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Old 02-15-2015, 04:40 AM   #1
aron
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Default The changed role of women in the LCM

In Watchman Nee's biography we see a lot of women having influential, even prominent roles in the early narrative: Margaret Barber, Peace Wang, Dora Yu, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Madame Guyon, Ruth Lee, Elizabeth Fischbacher, Mary McDonough, a certain "Miss Groves" (a co-worker of Barber). Then once he and then Lee were fully "raised up by God", suddenly women were supposed to be "silent in the church"? Anyone else notice this big change?

The obvious answer is that everyone was supposed to be silent in the church, once Nee began to speak. There was thenceforth to be "one trumpet", and it was "God's oracle" (who was the same person teaching that there should be 'one trumpet', naturally). It wasn't that the role of women in the church was suddenly eliminated, it was that every role was eliminated! Women were to be silent and men were to be feminized, quiet and docile. Just repeat what the oracle says. "Elders" were leading repeaters and cheerleaders, with women as associate repeaters and cheerleaders. There's no longer male nor female, as Nee's "normal church" only recognizes one "giant" and the rest as "small potatoes", and both are gender-neutral (except maybe the giant can't be a woman?)

What's the thinking here? Did this ever get explicated? I know that Nee was also influenced by men - Robert Govett, D.M. Panton, John Nelson Darby, Father Fenelon, Brother Lawrence, Evan Roberts... but the incongruity of women taking an initially prominent role in his movement, changing to women taking NO role whatsoever, is so striking that you'd think that some apologist for the Nee/Lee system would try to address it.

My possible LSM-explanation is that women like Peace Wang and Dora Yu and Margaret Barber and Mary McDonough and Jessie Penn-Lewis were able to minister independently in the "wild" years pre-Nee, who we all know was thenceforth God's "Seer of the age". Once Nee began to minister there was no need for a Dora Yu or Peace Wang or Ruth Lee to function as teacher, shepherd, evangelist or prophet. Suddenly "order was restored in the church" and sisters could once again become silent, as Paul had urged (right after he told slaves to be obedient... ha-ha). The church became "normal" again under the apostle of the age.

Any other ideas? Have the apologists for LSM, or Nee or Lee for that matter, ever addressed this? Something doesn't seem right here.... did the official "history of the church and the local churches" ever try to paper over this glaring incongruity -- that women went from having key roles in the movement's formative years, to having no roles whatsoever outside of children's service? Or was this large shift something whose existence we shouldn't acknowledge? As in, "Lee never talked about it, therefore we ignore it".
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:12 AM   #2
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In Watchman Nee's biography we see a lot of women having influential, even prominent roles in the early narrative: Margaret Barber, Peace Wang, Dora Yu, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Madame Guyon, Ruth Lee, Elizabeth Fischbacher, Mary McDonough, a certain "Miss Groves" (a co-worker of Barber). Then once he and then Lee were fully "raised up by God", suddenly women were supposed to be "silent in the church"? Anyone else notice this big change?

The obvious answer is that everyone was supposed to be silent in the church, once Nee began to speak. There was thenceforth to be "one trumpet", and it was "God's oracle" (who was the same person teaching that there should be 'one trumpet', naturally). It wasn't that the role of women in the church was suddenly eliminated, it was that every role was eliminated! Women were to be silent and men were to be feminized, quiet and docile. Just repeat what the oracle says. "Elders" were leading repeaters and cheerleaders, with women as associate repeaters and cheerleaders. There's no longer male nor female, as Nee's "normal church" only recognizes one "giant" and the rest as "small potatoes", and both are gender-neutral (except maybe the giant can't be a woman?)

What's the thinking here? Did this ever get explicated? I know that Nee was also influenced by men - Robert Govett, D.M. Panton, John Nelson Darby, Father Fenelon, Brother Lawrence, Evan Roberts... but the incongruity of women taking an initially prominent role in his movement, changing to women taking NO role whatsoever, is so striking that you'd think that some apologist for the Nee/Lee system would try to address it.

My possible LSM-explanation is that women like Peace Wang and Dora Yu and Margaret Barber and Mary McDonough and Jessie Penn-Lewis were able to minister independently in the "wild" years pre-Nee, who we all know was thenceforth God's "Seer of the age". Once Nee began to minister there was no need for a Dora Yu or Peace Wang or Ruth Lee to function as teacher, shepherd, evangelist or prophet. Suddenly "order was restored in the church" and sisters could once again become silent, as Paul had urged (right after he told slaves to be obedient... ha-ha). The church became "normal" again under the apostle of the age.

