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Old 11-13-2020, 05:15 PM   #1
Davis
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Default Reflecting on John Ingalls' Actions

Hi all, I'm a longtime lurker and former church kid (I'll try to write an introduction at some point). I've been reading Speaking the Truth in Love and wanted to share some of my questions and thoughts.

First, I want to say that while I am critical of Ingalls, I can't entirely blame him. Being so close to Witness Lee for all those years obviously affected him, so my critiques are mainly aimed at the actions, not the man.

From reading this forum, I understand that Philip Lee sexually assaulted women who worked in the LSM office; however, Ingalls never says that explicitly. Personally, I think that hiding the reality in vague descriptions protects the perpetrator far more than the victim. Regardless, he must have known the grittier details of the matter, and his lack of action is terrible. He emphasizes the fact that he never demanded that Philip Lee be removed, but that's exactly what he should have done. Simply accepting Witness Lee's inability to do nothing for months meant that a sexual predator remained in contact with members of the church and in control of the ministry.

I've gotten to the point where the church in Anaheim found out about the allegations and it exemplifies why it is a terrible idea to tuck these things under the rug. Hiding it only protected Philip and Witness Lee, who seemed completely fine with letting it go. If they immediately removed Philip and apologized to the church for ever allowing him to serve in that capacity, I think most would respect that, but when people discovered that they kept it secret and kept Philip in his position for months, they were rightfully angry.
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Old 11-13-2020, 06:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: Reflecting on John Ingalls' Actions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davis View Post
Hi all, I'm a longtime lurker and former church kid (I'll try to write an introduction at some point). I've been reading Speaking the Truth in Love and wanted to share some of my questions and thoughts.

First, I want to say that while I am critical of Ingalls, I can't entirely blame him. Being so close to Witness Lee for all those years obviously affected him, so my critiques are mainly aimed at the actions, not the man.
Hi Davis--

When I first read STTIL, I wondered about that too. When I consider who John was as a person, I believe his writing style was totally in character. I heard him speak in person many times. A few times John would come through Texas at the invitation of local saints. I was invited to join the fellowship. John was a true gentleman. He was exceedingly dignified and respectful. Having been put in a position to write STTIL at all was likely very distasteful to him.

I believe Ephesians 5:3 was heavy in his heart as he wrote: 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Quote:
From reading this forum, I understand that Philip Lee sexually assaulted women who worked in the LSM office; however, Ingalls never says that explicitly.
John likely wrote STTIL, as he did, on advice of counsel. Openly accusing someone of sexual assault opens the door for civil lawsuits for libel and slander. He didn't personally witness Phillip's behavior but was a 2nd party witness to the complaints of the women who came forward. Accusing the son of a litigious public figure could have opened a can of worms that we can only imagine.

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Personally, I think that hiding the reality in vague descriptions protects the perpetrator far more than the victim. Regardless, he must have known the grittier details of the matter, and his lack of action is terrible.
I don't think it was John's intention to hide facts of the matter or protect the perpetrator. Had he exposed Phillip, and if a lawsuit was filed against him, the first thing the Lee's would require is that John publicly name the sister/s who were victimized. John would never expose these sisters without their permission. They might be OK with that, but I know that one of the sisters, her husband and family, moved out of state.

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He emphasizes the fact that he never demanded that Philip Lee be removed, but that's exactly what he should have done. Simply accepting Witness Lee's inability to do nothing for months meant that a sexual predator remained in contact with members of the church and in control of the ministry.
We don't know what John actually did in private. We only know what public steps he took.

John was an elder in the Church in Anaheim. I don't know that he was a board member, or some such in the "family business."

I think John did as much as he could morally and legally do. As it was, STTIL pretty much blew the lid off of Phillip's criminal behavior. No one had any doubts that sexual impropriety was what John was talking about.

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I've gotten to the point where the church in Anaheim found out about the allegations and it exemplifies why it is a terrible idea to tuck these things under the rug. Hiding it only protected Philip and Witness Lee, who seemed completely fine with letting it go. If they immediately removed Philip and apologized to the church for ever allowing him to serve in that capacity, I think most would respect that, but when people discovered that they kept it secret and kept Philip in his position for months, they were rightfully angry.
But that didn't happen.

