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Old 02-04-2020, 03:49 PM   #1
Curious
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Default Fixing the Problems Helps Everyone Concerned, even LC Leadership

This forum is made up of ex LC persons in the main. (except me!). The point of view therefore expressed here, is of the deficits of the organisation towards its followers and the harm caused, and its need to change. Absolutely all valid, however, perhaps not the whole picture….

I want to use the following bible story to look at how I think the dysfunction in the LC harms the people at the top too. Maybe a horribly presumptuous move, or maybe an interesting different perspective...

I’m going to review the account delivered in the book of Esther, considered from looking at her husband, King Xerxes, (or Ahaseurus, depending on your translation).

Now I am not reinterpreting to re-write the story as most often studied from Esther’s perspective. The normal focus of commentary is not in conflict with my offering here. It is with specialised interest in the pitfalls of lack of accountability and responsibility in those in authority that I evaluate what can also be found in this book of the bible, in my opinion, that is.

The points I want to draw out starts here: King Xerxes is entertaining at his palace. Many officials, princes and governors are in attendance, and the emphasis is on impressing them. Being drunk, he decided to show off his beautiful queen to the assembly. As it was against Persian custom for a woman to appear before a public gathering of men, this put his queen, Vashti, in a no-win situation. She either disobeys her husband or the custom, both for which she could face retribution. Drunk people do unthought-through, spontaneous dumb stuff like that. (I know from experience).

Possibly in voting for the long-term outcome, she opts to obey the custom, which in turn puts the king in an awkward situation of loosing face amongst his guests. Having no experience of the restriction of rules applying to himself, the king fails to understand the predicament he had placed his queen in. And in this quandary, he receives bad advice. This is because he’s the King, and as ruler, it is believed he should never be in the submissive situation of mopping up after his cock-up!

First move is to banish queen Vashti permanently. (This is done to endorse a pattern of male dominance for his kingdom). And second, when he missed her, and regretted what he’d done, the advice he got was to go out and fill the gap in his heart by culling off a number of the most eligible young women of his kingdom and taking them for himself. Rather than allowing them to be wives for his loyal young men! (Yes I’m suggesting this was also greedy and selfish as well as ill advised. He's using his position to serve himself, not the interests of his people).

however, this is how he comes to have Esther, a beautiful and wise young Jewish woman among the other young women that are taken for him to become his concubines.

Then the more well told parts of the story. Haman is the Kings number two, a descendent of the King Agag, who had survived the command God had given to the Israelites, to destroy. They compromised God’s instruction in disobedience. Haman both hated the Jews for this, and likely had aspirations to become King, as his ancestor had been.

He manipulates the king to enact his own agenda towards all the Jews living in exile in Persia. To destroy them all. How did he gain such an influence? My theory to come.

This situation of the imminent slaughter of all Jews, forces Esther to enact a plan requiring great courage.

This is where I am making comment about lack of accountability in leadership as relates to LC and king Xerxes. Queen Esther must risk her life to approach the King. Why so? If he had not summoned her, and he’s in a bad mood that day, or just doesn’t feel like seeing her, he can have her put to death for approaching him. (That’s the same but worse than being ‘perfected’ or publicly ‘rebuked’ in the LC). So this is the situation. He is so dominant, and his people so submissive, that you may only have an audience with him at his invite. Anything else is great audacity and can be punished as such. Is that an abusive level of authority and submission or what?

However, If one treats human beings in such a way, there is a response. (As well, it’s likely his banishment of Vashti in an unjust way also contributed to this): When people are in such subjection and are basically not safe around you, they will behave in a certain way. They will agree with everything you say, appease you enthusiastically at every opportunity, do whatever you ask of them, but never engage with you honestly or openly, and they’ll scuttle themselves out of your presence as quickly as possible in case you take offence with them about something outside of their control, and have their heads chopped off!

Now the King has been successful, there is no possibility that anyone will ever make him uncomfortable by expressing an opinion counter to his own, or even worse, cast doubt or even reject anything he has to say. But he’s removed all reality from his relationships. Where does that actually leave him? I’ll tell you where. Lonely and isolated. Rejected. Bored as a carrot.

(Is that the real reason why WL became critical of his own followers towards the end perhaps?)

Esther was terrified at the idea of initiating counsel with her King, so you can guess no-one else was approaching him, except Haman. However, the King was delighted with her for doing so. Otherwise, why offer half his kingdom to her twice? I think the drain of being isolated had really gotten to him. So much so, that the enjoyment of the evening she had invited him to, and the short break it had provided from his unhappy predicament, that he couldn’t sleep that night. He determined to seek a way to engage in relationship with people as he realized how desperate his need had become. So, he had the court records read to him, late at night, looking for something where he could make a connection with someone.

At the time Mordecai had saved his life, the King had taken little or no notice of who he was and what he had done. There was much more going on his life at that time that he didn’t pay attention to this. (incidentally, another reason for the controls over people approaching him may have been the attempt on his life by the two men Mordecai had discovered, i.e. fear). However, humbled by his loneliness and boredom, at the reminder of this account, he wanted to express gratitude on a grand scale. Isn’t that how one makes a friend when you are the King? To me this theory makes sense of his actions.

Now Haman comes to visit him late at night. Haman is not worried that the King may behead him for approaching. Haman had a special connection with the King, special freedoms and rights. Yet Haman was someone we would probably call a narcissist today. When your only friend is a narcissist, life is extra lonely. You have this empty and confused feeling that you should feel happy, as your ego is being plumped up regularly, but the real feeling is you are being robbed and exploited in ways you can’t figure out. Like the snake, a clever narcissist is well ‘camouflaged’, hard to identify. Haman had begun to meet his own agendas through King Xerxes. He wanted the Jews killed. He hated them. He manipulated the King to destroy them though the King had no problem with them. This is another vulnerability of being elevated and isolated from others. You become overly dependant on one or a very few people and they can take control of you, and work out their own agendas, you become their puppet.

