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Old 07-09-2012, 09:01 AM   #1
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Default Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I just did a perusal of DC's web site. Lot's of good stuff. And lot's of stuff to try to direct people back to the old LRC ways.
I spent several hours writing a 3200 word rebuttal to Canfield's booklet "Regarding the Ground of Oneness in Locality." But I decided not to make it public because I don't want to discourage brother Canfield from posting on this site.

But I would like to say a couple of things about his booklet which I feel just need to be said:
  1. The ground of locality doctrine as held by Canfield produces what it claims to eliminate, that is sectarianism. The doctrine is by nature sectarian because although it appears to be about having one church per city, it is really about having one church administration per city. Since there is no way to know for sure which administration is the correct one, anyone expecting others to recognize one particular administration is by definition sectarian. This is unavoidable.

  2. Canfield is totally out-of-line in stating that people who do not "go the way of the church" do not love the Lord enough. It is much like a staunch Calvinist claiming that people who do not accept his view of predestination do not love the Lord enough. Attempting to intimidate and manipulate people by saying they don't love the Lord enough because they don't hold to your pet, obscure doctrine is beneath any Christian. Unfortunately, it is a tactic not beneath some of those who have their legacy in the LC. Canfield should keep such attitudes to himself until he finds the grace to overcome them.
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Old 07-09-2012, 11:28 AM   #2
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Default Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I spent several hours writing a 3200 word rebuttal to Canfield's booklet "Regarding the Ground of Oneness in Locality." But I decided not to make it public because I don't want to discourage brother Canfield from posting on this site.

Igzy, why don't you go ahead and just post it as an attachment, either MS Word or Adobe PDF. This way those of us who want to indulge in your handiwork can do so. Those who don't want to can simply skip past it by not opening the attachment.
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Old 07-09-2012, 07:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Igzy, why don't you go ahead and just post it as an attachment, either MS Word or Adobe PDF. This way those of us who want to indulge in your handiwork can do so. Those who don't want to can simply skip past it by not opening the attachment.
UntoHim, I think I'll just post some of the main points from that article. It's a little long and not that well-organized. Often I write just to get my thoughts together and sometimes that results in something publish-worthy and sometimes it doesn't.

I'll just use this new thread to post some of the main points I made in a more, succinct readable format. I think that will benefit the forum more.

Stay tuned!

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Old 07-09-2012, 07:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Stay tuned!
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Old 07-09-2012, 11:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

David Canfield's book on the Ground of Locality is pretty much standard issue LC doctrine. Canfield for the most part uses the same examples, the same references, the same reasoning, and even the same voice we've heard for decades on this idea. He adds a few wrinkles. But rather than strengthen the argument, he strengthens the impression that the Ground of Locality is a doctrine looking for evidence, rather than the other way around.

The Ground of Locality doctrine is interesting because it is one of those ideas, like Zeno's Paradox(1) or Karl Marx's Labor Theory of Value(2), which sounds so good on the surface, but which gives the nagging impression that it cannot be right, and which certainly doesn't work in the real world.

In general, it's hard to argue with the idea that there is one church per city. The New Testament cites many such churches. However, the vision of city churches held by Canfield (and the LC in general) has been a colossal failure. It has not produced a oneness that causes the world to believe (the feeble numbers of the LCs after fifty years in the US are an embarrassment). Neither has it inspired more unity among Christians (the LC members themselves cannot even get along, producing storm after storm and split after split).

So it's extremely odd that Canfield, after all these years of experience, would continue to go on and on about the Ground of Locality being the one hope for God to get testimony and oneness on the earth. The Ground of Locality has produced neither. In fact, it's produced little but obscurity and sectarianism. Canfield tries to explain this dismal record by grousing that the people who don't follow him in his devotion to this obscure doctrine "don't love the Lord enough." Whatever, David.

So what's the root problem? Let's look in a fresh way at the idea of church in the New Testament. The NT presents four different views of the church: the universal church, the regional church, the city (local) church and the house church. Canfield's view is that it is the city church which has a definite, specific administration (set of leaders) around whom the church is organized.

My question is, where does the NT make this clear? Where is the clear picture of the city church having only one coordinated administration to which all the Christians in that city submit and which represents all of the church in that city? I don't see that clearly in the NT. I see references to city churches, but I see no clear word showing each of those city churches had one administration to which all the Christians in the city answered.

Canfield, looking through his LC prism, accepts the model of one-city-one-church-one-administration as a given. But does he really know that the tightly-wound model of LC "coordination" and "coming together" was the way church was practiced in the first century? No, he doesn't.

So the problem with the LC model as held by Canfield is with this matter of administration. It's easy to talk about one church in the city. Many Christians wouldn't argue with this. The problem comes in when one insists that the city church must be organized and must operate in a tightly-related way under one tightly-coordinated administrative body. This is a problem because it requires clear identification of which group of administrators is the correct one. And that is impossible. It's impossible because there is always the possibility of disagreement, because who is to say definitively who the correct administrators are?

Now, Canfield might respond that, well, they knew in the first century. But I would answer, Did they? Perhaps again Canfield is looking at the patterns in the NT through the lens of his LC experience. Perhaps he sees the NT elders and leaders as tightly-coordinated and ever "coming together" because he is projecting his experience and expectation onto them.

A gaping hole in church history is the lack of any record of the church fathers speaking of the Ground of Locality or of one administration per city. It appears they just didn't look at things that way. My feeling is that the early church, though quite related informally, was much less tightly-coordinated than our LC-fed expectation suggests.

Consider, for example, the church in Corinth. When there were at least four factions fighting over whom to follow--Paul, Apollos, Peter or "Christ"--where was the church's administration in this controvery? Hiding under a table? They were nowhere to be seen. And why didn't Paul tell the church to stop arguing and do whatever the elders tell them? Paul doesn't even mention the elders or administration in this case! Shouldn't that tell us something about the way the church really operated in the first century?

Or consider Jesus' word in Matthew 18 about dealing with a brother's offense. He said take it to the brother, then take it to several brothers, then take it to the church. Never does he say take it to the elders or the administration.

Or consider the seven churches in Revelation. Why weren't the letters sent to the elders or administration of those churches? Why were they sent to the "angel" (messenger) of the church?

Are we seeing a pattern here?

My belief is that the city church is just another level or way of looking at the church. The universal church doesn't need one administration, the regional church doesn't need one administration (Canfield admits as much), so where is it written that the city church requires it? Where?

It is the trying to impose one administration on the city which has caused all the problems. If there is a need for a more defined administration, or leadership, it is probably on the house or neighborhood church level. And this is precisely what we see among most Christians.

Canfield laments what he calls "the tragically confused situation among the Lord’s children." But perhaps it's Canfield that's confused. After all, he's been chasing this chimera of "oneness" and "testimony" for almost thirty years and he's no closer to it than when he first started. In the meantime, 99.99999% of the people who are being evangelized, saved, fed and are growing are experiencing those wonderful things in "tragically confused" Christianity, while Canfield sits on the sideline sneering.

One would hope this irony is not totally lost on our brother.


(1) In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead.

(2) Only labor adds value to anything. Therefore, it is the laborers who should benefit most in an economy, not the holders of capital.

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Old 07-10-2012, 09:18 AM   #6
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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So the problem with the LC model as held by Canfield is with this matter of administration. It's easy to talk about one church in the city. Many Christians wouldn't argue with this. The problem comes in when one insists that the city church must be organized and must operate in a tightly-related way under one tightly-coordinated administrative body. This is a problem because it requires clear identification of which group of administrators is the correct one. And that is impossible. It's impossible because there is always the possibility of disagreement, because who is to say definitively who the correct administrators are?
Igzy, I give you credit for repeatedly making this point. I finally get it. The "one church per city" metric is a trojan horse to allow centralized control (masquerading as 'administration'... per Paul's request for 'order in the church', etc) over the flock.

I didn't get your point until just now.

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A gaping hole in church history is the lack of any record of the church fathers speaking of the Ground of Locality or of one administration per city. It appears they just didn't look at things that way. My feeling is that the early church, though quite related informally, was much less tightly-coordinated than our LC-fed expectation suggests.
Also look at how 'ekklesia' was used. You will find additional "gaping holes". To make the scriptures conform to your "one church per city" metric, you have to translate away all those unhelpful times when the writers used it otherwise. Like Luke's account of Stephen's fabled "church in the wilderness" with Moses (Acts 7), or the city clerk dismissing the purely secular 'church' in Ephesus (Acts 19). You have an expectation of reality, which forces you to conform the Bible to your view, and not vice versa. You think you are seeing, and understanding, what the writers' original intent was in this case of the "ekklesia", but you are actually chopping off the unhelpful bits.

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Or consider the seven churches in Revelation. Why weren't the letters sent to the elders or administration of those churches? Why were they sent to the "angel" (messenger) of the church?

Are we seeing a pattern here?
We are seeing a pattern of ignoring unhelpful considerations, like the ones you have raised. The "one administration" ignores them, and so does the flock, which have unquestioningly swallowed the "one church per city" rubric. "Because it's in the Bible", naturally.

And when you get Titus Chu engaging in blatant, oriental ancestor worship ("We owe our lives to Brother Lee") in a group that declares it is beyond human culture, the flock takes it quietly. You know, because there's only one church per city. It's in the Bible.
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Igzy, I give you credit for repeatedly making this point. I finally get it. The "one church per city" metric is a trojan horse to allow centralized control (masquerading as 'administration'... per Paul's request for 'order in the church', etc) over the flock.