When John and Godfred went to Lee and exposed his son's crime, Lee was the one who did the hiding. It was up to Lee to clean up his son's mess. Lee hung the elders in Anaheim, John, out to dry.

It's been awhile since I read the book, but I don't think the situation was as simple as it may seem. Phillip was serving in "the office", not the Church in Anaheim. John couldn't remove Phillip from the Lee family business.

I'll read through the book again to refresh my memory on it, but this is my first thoughts on your post.

Nell
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Old 11-13-2020, 11:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reflecting on John Ingalls' Actions

Hi Nell,
Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I realized that in my haste to post about my thoughts, I was overly and unfairly critical of John Ingalls. I apologize. I'll try to better express myself and respond to your points.

Quote:
John likely wrote STTIL, as he did, on advice of counsel. Openly accusing someone of sexual assault opens the door for civil lawsuits for libel and slander. He didn't personally witness Phillip's behavior but was a 2nd party witness to the complaints of the women who came forward. Accusing the son of a litigious public figure could have opened a can of worms that we can only imagine...I don't think it was John's intention to hide facts of the matter or protect the perpetrator. Had he exposed Phillip, and if a lawsuit was filed against him, the first thing the Lee's would require is that John publicly name the sister/s who were victimized. John would never expose these sisters without their permission. They might be OK with that, but I know that one of the sisters, her husband and family, moved out of state.
This is a very good point, one which I feel silly for having overlooked, especially in the context of the LCs. I admit I don't know the legal specifics in these matters. Would it still be libel to have stated the nature of a legitimate accusation (not saying "Philip Lee did this" but that "Philip Lee was accused of this")? I'm guessing that if the sister was unwilling to testify publicly, it would be, and I respect his desire to respect her wishes and privacy.

Quote:
We don't know what John actually did in private. We only know what public steps he took...I think John did as much as he could morally and legally do. As it was, STTIL pretty much blew the lid off of Phillip's criminal behavior. No one had any doubts that sexual impropriety was what John was talking about.
Taking a step back, I realize that you are completely right here. Again, I apologize that my earlier post attacked John's character, that was not my intention.

Quote:
When John and Godfred went to Lee and exposed his son's crime, Lee was the one who did the hiding. It was up to Lee to clean up his son's mess. Lee hung the elders in Anaheim, John, out to dry.
This is what frustrates me the most, and my first post didn't explain that properly. I think that John did what he could; however, the expectations of behavior in the LC severely limited the effect of his good intentions. My criticism here is not of the man, but of the actions that I believe were a result of years alongside Witness Lee.

I guess what bothered me was the brothers accepting that Witness Lee would do anything less than taking immediate action to rectify the situation (removing Philip and listening and responding to the victims compassionately and justly). However, in John's position, I may very well have done the same thing. If I had worked with him for years and believed him to be the minster of the age, it probably would have taken a lot for my faith to be shaken. As someone who is now removed from the LC and never knew WL personally, it is easy to see his behavior for what it was, but I realized I could not expect the same from someone who esteemed him so highly.

I think this goes to a matter that has been central to many discussions here: covering the brothers. The well meaning brothers trusted that by covering the situation, WL would handle it properly, and the church could go on healthily, but then he didn't, left the elders to deal with the outrage, and blackballed them when they tried to explain what had actually happened.

I believe this clarifies what I wanted to say earlier, I don't wish to be unfairly negative or harsh. I hope this thread can be a site of discussion for anyone reading the book for the first time or returning to it.
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Old 11-14-2020, 08:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Reflecting on John Ingalls' Actions

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Originally Posted by Davis View Post
Hi Nell, Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I realized that in my haste to post about my thoughts, I was overly and unfairly critical of John Ingalls. I apologize. I'll try to better express myself and respond to your points.
The attached file is an article that came out in the LA Times January 7, 1989: "Crisis Threatens Future of Little-Known Church". It covers the Phillip Lee scandal with some pretty interesting stuff.