So, Esther’s approach to the King was rescuing him from his own unhappy circumstances. She was much safer to do so than she realised, God had prepared the kings heart to be more than happy to see her! Haman was the enemy of the King in reality, and therefore the King’s biggest problem too, but on a more personal level. This truth became evident to King Xerxes in the unfolding of this story, as he realised that in destroying all the Jews, Haman was trying to rid the King of the only two people that had shown true care and interest in the King. So, he had no problem supporting the Jewish people in their desire to be rid of Haman.

King Xerxes was exploited in a sense by his own position and the set-up that elevated him also isolated him, harming him.

The message of this story? If you disallow the people around you to have opinions, to hold you to account, to disagree with you, to have their own thoughts and feelings about things, then you isolate yourself from their hearts. (Think of the demands of being 'perfected' in the LC system, losing your identity, opinions etc.) In that isolation there is great loneliness and pain, in the long run. We were not designed to endure that, as human beings. This is true in a marriage where there is heavy male domination, just as it is true in an abusive organisation with a heavy focus on controlling and bullying its members...it’s the same exact thing on a much bigger scale.

I think this is a true message about all positions of authority without accountability. WL maybe didn’t have his own ‘worm tongue’ (manipulative right-hand man), but being elevated and out of kilter with God’s rules for living is as harmful to the person elevated as it is to those under them.

That’s my long, drawn-out point. The main thrust of this forum, if respected by the LC, will be to bring healing and restoration to the leadership of the LC as much as to its followers. The solution is equally important for everyone involved.

That’s my theory and comment anyway. if it is relevant, then I'm hoping some in LC leadership read this.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:23 PM   #2
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The message of this story? If you disallow the people around you to have opinions, to hold you to account, to disagree with you, to have their own thoughts and feelings about things, then you isolate yourself from their hearts. (Think of the demands of being 'perfected' in the LC system, losing your identity, opinions etc.) In that isolation there is great loneliness and pain, in the long run. We were not designed to endure that, as human beings. This is true in a marriage where there is heavy male domination, just as it is true in an abusive organisation with a heavy focus on controlling and bullying its members...it’s the same exact thing on a much bigger scale.

I think this is a true message about all positions of authority without accountability. WL maybe didn’t have his own ‘worm tongue’ (manipulative right-hand man), but being elevated and out of kilter with God’s rules for living is as harmful to the person elevated as it is to those under them.

That’s my long, drawn-out point. The main thrust of this forum, if respected by the LC, will be to bring healing and restoration to the leadership of the LC as much as to its followers. The solution is equally important for everyone involved.

That’s my theory and comment anyway. if it is relevant, then I'm hoping some in LC leadership read this.
When I look at the LC and what is happening within it currently, I don't see anything that makes me particularly optimistic about it. Of course, it's never too late for reform to happen, however, at this point I think that even if there were ever anything significant to happen in that regard, very few would want back in.

Sometimes when I reflect on my own LC experience, one of the things that I keep coming back to is the realization that I spent far too long in the LC waiting for things to get better. Another thing is the realization that it took me far too long to realize how much was wrong. And for me at least, now that I have that realization, I don't want to waste a second more of my time with things that might never change.

In other words by the time I realized the determinate effects associated with the lack of accountability, it was too late. The damage was done, and even if things had changed for the better, I probably still would have left.
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Old 02-05-2020, 06:48 AM   #3
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Default Fixing the Problems Helps Everyone Concerned, even LC Leadership

"Oh foolish [Local Churchers] . . . after starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?" Galatians 3:1-3

While there was a lot of emphasis on the indwelling Spirit in the LC - which was in itself a needed adjustment from the outward focus of much of Christendom - eventually things became just a set of fleshly norms to follow. Following norms is devoid of Christ and love, just making a bunch of noise (tinkling brass).

And, of course, leadership sets the norms.
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Old 02-05-2020, 10:57 AM   #4
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Default Fixing the Problems Helps Everyone Concerned, even LC Leadership

Great insight Curious, into interpersonal relationships.

As I stepped away from LSM after Lee passed, I needed to understand him amidst the many ironies and paradoxes, which in my mind were not understandable. I was stuck in a binary mindset, which all too often captures people, and limits them from really understanding the subject at hand.

On the one hand, some would say how grandfatherly Lee was. How kind, how caring, how holy, how generous, how self-effacing, how sympathetic, etc. On the other hand, reports would surface about Lee being brutal and abusive, shaming others without reason, dress downs uncalled for, regular humiliations called elders' trainings, etc. Which was true? It seemed like all the "commoners" saw the benevolent side, and all the LC leaders saw the abusive side. Being in the Midwest region, I surely could relate these descriptions to TC, our regional leader.

Apparent John Darby and W. Nee were similar -- very gifted, immensely talented, natural leaders, etc., each with a growing fan base. What happened to them? Power corrupted them! Against all the warnings given to us by our ultimate leader Himself and His chosen Apostles, the bait of power captured them. The same rotten bait which caught every other rotten Gentile or Jewish King in history. Fruitful, yes. Narcissist, yes. Enriching minister, yes. Megalomaniac, yes.

Unfortunately, these contradictions were not supposed to exist in the body of Christ.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:24 PM   #5
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This comment reminds me of what my own father would say. He was a lawyer, and dealt with wills and civil cases for much of his career. Which means, he dealt with the interface between people's outward personas alongside the real things that drove them.

He used to caution us to beware of charming, charismatic people. They are the most to be wary of, the most likely to be not what they appear, (in fact he said it much stronger than that). At the time I thought, that's just because he lacks charm himself, in any capacity and does not understand it! (Which was true too!) However, with the benefit of my own life experience, I now believe they were very wise words, something he learned very well in his professional experience and he knew what he was talking about!

