.

I think that Igzy has started by taking the ground of the church as taught, and the church as understood by the LC and shown that as a line of demarcation, the doctrine of the ground cannot operate. Since that is how it is actually carried out, the doctrine defeats itself, although its followers cannot see that. While I had trouble sticking with his line of reasoning (mostly because I kept forgetting that he was simply assuming the LC doctrines as correct) I ultimately see what he is saying.

I like your discussion beginning with “You want to break bread in oneness with all the believers. I want to do the same. We do so separately until the Lord joins us up. It's a test of our oneness what we do at that point.” It really is not about somehow gathering all believers in an area into one place (a large football stadium??) to meet together. It is about meeting with believers, whoever they are, and not being exclusive or sectarian. I’m not even sure if mostly meeting with certain ones because of preference is an issue unless it is coupled with an exclusion of those with different preferences.

So I start by accepting that Igzy’s proposition appears sound and therefore shoots the LC’s “one church one city” doctrine, as practiced, stone cold dead. So where do we go from there? I say we look closer at what is oneness and what is unity. I think you have already done this at some level.

While Paul gave the Corinthians a long talk (almost 4 chapters) about aligning behind various teachers, was the issue that some preferred certain a teacher over others or was it that there began to be an atmosphere of competition and rivalry because of those preferences? I think it was the latter.

I receive spiritual help from a man who is part of a group that believes salvation is not certain or permanent. He is welcome at my assembly, even to speak. I am welcome at his and would be welcome to speak if I were so inclined. But as a regular matter, I prefer not to need to deal on a regular basis with the disagreement about the security of salvation and mostly meet with others who think similarly. Are we sectarian for this? Has oneness been broken?

Our assembly has regularly prayed for all others in the area. We do not pray that they will see our way. We pray that God will be worshipped. That the gospel will go out. That the believers will grow. I do not know how many other assemblies practice this kind of thing on occasion. But even if not officially done, I believe that for many, the attitude of unity exists even where such outward displays do not occur.
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:54 PM   #12
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YP,

I think we’re talking past each other again. I understand what you are saying.

...
I think that the problem with the teaching of oneness is in its ramifications. If it is about agreeing on all points, then it is a fallacy that cannot actually be practiced since the ones claiming to be “it” violate their own teaching. But if it is a general openness to, and oneness with, all Christians for the very reason that they are Christians, then it is very real truth that is in operation in the midst of differences of opinion and ways of practice.

I may not be saying exactly what you are, or approaching the discussion in the same manner, but I think we are saying roughly the same thing.

OK yes.

I follow now.

The Local Church version of their kind of Doctrine of Locality is inherently divisive and therefore self-defeating and consequently perfectly impractical.

Basically the stand is that they are one with everyone else so long as everyone else becomes one with them.

What a mockery Satan has made out of what is supposed to be about building the Body...
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Old 07-26-2008, 06:11 AM   #13
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Default Handshaking vs. Embracing

hi All,

To me the practice of the local church meeting in one city only becomes real when the distinctions of each group, drop by drop, lose their significance. As I am meeting in a "local church" already, I will qualify this to include the distinctions of my own fellowship, till something that expresses the oneness of the believers is manifest for all to see.

I appreciate Only by Grace's practice within his smaller city, but would suggest that while it is commendandable to gather together, to withdraw back into each group shows the reality of the oneness has not yet been manifest. This I see as handshaking over the fence as opposed to a true embracing of each other as a testimony of the church.

I believe that the New Testament picture of how a local church for each city is possible to see "recovered," but to go to a city, set up a table and boldly declare "we have taken the ground" is true only in that the ground of another denomination has actually taken place.

However a fellowship can begin in a city where a vision of "taking the ground" may be developed with other brothers and sisters within that community that may start in gatherings as Only by Grace had mentioned and as this vision is confirmed by the Spirit, the fences may start to diminish. Gatherings of home meetings may begin to become more practical in neighborhoods, rather than based on which group you belong to. The distinctions that made each group different from each other will start to become less important and finally, a coordination free of any denominational restrictions can begin to occurr that can begin to impact the community in gospel outreach as well as works consistent with a compassionate, Christ filled church.

Am I dreaming? Is this something that had a wonderful beginning in Acts, but is impossible to realize today? I believe the desire for this is in every believers heart, as seen in Only by Graces post that can be sought after and prayed for in each city. Will it look like my "local church?" No, I don't think so, but if this vision is practiced, something will be manifest that even the unbelievers will have to acknowledge that a work of God has been done in this city.
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Old 07-26-2008, 10:21 AM   #14
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Igzy has postulated that the LC’s “ground” teaching is a circular fallacy if it is about unifying all believers in all assemblies within a single city under one eldership and therefore one primary set of teachings and practices. You appear to agree, but ask “what is the church?” I like that question and have included the question in my hypotheticals. But until I reread Igzy’s post, my first question was “why do we even assume that there is anything doctrinal about ground relative to the church?” The answer is because Igzy said we would assume it to be so.

I think that Igzy has started by taking the ground of the church as taught, and the church as understood by the LC and shown that as a line of demarcation, the doctrine of the ground cannot operate. Since that is how it is actually carried out, the doctrine defeats itself, although its followers cannot see that. While I had trouble sticking with his line of reasoning (mostly because I kept forgetting that he was simply assuming the LC doctrines as correct) I ultimately see what he is saying.
Mike,

Yes, this is what I was getting at, more or less. That is, preceding from the assumption that the LC practice of locality is viable, one can prove it is not viable.

It's not viable because depends on the required acceptance of an arbitrary set of elders as being indeed those whom God has set over the whole city. Since there is no way to prove with any degree of certainty that these elders actually have the position they claim, their assumed authority is fairly open to question and objection. Since these (LC) elders would never consider any objection legitimate, they are in fact imposing a unreasonable and indefensible requirement on the Christians in the city, and thus causing division. The model is self-defeating.

This glaring flaw in the doctrine has not been so evident because the LC has never had much competition from other groups in the same city claiming to be the church in the city. But that has begun to change. Now there are several cities which host more that one group claiming to be the city-church there. Which one is legit and how does one know? The LC model cannot answer this question, because it can't do the heavy-lifting real world problems require. When competing groups have appeared they have simply been brushed aside. The LC attitude has been "we thought of this first so we're the real thing" or "we follow the true apostle or "we have the best doctrines." These are decidedly unscriptural evidences of legitimacy which you would expect from a movement or denomination, not a legitimate church. The LC model has really only ever been a means to "we're-it-your-not" oneupmanship for churches in their movement, not a model for actually addressing all the problems which a genuine city church, if it could exist, would address.

Their model does not work because it is fundamentally flawed. But that doesn't mean you could not have a city-church. It just mean you have to give others the freedom to set up other "city-churches" in the same city. As soon as you insist on a particular leadership, you are imposing an arbitrary and unreasonable requirement on others.
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Old 07-26-2008, 11:47 AM   #15
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Default Fighting words "Ground of Locality"

Dear brothers and sisters,

Whenever I read a series of posts that addresses the so called ground of locality doctrine, I realize what a variety of understandings existed and what the evolution of the practice became and how far the present doctrine is from the original understanding. When the so called "church life" began in the 60s there was no such thing as a taking the ground meeting. The original thought behind the phrase "taking the ground" or "standing on the ground" was like a declaration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He is my personal savior. It was a declaration that all believers are one in Christ, and there is only one Body of Christ both universally and locally.

I can remember George Whitington in Denton along about 1967 explaining to a guest that the stand of the church was not "us four and no more." He explained that all the genuine believers in Denton comprised the "church in Denton." The basis for their gathering was not for a special doctrine or practice ie "security of the believer," or "speaking in tongue," etc but that all believers are one and they desired to express the oneness in a local practical way.

Eventually, the most serious development of the deviations wasthe phrase coming to mean the establishment of an LSM franchise. This turned everything upside down. This growing serious divisiveness became worse over time. Other things were going on which tended to mute the rising roar of protest in my spirit and in my mind. On several occasions over time, I heard from the Lord, my spirit and reason that we were drifting, drifting drifting and finally arrived at full fledged division by 1984. I had crises of conscience in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984,1986 and finally in 1989 I could go on no move and left.

I am so grateful to the Lord for moving me from Texas. Sheryl, my wife, told me after the move that my personality had changed during the 80s and a positive, optimistic happy person had become depressed and gloomy. She said she was worried for my mental health. The perversion of the desire to practice oneness with all believers was a big contributing factor to the inner turmoil. I believe the same could be said for many of the posters on this forum. Thus whenever "the ground of locality" comes up stand back for there is going to be plenty of action.

In Christ Jesus, there is hope for us all,

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Old 07-26-2008, 05:11 PM   #16
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The LC model has really only ever been a means to "we're-it-your-not" oneupmanship for churches in their movement, not a model for actually addressing all the problems which a genuine city church, if it could exist, would address.
I would only suggest that the genuine "city church" in fact does exist, that it is not this group or that group but indeed all the people in all the groups, that it is flawed and troubled and full of many things that it should not have but that it exists nonetheless and our goal should simply be to join the Lord in His labors therein without worrying at all about what some other group might or might not be doing so correctly.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:45 PM   #17
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Default What is an elder?

In every fellowship regardless of its size or affiliation there are a few mature ones who stand out, who have a good apprehension of the word and who have led proper lives as christians. You know brothers whom you feel you can confide in and whose wisdom in answering tough questions with practical, yet spiritual answers have been a help to you as you make tough decisions in your life. You can find the rest of the qualifications in Timothy and Titus.

These are elders.

There is not an arbitrary light that shines on them from the heavenlies that singles them out by God to be appointed as Elders; they simply have, whats the word from the other forum, uhh, let me remember, oh yes, Gravitas!

I'm sorry to add a little humor to how a previous poster considered the choosing of elders, but it helps to make my point; that Elders have walked the walk and will be so recognized by fellow members of their fellowship.

If there is a need to be apointed by apostles, the apostle will look for ones who have a position in the church of respect of others as well as some of the elements as described above. I do not see how it can be more simple than that.

Shawn

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Old 07-27-2008, 02:00 AM   #18
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Default Yeah, but what if we disagree.

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In every fellowship regardless of its size or affiliation there are a few mature ones who stand out, who have a good apprehension of the word and who have led proper lives as christians. You know brothers whom you feel you can confide in and whose wisdom in answering tough questions with practical, yet spiritual answers have been a help to you as you make tough decisions in your life. You can find the rest of the qualifications in Timothy and Titus.

These are elders.

There is not an arbitrary light that shines on them from the heavenlies that singles them out by God to be appointed as Elders; they simply have, whats the word from the other forum, uhh, let me remember, oh yes, Gravitas!

I'm sorry to add a little humor to how a previous poster considered the choosing of elders, but it helps to make my point; that Elders have walked the walk and will be so recognized by fellow members of their fellowship.

If there is a need to be apointed by apostles, the apostle will look for ones who have a position in the church of respect of others as well as some of the elements as described above. I do not see how it can be more simple than that.

Shawn
Hi Shawn,

You explanation really boils down to validation by personal assessment of qualifications. But it doesn't at all address what happens when there is disagreement on the assessments. Right, one group can follow one set leaders and another can follow the other set of leaders, but the LC model doesn't allow for this.

So your point still doesn't answer the question of how can you know which set of elders are in fact the ones over the whole city, or how you can know for sure who the apostle is.

Take Toronto, or Columbus, or any of these contested cities. Who are the real elders? And for that matter who is the real apostle now, Titus or the BBs? These are questions which cannot be answered definitively.

You ideas sound good in theory. But as I said before they can't do the heavy lifting of the real world problems of the LC model. When there has been disagreement of this kind in the past the result has been anger, accusations, recrimination without resolution.

As I said before, if the one city-church principle is really viable, then there must be a better means of solving these problems than simply pretending that it is evident to everyone exactly who the elders are and who the apostle is. Your claim of "simplicity" is being refuted by situations in real cities as we speak. Real people have been hurt by their being expected to pretend simplicity exists where there is none.
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Old 07-27-2008, 03:46 AM   #19
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There is not an arbitrary light that shines on them from the heavenlies that singles them out by God to be appointed as Elders; they simply have, whats the word from the other forum, uhh, let me remember, oh yes, Gravitas!
Let me also note that I never conveyed that there was "arbitrary light" shining on anyone. What I said was, for any group to require believers to accept a certain specific set of elders as being over the whole city is an arbitrary decision and thus one no one is qualified to make.