The points you made were rational in most situations...except in the context of the Local Church/LSM. They do things differently there. They use words differently. Phillip Lee was a reprobate son protected by his father. I believe it has been stated before that WLee may have actually been "afraid" of Phillip to some extent, and had little to no control over him. It seems that Phillip was a bully.

Quote:
This is a very good point, one which I feel silly for having overlooked, especially in the context of the LCs. I admit I don't know the legal specifics in these matters. Would it still be libel to have stated the nature of a legitimate accusation (not saying "Philip Lee did this" but that "Philip Lee was accused of this")? I'm guessing that if the sister was unwilling to testify publicly, it would be, and I respect his desire to respect her wishes and privacy.
Maybe. I'm not sure how it would play out, but keep in mind, in the legal system in this country "anybody can sue anyone for anything."

I was a "legal assistant" in another life, and typed up many "Petitions" initiating a lawsuit. Mostly personal injury. The Petition always claimed that the Plaintiff's injuries had broken every bone in his body, pulled and tore every muscle, his life was permanently altered, he could never work again...on and on...and it was all the fault of the Defendant. The real injury was in there somewhere, but they cover all the bases "just in case." Eventually, everything is thrown out except the real cause of action.

I could imagine such a case with a Lee Family lawsuit. Massive overstatement of "facts" and damages, etc.. John could come out looking like the criminal and Phillip the poor victim of John and some naughty sister's imagination. This has been the pattern of the LSM lawsuits.

Quote:
Taking a step back, I realize that you are completely right here. Again, I apologize that my earlier post attacked John's character, that was not my intention.
I didn't think that was your intention. Asking "why" is not a bad thing...unless you're in the LC!

Quote:
This is what frustrates me the most, and my first post didn't explain that properly. I think that John did what he could; however, the expectations of behavior in the LC severely limited the effect of his good intentions. My criticism here is not of the man, but of the actions that I believe were a result of years alongside Witness Lee.

I guess what bothered me was the brothers accepting that Witness Lee would do anything less than taking immediate action to rectify the situation (removing Philip and listening and responding to the victims compassionately and justly). However, in John's position, I may very well have done the same thing. If I had worked with him for years and believed him to be the minster of the age, it probably would have taken a lot for my faith to be shaken. As someone who is now removed from the LC and never knew WL personally, it is easy to see his behavior for what it was, but I realized I could not expect the same from someone who esteemed him so highly.
At one of those fellowship dinners when John was in town visiting, I reminded him of something he said when I first heard him speak at a conference in Dallas. I had never forgotten it. When this conversation took place, John had already been gone from the LC for a few years. In this context I said to him

"John, I remember something you said in that conference that I will never forget."

His eyes started to get real big and he had an "uh-oh" look on his face.

"You said that you would never leave the way of 'life and building'. Even if Witness Lee himself were to leave and take another way, you could not abandon what you had seen in the Word of God as the path for believers and in meeting together as the church." (Paraphrased)

His eyes were saucers now. He s-l-o-w-l-y said, "I did?"

"Yes. You did."

We were all cracked up laughing at him now. He was very expressive when he talked about almost anything! Those who heard John speak in conferences or knew him personally can imagine the look on his face!

My point in reminding him about his statement in that conference was this: he was true to his word. Witness Lee was not faithful to the vision he brought to all of us. John had seen something from the Lord, and he was faithful to the Lord...not Witness Lee. Witness Lee had changed, or maybe, Witness Lee was never faithful to his own ministry. Maybe he had the family business and his sons as priorities.

That said, you're right. John had been with Lee for at least 20+ years. I'm sure John loved Witness Lee like a brother and the personal ties they shared were very real.


Quote:
I think this goes to a matter that has been central to many discussions here: covering the brothers. The well meaning brothers trusted that by covering the situation, WL would handle it properly, and the church could go on healthily, but then he didn't, left the elders to deal with the outrage, and blackballed them when they tried to explain what had actually happened.
I don't think John "covered" the situation. He took it up the chain of command as he should. The problem was Witness Lee allowing his reprobate son to manage "the office" for LSM. (If you have a problem with a brother...go to the brother.) He gave Lee a chance to handle it properly so the church could go on. When Lee failed, and the church found out, the band-aid was ripped off and the Church in Anaheim came unglued. If I had been there, I think I would have been right there with them to excommunicate Phillip. Eventually John went on the record. This is also scriptural. Every word was established from John's position.