I didn't get your point until just now.
Thanks, aron. I appreciate your trojan horse metaphor.

I would add also than another factor in believing in the LC one-church-city-administation (OCCA?) model is the deeply-felt need to know one is practicing church correctly and meeting with the correct church. Having that gives one a great sense of assurance. Unfortunately, it comes at the big price of becoming sectarian by looking down on every other Christian who doesn't meet the way you do.

I believe this drive for knowing one is right is a much stronger motivation than the desires for oneness or testimony. Oneness and testimony are the trojan horse. Feeling one is right is core motivation.

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And when you get Titus Chu engaging in blatant, oriental ancestor worship ("We owe our lives to Brother Lee") in a group that declares it is beyond human culture, the flock takes it quietly. You know, because there's only one church per city. It's in the Bible.
Yep, in the LC model you get stuck with whatever, err, guys happen to be running the show in the city you live in. There might be a million people in the city, but those six or seven guys are the ones everyone needs to obey. This is the part of the idea that screams--"this can't be correct!", like when Zeno's Paradox says the fast runner will never pass the slow runner.
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

I think it's important to regularly re-examine our beliefs and assumptions in the light of the Bible, and to pray about the matters we take for granted.

One thing we all long for is assurance that we are correct in our assumptions and beliefs. This need is so strong that we will often continue to cling to old beliefs simply because we have always believed them. Many people, I'm afraid, do not actively seek to refresh their view of what's real and what isn't. They cling to familiar rocks. Consider liberals and conservatives. Both are convinced they are right and their counterparts are fools. One of them, however, perhaps both, are wrong. But both stand in assurance that they are right. People believe all kinds of things and most are convinced they are right. They can't all be.

Canfield's book on the Ground of Locality reveals a person who really is not re-examining his assumptions much. The fact that he re-iterates this doctrine in the same way it's always been iterated, in the same voice with the same illustrations and examples, shows a lack of fresh insight, or even a desire for it. On the contrary, what comes through is the mindset that he was right in the past and he is more right now.

One of the hardest things to do is to drop old beliefs that you are on record as defending and, especially, which you have based your identity on. It's hard to admit that though your belief seemed so real, you actually didn't know what you were talking about. It's very unsettling because it makes you wonder how many other of your foundational beliefs are wrong.

This is why we need to really pray about everything we believe, about all our assumptions. And we need to do it regularly, because what we are really getting to know is not just the truth, but God as truth.

The truth sets us free. But we don't get to the truth by just following what seems right, or what we've always been taught, or what we learned when we were young. We have to ask God again and again to make us clear. We have to challenge our assumptions to prove themselves.

And we especially have to avoid the attitude that people who don't agree with us are wrong or, worse, have bad motives. Perhaps we are the ones with the bad motives. I wonder if Canfield has ever considered this possibility. I certainly didn't when I was in the LC. I just thought I was right and that was that.

The LC expects its members to accept certain beliefs without question. They don't ask you to pray about what they teach, they expect you believe it, wholesale, without modification. Canfield does mention prayer in his book. Sort of. He says:

In contrast [to those with hard hearts who don't follow the Ground of Locality teaching], if we really have a heart to know the Lord’s will, then His way in this matter, what really is according to His heart, will become plain to us as we prayerfully consider the New Testament pattern;

Do you see what he's saying? He's not asking us to pray. He's not saying go to the Lord and see what he tells you. He's saying if you have a heart to know God's will then when you pray you will agree with Canfield's opinion.

So Canfield is saying: Heart to Know God's Will + Prayer = Agreeing with Canfield.

Another thing Canfield is saying is that throughout the course of history, very few people have ever sincerely prayed to God about how to have church correctly, because so very few have seen what he sees and obeyed that vision. The implications are staggering if you think about that. But, apparently he truly believes it.

As if this wasn't arrogant enough, right after this Canfield goes on to blatantly declare that those who don't agree with his interpretation of the Bible don't love the Lord enough.

You can't make this stuff up, folks. You really can't.
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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You can't make this stuff up, folks. You really can't.
I know. "If you really loved the Lord as much as I do, you'd see what I see."

It's like.... whaaaaaa????? What kind of logic is that?
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

I want to take on one more thing today, because this is the opus of Canfield's case for the Ground of Locality.

If we wish to deny the ground of oneness in locality, we must ask ourselves, what other New Testament basis can we find for establishing churches? When we consider this matter quietly and honestly before the Lord, we must admit that there is none.

Canfield is saying that the New Testament shows us no other basis for establishing a practical church other than on the ground of locality.

Is this true? No, it is not. At least it is not plain that it is true. The Bible gives four cases of house or home churches. Canfield jumps through the usual hoops to "prove" the house churches really are just the city churches. But his case, while interesting, is not definitive.

In other words, there is reasonable cause to believe that practical churches based on something smaller that locality are represented in the Bible in multiple cases. This being the case, it is reasonable to give that view the benefit of the doubt. Or, said another way, it is unreasonable to insist that all practical churches must be based on the ground of locality.

In other words, given the uncertainty of the claim that house churches equal city churches, any insistence on the Ground of Locality as the sole basis for establishing churches violates the principle of generality toward other believers as put forth in Romans 14.

Canfield's and the LC's argument that house churches equal city churches is far from airtight. It contains several leaks. Here's one of the biggest.

Paul in Romans addresses his letter to the believers in Rome, not the church. At the end of the book he commences with personal greetings, saluting this person and that. It's a touching sequence because it shows how well-acquainted and tender-hearted Paul was toward the believers he ministered to. He saw them as individuals as well as a group.

After greeting Phoebe he greets Priscilla and Aquila, and mentions the church that is at their house. It is not clear from the text whether Paul is greeting that church or continuing his thanks to the churches of the Gentiles, but in either case he mentions it.

But a common-sense reading of this suggests intuitively that the church in P&A's house is in addition to or a partial overlap of the people he is greeting, or a subset of the people he has written this letter to. If the church in question included all the people he was greeting by name, wouldn't he call it the "rest of the church" or "the whole church" or withhold his general greeting until the very end and make it clear that when he mentioned church he was talking about everyone, not just those in P&A's house. Would every reader of this letter be aware that the entire church in Rome could fit in P&A's house? Rome was big city. Did P&A own a mansion? Would everyone know this?

The point is there are reasons to lean either side of the argument. But nothing is definitive. Therefore, it is unreasonable to pretend it is definitive and take the position that churches based on grounds smaller than the city are not true churches. It is as unreasonable as insisting the Earth is only 8000 years old. However, it is much more damaging.

Canfield makes an interesting concession. He says:

[W]e should note that even if these churches did meet on a different ground, i.e., on the ground of a home rather than on the ground of locality, then at most it provides a scriptural basis for a house church, and one in which the believers are clearly in a close fellowship with all of the other believers in their city and with the Lord’s servants.

So Canfield is conceding that some valid churches may have met on the ground of houses, not the city. However, he seems to thinks that now we can only have either house churches or city churches, but nothing in between. I think this strict principle is missing the point. Further his insistence on "close fellowship" (whatever that means) "with all of the other believers in their city" is clearly an unbiblical requirement. Canfield isn't even in close fellowship with all the other believers in his city, so why he is asking for something he isn't even fulfilling himself?

Finally, let me address this statement:
The Bible never once speaks of “the churches” in a given city, nor does it ever say to believers in the same locality, “greet the church in this one’s home, and also greet the church in that one’s home.” On this basis alone it is clear that these examples provide no basis for claiming that a church in the home of some saints today can be different from the church in their locality.
The fact that there is only one mention of a house church in each city does not make clear that the house church was the city church. Canfield is reaching for affirmation that is not there.

The bottom line, however, is this: Scholars and teachers have studied this issue for years and almost none side with Canfield. That alone should show Canfield that it is unreasonable and sectarian of him to refuse to acknowledge that indeed practical churches based on something other than locality may be valid. And if they may be valid it is incumbent upon us in the principle of Romans 14 to consider that they are valid, and to treat them as such.

And stop writing books that say otherwise.

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Old 07-11-2012, 06:31 AM   #11
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I want to take on one more thing today, because this is the opus of Canfield's case for the Ground of Locality.

If we wish to deny the ground of oneness in locality, we must ask ourselves, what other New Testament basis can we find for establishing churches? When we consider this matter quietly and honestly before the Lord, we must admit that there is none.

Canfield is saying that the New Testament shows us no other basis for establishing a practical church other than on the ground of locality.
I cannot say that I have "quietly and honestly before the Lord" considered the matter of establishing churches, but I have considered it. And how do we know Canfield, or Lee or Nee, has quietly and honestly considered this matter? We have to take their word. We have subjectivity masquerading as objective reality. We have, "If I say it, it is true."

So quietness and honesty aside, let's together consider the ground of the assembly. The ground of the assembly, it seems to me, is to believe and confess that Jesus is Lord. That confession, and subsequent assembly based thereon, might be on a boat, on a plane, on a train, in house, or with your spouse (thank you Theodore Geisel). It also might be in a city, but it does not need to be. It might be on the south road out of Jerusalem leading to Gaza (Acts chapter 8). It might be on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). Etc.