How can that group have such certainty that their elders are over everyone in the city to the point they can say all who do not submit to them are at odds with the city-church? It is indefensible. Yet, this is the LC model.
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Old 07-27-2008, 04:28 AM   #20
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Default The pure vs. the practical

Hi Igzy,

Sorry to sound so fundamentalist for starters, but the bible says that there are qualifications for elders, so it should be clear that this is a needed consideration for churches to practice. To drop this just because there may be disagreement does not seem to be a valid argument.

Yes, there have been ones hurt in this processs that I do not want to discount, but the politics of man can sometimes interfere in the operation of the church with disasterous results. Just looking at the history of the recovery and the leaven that came in to quench the Spirits moving in case after case as evidenced in many testimonies here more than proves this point.

But to discard a God provided position just because it may cause problems in all coming to agreement means that we do not give the Spirit the ability to confirm His choice in the hearts of the believers in that community. Its kind of like not praying for miracles so that we don't have to be disappointed if they do not happen.

The idea of a local church meeting in one city may sound good in theory, but appear impossible to realize practicaly is how many view these teachings. But many things of God are just this way, for He spoke in His word "With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible, (Mt.19:26)" the real thing that is lacking is our faith to pray and labor to call things that were once not being into being, according to His speaking.

The local church is a very high concept as described in the bible, that seems impossible to grasp, but so is trying to living up to the pattern of our Lord Jesus, Who lived a sinless life in a perfect union with our Father on this Earth. This would also seem impossible for us to achieve, but we each have received a heavenly calling that we apply to our lives to strive every day to realize this living according to the grace we receive from our Lord and Savior; Captian Jesus!

The living out of the church is the corporate testimony of individuals who are each striving to live individual testimonies of their union with God in Christ Jesus. When we practice together living our life in faith, we support one another, we help adjust one another, we pray for one another and we bear one another, to manifest something greater than the sum of the whole; this is the church.

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Old 07-27-2008, 04:31 AM   #21
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Let me also note that I never conveyed that there was "arbitrary light" shining on anyone. What I said was, for any group to require believers to accept a certain specific set of elders as being over the whole city is an arbitrary decision and thus one no one is qualified to make.

How can that group have such certainty that their elders are over everyone in the city to the point they can say all who do not submit to them are at odds with the city-church? It is indefensible. Yet, this is the LC model.
Hi Igzy,

Sorry for the arbitrary light thing, I mentioned later that I was using humor to illistrate a point, forgive me for not being more respectful to your post!

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Old 07-27-2008, 05:54 AM   #22
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Hi Igzy,

Sorry for the arbitrary light thing, I mentioned later that I was using humor to illistrate a point, forgive me for not being more respectful to your post!

Shawn
Shawn,

Oh, don't worry about that. Feel free to comment. It just seemed like you weren't really following my point.

I understand that elders are often generally recognized. But that standard is pretty thin gruel on which to require the submission of an entire city of Christians.

One of the problems I have with the LC model is that it is highly dependent on religious fervor overcoming the lack of an adequate instruction manual. So you get people saying things like, There is only one church per city so it has to work out "some how" Which is an implicit admission of a lack of adequate instruction for resolving the problems I've pointed out, while at the same time a recommitment to forging on with the pretense that those problems are not really problems. That is simply religious fervor, not wisdom. The fruit is predictable--breakdowns of fellowship resulting in animosity and division.


(I just read your longer post.)

I never said we should do away with elders. Neither did I say there is no one city-church.

What I said was that the model of city-churches set up by the LC where one eldership claims to be kings-of-the-hill over the whole city is indefensible.

Let me take on this point of yours:

But to discard a God provided position just because it may cause problems in all coming to agreement means that we do not give the Spirit the ability to confirm His choice in the hearts of the believers in that community. Its kind of like not praying for miracles so that we don't have to be disappointed if they do not happen.

Again, you are simply saying we should "try." The problem comes in when "trying" includes condemning other persons or groups because they do not see what you claim to see about who the elders are. This what the LC has always done. Please tell me what makes you so clear that you have the boldness to do this?

I never said God couldn't make everyone "clear" if he wanted to. The problem is that he hasn't done that yet and the LC because of that has fallen back on accusing those who don't agree with not cooperating with the "church." This in itself is divisive. So like I said, the seeds of destruction are implicit in the model.

The local church is supposed to be practical. As it stands its like a car designed for four wheels which only has three, yet the driver expects potential passengers to pretend it has four.
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Old 07-27-2008, 06:06 AM   #23
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As I said before, if the one city-church principle is really viable, then there must be a better means of solving these problems than simply pretending that it is evident to everyone exactly who the elders are and who the apostle is. Your claim of "simplicity" is being refuted by situations in real cities as we speak. Real people have been hurt by their being expected to pretend simplicity exists where there is none.
Igzy:

All of your considerations proceed upon implicit foundations about worldy organizational principles and authority, which is exactly where Witness Lee, the Local Church and all of its good Christian members became confused in the first place.

I submit to you that the Lord's model is absolutely about simplicity and that all of the complications are due to the fallen humans involved in a power struggle.

In the assembly, none has any power but the Head. The LSM and GLA groups can argue until the Lord returns for all I care but from my view way over here I can't see how either of them can lay claim to the "apostleship" or "eldership" of the "church" in those places except in terms of the fallen denominational structures they claim to decry.

When we speak about the assembly and the functioning of the gifts to the Body, we're just completely not in the realm of associations and institutions and titles and heirarchies and such, which is altogether wrapped up in the power struggle between the two branches of this denomination.

You would like to say which was right because people get hurt when they don't know who is right. But the reason people are getting hurt is because both are wrong and cannot become right. Just like Lee encouraged those people so long ago now to come out of the divisions and just meet in the proper oneness, that is the relevant charge to them today. All of the struggling about who is right, all of it, is the evidence that both are wrong.

That whole mess really sickens me, sorry to the supporters of either side who might be offended by this statement.
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Old 07-27-2008, 06:35 AM   #24
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YP,

I don't believe what I'm saying is based on worldly principles.

No offense, but I really don't think you've followed my point. I'm am not concerned about determining which group is right, either, because I'm not sure we can know.

I'm saying that the LC model claims to know which group is right (theirs), but really can give no one any practical way of determining which is right. That very fact to me shows their error.

My posts have been directed to those who believe in the LC model, not to you who obviously don't. My point is to refute the LC model, not to propose a replacement at this time. You are proposing a replacement, or a better way. That's fine, but it really has nothing to do with my argument. My argument is to show that the city-church model as practiced by the LC cannot work. I'm trying to make clear what I see as a severe weakness in it. I might like to talk about alternatives later, but the fact that you have an alternative does not mean I'm discussing the wrong thing now.

Let me try again. Two groups in a city. Both receive all believers and keep the faith. But each has different teaching and practice focuses. Both claim to be the city-church and to have the elders who are by necessity over the whole city. Each thinks the other is sectarian. Which one is the true church? I submit that, all things being equal, neither can know to the point that they can have the boldness to say the other definitely isn't. In other words, neither can do what the LCs do in claiming that everyone needs to join them, which amounts to an arbitrary requirement which is a seed of division.
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:15 AM   #25
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YP,

You seem to be saying that the LC, and the GLA, are both off, and that you see what they don't see.

Unfortunately, you are not going to convince any staunch believers in the LC's model of the local ground that their views on the subject are wrong simply by presenting an alternative interpretation of what the church is.

You are only going to convince them, it seems to me, by presenting an argument that shows what is fundamentally wrong with their view, that is, how it is internally self-contradictory and self-defeating.

This is what I'm trying to do.
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:33 AM   #26
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YP,

You seem to be saying that the LC, and the GLA, are both off, and that you see what they don't see.

Unfortunately, you are not going to convince any staunch believers in the LC's model of the local ground that their views on the subject are wrong simply by presenting an alternative interpretation of what the church is.

You are only going to convince them, it seems to me, by presenting an argument that shows what is fundamentally wrong with their view, that is, how it is internally self-contradictory and self-defeating.

This is what I'm trying to do.
I think a number of people outside the sphere of the influence of those organizations, including our brothers and sisters in general Christianity, can see what they don't see.

But I take your correction in love that I have mistaken your purpose in writing and will stand down.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:35 AM   #27
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Don,

I would commend the early followers for their purity in intent. I further do not condemn all of the LC for where the doctrine that slowly surfaced took those early practices. It was a subtle thing.

But with some of the history going back to Taiwan that we now have available, I believe that the practice and belief of the 60s was not the whole of Lee’s teaching. He introduced his doctrine in stages. Remember the discussion of that first meeting in Dallas in your living room? I recall from an earlier thread (probably on the BARM or possibly in your book) that while you did not understand the rush, someone thought you and George should hurry up and have that first meeting. It is now clear that someone felt that oneness was not enough. It took Lee’s version of oneness and not one of the others that that were about to do the same.

If they practiced in such a manner that the LC as you knew it then could not meet simultaneously with their group, then that speaks loudly of one or two other groups that technically followed the same one church in a city doctrine. And Lee knew that he could not set up his own group there without violating his own doctrine. But if you have to beat the others there, then there is something more than just the “ground” that is important to your meeting. It must not be acceptable to be in their group rather than in your own group.

In effect, there were sects that grew out of Nee’s teachings. The LC was but one. You did not know this. George probably did not either. But Lee and possibly some others did. There was already sectarianism buried underneath the “ground of oneness” that was taught. It would only truly surface over time.

It eventually drove you away. We can thank God for that.
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:24 AM   #28
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Thus whenever "the ground of locality" comes up stand back for there is going to be plenty of action.
Don,

Yes, but what is a Local Church discussion forum without a spirited discussion of the "local ground?"

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But if you have to beat the others there, then there is something more than just the “ground” that is important to your meeting. It must not be acceptable to be in their group rather than in your own group.

In effect, there were sects that grew out of Nee’s teachings.
Mike,

I've thought for a while that the local ground teaching is as much a tool to discredit all other groups as it is one to validate the LC. Any group that does not hold to the teaching becomes "easy pickin's" for LC refutal. They've shot 'em down for years with smirks on their faces.

The problem comes in when another group claims to be the city-church in a city in which an LC church resides. How can anyone know for sure in this case which is the true city-church?? Outside of blatant evidences, no one can. But the LC churches choose to either ignore or discredit these groups, a blatant contradiction of what they claim to believe. This basically torpedoes the whole church model which the LC has been following for the last 30 or more years. This is what I've been trying to show in this thread.

Oh, they've come up with all kinds of peripheral self-validations, mostly unscriptural or mis-scriptural. "We are in 'God's Economy'" (as if no one else is). "We have fellowship with other churches" (as if no one else does). "We are one with God's up-to-date ministry" (how can you possibly know that? besides, it's irrelevant.).

What's interesting about the above LC arguments is that they are all about self-promotion. They've got nothing to do with fulfilling the mission of the church, but rather are about defending their turf and lifting themselves up. They are about saying they are something no one else is. Why is that so important to them? It's juvenile. My seven-year-old is in that stage now. He always has to be first. Hopefully, by age ten, he'll have outgrown that.
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:45 AM   #29
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Let me try again. Two groups in a city. Both receive all believers and keep the faith. But each has different teaching and practice focuses. Both claim to be the city-church and to have the elders who are by necessity over the whole city. Each thinks the other is sectarian. Which one is the true church? I submit that, all things being equal, neither can know to the point that they can have the boldness to say the other definitely isn't. In other words, neither can do what the LCs do in claiming that everyone needs to join them, which amounts to an arbitrary requirement which is a seed of division.
I have a fundamental disconnect with this model, which is probably related to what Igzy is driving at. I am going to "think aloud" here and see if this is so.

I got a big red flag when I saw elders described as being over the whole city. Igzy maybe didn't characterize it this way deliberately, but the characterization, to me, highlights the absurdity of the hypothetical situation outlined. Elders are those who are the most mature in life, and therefore are the leading sheep. They take the lead to follow the Lamb wherever He may go.

