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Old 12-11-2018, 02:10 PM   #1
aron
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Default Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

A PUBLIC STATEMENT
made on May 19, 1963

As we realized the need of a proper expression of the Body of Christ, we started to meet together to fulfill this purpose in the Spring of 1962. For an enlarged realization of our vision of the oneness of Christ’s Body, more of us came to meet together on the Church ground in Los Angeles in the beginning of March, 1963. We do not intend to be any kind of new “movement,” but to practice the unity of the Spirit, a unity with variety, and the variety versus uniformity, in the way of a local church.

We are not centered around certain truths, but make Christ, the all-inclusive Head, Himself to be life and everything to us. We are willing and ready to take in all the good, sound, scriptural, and spiritual things which the Lord has given through all generations and is still giving today to His Body through whatever channel of different types of His saints; but we would not practice them in the improper way taken by certain groups, nor would we identify ourselves with any denomination, sect, or any sort of Christian movement. We are not exclusive. We receive all of God’s children as fellow-members of Christ’s Body, regardless of their Christian background; however, we have no organizational connections with any of their particular associations, works, activities, etc.

May the Lord’s way be prosperous among His people in His increase that His testimony through the local expressions of His Church may be established and strengthened throughout the whole world in these last days to the full extent of His recovery in the building up of His Body to the measure of the stature of His fullness by more and more brothers and sisters being brought into the stream of His life in the fellowship of the Spirit while He is moving on toward His coming back by having a remnant as a response to His call for the fulfilling of God’s eternal purpose.

The Responsible Brothers of the Church in Los Angeles,
Jim Reetzke, John Ingalls, Samuel Chang (brother-in-law of W. Nee)
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Old 12-11-2018, 02:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

Quote:
We do not intend to be any kind of new "movement,” but to practice the unity of the Spirit, a unity with variety, and the variety versus uniformity, in the way of a local church.
The Early Lee would put up with variety, not because he was magnanimous, or long-suffering, but because his position was weak. Had he imposed uniformity, he would have lost out. But over time the inexorable trend was toward uniformity and conformity. Uniformity both reflected his growing power, and consolidated it.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
The Early Lee would put up with variety, not because he was magnanimous, or long-suffering, but because his position was weak. Had he imposed uniformity, he would have lost out. But over time the inexorable trend was toward uniformity and conformity. Uniformity both reflected his growing power, and consolidated it.
"Early-Lee" and "Early-Nee" were much closer to the original Brethren ideals spear-headed by Groves, Muller, Chapman, and recorded by Lang in his landmark book, Churches of God.

"Later-Lee" and "Later-Nee" were much closer to the Exclusive Brethren, like Darby, Wigram, etc., who altered their ways during their first ugly division.

Early-Lee also permitted multiple publications, which were much blessed by the Lord, as the many gifts to the body of Christ were operating according to their measure of life. Later-Lee, however, became paranoid over this, seeing various publications as a loss of power and control over the LC's.
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Old 12-15-2018, 01:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

The problem with the "Early Lee" - "Later Lee" proposition is that we now know for a fact that the Witness Lee of the 50's through mid-60's in Taiwan was very much like the "Later Lee" of 1970s-1990's in LA/Anaheim.

For example, the "early" Witness Lee of Taiwan was hiring and firing elders/co-workers at his personal whim, usually based upon the particular brother's personal loyalty to Lee himself. Elders/co-workers were rarely (if ever) dismissed/fired because of any biblically based disqualification. If they did not display absolute loyalty to the person and work of Witness, they became expendable, and a convenient excuse was quickly conjured up (usually some bogus thing such as being "old" or "out of the flow") No explanation would ever be giving to the rank-and-file members. The guy just simply disappeared out of leadership.

The "early" Witness Lee of Taiwan was also constantly defrauding the Local Church members out of their hard-earned money with various business schemes, including one which involved the forced sell of some valuable land set apart for the building of a new meeting hall/training center. Apparently Lee thought little of committing criminal acts, including hiding a gold bar on his person so as to avoid customs. Witness Lee's sordid activities actually cost him an entire church - The Church in Manila Philippines got so disillusioned and disgusted with The One Minister with The One Ministry for The Age that they totally disassociated with Lee and his ministry. We now know there were many divisions, contentious splits and so-called "rebellions" in the Church in Taipei, and to a number of other churches in Taiwan. All of this, and more, happened during the so-called "early Lee" era.

So what then are we to think about the "glorious" days of Elden Hall? Had Witness Lee actually repented, made restitution and turned over a new leaf? Or did he have to simply swallow his enormous pride for a number of years until until he had amassed enough power and leverage to turn back into the "early Lee". I think there is lot's of evidence to suggest it was the latter. Was all the blessings and unity of the early days just an illusion? No, all the blessing and unity was from God himself, and probably in spite of Witness Lee, not because of Witness Lee. To be honest and frank, I believe to credit Witness Lee for the blessings of the Elden Hall/early Local Church days is to steal the glory which belongs to God himself. "My glory I give to no other" declares the Lord in Isaiah 42:8.