Quote:
I believe this clarifies what I wanted to say earlier, I don't wish to be unfairly negative or harsh. I hope this thread can be a site of discussion for anyone reading the book for the first time or returning to it.
On the "negative/harsh" scale, from 1 to 10, for this forum, you get a .5!

I remember a conversation I had with Ray Graver when I was a newbie. He asked me if "whoever" was "negative". I said "No. They weren't negative. The situation was negative." I think we can put STTIL in that category.

Thanks for the post!

Nell
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File Type: pdf LA Times LC Article 01.07.89.pdf (1.87 MB, 15 views)
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Old 11-14-2020, 09:21 AM   #5
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The News Clip ends with this paragraph:

Quote:
Both cited intense psychological pressures to conform in one's views and to perform up to expectations. Witness Lee, in a rare interview, denied the allegations: "In our church we are so free. We are free in thinking," he said then.
Apparently, WL was only referring to "freedoms" enjoyed by his own family.
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Old 11-14-2020, 05:48 PM   #6
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Hey Davis,

Welcome to the forum! Thrilled to see another church kid here. Please do post an introduction when you have time.

Nell has done a wonderful job, so I only have a very small thing to add. Regarding not being explicit concerning Philip Lee's affairs, what came to my mind there also was just the church life culture of simply not being explicit when it comes to sexually related things. It's incredibly common even for elders directly handling negative sexual situations to stay in the realm of vaguery even in their fellowship with one another. It's just the local church culture, and John may not have been comfortable breaking out of that particular mold. (Not to mention all the other very good points Nell mentioned.)

I remember after I left the LC and visited around to numerous churches, in one church the pastor referenced sex (married sex) in a very positive and appropriate way a couple times in the middle of a sermon that was not generally about that topic. I was blown out of my seat to hear anything like that "in church", being a local church church kid myself who would NEVER have heard anything like that in any meeting in the LC, but as I looked around, no one in the congregation looked uncomfortable at all. As I'm sure you are aware, there is a very specific culture in the local church when it comes to many things.

Anyway, as I said, hopefully you'll post some more when you have the chance.

Trapped

P.S. Sexual predators being covered up, and victims being blamed, still goes on in the local church, particularly when it occurs close to Anaheim. It takes a lot of uproar and chain-rattling for the brothers who cover the brothers to get off their rear ends and do anything. Although usually what they do is shuttle the offender off to another locality, not tell anyone, shun the victim who spoke up, and act like none of it occurred. Still. To this day.
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Old 11-16-2020, 06:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: Reflecting on John Ingalls' Actions

Hi Davis,

I don't mean to dogpile on you. You have raised some valid concerns which relate to a very interesting topic. There is a lot of history in Speaking The Truth In Love, by John Ingalls.



I had forgotten what an undercurrent was going on worldwide during 1987-1989. I'm only through p.39 but John has several times mentioned untruths that were being spoken and he felt he must correct the record. It appears that these untruths John spoke of were a reference to an out of print book written by Witness Lee during that time called The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion. What an awful title! It was copyrighted in 1990, as was STTIL, but "Fermentation" was written first and John was correcting the record.

So far, I find no mention of Phillip Lee's molestation of female workers in the office as a possible cause for anything that might be characterized as a "rebellion."

Of note, "Fermentation" may have been one of many "give away" books that used to be handed out free. This also might explain why it's out of print.

Here's an example of how the discourse went:

"From Fermentation, p. 51
...When Brother Eugene suggested coming together in Anaheim for fellowship, John refused, saying that they should rather go to another city where nobody knew them and check into a hotel and meet there. In other words, he wanted to keep the meetings secret. ... John had called Ray Graver to invite him to go to El Paso to have the secret meeting but Ray rejected John's proposal. Again Eugene proposed that the meeting be in Irving, Anaheim or Denver. This proposal too was rejected by John Ingalls. This shows that there was a deliberate effort to hide the matter from open fellowship."