I'm sure that not every appealing person is a narcissist or sociopath. But I suspect every narcissist and sociopath does develop the skills that give them influence over others. It's necessary for their purposes to be accomplished.

If this life is an exercise in learning then maybe this is a useful takeaway from the experience of the LC. And Proverbs does not underestimate the value of wisdom gained, above the cost to us personally to gain it. Perhaps Proverbs is a good place to find comfort that He has a good purpose for the costly lessons of this life. We each have to decide before God if we accept the treasure of wisdom gained, or bemoan the cost. I'm getting preachy here so I'll stop.

I've got another direction to go with this which I hope to add soon.
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Old 02-05-2020, 04:07 PM   #6
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Addressing the post from 'Freedom'.

I'm glad you are out of the LC and will never return even if there is reform. and glad too, for everyone else who left. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, I agree with STG, was and still is, a necessary adjustment to the Christianity which sill rejects this. And as Cal says, we don't need to put up with the negatives in order to benefit from the positives that were or are still part of what the LC delivers.

I am hoping to speak into the organisation of the LC to help the whole thing, those still in and stuck there, and those stuck in leadership there. Both positions are not easy to change, except at great personal risk and cost. And all people matter to God. He had a plan to humble and help King Xerxes, who also learned from his experience and maybe bowed his own knee to the God of the universe as a result. I know we don't know that, but he's moving in the right direction, at least, and I think it plausible to consider it a good possibility. In spite of his earlier abuse and exploitation of his position, and of his people.

Anyone with ideas about how leadership in the LC could begin a process of addressing the problems within will be welcome to begin such a discussion here. as I want to outline soon, there would be major difficulties in doing so, and I think it only fair to adopt a helpful attitude towards thinking through how those could be, (or for the sake of truth, have to be), navigated.

Alongside telling the LC leadership what to do, I'm suggesting we think about How it could be done. If leadership reject that too, well that would be up to them, we will have done our best for them.
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:20 PM   #7
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Anyone with ideas about how leadership in the LC could begin a process of addressing the problems within will be welcome to begin such a discussion here. as I want to outline soon, there would be major difficulties in doing so, and I think it only fair to adopt a helpful attitude towards thinking through how those could be, (or for the sake of truth, have to be), navigated.

Alongside telling the LC leadership what to do, I'm suggesting we think about How it could be done. If leadership reject that too, well that would be up to them, we will have done our best for them.

It all has to start with their admitting there is a problem. Without that, it's a nonstarter.

They also have to stop labeling concerns and genuine fellowship as "attacks" and be willing to listen.

They not only have to say "we were wrong" themselves, but part and parcel of that will be giving up the control they have had in their clutches for so long.

That's a big hill to climb for the leadership that has laid all that as their foundation for decades.

For me the most clarifying thing has been to see how a number of the LC doctrines dovetail perfectly with the doctrines used in high-control, spiritually abusive unhealthy churches (or cults, if you want to go that far). They are all wrapped up in Biblical sounding language, but the doctrines themselves are still there. This mostly has to do with the MOTA, deputy authority, submitting to authority regardless of right or wrong, "we alone have the truth", or "the body of Christ is only being built among us", etc. You read books about controlling Christian groups and you quickly realize what the local churches are doing has been done for a long time by a lot of other groups.

Some leaders know there is a problem but just put their head in the sand. I've seen it. One approach may be to take the "what can we do to solve this" rather than a "blaming" tack. Turn their view from "attacks" to "opportunities".
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:08 AM   #8
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This morning in the Thursday brothers' breakfast, we had fellowship around the Galatians theme, namely that anything added to Christ nullifies God's grace. When we add something we think is good (some law or form or regulation we take upon ourselves), the math in Paul's thinking is it totally negates the freedom and grace brought to us by the unfathomable gift of Christ!

A brother shared how he was out with another, older LC brother preaching the gospel door to door as part of "The New Way" in the mid 1980s. They were at a nonbeliever's house and this brother said he was reading something from a New Way tract, when he was inspired to share something of his own faith to this person. Immediately the older LC brother with him got very bothered and told him, "We have to go!" Out in the car the older brother started calling on Jesus' name as loud as he could, then turned to this brother and said, "You deviated from the [New Way] script! You must never do that!"

The brother then shared with us that at hearing this older brother speak this way, the Lord spoke very clearly to him and said, "They are trying to put a straight jacket on you." It was clearly an effort to squelch the Spirit. Upon that he was convinced by the Lord to leave the LC ASAP, which he and his wife did.

This is just like the bondage that Paul railed against in Galatians. He uses extremely strong language here and says that anything or anyone that subverts our freedom in Christ is to be accursed!!
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:30 PM   #9
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This morning in the Thursday brothers' breakfast, we had fellowship around the Galatians theme, namely that anything added to Christ nullifies God's grace.
Can you help me see where it is that anything added nullifies God's grace? I find that the thing added does nothing, but have not found where also doing something from the law nullified the grace otherwise afforded through faith.

I realize that if there is no faith, then nothing else works. But I cannot find where those who do believe are denied grace because they also do something of the law.

For example, are you suggesting that if I believe but I also become circumcised that I am not a Christian? In other words, is the requirement for salvation that we believe, or that we believe and not think (wrongly) that anything else might also be required? Under that scenario, then most of the original Jewish church was suspect because they had to have a council some years later to deal with the issue of not putting Jewish requirements on the Gentiles. That suggested that they were working under a presumption that the old Jewish ritual laws remained. Are they all denied grace?

