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If you really Nee to know Who was Watchman Nee? Discussions regarding the life and times of Watchman Nee, the Little Flock and the beginnings of the Local Church Movement in Mainland China

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Old 12-28-2012, 09:09 AM   #1
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default Nee and the Brethren - a Broken Relationship

Found this website the other day, while doing research. Very interesting, to read the letters that went back and forth between the Exclusive Brethren with whom Watchman Nee associated, and his churches in China. There was a real falling out between the two.... apparently, the Brethren felt there ought to be only one ministry, only one ground of meeting - if you will, and everyone not on that same ground was to be rejected from fellowship. That sound familiar?

There's a lot of material to excerpt here - let me give you the link. If you are so inclined, read through the correspondences sent back and forth between London and China... it will illuminate to you not only what became of the Brethren (who are now virtually 'extinct', by the way) but you will also see how history repeated itself in the Local Church of Witness Lee. Exclusivism and sectarianism seem to always be the end result of such self-exalting ministries. The result of which is that Christ is no longer the focus, the ministry is. A "religion" is built, that replaces simple and genuine child-like Faith.

Without further ado, I present for your consumption: "My Brethren" - The China Episode.

http://www.mybrethren.org/history/framchin.htm
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Nee and the Brethren - a Broken Relationship

On this forum I know Ohio and I have covered it before and Nigel Tomes wrote an article on Nee's relationship with the EB. As I understood Nee visited the saints at Honor Oak where Sparks fellowshipped and as a result became Personna Non Grata by the EB.
The EB are far from extinct. They've just divided so many times since the 1840's. The community church where I fellowship now, the pastor was raised in the EB. Around 1990 he became personna non grata. So when saints leave the EB sect, he usually sought out. In speaking with him the EB is no different from the recovery movement. It's terminology that's different. The recovery use "the local ground". The EB terminology for "the local ground" is "the one place".
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Nee and the Brethren - a Broken Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry View Post
The EB are far from extinct. They've just divided so many times since the 1840's. The community church where I fellowship now, the pastor was raised in the EB. Around 1990 he became personna non grata. So when saints leave the EB sect, he usually sought out. In speaking with him the EB is no different from the recovery movement. It's terminology that's different. The recovery use "the local ground". The EB terminology for "the local ground" is "the one place".
Interesting indeed! I had visited a Brethren forum once, and the impression I got was that there were fewer and fewer members every year for decades already.... most of the young people left when they came of age. That's why I made the comment I did, but I withdraw it then, in this case.

Regarding the similarities to Lee's Local Church, I found this article in Wikipedia about the Brethren:

Accusations (against the Exclusive Brethren)

Critics of Raven/Taylor/Hales group have accused it of using cult techniques by controlling all aspects of its members' lives.[15] The group's influence over its members is such that many who have left the group have had trouble adjusting to life outside. To help with this problem, several websites have been set up to assist people that have left the church to adjust back into mainstream society.[16][17]
Among the various criticisms raised against the church are:
  • Members who leave or who are expelled from the group have often been treated with what outsiders may regard as great cruelty.[18]
  • Leavers are shunned by members of the group because leavers are seen as having chosen the world and the devil against God, and because they could bring members into contact with the sinful world.[18] The Brethren have been accused of using their considerable wealth and power to punish members who have decided to leave the church and to have allegedly actively used their influence to split families up in order to protect the organization's interests.[19]
  • For the most part, members who have left the Raven/Taylor/Hales group are completely ostracised. Members are not permitted to live with those who have left and this causes families to break up; remaining members do not speak, eat or otherwise socialize with those who have left the group's membership. To leave the group, either voluntarily or to be excommunicated, means to be asked to leave one's home, and the subsequent breaking of all normal family relationships with those who remain within the group.[18]
  • Since virtually all of the Raven/Taylor/Hales members work in other members' companies, to leave the group means also that they have to give up their jobs, in addition to their family and their home.[18]
  • Accusations by former teachers in Raven/Taylor/Hales group schools that the group "brainwashes" children[15] in order to control everything that children do in life; a former teacher was quoted as saying "the children are told what jobs they will do and who they will marry. They were not being equipped to live in the outside world".[15]
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, said in 2007: "I believe this is an extremist cult and sect,"[20] and "They split families and I am deeply concerned about their impact on communities across Australia.".[21]

******************
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:20 PM   #4
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Let me excerpt a letter here (from the My Brethren website) to Angus Kinnear: Note both the date of the writing, (1973 - and in reference to goings on in China long predating that), and the details.... I've editted this letter to include my own side notes in [umber].