Speaking the Truth in Love, p. 8
John: One of the brothers I sought to contact and confer with was Ray Graver, an elder in the church in Irving, Texas, and the manager of the LSM branch office there. I called him in Texas and proposed that I come to see him in Irving. It was thought, however, for us to meet in Irving would attract too much attention; so we settled on meeting midway in El Paso, Texas. This decision is being censured now as a plan for a secret meeting, as if that in itself is evil and a conspiracy. But I fail to see anything wrong with this. It was with a pure motive and desire and certainly was not a plot to draw him into a conspiracy to overthrow anyone’s ministry. Ray was quite willing to do this until Benson Phillips, another co-worker and elder in Irving, Texas, who was then in Taiwan, advised him against it. Had Benson been in Irving, I would have sought to speak with him also. I enjoyed a very good and close relationship with both Ray and Benson for many years


Nell

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Old 11-16-2020, 09:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nell View Post
My point in reminding him about his statement in that conference was this: he was true to his word. Witness Lee was not faithful to the vision he brought to all of us. John had seen something from the Lord, and he was faithful to the Lord...not Witness Lee. Witness Lee had changed, or maybe, Witness Lee was never faithful to his own ministry. Maybe he had the family business and his sons as priorities.

That said, you're right. John had been with Lee for at least 20+ years. I'm sure John loved Witness Lee like a brother and the personal ties they shared were very real.
Thanks for another thoughtful reply Nell! This is an important piece of STTIL that I hadn't mentioned so far. It wasn't simply Philip's misconduct that John was concerned about, he saw changes in the ministry and in the LR as a whole that didn't match his vision from the Lord. I have to commend him for holding to that, when like you said, Witness Lee did not.

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I don't think John "covered" the situation. He took it up the chain of command as he should. The problem was Witness Lee allowing his reprobate son to manage "the office" for LSM. (If you have a problem with a brother...go to the brother.) He gave Lee a chance to handle it properly so the church could go on. When Lee failed, and the church found out, the band-aid was ripped off and the Church in Anaheim came unglued. If I had been there, I think I would have been right there with them to excommunicate Phillip. Eventually John went on the record. This is also scriptural. Every word was established from John's position.

On the "negative/harsh" scale, from 1 to 10, for this forum, you get a .5!

I remember a conversation I had with Ray Graver when I was a newbie. He asked me if "whoever" was "negative". I said "No. They weren't negative. The situation was negative." I think we can put STTIL in that category.
I agree! The situation John was put in was very negative, so it's easy to suggest a different course of action in retrospect, not so easy to have actually done it. Even when he was a careful as he could, he was branded as being "negative"

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Old 11-16-2020, 09:56 AM   #9
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The excerpts from The Fomentation of the Present Rebellion point back to your earlier comment that John was advised to give an account, yet doing so at all was distasteful to him. Reading STTIL changes quite a bit when you remember that it was a defense against Witness Lee's account. Throughout John's testimony, it is clear that he handled matters with care and respect that were partially derived from his love for the LR and Witness Lee, yet WL and brothers loyal to him twisted his actions so they could interpret his candid dissent as rebellious and negative.
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:20 AM   #10
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Nell has done a wonderful job, so I only have a very small thing to add. Regarding not being explicit concerning Philip Lee's affairs, what came to my mind there also was just the church life culture of simply not being explicit when it comes to sexually related things. It's incredibly common even for elders directly handling negative sexual situations to stay in the realm of vaguery even in their fellowship with one another. It's just the local church culture, and John may not have been comfortable breaking out of that particular mold. (Not to mention all the other very good points Nell mentioned.)
Thanks Trapped! Yes, Nell brought up very crucial points that I overlooked. What I was trying to get at was something like what you've just written. In John Ingalls' case, I agree with Nell that it may have been best he didn't say anything explicit which could have harmed the sisters involved or opened himself up to litigation. However, I still agree with you that the culture of avoiding sexual things in the LC is detrimental. Not that the Shepherding Words site is great, but I have to say that in all my experience of the LCs, it is probably the least vague I've ever seen them be about history and "negative" speaking. Typically, everything regarding negative or worldly matters remains in the "realm of vaguery" (I really like that phrase haha)
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P.S. Sexual predators being covered up, and victims being blamed, still goes on in the local church, particularly when it occurs close to Anaheim. It takes a lot of uproar and chain-rattling for the brothers who cover the brothers to get off their rear ends and do anything. Although usually what they do is shuttle the offender off to another locality, not tell anyone, shun the victim who spoke up, and act like none of it occurred. Still. To this day.
This is really concerning. Unfortunately, sexual predation occurs in most walks of life, but being secretive and/or extremely vague about it seems to benefit no one but the predator. Of course, blaming the victim is absurd and I wish that didn't need to said anymore. I think that respect for a victim's privacy and due process for an alleged predator can coexist with transparency and honesty.