I think that the distinction is that anything else is of no value — only the belief in Christ. But being of no value is not the same as saying it overcomes and extinguishes belief.
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:27 AM   #10
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Can you help me see where it is that anything added nullifies God's grace? I find that the thing added does nothing, but have not found where also doing something from the law nullified the grace otherwise afforded through faith.
Obviously it depends on what is added to our faith, but you knew that. The Bible provides numerous warnings concerning our faith, which we all should heed, lest we nullify the grace of God.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:57 AM   #11
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Can you help me see where it is that anything added nullifies God's grace? I find that the thing added does nothing, but have not found where also doing something from the law nullified the grace otherwise afforded through faith.

I realize that if there is no faith, then nothing else works. But I cannot find where those who do believe are denied grace because they also do something of the law.

For example, are you suggesting that if I believe but I also become circumcised that I am not a Christian? In other words, is the requirement for salvation that we believe, or that we believe and not think (wrongly) that anything else might also be required? Under that scenario, then most of the original Jewish church was suspect because they had to have a council some years later to deal with the issue of not putting Jewish requirements on the Gentiles. That suggested that they were working under a presumption that the old Jewish ritual laws remained. Are they all denied grace?

I think that the distinction is that anything else is of no value — only the belief in Christ. But being of no value is not the same as saying it overcomes and extinguishes belief.
If a believer becomes circumcised or not, it means nothing, and Paul says exactly that: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." Galatians 5:6

Earlier in that chapter he says, "If you receive circumcision (the law), then Christ is of no benefit to you." (vs 2) That is, there is no profit to add anything to Christ. This is Paul's main message to the churches in Galatia. Then in verse 4 he states, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." I don't believe this means you loose your salvation, but rather that the one accepting or adding the law to Christ, shows they don't really value or know the worth of the free gift of the Spirit of Christ given to them. They erroneously think they can add something to make Christ better, and what a huge error it is!

"It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." Gal 2:21

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." Gal 5:25

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law."


Therefore it's all in Him - what thing of value do we think we can add?
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:28 AM   #12
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If a believer becomes circumcised or not, it means nothing, and Paul says exactly that: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." Galatians 5:6

Earlier in that chapter he says, "If you receive circumcision (the law), then Christ is of no benefit to you." (vs 2) That is, there is no profit to add anything to Christ. This is Paul's main message to the churches in Galatia. Then in verse 4 he states, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." I don't believe this means you loose your salvation, but rather that the one accepting or adding the law to Christ, shows they don't really value or know the worth of the free gift of the Spirit of Christ given to them. They erroneously think they can add something to make Christ better, and what a huge error it is!

"It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." Gal 2:21

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." Gal 5:25

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law."


Therefore it's all in Him - what thing of value do we think we can add?
You said a lot of true things. But I don't think you really addressed my concern. I did not say that anything of the law was beneficial (or of any value), but that any action under the law did not negate the grace received by faith.

This is one of the things that I find problematic with the rhetoric of standard Calvinist evangelicalism. They seem to be seeking reasons to deny grace to those who believe because it doesn't match their formula in every aspect. The only "formula" I have seen is to believe (have faith) in Jesus Christ. So what do you say about the Jewish believers that continued to include acts of ritual worship? Is their salvation made null?

Or is it just that they are failing to realize everything that grace gives them due to their continued reliance on the law?
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:48 AM   #13
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The only "formula" I have seen is to believe (have faith) in Jesus Christ. So what do you say about the Jewish believers that continued to include acts of ritual worship? Is their salvation made null?

Or is it just that they are failing to realize everything that grace gives them due to their continued reliance on the law?
The 2nd thing. Certainly their salvation is not nullified, but rather grace. That is, grace is a free gift we don't work for; whereas the law is something we must keep. Therefore "fallen from grace" means we are trying to add something and do things on our own - thinking we can improve the perfect gift of freedom in the Spirit. Paul says this is putting ourselves under bondage.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:19 AM   #14
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The 2nd thing. Certainly their salvation is not nullified, but rather grace. That is, grace is a free gift we don't work for; whereas the law is something we must keep. Therefore "fallen from grace" means we are trying to add something and do things on our own - thinking we can improve the perfect gift of freedom in the Spirit. Paul says this is putting ourselves under bondage.
And when Paul said "nullified," he would be declaring that grace was failing to be realized, not that it is lost or eliminated.

So I guess now that we are on the same page.
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Old 02-08-2020, 05:59 AM   #15
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Earlier in that chapter he says, "If you receive circumcision (the law), then Christ is of no benefit to you."
The "you" Paul was addressing, here, was a Gentile community. Elsewhere, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Remember that Paul was, by mutual and open assent, made apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter to those of the circumcision (cf Gal 2:7-9). To force a one-size-fits-all reading onto something that may have been initially understood to be in a specific and temporal context is to fail to do justice to the text.

(Elsewhere, when those "zealous for the law" were proclaimed to be multitudinous followers of Jesus, and this had been off, or "of no benefit", wouldn't Paul or Luke the scribe would have made issue? But it was mentioned in passing, without further comment. ~Acts 21:20,21. No, that context was of Paul purportedly teaching Jews to drop the customs of their fathers.)

A better reading here might be, "If you Gentiles put yourselves under the law, to become like the Jews, and thus attempt to partake of the Jewish promises and blessings, you'll impinge the blessings and promises that believing into Jesus as Lord has brought you, as it already has the Jewish [law-keeping] believers before you." In that context (obedience, salvation, blessing), there's truly neither Jew nor Greek. But in other contexts there still is. (Just like there is still rich and poor, male and female, etc - why else would Paul admonish wives to obey husbands, and slaves to obey masters?) Eventually the Gentile-heavy church forbade the Jews from even being Jews, and ultimately persecuted them severely, simply for the crime of being Jewish.