If Witness Lee is due honor, praise and reward it should come from God himself. Lee is now gone. There will be a day when the righteous Judge will do the ultimate assessment and judging of every man and every work of man. "The Day will make it known". All the works of man, including any and all so called "ministries" will be tested and tried in the crucible of the holy fire on The Day. Everything not of God will be consumed by the unrestricted flames, and the only things left will be what was wholly ordained by God. For many of us, our works will be consumed and we will be left naked to stand before God, with only the grace, mercy and love of Jesus Christ the Righteous as our defense. May God have mercy.

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Old 12-15-2018, 06:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
The problem with the "Early Lee" - "Later Lee" proposition is that we now know for a fact that the Witness Lee of the 50's through mid-60's in Taiwan was very much like the "Later Lee" of 1970s-1990's in LA/Anaheim.
My "Early Lee" - "Later Lee" paradigm has been very helpful to current and former members of the LC in the US as a way to understand conflicts and changes. It was John Ingalls, John So, Bill Mallon, and others who finally concluded in the mid 80's that "the nature of the Recovery had changed." For that, they were smeared, beat up, and expelled.

These brothers had been with Lee since the early days in the US, and knew what he preached then was different. Whether Witness Lee was hiding his "true colors" then, or had passed thru a time of serious repentance to have a fresh start in the US, as some have claimed, is another matter.

UntoHim, what you are saying is like the man who has gone thru a few marriages. His last wife believes that he started out all kind and nice, only to watch him slowly become abusive over time, thinking somehow he had changed for the worse. Then she meets his former wives . . .
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Old 12-16-2018, 09:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

Quote:
Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
The problem with the "Early Lee" - "Later Lee" proposition is that we now know for a fact that the Witness Lee of the 50's through mid-60's in Taiwan was very much like the "Later Lee" of 1970s-1990's in LA/Anaheim.
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Methinks prolly Early Lee was a Nee wannabe. And Later Lee appeared after Nee was gone. And Later Lee, after learning how it was done in Shanghai, brought it to the USA, knowing full well what he was doing.

As a result, Later Lee wasn't following the Lord, but was following the pattern from Shanghai ... a Chinese cultic system.
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Old 12-16-2018, 12:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
It was John Ingalls, John So, Bill Mallon, and others who finally concluded in the mid 80's that "the nature of the Recovery had changed." For that, they were smeared, beat up, and expelled.
Actually for "the nature of the Recovery" to change the nature of Witness Lee would have had to change. And this is my contention - Witness Lee had not really changed at all, he just had to keep his real intentions and motivation under raps...until he had amassed enough power and leverage to put his ultimate game plan into place. Thanks to the Internet, we now know that even while "our dear Brother Lee" was giving all those wonderful and spiritual messages to us Americans in the early years, all the while he was still wielding an iron fist, micromanaging and controlling the local churches in Taiwan and other places. It would not be long before the early Lee of Asia would catch up to the early Lee of America.
Quote:
These brothers had been with Lee since the early days in the US, and knew what he preached then was different.
Actually the teaching/preaching of the early days was not different, it was just incomplete. Witness Lee had no need to declare himself as the One Oracle - The only person speaking as God's Oracle on earth. It was only when his absolute authority was questioned (and for good reason) that the "real Lee" come out. The brothers and sisters in Asia had already known for many years about this Lee, but due to cultural and language differences, the LC members/leaders in the know would not warn the gullible Americans about the REAL "Recovery" Lee was bringing to our fair land. By the time some of these Taiwanese brothers decided to give the whole story about the early Lee in Taiwan/Asia, it was far, far too late.

Quote:
Whether Witness Lee was hiding his "true colors" then, or had passed thru a time of serious repentance to have a fresh start in the US, as some have claimed, is another matter.
Only God can see the heart...as mortal men we can only know if someone has really and truly repented by seeing their actions, and to a lesser extent by their words. If Witness had truly repented from his sordid offences towards so many of his followers and co-workers in Taiwan/Asia, I think we would have seen him demonstrate his repentance by making restitution. Instead of making restitution Lee fled to America, and left the remaining elders/co-workers (the ones he hadn't fired or who had not left the LC) to pick up the pieces.