Any other ideas? Have the apologists for LSM, or Nee or Lee, for this matter ever tried to address this? Something doesn't seem right here.... did the official "history of the church and the local churches" ever try to paper over this glaring incongruity -- that women went from having key roles in the movement's formative years, to having no roles whatsoever outside of children's service? Or was this large shift something whose existence we shouldn't acknowledge? As in, "Lee never talked about it, therefore we ignore it".
Well look what happened to Thankful Jane ... it was labelled the sisters rebellion.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: The changed role of women in the LCM

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Margaret Barber, Peace Wang, Dora Yu, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Madame Guyon, Ruth Lee, Elizabeth Fischbacher, Mary McDonough, a certain "Miss Groves" (a co-worker of Barber)...

- Robert Govett, D.M. Panton, John Nelson Darby, Father Fenelon, Brother Lawrence, Evan Roberts, Andrew Murray...
All of these were admittedly influences; men as well as women. But perhaps the "one ministry per age" model, which hurried in so closely behind the "one church per city" idea, subsumes the argument of the role, influence, or place of women within the church. The "one ministry" model might allow women to have influence, to teach and to preach, in the wild and disorganized years before the "Seer of the divine revelation in the present age" was fully revealed. In other words, in the leadership vacuum what else could they do but function? God didn't like it, but God overlooked it, temporarily. But once the True Leader emerged, then the weaker sex could take their proper place, quiet and subservient. So you could simultaneously honor the firebrand Dora Yu and forbid any new Dora Yu from emerging from within the assembly.

The key is how you tell the story - if you tell the story right, you can both honor the past and disregard it. But one needs to be selective with history: acknowledge, even loudly, those whom are recognized as examples. Martin Luther's case comes quickly to mind, as does Paul's. But what about all those blank spots, like the "Pre-Nee years"? And what about John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, ministering simultaneously? And what to do with the apostle John, who both preceded Paul and outlived him, perhaps by decades? Was John ever subservient to Paul, and then perhaps Timothy as Paul's hand-picked successor? Or was it usually just the "wild west", with women speaking, and teaching, and so forth? Where would Jessie Penn-Lewis fit in, today?

Really, the story has to be spread pretty thinly to survive. Don't dig too much. And it may not address the role of women in a satisfactory way... but I couldn't think of any other LC exegesis which even came close.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
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Well look what happened to Thankful Jane ... it was labelled the sisters rebellion.
Yes... these sisters didn't know their place, and rebelled. In the Pre-Nee years she could have functioned, as it was "every (wo)man to their own tent". But once the True Leader emerged she had to recognize Divine Authority and ask permisssion to speak. No permission, no speakie.
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Old 02-15-2015, 02:52 PM   #5
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In Watchman Nee's biography we see a lot of women having influential, even prominent roles in the early narrative: Margaret Barber, Peace Wang, Dora Yu, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Madame Guyon, Ruth Lee, Elizabeth Fischbacher, Mary McDonough, a certain "Miss Groves" (a co-worker of Barber). Then once he and then Lee were fully "raised up by God", suddenly women were supposed to be "silent in the church"? Anyone else notice this big change?
Thanks for starting this thread. This is a question that I have often complicated myself. It always struck me as somewhat odd that WN held such great respect for these women preachers, yet the view in the LC is pretty much the exact opposite of that. In the current LC context, could M.E. Barber ever pass for a FTT trainer? This is essentially who she was to Nee.
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Old 02-15-2015, 05:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: The changed role of women in the LCM

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Well look what happened to Thankful Jane ... it was labelled the sisters rebellion.
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Yes... these sisters didn't know their place, and rebelled. In the Pre-Nee years she could have functioned, as it was "every (wo)man to their own tent". But once the True Leader emerged she had to recognize Divine Authority and ask permisssion to speak. No permission, no speakie.
I think the story of Sandee Rapoport in Anaheim was even more compelling. IIRC Thankful Jane was the victim of a copycat crime Benson Phillips was only doing to Jane what Lee was doing to Sandee.

As the story goes, Max learned that Phillip Lee was romancing the volunteer staff at LSM, and was brave enough to confront Phillip about it. When Witness Lee heard what Max did, his love affair with the Rapoports was over. According to the old Chinese custom, the way to get your "adversary" was by shaming his wife. And that's what Lee did to Sandee, branding her the leader of the sisters' rebellion.
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Old 02-15-2015, 07:48 PM   #7
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I think the story of Sandee Rapoport in Anaheim was even more compelling. IIRC Thankful Jane was the victim of a copycat crime Benson Phillips was only doing to Jane what Lee was doing to Sandee.