We should really avoid naive and simplistic readings of the scriptural text. I've done so on this forum over the years, and posters like OBW were helpful to rein me in. Simplistic formulae make good copy but don't always translate well to actual circumstances on the ground. "Love your neighbour", however, remains. As does "Give to those who can't repay you in this age", etc. But we should be wary of an abstract "Christ" who gets painted broad-brush, mixed liberally with our concepts. Witness Lee made a tidy living for himself and his progeny doing this, as have others, before and since. Hopefully we've learned something, going thru the LC wringer.
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Old 02-08-2020, 07:26 AM   #16
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The "you" Paul was addressing, here, was a Gentile community. Elsewhere, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Remember that Paul was, by mutual and open assent, made apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter to those of the circumcision (cf Gal 2:7-9). To force a one-size-fits-all reading onto something that may have been initially understood to be in a specific and temporal context is to fail to do justice to the text.

(Elsewhere, when those "zealous for the law" were proclaimed to be multitudinous followers of Jesus, and this had been off, or "of no benefit", wouldn't Paul or Luke the scribe would have made issue? But it was mentioned in passing, without further comment. ~Acts 21:20,21. No, that context was of Paul purportedly teaching Jews to drop the customs of their fathers.)

A better reading here might be, "If you Gentiles put yourselves under the law, to become like the Jews, and thus attempt to partake of the Jewish promises and blessings, you'll impinge the blessings and promises that believing into Jesus as Lord has brought you, as it already has the Jewish [law-keeping] believers before you." In that context (obedience, salvation, blessing), there's truly neither Jew nor Greek. But in other contexts there still is. (Just like there is still rich and poor, male and female, etc - why else would Paul admonish wives to obey husbands, and slaves to obey masters?) Eventually the Gentile-heavy church forbade the Jews from even being Jews, and ultimately persecuted them severely, simply for the crime of being Jewish.

We should really avoid naive and simplistic readings of the scriptural text. I've done so on this forum over the years, and posters like OBW were helpful to rein me in. Simplistic formulae make good copy but don't always translate well to actual circumstances on the ground. "Love your neighbour", however, remains. As does "Give to those who can't repay you in this age", etc. But we should be wary of an abstract "Christ" who gets painted broad-brush, mixed liberally with our concepts. Witness Lee made a tidy living for himself and his progeny doing this, as have others, before and since. Hopefully we've learned something, going thru the LC wringer.
So help my simple mind out here - are you saying something else is needed to complete Christ in the believer?
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:09 AM   #17
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So help my simple mind out here - are you saying something else is needed to complete Christ in the believer?
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This morning in the Thursday brothers' breakfast, we had fellowship around the Galatians theme, namely that anything added to Christ nullifies God's grace.
You had a formula: "Christ plus anything equals nothing". But in this formula, the danger is that a person's subjectivity defines "Christ" versus "anything". Then that person convinces others to think likewise. Then that person's thinking (interpretive "Christ") becomes the new straight-jacket.

Witness Lee and Watchman Nee rightly saw the perils of the Western Model Church imposed whole-cloth on the Chinese mainland as if it were a one-size-fits-all, true-for-all model. What was "normal" versus what was "degraded and deformed Christianity". They rightly critiqued the model handed them. Then they set about building their own, and it was much worse, and further from the beginning than the one they fled from. Your story of preaching the LSM "New Way Gospel" in the 1980s is an example of what came out of that thinking.

Any of us can do the same. Something Paul wrote to the Galatians, or the Colossians, or the Corinthians, doesn't give an abstract template to subsume all else. It may give some freedom to follow Jesus, as we see fit. But our "seeing fit" isn't an objective truth, or a "Christ" for all. It's just us, trying to follow the Spirit today, best we can. Today I'm more circumspect in my attempts to break shackles, that I don't become unduly enamored with Descartian "this versus that" thinking, and create new ones. I think that's what OBW referenced in his "Calvinist evangelicalism". And I surely saw that in Lee-ism.

I'm not qualified to say what "completes Christ" in you, nor you in me. We both have to stand at the Judgment Seat. So why judge, what is objectively "Christ" versus "anything added" equaling "nothing"? The Master judges the servants, they don't judge each other. We once made Lee the Master and Judge, via his folkways. Let's not continue the mistake. Our formulae may shoehorn subjectivity back onto the throne.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:18 AM   #18
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You had a formula: "Christ plus anything equals nothing". But in this formula, the danger is that a person's subjectivity defines "Christ" versus "anything". Then that person convinces others to think likewise. Then that person's thinking (interpretive "Christ") becomes the new straight-jacket.

Witness Lee and Watchman Nee rightly saw the perils of the Western Model Church imposed whole-cloth on the Chinese mainland as if it were a one-size-fits-all, true-for-all model. What was "normal" versus what was "degraded and deformed Christianity". They rightly critiqued the model handed them. Then they set about building their own, and it was much worse, and further from the beginning than the one they fled from.

Any of us can do the same. Something Paul wrote to the Galatians, or the Colossians, or the Corinthians, doesn't give us an abstract template to subsume all else. It may give us some freedom to follow Jesus, as we see fit. But our "seeing fit" isn't an objective truth, or a "Christ" for all. It's just us, trying to follow the Spirit. We have to be careful in our attempts to break shackles, that we become unduly enamored with our Descartian "this versus that" thinking, and create new ones.
Okay, got it. However, my point is that nothing needs to be added to Christ, and I believe that is the point Paul is clearly making in Galatians. And yes, even standing on that as a doctrine could be used (twisted) by someone to subvert others to a system . . . but that's not Paul's point.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:29 AM   #19
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I don't really have a dog in this fight (come to think of it, I don't have a dog at all) but as I was reading through the various responces I thought of what Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:10)
..and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Sometimes I think taking the Nee/Lee aproach of "Everything is simply Christ" or "all we need is Christ" can lead us to a place where we are at risk of nullifying God's grace (or as Paul says here "to make his grace towards us in vain". Paul didn't just sit back resting on the laurels of God's grace, rather he "worked harder than any of them". Maybe "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" aplies here as well.