Now the other sheep, depending on maturity, will either follow or not. If they are wise they will follow. If they are foolish and immature they will wander around in circles and be blown by every puff of wind that passes by. They will not progress very far in the race.

The elders are beneath everyone. They came to serve, just as the Son of Man came not to lord it over others but to serve. Recall when the Lord girded His loins and washed the disciple's feet, and commended them to do likewise. The elders, of their own initiative, due to maturity in life, and due the exalted vision of the glorified Christ which calls them forward, take the lead to be dust, to be nothing, to be beneath the feet of all, to serve all and not to be served by others.

Instead we have seen a top-down phenomenon; the elders are appointed by Central Headquarters, and then become the vehicles for imposing external demands upon the believers. To quote Igzy's scenario: "Everyone needs to join us (and then do what we say)".

Rather, the elder should take the lead to fall into the earth to die, and this is "leadership" precisely because it inspires other, mature saints to follow their example. This seems to be the opposite of the LSM model, which is tied to centralized, "top-down" earthly models of so-called "leadership".

I think this is related to Igzy's "Two groups -- who's the Boss?" dilemma, and in a causal way. But proposed scenario didn't make the issue explicit, which I wanted to do.

Believers have the authority to be children of God (John 1:12). Believers don't have the authority to tell others what they "need" to do. Lee got this basic christian truth wrong, and many have followed him in this error. I contend that it is behind the scenario Igzy depicted.

John wrote: "Diotrephes loves to be first" (3 John 1:9). There is a great warning, and a salvation, in that statement, if we are willing to hear it. Let Diotrephes' error be a salvation to us all.

p.s. I missed Igzy's last post while writing mine. His ending comment about the pre-adolescent "need to be first" I think shows that he and I are not so far apart in our thinking. I had ended my post the same way. My stress was that this is a root cause, and not effect, of the "one city-one church" dilemma.

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Old 07-28-2008, 08:34 AM   #30
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Shawn,

I never said we should do away with elders. Neither did I say there is no one city-church.

What I said was that the model of city-churches set up by the LC where one eldership claims to be kings-of-the-hill over the whole city is indefensible.

Let me take on this point of yours:

But to discard a God provided position just because it may cause problems in all coming to agreement means that we do not give the Spirit the ability to confirm His choice in the hearts of the believers in that community. Its kind of like not praying for miracles so that we don't have to be disappointed if they do not happen.

Again, you are simply saying we should "try." The problem comes in when "trying" includes condemning other persons or groups because they do not see what you claim to see about who the elders are. This what the LC has always done. Please tell me what makes you so clear that you have the boldness to do this?
Hi Igzy,

It seems the hardest thing for Christians to do listen to others, this is a big problem for me also; thanks for your patience!

The two points I think I heard are: condemning and imposing, I'll try to address the two.

Trying can lead to condemning, but is not always the case. If condemning is the fruit, the LSM model would appear to be the form, which leads to exclusivity. But trying can also led to acceptance and, dare I say, oneness, when the fellowship is led by the Spirit.

Concerning the imposing of an elder, I would say that regardless of the size of the city, the groups within each city will know whom the Lord has placed over them, then based on the qualifications of Timothy and Titus, the mature ones can be appointed. I would also mention my mistake of using elders in the singular, for there seems to be a number of elders appointed in the NT churches. This plurality allows fellowship among a group that ensures that the authority will not be placed squarely on the shoulders of one.

The model I am considering is not the LSM manual, but the bible and the normal progression of the growth of a church in a city. As it grows, leadership will become more important and the eldership will be established according to the need.

Concerning the who's right posturing that will be manifest in cities that are represented by many different groups, I will not have the boldness to say anything; but I have had many fellowships with many individual believers from many backgrounds, where the differences lost their priority as we grew to know each other and pursue righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

If it can happen individually I believe, in time, it can happen locally.

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Old 07-28-2008, 08:48 AM   #31
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Default Elders - Authority - Over others - Over the whole city???

I have been reading about a link between the ground of locality and elders over a whole city. Whoa!! Where did this elders business come from? I can never remember an issue being made that the ground of locality equals anybody being over anybody. I thought the New Testament taught elders in every church and elders in every city. Where is the over every church or over every city? The New Testament teaches leadership is serviceship not lordship. Here are just a few passages.

Mark 9:35, 35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all ."


Matt 20:24-28, 25 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Mark 10:42-45, 42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

All this political talk just makes my spirit sink. Trying to use this logic to address the issue of the ground of the church, the ground of locality, the ground of oneness or whatever phrase you would use does not apply. In the coming Kingdom age we may rule over cities but in this age we are called to guard the oneness of the Spirit until we all arrive at the oneness of the Faith and to be eager to serve one another in the meantime and to love our neighbor and shine into the darkness of the world around us.

As believers there is a big issue we should consider and confront. It is called division. The Lord prayed for a oneness that the world could see. Paul made it very clear that division was a work of the flesh and warned against any practice that divided the Body of Christ.

Forget the who can rule over who issue and consider our call to keep the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.

In Christ Jesus,

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Old 07-28-2008, 11:27 AM   #32
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All this political talk just makes my spirit sink. Trying to use this logic to address the issue of the ground of the church, the ground of locality, the ground of oneness or whatever phrase you would use does not apply.
Hope,

By "political talk" and "logic" are you talking about the argument I'm making in this thread? I don't think I'm saying anything political. As for logic, I think God is very logical. He created logic. You can't form a meaningful sentence without logic. So, I ask, please try to bear with me and follow what I'm saying.

It's no secret that the LC sees the local church in the city as one submitting to one set of elders. This is very much implicit in their model. It's their "ace in the hole" over their members. In other words, basically the elders are the church. I recall the preface to one of Lee's books called Elder's Management of the Church which was written by a Chinese elder saying "the center of the church is the elders." This is the LSM/LC thought. By the very idea of thinking one group of elders (theirs) by necessity represents the whole city-church they are saying that the elders are over the whole city-church. This is their thought, not mine, and there is no pretending it is not part and parcel with their package.

My purpose is to show that thought to be internally self-defeating to the idea of oneness.

I agree with you and others, Hope. Elders should be servants. To address Shawn's thought as well, if an entire city of Christians happens to agree to follow one group of elders then more power to them! That's fine. But no one can say that therefore every other Christian that comes along must submit to those elders too. The day could come, and has historically, like night follows day, when elders go bad and lead believers in sectarian ways. At that point, if a small group of believers, still endeavoring to keep the oneness, decide to meet separately and follow other leaders, I think they are perfectly in their right to do so, and the bigger group has no right to condemn them or call them renegades or any of the other nasty names that LSMers have thrown about like teenagers insulting each other in a chat room.

If you think about it, they must have that right to go the way the feel led. Otherwise the Church has no way to reform itself. I think we all believe that the more Christians are one, the better. But the Lord has to be able to break up entrenched, ossified, oppressive religiosity. Some things cannot be reformed from within.

Why didn't the Lord just plainly specify one church per city? I think it's because if he had it would have been much harder to reform once religion got entrenched. History would have unfolded differently. The Catholic church would have always set up one "church" per city and any rivals would have easily been condemned as rebellious and un-Biblical. The Reformation might have been defeated. Who knows? Anyway, I think the Lord always provides a way for His real seekers to break away from the religion of the day, even when that religion is embodied in the "local church."

Who knows how many believers miserably remain in the LSM churches simply because their consciences are compelled by the false application of the city-church teaching--that to cross the elders is to cross the church.

This is what I am taking on in this thread. I hope people will try to understand that.
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Old 07-28-2008, 11:59 AM   #33
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Hope,

By "political talk" and "logic" are you talking about the argument I'm making in this thread? I don't think I'm saying anything political. As for logic, I think God is very logical. He created logic. You can't form a meaningful sentence without logic. So, I ask, please try to bear with me and follow what I'm saying.

It's no secret that the LC sees the local church in the city as one submitting to one set of elders. This is very much implicit in their model. It's their "ace in the hole" over their members. In other words, basically the elders are the church. I recall the preface to one of Lee's books called Elder's Management of the Church which was written by a Chinese elder saying "the center of the church is the elders." This is the LSM/LC thought. But the very idea of thinking one group of elders (theirs) by necessity represents the whole city-church they are saying that the elders are over the whole city-church. This is their thought, not mine, and there is no pretending it is not part and parcel with their package.

My purpose is to show that thought to be internally self-defeating to the idea of oneness.
Dear Brother Igzy,

Logic is fine. I was not opining against logic but rather the logic of elder-rulership over a church and city as a reason to argue against the ground of locality, oneness etc. I am not aware of the book you mentioned. Sorry LSM/LC if you think the center of the church is the elders, no, no, no. The center of the church is Christ, only Christ. Hopefully, any elders in a church will be focused on Christ and feeding the lambs not on pushing through some program or expanding their turf or protecting their turf against defections. The idea of "the ministry" as carried out by "the Work" is a horrorific source of problems and abuses.

I will continue to refer to the problem WN started by linking the church with a bogus entity "the Work." Take away this concept and 95% of the LSM/LC problems will go away. I look forward to unraveling this entanglement in later writings.

In Christ Jesus,

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:12 PM   #34
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Hope,

Thanks. My point in this thread has never been to totally refute the city-church teaching, but rather to refute the idea that oneness with the city-church can be reduced to oneness with a certain set of elders, which is the the LSM/LC model. They think it makes the church "practical." However, I think anyone's insistance on following one particular set of elders is itself a seed of division, because there is no way to prove to everyone's satisfaction that those elders are indeed who their advocates claim them to be.

As for the book, http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=%23%22%5DO%5C%0A, click on this link. The quote I gave is right there in the preface. It's there in black and white in the second sentence: "The center of the church is the elders."

Your thoughts on this issue are welcome and needed.
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:13 PM   #35
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Don,

I would commend the early followers for their purity in intent. I further do not condemn all of the LC for where the doctrine that slowly surfaced took those early practices. It was a subtle thing.

Remember the discussion of that first meeting in [/FONT]Dallas in your living room? I recall from an earlier thread (probably on the BARM or possibly in your book) that while you did not understand the rush, someone thought you and George should hurry up and have that first meeting. It is now clear that someone felt that oneness was not enough. It took Lee’s version of oneness and not one of the others that that were about to do the same.

In effect, there were sects that grew out of Nee’s teachings. The LC was but one. You did not know this. George probably did not either. But Lee and possibly some others did. There was already sectarianism buried underneath the “ground of oneness” that was taught. It would only truly surface over time.

It eventually drove you away. We can thank God for that.
George and I were not aware of any need to rush up the meetings in Dallas in order to beat the Edwards fellowship. I seem to recall something on the Barm, perhaps from Thankful, about someone in Houston announcing our desire to begin to have the Lord's table. Maybe someone in Dallas added that to make the story more exciting. Folklore is like that.

I later came to realize that there was competition between the various disciples of WN and that this had lead to division in various places. Thus you over riding point is valid. Again, it goes back to this thing called "the Work." It spawned competition like that in the early days of Corinth.

Yes, you are right. The sectarian practice in the name of "oneness" drove me away and it still causes my spirit to grieve and I am angry and I trust I sin not in this matter.

In Christ Jesus,

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:31 PM   #36
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As for the book, http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=%23%22%5DO%5C%0A, click on this link. The quote I gave is right there in the preface. It's there in black and white in the second sentence: "The center of the church is the elders."
Igzy:
They don't let us deep link.

Can you give me a title and, hopefully, a chapter reference to get back to it?
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:34 PM   #37
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Hope,

I have a question. Aren't you leading a city-church in North Carolina? Isn't there an LSM city-church there, too?

If so, what do you feel your standing (to use an old LC term) is in relation to that LSM church? How do they feel about you? Do you feel that other Christians are at odds with the city-church because they do not meet with you? What is your attitude about the legitimacy of other groups in the city?

Thanks,

Igzy
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:38 PM   #38
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Igzy:
They don't let us deep link.

Can you give me a title and, hopefully, a chapter reference to get back to it?
Hmmm, it works for me.

The book is Elder's Management of the Church by Witness Lee. The quote is in the second sentence of the Preface.
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Old 07-28-2008, 12:59 PM   #39
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Hmmm, it works for me.