***********************

December 15, 1973

Dr. Angus I. Kinnear,


Dear brother in Christ,
Having just read your recent book 'Against the Tide – The Story of Watchman Nee', I am writing to let you know that I found it most interesting and informative.
  • What little I previously knew about Mr. Nee and the so-called 'Little Flock' Christians had come from from Mr. A. J. Gardiner's 'The Recovery and Maintenance of the Truth' and the 'Letters of James Taylor'.
  • As you may have suspected, until 1971 I was connected with those you call the 'London' group.
  • I was interested to read the other side of the story and also to learn of the background of Mr. Nee.
I am thankful to have had my eyes opened at last to see the unscriptural, and finally unchristian, character of what had developed among the 'London' group.
  • In the goodness of God my wife and I were delivered from that system.
It is remarkable that many of the aberrations of the 'Little Flock' had their parallel among the 'London' group,

(References are to your page numbers):
  1. 119, last paragraph. The exaltation of the meeting in a particular locality – JT called this 'metropolitanism' (Anaheim, in the LC's case)– and of one man "our Brother" ('Brother' Lee, in the LC's case) – exactly the same expression was used – and "new teaching" ("New Way", in the LC's case).
  2. 126-9. Involvement of the Lord's servants in commercialism (Fosforus, or DayStar, or LSM the 'One publisher', in the LC's case)
  3. 131-3. Organization of meetings and strict control of personnel including attendance and investigation of personal affairs, dissemination of uniform teaching etc. Emphasis on authority. (One way of meeting, one publication, trainings conducted by trainers from the centre on Ball Road, in the LC's case).
  4. 136-8. Breaking up of large numbers in certain localities by sending persons to establish new meetings. This happened especially in Australia in the late 1960's. (the migrations, orchestrated by Lee, in the LC's case)
  5. 138-9. "An order of seniority, expressed by a row of chairs" with a "Number One seat" – exactly the same practice. (Full-Time brothers front and centre please, in the LC's case)
  6. 138. Personal control of ownership of meeting rooms by leaders or their appointees. (Ownership of meeting halls even contested in court, in the LC's case)
I have only briefly touched on the similarities which in many instances are striking, even identical. I read some of the passages to my wife who immediately connected them with practices among the 'London' group.

In the Lord Jesus, Gordon.

****************

So in case anyone missed it, the "aberrations" we see in the Local Churches are "nothing new under the sun" - the exact same aberrations developed in Nee's Little Flock, and before that in the Exclusive Brethren from which they (and later we) emerged.

That's a pattern that HAS GOT to tell you something. If the "recipe" you're using produces a foul or even poisonous loaf, no matter who the baker is, then after three tries don't you realize it's not the baker but the recipe that's wrong?
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:14 PM   #5
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....And here's Angus Kinnear's response to Gordon Rainbow's letter...

***************

February 6, 1974

Mr. Gordon A. Rainbow,


I write to thank you for your kind letter of appreciation of the Watchman Nee Story, 'Against the Tide'.

I am most interested in what you write of the parallels between the later practice in China and the Brethren practices.
  • I myself had observed a little of this, but you make the point much clearer.
  • What is disturbing is the fact that these methods are being applied in a strongly authoritarian way by Witness Lee in the expansion of the 'Little Flock' work in the West and this is already producing a great deal of sorrow.
  • I feel it is most valuable if any who understand this would share in prayer for the brothers involved, that we may not have a repetition of the same in fresh terms.
  • I have, as you will have gathered, great confidence that God is in control of the Church within China, and believe that Nee was perhaps a prophet for this day in his own country.
  • I have however grave doubts about the wisdom of carrying across to the West, with its so different history, the methods designed by God for this day in China.
  • Perhaps I am wrong, but I fear mere imitation. God will, I trust, work afresh in our countries through His Spirit with means of His own choosing.
I much appreciate your expression of fellowship in Christ at this time and thank you for writing so fully and so interestingly.
Yours in His eternal bonds, Angus Kinnear.

***************

Angus Kinnear had Neal Duddy beat by four years.... he expressed his misgivings about Lee's work in America already back in 1974, and remarked that it was "already producing a great deal of sorrow". Either Angus was a prophet, or he knew a lot more than most folks about what Lee was up to and who was getting hurt by him already back then.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Nee and the Brethren - a Broken Relationship

Has anyone else checked out the ex-EB members forum? http://peebs.net/ chilling stuff!
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Nee and the Brethren - a Broken Relationship

Quote:
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Has anyone else checked out the ex-EB members forum? http://peebs.net/ chilling stuff!
Thanks for the post. I believe this has been discussed before, but thanks for reminding us. The parallels between the two movements are striking and chilling.

Ohio is our resident Brethren expert. He has done a lot of research and has sadly noted that the LC is making the same mistakes the EB made.
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