Now, let's also together consider ambition; fallen human ambition to be something, mixed with fallen human concepts about how things are supposed to be. In the gospels I know of two separate cases where the disiples are found arguing with each other over "who is first". Then there is the famous case of John and James and their mother, trying to get close to what they think is earthly power. When Jesus asks them if they are able to drink the cup He has, they reply, "We are able".

Then as they are all going to up Jerusalem, everyone thinks that this is the moment when political power will be transferred to the Son of David. They have been deluded by their concepts. Their idea of "the kingdom" is completely different from what Jesus is doing. He is on another level entirely. See also the comments in Luke 24, "We thought He was going to be the Savior of Israel." People are looking for an outward, earthly power to establish itself, to make itself manifest.

So when we establish our ekklesia, in the name of Jesus, beware of trojan horses, which will insinuate themselves into the discussion, cloaking bids for earthly power and position. In the case of the "one ekklesia per city" model, you get centralized control, masked as administration, and you end up with "One Publication" edicts, and you get "one apostle of the age", who supposedly is free from all human ambition, and who got run out of the Far East for by angry investors, and set up his sons as "business managers" of Daystar, Living Stream Ministry, etc. Anyone remember "Let's go Linko!!"??

The fruit of your tree reveals of what sort it is, whether or not you honestly and prayerfully got it from God or not. And I don't like the fruit of this tree; the "ground" of this assembly has been revealed.

And if you want their own words, go to one of the "local church" websites. The heading at the top says "affiliated with the ministries of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee." These ekklesia clearly have a ground other than the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that their ground is fallen human ambition, masked with fallen human concepts about how things are supposed to be.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:39 AM   #12
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

I made a major error in my previous post. I wrote:

But a common-sense reading of this suggests intuitively that the church in P&A's house is a subset or partial overlap of the people he is greeting and has written this letter to.
When I should have written:

But a common-sense reading of this suggests intuitively that the church in P&A's house is in addition to or a partial overlap of the people he is greeting, or a subset of the people he has written this letter to.


I've changed the original post to reflect what I meant to say
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Old 07-11-2012, 08:29 AM   #13
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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So when we establish our ekklesia, in the name of Jesus, beware of trojan horses, which will insinuate themselves into the discussion, cloaking bids for earthly power and position. In the case of the "one ekklesia per city" model, you get centralized control, masked as administration, and you end up with "One Publication" edicts, and you get "one apostle of the age", who supposedly is free from all human ambition, and who got run out of the Far East for by angry investors, and set up his sons as "business managers" of Dayster, Living Stream Ministry, etc. Anyone remember "Let's go Linko!!"??

The fruit of your tree reveals of what sort it is, whether or not you honestly and prayerfully got it from God or not. And I don't like the fruit of this tree; the "ground" of this assembly has been revealed.
Brother Canfield doesn't see that the Ground of Locality doctrine enabled, justified and entrenched this corrupt behavior, which is why he is still trying to defend the doctrine.

Perhaps he should be reconsidering the doctrine in light of what it has produced, instead of continuing to insist it is the answer. The Ground of Locality has delivered on none of its promises. "You will know them by their fruits."

Once a set of leaders has decided that they are the top authority in a city, they are pretty much unassailable and can do whatever they want, as long as they emboss it with a spiritual patina.

What clause in the Ground of Locality doctrine addresses this inevitable slide into corrupt dominance? What do the members do when this happens? Well, we've seen from the history of the LCs that they don't have a clue.

Basically they designed a car without brakes, believing they'd never need them. The result was a lot of people got injured when the car inevitably crashed.

All the defenders can say is, "Well, that's how the Bible says to do it. Doh"

It's like, guys, God gave you eyes and a brain. Use them.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Once a set of leaders has decided that they are the top authority in a city, they are pretty much unassailable and can do whatever they want, as long as they emboss it with a spiritual patina.

What clause in the Ground of Locality doctrine addresses this inevitable slide into corrupt dominance? What do the members do when this happens? Well, we've seen from the history of the LCs that they don't have a clue.

Basically they designed a car without brakes, believing they'd never need them. The result was a lot of people got injured when the car inevitably crashed.
If we "quietly and honestly" consider where Jesus was establishing His ekklesia in Matt ch. 16, we don't see any suggestions that it would be delineated by political/urban subsets like Jerusalem, Antioch, and Corinth. Nowhere do we see Jesus' proposed organizational schema, except in sayings like, "If you want to be great, be the least".

We may see someone take a few select verses, conflate them to some universal organizational prescription, trying to bring the whole globe into its submission, all the while cutting away unhelpful chunks of the Bible, and making assumptions about human nature like "the top leaders will be incapable of error, thus won't need correction". If we "quietly and honestly" consider all this, we may notice how much Anaheim now looks like Rome.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:57 AM   #15
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If we "quietly and honestly" consider where Jesus was establishing His ekklesia in Matt ch. 16, we don't see any suggestions that it would be delineated by political/urban subsets like Jerusalem, Antioch, and Corinth. Nowhere do we see Jesus' proposed organizational schema, except in sayings like, "If you want to be great, be the least".
.
If you study the originators of influential, but harebrained, ideas, like Marx (communism), Keynes (Keynesian economics), or Ayn Rand (egoism), you see a common theme. Often they retrofit a philosophy to produce a final result they believe is worthwhile.
  • Marx sought to uplift the proletariat, so he invented communism.
  • Keynes believed government should seek to improve the economy and that lenders had too much power, so he invented his economic philosophy of deficit spending and money printing to lower interest rates and stimulate economies.
  • Rand believed in the absolute freedom of the individual, so she invented her version of egoism, called Objectivism.
All these philosophies are major failures.

You have to put Watchman Nee in that group, too. Nee saw the division brought on by denominationalism, and invented the Ground of Locality doctrine to address it.

The Ground of Locality is a major failure as well.

All these people were brilliant. But their brilliance worked against them, and us--except as examples of how not to approach thinking about problems.
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Old 07-11-2012, 02:05 PM   #16
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The Ground of Locality is a major failure as well.

All these people [Rand, Keynes, Marx, Nee] were brilliant. But their brilliance worked against them, and us--except as examples of how not to approach thinking about problems.
These points parallel (to me, anyway) Peter Debelak's recent comments on being known by God, versus knowing God. There are sharp limits on how much we can see, and how much we can know, and therefore how universal in application our schema actually can be. We may gather data, and create theories about how the universe works, either physically or socially or spiritually, and these ideas may have some limited utility. But if we think that we can create some unbiased prescription for all the ills of the world, whether physically, economically, politically or spiritually, we may very well make those ills exponentially worse. Karl Marx is a great example -- his critique of the shortcomings of capitalism in "The Communist Manifesto" is actually quite penetrating. His proposed solution, however, created an unmitigated disaster.

We can only see a little. I prefer with my small view to see Jesus, and I hope to have that view expand and deepen over time, but by no means should I think that my current view constitutes an all-encompassing match with reality as it actually exists.

Jesus said, "If you want to be great, be the least", and "Forgive one another's trespasses, as God has forgiven you". Those are arguably universal prescriptions, but they are arguably limited by our neighbor. Jesus gave us a new commandment: "Love one another" (John 13:34); we perhaps should leave the cosmic big-picture stuff to God.

Our ability to love one another usually seems to be rather weak. I find it to often be a challenge. Why should I think that some optimized social arrangement will allow me to bypass, or minimize, this new commandment of our Lord?
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:44 PM   #17
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In general, it's hard to argue with the idea that there is one church per city. The New Testament cites many such churches. However, the vision of city churches held by Canfield (and the LC in general) has been a colossal failure. It has not produced a oneness that causes the world to believe (the feeble numbers of the LCs after fifty years in the US are an embarrassment). Neither has it inspired more unity among Christians (the LC members themselves cannot even get along, producing storm after storm and split after split).

So it's extremely odd that Canfield, after all these years of experience, would continue to go on and on about the Ground of Locality being the one hope for God to get testimony and oneness on the earth.
Last winter we had much discussion on the ground of locality in another thread titled -- Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

An unregistered guest posted what I thought was the best rebuttal to this teaching to date -- Rebuttal of Ground of Locality

This rebuttal is quite a good read with a solid Biblical foundation. It's too bad that David Canfield has decided to write his articles in true Local Church fashion, not willing to accept any feedback for his articles. Regardless of Canfield's passionate pleas to "return to the ground," there is nothing worthwhile to even consider this.

There was a time when many of us accepted this teaching unchecked, being persuaded that it was the "source" of all the Lord's blessing. Then, beginning with the so-called "new way" of the 80's, we were constantly bombarded with the presupposition that all the Lord's blessing actually came through Witness Lee. At this point the ground of locality took a back seat to "oneness with the ministry." Unfortunately, we swallowed that fairytale too. Honest brothers began to look around and wonder of we were receiving any blessing from the Lord at all. Many times I found myself wondering how Christians could even survive, since all the blessing of the Lord was upon "the local ground."

Such was life in the Recovery Cave. Kind of like the old saying about mushrooms which also grow in caves -- "kept in the dark and fed manure."
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:53 PM   #18
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We are seeing a pattern of ignoring unhelpful considerations, like the ones you have raised. The "one administration" ignores them, and so does the flock, which have unquestioningly swallowed the "one church per city" rubric. "Because it's in the Bible", naturally.

