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Old 02-23-2009, 08:06 AM   #1
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Default The Teachings of Witness Lee and the Local Church - Beisner

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The Teachings of Witness Lee
and the Local Church
Revised Edition2003
E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.


Introduction

The Local Church is composed of groups of people in cities around the United States and parts of the Orient who follow the teachings of Witness Lee. Lee is an Oriental who once was among the leaders of the movement begun by Watchman Nee. The name of the group is derived from the teaching of "localism," which in this form says that there is only one true church, one true representative of the Body of Christ, in any locality.

We love the people in this movement. It is because of this deep love that when serious errors are presented to them as the teachings of Scripture, we must respond by earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We do not attack the persons in the Local Church, but we must identify and correct the heretical teachings they have received.

We desire the unity of the Church, but unity is never to be taken at the expense of the essential truths of the Word of God. Paul wrote, "No doubt there have to be difference among you to show which of you have God's approval" (1 Corinthians 11:19). We must be followers of the One who said, "I am the way. the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), and to do so, we must not sacrifice the truth of His Word, it will be seen below that it is the Local Church that is dividing the Body of Christ by its errors. Its false teachings challenge the Body of Christ, and we must answer that challenge with Scripture (Jude 3: 1 Peter 3:15; Isaiah 8:20).


The Teachings of the Local Church Compared with Scripture
The Local Church has distinctive teachings that set it at variance to the Body of Christ, and it is our purpose to survey and compare these teachings with the Bible. It is important to understand first the attitude of the Local Church toward all the denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, so that we will see just how important these teachings are. Witness Lee writes, "Do not try to be neutral. Do not try to reconcile them. . . . You know the denominations are wrong, yet you still remain because you are afraid of what others will say."' For Lee and the Local Church, then, all denominations are wrong. (We shall return to this subject later.) What sets the Local Church apart from the denominations? The primary points are teaching and practice. Since the practices of the Local Church stem from its teachings, the two can, for practical purposes, be treated together.

We shall discuss five primary areas of teaching in the Local Church and compare them with the teaching of the Word of God: (1) the nature of God, particularly the doctrine of the Trinity; (2) the way of salvation; (3) the Church, focusing on "localism" and the relation of the Church to God; (4) the nature and use of the Bible; (5) the nature of sin and Satan.

The Nature of God
The doctrine of the Trinity is usually stated essentially thus: "In the nature of the one true God, there are three eternally distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three are the same God, all fully God, yet the Father is neither the Son nor the Spirit, the Son is neither the Father nor the Spirit, and the Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son."2 The Local Church, however, teaches contrary to this.

Successive Modalism. The Local Church teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the same Person as well as the same God, and that each is a successive step or stage in the revelation of God to man. Witness Lee writes:

Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity become the three successive steps in the process of God's economy.3
Likewise, the Father. Son. and Spirit are not three Gods, but three stages of one God for us to possess and enjoy.4

In the heavens, where man cannot see, God is the Father; when He is expressed among men, He is the Son; and when He comes into men, He is the Spirit. The Father was expressed among men in the Son, and the Son became the Spirit to come into men. The Father is in the Son, and the Son became the Spirit—the three are just one God.5

Formerly it was impossible for man to contact the Father, he was exclusively God and His nature was exclusively divine. There was nothing in the Father to bridge the gap between God and man. . . . But now He has . . . become incarnate in human nature. The Father was pleased to combine His own divinity with humanity in the Son.6 After death and resurrection He [the Son] became the Spirit breathed into the disciples.7

... the Son became the Spirit for us to drink in as the water of life.8 The Father, as the inexhaustible source of everything, is embodied in the Son.9
In the place where no man can approach Him (I Tim. 6:16), God is the Father. When He comes forth to manifest Himself, He is the Son. . . . We know the Lord is the Son and that He is also called the Father. . . . Now we read that He is the Spirit. So we must be clear that Christ the Lord is the Spirit, too. ... As the source, God is the Father. As the expression, He is the Son. As the transmission, He is the Spirit. The Father is the source, the Son is the expression, and the Spirit is the transmission, the communion. This is the triune God.10

We can see in these passages the clear teaching that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three successive stages in the revelation of God to mankind. Thus the Son is not really a Person distinct from the Father, but is the Father "come forth to manifest Himself." Neither is the Holy Spirit a Person distinct from the Father and Son, but "the transmission," the "communion"; He is in fact the Father and the Son in a different stage of expression to man. As former Local Church member Bill Freeman put it in "Witness Lee and Local Church's Reply to the 'Bible Answer Man' ":

The relationship between the Father and the Son is one of mutual indwelling. That is, each Person interpenetrates and coinheres the Others. This mutual indwelling and interpenetration reveals the distinction within the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and also preserves the fact that the Triune God is uniquely One. The second type- of Scriptures showing the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity is the verses that specifically state that one Person of the Triune God is Another.11

Systematic theologian and historian of doctrine Louis Berkhof described Sabellianistic modalism thus:
. . . Sabellius . . . distinguished between the unity of the divine essence and the plurality of its manifestations, which are represented as following one another like the parts of a drama. Sabellius indeed sometimes spoke of three divine persons, but then used the word 'person' in the original sense of the word, in which it signifies a role of acting or a mode of manifestation. According to him the names Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simply designations of three different phases under which the one divine essence manifests itself. God reveals Himself as Father in creation and in the giving of the law, as Son in the incarnation, and as Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification.12

Systematic theologian Abraham Kuyper wrote of Sabellianism:
Sabellius . . . came to the conclusion that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were after all but one Person; who first wrought in creation as Father, then having become the Son wrought out our redemption, and now as the Holy Spirit perfects our sanctification."13

Historian of theology William Kelly wrote:
Taking its name from the third century Sabellius, this . . . reduced the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Ghost to three characters, modes or relations of the Godhead assumed for the purpose of the divine dealings with man. Thus God is eternally and essentially one, but economically, i.e., for specific purposes, he takes the form of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . . .'4

Systematic theologian Augustus Strong wrote:
Sabellius and Schleiermacher hold that the One becomes three in the process of revelation, and the three are only media or modes of revelation. Father, Son, and Spirit are mere names applied to these modes of the divine action, there being no internal distinctions in the divine nature. This is modalism, or a modal Trinity."15

Church historian Philip Schaff wrote:
While the other Monarchians confine their inquiry to the relation of the Father and Son, Sabellius embraces the Holy Spirit in his speculation, and reaches a trinity, not a simultaneous trinity of essence, however, but only a successive trinity of revelation. He starts from a distinction of the monad and the triad in the divine nature. His fundamental thought is, that the unity of God, without distinction in itself, unfolds or extends itself in the course of the world's development in three different forms and periods of revelation, and, after the completion of redemption, returns into unity. The Father reveals Himself in the giving of the law or the Old Testament economy . . .; the Son, in the incarnation; the Holy Ghost, in inspiration."16

Remember the teaching of Lee: "Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity become the three successive steps in the process of God's economy."17 There can be no doubt that this aspect of Lee's teaching is modalistic in the Sabellian sense: that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three successive modes (hence the name "modalism") or stages in the manifestation of God to man, rather than three internally, essentially distinct Persons.

This doctrine was declared heretical in the third century (A.D. 263 under Bishop Dionysius of Rome), and has since crept into the teaching of the Church from time to time, always to be rejected in favor of the Scriptural teaching of the essential Trinity. Scripture affirms that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three successive steps, for they are eternal and simultaneous. Hebrews 9; 14 tells of Christ offering Himself through the "eternal Spirit." They both existed at the same time, and Christ was not the Spirit. Yet Lee wrote, "the Son became the Spirit for us to drink in as the water of life. . . ,"18 John 17:5 shows that the Father and the Son existed simultaneously "before the world was." Yet Lee wrote, "But now [the Father] has . . . become incarnate in human nature. The Father was pleased to combine His own divinity with humanity in the Son."19

The concept of the Father becoming the Son and the Son becoming the Spirit is contradicted in other ways in Scripture. Malachi 3:6 tells us that God does not change; yet modalism would entail changes in God. In Isaiah 44:6 we have the Father (Jehovah, the King of Israel) and the Son (His Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts) speaking simultaneously, affirming at once that they are the same God, yet presented clearly and directly as distinct Persons. In Luke 22:42 Christ prays to the Father, "not my will, but thine be done." there is a clear distinction between the Father and the Son, yet they exist simultaneously. They have separate (though never conflicting) wills, and hence must be separate Persons, yet are the same God.

In John 14:26 we find that the Father will send the Holy Spirit; in 15:26 we find that Jesus wills end the Spirit (see also 16:7); and in 17:8 and 20:21 we find that the Father has sent Jesus. We see a complete distinction among the Persons of the Trinity. None of them becomes another, none is another. All are eternally distinct, not successive stages in God's revelation of Himself to man. All relate to each other as one Person to another Person.