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Old 02-08-2020, 08:38 AM   #20
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Sometimes I think taking the Nee/Lee approach of "Everything is simply Christ" or "all we need is Christ" can lead us to a place where we are at risk of nullifying God's grace (or as Paul says here "to make his grace towards us in vain". Paul didn't just sit back resting on the laurels of God's grace, rather he "worked harder than any of them". Maybe "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" applies here as well.
In the title of the thread, the words "fixing problems" and "helping leadership" jumps out. The original post showed the problem of a fallen human being trapped and isolated by the power structure that is supposed to protect him. Jesus, the One with all power, fully channeling the Father here on earth, let himself be so vulnerable to the machinations of fallen humanity. "I am a worm and not a man"

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King Xerxes was exploited in a sense by his own position and the set-up that elevated him also isolated him, harming him.
Curious' point, as I see it, is that current LC leaders can learn from WL's mistakes, and be healed, just as previously Lee learned from Luther and Calvin and thence from the RCC, etc. All those forebears were part of the great passing-on of the gospel (and thank God for that!) but none of them were the equivalent of "Christ", deserving unrivaled place among the brethren, and slavish, unquestioning obedience. Only Jesus has that place, and he has that place precisely because he emptied himself. The Father elevated him, not he himself... Jesus emptied himself.

The Jews knew all this, I believe, which is why the failures of Peter were not hidden. Neither were those of David in earlier scriptures. Etc. But the LC created a farcical, bowdlerised history in order to hide their defects, especially of their leadership's history. And this very hiding is the proof of all the unresolved shame at the root of it all.

God: "Hey, Adam, why are you and Eve over there in the bushes with fig leaves plastered all over your bodies?"

Adam: "What fig leaves? What bushes?"

You can't fix the problem unless you realise there's a problem. Jesus' first words of ministry were 'repent'. That goes for everyone: at the end of the NT, the aged disciple John on Patmos was still writing, 'repent'.

And the masquerade shows the problem, it doesn't hide it. The LC power structure functions by transferring shame. It doesn't heal the shame. But we all need to be healed. All of us.
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Old 02-08-2020, 08:40 AM   #21
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I don't really have a dog in this fight (come to think of it, I don't have a dog at all) but as I was reading through the various responces I thought of what Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:10)
..and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Sometimes I think taking the Nee/Lee aproach of "Everything is simply Christ" or "all we need is Christ" can lead us to a place where we are at risk of nullifying God's grace (or as Paul says here "to make his grace towards us in vain". Paul didn't just sit back resting on the laurels of God's grace, rather he "worked harder than any of them". Maybe "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" aplies here as well.

-
Well, if I think I know anything it is that there really isn't a formula, is there!? (but that still doesn't mean I'll stop looking for one ha ha) Except I must say again that this is my big takeaway from going through Galatians this time - that is there is no benefit to adding to what is already complete in Him (and why would we want to do that?) which just leads to bondage.
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Old 02-10-2020, 02:53 PM   #22
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In my opening post I was seeking to catch the attention perhaps of those ‘responsible ones’ in the Local Church with something that might be relevant to their experience, which correcting their practise and thinking might resolve for them.

Also, on this forum, we’ve been very clear about ‘what’ they need to do, but just like a boring, academic-only sermon, that tells you ‘what’ you ought to be in Christ, (which most people know already), but says nothing about the ‘how’ do you achieve this, I thought we should consider ‘how’ , in a practical way, could the LC be influenced by aware leaders from within, to adjust.
And For all we know, there could well be persons within who secretly are thinking about this too.

In other words:

What if….some in the LC, even those high up in the system, have begun to take seriously, the messages from the ‘dissenters and opposers’ who have posted their concerns.

What if….there have become a number of those within, that have become increasingly aware of the validity of the claims they have read.

What if….those persons have become uncomfortable, even troubled and anxious about it all, but don’t know what to do about it. They feel stuck. Especially that they aren’t bred to have good independent thinking skills, an essential skill for planning a strategy to escape. Perhaps they need help.

What if… these persons are fearful, stressed and are carrying now great internal conflict and guilt, their cognitive dissonance ramped up to high levels, feeling forced to pretend and agree with things they no longer feel comfortable to agree with.

We don’t know the effectiveness of this website and the other materials on the internet that are available. There may be many individuals, even ones like king Xerxes who have done wrong in the past, but who are repentant now and would seek a better way. They may never post here, but we can respond to their need anyway.

I feel there is a responsibility on a ‘whistle blower’ to then be a practical help to those who hear the message but aren’t equipped to know what to do about it. To help in mopping up the fallout.

So I think it good to put our minds together and think of the ‘how’ for those who are on board with the ‘what’. I hope that makes sense, I know I’m a bit ‘wordy’ but I try to be clear!!

So in the scenario that it’s a person high up. Is it so simple that they could just acknowledge these matters addressed for them here and elsewhere, and start to seek out how they could correct things and face the wrongs? Publicly and abruptly?

I see some big problems in the logistics of it.

This movement is indeed under the cloak of Chinese culture, confessed by themselves even, when convenient for self-justification. However, a very strong element of Chinese culture is a fear of ‘losing face’. ‘Saving face’ is an extremely important social rule in China. To lose face has an association of shame attached to it much greater than in the West, and it is understood that everyone scrambles away from such a possibility in any way they can. Lying usually the most available option. We are asking them to face up to their wrongs from within our cultural framework that has valued humility and honesty for centuries, due to the historical application of the knowledge of the bible and its influence on out whole culture.