The book is Elder's Management of the Church by Witness Lee. The quote is in the second sentence of the Preface.
can't get it in either IE6 or Firefox2

Thank you, though, and keep me in mind for future citations!
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:15 PM   #40
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Hope,


It's no secret that the LC sees the local church in the city as one submitting to one set of elders. This is very much implicit in their model. It's their "ace in the hole" over their members. In other words, basically the elders are the church.

My purpose is to show that thought to be internally self-defeating to the idea of oneness.

I agree with you and others, Hope. Elders should be servants. To address Shawn's thought as well, if an entire city of Christians happens to agree to follow one group of elders then more power to them! That's fine. But no one can say that therefore every other Christian that comes along must submit to those elders too.


Why didn't the Lord just plainly specify one church per city? I think it's because if he had it would have been much harder to reform once religion got entrenched. History would have unfolded differently. The Catholic church would have always set up one "church" per city and any rivals would have easily been condemned as rebellious and un-Biblical. The Reformation might have been defeated. Who knows? Anyway, I think the Lord always provides a way for His real seekers to break away from the religion of the day, even when that religion is embodied in the "local church."

Who knows how many believers miserably remain in the LSM churches simply because their consciences are compelled by the false application of the city-church teaching--that to cross the elders is to cross the church.

This is what I am taking on in this thread. I hope people will try to understand that.

Hi Igzy,

I thought the Lord did address the church in each city in Chapter 2 and 3 of Revelation?

However I do not want to justify the one church = one city, based on these verses, I will only say that the Lord could say "the church in Philadelphia" because at this early time in church history, all the Christians were one in each city. Today it is different, for there are many groups giving many names to each of their fellowships and the purity of one church = one city has been lost.

Has this been recovered by taking the ground? I do not think any group that "takes the ground" can claim the one church one city, for the reality of all the Christians being in oneness has truly not taken place; until all Christians are meeting without division, the one church = one city is just an empty slogan.

Igzy, when I consider the ministry of brother Lee, I look for the truths and apply them where they fit, as I do with all ministries I receive. I do not take the LSM/LC model as faultless and to be followed by every publication that has been produced by them. I agree with you the the LSM/LC model is a problem that will be repeated again and again, because buried in its teachings are the seeds of exclusivism that will always come forth in due time.

When I respond to you, it is not in defense of the LSM/LC model, it is looking beyond that to what it is to be a church and how we can practice this today.

Now concerning the submission to elders, I like Hope's word concerning becoming servants to the church, for if this is part of the criteria for elder selection, it will produce servants and not lords.

To come to your concerns about submitting to elders, the history recorded in the bible does indicate there were elders in each city, would it seem right that new ones coming into this city or older brothers relocating should not recognize the ones who have already been appointed by the community already? I am sure there are many scenarios that could occur where the elders may produce discord, but I think the purpose they were intended to fill is necessary and vital to a churches growth; just not out of the LSM/LC playbook.
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:39 PM   #41
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Hope,

I have a question. Aren't you leading a city-church in North Carolina? Isn't there an LSM city-church there, too?

If so, what do you feel your standing (to use an old LC term) is in relation to that LSM church? How do they feel about you? Do you feel that other Christians are at odds with the city-church because they do not meet with you? What is your attitude about the legitimacy of other groups in the city?

Thanks,

Igzy
Hello Brother Igzy,

I am somewhat facinated by your post. You seem to have a lot of information. I thought we were off everyone's radar screen.

There is the original church in Raleigh, where I gather, and there is the REAL, REAL LOCAL CHURCH IN RALEIGH that is ONE with THE MINISTRY, attends the seven feasts, reads the HWMR etc etc (please do not throw up.)

Those I gather with are a humble and meek little band seeking to grow in Christ and be a witness of Christ in our place. We fellowship with brothers and sisters here and all over the earth and last year at our annual business meeting I calculated the percentage of offerings that went out of Raleigh to be 85% of the total. Only those in Ghana would be considered to be meeting in a similar way to us.

As for other Christians in our area, we do not have an agenda to recruit them. We do seek to have fellowship if possible. A couple of examples: We have used the baptistry at the Korean Baptist church. One of the deacons there is a dear friend of mine. If you met him and his wife, you would be edified just by being in their presence. On August 9th, we have invited a So. Baptist Missionary couple to speak to the assembly. We assist a good works mission locally that cares for refugees from Nepal. When we learn of a gifted saint who could supply us with a portion where we are lacking, we seek to open a door for that saint to help us if they are willing. We have met some pretty amazing saints of God. Also, I cannot recall stinging renounciations of poor poor christianity.

All that said, while we pray that our love may abound more and more, we also desire that this love would be in real knowledge and all discernment, Phil 1:9. You can have discernment without becoming a "judgaholic." (That is a word I learned on the Barm. I not sure of the spelling.)

The other group is very hateful and spiteful. Can you blame them? We are lepors, rebels, divisive, seeking to build our own kingdom, destroyers of God's building da da, da da. Plus they could not get our property. That kind of verbal attack use to be a hurtful bother but we are learning to pray for them when they are brought to our attention. Mostly we no longer think about them, the LSM or the past. Ocassionaly we cross their path and they are our dear brothers and sisters and we greet them in the Lord and wish them well. The Lord has helped us to "move on." The future is too bright. Our times are in His hands.

As far as "leading", I have some influence due to age, experience and perhaps gift and hopefully some spiritual maturity. Our church life, especially leadership, is in many ways quite different from the LSM style. Who so ever will may gather on Saturday morning to pray and fellowship regarding the direction and needs in the assembly, old or young, brother or sister.
It is very important that the leading ones know what everyone's feeling and burden is and that the Lord can speak through whoever he choses. (I can see the raised eyebrows out there in forum land.) But it is really quite wonderful and we come together every week with great anticipation. What will the Lord do today? How is He caring for us right now?

Perhaps this is enough to answer your questions. Needless to say we have needed to learn and unlearn a lot over the past few years. Please hold us in your prayers.

In Christ Jesus there is hope for us all,

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:46 PM   #42
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I thought we were off everyone's radar screen.
Wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Praise the Lord!

Wow.

Hallelujah!
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Old 07-28-2008, 02:57 PM   #43
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George and I were not aware of any need to rush up the meetings in Dallas in order to beat the Edwards fellowship. I seem to recall something on the Barm...
As I said, I only recalled something giving the impression that some time-table had been moved up. It may be something of folklore. I couldn't say. But I got that impression from somewhere within the last two months and had never had that notion previously.
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:06 PM   #44
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As I said, I only recalled something giving the impression that some time-table had been moved up. It may be something of folklore. I couldn't say. But I got that impression from somewhere within the last two months and had never had that notion previously.
We from Houston had no time table or were in a rush except for the families who had children in school. I did mention in my book that there seemed to be a race for Dallas. Actually it was from the other folks. I did not get into the details of how we found out. We had visited the couples who were with Gene Edwards several times. We had shared that some from Houston felt the Lord was calling them to move to Dallas. Nothing was hidden from anyone. We assumed we would all join together. The other two couples had become more and more distant toward us as we made trips to the area and began to look for housing. Once we dropped in on one couple on a Saturday morning. They were expecting us but we got there a little early. The wife let us in the apartment and the two brothers there sure acted funny. One of the Houston brothers whose initials are BB noticed a letter and envelop laying on the carpet behind the chair where he was sitting. It caught his attention. It was from Gene Edwards and the two or three sentences he read referred to his moving to Dallas and something about being there before the Houston group would be established. He handed the letter to the host brother who was very red faced. Turns out they then told us they had been corresponding with Edwards regarding their desire to practice the local church life and his moving there to head up the effort. Only thing, they had failed to tell any of us about their plan. It seems their plan was to get Edwards and a few others there and declare they were the church in Dallas. Sounds like something that did develop under the LSM.

This race to be first was something none of us from Houston had been aware of. WL never urged me to move quickly in anyway. I spoke with him and corresponded with him during the summer. George W. did not get to Dallas until the late summer - early fall and was in no race to get to Dallas for the whole summer. I moved there in July. I do not remember when the first Lord's Table was as to me it was no big stake in the ground but a very normal occurance.

Edwards never came and the couples moved away. The whole episode was very confusing.

Hope, Don Rutledge

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Old 07-28-2008, 06:34 PM   #45
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Greetings All,

It would seem to prove the statement, "the less you try to focus on "one church, one city" the more it can become a reality!"

I am learning from this series of posts not to be too dogmatic about this, only to love the saints and seek fellowship, the rest is up to the Lord!

Thank you brother Don for a little window into the practical ministry of your community, it warmed my heart to hear of your love and concern for each other! May our Lord continue to cause you all to grow in love and discernment as you seek Him!

Your brother,

Shawn
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:28 PM   #46
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As far as "leading", I have some influence due to age, experience and perhaps gift and hopefully some spiritual maturity. Our church life, especially leadership, is in many ways quite different from the LSM style.
Since we have accomodated Igzy's hypothetical 'two groups in one city' scenario to illuminate the not-so-practical LSM model, please allow me to spin a hypothetical for you all. This hypothetical is for me quite real, and I use it occasionally as I see fit.

In my scenario, I imagine myself caught by Christ from out of a storm-tossed sea. I am pulled "into Him", out from the dark and turbulent world. Suddenly I know peace, and rapturous joy, and God's amazing love. Lo and behold, as I look around, marveling my good fortune, I realize there are others in the boat with me, likewise marvellously saved. We congratulate each other on our happy fate, and endeavor to sail together in our marvelous "lifeboat", back home to our heavenly Father. We realize we are saved individually, but into a corporate experience. I am part of the "lifeboat experience" for others, as they are to me.

Now, who sails this thing? When do we steer left (port) or right (starboard)? When do we let sails down, or up? Who takes the midnight watch? Who watches and doles out our precious rations? And so on, ad infinitum. You can see it almost immediately in Acts chapter 6: who's going to wait on tables, who's going to labor in and minister the Word?

Although I am opinionated and full of ideas on "how things ought to be", I am not so dull and insipid that I don't realize it would behoove me to listen to those who were in the boat before me. They have seen a few clamber in and fall back out; maybe they stumbled a time or two themselves. I have two choices: either I can learn the hard lessons of experience, or I can learn from those who have gone before. I think the second way, learning from others, is much more profitable. More benefit, less cost.

So I pay attention to the "old salts", and imitate what they do. And two very amazing things happen. First, as I "Monkey-see, Monkey-do" the old-timers, aping their speaking, praying, singing, declaring, amenning, and so forth, the Holy Spirit comes alongside. I suddenly feel the Paraclete's 'parousia', a presence so precious and holy and strong and irresistable that I will spend the rest of my life like John and Peter, remembering when "His glory broke upon me" that day on the holy mountain. And second, as I continue to pattern my behavior in some approximation of the 'leading ones', and I continue on the boat for a league or two, lo and behold some others clamber on board and start to look at me with interest, what I am doing. they look at 'little aron' and consider if this is, in fact, the way home to the Father. It is a humbling thing to model Christ for others. Little aron starts to get a wee bit of the 'gravitas' that he has seen in the elders who came before.

Lastly, and not entirely unrelated, is the idea that the word "kurios" in Greek can be translated as "Master", the word we usually translate to "Lord" in English. Jesus was not "bossy" of others; He was meek and humble. He emptied Himself; he became as nothing. But He was indeed the "Master". He was the Expert, the Pro; He mastered "self", He mastered "pride", He mastered fear and anxiety and jealousy and resentments and all the vain human emotions that rule the rest of us. He mastered the vessel which God the Father had poured Him into. And we who call Him "Lord" would be wise to imitate Him, and endeavor not to master others, but to master our own vessels, and likewise follow Him into the reward of eternal glory.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:33 AM   #47
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I have been reading about a link between the ground of locality and elders over a whole city. Whoa!! Where did this elders business come from? I can never remember an issue being made that the ground of locality equals anybody being over anybody. I thought the New Testament taught elders in every church and elders in every city. Where is the over every church or over every city?
IIRC, the "model" church was Taipei. There were dozens of "halls" with thousands of saints, but only one eldership over the church, and thus only one proper eldership in the whole city. I suppose the "over" part was not alarming to most of us since it is part of "overseer."