Static Modalism The Local Church also teaches another view of the Trinity, also modalistic. For the purposes of this booklet, we shall call this "static modalism," because in this form there is no succession of one becoming another. Father, Son, and Spirit are presented as separate but simultaneous modes or aspects of the revelation of the same One to man. Lee writes:
Although he is one God, yet there is the matter of three-foldness, that is, the threefold Person—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. 20
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He [the Father] is the One hidden within, and the Son is the One manifested without; yet the One who is manifested without is the One who is hidden within—the two are just one. 21
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Thank the Lord, He also has two ends: at the end in heaven He is the Father, and at the end on the earth He is the Son; at the end in heaven He is the One who listens to the prayer, and at the end on earth He is the One who prays. He is both the One who prays on earth and the One who listens in heaven. 22
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The Son who prays is the Father who listens. 23
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Therefore the Bible clearly reveals to us that the Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit. Otherwise, how could these three be one God? 24
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The Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit.25
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The Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit. . . ,26

It is clear that Lee also teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are simultaneously each other. At one and the same time, the Son is the Father and the Holy Spirit. The statement concerning the Father and the Son that "the two are just one" is actually unclear: we are forced to ask, "One what?" Lee's answer is that they are the same Person, for we are told that the threefoldness in God is the "threefold Person."27 This implicates the Holy Spirit in this one person as well. The fact that this teaches simultaneous, non-successive modalism cannot be denied, regardless of the fact that it is therefore in direct contradiction to Lee's teaching, shown above, of developmental modalism.

The term applied to this teaching in the history of Christian doctrine is generally Patripassianism (from pater, Father, and potior, to suffer), because it logically implied the suffering of the Father on the Cross as Christ. Schaff wrote of this class of thinkers:
The second class of Monarchians, called by Tertullian "Patripassians" . . . together with their unitarian zeal felt the deeper Christian impulse to hold fast the divinity of Christ; but they sacrificed to it his independent personality, which they merged in the essence of the Father. They taught that the one supreme God by His own free will, and by an act of self-limitation became man, so that the Son is the Father veiled in the flesh. They knew no other God but the one manifested in Christ, and charged their opponents with ditheism.28

William Nigel Kerr wrote:
Patripassianists . . . with the modalists confused the persons of the Trinity and denied the union of the two natures in the one person of Christ. Defending monotheism they held that since God was one essence there could not be three persons but instead three modes of manifestation. Thus the Son was the Father appearing in human form. Noetus taught that Christ was the Father and so the Father was born, suffered and died upon the cross, hence the name patripassian.29

One of the most famous early teachers of this doctrine was Praxeas, of whom Schaff wrote:
Praxeas, constantly appealing to Isaiah Is. 45:5; Jno. 10:30 . . ., as if the whole Bible consisted of these three passages, taught that the Father Himself became man, hungered, thirsted, suffered, and died in Christ.30

Two other early thinkers taught this doctrine, bishops of Rome Zephyrinus and, with some modifications, Callistus: "Zephyrinus (201-219) and Callistus (219-223) held and taught (according to the "Philosophumena" of Hippolytus, a martyr and saint) the Patripassian heresy, that God the Father became incarnate and suffered with the Son."31 Louis Berkhof wrote of Praxeas and Noetus, the two most prominent teachers of this doctrine:
Praxeas . . . seems to have avoided the assertion that the Father suffered, but Noetus did not hesitate at this point. To quote the words of Hippolytus: "He said that Christ is Himself the Father, and that the Father Himself was born and suffered and died." According to the same Church Father he even made the bold assertion that the Father by changing the mode of his being literally became His own Son. The statement of Noetus referred to runs as follows: "When the Father had not yet been born, He was rightly called the Father; but when it pleased Him to submit to birth, having been born, He became the Son, he of Himself and not of another.32

While we can see the beginning of successionism in Noetus's doctrine, the primary teaching represented in these and other quotations is the simultaneous identity of one Person as Father and Son, which Witness Lee also propagates.

Like Sabellianistic (or successionalistic) modalism, static modalism also fails to conform to Scripture. The presentation of distinction among the Persons of Father, Son, and Spirit in Scripture is unmistakable: Father and Son have separate, though never conflicting, wills (Luke 22:42; the Father sends Jesus (John 17:8; 20:21); Jesus and the Father send the Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7; 14:26). Even the Hebrew word that tells us that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; echod) has implicit within it the concept of plurality.33 In Luke 3:22 the Father addresses the Son, saying, "Thou art my beloved Son"; if Father and Son are the same Person, this makes no sense. John 1:1, which reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," gives a perfect presentation of the unity of Father and Son as the same God (third clause), and yet also of their personal distinction, since the Word was "with God" (second clause; the Greek pros, here translated with, is usually held to be, in contexts like this, an abbreviated form of prosbpon pros prosbpon, the Greek phrase for face to face). Even John 10:30, where Jesus says, "I and the Father are one," carries within it their personal distinction, since the verb is plural and may be translated "we are."

With such scriptural evidence against both successionalistic and static modalism, it is easy to understand the conclusion of theologian W.H. Griffith Thomas in regard to modalism in general:
Sabellianism both ancient and modern has always proved impossible in the long run. Modalism even without Successionalism is wholly inadequate to the Scripture testimony. There is scarcely anything more significant in the history of the Church than the recurrence and also the rejection of Sabellianism, for it is at once apparently easy, and soon seen to be utterly impossible to consider the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as mere aspects or manifestations of one God.34

Lee's two doctrines of modalism are no exception to this conclusion. They disagree with the testimony of Scripture. They are revivals of two ancient heresies. They are contradictory not only to Scripture but even to each other. Thus they must be rejected by all Christians, since Malachi 3:6 declares the unchangeableness of God.

The Extension of the Incarnation: The Church as God Manifest in the Flesh. As a result of these heresies, we expect more errors, and the primary one we find in Lee's teaching is that God becomes the Church, or vice versa. For most Christians such a teaching is so incredible that we tend to refuse to believe that anyone could seriously teach it. Yet it has actually been taught, and rejected, time and again throughout the history of Christianity and has sometimes been referred to as the doctrine of the "extension of the incarnation."

That Lee teaches this is clearly seen in many of his writings:
The Church—The Manifestation of God in the Flesh. . . . This Church is the continuation and the multiplication of God manifest in the flesh. ... We are then the increase, the enlargement, of the manifestation of God in the flesh. God manifests Himself again in the flesh, but in a wider way. ... In other words, God is mingled with human beings, not in an outward way, but in an inward way. The Church is the manifestation of God not the manifestation of doctrines or gifts.35

This Christ has expanded from one Person to thousands and thousands of persons. He was once the individual Christ, but in Acts He has become a corporate Christ.36

[Speaking of the Church and Christ:] In number we are different, but in nature we are exactly the same37

The Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Spirit, and the Spirit is now in the Body. They are now four in one: the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the Body.38

With the Incarnation a dispensation began in which God and man, man and God were blended into one.39

The first creation, though brought into being by God Himself, is by God Himself suffered to pass into death that it may emerge in resurrection as a creation of dual nature, i.e., combining the natures of God and man.40

The resurrection followed the crucifixion. The resurrection recovered and uplifted the standard of humanity created by God and brought the human nature into God. By incarnation the divine nature was brought into man; by resurrection the human nature was brought into God. Now it is possible for man to have more than a created human nature. . . . God mingled with man and man mingled with God. . . . God in His three Persons mingles Himself with us.41
Then the day will come when the Triune God and the resurrected man will be one expression. . . ,42

"Eventually God will become us."43
"Christ will be increased through us because He is reproduced in us”44

As Local Church member Ron Kangas wrote, "The many brothers and the firstborn Son are the same in life and nature," and "Both the firstborn Son and the many sons are the same in the divine life and nature."45

We are left with no doubt that the Local Church teaches that the Church becomes God, and vice versa. This is stated not only by Lee, but also by one of the apologists of the Local Church, Bill Freeman, who wrote of the "mystery of Christ and the Church as one entity."46 Another Local Church apologist, John C. Ingalls, wrote that "Christ is not only the Head, but also the Body [i.e., the Church]."47

Such an idea as this necessarily involves a change in the very nature of God. God must become the Church, and every time someone is added to the Church, God must increase. Indeed, when Lee writes of the Church as the "increase, the enlargement, of the manifestation of God in the flesh," in the context of the other writings quoted above, he clearly implies an increase in God Himself. But such a teaching is impossible in the light of Malachi 3:6, where-God proclaims, "For I am the Lord, I change not. . . ."

Paul commented on others who confused God with His creation: "For the invisible things of him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man. . . ." [Romans 1:20-23]

Colossians 1:18 declares that Christ is "the head of the body, the church," where the word for head is kephale, used metaphorically to mean the One preeminent over, but not a part of, the Church.48 He is not, then, the Body, but the Head of (or "over") the Body.

The Local Church doctrine of God, therefore, is contrary to the Word of God. It teaches that God is changing, first, from Father to Son to Spirit, then to the Church itself. It denies the real, distinct personalities of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, speaking instead of these as stages in the manifestation of God to man. By so doing, it really denies the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It must be rejected by Christians.