As the story goes, Max learned that Phillip Lee was romancing the volunteer staff at LSM, and was brave enough to confront Phillip about it. When Witness Lee heard what Max did, his love affair with the Rapoports was over. According to the old Chinese custom, the way to get your "adversary" was by shaming his wife. And that's what Lee did to Sandee, branding her the leader of the sisters' rebellion.
My experience is that any initiative taken by sisters is viewed suspiciously. More often than not, the reason that I have seen sisters taking initiative is because the brothers refuse to deal with a problem or to address a situation that should have been dealt with a long time ago. I don't see any wrong in that.
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Old 02-15-2015, 08:47 PM   #8
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More often than not, the reason that I have seen sisters taking initiative is because the brothers refuse to deal with a problem or to address a situation that should have been dealt with a long time ago. I don't see any wrong in that.
That's what my wife did when we met with a Baptist church. Brothers tend to be passive especially when it's a brother they discipled.
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Old 02-15-2015, 08:49 PM   #9
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According to the old Chinese custom, the way to get your "adversary" was by shaming his wife. And that's what Lee did to Sandee, branding her the leader of the sisters' rebellion.
If I recall from thebereans.net forum. didn't the same happen to Christian Chen? His wife was shamed while he wasn't present.
With Max and Sandee, I believe Sandee was shamed while Max was in Chicago?
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:16 PM   #10
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When Witness Lee heard what Max did, his love affair with the Rapoports was over. According to the old Chinese custom, the way to get your "adversary" was by shaming his wife. And that's what Lee did to Sandee, branding her the leader of the sisters' rebellion.
Whatever happened to, "When your brother sins against you, first go to them privately"? Did that get trumped by an old Chinese custom?
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Old 02-16-2015, 03:27 AM   #11
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My experience is that any initiative taken by sisters is viewed suspiciously. More often than not, the reason that I have seen sisters taking initiative is because the brothers refuse to deal with a problem or to address a situation that should have been dealt with a long time ago. I don't see any wrong in that.
but Sandee came on the forum to state that everything she did was in fellowship with Lee, who was a regular visitor in their home.

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If I recall from thebereans.net forum. didn't the same happen to Christian Chen? His wife was shamed while he wasn't present.
With Max and Sandee, I believe Sandee was shamed while Max was in Chicago?
do you have more details of this?

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Whatever happened to, "When your brother sins against you, first go to them privately"? Did that get trumped by an old Chinese custom?
when it came to Lee's relationship with his sons, he was Chinese first, and Christian last. There is just no other way to explain history.
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Old 02-16-2015, 06:37 AM   #12
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...when it came to Lee's relationship with his sons, he was Chinese first, and Christian last. There is just no other way to explain history.
The retained cultural dynamic also explains how he could be a mild, self-effacing person at times, as well as a fierce autocrat at others. Both personas were for "the building of the body", as he saw it, but it was a "body" seen through a cultural lens - his cultural lens. And WL's view of human relationships, i.e. reciprocal behavior patterns, established over time by mutual agreement, was likewise colored by culturally-derived values.

Until you get this, he appears either enigmatic (non-comprehensible) or one just writes him off as a fraud, a phony. Probably WL felt he was being real and genuine (as did many close associates) because they understood the norms that consistently were expressed. To others, this "nice little man" suddenly and inexplicably became a tyrant.
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Old 02-16-2015, 06:45 AM   #13
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but Sandee came on the forum to state that everything she did was in fellowship with Lee, who was a regular visitor in their home.
When WL said, "People change", he also could refer to definitions, or usage, which also changes over time. "Fellowship" could mean one thing at one time, and something else later. The idea that "We talked" could at one point be expressed by the word 'fellowship', and later, the phrase "I told him/her/them what to do" could also be expressed by the word 'fellowship'. So the meaning could have changed, and Sandee found out too late.

In a group like this, a word or phrase has whatever meaning the Maximum Leader wants it to have at that time. In some sense it's complicated, as words shift meanings, unexpectedly. On the other hand it's simple: things mean whatever the Maximum Leader says they mean today. When the wind shifts, you don't want to be on the wrong side of the new meaning.
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Old 02-16-2015, 07:54 AM   #14
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The retained cultural dynamic also explains how he could be a mild, self-effacing person at times, as well as a fierce autocrat at others. Both personas were for "the building of the body", as he saw it, but it was a "body" seen through a cultural lens - his cultural lens. And WL's view of human relationships, i.e. reciprocal behavior patterns, established over time by mutual agreement, was likewise colored by culturally-derived values.