I also have had this ongoing dispute about the appointments of legitimate elders. The LC model designates "only the apostle" can appoint them. This thought has created a host of conflicts, because what this really means is that a regional or national leader (apostle? bishop? cardinal?) appoints only those loyal to him, who also turn out to be FT'ers who love to travel, and display loyalties to his appointer (understandably the one who signs the "paycheck") rather than to the local church.

Care to comment on this, Hope?
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:00 AM   #48
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IIRC, the "model" church was Taipei. There were dozens of "halls" with thousands of saints, but only one eldership over the church, and thus only one proper eldership in the whole city. I suppose the "over" part was not alarming to most of us since it is part of "overseer."

I also have had this ongoing dispute about the appointments of legitimate elders. The LC model designates "only the apostle" can appoint them. This thought has created a host of conflicts, because what this really means is that a regional or national leader (apostle? bishop? cardinal?) appoints only those loyal to him, who also turn out to be FT'ers who love to travel, and display loyalties to his appointer (understandably the one who signs the "paycheck") rather than to the local church.

Care to comment on this, Hope?
I would love to comment brother Ohio.

I recently was referred to a line from a LSM book on the management of the elders or some title like that. It is said that the second sentence in the introduction is that the elders are the center of the church. There is no verse that refers to the church as the church of the elders or the church of the apostles or the church of the overseers. In Acts 20 we find the unique elders meeting called by Paul. He referred to the elders as having been made overseers by the Holy Spirit not by an apostle. Also the job of an overseer is to shepherd the church of God not to be "over" anyone.

Making the eldership model of Taipae the model to practice local oneness is a sham. They never had a single eldership in Taipae. The leading co-worker in each hall did his own thing and the elders in that hall were his middle management team. They did get together occasionally for a ministerial alliance type gathering and all submitted to the apostle, WL.

I have a lot more to say but must continue on another post due to needing to take care of business. I am at work.

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:17 AM   #49
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Hello Brother Igzy,

I am somewhat facinated by your post. You seem to have a lot of information. I thought we were off everyone's radar screen.

There is the original church in Raleigh, where I gather, and there is the REAL, REAL LOCAL CHURCH IN RALEIGH that is ONE with THE MINISTRY, attends the seven feasts, reads the HWMR etc etc (please do not throw up.)
Don,

As a youngster I used to sit on the front row in Texas and listen to you speak. We guys always had a good time recounting your messages because of your great sense of humor. So when your name has come up in this unfolding drama of the LC movement I've always been interested in how things are going with you. We didn't know each other personally, but we exchanged pleasantries. You asked me a question in a meeting once, but I wasn't a very good subject because I just froze up. That was a long time ago. I was just a kid and you were an ELDER. Ha, ha. The funny thing is that back in the 70s, even all the elders were kids, really.

I'm thankful that things are going well for you, both personally and with the Lord. You story is inspiring and encouraging.

Igzy
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Old 07-29-2008, 07:28 PM   #50
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A quick question from the Baptist bleacher seat...from my perspective, I assemble at a "local" church in my community...one of say, 8-10 meeting places. The "local" assemblies meeting places happen to have "Baptist," "Church of Christ," "Community Church," "Foursquare Church," and a few other titles on their signs. However, I know that I could walk into any one of them on any given Sunday and break bread with these fellow believers. Likewise, if other believers show up to break bread in our fellowship, no one is withholding the bread. So, where does the assumption come that we (who attend a fellowship with a sign on the lawn) are divisive or are insisting that "we are the one genuine church" in the neighborhood. That really just isn't happening...at least not in my small community. So, could it be the group that is doing that kind of "insisting" is the one who is divisive?

Can you explain why (or if) (from the LC perspective or from any of your individual perspectives) this would be considered a wrong way for Christians to meet on a Lord's day, or to break bread with one another?

Thanks...trying to understand the mindset...
Where I live there are multiple churches, assemblies, congregations etc. They vary from Baptist, Community, Prebyterian, etc. On any given Sunday I could walk into an assembly and partake of the table. The matter of the table to me is about Jesus as our Christ. If something other than Christ becomes primary to taking the table, that something is horribly divisive.

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Old 07-29-2008, 08:02 PM   #51
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Don,

As a youngster I used to sit on the front row in Texas and listen to you speak. We guys always had a good time recounting your messages because of your great sense of humor. So when your name has come up in this unfolding drama of the LC movement I've always been interested in how things are going with you. We didn't know each other personally, but we exchanged pleasantries. You asked me a question in a meeting once, but I wasn't a very good subject because I just froze up. That was a long time ago. I was just a kid and you were an ELDER. Ha, ha. The funny thing is that back in the 70s, even all the elders were kids, really.

I'm thankful that things are going well for you, both personally and with the Lord. You story is inspiring and encouraging.

Igzy
Dear Brother Igzy,

Thanks for the personal note. I am thrilled when saints from the 70s pop up. I have enjoyed OBW aka Mike H. and Timothiest and Nell and Matt and Thankful Jane and Searching. These I have been able to ID or they have identified themselves to me. You made me laugh when you characterized my speaking as having humor. Really I never tried to be funny. It just came out as I talked with you all. You kids were a big component of my joy.

You are correct that all the "elders" were themselves a bunch of kids and were most of the time way over their heads. I sure felt that way. The Lord had much mercy to keep me and others from making even a bigger mess.

Anyway your posting is special to me. Perhaps some of the teenagers did get something of Christ. My favorite time was the Junior High and High School conferences. Recently I met a brother from those days. He told me that he still has his song book and outlines from those times.

By the way, OBW was a high schooler when I first met him. He is quite the theologian and scholar today. I am just encouraged whenever he posts. Timothiest needs to post some more. I felt like turning a back flip when he PMed me and told me who he was.

It has been great having correspondence with Nell, on the blog and through the PM system. The Lord is faithful to us all. What can you say but hallelujah?

Searching is a precious sister to the Lord and to the Body of Christ. She is having some trials as she has shared on the other forum but I believe she will come through solid gold.

For a long time while I was still in the lc in Texas and then after I moved, I really did not know what had become of Thankful Jane and her wonderful husband. I never knew about her experiences with BP etc until years later. I am trully amazed that they have come through all of the fire and still are seeking to know more of Christ and to be faithful to His dear call.

Matt happened to be passing through my area a few weeks ago and asked to get together. What special fellowship we enjoyed!! He is a real man of Christ. What a privelege to be able to spend an hour or two with him.

Igzy, thanks for the kind words and for your portion of Christ and willingness to share with us.

In Christ Jesus there is hope for us all,

Hope, Don Rutledge
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Old 07-30-2008, 04:14 AM   #52
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I recently was referred to a line from a LSM book on the management of the elders or some title like that. It is said that the second sentence in the introduction is that the elders are the center of the church. There is no verse that refers to the church as the church of the elders or the church of the apostles or the church of the overseers. In Acts 20 we find the unique elders meeting called by Paul. He referred to the elders as having been made overseers by the Holy Spirit not by an apostle. Also the job of an overseer is to shepherd the church of God not to be "over" anyone.

Making the eldership model of Taipae the model to practice local oneness is a sham. They never had a single eldership in Taipae. The leading co-worker in each hall did his own thing and the elders in that hall were his middle management team. They did get together occasionally for a ministerial alliance type gathering and all submitted to the apostle, WL.
Hope, you are right. The Bible speaks of the "church of God," the "church of Christ," and even the "church of the saints," but never the church of "the elders," or the church of "the workers," or even the church of "the ministry." But that is exactly what they have become.

The LC program loved the duo verses of Acts 14.23 "appoint elders in every church," and Titus 1.5 "appoint elders in every city," because they supported the one city - one church - one eldership practices they so dearly espoused. They also were controlling verses. The leaders in every city - every church - were determined only by headquarters - where "the apostle" lived, who alone had the scriptural authority to appoint elders. Acts 20.28 "the Holy Spirit has placed you as overseers," was only a "rubber stamp" of that appointment.

One huge reason I finally left is that I grew so weary of being "of men." Those around me (from both sides) said they were only "taking a stand for the truth," but what that really meant was supporting either TC or "brother We."

Today, the role of elder has much less to do with shepherding, than it does with "working together with headquarters." One example is the aspect of counseling. Elders have gone to meetings for decades, yet have no clue how to shepherd or counsel troubled marriages. The results are so many broken homes. Some of the BB's have gone on record to say that any marital or family help we may seek is just "chicken soup for the soul."
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Old 07-31-2008, 06:21 AM   #53
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Some posts from here were moved to the thread "spirit, soul and body".

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Old 07-31-2008, 08:14 AM   #54
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Where I live there are multiple churches, assemblies, congregations etc. They vary from Baptist, Community, Prebyterian, etc. On any given Sunday I could walk into an assembly and partake of the table. The matter of the table to me is about Jesus as our Christ. If something other than Christ becomes primary to taking the table, that something is horribly divisive.

Terry
I think this is as good an answer as any to Only By Grace's question. Where do we see the "real" assembly of the called-out ones? Answer: where the saints receive one another. In the local churches where I met, we were strongly cautioned against meeting with "divisive" and "degraded" christian denominations. Some LC saints told me how for many years they had only met with the LSM-affiliated local churches. There was the unstated assumption that to meet with other groups of christians would necessitate leaving the "ground" of oneness and thus the "blessing" of God which follows.

In hindsight, I see something different. We local churchers would receive christians, and made a big point about that, but it was only to receive them on our ground. In other words, we are inclusive, we will meet with you, but only if you come to our meetings and partake after our fashion. In a nutshell, we will allow you to meet with us, but we will use this meeting as a basis to recruit you into what we deem to be the proper assembly life.

I think the 'scattered' groupings in each geographic area and population cluster can fall into the same thinking. Each group will allow others to enter the Lord's Table and break the bread and share the wine; they receive others as brethren, but are not likely to reciprocate as they are doing it the "preferred" way and we don't want to change. Usually the "right" way is dressed up with a few Bible verses so it seems like God's ordination and not man's preferences.

But it is better than the LSM model, because at least the believers CAN go to the different assemblings and fellowship. With the LSM model, the "Table of Oneness" and the "Ground of Oneness" seem to by definition exclude all the other "Tables" and "Grounds" out there. At one time it seemed to me that a stand for the "oneness" was preferred to the "divisions" in each city; now it seems more perniciously divisive, both because of the logical inconsistencies Igzy mentioned, and also because of the poisonous fruit now openly displayed. You don't see the Baptists and Presbyterians suing each other for the right to be the "Church" in some area.

What irony! We laud the departure from the monolithic RCC system 500 years ago as a rescue from God, then we endeavor to set up our own (Well, as long as I am in charge, it's good, right?).

OBG, I apologize that something so simple (believe into Jesus and receive one another) could get so horribly complicated and convoluted and full of contingencies. The fact that an "outsider" is willing to consider fellowship on an "LC" forum is a great blessing to us. Please be patient as we unravel and detoxify ourselves!
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:17 PM   #55
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I think this is as good an answer as any to Only By Grace's question. Where do we see the "real" assembly of the called-out ones? Answer: where the saints receive one another. In the local churches where I met, we were strongly cautioned against meeting with "divisive" and "degraded" christian denominations.....
OBG, I apologize that something so simple (believe into Jesus and receive one another) could get so horribly complicated and convoluted and full of contingencies. The fact that an "outsider" is willing to consider fellowship on an "LC" forum is a great blessing to us. Please be patient as we unravel and detoxify ourselves!
What a kind post...and a thoughtful apology, which I accept, though I never have personally felt an affront. But, I think I understand where you're coming from. And, thank you, aron, for receiving this outsider into your forum fellowship. Until I had friends in the LC, I'd never really heard so much talk about "receiving" one another. I have always felt "received" by other Christians. (Possibly another discussion!).

I had a post all ready and sat on it all week...trying to explain a perspective that you all kind of worked through without me. I guess my point was this: If a believer (or a group of believers) aren't guilty of thinking, believing, or speaking "I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos," then maybe the admonishment in 1 Corinthians isn't really directed at those who don't have that issue. My guess is that God is much more concerned about the condition of the hearts of those inside the building than the sign on the lawn. When Paul spoke to the believers who were saying they were of Paul, Apollos or Cephus, this was just one of many, many things that Paul was scolding and warning the Corinthians about. Could it be that there has been just too much zealous correction of perceived division? Could a little exhortation towards oneness suffice and then move on, waiting for God to convict those whom He will (and to whom the exhortation truly applies) by His Spirit, rather than by a forced unity?