The Way of Salvation
The Local Church's believes in regard to salvation are complex and even appear contradictory. Lee first teaches that salvation is simply and only a matter of calling on the name of the Lord. But in other literature he strongly implies that it is impossible to be saved unless one attends the Local Church. It is helpful to see how he states both positions:
We have seen that to reach the unbelievers, no preaching is necessary. If we help them say "O Lord" three times, they will be saved. If they open the window, the air will get in. All they have to do is to open their mouths and say, "O Lord, O Lord." Even if they have no intention of believing, still they will be caught. Regardless of whether they have the intention or not, as long as they open the window, the air will get in. It is not a matter of teaching; it is a matter of touching the seven Spirits of God.49

The implications of this are clear. All that is necessary for salvation is that one say, "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord." Nothing else is necessary. Is it truly not necessary to believe, or eve to intend to believe? Does salvation have nothing to do with the belief of the individual, but just with words he says?

On the other hand, there is clear indication in the writings of Lee and the Local Church that they believe that one cannot be saved if he is not in the Local Church. Finding Christ by the Living Star tells of three kinds of stars: the "Living Star," which is Christ Himself; the "living stars," which are members of the Local Church; and the "wandering stars," which are all those who are outside the Local Church. Lee writes:
If we follow the wandering stars, eventually our portion will be the same as theirs—the blackness of darkness forever. .... If anyone comes to you without a definite standing and certain course, avoid him. The proper standing is the local church, and the right course is to go on in the Spirit in the local church.50 Never be a wandering star, and never follow a wandering star. .... Today the only way for you and me and for anyone to find Christ is to see the living star. Hallelujah! Today the star is not far from us—it is with the local churches. . . . Today the living star and the living stars are in the local churches. Let us follow them and let us be one of them.51

Lee and those in the Local Church consider all those outside the Local Church "wandering stars." And the destiny of these "wandering stars" is "the blackness of darkness forever." Apparently only by being in the Local Church can one be saved. This contradicts his teaching that all one need do to be saved is to say "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord." Which, then, is true?

According to the Bible, neither is true. The belief that all who say "O Lord, O Lord, O Lord," regardless of belief, will be saved, is not true. Christ says: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23). The context of this statement shows that it is not simply the doing of good works, or the calling on the name of the Lord, that saves one. What is necessary is belief, or faith (John 6:29; John 8;24; Acts 16:31). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Since the Local Church has also a false doctrine of God, it cannot be true that one must be in the Local Church to be saved. We see that both aspects of Lee's teaching on salvation are contrary to God's Word. Yet even if the Local Church did have a true belief about God, instead of the false belief it has, and a true belief about salvation, instead of its false belief, it would not be the only group in which one could be saved, for Scripture opposes such exclusivism (1 Corinthians 1:12-13ff). The exclusivism of the Local Church divides the true Body of Christ and is contrary to the Bible.

The Church: The Belief in Localism

In accord with the teaching that one must be in the Local Church to be saved, Lee teaches the doctrine of "localism," that is, that there is only one true representative of the Body of Christ in any city. This, of course, is said to be the Local Church. The Local Church alone is alleged to be the true representative of the Body of Christ, and all other churches are false:
If you get into anything other than the local church of the city, you get into a division; if you get into the church of that city, you get into unity.52
[Satan] has taken another step by creating all the sects, denominations and divisions in the Body of Christ. . . . God is moving in these days to recover. What is the way of His recovery? . . . the recovery of the proper unity. Not until these three things are recovered among us will we have a proper and adequate church life.53
Through all the centuries since then, religious people have followed in their steps, persecuting the genuine seekers and followers of the Lord in spirit and life, while still considering themselves to be defending the interests of God. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, as well as Judaism, all fall into this category, becoming an organization of Satan as his tool to damage God's economy.54
... the church life must be practiced today and there is no other way but the local churches.55
Judaism is satanic, Catholicism is demonic, and Protestantism is Christless.56

Localism. There are two primary aspects to this teaching. First, Lee teaches a doctrine called localism. This, however, is refuted in the Word of God when Paul writes in Romans 16:3-5a: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Paul wrote to a church in Rome, yet he asked that group of saints to greet the church that was in Priscilla and Aquila's house. There were therefore at least two churches in Rome, even at that early time. Church history shows that it was common to have more than one church in a city, even in apostolic times. Schaff wrote of early churches:
The first traces of special houses of worship occur in Tertullian, who speaks of going to church, and in his contemporary, Clement of Alexandria, who mentions the double meaning of the word ekklesia. About the year 230, Alexander Severus granted the Christians the right to a place in Rome against the protest of the tavern-keepers, because the worship of God in any form was better than tavern-keeping. After the middle of the third century the building of churches began in great earnest, as the Christians enjoyed over forty years of repose (260-303), and multiplied so fast that, according to Eusebius, more spacious places of devotion became everywhere necessary. . . . Rome is supposed to have had, as early as the beginning of the fourth century, more than forty churches.57

It is clear that the number of churches in a given community simply increased proportionate to the number of Christians in the community, as they had need. If there were forty in Rome by a.d. 300, surely there were more than a few during and shortly after the apostolic age.

The second aspect of the teachings quoted above is that of the condemnation of all denominations other than the Local Church.58 Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are called organizations of Satan. This can only be seen as extreme divisiveness in the Body of Christ. This teaching opposes Christ's prayer on behalf of the Church, the Body of Christ, that "they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). The Local Church's divisiveness is against Christ, and because of this it is harder for the world to see that Christ truly is sent of the Father.

The Local Church claims that it, and it alone, is the true Church in any community; that all others are organizations of Satan; that it is impossible to be in a right standing, or on correct ground, outside the Local Church. Because of this it is imperative that the Body of Christ respond strongly and quickly by showing the errors in the Local Church, warning others against it, and helping those in the Local Churches to understand Lee's errors and return to Biblical truth. We must not meet their condemnation by condemning them personally. We must point out the heresies taught by the group, correct them lovingly according to the Word of God, and help members of the Local Church to understand the true teachings of Scripture so that they will no longer be confused by false teachings.

The Bible and Reason in the Local Church
While the Local Church teaching recognizes the Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the Bible does not seem to govern the beliefs of most Local Church members. Their beliefs apparently are governed by their experiences, not by a study of Scripture. With this in mind, we can more easily understand the inner contradictions in the Local Church. Members of the Local Church are told not to research, understand, or learn the Word. This rejection of the mind and thought explains the confused nature of much Local Church teaching.

The Local Church approaches the subject of teaching, or doctrine, negatively. Lee writes, "Doctrine only works divisions among the Lord's children."59 (But Lee, as he does so often, contradicts himself. He writes, ". . . we can certainly receive help from doctrine. . . ."60) This attitude makes it hard for Local Church members to consider seriously the importance of their own beliefs and compare them carefully with Scripture. It is an attitude contrary to the teachings of the Word of God, which says, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . . and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

There is a general emphasis in the Local Church against teaching, knowledge about the Bible or God, and study of the Word:
As long as [Jesus] is with us, we need no regulations, no rituals, no doctrines or forms. . . . Do you come to the meetings for teaching or for learning? We must come to the meetings for feasting." Suppose in the meetings of the local church we did not do anything but say: "O Lord, Amen, Hallelujah! O Lord, Amen, Hallelujah!" If the Lord were to lead us to do this for two hours, I believe we would all be set on fire. Everyone would be burned. This is much, much better than any kind of prevailing message. Why is this? It is because when we say these four words we are touching the seven Spirits of God which are before the throne. Try it and see if the seven Spirits will not burn you.62

Lee's attitude toward studying the Bible is significant, in that it explains much of the confusion and misunderstanding of the Bible prevalent among members of the Local Church. It is connected with a doctrine called "pray-reading" the Word, which Lee explains:
. . . there is no need for us to close our eyes to pray. It is better for us to close our mind! . . . Do not try only to leam the Bible. We must realize that this is a book of life, not a book of knowledge. This book is the divine embodiment of the living Spirit, and He is life.63 Simply pick up the Word and pray-read a few verses in the morning and in the evening. There is no need for you to exercise your mind in order to squeeze out some utterance, and it is unnecessary to think over what you read. ... It is better for us to close our mind! For example, n pray-reading Galatians 2:20 simply look at the printed page, which says, "I am crucified with Christ." Then with your eyes upon the Word and praying from deeply within say: "Praise the Lord, 'I am crucified with Christ!' Hallelujah! 'Crucified with Christ.' Amen. 'I am.' Oh, Lord, 'I am crucified.' Praise the Lord! 'Crucified with Christ.' Amen! 'I am crucified with Christ.' Hallelujah! Amen! 'Nevertheless.' Amen. 'Nevertheless.' Amen! 'I live.' Oh, Lord, 'I live!' Hallelujah! Amen! 'Yet not I but Christ,' etc." . .. There is no need for you to compose any sentences or create a prayer. Just pray-read the Word, pray the words of the Bible exactly as they read. Eventually, you will see that the whole Bible is a prayer book! You can open to any page of the Bible and start to pray with any portion of the Word. . . . There is no need to explain or expound the Word, simply pray with the Word. Forget about reading, researching, understanding, and learning the Word. You must pray-read the Word.64

Such a teaching discourages careful study of the Word by Local Church members, and therefore encourages them to accept without questions the group's teachings. This implication alone would be contrary to 1 Thessalonians 5:21: "Test all things, hold fast that which is good." But there are further difficulties.