And when you get Titus Chu engaging in blatant, oriental ancestor worship ("We owe our lives to Brother Lee") in a group that declares it is beyond human culture, the flock takes it quietly. You know, because there's only one church per city. It's in the Bible.
Titus Chu used to talk about how he would read the old Chinese classics, kind of like American pastors reading Shakespeare. I am persuaded that many American brothers in the Recovery mistook ancient Chinese culture for true spirituality. Obviously it was different than anything they had known before.
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Old 07-11-2012, 06:18 PM   #19
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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If you study the originators of influential, but harebrained, ideas, like Marx (communism), Keynes (Keynesian economics), or Ayn Rand (egoism), you see a common theme. Often they retrofit a philosophy to produce a final result they believe is worthwhile.
  • Marx sought to uplift the proletariat, so he invented communism.
  • Keynes believed government should seek to improve the economy and that lenders had too much power, so he invented his economic philosophy of deficit spending and money printing to lower interest rates and stimulate economies.
  • Rand believed in the absolute freedom of the individual, so she invented her version of egoism, called Objectivism.
All these philosophies are major failures.

You have to put Watchman Nee in that group, too. Nee saw the division brought on by denominationalism, and invented the Ground of Locality doctrine to address it.

The Ground of Locality is a major failure as well.

All these people were brilliant. But their brilliance worked against them, and us--except as examples of how not to approach thinking about problems.
An insightful thought - a philosophy constructed around a desired end (though the verdict is still out on Keynes...but please don't take the bait on that...).

This is the opposite of what philosophy (and spirituality) should be. If you start with the premise that you already know the truth, well, then 1) you have a certain crazy hubris and 2) everything starts looking like supporting evidence regardless of whether it actually is. You end up with some screwy hermeneutics...
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:43 PM   #20
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An insightful thought - a philosophy constructed around a desired end (though the verdict is still out on Keynes...but please don't take the bait on that...).

This is the opposite of what philosophy (and spirituality) should be. If you start with the premise that you already know the truth, well, then 1) you have a certain crazy hubris and 2) everything starts looking like supporting evidence regardless of whether it actually is. You end up with some screwy hermeneutics...
Yeah, usually you end up with what would be a great philosophy... except for the big, fat, stinking elephant in the living room.
  • Nee... with no provision for identifying local leadership, or limiting their power. (A strange thing. First you can't really know if they are the true leadership. But then, once you acknowledge them, you can't get rid of them.)

  • Rand... with, among other things, her philosophy's inability to even explain why parents should care for their children.

  • Marx... with communism's complete inability to manage an economy or keep pace with capitalism.

  • Keynes... with $55 trillion and growing of global government debt. (Oops, I took the bait. )
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:40 PM   #21
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I would add also than another factor in believing in the LC one-church-city-administation (OCCA?) model is the deeply-felt need to know one is practicing church correctly and meeting with the correct church. Having that gives one a great sense of assurance.
This was prominent during the Jesus people movement of the 60's and early 70's, when so many young people, who grew up in stagnant denominations, were joyfully saved and set on fire for Jesus. They yearned to return to the "beginning," as things were in the book of Acts, thinking that would solve all problems related to church. E.g. communes were prevalent, and were seemingly attractive, that is until the old man reared his ugly head, and having "all things common" simply meant that some got a free ride.

Needless to say, WN's one-city/one-church paradigm seemed to be the long-lost-missing-link in the church equation. Was the root of all our spiritual problems the lack of oneness? Could the solution to all our Christian woes come out of communist China? His books TNCL and TNCCL did appear to be very appealing to serious seekers. To be honest, those books did provide a far more balanced approach than what WL ministered, especially as time went on.

Perhaps out of that environment came the seed for the insatiable desire to "get church right." If we got "church right," then everybody else got it wrong, and they all need to come to us for that long-lost solution to all their woes. Made sense to me! I bought into the program hook, line, and sinker.

Funny thing happened when I left the program. All the other Christians I have met care little for the need to "get church right." Apparently we got stuck in some "time warp" that we never could get out of. The Christian public, for the most part, had long since given up the notion of the "perfect" church. They have since decided that "Jesus was the way" to God, and there is basically "no perfect church." Duh!
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:49 AM   #22
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Yeah, usually you end up with what would be a great philosophy... except for the big, fat, stinking elephant in the living room.
  • Marx... with communism's complete inability to manage an economy or keep pace with capitalism.

Marx made a big deal about how the poor oppressed workers were "alienated" from the means of production. They got no emotional return from the sweat of their brow. Good point, but, hey, you wanna talk alienation? Look at the alienation when the "state" owns everything.

Poor Karl -- he could have gotten rid of all of his alienation just by believing into Jesus.

With Marx the cure was ten times worse than the disease. Maybe a hundred times worse.
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:01 AM   #23
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Titus Chu used to talk about how he would read the old Chinese classics, kind of like American pastors reading Shakespeare. I am persuaded that many American brothers in the Recovery mistook ancient Chinese culture for true spirituality. Obviously it was different than anything they had known before.
That's like if I became a preacher in China, and began to use Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Dante's "Inferno" as supplemental texts. You know, just to reinforce my biblical points. The recipients, unaware of the Western culture, might gradually conflate the wisdom of man in those books of ficton with the true wisdom of God revealed in the Bible. Then you have culture insinuating itself into the dialog without anyone being aware that it is happening.

I also felt that Lee's expositions were "different than anything I had known before." Turns out he was plagiarizing Marvin Vincent's word studies.

http://www.concernedbrothers.com/Tru...iarism_LSM.pdf
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:29 AM   #24
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Perhaps out of that environment came the seed for the insatiable desire to "get church right." If we got "church right," then everybody else got it wrong, and they all need to come to us for that long-lost solution to all their woes. Made sense to me! I bought into the program hook, line, and sinker.
Me too. It sounded so good. Remember the catch-phrase "the proper church life?' When WL would say he would hold the 'o' in proper for a moment. "The proooper church life." I must have heard that 100 times. But where does the Bible teach us to strive for the "proper church life?" It tells us to behave ourselves in the church, but that's different than a quest for perfection as an end in itself.

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Funny thing happened when I left the program. All the other Christians I have met care little for the need to "get church right." Apparently we got stuck in some "time warp" that we never could get out of. The Christian public, for the most part, had long since given up the notion of the "perfect" church. They have since decided that "Jesus was the way" to God, and there is basically "no perfect church." Duh!
This is the lesson of history. Ironically, WL would talk about the "messy kitchen" being a consequence of getting anything done. Well, we're all in a big messy kitchen, but a lot is getting done!
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Old 07-12-2012, 07:43 AM   #25
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Last winter we had much discussion on the ground of locality in another thread titled -- Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

An unregistered guest posted what I thought was the best rebuttal to this teaching to date -- Rebuttal of Ground of Locality

This rebuttal is quite a good read with a solid Biblical foundation... I]
Ohio, I am glad you cited this. I missed it the first time around.

I quote the beginning of the post:

When approaching Christian unity, the higher principles which are talked about by the Lord Jesus directly are "loving one another" (Mark 12:31-33) and "oneness" (John 17:21) among the believers. These two principles are the most directly taught and therefore, the most important. Any attempt to practically implement these higher principles must always be examined to unsure that these higher principles are not being undermined by the practical implementation itself. Two paradigms have emerged on this thread as ways to view the teaching of the church, and these two paradigms correspond to two very different ways of obtaining practical oneness among believers. The two paradigms are:

1) The "one city, one church" paradigm. The way to achieve oneness according to this paradigm is by bringing all Christians in a city to meet together under one administration.

2) Where 2 or 3 gather there I am in the midst" = the church. One practical way (not necessarily the only way) to achieve oneness in this paradigm is in having separate assemblies with separate administrations holding to unity of "the faith" (Eph 4:13)


I liked his "two paradigm" approach and wanted to comment. The LSM push for "one city, one church" dismisses paradigm two by saying that Jesus recommended us to "tell it to the church" in Matthew 18 when a sinning brother would not listen to a couple of saints. So "two or 3 gathered and there I am in their midst" and "the church" are different, in the LSM view. They don't say what "2 or 3 gathered there I am in the midst" is, if it is not the ekklesia, but simply go on. It is an "undetermined sub-unit", I guess.

I think that this reading is because they have decided already what outcome they want, and then they translate "ekklesia" to fit the pre-ordained outcome. But, what if: a) "ekklesia" or "ekklesias" can mean "assembly" or "meeting" instead of "church", and what if it can be either plural or singular? So it could mean, "When the sinning one does not hear two or three, then you are free to tell other groups about this person's behavior."

In Matthew 18 I see "ekklesia" and "ekklesias" both translated "church" because of presumed context, and 2 Corinthians 11:8 "ekklesias" translated as plural, "churches", because of context. But the context in Matthew 18 is not a given; it could be either singular or plural. It is not important, except if you want to use Matthew 18 as your "proof text" to dismiss paradigm two.

And then, when you DO have multiple meetings in one city, like college meetings and prayer meetings and home meetings, and Meeting Hall One and Meeting Hall Two, you don't call "ekklesias" as "churches" but as "meetings". That way you don't violate your own "one church, one city" paradigm.