The LC is built on the idea that they are above the mistakes of the rest, there is so much faith and expectation built up in this idea, and cultural arrogance embedded, that such a confession would potentially have a huge and immediate fallout from within the system itself. They don’t have the internal culture/maturity to cope with this. Those at the top may feel that all that is good in the LC would be compromised, people would be so disillusioned and even angry with them, and may turn away and the good could be sabotaged. That alone may stop them from taking such a step. They may be trying to protect their method of practise of engaging with God in the spirit, which they believe both that; they are the only people on earth who are getting right, and is essential to have a genuine Christian life.

It’s actually a difficult place for them to be. Its contrary to all they have stood for and believed in of themselves. Maybe members would become depressed. It could be huge. To lose their identity on a mass scale in a moment of time. It could even be a cruel and destructive thing to drop the whole truth at once without any preparation. I don’t envy the leaders being in that position of responsibility to bring this change in a way that would bring hope and not a negative upheaval to its followers. The negative upheaval may be necessary but no-one wants to bring such a disturbance on to unsuspecting followers. A clear and kind strategy needs to be thought out and put in place I think.

Maybe they don’t care about any of that, but if they do, then they would need help and support in managing this wisely. I just thought its worth being aware of the logistics of this proposition, the thought that those who have raised the issues might need to then be the friends and helpers of any LC leaders who could consider putting things right. I think that what ‘Jesus would do!’ …support, those seeking truth, correction and help, and we could offer some of that.

One thought is…Maybe they could look to Gorbachev, Russia’s leader who brought in ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’, (meaning ‘listen’ and ‘openness’). In his memoirs he states that it was in response to the tragedy of Chernobyl and the way it was handled that caused him to create these policies. A culture of secrecy, a focus on blame-shifting rather than fixing the problem, the belief that Russia was a superior nation to any other, and many other (parallel to LC) issues were to be unworked over time with his reforms. It didn't go that smoothly and Russians were very disillusioned to discover they had been lied to about the condition of the rest of the world. Maybe reality cant be sugar-coated. However it could nevertheless be useful to look into. Even if it just helps to know others have been in the spot they are in, even Russian leaders...on a monumental scale! After all, Ecclesiaties tells us, 'there is nothing new under the sun', every problem has been faced before. God has a way...

That’s just my thoughts, enough for one long post!!
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Old 02-13-2020, 08:36 AM   #23
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So in the scenario that it’s a person high up. Is it so simple that they could just acknowledge these matters addressed for them here and elsewhere, and start to seek out how they could correct things and face the wrongs? Publicly and abruptly?

I see some big problems in the logistics of it.

This movement is indeed under the cloak of Chinese culture, confessed by themselves even, when convenient for self-justification. However, a very strong element of Chinese culture is a fear of ‘losing face’. ‘Saving face’ is an extremely important social rule in China. To lose face has an association of shame attached to it much greater than in the West, and it is understood that everyone scrambles away from such a possibility in any way they can. Lying usually the most available option. We're asking them to face their wrongs from within our cultural framework that's valued humility and honesty for centuries, due to the historical application of the knowledge of the bible and its influence on our whole culture.
I read an interesting story recently about the flu virus pandemic that has hit China. The doctor who discovered the virus was an Ophthalmologist by training, not an epidemiologist. When he realized what was happening, he tried to communicate with his colleagues what the risk was. Someone promptly reported him to the government for spreading destabilizing rumours. He was denounced for being "unpatriotic" and so forth. There is a reason this society of over a billion people is so averse to the truth. It creates instability. I mean, look at the chaos the USA goes through every 4 years with elections! Accusations, recriminations, etc.

So one can understand their strong aversion to this style of exposing communication. Yet, there are advantages to the truth. Look at the Bible, with King David's failures, Moses' failures, the various kings who didn't match God's requirements, and this continued unabated into the NT. Nobody, including Paul, is infallible. This is Christianity 101, and should be read out in the first week's catechism. Being exposed to the truth allows one to reset, to change, to learn and grow.

Chinese culture has got to, at some point, take a back seat to the Bible, in the Christian church. But doesn't have to be effaced. There is still "every tribe, and tongue, and nation" glorifying God (Rev 5:9; 7:9). The Chinese are welcome at the banquet feast! It's okay! There is no shame!
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:56 AM   #24
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I read an interesting story recently about the flu virus pandemic that has hit China. The doctor who discovered the virus was an Ophthalmologist by training, not an epidemiologist. When he realized what was happening, he tried to communicate with his colleagues what the risk was. Someone promptly reported him to the government for spreading destabilizing rumours. He was denounced for being "unpatriotic" and so forth. There is a reason this society of over a billion people is so averse to the truth. It creates instability. I mean, look at the chaos the USA goes through every 4 years with elections! Accusations, recriminations, etc.
Without a doubt, the LC would be seriously destabilized if they ever confronted the truth. It could even collapse completely. The current leadership probably realizes this to some extent, and just as much, they also don't have the humility to admit that they are wrong.

What compounds the problem even further is that among the rank and file members, they are living in a state of cognitive dissonance. They came into the LC and adapted the belief that they are now part of the best of the best. Anything that contradicts that belief becomes suspect. So lets imaging that someone like Ron Kangas were to come clean - he admits that he was wrong, that he has abused his position as a leader, etc. Would LC members all nod their heads in agreement, or would the quickly turn on him as someone who has become the enemy?

In other words, they have checks throughout the system in place to ensure that there is no type of instability/uprising that could creep in undetected.
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:31 PM   #25
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Thankyou both for clarifying the pillars that hold the whole system in place and how inpenetrable they are. It can only take a Samson to be strong enough to destroy it all!! So the options are clear, we can only continue to be the voices marching around the walls of Jericho, rescuing the escapies, (Rahabs, which represent those aware they have been abused) and getting more numerous, and our voices louder, as time goes by.