Quote:
UntoHim, what you are saying is like the man who has gone thru a few marriages. His last wife believes that he started out all kind and nice, only to watch him slowly become abusive over time, thinking somehow he had changed for the worse. Then she meets his former wives..
Interesting analogy! Of course the big difference would be that the husband probably didn't tell the wives that if they left him they would have to spend a thousand years in purgatory, where they would be gnashing their teeth in outer darkness....or at least until they admitted that their husband was the One Husband with the One Marriage of the Age.
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Old 12-16-2018, 11:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

One way or the other what Witness Lee and the blendeds did was perfectly described by Lee in late 1963 as what talented ministers and their ministries should not do to the local churches. Just read Section 3 of Chapter 12 of “The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life” on LSM’s On-line Publications. I think Steve Isitt and others have pointed this out a number of times.

It is a very sad story, and very prophetic it turns out.
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:02 AM   #9
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Default Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
Only God can see the heart...as mortal men we can only know if someone has really and truly repented by seeing their actions, and to a lesser extent by their words. If Witness had truly repented from his sordid offenses towards so many of his followers and co-workers in Taiwan/Asia, I think we would have seen him demonstrate his repentance by making restitution. Instead of making restitution Lee fled to America, and left the remaining elders/co-workers (the ones he hadn't fired or who had not left the LC) to pick up the pieces.
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This is also a troubling point to me.

After the Daystar Motor Home fiasco, LSM went on to become quite wealthy, charging for his messages. Yet Lee never felt compelled to pay off past debts, besides those who threatened him. This bothered me. Lee also publicly stated that all Daystar debts were paid. Brothers told me this. But we know from numerous sources that this was not true.

The same thing happened in Taipei. Lee forced the church to sell property to pay off his bad business debt. The saints were furious about this. As a result Lee came to the US to start anew. But he told everyone that the Lord sent him here.
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Old 12-17-2018, 07:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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Originally Posted by JJ View Post
One way or the other what Witness Lee and the blendeds did was perfectly described by Lee in late 1963 as what talented ministers and their ministries should not do to the local churches. Just read Section 3 of Chapter 12 of “The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life” on LSM’s On-line Publications. I think Steve Isitt and others have pointed this out a number of times.

It is a very sad story, and very prophetic it turns out.
JJ, here is the section you referenced . . .

Quote:
THE FACTORS OF DIVISION

Divisions come into existence due to two factors. One factor is related to the Lord’s servants. There is no doubt that the ministers, the servants, of the Lord work for the Lord by trying their best to help people through preaching and teaching. But eventually, nearly all the servants of the Lord keep the results of their work in their hands. A servant of the Lord may be called by God and sent by the Lord with a real ministry and a real commission. Then he goes out to work for the Lord. He works hard and effectively to help people, and he eventually gains some real results. But the problem or the danger here is that this very servant of the Lord may keep the results of his work in his own hands to form something as a support to his work. If this happens, a division is created.


Let us illustrate in this way: Here is the apostle Paul, who is sent by the Lord with a real commission. He comes to Los Angeles and works very hard with much effectiveness. As a result, a great number of people are saved through him. So his work issues in a great result, and he keeps the result of his work in his hands for his ministry. Then after three years, Apollos comes. He is also sent by the Lord with a real commission. He works hard and effectively, and a great number of people are saved through him. Like Paul, he keeps his work in his hands and forms something in Los Angeles other than what Paul has formed. So now in Los Angeles there is something of the apostle Paul, and there is something else of the Lord’s servant Apollos. After another two years Peter comes, and he does the same thing as Paul and Apollos. So now in Los Angeles there are three groups of Christians. You should not call them churches. The best you can say is that they are three groups. No matter what you call them, whether denominations, missions, sects, congregations, assemblies, or “churches,” they are divisions, and even if you call them nothing, they are still divisions.

Here the servants of the Lord have to learn the lesson from history. None of us should keep the work in our hands. We have to work for the Lord, for His church, and for the saints. The result, the issue, of the work must go to the saints. Nothing should be kept in the hands of any of the Lord’s servants. Paul did go to Corinth and worked there effectively. Although many were saved through him, he did not set up his own group. He worked for the local church which was in Corinth. Apollos and Peter also did the same thing. There were not three “churches” in Corinth, one of Paul, another of Apollos, and still another of Peter. There was only one church in Corinth.

However, although Paul, Apollos, and Peter did not do this kind of divisive work, the pitiful Corinthian believers did something to separate themselves from one another (1 Cor. 1:12-13). Some would say, “I appreciate Paul. Paul is wonderful. I am of Paul.” Others would say, “I appreciate Apollos. He is an eloquent man and is powerful in the Scriptures. I am of Apollos.” And still others would say, “Peter is the greatest one. I am of Peter.” Eventually, some would say, “You are all wrong. We do not belong to anyone. We belong to Christ alone, so I am of Christ.” So there were four groups in Corinth, and they were condemned by the apostle for being carnal, fleshly (3:3-4). Look at today’s Christianity, and you will see that the same situation exists there.