So…given that no heresy is being taught in specific denominations, can’t the sign on the lawn serve more as reference point to nonessential preference -- either location, the order of service, the type of music, and of how often you might take communion per month -- rather than a sign of division? Some say division, I say preference. Real division to me is whether or not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, as taught in scripture, has been defiled in some manner. In that case, division is a must! "Receiving" in "Christian fellowship" is not an option. Otherwise, let true believers be free to worship and gather in His name with those whom they want to gather. Receive one another whether by embracing or shaking hands over the fence…and then get down to the REAL business…which is not necessarily believers in uniformity singing Kum-ba-yah, but rather, believers from all places preaching salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and growing up in the Lord so that we can be salt and light! Time is short. Let's love our brothers and sisters, let's love those who aren't yet our brothers and sisters. And let's join God in His work by getting that gospel out there!

I keep reading, “God isn’t happy with division.” (meaning, denominations?) Well, maybe not. But there are a multitude of other things, very serious things, that God isn’t happy about…let’s keep this one in its proper place in the big scheme of things – a parenthetical to the real subject of God’s purpose: to bring lost souls into the knowledge that Jesus saves, and to disciple new believers so that they can grow up in that knowledge and so that we can all minister to one another with the love of Christ Jesus.

Well, I just read my post and it sounds a little preachy, which was not intended. It's just my perspective is one that has never been focused on "division" or "oneness," but rather just bringing people to Jesus and helping them grow up in Him. I'll stop now. Forgive my long-windedness!

And aron, again, thank you for the sweet, reflective tone of your post. My heart is blessed.
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:10 AM   #56
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Could a little exhortation towards oneness suffice and then move on, waiting for God to convict those whom He will (and to whom the exhortation truly applies) by His Spirit, rather than by a forced unity?
That is as succinctly and clearly stated as anything that I have seen on this forum. I agree; and thanks for your perspective.
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Old 08-02-2008, 06:44 AM   #57
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That is as succinctly and clearly stated as anything that I have seen on this forum. I agree; and thanks for your perspective.
I also agree.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:08 AM   #58
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Let me try again. Two groups in a city. Both receive all believers and keep the faith. But each has different teaching and practice focuses. Both claim to be the city-church and to have the elders who are by necessity over the whole city. Each thinks the other is sectarian. Which one is the true church? I submit that, all things being equal, neither can know to the point that they can have the boldness to say the other definitely isn't. In other words, neither can do what the LCs do in claiming that everyone needs to join them, an arbitrary requirement which is a seed of division.
Since this thread has seemed to have run its course, let me cap it off.

The essence of the above quote--if there are two groups in a city claiming to represent the church in that city how does one know which is correct?--has to my knowlege never been addressed by any defender of the local ground doctrine.

I posed the question a couple of times on the old board. No one touched it. I've sometimes wondered if maybe it just was overlooked, so I have posed it formally in a thread of my own creation here. Still, no one has taken it on. My feeling is this fact speaks deeply to the shortcoming of the doctrine. The question has not been addressed likely because there is no satisfactory answer.

Titus Chu was said to have once been asked a similar question and his answer was that the church which receives believers the best is the true one. But that begs the question of what if both groups receive believers pretty much the same? It doesn't take much reflection to see, therefore, that any claim of being irrefutably the unique representative of the church in the city can be nothing more than subjective opinion at best. Further, I would say, it is a claim that only need be made for self-serving purposes.

I believe church life should and can be practical. But the LSM model, I have shown, is by definition impractical. Practicing it requires the acceptance of arbitrary assumptions which cannot be justified as being required of believers, and which are therefore the seeds of division.

Until someone can satisfactorily address this issue, I have to conclude that the ground of locality doctrine as practiced by LSM churches is flawed.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:32 AM   #59
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...if there are two groups in a city claiming to represent the church in that city how does one know which is correct?--has to my knowlege never been addressed by any defender of the local ground doctrine.

I posed the question a couple of times on the old board. No one touched it. I've sometimes wondered if maybe it just was overlooked, so I have posed it formally in a thread of my own creation here. Still, no one has taken it on. My feeling is this fact speaks deeply to the shortcoming of the doctrine. The question has not been addressed likely because there is no satisfactory answer.
Remember the story of the two harlots before Solomon, fighting over a baby? Each one claimed the child was hers. The one who was willing to release it, whole and living, was the real "owner"; that was the one who really cared. In contrast, the Blended Brothers don't mind "chopping up" the Body of Christ, as long as they get their piece. They don't mind cutting off believers, as long as they have thier "share".

But the truth is that the Body of Christ cannot, by definition, be divided. If anyone says "We are the Church" in some locality, they are placing walls around the flowing Spirit. You got saved because the Spirit flowed, and reached you. Now you want to build a wall? Your walls, your definition, creates a "null set", an empty box.
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:35 AM   #60
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I just read The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life again and conclude that the ground of locality doctrine has been elevated to the level of a requirement of the faith by Lee. This is not something of his later ministry, or of the reformulation of the BBs, but was clearly stated in 1971.

Even if we assumed that the ground could be followed as dictated, the very elevation of the teaching to a basic tenet of the faith that must be believed refutes it. That book, while saying that it is not required for salvation, makes it part of the basic faith that must be accepted.

So they want it two ways. The call “the faith” the things that must be believed for salvation, then create a list that is “the faith” that includes the ground of the church — one city, one church. Then they say that you don’t have to believe it to be saved.

Well, what is it? Is it part of the basic faith that is required, or is it not? If you say not, then quit insisting on it. Otherwise, stick to your guns. And while you are at it, tell all the rest of Christianity that they are not even saved.

Instead, the way that the LC holds to this doctrine makes it most sectarian. They say it is not required for salvation. They say that anything not required for salvation is something about which we should be general. Yet they also say that it is something that is one of the “six” tenets of the faith. So they have raised something not required for salvation to stand as a separator of Christian from Christian. So they separate from other Christians using the very doctrine that they claim as the basis for unity. Go figure.
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Old 08-08-2008, 02:59 PM   #61
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YPO534,

I was very intrigued by your advocating a new, more narrow, definition of ekklesia as the assembling of the believers with a view to the manifestation of Christ,, as well as restricting the "universal" concept to that which Scripture calls the Body, of Christ. I agree with you that a universal application of "church" inevitably will lead to denominationalism.

I myself have been striving to hold a different foundational concept regarding this. The history of the christian "church" seems to be one of pendulum swings, out of balance, corrections, etc with one and another doctrinal truths arriving at an ascendancy at different points in time. The more important, for me, at this current point in my journey, is that Christ would be manifested, and I am willing to denigrate the universal if necessary.

After many years, I would still hold to the original idea I received in the LC as to the practical oneness of all believers, in locality. But I do hold that the genuine oneness is spiritual and that practicality is manifestation of that which is already true according to God by the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross and is exhibited by His indwelling life in us.

Do you have further?

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Old 08-08-2008, 06:11 PM   #62
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YPO534,

I was very intrigued by your advocating a new, more narrow, definition of ekklesia as the assembling of the believers with a view to the manifestation of Christ,, as well as restricting the "universal" concept to that which Scripture calls the Body, of Christ. I agree with you that a universal application of "church" inevitably will lead to denominationalism.

I myself have been striving to hold a different foundational concept regarding this. The history of the christian "church" seems to be one of pendulum swings, out of balance, corrections, etc with one and another doctrinal truths arriving at an ascendancy at different points in time. The more important, for me, at this current point in my journey, is that Christ would be manifested, and I am willing to denigrate the universal if necessary.

After many years, I would still hold to the original idea I received in the LC as to the practical oneness of all believers, in locality. But I do hold that the genuine oneness is spiritual and that practicality is manifestation of that which is already true according to God by the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross and is exhibited by His indwelling life in us.

Do you have further?

Much Grace.


Arizona

Actually, and I would definitely like to open this up in fellowship among those who are somewhat following the light on the point, the brother who I have been fellowshipping most of this with wrote the following message to me yesterday:

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It occurred to me last night, between sleep cycles, out of the blue, that there is, in fact, a God-ordained way to practice and experience the universal aspect of the assembly, that is, the Body, within the context of the assembly. It is the Lord's Table. "Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf." 1 COR 10:17. This bears further investigation because this verse is a little isolated for my current preference. But this could explain a lot. If a few assemble, whether in a living room or a catacomb, they are the assembly. But how do they experience membership in the Body? Not by forming or conforming to a worldwide organization. Rather, they experience the Body-life by partaking of the one loaf, by breaking bread. Beautifully, when we break bread, we reaffirm and even experience our membership in the One Body and we do so in a manner that can ONLY happen in the assembly and can happen in ANY, even the tiniest, assembly. So again, the Body is contained, experienced, and expressed in the assembly. The one loaf is the proof.
He told me he's releasing this to the public domain so, if you wanted to add to it or republish it or anything, you don't need written permission of his publisher.

The thing I have been bearing around in me since 1985 is that I had a completely miraculous baptism experience through efforts of the Local Church saints, high revelation and experience on a good number of points, but one thing that I've always sought the light on, before leaving and ever since, was the matter of the bread breaking meeting. Not to be too ugly about it but the way the bread breaking meeting among them was practiced was at least 90% outward form. And if you review brother Nee's written ministry on the topic, you couldn't get much help. Sorry to say, brother Lee's lacks even more. Both of them are especially interested in the proper way to call the hymns for some reason. But, since I had so clearly and definitely touched the solid reality of something in my baptism (I literally and spontaneously jumped up out of the water with my hands raised rejoicing!) I have always known that there must be some similarly exciting and substantial reality in the breaking of the bread. Transubstantiation is obviously not what the Lord intended to impart to us in giving us these instructions, but I have never seen it and have never known anyone who did.

I have come back to this realization repeatedly for the past 20 years since being ejected from the Local Church. I have reviewed different publications and collected and meditated on all the verses. I have prayed on my own to see this light specifically again and again. (Didn't work, but no surprise there since I am not corporate on my own!) This brother and I have especially considered briefly this week that it must be possible to touch this reality because the two on the road to Emmaus recognized Him in the bread breaking. But how to do it is the question? Not how to perform it according to a formula applied either locally or universally. How to touch the reality of Christ in it. It is currently set before us as a practical goal to get there but we are not quite there yet.

One thing at least I am very clear about: no one needs to be regulated into praise of our Father. Our spontaneous and genuine realization of the corporate sonship in the testimony of our Lord's table meetings will surely issue in the universal praise of the Father through the indwelling Spirit. We can just barely see it. Very exciting times.

To address more directly the question of universality, I really think that what this brother has seen might really be the case - that the only place to ever really concern ourselves with it is in the context of the bread breaking meeting. It's not so much of a denigration as a matter of practicality. There is simply no practical way to connect with the universal Body other than through the local assmebly. I am congizant of the Local Church teachings that the apostles having the authority to command this and that from afar is evidence that some might lay claim to manifestation and representation of the Body in a practical way outside of the bread breaking meeting, but my sense at the moment is that this is precisely the means by which there come to be hidden reefs in the love feasts.

As a footnote, reviewing some of brother Nee's stuff on the practical application of the universal is frankly just appalling:

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If a brother wants to be received into the bread-breaking meeting, we must examine him carefully because we are receiving him not only on behalf of the brothers in Shanghai, but also on behalf of the brothers meeting in Tientsin, Hangchow, Wenchow, and other places. However, when a brother goes to another locality to break bread, the brothers in the locality should not examine him further. All he needs to do is to bring a letter of recommendation with him. The brothers in the other localities should believe what the brothers in Shanghai have done and receive him into the bread-breaking meeting based on the letter of recommendation. We have to be very careful in what we do in order to care for the brothers in the other localities.
Watchman Nee, The Assembly Life
Some guy shows up with a letter and THAT'S what is required? Yeah, like THAT system couldn't bring some problems in eventually!

