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Apologetic discussions Apologetic Discussions Regarding the Teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee

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Old 12-10-2019, 11:11 PM   #1
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Default Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

Before I became a Presbyterian, I learned a lot of theological doctrines which I considered wrong or heretical. Such doctrines were mostly based on the doctrines of Witness Lee and Watchman Nee.

Before officially leaving my local church and moving in to the Presbyterian church, I wrote this article and refuted all the nonsense to the best of my theological knowledge.

Short intro:

The partial rapture theory, more recently, was taught by the successor of Watchman Nee, namely, Witness Lee. The official website of Watchman Nee
(http://www.watchmannee.org/scriptural-teachings.html) presents some fundamental points that their theology teaches.

Some of these points are indispensable to the theological foundation of partial rapture and, also, of a sub-doctrine of partial rapture known by different designations that vary through space and time: Millennial Exclusion, Millennium Exclusion, Kingdom Exclusion and, the preferred choice of Witness Lee, Dispensational Punishment. The doctrine of ‘dispensational punishment’ is not taught by all partial rapture adherents, but by some such as Witness Lee and his ministry called Living Stream Ministry whose official website (http://www.ministrybooks.org/SearchMinBooks.cfm) offers a search field that may be utilized to identify his works that teach the doctrine of ‘dispensational punishment’.

Such doctrines teaches that the elect (therefore saved and without the possibility of losing salvation) who do not watch against sin, who live in a carnal manner without repenting and, therefore, who are not ‘conquerors/overcoming’ 1 against sin in their own lives, will be cast into the ‘outer darkness,’ 2 for a period of one-thousand (1,000) literal years, during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ that, according to them, will begin after the end of the Great Tribulation, with the objective of being disciplined (or punished) by God. The term ‘outer darkness’ is interpreted as being hades, that is, hell.

Therefore, such carnal elect will be thrown into hell, not to be saved, for they arrive there already saved and without the possibility of losing salvation, but to be disciplined 3 by God in order to, at the end of the one-thousand literal years of discipline in hell, go to heaven. Thus, such discipline is understood to be the final process of sanctification of God upon the lives of His elected Christians who were carnal.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/ams/partial...punishment.28/
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

Hi Guest,

My problem with the "outer darkness for 1,000 years for lukewarm Christians who don't walk properly" is this: Jesus taught that some who did poorly, but were given little to work with, would be punished somewhat ("a few stripes" was the term I remember), whilst those who were given much and also lagged would have worse punishment ("many stripes"). A thousand years of "outer darkness" seems to be kind of arbitrary. A miss is as good as a mile, as they say. Imagine a kingdom in which all infractions were dealt with equally. Jaywalking and littering, ten years in jail. Capital murder, also ten years in jail. Doesn't make sense to me. (See Luke 12:47,48; cf Deut 25:2).

Now, the Nee/Lee apologists may have a ready answer (I would hope so), and I don't consider myself an expert having pursued every possible explanation and permutation. But the simplistic way it was presented in the local churches, and the fact that no one could challenge the idea the way I've briefly done here, makes me rather suspect of their theology. To put it mildly.

Like most of the Nee/Lee corpus, whatever good was there, if any, got quickly turned to levers of control. The "1,000 years" were hovering over every LC attendee, if they ever became "negative" against the church leadership. I was in a meeting once where Lee said, "There is a dark place. Go there!" and he made a little shoving motion with his hands, palms down, like he was pushing trash off a table. Some people shifted and a few sisters made nervous laughing noises.

Today I look back and feel that he was transferring his anxiety and shame onto us, using his theology, and I reject that utterly. I still have to answer to God (I know) but not according to Lee's theological dictates.
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

I will admit that the particular parables do suggest that there is more to the Christian life and the life hereafter than believing and getting a ticket to heaven (no matter how you want to understand that).

At the same time, all of the references are parables and metaphors, therefore not simply stated as "this is how it is going to happen."

But it would seem that the more important thing to note is that the goal of all of such references is to move those who might appear to be falling toward the wrong end of the parables/metaphors to take corrective action. In other words, no matter what might actually be, the choice is to move in the right direction — either because you just are, or because you are chided into action due to concerns about the alternatives.