Until you get this, he appears either enigmatic (non-comprehensible) or one just writes him off as a fraud, a phony. Probably WL felt he was being real and genuine (as did many close associates) because they understood the norms that consistently were expressed. To others, this "nice little man" suddenly and inexplicably became a tyrant.
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When WL said, "People change", he also could refer to definitions, or usage, which also changes over time. "Fellowship" could mean one thing at one time, and something else later. The idea that "We talked" could at one point be expressed by the word 'fellowship', and later, the phrase "I told him/her/them what to do" could also be expressed by the word 'fellowship'. So the meaning could have changed, and Sandee found out too late.

In a group like this, a word or phrase has whatever meaning the Maximum Leader wants it to have at that time. In some sense it's complicated, as words shift meanings, unexpectedly. On the other hand it's simple: things mean whatever the Maximum Leader says they mean today. When the wind shifts, you don't want to be on the wrong side of the new meaning.
For me personally, I could not understand who Lee really was. While an insider, for years I heard the accolades of this wonderfully matured god-man and MOTA. Then I read the numerous accounts of those well-respected brothers who were cast-offs during some past "storm." It left me continually wondering who was the "real Lee." Which side was telling the truth.

While reading numerous histories of J.N.Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in those months preceeding the GLA quarantines, it dawned on me that both sides were true about both Darby, Lee, and probably Nee. They all were marvelously gifted and talented ministers with serious flaws, the most notable of which were their obsessions for power, control, and glory -- all the necessary ingredients for megalomania. When it comes to natural gifts and talents, all three of them probably rivaled the Apostle Paul. Us lowly peons have difficulty even grasping some of the abilities they possessed.

The Apostle Paul, however, was established by the Head of the body as a pattern for us, particularly in how he treated his fellow workers, the elders, and the saints in general. Never once did the scriptures hint that Paul bullied, belittled, shamed, or humiliated others for personal gain. Paul neither exalted himself, nor beat others down who were simply speaking their conscience. Yes, there are times when Paul was fighting the good fight, but that only served to protect the church and the truth from falsehood.

Very rarely in LC history do we hear of Darby, Lee, or Nee being tough on sisters. The stories of Sandee Rapoport and Jane Anderson seem to be the exception. Lee always saved his nasty side for any and all potential rivals. Titus Chu was the same way, so charming towards the sisters, yet so demeaning towards the gifted brothers. The explanation for this anomaly has to be Max R.'s exposure of Phillip Lee. Sandee R. was simply collateral for the bigger battle. Jane Anderson was simply a copycat crime; Benson Phillips in Texas practicing to be the next Maximum Brother. He as much said the same from the training podium upon hearing that Thread of Gold was published.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:53 PM   #15
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Ohio,

I generally agree with all that you have said. But I want to be the excessivly squeaky wheel for everyone on this one point:
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They all were marvelously gifted and talented ministers with serious flaws, , the most notable of which were their obsessions for power, control, and glory -- all the necessary ingredients for megalomania. When it comes to natural gifts and talents, all three of them probably rivaled the Apostle Paul. Us lowly peons have difficulty even grasping some of the abilities they possessed.
But when I read what Paul says about people who carry those negative traits, the fact that they might rival Paul in terms of natural gifts, or otherwise be "marvelously gifted and talented ministers," the instruction we receive is to refuse them. To instruct some to not teach myths and endless genealogies. And so on.

That is what we got from "marvelously gifted and talented ministers." We got Deputy Authority. We got exclusivism even within the ranks of the insiders. We got lies told to cover the sins of those appointed to lead "the ministry office." We got the blasphemous declaration that much of Psalms and James all part of the Word of God were really a waste of space or opposed to God.

Only if your god is not the God of the Bible.

A well does not produce both good and foul water. We see what was truly foul. We should reject the rest as also foul even when we cannot discern it. It is much safer than hoping that smell of almonds is just almonds.
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Old 02-16-2015, 04:49 PM   #16
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Ohio,

Only if your god is not the God of the Bible.
OBW ... There you go again!
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Old 02-16-2015, 07:19 PM   #17
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but Sandee came on the forum to state that everything she did was in fellowship with Lee, who was a regular visitor in their home.
That was probably prior to the infamous restaurant altercation. After that, everything changed.
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Old 02-17-2015, 07:35 AM   #18
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OBW ... There you go again!
And Ohio knows that I was not referring to him when I said "Only if your god is not the God of the Bible."

I was talking about Lee.

I see this as one of the 1 Cor 3 kind of issues. The "builders" have come along with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. We are not the builders. We are the building. But the builders in our case in the LCM that would be Nee and Lee and those who repeated their messages have chosen wood hay and stubble. I do not really consider them to be pursuing a different God, but they pursue so poorly that it is hard to tell that it is the same God. The God who inspired the Psalms and cause James to write is not the person that they claim he is when they declare that he either only allowed it as an example of the wrong, or just couldn't get it removed. If that really is God, then we are talking about a different God. The one I think is true put those sections in for our benefit. Lee declares them as useless unless you need an example of what not to do. That is awfully close to a different God.