We must realize that the local churches do not belong to the apostles or the workers. As the churches of God (1:2), the local churches belong to God; as the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16b), they belong to Christ; and as the churches of the saints (1 Cor. 14:33b), they belong to the saints. The churches must not belong to any of the workers. The churches are neither for the workers, the ministers, nor for the work, the ministry. Rather, the workers or ministers and their works or ministries must be for the churches. If I come here to carry out a work, and I keep the results of my work in my hands, this is absolutely wrong. After much laboring, the apostle Paul had nothing in his hands. Everything was left in the hands of the local church.

You have to realize that as long as you keep the results of your work in your hands, you have a sect, a division, in your hands. You have to keep your hands off the results of your work and leave the results to the local saints. Let us follow the footsteps of the apostle Paul. Many churches were established through him, yet in the end he kept nothing in his hands. So Paul did not create any division.
Every old-timer in the LC can recite these teachings, yet as always, they believe everyone else has the problem, but not them.
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:35 AM   #11
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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Actually for "the nature of the Recovery" to change the nature of Witness Lee would have had to change. And this is my contention - Witness Lee had not really changed at all, he just had to keep his real intentions and motivation under raps...until he had amassed enough power and leverage to put his ultimate game plan into place.
When all the Anaheim elders resigned, Witness Lee characterized it as, "People change", implying that they'd somehow "lost the vision" or deviated from the straight path of "recovery". In actuality they got close enough for long enough to see that behind the veil of spirituality and mysticism it was just fallen humans trying to meet their needs just like every other sinner.

UntoHim is right, that when Lee came to USA he was 60 years old with an established record that repeated when opportunity presented itself. The history went back past Taiwan and Philippines financial scandals, even to mainland China, with railroading the SCA elders to restore Watchman Nee; the behavior pattern was there, waiting to be picked up again.

But he wasn't a Machiavellian schemer trying to usurp God's headship more than anyone else; we're all fallen sinners (yes we're redeemed and reborn but we still make mistakes, i.e. sin). In Lee's case, he couldn't do anything but what he did: when a young church member got an inheritance and laid it at his feet, Daystar Motor Home Corporation was born and Timothy Lee got his cut. Or when Philip Lee became "The Office" at LSM. No different than Hank Hanegraaf with his-and-hers Lexus', or Joyce Meyer with his-and-hers Gulfstream jets. Dong Yu Lan got "Estancia Arvore Da Vida" for his family to run. And so on.

For them it's business as usual - it's their 1 Timothy 3:15: "if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household"; it's their 1 Cor 14:40: "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." In Lee's case, "good order in the church" and "how to conduct oneself" was understood via a guanxi network, with immediate family at the core, and social/religious life at the periphery. Even the NT couldn't penetrate and subsume Lee's native culture. Rather, his culture swallowed the NT.

And in Lee's cultural concept, there must be one untouchable Big Boss in every group, and if we didn't get that it was him, we were "rebellious" and "dark" and so forth; we didn't have the "vision". He believed the group identity cohered around such leadership; he really believed that he was God's Chosen Man of the Hour. That's how he could praise God in one moment and cover the sins of his children the next. God had chosen him, and that was it. To him, that was the "normal Christian church life". He was programmed to think this way.

And while Lee's Chinese culture wasn't inferior to any other, it's still "the way of the gentiles", which the gospels condemned. For a while, all the naďve American Jesus people were streaming to California and Lee could pretend to be something else. He had no power, and he didn't need to exercise his few options. But eventually the time and opportunity came, and "early Lee" was unveiled for all to see. And the Anaheim elders quit in disgust. But Lee said, "Sail on. Sail on."
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Old 12-17-2018, 08:48 AM   #12
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Default Re: Early Lee: The church in Los Angeles 1963

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This is also a troubling point to me.

After the Daystar Motor Home fiasco, LSM went on to become quite wealthy, charging for his messages. Yet Lee never felt compelled to pay off past debts, besides those who threatened him. This bothered me. Lee also publicly stated that all Daystar debts were paid. Brothers told me this. But we know from numerous sources that this was not true.

The same thing happened in Taipei. Lee forced the church to sell property to pay off his bad business debt. The saints were furious about this. As a result Lee came to the US to start anew. But he told everyone that the Lord sent him here.

When taken together along with the lie he perpetrated about Nee's discipline, as well as numerous leaders who were maligned and slandered by him I don't think we can support some kind of life changing event separating "early Lee" from "later Lee". Rather I think a "bait and switch" is far more believable based on the evidence.
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:12 PM   #13
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Hear! Hear! :

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I think a "bait and switch" is far more believable based on the evidence.
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