What it involves, as I see it, is translating words one way when it is helpful to your paradigm, and translating them another way when they might be inconvenient. In other words, playing games with words. Now, I occasionally do the same thing, I admit; I think we all do sometimes. but I don't found a religious sect on it.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:01 AM   #26
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Last winter we had much discussion on the ground of locality in another thread titled -- Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

An unregistered guest posted what I thought was the best rebuttal to this teaching to date -- Rebuttal of Ground of Locality

This rebuttal is quite a good read with a solid Biblical foundation... I]
Ohio, I am glad you cited this. I missed it the first time around.

I quote the beginning of the post:

When approaching Christian unity, the higher principles which are talked about by the Lord Jesus directly are "loving one another" (Mark 12:31-33) and "oneness" (John 17:21) among the believers. These two principles are the most directly taught and therefore, the most important. Any attempt to practically implement these higher principles must always be examined to unsure that these higher principles are not being undermined by the practical implementation itself. Two paradigms have emerged on this thread as ways to view the teaching of the church, and these two paradigms correspond to two very different ways of obtaining practical oneness among believers. The two paradigms are:

1) The "one city, one church" paradigm. The way to achieve oneness according to this paradigm is by bringing all Christians in a city to meet together under one administration.

2) Where 2 or 3 gather there I am in the midst" = the church. One practical way (not necessarily the only way) to achieve oneness in this paradigm is in having separate assemblies with separate administrations holding to unity of "the faith" (Eph 4:13)


I liked his "two paradigm" approach and wanted to comment. The LSM push for "one city, one church" dismisses paradigm two by saying that Jesus recommended us to "tell it to the church" in Matthew 18 when a sinning brother would not listen to a couple of saints. So "two or 3 gathered and there I am in their midst" and "the church" are different. The "2 or 3" then becomes some un-named sub-unit of the church and is ignored.

I think that LSM is translating "ekklesia" to fit a desired outcome. But, what if "ekklesia" or "ekklesias" can mean "assembly" or "meeting" instead of "church", and what if it can be either plural or singular? So it could mean, "When the sinning one does not hear two or three, then you are free to tell other group(s) about this person's behavior."

In Matthew 18 I see "ekklesia" and "ekklesias" both translated "church" because of presumed context, and 2 Corinthians 11:8 "ekklesias" translated as plural, "churches", because of context. But the context in Matthew 18 is not a given; it could be either singular or plural. It is not important, except if you want to use Matthew 18 as your "proof text" to dismiss paradigm two.

And then, when you DO have multiple meetings in one city, like college meetings and prayer meetings and home meetings, and Meeting Hall One and Meeting Hall Two, you call them "meetings". That way you don't violate your own "one church, one city" paradigm.

What it involves, as I see it, is making a word mean one thing when it is helpful to your paradigm, and making it mean another when the first meaning is inconvenient. I. e., playing games with words. Now, I probably do the same thing, I confess: but I don't found a religious sect on my word games.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:04 AM   #27
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Me too. It sounded so good. Remember the catch-phrase "the proper church life?' When WL would say he would hold the 'o' in proper for a moment. "The proooper church life." I must have heard that 100 times...
As if the "proper church life" on the "proper ground" would magically solve all those onerous commands to love one another, bear one another's burdens, forgive one another's trespasses, etc.

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Ironically, WL would talk about the "messy kitchen" being a consequence of getting anything done. Well, we're all in a big messy kitchen, but a lot is getting done!
When it is the "proper church life" on the "proper ground" it is a "messy kitchen". If it is not, it is "fallen, degraded christianity". One is messy, the other is degraded; got it?
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:05 AM   #28
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To say that 2 or 3 can't be a church because Jesus used this example in Matthew 18 is an example of bending the scripture to produce a predetermined result.

Jesus likely isn't saying that just 2 or 3 can't be a church, he's just giving an example of how to approach dealing with personal offenses between believers.

I.e., first take it to the brother, then to a few, then to the whole church.

But if the church consists of only 2 or 3, then obviously you skip the second step.

I can see some situations where 2 or 3 would be a legitimate church. In remote places in the country, for example. And no city there too!
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:15 AM   #29
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I can see some situations where 2 or 3 would be a legitimate church.!
Well, 2 or 3, with Jesus there in your midst, seems to be a legitimate assembly. If I have Jesus in my assembly, and someone wants to parse text to tell me it isn't a legitimate church, I will laugh at them. You take your definitions and I will take Jesus. No problem.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:42 AM   #30
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In Matthew 18 I see "ekklesia" and "ekklesias" both translated "church" because of presumed context, and 2 Corinthians 11:8 "ekklesias" translated as plural, "churches", because of context. But the context in Matthew 18 is not a given; it could be either singular or plural. It is not important, except if you want to use Matthew 18 as your "proof text" to dismiss paradigm two.

And then, when you DO have multiple meetings in one city, like college meetings and prayer meetings and home meetings, and Meeting Hall One and Meeting Hall Two, you call them "meetings". That way you don't violate your own "one church, one city" paradigm.

What it involves, as I see it, is making a word mean one thing when it is helpful to your paradigm, and making it mean another when the first meaning is inconvenient. I. e., playing games with words. Now, I probably do the same thing, I confess: but I don't found a religious sect on my word games.
This is why I continue to make the point that the LC model is not really about having one "church" per city. It's about having one organized entity with one administration per city.

"Church" can be interpreted in many ways, from a world-wide group that never meets (universal church) to a home group with flexible leadership (house church). It's a benign word. It speaks of the believers as a group.

Obviously, there is a manifestation of church which is more organized. Christianity in general calls these "local" churches. But the LC believes this organized version of the church must comprise the entire city.

The problem is that they give no way for this to be accomplished practically without one leadership group being empowered to condemn all rivals. To LCers, somehow everyone else is supposed to just recognize these leaders and fall in line, or at least cooperate for the so-called greater good. But again they are asking everyone in the city to arbitrarily trust that these leaders are what they say they are. This is cockeyed and unreasonable.

They just expect to be able to come into a city, plop themselves down as "the church" and everyone else is supposed to figure out that all are supposed to organize themselves around the leaders of this little group. If they can't figure that out, then they are condemned at best as "unclear" and at worst as "divisive opposers."

Obviously, this model was not truly designed to organize an entire city as one church. It was designed for a fringe group to convince itself that it was right and everyone else was wrong.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:44 AM   #31
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This is the lesson of history. Ironically, WL would talk about the "messy kitchen" being a consequence of getting anything done. Well, we're all in a big messy kitchen, but a lot is getting done!
Methinks the "messy kitchen" talk was just a coverup for ministry unrighteousness. Kind of like saying "everybody makes mistakes" when you hear that your kid just molested his secretary at the offices of your ministry.
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Old 07-12-2012, 06:31 PM   #32
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To LCers, somehow everyone else is supposed to just recognize these leaders and fall in line, or at least cooperate for the so-called greater good. But again they are asking everyone in the city to arbitrarily trust that these leaders are what they say they are. This is cockeyed and unreasonable.
Not only that Igzy. Many in a given locality will exercise caution given most local church elders may have a degree in engineering, but not in theology. Any Christian in my neighborhood will ask and have asked, do they have credentials? Exercising caution that an uncredentialed speaker may speak something heretical.
As it is LC leaders get where they're at by 1. loyalty 2. bearing administrative responsibility 3. bearing a speaking gift whether in ministry, in teaching, or in evangelism.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:07 PM   #33
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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This is why I continue to make the point that the LC model is not really about having one "church" per city. It's about having one organized entity with one administration per city. ...


Obviously, this model was not truly designed to organize an entire city as one church. It was designed for a fringe group to convince itself that it was right and everyone else was wrong.
Igzy (good to "see" you again...

Though I don't believe the one-city-one-church model is a prescription, I also don't think the origins of the doctrine were as Machiavellian as you set out here. I think the elitism was a CONSEQUENCE of the doctrine. But I get the impulse of the origins. Standing in front of an increasingly factionalizing Christianity, there was a sense that the word asked more of us in terms of keeping a oneness among Christians. That impulse I believe to be good and even right.

The second impulse, and where the problem comes in, was to "find" in the scriptures the "right way" to do it. But this started getting into "square-peg-round-hole" territory. It was a human-concocted answer to a spiritual matter of the heart. It also reflects the problem of viewing the Word as a "how-to" for church, rather than as the Word of God that we constantly have to reengage with for the Lord to speak anew in our changing life circumstances.

It also exposes the problem of "offices" of "spiritual authority" generally (as opposed to the natural submission to one another that is a by-product of humilty in Christ.)

What the LC theologians did in creating this scewed doctrine to fulfill a very good and even spiritual impulse toward oneness is something we all do to lesser degree.

This is not a "we all make mistakes" absolution - for the goal of that is to gloss over mistakes. Rather it is to say, when looking at a dangerous or skewed practice, "wow, that's not good. Why isn't it good? Am I susceptible to do the same thing in different ways?"

It's the same extremely sober moment I have when I read Peter himself, trying to PROTECT Jesus with all good intention, being called "Satan."

Thoughts?

In Love,

Peter
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:27 PM   #34
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Not only that Igzy. Many in a given locality will exercise caution given most local church elders may have a degree in engineering, but not in theology. Any Christian in my neighborhood will ask and have asked, do they have credentials? Exercising caution that an uncredentialed speaker may speak something heretical.
Terry:

I'm not so sure credentials are a Pre-requisite to leadership or even expounding the Word. Not having credentials is only a problem, as it is in the LC, when it is coupled with a lack of humility or willingness to be instructed, corrected and/or taught by others, including Christian scholars. The LC took this danger to another level by not only being closed to others, but deriding others, creating a self-validating theology. Very dangerous.