The dislike for knowledge is contrary to Paul's prayer that we "might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding . . . and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:9-10). The advice that we "forget about reading, researching, understanding, and learning the Word" is against 2 timothy 2:15, which says to "show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The idea of closing our minds when reading Scripture and praying is against the Word of God when Paul writes, "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" (1 Corinthians 14:15). It is completely contrary to the spirit of the psalmist, who wrote: Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments, order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. . . . Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes. . . . The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. [Psalm 119:129-131, 133, 135, 144] This certainly presents a contrast to the one who says, "Forget about reading, researching, understanding, and learning the word!"

Furthermore, the constant repetitions and exclamations that mark the practice of "pray-reading" the Word are comparable to what Paul taught against when he wrote, "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker . . ." (2 Timothy 2:16-17). it is refuted by Jesus' statement about prayer: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them . . ." (Matthew 6:7-8).

It is clear that the Local Church method of using the Bible and of prayer is contrary to Scripture. It can contribute to a general confusion about the Word of God itself, about what it teaches, about God Himself, and about the individual's relationship to God and others. But furthermore, it can contribute to an unquestioning acceptance of Local Church teachings over all others, including those of the Bible. This is coupled with Lee's claims about his own teachings:
These words are not merely a teaching but a strong testimony to what I have been practicing and experiencing for more than 35 years. I have been captured by this vision. By the mercy of the Lord I have never changed my way or my tone. And I have seen truly local churches raised up in many cities as an incontrovertible testimony that this is the way of the Lord.65
Do not think this is my teaching; it is the Lord's revelation. The Lord is going to recover it, and He is doing it now. We must have a change. Repent! Change your concept! Be buried! Enjoy Jesus as the Bridegroom!66

These high claims about Lee's teaching, plus the discouragement of serious study and thought about the Bible, lead to unswerving allegiance to the Local church. Such claims are a source of great difficulty in communicating with members, yet they are completely nonscriptural. Not only are these teachings wrong about God, salvation, and the Church, but also they are contrary to Scripture concerning prayer and the study of God's Word, and encourage the practice of accepting beliefs without questioning them, contrary to 1 Thessalonians 5:21. There is nothing that should not be tested in relation to any religious belief. We encourage members of the Local Church to be like the noble Bereans "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Here Luke shows that the Bereans were "noble" because they tested even the gospel Paul preached by the Scriptures. Certainly if the Bereans were "noble" for testing the preaching of Paul by Scripture, members and those interested in the Local Church should test the teachings of Witness Lee also.

The Local Church Belief About Sin and Satan

When we approach the teachings of the Local Church about sin and Satan, we strike at the root of Lee's doctrine, and perhaps find the stem from which all his doctrines naturally flow. Lee begins with Paul's references to the "flesh" as the sinful nature in man and literalizes them so that sin actually is the flesh of man. We see the flow of Lee's thinking from this point in The Economy of God:
Man's body as originally created by God was something very good, but it has now become the flesh. The body was pure, since it was created good, but when the body was corrupted by Satan, it became flesh.67
It was God's intention for this neutral, innocent man to take God into himself, that God and man, man and God, would be mingled together as one. . . . Another possibility, however, was that man would be induced to take the second tree, the source of death. As a consequence, man would then be mingled with the second tree. Oh, that our eyes might be opened to see that in the whole universe it is not a matter of ethics and of doing good, but a matter of either receiving God as life or Satan as death.68
The significance of Adam taking the fruit of the tree of knowledge was that he received Satan into himself.. . . Satan grew in Adam and became a part of him.69
The body simply became the residence of Sin, which is the embodiment of Satan. . . . This corrupted, transmuted body is called the "body of sin," and the "body of death," because this body became the very residence of Satan.70
[After the fall] Satan was joyful, boasting that he had succeeded in taking over man. But God, who was still outside of man, seemed to say: "I will also become incarnated. If Satan wrought himself into man, then let Me enter man and put man upon Myself."71
The body is something satanic and devilish, because Satan dwells in this body. All the lusts are in this corrupted body which is called the flesh. . . .Satan, from the time of the fall, dwells in man. This is what happened when man partook of the second tree.. . . Since Satan and man became one through the second tree, Satan is no longer outside of man, but in man.72

Christ is the embodiment of God, but sin is the embodiment of Satan. . . . Sin can be lord over us; hence, Sin must be the evil one, Satan. Through the fall, Satan came into man as Sin, and is ruling, damaging, corrupting and mastering him. In what part? Satan is in the members of man's body."

The problem for man, then, is sin. Sin, according to Lee, is Satan. Satan has come into man's flesh and masters him. In this way, Satan has taken complete control of man, and this control can only be broken by God coming into man in the same way Satan has come. We see the following step in Lee's teaching:
When the Lord Jesus incarnated Himself in flesh, He was "in the likeness of the flesh of sin." . . . When Christ was on the cross, He was a man "in the likeness" of the serpent. The serpent is Satan, the devil, the enemy of God, but when Christ was incarnated as a man, He had even the likeness of the sinful flesh, which is the likeness of Satan. . . . After God became a man and put that man with Satan within him upon Himself, He brought that man to the cross. Satan thought he had succeeded, but he only gave the Lord an easy way to put him to death. ... By taking man, he [Satan] was caught and imprisoned in man. Subsequently, the Lord came and put man upon Himself to bring him to the cross.... At the same time, Satan within this fallen man was put to death also. . . . Christ brought man with Satan into death and the grave and brought man without Satan out of death and the grave. He left Satan buried in the grave. Now this resurrected man is one with Christ. . . . [T]hrough this resurrection man with God became one. By incarnation God came into man, and by resurrection man with God became one. Now God is in man's spirit.74

Parallel Incarnations of God and Satan. The line of thought here is clear: God first intended to create man for the purpose of manifesting Himself; Stan tempted man, so that man took of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by so doing, man took Satan into himself, and so long as Satan is there, man cannot manifest God; God therefore purposed to put Himself into man, which He first accomplished through the incarnation in Christ (and later extends this incarnation to all believers); He then brought Christ to the cross so that the man and Satan died; finally He raised the man and Christ (Himself) from the dead, so that man could at last fully express God. Let us see how all of this stands in relation to Scripture.

Lee's teaching stems from his identification of sin with Satan. It is difficult to see whether Lee intends to personify sin in making it Satan, or to depersonify Satan by making him (it) sin. Whichever is the case, neither view is Biblical. The Bible shows a clear distinction between sin and Satan. Sin is revealed as the attitude or acts of disobedience and disloyalty to God and His Word (Romans 3:20; 4:15; 7:7-25, esp. 15-16). While sin is sometimes personified in Scripture, as if it had a will of its own, this can be easily seen to be figurative language. Satan, in contrast, is presented as a particular personal being, the fall angel (2 Corinthians 11:14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:5; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). It is incorrect, therefore, to call sin Satan.

Yet this error leads to a more significant one. Because man became a sinner when he took of the forbidden fruit, Lee infers that he therefore took Satan into himself; his literal flesh then became the abode and embodiment of Satan. Man then became the manifestation of Satan. But again this is contrary to Scripture. It misinterprets Paul's use offlesh as a metaphor for the sinful nature of man, making the "flesh" itself actually evil. But Paul says no such thing of our literal flesh: instead he thinks of it as morally neutral and, because it is a creation of God, generally good. He sees the flesh simply as being under the bondage of sin (Romans 7:17, 18, 24) and therefore subject to corruption (romans 8:18-23). This is what he calls the "natural body" (1 Corinthians 15:44). But flesh itself will become the "spiritual body" when it has been raised from the dead and has put on immortality (Luke 24:39; John 2:19-21; 1 Corinthians 15:44-54; Romans 8:11). The flesh is not evil and is not the manifestation of sin.

This error of believing flesh to be evil leads to another error, still more significant. Lee believes that Satan corrupted all men by becoming one with them, by being incarnated in them. It follows that he must believe that God can only save men by becoming one with them, which is what he wrote: "God . . . seemed to say: 'I will also become incarnated. If Satan wrought himself into man, then let Me enter man and put man upon Myself.'"75 It follows logically from Lee's belief that Satan was incarnated in all men that God will become incarnated in all those who become Christians, and it follows that Lee would teach that the Church itself is God manifest in the flesh, as we saw before.

There are two parallel lines that run through Lee's teaching about God, man, salvation, the Church, sin, and Satan:
First, sin and Satan are one and the same, Satan became incarnate in man at the fall, the flesh of all men is therefore Satan incarnate, the only means of redeeming men is for God to become incarnate in them instead of Satan, God first became incarnate in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit He becomes incarnate in the Church, the Body of Christ.
Second, God created man for the purpose of expressing Himself, man fell, the Father became the Son to be the first man in whom God was incarnate, He died, leaving Satan in the grave, and rose, becoming the Holy Spirit, the Spirit comes into believers, making them the continuation of the incarnation so that the Church is God manifest in the flesh.