As for the "rapture," I, a life-long evangelical (Assemblies of God [1st 18 years of life], LC [next 14.5 years], then Bible churches [all years since then]) am not sure that getting into issues of a "rapture" is very important. I am not a good dispensationalist. And not a good Calvinist. And not a good Arminian. Those are all distractions from living this life in the here-and-now according to the Spirit.

Even the "wretched urgency" of getting a x# of spiritual laws tracts into everyone's hand to go out and preach the gospel is a distraction from the porpose of the Christian life and the church. Not saying that the gospel is not important. But it is not THE important thing that everyone should be constantly engaged in — other than in that our living should preach the gospel as visible bearers of the image of God.
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

,
Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
...it would seem that the more important thing to note is that the goal of all of such references is to move those who might appear to be falling toward the wrong end of the parables/metaphors to take corrective action. In other words, no matter what might actually be, the choice is to move in the right direction — either because you just are, or because you are chided into action due to concerns about the alternatives..
It seems this way to me as well. The "this means that" and "it is so clear" schools of thought have a place, but it's more circumscribed than they might wish. The only hard-and-fast is to confess Jesus, love one's fellow (in deed and not merely in word), and keep oneself unstained by the world. All that seems abundantly clear.

What confuses and discourages the youngsters is when they feel impressed upon to swallow wholecloth a system of thought that's fraying at the edges. So they either shrug and say, "Well, I guess it's a thousand years of darkness for me, then" or they reject God in toto, associating it with these unending veils of entanglement.

When really the charge all along was to love. Believe, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
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Old 12-12-2019, 05:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

Quote:
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,
What confuses and discourages the youngsters is when they feel impressed upon to swallow wholecloth a system of thought that's fraying at the edges. So they either shrug and say, "Well, I guess it's a thousand years of darkness for me, then" or they reject God in toto, associating it with these unending veils of entanglement.
WL, who presented us these teachings, had a team of faithful brothers / sisters surrounding him maintaining his pristine image to all the saints. He was thus portrayed as part of the perfected class of overcomers. He had arrived, he set the standard, he modeled an overcomer. Even on my best day, however, I had no chance. Neither did any of the brothers with me, most of which had also given up by then.

In the struggle to arrive, to "make it" as an overcomer, we were often deceived into doing more. More serving, more meetings, more trainings. But what was happening within my heart and my life was not the desired results. Something was obviously wrong. Like all bad teachings, the fruit of our work is the opposite of what was initially promised to us. Age old legalism repackaged as "recovery."

Thus the result is as aron said -- either a shrug of defeat or the termination of faith. What shall the downtrodden do in order to get on with their lives? We had become hopeless and helpless like the rest of Christianity. WL even called us "moo cows." He said we had become Laodicea. This old mule was tired and needed a rest. Selah or C’est la vie?
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:08 AM   #6
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Many years ago, I went with a few to visit the church in OKC. I can't remember if there was a conference or just some going to visit. But I remember on the drive back, some were talking about the whole "overcomer" issue. At one point, one brother said that in light of the parable concerning the workers who were called to go into the field at harvest over the course of a day yet all received the same pay, it seemed that the important thing was not achieving some lofty goal, but in diligently moving forward rather than standing still or falling backward.

And while I know that this will seem wrong to those who subscribe to any kind of transactional version of salvation (most evangelicals), but the key to eternal/everlasting life is to believe, not to be able to say that at some prior point in time that you believed. In other words, when the critical time comes, do you believe, or is it something you no longer subscribe to even though you believed in the past. It seems that this still allows for the assurance of salvation. If I do believe, then I am assured of salvation. If I do not believe, even though I can argue that I once believed, at this point I do not and therefore cannot be assured of salvation.

I'm not saying that is the way it is. But it suggests an analysis that is more consistent with the whole of what I find on the subject than either the banana peel loss of salvation standard, or the "I got my ticket and no one can take it" theory that ignores a long subsequent period of life that openly rejects belief.

I would expect some to trot out the " no one can take them out of my hand" defense. But is that clearly meant to infer no way to avoid the result of salvation, or only a clear statement against the "banana peel" simplicity to loss of salvation that some seem to argue?