That said, exposit away "unlearned ones!" god does the teaching anyhow. He'll correct as necessary if the environment of humility and openness is there!

Peter

P.S. I have a renewed sense (and energy) to engage here, so please tell me if my exhuberamce crosses over to trolling...
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:18 AM   #35
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Though I don't believe the one-city-one-church model is a prescription, I also don't think the origins of the doctrine were as Machiavellian as [Igzy] sets out here. I think the elitism was a CONSEQUENCE of the doctrine...
As Christians we should be hesitant at ascribing base motives to others. But we do have the repeated example in the gospels of elitism ("We saw others preaching in Your name and we forbade them") and ambition (i.e. arguments about who was greatest), and we have multiple examples in the Acts and epistles of people with control issues. We see repeated instances of people who missed Jesus' admonition to "be the least", and somehow thought that "being great" in the church, and "lording it over the flock" would translate into heaven. And, of course, the record has continued in christian history up to the present age.

At some point in the historical continuum of the LC saga it should be clear that the one-city-one-church model allows such birds to roost quite comfortably in its branches. At some point it should be clear that we are setting our minds on on the things of man, and not of God.
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:36 AM   #36
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Default 2 or 3 gathered in My name

So Jesus said, "Whenever 2 or 3 are gathered in My name, there I will be in their midst", and "Whenever two of you are in harmony, it will be established."

But according to the reading in Matthew 18, this is different from the church. You have the Lord's name, you have His presence, you have His authority, but you are "not the church".

Okay. So what are these two or three, functioning in His name, His presence, and His authority? Matthew 18 doesn't designate a term. So, maybe, let's call it a "meeting". We are gathered together, so that is a meeting. Problem is, the Bible, both OT/Septuagint and NT, also designates a meeting or assembly as an "ekklesia", the same word we translate as church. So we have a dilemma, and need some new "high peak terminology" to get out of it.

I know! Let's call them "vital groups"! We can create new terminology to designate sub-units that fit our theological schema!

How am I doing, folks? Am I making progress here?
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:48 AM   #37
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I'm not so sure credentials are a Pre-requisite to leadership or even expounding the Word.
I've always agreed with this ...

Was not our Lord condemned by the "theologians" of the day for being "unlearned?" The initial Twelve were similarly condemned.

Yet in our little Recovery society, this "exception to the rule" was taken to new heights. Except for a few Christian classic studies from writers long passed, we respected no contemporary theologians or ministers. This enabled WL to borrow freely from other sources, while his cadre of promoters convinced us of his originality. This also provided an atmosphere of unrestricted conjecture, since the normal checks and balances on a ministry were removed.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:04 AM   #38
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Default 2 or 3 gathered in My name

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How am I doing, folks? Am I making progress here?
Innovative, aron. I'm catching on ...

Two or three is church, but not the church.

Kind of like we are saints, but they are Christians.

Reminds me of a black-n-gold tee-shirt I saw the other day in Pixbird which said, "Yinz is proper, y'all is stupid."
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:43 AM   #39
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I'm catching on ...

Two or three is church, but not the church.

Kind of like we are saints, but they are Christians.
Yes. Jesus went around doing good (Acts 10:38), while we his ostensible disciples go around, managing words for fun and profit.
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:11 AM   #40
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The doctrine is by nature sectarian because although it appears to be about having one church per city, it is really about having one church administration per city.
Above statement makes it crystal clear and begs a subsequent question: who decides who the one church administration is in each city?
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:55 AM   #41
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I'm not so sure credentials are a Pre-requisite to leadership or even expounding the Word.
Credentials don't prove competence, but they certainly put the odds in its favor.

If you were hiring a delivery company, would you be more likely to hire them if none of the drivers had driver's licenses?

How about if only a few of them had driver's licenses, but those few had disavowed the licenses and the agencies that issued them?

How about if all the drivers claimed "We don't need driver's licenses. But we're still better drivers that any of the other companies' drivers who have them!"

I think you get my point.

This is how normal people considering the LC would think. You can't blame them. We, other the other hand, didn't apply such common-sense wisdom. We just gave these guys the keys and watched them drive the trucks over the cliff.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:22 AM   #42
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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... who decides who the one church administration is in each city?
Jesus chose the first 12. Even though He knew one of them contained dark impulses, He chose them all. We can hardly critique His choices.

Then, in Acts, you get a "game of chance" being used to replace Judas(1:26); and you see James the brother of Jesus, and the apostle Paul, and others, pushing themselves into the front ranks of the disciples.

Already, with this picture, you may have problems. James had not even been been a believer (John 7:5), yet by Acts chapter 15 he is the authoritative, concluding voice in the assembly. In 3 John 1:9 the apostle John, himself the aggressive "Son of thunder", notes that Diotrephes loves to be first, and won't receive his letters. The nagging questions in the gospels, of "who is to be first" after Jesus, don't seem to be fully resolved.

This idea of ranking ourselves, on this side of the Judgment Seat of Christ, seems to me to be straining of both christian faith and human logic. And the supposed one-city-one-church solution, that you can give the keys of the kingdom to one special minister of the age ("the oracle"), who then can pick all the administrators in each city to bring all the faithful into one's idea of practical unity, seems to be an exceptional exercise in hubris and folly.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:39 AM   #43
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Above statement makes it crystal clear and begs a subsequent question: who decides who the one church administration is in each city?
Yep. Who decides? The apostle? Who decides who the apostle is?

Which ties into Peter's question.

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Igzy good to "see" you again...
Though I don't believe the one-city-one-church model is a prescription, I also don't think the origins of the doctrine were as Machiavellian as you set out here. I think the elitism was a CONSEQUENCE of the doctrine. But I get the impulse of the origins. Standing in front of an increasingly factionalizing Christianity, there was a sense that the word asked more of us in terms of keeping a oneness among Christians. That impulse I believe to be good and even right....Thoughts?
Good to see you, Peter. I'm glad you asked, because I need to clarify what I mean by the LC model being about enabling a fringe group, not bringing about one church per city.

The LC said it was for oneness. But that was really only so they could feel good about themselves in their march to glory. Their view of oneness was really about being one with the doctrines and vision they held, it was never really about true oneness of the Spirit, except in the minds of the innocent and naive. Like us.

The doctrine and model only "work" in a pseudo way. That is, if a group truly wanted to bring about oneness in a city, they would do things much differently that the LC did. They would not insist on their leadership or theological vision and they would reach out to Christians of all stripes. This is exactly the opposite of what the LC did.

The LC model, then, could have never really, truly had the intention of bringing about genuine oneness among all Christians. Anyone with any foresight should have seen that expecting people just to submit and obey an arbitrary set of leaders (with few credentials) was unreasonable and that people understandably would balk at it.

Had the LC truly been for oneness, then they would have softened their stance on both leadership and theology. But that would have diluted their devotion to Lee and the LC culture. And they couldn't have that.

So the model only "works" if you have small group of believers who convince themselves that they are truly for "oneness" and everyone else is going their own way because they don't see or are hard-hearted or whatever. The group gets to ignore everyone else rather than reach out to them, which is what they'd rather do anyway. They alienate everyone else because they'd rather not deal with them and want to maintain strict control, and then convince themselves that it's the other people's fault for being alienated. They get to continue to do their own thing while having convinced themselves that it is the other people that are divisive, not them. They get to have their cake and eat it too. As long as they can balance this delusion in their minds, it works for them.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:05 AM   #44
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Above statement makes it crystal clear and begs a subsequent question: who decides who the one church administration is in each city?
The Columbus chapter of the Recovery now has three distinct assemblies, with three separate sets of elders. One set was appointed by Titus Chu, one set appointed by the Blendeds, and one set the old-fashioned way.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:16 AM   #45
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The Columbus chapter of the Recovery now has three distinct assemblies, with three separate sets of elders. One set was appointed by Titus Chu, one set appointed by the Blendeds, and one set the old-fashioned way.
Again this shows that the LC vision is not really about the Ground of Locality, it's about following the right administration.

The Ground of Locality is just a means by which the LC discredits most of Christianity. If another group stands on the "Ground," however, then they have to scramble around for another way to discredit that group. Typical ways employed include: they are not one with "the ministry," they are not one with "the churches," they are a sect, their elders are rebellious, they are worldly, blah, blah, blah.

Like I said, you can't make this stuff up, folks.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:29 AM   #46
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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This idea of ranking ourselves, on this side of the Judgment Seat of Christ, seems to me to be straining of both christian faith and human logic. And the supposed one-city-one-church solution, that you can give the keys of the kingdom to one special minister of the age ("the oracle"), who then can pick all the administrators in each city to bring all the faithful into one's idea of practical unity, seems to be an exceptional exercise in hubris and folly.
Oh ... but there was a time when it all made so much sense.

The Recovery paradigm of only apostles can appoint elders based on connecting Titus 1.5 and Acts 14.23 is so short-sighted. With that mindset the door is left wide open for the most aggressive of men to take over unchallenged. Determine who is the apostle and just do what he says! I have rarely seen an appointment made with the congregation in view, rather the needs of headquarters always comes first.