All of this is contrary to the Word of God, for it requires that God be changing, contradicting God's nature. It robs Christ of His uniqueness, contrary to John 3:16. It confuses sin with Satan and takes an unbiblical view of the physical body by calling it evil. It confuses saved men with God, contradicting Isaiah 43:10; Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19, and accepts the error proposed to Eve by Satan in Genesis 3:5.

Conclusion
Our conclusion can only be that the teachings of Witness Lee and the Local Church are heretical. We urge all Christians everywhere to pray for those in the Local Church and to help them see Lee's errors and return to the true gospel, the true Jesus, the true Spirit, and the pure Word of God, which is the lamp unto our feet. The teachings of the Local Church are false, and false teachings originate with Satan (John 8:44). Such teachings are darkness (Ephesians 6:12), and the Christian must not walk in darkness (1 John 1:5-7). Let us walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).

About the Author

E. Calvin Beisner is associate professor of historical theology and social ethics at Knox Theological Seminary. He spent seven years as a researcher and writer on doctrinal and cult apologetics in the 1970s and early 1980s with the Christian Research Institute under the late Dr. Walter Martin and with CARIS (Christian Apologetics: Research and Information Service, the precursor to the present Answers in Action) in cooperation with cult apologists Bob and Gretchen Passantino. He contributed to Martin's The New Cults and wrote research reports published by CRI. Among his teaching responsibilities at Knox is a course on the theology of the cults. Among his eleven books is his God in Three Persons (Tyndale House, 1984), a study of the early history of the doctrine of the Trinity, and "Jesus Only" Churches (Zondervan, 1998), a refutation of the modalist theology of Oneness Pentecostalism, which is in some respects similar to that of Witness Lee and the Local Church. He earned a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in religion and philosophy, magna cum laude, in 1978 from the University of Southern California, where his thesis on the early history of the doctrine of the Trinity was awarded highest honors; an M.A. in society with a specialization in economic ethics, magna cum laude, in 1983 from International College; and a Ph.D. in history in 2003 from the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

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1 Witness Lee. The Practical Expression of the Church (Anaheim: Stream, 1974), 92, 111.
2 For more detailed statement and scriptural proof, see Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 volumes (Grand R apids: Eerdmans, 1 973), 1:442 ff.
3 Witness Lee, The Economy of God (Los Angeles: Stream, 1968), 10.
4 Witness Lee, "Concerning the Triune God" (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 3 1.
5 Ibid., 8-9.
6 Lee, The Economy of God, 11.
7 Lee, "Concerning the Triune God," 8; brackets added.
8 Ibid., 8.

9 Lee, The Economy of God, 11.
10 Witness Lee, The All-inclusive Spirit of Christ (LosAngeles: Stream, 1969), 4, 6,8.
11 Santa Ana Register, Saturday, October 22, 1 977, D.
I2 Louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975), 79: cf. 78-79.
13 Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 45.
14 William Kelly, "Sabellianism," in Baker's Dictionary of Theology, edited by Everett F. Harrison (GrandRapids: Baker, 1975),465.
15 Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1976), 327.
16 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 8 volumes (USA: Associated Publishers and Authors, n.d.), 2:262.
17 Lee, The Economy of God, 1 0.
18 Lee, “Concerning the Triune God” 8
19 Lee, The Economy of God, 11
20 Lee, “Concerning the Triune God” 11
21 -26 Ibid
27 Lee, "Concerning the Triune God," 11.
28 Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 2:260.
29 William Nigel Kerr, "Patripassianism," inBaker's Dictionary of Theology, 396-7.
30 Shaff, History of the Christian Church, 2:260.
31 Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 3 volumes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 197 7), 2:1 77.
32 Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrines, 79.
33 William Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, trans, and ed. S. P. Tregelles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1 974), 28-29.
34 W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Holy Spirit of Cod (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 129.
35 Lee, The Economy of God, 199.
36 Wintnes Lee, "Life-Study in Matthew, Message One" (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 3.
37 Witness Lee, The All-inclusive Christ (Los Angeles: Stream, 1969), 103.
38 Lee, The Practical Expression of the Church, 43.
39 Witness Lee, The God of Resurrection (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 4.
40 Lee, The God of Resurrection, 12.
41 Lee, The Economy of God, 206-7. Note that while Lee here speaks of "three Persons" in God, this does not excuse him from the charge of modalism. It merely makes clear that he must redefine the word person so that it bears little resemblance to the true meaning of the word. Berkhof (History of Christian Doctrines, 79) wrote that "Sabellius indeed sometimes spoke of three divine persons, but then used the word 'person' in the original sense of the word, in which it signifies a role of acting or a mode of manifestation." It is apparent that Lee has done the same thing.
42 Ibid., 113.
43 Life-Study in Genesis, Message 10, 121-2.
44 "Christ as Life (2 3) Christ's Increase-His Bride," excerpt of Life Study in John (Stream, 1977),on John3:29-30.
45 "A Response to False Teachings," Santa Ana Register, date unknown.
46 Bill Freeman, The Testimony of Church History Regarding the Mystery of the Mingling of God with Man (Anaheim: Stream, 1 977), 5.
47 John C Ingalls, "The Truth Concerning God manifest in the Flesh," in "The Response of Witness Lee and Local Church To a Recent Meeting Held at Melodyland” Santa Ana Register, October 8, 1977.
48 J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Wheaton: Evangel, 1974), 345.
49 Witness Lee, Stream Magazine 8:1 (February 1,1970), 6.
50 Note that Lee never uses the phrase local church in a general sense as denoting any local congregation of Christians; rather, in his use it always denotes specifically the one local congregation of believers who follow his teachings.
51 Witness Lee, Finding Christ By the Living Star (Los Angeles: Stream, 1970), 27-28.
52 Witness Lee, The Vision of the Church (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 9.
53 Witness Lee, Satan's Strategy Against the Church (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 6, 8.
54 Witness Lee, The Recovery Version of Revelation (Anaheim: Stream, 1976), 17.
55 Witness Lee, The Churches (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 12.
56 Stream, vol. 4, no. 4.
57 Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 2:93.
58 It is interesting that those in the Local Church do not consider the Local Church a denomination. A denomination is simply a group (usually religious) with a name. This description fits the Local Church.
59 Lee, The Economy of God, 23.
60 Ibid, 24
6l Witness Lee, Christ vs. Religion (Los Angeles: Stream, 1971), 14-15.
62 Stream Magazine 8:1 (February 1, 1970), 5.
63 Witness Lee, A Time with the Lord (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 10, 11.
64 Witness Lee, Pray-Reading the Word (Los Angeles: Stream, n.d.), 8-10
65 Lee, The Vision of the Church, 10-11.
66 Lee, Christ vs. Religion, 13.
67 Lee, The Economy of God, 108.
68-75 Ibid, 106-112


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Old 03-07-2009, 08:40 AM   #2
UntoHim
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Default These quotes reflect the Witness Lee that I remember

"Although he is one God, yet there is the matter of three-foldness, that is, the threefold Person—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit"
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"He [the Father] is the One hidden within, and the Son is the One manifested without; yet the One who is manifested without is the One who is hidden within—the two are just one"
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"Thank the Lord, He also has two ends: at the end in heaven He is the Father, and at the end on the earth He is the Son; at the end in heaven He is the One who listens to the prayer, and at the end on earth He is the One who prays. He is both the One who prays on earth and the One who listens in heaven"
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"Therefore the Bible clearly reveals to us that the Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit. Otherwise, how could these three be one God?"
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"The Son who prays is the Father who listens"
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"The Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit"
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"The Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit...
"
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Witness Lee vehemently denied that he was a modalist. But as a Christian teacher it is rather irrelevant what you SAY you are - it's what you teach. Maybe in his own heart and mind he convinced himself that he was not a modalist. Again, it does not matter a lick what he said he was. The quotes above are a fair representation of what the man actually taught, and they illustrate very clearly that he taught some form of modalism.

"The Son who prays is the Father who listens."

The Bible is clear. The apostle John (and other gospel writers) who recorded the Son praying to the Father several times was clear. John was never contradicted by the other scripture writing apostles. Neither was he contradicted by the early church fathers, theologians or scholars. The Son who prayed was NOT the Father who listened. Actually, to say this is much closer to blaspheme then it is to healthy, biblical teaching. Witness Lee should have spent less time denying he was a modalist and more time pray-reading this part of the Anthanasian Creed: "neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty."