This as far as we are right now but I'll keep posting as I can.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:36 PM   #63
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After many years, I would still hold to the original idea I received in the LC as to the practical oneness of all believers, in locality. But I do hold that the genuine oneness is spiritual and that practicality is manifestation of that which is already true according to God by the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross and is exhibited by His indwelling life in us.

Do you have further?

Much Grace.


Arizona
Arizona, I concurr. I would like to pose the question at what point does a name become contrary to practical oneness? One of the points I learned while meeting in the local churches is taking a name denominates a congregation, assembly etc. Isn't it possible for a particular assembly to have a name and still function in practical oneness?

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Old 08-09-2008, 01:44 AM   #64
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Arizona, I concur. I would like to pose the question at what point does a name become contrary to practical oneness? One of the points I learned while meeting in the local churches is taking a name denominates a congregation, assembly etc. Isn't it possible for a particular assembly to have a name and still function in practical oneness?

Terry
Terry, I hear you and I see the point and I guess it seems at least possible in theory but it really seems like it is not ultimately borne out in reality. I think there really is something to the teaching that Jesus has to be the unique name among us. In every case that I personally have encountered a named congregation, their name is meant specifically for distinguishment from the general body of believers. And I just don't really see how it could be any other way. That distinguishment, even if not intentionally divisive, seems to inevitably have that practical effect. No matter how well-meaning they are, they are part of that thing, which I am not. But we are all part of Jesus and Him alone. So, I just don't think I could ever give a pass to the practice. I would suggest that it seems like it might reveal a need to better discern the Body.

All of that said, I do hear you and I see your point and I believe the Lord is much more concerned for His practical manifestation on the earth than for the little quirks of Christian practice that happen here and there from time to time. So, I'll continue to admit that it seems theoretically possible to me. It is a very rare day that I conclude that God just can't do it, whatever it is. Less rare to conclude the God doesn't do it, and since I could never visit every locality in the world test the theories, perhaps such testimony of oneness as we have in some named places such as I have seen is sufficient for God's building work.

My experience has been that the Lord does inhabit the praises of His people. I would suggest that seems quite possible that wherever He is inhabiting, there is His house, which is the assembly. I think I will need a lot more experience and light along this line to say that more definitively. But in the meantime, I would suggest that if the group name really isn't important and doesn't mean anything, then it should probably just be dropped. And I would suggest that any resistence to dropping it reveals in itself the real problem. To ask if the name does any harm is really the wrong question in the first place. The better question is whether it does any good.

Enjoy His grace today!
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Old 08-09-2008, 04:45 AM   #65
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Do you have further?
Reading a little further this morning, I would suggest that the idea of sharing one loaf and one cup in a large gathering seems extremely impractical, unless we are to expect the Lord to perform miracles of multiplication whenever we gather. Rather, I would suggest that any gathering in which it is practically impossible to have one loaf and one cup to express the oneness of the Body is too large for us to worry about maintaining as such. Bread breaking can continue steadfastly from house to house in the only practical way to have that happening. I would still hold that these are not multiple assemblies but the same unique assembly of God in that place. However, there is a fellowship seen in the bread breaking which connects together all of the meetings of all of the believers, both locally and universally.
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:18 AM   #66
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The only comment I can provide about names is that, while I agree that the name of Jesus must always be foremost, the rest of it is based on parsing and applying scripture to something that does not fit what the scripture is discussing.

For some groups, the names separate them from others. They intend that. For most, the most important part about the name is “church” because that is what makes it clear that it is not “mosque” or “conference center” or something else. It is a welcome to all who seek God/Christ. The rest of the name says something about the peculiarities of their doctrines, their location, affiliation, or other unimportant things that are informative but not exclusionary.

If there is something exclusionary, it is in the hearts of those who would refuse to meet with certain types or variations in belief. From my observations (mostly within the Evangelical side of Christianity) there is no desire or intent to exclude or to exalt in the name. It is meaningful, but is not exclusionary or ultra important. Where I meet, the name is mostly reduced to the initials. And even if you knew the name, it really does not tell you as much as you think. It is just an identifier so that it can be seen, found in the Yellow Pages, etc. Come to a meeting. We worship Christ. We “dream” of how to do it better. We consider how to live the faith that we profess with our minds and mouths. Don’t most of the others as well?
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Old 08-09-2008, 09:30 AM   #67
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The only comment I can provide about names is that, while I agree that the name of Jesus must always be foremost, the rest of it is based on parsing and applying scripture to something that does not fit what the scripture is discussing.
Well, I would ask the further point, then, OBW:

Where is the scriptural support in FAVOR of such names.

I just don't see that myself.

It makes no sense to say someone has misapplied scripture in a context where the other side has applied none at all, does it?

I will solidly declare that I've seen God practically manifest in places with names. Even if we shouldn't have the names, I'm not sure it's as big a deal to the Lord as some may have taught in the past. Under the principle of Romans 14, no one should feel to judge someone who felt the Lord had them in a particular place. Obviously, this is often the case and the teachings which taught that all must leave those and join another way is flawed at a minimum under the specific guidance on receiving the believers.

Like I said, I'm not able to close God in a box and my practical experience leans in favor of conceding the point but my review of the Bible stands in contrast to that.

I hope you can understand my dilemma. I don't have a "right" answer. I have two answers that are "right" for completely different reasons and no way at present to reconcile them (and no intention to try to impose that view if I get an answer!) I'm OK with the dilemma at present, anyway.

I'm clear once again that really "seeing the church" means seeing that it includes all of those not "seeing the church" at all.
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Old 08-09-2008, 10:17 AM   #68
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Arizona, I concurr. I would like to pose the question at what point does a name become contrary to practical oneness? One of the points I learned while meeting in the local churches is taking a name denominates a congregation, assembly etc. Isn't it possible for a particular assembly to have a name and still function in practical oneness?

Terry

Bro Terry - Greetings!

I have no reason to believe that there is nothing of Christ in a gathering of believers only because they sport a name. I am more guided by the word in Rev 3 regarding keeping the Lord's word and not denying His name as a general rule. Just exactly where any group in fact crosses that line and begins to deny His name I must leave to the One Who is the Head. I do believe that His judgement is manifested by His non-manifestation in any assembly which violates His word. I also think these two things, His word and His name, are closely connected.

I recently recommended to my daughter that she & her husband attend a local community church in their area where the pastor guy at least utilizes and expounds on scripture. I would not have made such a recommendation 20 yrs ago,, or even 10 yrs ago but I have come to believe that meeting with other genuine regenerated believers is more necessary than being without fellowship, isolated though perhaps doctrinally correct (maybe holding to my own religion!! .

I try to remember that W Nee ministered in his time, in a certain historical context, beginning 80 yrs ago. As I remember my own youth in the 1950's, christians were indeed divided to the uttermost by denominationalism. One was a Lutheran, or a Methodist, or Pentecostal or even Protestant, first and foremost. One had to "join" the denomination to be officially received into fellowship. Well, I agree with some others here that the times they are a changing. My concern today is for the genuine, regenerated, born again believer in Christ for I still see many that strike me as only cultural christians and among such there can be no manifestation of Christ in the assembly.

Much grace to you Terry

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Old 08-10-2008, 02:44 PM   #69
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It makes no sense to say someone has misapplied scripture in a context where the other side has applied none at all, does it?
If someone making reference to problems with names is not relying on scripture to underscore their position, then I would agree. In that case, it rises to mere opinion relative to scripture. Yet I read it in at least one post to be stated as if simply true.

If it was stated as if a foundational truth, then in the context of the LC, there are verses that are understood to be underpinning that statement. I will agree that none were sited, but unless the intent of certainty was a misunderstanding on my part, then either there should be verses or the statements were made as if authoritative when there was, in fact, no such authority.

So unless it was your post, I don't understand the problem. There was what appeared to be a clear statement of “names are simply bad” and I responded. If it was simply an opinion, then fine, although it is still worthy of a response. As I said, in a LC context, it is typically more than just opinion from their perspective. I will challenge it when I read it.
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:07 PM   #70
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Wow.

OK.

Whew.

That was a whole lot of words just to say "LC people need verses but not me," wasn't it?
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:55 AM   #71
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"That was a whole lot of words just to say "LC people need verses but not me," wasn't it?"

Not exactly. On one hand, if you are saying that I claim no need for verses, you misread me. I have tried to establish that the only verses anywhere near the subject do not seem to speak to the present situation. That leaves a vacuum of authority in which there is no directive. I see it as like needing verses to put a bath tub inside a house.

If on the other hand you want to say that names are bad and make it a point for churches, you kinda do need verses. I still haven't seen the verses that get to that conclusion. I've seen verses that give reasons for not dividing. I see verses about putting things above God. Lee simply presumes that a name violates one or the other but makes no case except for some argument of linguistics and not of facts.

But I'm a little tired of making comments about issues related to the LC discussion and having someone start griping that I even brought it up. I didn't. It was there. It was made as a statement of fact. I challenged it. If you agree or disagree, then engage the conversation. If you don't care, don't respond.

But just griping about the fact that I brought it up pointless. The one word snipes are quite annoying. If that is your objective, you are succeeding. It is, however, not a very noble goal. I would presume that is not your intent. Since we are not face-to-face, there is no body language to read. Say what you mean, and as clearly as possible. If you think you are misunderstood, clarify.

Don't presume everyone understands what you say no matter how clear you think you are. That is why I will often restate. It is not just to hit from a different angle, but to respond to what I read as a misunderstanding of what I was saying. I do not need you to agree. But I do want you (whoever is reading) to understand. That is the best I can do.
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Old 08-11-2008, 07:58 AM   #72
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You have now for the first time put in writing a positive statement of your belief that the Bible is utterly silent on the issue of denominationalism.

That's far different from reflexively issuing a challenge for others to state and prove their own beliefs for your review and judgment when you have misunderstood what was written by them in the first place.

But I really don't have time or taste for deconstructing and re-explaining such things. I'm used to being misunderstood anyway.

Praise the Lord for our wonderful Christ, brother!
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Old 08-15-2008, 04:12 PM   #73
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I recently recommended to my daughter that she & her husband attend a local community church in their area where the pastor guy at least utilizes and expounds on scripture. I would not have made such a recommendation 20 yrs ago,, or even 10 yrs ago but I have come to believe that meeting with other genuine regenerated believers is more necessary than being without fellowship, isolated though perhaps doctrinally correct (maybe holding to my own religion!! .
Arizona.

I take it you are in the LC correct?

Do the 'elders' or whoever is on the up & up these days, KNOW you recommended a local community church in their area to go to?

20 yrs ago...10 yrs ago you the thought would not have even crossed your mind !

What changed, if I may ask?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-15-2008, 04:32 PM   #74
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CMW,

The simple answer to your question is that "I Changed".

And no, I am not currently in the LC. Havent been for over 20 years.

Actually, it is not some particular community church that I would recommend. I recommend Christ (at least I hope I do), and I recommend the Word of God, and I recommend fellowship with other believers, and I recommend regeneration and experience of the divine life. Wherever that is to be found I say GO! I am not a fan of Christendom as I believe there is much of Babylon being built there but I have become over the years much more a fan of the believers. I do desire that we would all arrive.

Much blessing to you CMW.

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Old 08-15-2008, 06:07 PM   #75
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Abundant Blessings to YOU too AZ!!! And ALL GLORY, PRAISE, HONOR to GOD!!!!!!
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:05 PM   #76
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A quick question from the Baptist bleacher seat...from my perspective, I assemble at a "local" church in my community...one of say, 8-10 meeting places. The "local" assemblies meeting places happen to have "Baptist," "Church of Christ," "Community Church," "Foursquare Church," and a few other titles on their signs. However, I know that I could walk into any one of them on any given Sunday and break bread with these fellow believers. Likewise, if other believers show up to break bread in our fellowship, no one is withholding the bread. So, where does the assumption come that we (who attend a fellowship with a sign on the lawn) are divisive or are insisting that "we are the one genuine church" in the neighborhood. That really just isn't happening...at least not in my small community. So, could it be the group that is doing that kind of "insisting" is the one who is divisive?