My last elder-appointee actually told me "sometimes we have to shock the saints." Is that how the new guy is supposed to establish his new found authority? Via tasers? Where did they learn these bad habits, unchecked for decades? And this new guy is over the whole city? To maintain the oneness of the Spirit, in the uniting bond of peace?
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:36 AM   #47
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Had the LC truly been for oneness, then they would have softened their stance on both leadership and theology. But that would have diluted their devotion to Lee and the LC culture. And they couldn't have that.
Here it is in a nutshell. It is absolutely impossible to simultaneously have both genuine Christian oneness and devotion to Witness Lee. Devotion to Lee is the single cause for every storm, rebellion, and division within the Recovery. With such a dismal track record, it's no wonder that no outside Christian has joined their "oneness."
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:40 AM   #48
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

Let me also say this. I sympathize with LCers who say, "I have the vision of one church in a city. What can I do? I must stand on that."

I would say then do so. There is nothing wrong with standing on the oneness of believers in the city. Just drop two stances that are wrong:
  1. Don't insist on your administration. I.e., don't insist the one church must be organized under one administration.
  2. Don't say that groups which don't stand on the ground aren't churches.
Insisting on your administration is arbitrary and unreasonable. I've discussed this at length.

Insisting a group agree with or even understand the Ground of Locality to be a church is also unreasonable, given the reference to house churches in the NT. Most churches down through history haven't had a clue about the Ground of Locality, though most have understood the oneness of believers. That is enough.

The assertion that non-LC churches stand on some divisive doctrine (which Canfield tries to leverage) is these days a weak and misleading argument. Most churches do not insist on agreeing with any doctrine. They simply ask, Do you believe in Jesus. Actually, it is the LC that, subtly anyway, insists on certain non-faith beliefs, the Ground of Locality being one of them.
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:38 AM   #49
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Here it is in a nutshell. It is absolutely impossible to simultaneously have both genuine Christian oneness and devotion to Witness Lee. Devotion to Lee is the single cause for every storm, rebellion, and division within the Recovery. With such a dismal track record, it's no wonder that no outside Christian has joined their "oneness."
Impossible indeed!

May I also suggest IMHO outside Christians (those that think about it at all) do not share the same definition of "genuine Christian oneness" as what was taught (not practiced) in the LC system. For the most part they view themselves as one with all genuine Christians but practice their oneness within certain widely defined categories e.g. Mainline Protestant, Conservative Anglican, Charismatic, Mainstream Evangelical, etc. So they are comfortable meeting with any church regardless of denomination within their wider category of conviction (and even beyond within certain limitations.) Their choice of "home church" within a wider category would be based on proximity to their home, friendships, skill of pastors at teaching, activities offered, times of services, etc.

Another expression of their oneness would be working with other churches and Christians to do ministry in their cities and abroad e.g. feeding the poor, building houses, etc.
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:17 PM   #50
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Let me also say this. I sympathize with LCers who say, "I have the vision of one church in a city. What can I do? I must stand on that."
Should we not challenge the very notion of a formal administration at all? If there is "spiritual authority" which resides in an "office" (rather than in natural mutual submission by the Lord's leading and humbling), then I have the same conundrum as far as who I am supposed to be "under."

I press this because of a larger lesson learned in leaving the LC. Because of excesses, it raised awareness of how easily unexamined assumptions can lead one astray. Which then opens up a whole field of questions about other unexamined assumptions. To be sure, the way the majority of Christianity treats church authority is quite similar (and the LC was an outlier), but after having to dive into the Word to verify the accuracy of the LC teaching, "normal practice" is not justification enough for me to support the Scriptural "how and why" of organizational structures which exist in present day churches.

I say this because since leaving the LC, I have noticed that every group (that I've peeked in on) has their version of "institutional control" which they seek to maintain. In some it includes oaths/missions/allegences to the specific church's tenants (some of which were the very reasons they divided from other churches).

After we do the heavy lifting of finally letting go of the one-city-one-church doctrine, should there not be a follow-up question with the same level of scrutiny?
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:21 PM   #51
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Should we not challenge the very notion of a formal administration at all? If there is "spiritual authority" which resides in an "office" (rather than in natural mutual submission by the Lord's leading and humbling), then I have the same conundrum as far as who I am supposed to be "under."
Well, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Because if you are taking on the idea of official administration of a practical church then you are taking on 99.99% of churches in the world. Good luck with that.

I'm not really concerned about church administrations. I honestly don't see how a church of any size over about 15 people could get along without some kind of administration. The problem comes in when the administration starts claiming authority outside the doors of the church, as the LC did.

The house church movement has tried to implement the unofficial official model. I'm not sure how successful that has been. But I think it's easy to see that larger churches needs official staff and delegation of roles and authorities. There's no sin in that.

Don't worry about who you need to be "under." You don't need to be "under" anyone, except in the sense that the Bible tells us all to be in submission to each other. But if you join a church, it's at the very least good manners to respect the officials there.
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:46 PM   #52
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I'm not really concerned about church administrations. I honestly don't see how a church of any size over about 15 people could get along without some kind of administration. The problem comes in when the administration starts claiming authority outside the doors of the church, as the LC did.
Don't worry about who you need to be "under." You don't need to be "under" anyone, except in the sense that the Bible tells us all to be in submission to each other. But if you join a church, it's at the very least good manners to respect the officials there.
Well, you assume the definition of "church" in your response. And your definition assumes a place for "offices" of authority who at least are "officials" "over" the congregation. All it takes is some sort of "movement" to sweep through that "church" (social/political issues, wealth gospel, whatever....) and the congregation is inherently susceptible to undue influence. If you teach responsiveness to God as primary (albeit with "checks" within fellowship), then people can exercise "influence" and each individual is equiped to evaluate it. If you teach "authority resides in so-and-so's status" people are less inclined to turn to God when evaluating certain claims of "truth" or "practice" or "politics" or whatever.

Spiritual authority, residing in an "office," seems to me to be logically contrary to the New Covenant.

Which is not the same thing as saying we don't submit to organic, perhaps situational and God-arranged, "authority."

I don't mean this to hijack the topic - but if we're going to take our arguments against hte LC to their conclusion, we have to ask these questions.

Peter

P.S. Perhaps its still a residue in me from the LC, perhaps its a reaction to the LC, but I ran into issues with this in multiple congregations (and I witness it everyday on CNN when Christian work is co-opted by "pastors" toward political - both liberal and conservative - ends.)
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:09 PM   #53
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

In the first place, we have to make some assumptions about what church is, since the Bible doesn't tell us everything. So of course I've made some. I could not do otherwise.

Second, the balance of being under authority and personal choice is always going to be a dynamic in human life. It's not going to go away or be solved because we've taken these questions to their conclusion, because there is no conclusion.

Some people are going to run with what their leadership says, whether it's protesting a movie or giving money. Some people are going to withhold compliance to such directives. Who is right and who isn't is not so easy to say. Which is why we have to respect other people's choices. The LC made these things a matter of life and death. They aren't.

A person who is truly submitted to God doesn't have a big problem with authority because he doesn't fear men yet still has a heart to cooperate with other Christians for God's interests. He takes his cues from God. Sometimes God says obey and sometimes he says don't worry about it. That's my experience anyway.

We are not going to come up with an ultimate answer here for how authority and personal choice are supposed to be balanced in the church. What we can know is they are to in some way balance. There is some authority and there is some choice. How that plays out is a living dynamic on a case by case basis, not a formula.

But I would say that in the church I attend it doesn't present itself as a problem, and if it did I would just find another place to attend.

JMHO.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:08 PM   #54
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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In the first place, we have to make some assumptions about what church is, since the Bible doesn't tell us everything. So of course I've made some. I could not do otherwise.

JMHO.
On one hand, I absolutely agree. On the other, "wow!" In the same sentence you assert the the Bible doesn't tell us everything(as if that's not intentional) and then assert that therefore WE should fill in the blanks.

Faces with the fact that the Bible doesn't tell us everything, we do actually have choices: primarily about what our "default" position is.

1) Decide that the bible prescribes "mediators" and allow that to be the filter through which Christians evaluate claims by leaders

2) admit the vagueness of prescriptions (if any) about "church" and emphasize in our gatherings the primacy of the new covenant.

I suspect, in practice, both would look remarkably similar. We'd still have denominations etc.... But the "pulse" would be about "what now Lord?" rather than whatever happens to be on the speakers heart (good bad or the other)

Do you get the difference between hearing an informed and inspirational speaker versus one that you are doctrinally predisposed to submit to? Its the differmece of how we evaluate
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:23 PM   #55
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

I didn't say we should fill in the blanks. What I implied was that we are going to fill in some blanks no matter what, else we are not going to have any kind of practical church or living at all.

When you go through a day don't you make certain assumptions just to get from A to B? Of course you do. It's called walking by faith in good faith.

Again, however, we have to remind ourselves that how to have church isn't the point. The LC made it the point, but it is not. I think God gives us some leeway. He doesn't expect us to do everything perfectly. (Be perfect in the NT means become mature). Read Romans 14 again. Some do it this way, some do it that way. God is okay with that, so we should be, too. The point is to love God and love people, not to do everything perfectly or according to one perfect way. What might be right in the US might not be right in France, and so forth.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:44 PM   #56
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I didn't say we should fill in the blanks. What I implied was that we are going to fill in some blanks no matter what, else we are not going to have any kind of practical church or living at all.
.
This reminds me of "the administration of God's economy" which has one too many Oikonomia's in my opinion.