"The Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit"

Witness Lee, at various times, used clearly modalistic terms such as "stages" and "successive steps". For reasons which defy common sense, the man felt no constraint whatsoever in using whatever extra-biblical/unbiblical term popped into his head. As we know, when Lee was challenged about making such absurd declarations, instead of providing solid biblical proof, he would usually employ some diversionary tactic, such as answering a question with a question (a good example is the infamous "how many life-giving Spirits are there!?") Again, the Bible is clear here. The Son is NOT CALLED the Father. The Son NEVER said He was the Father. He was sent by/from the Father, He prayed to the Father, He was one with the Father, He did the Father's will, He finished the work for which the Father sent Him, and He finally ascended to the Father and is now at the right hand of the Father (see Acts 7:55,56 - Rom 8:34 - Eph 1:20 - Col 3:1- Heb 1:3)

"The Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit"

Sigh Then the next thing and finally :verysad:
What can we say that has not already been said on these Internet forums and by Christian teachers, scholars and apologists for many years. What part of "confusing the Persons" did Lee and his followers not understand? This, of course, is a rhetorical question coming from some yahoo who believed this for many years. As some have noted on this very forum, wrong teachings beget wrong thoughts about God, and wrong thoughts about God beget all sorts of negative consequences. I really and truly believe that this teaching is not just "wrong" or false, I believe that it grieves the Holy Spirit. May God have mercy on us all
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:23 PM   #3
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so true...

there is no circular argument or "context" that will fix these teachings...

It is difficult for me to understand how some can agree with these statements which are obviously modalistic and then affirm the "orthodox" trinity...there is no discussion or reasoning with such people.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:56 PM   #4
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Default That guy...

Hey, UntoHim,

Is that avatar of yours the HIM you're "unto"? Who is that guy, anyway? I've seen him around. He has a very southern European look.


SC


(Just messin' with ya, Unto.)
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Old 03-11-2009, 06:49 AM   #5
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I was waitin to see who would take the bait first.....

(just messin with ya, Speaker...good to hear from you though)

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Old 03-11-2009, 02:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: This is the Witness Lee that I remember

That "Jesus" looks like a brother I know.

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Old 03-11-2009, 03:05 PM   #7
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Nice picture Unto Him...

I'm gonna get you a haircut one of these days...

and is that make-up you are wearing?
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Old 03-11-2009, 04:18 PM   #8
UntoHim
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Now THERE is a man with my sense of humor

This "version" was hung up in the main hallway by my nominally Christian parents when I was growing up. I think it actually deterred me from being so wild for a number of years.

What a coincidence that it looks just like the fellow whose image is on the Shroud of Turin
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:51 PM   #9
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So is God like a city council or something....Three distinct persons that somehow make up only one God?

A group of three that we call.....One God ? Is that orthodox christian belief and what the bible teaches?
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Old 03-12-2009, 04:54 PM   #10
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Oregon,

As I see it, there is a LOT of ground in between your rather ridged "God is like a city council" example and Witness Lee's highly unorthodox declarations as noted by Beisner -
"The Son who prays is the Father who listens"
"The Son is the Father, and the Son is also the Spirit"
"The Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit..."


My current understanding is that the orthodox, evangelical view of the Trinity attempts to take into account the entire New Testament (and to a lesser degree the OT) so as to use as much of "the whole council of God" as possible to settle upon the most accurate description, in mere human words, of one of the great mysteries of the universe. (yikes..did I just write that?) In my opinion many of the early "creeds", confessions of faith and doctrinal papers/statements of the early church fathers and theologians do a very good job of this.

Now the simple fact is that Witness Lee decidedly and intentionally wondered far, far from the orthodox view of the Trinity. The three tidbits I've posted here, which are a fair and accurate representation of what Lee taught on a regular basis, clearly illustrate just how far Lee wondered.

There is a reason why I titled this thread "This is the Witness Lee that I remember". Because these statements reflect the Witness Lee I remember. Of the hundreds and hundreds of Training and conference messages I attended, in person or by video over a period of many years, I can't recall Witness Lee emphasizing the orthodox view of the Trinity. In fact, he often claimed it was his calling to teach something quite different.

I'm glad you brought this up Oregon. This is the reason I have taken a great deal of time to put up the "Systematic Theology" board. If Local Churchers (and ex's too) would take some time to carefully review this exemplary work, I think they can come to a better understanding of what is actually taught and believed by the great majority of orthodox, evangelical and conservative protestant churches and ministries. Now that the Local Church/Living Stream Ministry is seeking acceptance among this large segment of the Body of Christ, I would think that they would try to at least understand what is taught and believed, and maybe even try to fall back from the old extremes and prejudices of the past.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:44 AM   #11
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I'm not trying to be rigid.....it's just a simple question. The three "distinct" persons of the Godhead".....they are all seperate individuals....The Father is Not the Son....The Son is Not the Spirit...but they are all three God...and yet in order to avoid tritheism we say we have one God.

How do you deal with the various different verses in scripture that may possibly put this orthodox view in question?.....Is the life giving Spirit in I Corinthians different than the Holy Spirit? Is the Spirit of Christ in Romans different than the Holy Spirit?

How do you reconcile this with Paul's statement to the Ephesians that there is "one Spirit"?


Just questions on this very important matter.....and thanks for posting this.....I've pondered these matters a lot over the years.
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Old 03-13-2009, 05:23 AM   #12
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The three "distinct" persons of the Godhead".....they are all separate individuals....The Father is Not the Son....The Son is Not the Spirit...but they are all three God...and yet in order to avoid tritheism we say we have one God.
Oregon, I agree with you on this one. When I consider LC teachings such as "the Last Adam became a life-giving Spirit," I find only spiritual benefit, with no downside. This is contrary to lots of posters, but I'm fine with that. I have never seen the value in these theological disputes. It is not because of this, that I have issues with LSM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:21 AM   #13
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I'm not trying to be rigid.....
I'm not saying you're rigid, it's just that the example you gave is rigid. It is easy to get ourselves in trouble when we try to describe or illustrate the Trinity with "earthly" descriptions. This is why, for the most part, I think the early Church fathers and theologians avoided using such physical illustrations and descriptions. And why should they, none of the scripture writing apostles used them.

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it's just a simple question. The three "distinct" persons of the Godhead".....they are all seperate individuals....The Father is Not the Son....The Son is Not the Spirit...but they are all three God...and yet in order to avoid tritheism we say we have one God.
I have heard it said that God is "three in number but one in substance". This is hard thing for our little minds to wrapped around. I do appreciate what the Anthanasian Creed has to say "neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being". When we say that the Father is the Son or the Son is the Spirit we are indeed confusing the persons. Yet when we say the Father is not the Son we are not dividing the divine being because it is God Himself who has declared that He is three.

Is the Father and Son's "relationship" just like that of an earthly father and son? Apparently not. While the Son said "I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" and "yet not as I will, but as You will" (indicating that the Son has a separate will from the Father) the Son also proclaimed that "I and the Father are one" and then "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" The orthodox view attempts to take in both of these seemingly paradoxical statements, which is how they came up with "neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being". Is this a perfect statement? No. But I think it's about the best we can do on this side of the Eternal Kingdom, where we may get some of these paradoxes "solved" for us.


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How do you deal with the various different verses in scripture that may possibly put this orthodox view in question?.....Is the life giving Spirit in I Corinthians different than the Holy Spirit? Is the Spirit of Christ in Romans different than the Holy Spirit?
Ah, but this is just it, I don't necessarily have to deal with the various different verses, for the orthodox view (which is largely encapsulated within so many of the early creeds and confessions) has already done this for me. Witness Lee claimed that many of the major Christian teachings needed to be "recovered". But he was wrong. They were never lost. What Lee ended up doing is "recovering" some of the ancient heresies of the first few centuries, albeit he slapped some fancy new names on them.

As far as "the life giving spirit" in I Cor... I will pull an ole Local Church trick on you and answer a question with another question: In the New Testament (or whole Bible for that matter), does the word "spirit" ALWAYS REFER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT? As far as "the Spirit of Christ", well this is no different then "the Spirit of God". Lee claimed that "elements" were "added" to the Holy Spirit and thus He gets "new" names after the resurrection. I don't have the time just now to go into all this, but suffice it to say that the orthodox view does not hold that elements were added to the Spirit after the resurrection or that He got new names. Suffice to say that the Holy Spirit has ALWAYS been life giving.

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How do you reconcile this with Paul's statement to the Ephesians that there is "one Spirit"?
Don't see how this relates to your previous questions/contentions.

Quote:
Just questions on this very important matter.....and thanks for posting this.....I've pondered these matters a lot over the years.
Me too. Isn't our God wonderful!!
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:49 AM   #14
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Oregon,

One thing that helps me to appreciate the Three side is to ask myself, how many consciousnesses are there in God, or, even, how many self-consciousnesses are there?

That is, does the Son have a consciousness of Himself that is different than His consciousness of the Father? It would seem, if our concept of divine Persons is in any way related to our everday concept of persons (that is, if it is at all useful), that the answer must be yes.

And if the answer is yes, then what happens to those separate consciousnesses when viewed from the One side? Do they disappear? If you say yes then that sounds very much like modalism. And if they don't disappear, then how can we say God is one Person in the same way He is three Persons, as Lee did?