Thanks everyone for the replies.
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:51 AM   #11
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This is an important piece of STTIL that I hadn't mentioned so far. It wasn't simply Philip's misconduct that John was concerned about, he saw changes in the ministry and in the LR as a whole that didn't match his vision from the Lord. I have to commend him for holding to that, when like you said, Witness Lee did not.
Ingalls, Knoch, and Godfred put out 16 Points which delineated those deviations from the truth, and the direction which the church should take. Those Points should be in STTIL.

The saints in Anaheim responded positively to these, except for the WL adulators. These were never intended to be personal attacks, rather items of the truth, spoken in love, to reform and correct that which had deviated from the truth, the "vision." Didn't Witness Lee often tell others, "if I deviate from God's economy, do not follow me?" Immediately, however, the Blended toadies proclaimed these Points as a direct attack on WL and his ministry. "They're negative poison, don't even read them!"

I believe that these Points posted by the Anaheim elders were more dangerous to WL/LSM than the Philip Lee alleged rape allegations. John Ingalls by this time knew that these points basically were his "Recovery" suicide, yet he stood fast on his convictions. Had this been the Dark Ages, he would have been burned at the stake like William Tyndale or John Huss.
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:19 AM   #12
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The excerpts from The Fomentation of the Present Rebellion point back to your earlier comment that John was advised to give an account, yet doing so at all was distasteful to him. Reading STTIL changes quite a bit when you remember that it was a defense against Witness Lee's account. Throughout John's testimony, it is clear that he handled matters with care and respect that were partially derived from his love for the LR and Witness Lee, yet WL and brothers loyal to him twisted his actions so they could interpret his candid dissent as rebellious and negative.
Finally finding and reading JI's account STTIL in early 2006 caused me to lose all respect for WL and his cadre of Blendeds. Of particular interest to me, coming from greater Ohio, was the section itemizing some of his interactions with Titus Chu during this time period. Couple points to note here.

First, TC maintained a stellar reputation among his own loyalists that he never played politics like the Blendeds, preferred to offend man than to be a man-pleaser, and would never compromise the truth of God. He had the resolve of sharpened iron, being the son of a Nationalist General under Chiang Kai-shek. Then to my shock, I read how he flip-flopped overnight on standing with Ingalls' concerns, obviously because WL forced him to choose sides. Not choose the truth, but to choose WL.

Many Midwest brothers never knew what really happened back then until the Quarantine hit the Midwest and all these old accounts by the so-called "conspirators" were made public on these forums. TC betrayed John Ingalls, yet afterwards he would only say that, "WL is my spiritual father, and his mistakes are none of my business." Looking back, that is no different than saying, "Dad's mistakes are none of our business, even if he often beats mom."

Second, karma hit TC hard during the quarantine. The long-time leaders in Chicago (BB and JR) constantly voiced their support for TC against the Blended's many complaints. JR would proclaim, "Christians have died for the right to publish books," one of LSM's major grievances. Then BB suddenly flip-flopped his support overnight, after TC shamed him over some insignificant local matter. Once LSM had the support of greater Chicago, they quickly moved to isolate TC and expel him. TC later minimized the move saying it was merely a "business decision."
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