Can you explain why (or if) (from the LC perspective or from any of your individual perspectives) this would be considered a wrong way for Christians to meet on a Lord's day, or to break bread with one another?
The practical expression of the church should not be equated with one's proper way to meet. When I read Grace's experience, I sense the practical expression of the church. That is receiving one another not according to a particular denomination, but according to Christ. I share a similar experience to Grace. There is no Church in ____ where I live, but there are baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, community assemblies. I've met with several of them and as Grace expereinced, I too have experienced not one has withheld the table to visitors. To practically express the church, one needs to receive and not insist.
When I hear the arguement of "shaking hands across the fence", my question is where is there a fence in the Body of Christ. Fences simply don't exist, but in man's labeling of believers. It hinders receiving our fellow heirs.
It's not about where we worship God, but worship in spirit and truthfulness.

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Old 08-31-2009, 01:30 PM   #77
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The practical expression of the church should not be equated with one's proper way to meet. When I read Grace's experience, I sense the practical expression of the church. That is receiving one another not according to a particular denomination, but according to Christ. I share a similar experience to Grace. There is no Church in ____ where I live, but there are baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, community assemblies. I've met with several of them and as Grace expereinced, I too have experienced not one has withheld the table to visitors. To practically express the church, one needs to receive and not insist.
When I hear the arguement of "shaking hands across the fence", my question is where is there a fence in the Body of Christ. Fences simply don't exist, but in man's labeling of believers. It hinders receiving our fellow heirs.
It's not about where we worship God, but worship in spirit and truthfulness.

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Old 03-30-2010, 11:50 AM   #78
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[font=Verdana]

My assertion in this argument is not that the local ground teaching is true or false, but rather that it is not viable. It is one of the boasts and selling points of the teaching that it produces a "practical expression" of Christ’s Body for the world to see. My assertion is that it can only hope to do that by insisting on assumptions which are arbitrary and thus ultimately sure to cause contention and eventually division.
Igzy, I do believe it's viable but unlikely. It would require believers alike to set aside their ministrial preferences and pride.
Theoretically there can be the practical expression of the church, but in order for it to happen there cannot be on emphasis on the ground of locality teaching. As church history has shown, with each doctrinal teaching, division is a symptom that follows.

When I read Witness Lee's The Practical Expression of the Church, I see something remarkable. For this vision to become reality, there needs to be application. One quote in particular that struck me was:

"We must know how to deal with these two kinds of believers-this is the fellowship. We must know how to fellowship with the saints in the different denominations including the Roman Catholic Church, and we must know even more how to fellowship with the believers who are standing on the proper ground to fight the battle for the Lord's kingdom." Page 120

Where is this kind of fellowship I am sad due to the fact whether you're in the denominations or in the local churches, fellowship is related to the organizational ministry your church receives. The type of fellowship I see from the above quote is organism in nature as we are all members of the Body. A type of fellowship that rises above restrivtive walls that ministries and assemblies tend to create.

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Old 03-31-2010, 12:14 PM   #79
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Theoretically there can be the practical expression of the church, but in order for it to happen there cannot be on emphasis on the ground of locality teaching. As church history has shown, with each doctrinal teaching, division is a symptom that follows.
What is "a practical expression of the church"?

I ask the question because it seems that there is very little in scripture that is concretely about "church" per se, but a whole lot about how the believers that constitute the church should live, act, behave, etc. Further, is there anything in scripture that defines what is required for there to be "a church"?

Part of the reason that I ask is that if there is an assembly of believers, what is it that makes one assembly "not church" and another assembly "church"? Does being like the LC make them church and others not church? Or is it the RCC way? Or the way that you suggest? What makes one church and the other not church?

If they are church, then they are a practical expression of the church. To say that they are church (or "a church") but are not a practical expression of the church means what? That they are church but are impractical? This is contrary to the laws of non-contradiction. If they are a church, then they are a practical expression of the church. You may try to define them as not an ideal expression. But if they are not a practical expression of the church, then they are not a church.

The very question "who is a practical expression of the church," besides being a contradiction, is itself sectarian because is presumes to dismiss those who do not meet your definition of "practical expression." But they are all a practical expression. Just as were the various churches mentioned in the New Testament. They were not alike in many ways. Of the 7 written to in Revelation, they had extreme differences. But they were all churches, therefore all practical expressions.

So it is absolutely irrelevant that some church has an emphasis on baptism by immersion, another on miraculous gifts, and yet another on the presbytery. If they are church, then they are practical expressions of the church.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:12 PM   #80
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Default A Recent Word.....

This following word is not mine, but from a fellow believer,

To talk about "local church"

According to Brother Nee, "Rethinking the work" principle, from God's perspective, only one local church in various places. Established according to the local church, not the mouth that he is, nor is it registered with the government is not recognized do not know that "local position" principle. From God's perspective, the local church is established according to the Saints as long as that place, that place there is the local church. Christians all in one place, in that local church. Whether he know this principle, regardless of his on the non-implementation of this principle, in the eyes of God, his church in that place; as long as he still live in the ground, where he was part of his local church. All had at that place "their gathering," the saints, and not because the "local church" does not belong to the establishment of local churches.

Having said that, we can apply, in Taipei, Taiwan belong to the local Christian church. Taipei has many local churches, "their gathering": There are Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Church gatherings of Taipei, Mandarin Chapel, Ling Liang Church ... there are many famous anonymous groups; in God's eyes, they all belong to the Taipei District Church. So, when we started the middle of the so-called local churches, in principle it can be said that the establishment of local churches, can only say that there is a group to see "local position" lessons, start "their gathering." To put it bluntly, why should the "local position" contention? Because whether you agree not recognize "local position" of the lesson, you are accepted by God. So, Brother Lee passed away before the fishes with the worker said, "You go where the position is not about my co-workers." Will also say, not in the basic beliefs, the truth and the practice of criticizing others.

"If the foot says, I am not a hand, so I do not belong to the body, it can not therefore not part of the body and if the ear says, I am not the eye, it does not belong to the body, it can not therefore not part of the body." (I Corinthians twelve 15 to 16)

We compared the above verses the following sentences.

If someone says you are not "local church" and therefore not part of the body, you can not therefore not part of the body. If you say, I'm not "local church" and therefore not part of the body, you can not therefore not part of the body.

So do not say that others, even you yourself said you do not belong to the body, you can not therefore not part of the body.

"Not to give up our own together, as if some people used the same, down to encourage one another; both saw the day approaching, so much the more." (To ten 25)

So we can not go start another "local Church", because all of them at the local church. Therefore, we can find a group of people who are willing to seek the truth together with "their gathering," perhaps we are not "local Church" party, but we still belong to the local church, the body belongs to, or accepted by God.

Back to topic

God does not care whether the local church failed to even God has failed to allow the local church congregation. You can not see in the Bible that God will restore to the church where the winning condition. So, if someone wants to build a victory local church, that he is not God in the pursuit of a goal set. But, but you can have a group of believers who are willing to become a victorious start with "their gathering", and then hope that victory was put together, this is definitely pleasing to God.

God's goal is to get the winner. If your church is a winner, you go to another church or a winner. Otherwise, even with the victorious church, and you just name only, in which, you will not go along with the victorious; if so, to become "one will win, you and I go to heaven," teaching.

Since God does not care where you meet God, how you will care about where the breaking of bread (the first few posts in the home can be added); God is not only concerned about your winner.

Enoch is the first one to mention the people who were raised to complete the will of God is man. He was the first winner, but in the end he did what? He is ㄧ a walk with God by, meet the heart of God and taught his children were so. In addition, God does not care that he did anything on the ground. Today, God only care about you in the spirit with him, colleagues, fellow workers, the same music, same worries, with God, appreciate him, love him; These are "living in the spirit of" purpose. If so, you are God's winner. To put it bluntly, Brother Nee for the Lord's recovery to restore what is simple and clear, not to restore a lot of interpretation, nor is it to restore the life of the church do this and that is to simply put people back to the before God to do with God, but also to teach children to live in God, let God satisfied.

Today, some groups will talk with a bunch of Farfetched, is to use "split body" bullying tactics scare you so that you obediently continue to be subject to his hijack. Do not care about people's intimidation, to care and you are not a recognized winner of the implementation of the will of God, but also to help others become the winner. It is important to learn to promise to help children to become winner, so you are not afraid of how your child's future.
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:56 AM   #81
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Terry,

That was virtually impossible to understand. If you understand it, can you edit it into reasonable English?
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:10 AM   #82
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Terry, I assume the original is in Taiwanese or Mandarin. Could you please point us to the original? Maybe somebody can find a better translation machine to put this through. Except for the fact that we know the context, this is virtually unintelligible. It is obviously written by somebody who is/was affiliated with the Local Church in Taiwan.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:43 AM   #83
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To talk about "local church"

According to Brother Nee, "Rethinking the work" principle, from God's perspective, only one local church in various places. Established according to the local church, not the mouth that he is, nor is it registered with the government is not recognized do not know that "local position" principle. From God's perspective, the local church is established according to the Saints as long as that place, that place there is the local church. Christians all in one place, in that local church. Whether he know this principle, regardless of his on the non-implementation of this principle, in the eyes of God, his church in that place; as long as he still live in the ground, where he was part of his local church. All had at that place "their gathering," the saints, and not because the "local church" does not belong to the establishment of local churches.

Having said that, we can apply, in Taipei, Taiwan belong to the local Christian church. Taipei has many local churches, "their gathering": There are Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Church gatherings of Taipei, Mandarin Chapel, Ling Liang Church ... there are many famous anonymous groups; in God's eyes, they all belong to the Taipei District Church. So, when we started the middle of the so-called local churches, in principle it can be said that the establishment of local churches, can only say that there is a group to see "local position" lessons, start "their gathering." To put it bluntly, why should the "local position" contention? Because whether you agree not recognize "local position" of the lesson, you are accepted by God. So, Brother Lee passed away before the fishes with the worker said, "You go where the position is not about my co-workers." Will also say, not in the basic beliefs, the truth and the practice of criticizing others.
As I understand from the writer, what we North Americans were ingrained with concerning WN's ministry is not so. Probably the best mirror to WN's ministry is to listen to Stephen Kaung. Best to disregard concepts taught regarding "the ground". As I understood from the first paragraph, the ground is where you live. It's not referencing a specific assembly receiving a specific ministry.
Getting to the second paragraph as I understand, suppose the city you live in, there are many churches/assemblies. All are local churches. Read the excerpt from the above quote:

"Taipei has many local churches, "their gathering": There are Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Church gatherings of Taipei, Mandarin Chapel, Ling Liang Church ... there are many famous anonymous groups; in God's eyes, they all belong to the Taipei District Church."

What the writer termed as "local position", I would define as "the ground" or in Exclusive Brethren terminology, "the one place". As the writer had asked, why should this teaching issue in contention? As the writer goes on to say,
"whether you agree not recognize "local position" of the lesson, you are accepted by God". This refers to Romans 15:7 (Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.)
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:00 PM   #84
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"If the foot says, I am not a hand, so I do not belong to the body, it can not therefore not part of the body and if the ear says, I am not the eye, it does not belong to the body, it can not therefore not part of the body." (I Corinthians twelve 15 to 16)

We compared the above verses the following sentences.

If someone says you are not "local church" and therefore not part of the body, you can not therefore not part of the body. If you say, I'm not "local church" and therefore not part of the body, you can not therefore not part of the body.

So do not say that others, even you yourself said you do not belong to the body, you can not therefore not part of the body.

"Not to give up our own together, as if some people used the same, down to encourage one another; both saw the day approaching, so much the more." (To ten 25)

So we can not go start another "local Church", because all of them at the local church. Therefore, we can find a group of people who are willing to seek the truth together with "their gathering," perhaps we are not "local Church" party, but we still belong to the local church, the body belongs to, or accepted by God.
Many of us can identify with this portion from the email. How many times in the so-called recovery has a brother or sister been treated as if they're not part of the Body via disfellowship, quarantine (aka excommunication)? Many times not because of a gross sin, but simply by being politically incorrect. The Recovery as we know is very Politically Correct oriented. If you don't "lineup", this is where 1 Corinthians 12 becomes a constant point of reference.

Now to the last paragraph from the above quote. As I understand from the writer, saints can always gather together. Just because they may not meet as the Local Church, they are still part of the local church.
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