We can pray too. Forgive them, learn from their mistakes. We can feel sorry for those entrapped, without enough faith to overturn their lives in order to get out.

That settles my mind as to what is possible anyway.
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:18 PM   #26
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What compounds the problem even further is that among the rank and file members, they are living in a state of cognitive dissonance. They came into the LC and adapted the belief that they are now part of the best of the best.
We should also note that Lee's ministry has an eerie effect on its readers. Some I know, who left years ago, still regularly read the ministry books because "it gives them life," or so they say and believe. Yes, Lee's ministry provides mountains of Bible knowledge and talks extensively about experiencing God, but it's more like a feeding tube for the terminally ill. With his ministry also comes pride, judgmentalism, arrogance -- all the components of the "leaven of the Pharisees."
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:18 PM   #27
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That settles my mind as to what is possible anyway.
I think it's helpful to discern some of the barriers, and of what they are made (social, economic, psychological, cultural, a mix). They are real barriers to change, and some seem intertwined and quite stubborn.

The thing that fascinates me is that "hard" systems are also fairly brittle. Systems that resist any change at all, can implode when an opening is found. I think of a 38 year-old mother of two young children, a registered dietitian, not a "co-worker" or a big theologian, just a "little sister" who with her husband writes an open letter, publishes it with her name, on Facebook.

It was such a small act, really, but the impact of one couple being willing to honest and open was amazing. The reaction was so disproportionate to the act - both in those who initially responded to the letter, and then the 'official' reaction. It showed the weakness of the whole system, that it could get shaken profoundly by something that seemed so small.

So if someone "high up in the system" as Curious states it, were to have a repentant change of heart, it could really open a door. We shall see.
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Old 02-13-2020, 01:41 PM   #28
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Thankyou both for clarifying the pillars that hold the whole system in place and how inpenetrable they are. It can only take a Samson to be strong enough to destroy it all!! So the options are clear, we can only continue to be the voices marching around the walls of Jericho, rescuing the escapies, (Rahabs, which represent those aware they have been abused) and getting more numerous, and our voices louder, as time goes by.

We can pray too. Forgive them, learn from their mistakes. We can feel sorry for those entrapped, without enough faith to overturn their lives in order to get out.

That settles my mind as to what is possible anyway.
I hope that my posts don't come across the wrong way. I'm certainly not against seeing reform happen within the LC, I just don't see it as being likely.

One thing that I think is important to point out in regards to my own experience is that while in the LC, I got led down a lot of rabbit holes in regards to things that we were expected to hope/pray for. As it turned out, a lot of the things that we thought were meant to be really weren't. I suspect that many former members might have a similar perspective.

Again, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with what you're trying to accomplish here, I'm just saying that there is a distinct possibility that the LC will collapse without ever seeing reform. So if there are two possible outcomes, without knowing which one will occur, it becomes a matter of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Thus, I think a lot of what could be most beneficial for current members is not just "how" change could be implemented with the LC, but also helping them to know how/when to abandon ship. For example, lets say they are provided with some really good and specific suggestions with how changes could be implemented, and some members take it upon themselves to try to implement those changes. How long should they do that if there is no result or positive outcome? It's questions like that which I think also factor in here.
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Old 02-14-2020, 05:22 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Freedom View Post
I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with what you're trying to accomplish here, I'm just saying that there is a distinct possibility that the LC will collapse without ever seeing reform. So if there are two possible outcomes, without knowing which one will occur, it becomes a matter of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Thus, I think a lot of what could be most beneficial for current members is not just "how" change could be implemented with the LC, but also helping them to know how/when to abandon ship. For example, lets say they are provided with some really good and specific suggestions with how changes could be implemented, and some members take it upon themselves to try to implement those changes. How long should they do that if there is no result or positive outcome? It's questions like that which I think also factor in here.
Freedom, your points are valid. But ultimately, we have to honour our inner voice, no matter how quixotic it seems (v/v sentence on "result or positive outcome"). Ultimately God will sort out which are "rabbit holes" and which are not. We have to listen to the voice, and respond. When Philip was told by the angel to go down to the South Road out of Jerusalem, he might have been like, "huh?". But he went. The Casteels probably had no idea what they were getting into. But they honoured the voice with obedience. At the end of the day, that's all we can do - try to listen, and obey.
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Old 02-14-2020, 06:48 AM   #30
Freedom
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Default Re: Fixing the Problems Helps Everyone Concerned, even LC Leadership

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
Freedom, your points are valid. But ultimately, we have to honour our inner voice, no matter how quixotic it seems (v/v your last sentence on "result or positive outcome"). Ultimately God will sort out which are "rabbit holes" and which are not. We have to listen to the voice, and respond. When Philip was told by the angel to go down to the South Road out of Jerusalem, he might have been like, "huh?". But he went. The Casteels probably had no idea what they were getting into. But they honoured the voice with obedience. At the end of the day, that's all we can do - try to listen, and obey.
Yes, that is true, and it's good to distinguish between following the Lord at an individual level versus how the LC would pressure everyone to participate in the latest "flow" or "move" of the Lord. With the latter, we would anticipate something because we were told what was supposed to happen. Then of course disappointment and discouragement would set in when it didn't.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:35 AM   #31
aron
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Default Re: Fixing the Problems Helps Everyone Concerned, even LC Leadership

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Originally Posted by Freedom View Post
Yes, that is true, and it's good to distinguish between following the Lord at an individual level versus how the LC would pressure everyone to participate in the latest "flow" or "move" of the Lord. With the latter, we would anticipate something because we were told what was supposed to happen. Then of course disappointment and discouragement would set in when it didn't.
In the OT they would distinguish the prophets, whether true or not, depending on what followed their words. The LC with all its focus on OT types should have paid attention.
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