It's NOT the same as walking from A to B. That's a human affair and I'll figure it out.

What if you don't have a "pastor" or "priest" and actually just had the fellowship of the Christians God plopped into your life?

What if, instead if this whole notion of "church" as we understand it with all it's add-ins, we just sought "fellowship."

To be sure, in today's climate, that may even mean joining a "church", but out emphasis is different. It takes a position on what's primary, rather than "joining church" with a "voice" to be inherently respected, and THEN asking what the Lord is after...
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:08 PM   #57
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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This reminds me of "the administration of God's economy" which has one too many Oikonomia's in my opinion.
Maybe I'm not really understanding what problem you are describing.

I didn't mean walking from A to B. I meant, for example, dealing with people. Dealing with Christians. Dealing with life. And life is always slightly different in every situation. Prior knowledge only takes us so far.

Look at it this way. I'm a trader. I trade the markets. One thing you learn about them is that they are always the same, but always different. They present similar patterns, but each one is unique. No two instances in time are the same. There are too many variables.

So it is with life. Situations are similar, but always unique. You can't step into the same river twice. You never have all the information. You always have to make assumptions just to get along.

Same thing in the Christian life and church. We have no choice but to make assumptions. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit. But in real time we have to make assumptions. We can't wait around until we know everything.

I think that's what walking by faith is about.

We know we are supposed to meet with other Christians for edification, worship and testimony to the world. We know we are supposed to live in a way that honors God. But we don't know all the details. We learn more as we go along, but we never have it down pat. If we did, we wouldn't need God anymore.

I think you are asking, again, how should we do church. I don't know exactly. But I can look around and see what the bible says, what seems to be working, and what hasn't worked. And I can make some judgments based on that. I don't know how I can do better than that.

Can you suggest a better approach?
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Old 07-14-2012, 04:01 PM   #58
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Maybe I'm not really understanding what problem you are describing...
I guess the best way to describe what I'm getting at is to say:

There's a difference between 1) "making assumptions about what is right" versus 2) "not taking a position on whether something is right or not" while continuing to petition the Lord for clarity.

In either case, you may still find a church, submit to that church's authority etc... The difference is where your default position lies.

Position 1 makes an assumption that it's "right" that one find and be in a formal congregation with a formal church structure. This person will have a more difficult time to shake this assumption or habit of thought if the time ever comes that the Lord is leading them in a direction that doesn't align exactly with the "officers" of the church.

Position 2 may also join a church with leadership, but the default position is that he/she is seeking after God's will. It doesn't get clouded by the human habits and oscification that occurs when we habituate assumptions. Since God's will entails fellowship, He will lead him/her into potentially all sorts of fellowship arrangements. This person will be open to meeting in a formal "church" without having to make the assumption or assertion that that is the "right way" to do fellowship. This person, however, will also be more sensitive/open to other sorts of fellowship - and also more keen if any error enters into that church through the leadership.

Position 2 will most often play out exactly like Position 1 - with the difference being that its based on God's real-time will as opposed to a once-for-all "proxy" for what God "most likely" wants.

Position 1 is under-inclusive of the ways in which God can arrange fellowship, and leaves people to be vulnerable if/when error enters through church through those to whom they are now habituated to defer.

Is this making sense? I think we did a couple rounds on this regarding John Meyer's book.

In the end, I don't think in practical terms, my "version" would look much different than yours. So take all this in the right way.

In Love,

Peter

P.S. Can you see how you have a much more laissez faire approach to this very fundamental question in the Word (re: church authority generally) than your hard-hitting incisive critique of one-city-one-church? That itself is reason to give pause, no? Relious history is basically a story about the ways in which power within the church is abused. I think it's worth the vast tools of scrutiny you've got in your arsenal.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:38 PM   #59
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I guess the best way to describe what I'm getting at is to say:

There's a difference between 1) "making assumptions about what is right" versus 2) "not taking a position on whether something is right or not" while continuing to petition the Lord for clarity.
Well, the second is not making an assumption at all.

But my point is we can't function without making some assumptions. Let's say for example you are sharing the lead in a Bible study and its your turn to pick a subject. You pray to the Lord for a subject, but don't really get a clear leading. Should you tell your partners that you can't teach anything because you don't have a clear leading, or should you just go with your best guess? My experience is usually you do the latter.

One time I was in between jobs and I got two job offers. I prayed but I really didn't know which job to pick. So I just picked the one I liked best. Five years later I have little doubt now that's the one the Lord wanted me to choose, even though I couldn't figure it out at the time.

Many times we have to go with our best guess. And that includes on how to have church. But that doesn't mean we go around telling everyone we're right. We're just doing the best we can. I think the Lord honors and blesses that.

I think it's often easier to do something and have the Lord correct you than to wait around in a passive state for some kind of clarity. You learn from your mistakes, not your successes.

Even Paul wrote 1 Cor 7 about marriage and at the end only said "I think I have the Spirit of God." He didn't say "I know I have the Spirit of God." He started out not thinking he had a word (v.12), so he gave his opinion. Then his opinion ended up being the word, even though he only started realizing that as he dictated the letter. He was, for lack of a better phrase, going with his best guess.

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Old 07-14-2012, 09:06 PM   #60
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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Well, the second is not making an assumption at all..
You and I are NOT in disagreement on action versus inaction. I want to be clear: I am NOT advocating passivity waiting around for a "leading."

You are right that a LOT of times, there's no clear leading and you have to just go forward. If you're off, be open to the Lord's correction.

We AGREE about that.

Indeed, in my last post "Position 2" ALSO went to a church.

99 times out of 100, you may not be able to tell the difference between position 1 versus Position 2. Both may attend a church and function etc...

However, they are different in that 1/100th time when the established church authority is in error. Someone who has taken a position (assumption or otherwise) that those church authorities are put there by God and reside in an "office" that was established by God - well, these folks are going to have a much harder time hearing the Lord's voice than one who has not taken such a position.

What I am after is not how we should "do church" in the day-in-day out. As I said - most days, my perspective and yours regarding church will look the exact same.

Rather, is there a Scriptural perspective regarding "church authority" that enables us to be more responsive to Christ rather than the "proxies" (i.e. church authority) in those RARE occasions when there may be error?

Does that make sense?
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:29 PM   #61
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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You and I are NOT in disagreement on action versus inaction...
Yes, I think the principle is we follow Christ first. If you think your leader is in error then you need to be free to follow your convictions.

But any other question about the situation--whether you correct him, or warn others about your belief that he is wrong, etc--are another matter and are situational.

For example, sometimes my pastor emphasizes things over and over that I wouldn't stress so much. It bugs me a bit, but I don't make a big deal about it. Sometimes I continue to feel I'm right and sometimes I don't. But all times I get something out of what he says if I just give it half a chance.

But like I said, I wouldn't meet in a church with a heavy-handed pastor who was always expecting me to do what he said. I'd just find another place to meet. Fortunately, I haven't had much issue where I am.

As for those who think they need to fall in line with "spiritual authority" in everything and then get in trouble by blind following, well, that's just a lesson they are going to have to learn for themselves. But we did. So I think anyone can. It's all a process of learning.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:13 AM   #62
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Default Re: Canfield on the Ground of Locality

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I guess the best way to describe what I'm getting at is to say:

There's a difference between 1) "making assumptions about what is right" versus 2) "not taking a position on whether something is right or not" while continuing to petition the Lord for clarity.

In either case, you may still find a church, submit to that church's authority etc... The difference is where your default position lies.

Position 1 makes an assumption that it's "right" that one find and be in a formal congregation with a formal church structure. This person will have a more difficult time to shake this assumption or habit of thought if the time ever comes that the Lord is leading them in a direction that doesn't align exactly with the "officers" of the church.

Position 2 may also join a church with leadership, but the default position is that he/she is seeking after God's will. It doesn't get clouded by the human habits and ossification that occurs when we habituate assumptions. Since God's will entails fellowship, He will lead him/her into potentially all sorts of fellowship arrangements. This person will be open to meeting in a formal "church" without having to make the assumption or assertion that that is the "right way" to do fellowship. This person, however, will also be more sensitive/open to other sorts of fellowship - and also more keen if any error enters into that church through the leadership.
Though it's harder for me now than it once was, I still believe that we should submit and trust those in the lead in the church ... that is, until God in His infinite care shines His light upon some darkness. After all, we are likened to "dumb sheep," not by evil leaders looking for advantage, but by our heavenly Father. He knows full well all our vulnerabilities, which is why all of our leaders must be accountable, and above all reproach.

It always troubles me when ministers get caught in scandal and then are "restored" to their ministry. Our Lord's glorious name is once again shamed, and these wolves are once again let loose. I do believe that our Lord's precious blood can restore any sinner back to fellowship with God, but not back to his former ministry.

The story of the Recovery under the leadership of Witness Lee is a history of coverups, abuses, backbitings, lawsuits, quarantines, and storms. Each of these stories were failed attempts by former members crying out for accountability in the ministry of WL. The Great Shepherd was speaking through the prophets He sent us, in order to protect the flock, and to expose the evil within the church. It took the orchestrated efforts by many LRC leaders in order to thwart this saving work of God. As John Myer aptly concluded in his book concerning the Recovery, "Your house is left to you desolate."
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