So saying one Person is the other, in such a direct way, as Lee did, doesn't really work, does it? Which may be why the fathers didn't use such language.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:16 PM   #15
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...does the Son have a consciousness of Himself that is different than His consciousness of the Father?
So saying one Person is the other, in such a direct way, as Lee did, doesn't really work, does it? Which may be why the fathers didn't use such language.
I think having a separate will is even a stronger indication then consciousness, which is why I brought up this:
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt 26:39)

In Lee’s theology the Lord Jesus should have either said “as I will” or maybe “as we will”. What he said was “yet not as I will”. He had a will but chose not to exercise it, but rather deferred to the will of the Father. To say that “the Son who prays is the Father who listens” denigrates and disrespects this great sacrifice of will by the Son of God. Actually, He was an example to us in this regard (cf: the “Lord’s prayer”… “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.)

Saying one person is the other…doesn’t really work, does it?” Again I would go even further and say that, not only does it not work, repeating this kind of thing can do much harm. No, the fathers didn’t use such language and neither should we.
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Old 03-15-2009, 02:59 AM   #16
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For my part 2 Corinthians 3:17a "Now the Lord is the Spirit" so I'm guessing that their is at least some grounds to say that Christ is the Spirit. As I see little reason not to believe that the Lord here is Christ and that the Spirit is the Holy Spirit.

My main problem with Lee's theology at the end was this

Quote:
... "Now I can get into man's body." However, Satan did not realize that this was a trap. When Satan took the bait, he was trapped. We may use the illustration of a mouse trap. It is difficult to catch a mouse because the mouse always runs away. However, we may use a mouse trap with some bait. ...
Life Study of Romans message 15
In the end I just couldn't abide the thought that all the while God was speaking and being friendly to Adam in the garden, Adam was always meant to be satan bait. At the very least hardly seemed transparent so certainly didn't belong in the New Jerusalem.

Personally I think this was a natural outcome of Lee's process theology as quite simply in Lee's theology in order for the Lord to be processed to be eaten by us it was necessary for Christ to die on the cross (I believe he even said that this would be needed even if man had not fallen). Plus in order for the New Jerusalem to be Christ's bride required not only required man's becoming god in life and nature but also Christ becoming man. Anyway I remember getting the impression that none of the ultimate consumation could occur if the fall did not occur first. And in that way you could say that the fall was required for God's Economy.
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Old 03-15-2009, 05:27 AM   #17
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"Now I can get into man's body." However, Satan did not realize that this was a trap. When Satan took the bait, he was trapped. We may use the illustration of a mouse trap. It is difficult to catch a mouse because the mouse always runs away. However, we may use a mouse trap with some bait. ... Life Study of Romans message 15
It's interesting that you quote this passage ... reminds me of my very first days in the LC's ... the saints would mention this "mouse trap" analogy at times concerning Satan ... the thought was something like this ... "Now I caught you, you're stuck in man, and you can't get out ... man was just bait in the garden to trap you." All the saints at the time thought this was so neat, but considering the only wise God, today I'm not so sure ...

I believe this analogy misrepresents God's heart of love towards man. God was not waiting for eons to invent some "mouse bait" and "mouse traps" to get His arch enemy. Why God placed the Tree of Knowlege in the garden is just a mystery. Why God would give man a free will, and then immediately test it, is beyond understanding. He is all wise. He knows. But to reduce His eternal plan with man to "mouse bait" is questionable.

Oftentimes, WL seemed to misrepresent Satan also. We were often instructed to preach to the devil like he was some "little fool." But ... in the Bible, neither Jehovah God in the book of Job, nor the Lord Jesus in the wilderness after His baptism, nor Michael the archangel ever treated Lucifer disrespectfully. Respect is just a characteristic of the kingdom of God.

This thought engages a larger discussion, which I have mentioned at times, that LSM leaders never seemed to know who their real "enemy" was. From my earliest days until the passing of WL, the enemy seemed to be those bad guys in "Christianity." LSM was continually developing "bombs" and "weapons" to "get them." During the tenure of the BB's, however, they have begun to embrace many in "Christianity," and the "enemy" has become those from within, such as TC and Tomes in the GLA, Dong in Brazil, et. al. ... and shouldn't I include all of us internet authors including the so-called "man of death."

I do believe LSM should return to the basics ... and start a new study Who is God based on the Bible, Who is Satan based on the Bible, and Who is man based on the Bible.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:04 AM   #18
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I appreciate the matter of the separate consciousness’s and will’s. Those are good points that have been made. The problem I have with this is that eventually what you really have is three Gods…..yet we Christians dare not utter such blasphemy so we have to come up with some sort of mysterious definition of how these three are really only one.

Groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons however just flat out deny the trinity altogether and don’t have a problem with trying to mesh this thing together somehow.

Take for example a few verses in John’s gospel.

John 16:28 “I come forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”

John 8:29 “He that sent me is with me”

John 10:38 “…that the Father is in me, and I in Him.”

OK…..Where is the Father? Is he in heaven while Christ is on earth or is he with Christ while he is on earth or is He in Christ while he is on earth. If the Father that sent Christ is with Him and in Him than why does he say that he leaves the world to go to the Father?

Just some added thoughts for this conversation...

Here’s an additional thought I have had. At what point in time did the disciples make a switch in their understanding concerning God’s composition so to say. I mean you have a monotheistic faith…..Judaism…..that believes in only one God. Then these ones come into contact with Christ and receive the revelation that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Then they receive the baptism of the Spirit at a later point. Now…..what was going on inside of their heads concerning God? Was there only one God as they had previously believed? How did the Son and the Spirit fit into the “one God” view.

Where did this concept of the three in one God come from. I hope you understand my question here.
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:54 AM   #19
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It's interesting that you quote this passage ... reminds me of my very first days in the LC's ... the saints would mention this "mouse trap" analogy at times concerning Satan ... the thought was something like this ... "Now I caught you, you're stuck in man, and you can't get out ... man was just bait in the garden to trap you." All the saints at the time thought this was so neat, but considering the only wise God, today I'm not so sure ...

I believe this analogy misrepresents God's heart of love toward man. God was not waiting for eons to invent some "mouse bait" and "mouse traps" to get His arch enemy. Why God placed the Tree of Knowlege in the garden is just a mystery. Why God would give man a free will, and then immediately test it, is beyond understanding. He is all wise. He knows. But to reduce His eternal plan with man to "mouse bait" is questionable.
One fact from scripture that this "mouse trap" analogy completely misses is that if that was God's intent, then why would he say only a few chapters after the fall that he might have made a mistake in creating man.

Read Gen 6:5-8. If his whole goal was to trap Satan, then wiping out man might have been the simple answer. But his heart was toward man, not against Satan. Noah found favor and as a result, we now have life here in the 21st century.

But if the trap required that this "process" happen so that God as a man could condemn Satan to death, then the whole idea of wiping out man back in Genesis would have been an admission of defeat in that goal. Instead, it would appear that man was precisely that clay in the potter's hands. We were there for His pleasure. If we were completely corrupted by Satan, God had nothing stopping him from destroying man — unless, of course, this "mouse trap" had always been His plan, in which case he would need to keep us around. But that is not what was recorded. Genesis does not say that God realize that He needed to keep man around. Instead, it records that one man still found favor with God and that man as a created being was retained rather than wiped out.
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:24 AM   #20
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The problem I have with the Witness Lee I remember is that it was seldom of any consequence how out of line with actual scripture his words were, they were taken as God’s.

I often complain about people who use that worn out saying “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” The problem is that too often they do not really understand what God said but read scripture with a decision already formed and find confirmation of that decision without any consideration of the actual words written.

But the LC too often takes it one further. They not only make that stupid “God said it…” statement, but they also say that about the words of Witness Lee. They may not actually say, “Lee said it…” the way they would about God or scripture, but they mean it. I recall one time my sister asking me whether I agreed that something Lee said was the truth. It was not spoken as an inquiry into what I thought, or as fodder for discussion, but was said in a “this is what Lee said and it is true — right?” kind of way. She presumed that I would agree. She was surprised when I did not.

But the Lee I remember said things with no suggestion that there was anything left to discuss. He made statements not consistent with scripture in such a manner that we accepted them as better interpreting scripture. We were too ashamed to admit any disagreement or question concerning his sayings. He would latch onto the irrelevant and suddenly that was the most important thing in the passage. Words spoken in scripture became irrelevant and only the comparison to some other passage or an analogy — such as one about a power plant — was relevant. In fact, Lee’s analogies became more important in much of his theology than the actual scripture he claimed to be leaning upon. Upon closer inspection — something I don’t think he really wanted — verses were often abundant, but they did not support his theology. Without the stories, analogies, and overlays (such as “Christ and the church” or “God’s economy”) there was often no way to get Lee’s theology out of those verses. On their own they were useless to him.

In fact, at times I am not so sure how truly spiritual he was. Since he threw verses around so freely yet actually relied on them so little, I have begun to question whether his theology was really even scripture-based in his own mind, or instead he realized that he could only get Christians to follow if he used a lot of scripture.

I know that sounds really skeptical. And I probably to not believe it that strongly. But there was something seriously wrong with someone daring to trample the clear words of scripture so easily in favor of stories about power plants and pajamas with dragons on them. And creating teachings like “teach God’s economy” from a verse that only says that correct teachings will result in “God’s economy.” This last one sticks in my craw so badly because it was such a leavening of the Christian life. It dismissed so many significant teachings and replaced them with “dispensing of God.” It took away our own actions in our sanctification and made us into spiritual couch potatoes.