Or a form of Blasphemy to declare what God has said to be false.

They are building on the LCM with wood, hay, and stubble. It damages the building (the church) but it is not the church's fault. The charge lays at the feet of the builders who must watch their work burn.

If we over-milk the metaphor, then it means the church burns, but I do not think that is part of the intended meaning. But we should learn to recognize people who are making merchandise of the believers. Who are teaching myths and endless genealogies. Who are ministering to make their bellies fat.

And turn away from them.
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Old 02-17-2015, 07:36 AM   #19
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And the LCM without the teachings of Nee and Lee might not be able to exist.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:07 AM   #20
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Well, maybe I'm just being provocative, but Lee wasn't the first person to throw James under the bus for the sake of doctrine. http://twelvetribes.org/articles/epistle-of-straw
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:37 AM   #21
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Provocative? No way! We don't allow being provocative around here!
(You're new so you probably haven't noticed that about 90% of the posts around here are provocative)
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:54 AM   #22
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Provocative? No way! We don't allow being provocative around here!
(You're new so you probably haven't noticed that about 90% of the posts around here are provocative)
Not provocative ... just challenging!
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Old 02-19-2015, 03:45 PM   #23
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Well, maybe I'm just being provocative, but Lee wasn't the first person to throw James under the bus for the sake of doctrine. http://twelvetribes.org/articles/epistle-of-straw
No. Lee was not the first. But he had his reasons to like that position, and it related to his inability to be considered to have any real faith under James' definitions.

Besides, taking a less well-traveled position was so often his calling card. The more out-of-sync he and his followers are/were with the rest of Christianity, the harder it would be for any of them to abandon ship since they would be steeped in marginal theology.
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Old 02-20-2015, 06:13 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Awoken View Post
Well, maybe I'm just being provocative, but Lee wasn't the first person to throw James under the bus for the sake of doctrine. http://twelvetribes.org/articles/epistle-of-straw
I'm on record as often being critical of Luther. But in this case, it might not be as bad as it seems. If I remember correctly, Luther put that inflammatory (pun intended) remark about James' epistle in the forward to his 1522 Bible. But he removed it from later editions. And Luther's argument with James' place in the NT corpus was partly due to the reception of James (many had struggled with its place in the canon) as to its contents. Luther was well aware of the inherent tension between "works" and "faith" and tried, occasionally, to address this. He didn't pretend "works" were irrelevant.

So to simply say that Luther called James' letter "an epistle of straw" and leave it at that doesn't do it justice. How much have we on this forum read Luther's works? Little, I bet. WL, on the other hand, we sat through literally hundreds of meetings, and read several hundreds of messages. So it's a little harder for WL to be exonerated here by saying that Luther also said similar things.
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Old 10-18-2019, 07:50 AM   #25
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Default Re: The changed role of women in the LCM

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
Have the apologists for LSM, or Nee or Lee for that matter, ever addressed this? Something doesn't seem right here.... did the official "history of the church and the local churches" ever try to paper over this glaring incongruity -- that women went from having key roles in the movement's formative years, to having no roles whatsoever outside of children's service? Or was this large shift something whose existence we shouldn't acknowledge? As in, "Lee never talked about it, therefore we ignore it".
Bringing this forward.

With all the apologetic LSM sites recently emerging, let's make this a faq - a frequently asked question - about why they sell books by Mary McDonough (''God's Plan...") on LSM book sales page, yet don't allow women to teach? About where a Peace Wang would fit in, today? Let's ask, how RK makes denigrating statements about "women's place" and then in the next message lauding Margaret Barber for turning Watchman Nee into Minister of the Age?

We could list several women who had prominent roles in Watchman Nee's formative years, and his Little Flock's rise. Elizabeth Fischbacher, Ruth Lee, Dora Yu, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Madame Guyon, Barber, McDonough... where would any of them fit in, today?

"By deliberately putting himself before Miss Barber's instruction and strict rebukes, Brother Nee received much help."

http://mebarber.ccws.org/

Remember, this is presented not as Watchman Nee in children's meeting, getting his first Bible lessons, but as Watchman Nee the young adult former Methodist going to the equivalent of "full time training" in "God's present [recovered] move". How to reconcile this with the LC seen today? Until someone explains what's going on, the impression is given that they make it up as they go along, and no one's supposed to notice that today's narrative doesn't match yesterday's at all - in fact it's diametrically opposed.
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