And then, there is always the "what is believing" issue. Is it just agreeing to propositions, therefore no need for substance to the belief? Or does it require more than agreement with propositions, but a life that acts to support the belief as real?

But when it comes to the "rapture," I am convinced that in some manner, those who are alive at the time will be taken when they are. In other words, if the word rapture must be used, I believe in a pan-tribulation rapture . . . it will all pan out in the end.

As for dispensational punishment, there does seem to be at least some evidence in support of it. But if you are convinced that living inside the New J on the new earth is "getting in," then maybe being stuck outside with the nations could cause you to gnash your teeth and weep. Remember, it is a parable, so expecting real teeth-gnashing and absolute darkness (outer darkness??) may be a bit off.
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Old 12-13-2019, 03:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
... the key to eternal/everlasting life is to believe, not to be able to say that at some prior point in time that you believed. In other words, when the critical time comes, do you believe, or is it something you no longer subscribe to even though you believed in the past. It seems that this still allows for the assurance of salvation. If I do believe, then I am assured of salvation. If I do not believe, even though I can argue that I once believed, at this point I do not and therefore cannot be assured of salvation.
I like this consideration, especially the first sentence. "But when the Lord comes, will he find faith?" Faith is today. "Now is the hour of salvation." There's no other hour, really.

But my faith is different, today. I no longer believe a lot that was pressed on me once. (Much of it I don't disbelieve, either. There simply isn't definitive clarity. But I reject the pressure.)

But what mainly comes to mind, on this forum, is that some have come forward and said that even after years of immersion in LC "church life", up to and including FTTA, that they no longer believe in Jesus Christ. This suggests that they realise and reject what was a manufactured experience and a manipulated decision. And even as a professing Christian, I can't argue with that.

The partial rapture, the thousand-year interregnum of bliss or torment, the NJ and who are the "nations" (of whom WL taught that they live forever but don't have eternal life [???])... all this has been subject to discussion and conjecture, some of it perhaps well-founded. But the truth to me is that God loved me and sent his Son, and today is an opportunity waiting.

John 3:8 "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." I believe that we actually can hear, according to John 3:8. There's a reason so many acclaimed Jesus as Messiah! They could hear! (Cf John 4, esp v 34) But there's a lot that we still cannot tell, according to the same verse. So a bit of deference, circumspection and reticence is in order.

"The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion." ~Psa 134

One may conceptualise this blessing variously, according to one's culturally-aligned perspective. But if I believe that there's something there, then I'll respond, in that same singular faith that motivated them of old. "Seek, and ye shall find."
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:37 AM   #8
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There is faith/belief in Christ, and there is belief in propositions.

I realize that simply saying you believe in Christ doesn't mean much if what you think of as Christ is a relic or a statue — or even a funny knot on a tree in a swamp in the Mississippi delta. So at some level, the propositions are not without importance. But when your propositions extend too far beyond the basic identifier of who Christ is, then they become excess baggage and even begin to raise questions as to who/what it is that you believe.

For example, if you feel the need to have a statement of faith concerning:
Angels
Too much detail on the trinity
The rapture (pre, mid, post, pan, etc.)
The millennium
The ministry of certain persons, living or deceased
You get the picture.
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
There is faith/belief in Christ, and there is belief in propositions.

I realize that simply saying you believe in Christ doesn't mean much if what you think of as Christ is a relic or a statue — or even a funny knot on a tree in a swamp in the Mississippi delta. So at some level, the propositions are not without importance. But when your propositions extend too far beyond the basic identifier of who Christ is, then they become excess baggage and even begin to raise questions as to who/what it is that you believe.

For example, if you feel the need to have a statement of faith concerning:
Angels
Too much detail on the trinity
The rapture (pre, mid, post, pan, etc.)
The millennium
The ministry of certain persons, living or deceased
You get the picture.
Nicely put. Concise, clear, and direct without overstatement. Someday, when I grow up I'll write like this. In the meantime, well...
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Old 12-15-2019, 06:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Partial Rapture And Dispensational Punishment

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Nicely put. Concise, clear, and direct without overstatement. Someday, when I grow up I'll write like this. In the meantime, well...
I 2nd that emotion!
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