That is the Lee I remember. The one who spoke and then disappeared. Who never suggested that something someone else said in a meeting impressed him in some way. Who was simply “right,” and if he was not, he was in his spirit so it wasn’t important.
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:16 AM   #21
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I appreciate the matter of the separate consciousness’s and will’s. Those are good points that have been made. The problem I have with this is that eventually what you really have is three Gods…..yet we Christians dare not utter such blasphemy so we have to come up with some sort of mysterious definition of how these three are really only one.
You only have to seem to arrive at three Gods if you insist that the word Person describe the one God. But that might not be completely appropriate.

I think C.S. Lewis addressed this well, he said God is something more than a person. The problem is we can't imagine something more than a person. We think a person is the pinnacle of being. But if it is, it would seem than simply being a person would be enough. But it's not. In fact, it seems the point of being a person is to be in relationship with other persons, otherwise it almost seems a mockery. I think this is very crucial to understanding what's going on.

The difference between God and us is that we are many persons in many beings who are in relation with each other. God is three persons in one being who are in relation. These three are so cooperative that they can act as if they all blend into one Person.

Yet, we have to be careful when using the word Person to decribe the One, because the Bible never really says this. The Bible never says God is one Person. It says he is one LORD, or Jehovah. (See Deut 6:4, Darby, "Hear, Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah;") God is one God, but we don't quite know what a God is. It may be premature to insist the word Person describes him the best way possible.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:34 PM   #22
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You only have to seem to arrive at three Gods if you insist that the word Person describe the one God.

...The problem is we can't imagine something more than a person. We think a person is the pinnacle of being. But if it is, it would seem than simply being a person would be enough. But it's not.

... we have to be careful when using the word Person to decribe the One, because the Bible never really says this. The Bible never says God is one Person. It says he is one LORD, or Jehovah. (See Deut 6:4, Darby, "Hear, Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah;") God is one God, but we don't quite know what a God is. It may be premature to insist the word Person describes him the best way possible.
As I read the discussions on the Trinity, here and elsewhere, I'm reminded of the story back in the '70s when a long-time motorcycle rider got a first glimpse of the new "mopeds", which had recently been introduced to the riding public. He said, "This thing is fast enough to get you into trouble, but not fast enough to get you out."

Regarding the "three Persons" debate, we have a few verses, a few dozen if we are opportunistic, and we have our limited intelligence, and we have our fleeting and shallow experience, and we have our vain, darkened, imaginations. Then we construct all kinds of theological 'cobwebs'. I never got Lee's fixation on this subject, but I figured it came with the territory (being in the Lc's), so I would put up with it. Now I am starting to think along the lines of OBW, that it was (at least unconsciously) some kind of "divide and conquer" strategy by Witness Lee.

Put out some questionable theology as "truth", and voila! The ones who stick around will be your faithful flock, available to be further abused as necessary. Whether or not that was his intention, that's how it seems to have worked out.

Personal admission: I am full of "questionable theology", with speculations ranging from fairly tame to fairly outre (out there). But I don't sit in front of thousands and present it as reality; it's just stuff I think about occasionally(Apparently I'm just not imaginative enough to get worked up over the Trinity).

Anyway, Jesus is Lord! Right? We got that part okay, didn't we?
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:06 PM   #23
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…The problem I have with this is that eventually what you really have is three Gods…..yet we Christians dare not utter such blasphemy so we have to come up with some sort of mysterious definition of how these three are really only one. .
Thanks to Oregon and Igzy (and now aron) for their last posts here. Good stuff!

In regards to Oregon’s very legitimate concern of “eventually what you really have is three Gods”…

May I repeat something I posted a little earlier:

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I have heard it said that God is "three in number but one in substance". This is hard thing for our little minds to wrapped around. I do appreciate what the Anthanasian Creed has to say "neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being". When we say that the Father is the Son or the Son is the Spirit we are indeed confusing the persons. Yet when we say the Father is not the Son we are not dividing the divine being because it is God Himself who has declared that He is three
When I say “it is God Himself who has declared that He is three”, what I mean is that we can reasonably deduce from what is presented to us in the Word that God is three persons. I use the term “persons” without much reservation here because it is the Lord Jesus who used the terms “Father” and “Son” (and the apostles employed the term “Holy Spirit” in a manner which indicated personhood as well).

Please follow me closely here:
We know from the Old Testament that God’s people considered God as their Father, which is why, when the Lord Jesus said “my Father”, “the Father” and “our Father”, they absolutely knew that He was referring to Jehovah God, I AM, Adonai, The Lord God. Later, we find the Lord Jesus making certain statements, that when some of the Jews who heard them, interpreted them as the Lord Jesus claiming that his relationship to Jehovah God was something much more then what they were used to.

Let’s look at John 5:18
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God

Now we know that the Lord Jesus had referred to Jehovah God as his “Father” many times, yet there must have been something different here. According to the Greek, he used the same word that was commonly used for Father (πατήρ patēr), so why were the Jews so up in arms about his use of “Father” this time? Maybe he used a different form that didn’t make it to the Greek text, or maybe some Aramaic slang, or maybe it was just the intonation of his voice – whatever it was, the Jews interpreted it to mean that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God in a manner similar to a certain human male claiming to be the son of a certain human father. This was anathema to the ears of the monotheistic Jews. Apparently it was big news to them that God had a Son! Then something just as shocking came in John 8:58: “…before Abraham was, I am”. (no surprise that they sought to kill him again). Not only did he claim to be the Son of God, he was also claiming to be eternal.


Quote:
Here’s an additional thought I have had. At what point in time did the disciples make a switch in their understanding concerning God’s composition so to say. I mean you have a monotheistic faith…..Judaism…..that believes in only one God. Then these ones come into contact with Christ and receive the revelation that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Then they receive the baptism of the Spirit at a later point. Now…..what was going on inside of their heads concerning God? Was there only one God as they had previously believed? How did the Son and the Spirit fit into the “one God” view.
Up till this point man had learned mainly about God from other men – Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the prophets. Now, as in the garden before the fall, God was actually speaking directly to his creation. The God that was previously described to them by these men of old was not inaccurate per se, just “incomplete” (I use this word advisedly). So what did the Lord Jesus say to Peter right after his proclamation “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”? -- "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”. “Flesh and Blood did not reveal this to you”. Reveal what? - That the God of the universe, the Creator, The Great I AM, Jehovah, The Lord God, Adonai, El Shaddai, Elohim, El Elyon, HAS A SON. God has a Son! Jehovah has a Son!

“..what was going on inside of their heads concerning God?” Excellent question! Well, I think we have the answer to this one right in our hot little hands. It’s called “The New Testament”. And do you know what the most wonderful thing is about these writings? Flesh and blood did not reveal the words to those blessed men. Which is why all their writings confirm that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Son of God, equal in divinity, power, glory, holiness, righteousness and love to his Father. He always was and always will be.

And who revealed all this to me? Not flesh and blood, you can be sure of that. That would be the third of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Next post….
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:49 AM   #24
aron
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Wedemark, Lower Saxony
Posts: 4,245
Default Re: This is the Witness Lee that I remember

Quote:
Originally Posted by countmeworthy View Post

This present evil age we are living in is full of ungodly controlling people both in the secular environment as well as the religious environment which is sometimes cloaked under the banner of a 'spiritual' environment.

Lee was no exception. He had his good/spiritual/uncontrolling side but as he gained a loyal following, the spirit of control grabbed hold of him. He may not have started out wanting to control but once a person tastes 'power' mannnn, that spirit of control takes hold.

Look around. It happens everywhere. A 'nobody' runs for city council..then for mayor..and lo & behold, before long, he's the mayor of NYC ! A person becomes a CEO of a company...a -well known- spiritual leader with political connections....and the beat goes on...
Yes, the beat goes on. CMW's post put the dilemma in a nutshell. It is not like these peaceable, Christ-loving people got coopted by a nasty controlling Mr. Lee, but rather at least partly that they chose to become his "loyal following", and this process corrupted both him and them.

Look at the pattern. 1 Sam. 8, the people went to Samuel and wanted a King over them, so that they would be like the nations. It's not like the nasty Saul tricked the people into taking him as King. He was a nobody, but the people created a role for him, he walked into it, and the result was both ruinous for him and Israel.

Look at John chapter 6, verse 15. Jesus saw that the people wanted to seize Him by force and make Him King, so he withdrew and went away, alone, to a mountain to pray. Lee, unfortunately, didn't withdraw. He took the earthly "leader" role that the loyal following wanted.

The example of Jesus is very rare in human history. He chose a heavenly kingdom. Many of His followers get distracted by earthly roles, with all the trappings that go along with them. All the pomp and circumstance.

Matthew 6:1 "But beware of doing your good actions in the sight of men, in order to attract their gaze; if you do, there is no reward for you with your Father who is in Heaven"
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