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Old 10-27-2011, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Regarding the Ground of Locality (3) The Teaching

23 August 2011

The previous notes I’ve sent on the ground of oneness in locality have both dealt with the need to keep this teaching in a proper perspective. I would now like to consider the teaching itself.

As I mentioned in the first note, we must be clear that the oneness of the Body of Christ does not come from the ground of locality. Rather, the opposite is true; the ground of oneness in locality comes from the oneness of the Body of Christ, and this oneness, in turn, comes from the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself, and with one another as those who are in the Father and in the Son:
And I do not ask concerning these only, but concerning those also who believe into Me through their word, that they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.— John 17:20-21

Here, just before He was betrayed, the Lord prayed for all of His believers to be one, so that “the world may know” that He was sent by the Father. Clearly, He was praying for a visible, practical oneness, not merely for the mystical oneness that would be accomplished through His death and resurrection. Moreover, He did not pray simply that they would be “one,” but that His believers would be one in the Triune God. That is, it is not sufficient for the saints to be organized into a man-made oneness, such as we see in the Roman Church or in the various sects and denominations; rather, the oneness the Lord prayed for must be the visible expression of the believers’ oneness in the Triune God.

This prayer of the Lord shows us, therefore, that wherever the believers live on the earth, they should come together to manifest their oneness in the Triune God, and this is in fact what we see all throughout the New Testament. To be specific, the New Testament shows us that this marvelous oneness of the believers in Christ is to be manifested in three different stages.

The initial stage of the oneness was at the beginning of the church age, from the day of Pentecost to the martyrdom of Stephen. At that time the principle for keeping the oneness of the Body of Christ was, very simply, the principle of Jerusalem. That is, to keep the oneness you needed to be physically present in the city of Jerusalem. If you were a believer who left Jerusalem to go to another city you would have been automatically divided from the Body of Christ, in a practical sense, because at that time there was in practical existence only one church, which was “the church” (Acts 5:11). Even though there were apparently believers besides those in Jerusalem (cf. 1 Cor. 15:6), the Holy Spirit gives us no record in the book of Acts of any churches or believers in any other place at this time, or of the Lord’s work in any other area. Rather, as the Bible tells us, “All those who believed were together” (Acts 2:44; cf. 4:12).

In fact, that church was, in a way no church today can be, a miniature, a picture, of the ultimate oneness we will all enjoy eternally in the New Jerusalem. (This is one reason why the “powers of the coming age,” Heb. 6:5, were more manifest in Jerusalem than in any other period in the history of the church.) That is, it did not merely represent the universal church; rather, in a sense it was the universal church, since it was the unique church on the earth at that time and comprised almost all of those who had believed in the Lord up to that time.

Just as all the believers in the early days were together in the city of Jerusalem, so we will all be together in the New Jerusalem, which will be the third and ultimate stage of the oneness of the believers. The book of Revelation begins with seven churches in seven cities (Rev. 1:11), but at the end there are no more local churches; all have disappeared, so that the believers can be gathered together again in the one unique, holy city, the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21-22). At that time there will no separation at all among us, even that of time or distance; what joy will be ours in that day, never to part again!

This, our all being together in one place, as seen in both the beginning and ultimate stages of the New Testament oneness, is the normal expression of the oneness. However, while we should appreciate the experience of the early saints in Jerusalem for giving us a small picture of what that eternal oneness will be like, we should also realize that this is not the form of oneness we are meant to have now. This is because the Lord’s desire for us today is not that we would all be in one place, but that through us His gospel and His kingdom would spread throughout the whole earth (Matt 28: 18b-20; Acts 1:8). Therefore in the present age this form of the oneness, as wonderful as it was, could only last for a brief time.

The principle for gathering we are to keep today is first given to us in Acts 8:1, which is a crucial verse in the New Testament:
And there occurred in that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

It is this verse which speaks of the end of the oneness based on Jerusalem, for under the Lord’s sovereignty “all were scattered” from that city due to the persecution that broke out after the martyrdom of Stephen; from this point on it would never again be the case, in this age, that all of the believers would be in the same place. However, in this very same verse we see a new principle for the keeping of the oneness, because it is this verse which first speaks of a local church, “the church which was in Jerusalem.” This gathering could no longer be referred to simply as “the church,” in the sense of being the universal church, for now in addition to the church in Jerusalem the believers were to be gathered together in other churches in other cities as well (Acts 13:1, etc.).

So in this verse we see that, as soon as the Bible sets aside the principle of Jerusalem, it brings in the principle of the ground of oneness in locality, namely, that all of the believers who live in a given place must come together as the church in that place. For example, in the New Testament we see that all the believers in Corinth came together as the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1). Today, wherever we live, we should simply come together with the other believers as the church in that place.

Therefore, though today the believers are no longer all in one place, we can still keep the oneness of the Body of Christ with all the members of the Body, by keeping the principle of oneness in locality. Indeed, in doing so we connect ourselves with the oneness of the early saints in Jerusalem, and also with the oneness we will all experience eternally in the New Jerusalem. This is the second stage of the believers’ oneness in the New Testament, and it is the stage that we are still in today.

This principle for keeping the oneness, the principle of oneness in locality, is followed consistently throughout the rest of the New Testament, right up until the end of this age. We know that the apostle Paul clearly followed it (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2, 22; Rom 16:1, 23); Luke also affirms it in his divine history of the early church (Acts 8:1, 13:1). The apostle John, in recording his vision in Revelation 1-3 of the Lord, of the golden lampstands, and of the local churches, as well as the Lord Jesus Himself in His speaking to John, are at least as strong as the apostle Paul in affirming the ground of oneness in locality, simply stating that a given local church equals the city it is in (Rev. 1:11; cf. 2:1,etc.).

There is absolutely no exception to this pattern in the New Testament. As Watchman Nee states in his “Introduction” to The Normal Christian Church Life, “In the divine pattern, nothing is left for man to decide.” To the contrary, when some believers in one locality even began to consider themselves as belonging to a particular group of believers that was distinct from the other saints in that locality, the apostle strongly and immediately rebuked them as being “fleshy, infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

Yet, some who would deny this teaching never tire of pointing out that it is not presented as a prescriptive teaching in the New Testament, but rather is only taught by way of example. I would reply, first of all, that this gives no basis to deny the teaching, because God often teaches us, in the Bible and otherwise, by way of example. Yet, it is indeed quite important that the teaching concerning the proper way to meet is given by example, not by precept, and we need to consider why this is. I believe there are mainly two reasons.

First, for those who do not accept this teaching, they are free to go their own way concerning the matter of church fellowship. To take the way of the church, the way the Lord has ordained, is by no means easy, and the Lord does not force his believers to do so, since there is no direct statement in the New Testament saying, “You must meet together with all of the Christians in your locality.”

Yet we must be clear that, if we do choose to go our own way in this matter, we will pay a great price in terms of our following the Lord, our fellowship with Him, and our service unto Him. To have the church is the desire of God’s heart; it is His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:8-11), and it is what Christ gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). Thus, if we forsake the church to take the way of the sects, our ability to touch what is on the Lord’s heart will, of necessity, be severely limited.

In his “Introduction” to The Normal Christian Church Life, Watchman Nee refers to the example of the Lord’s word concerning divorce in Matthew 19:8; yes, Moses allowed it, but only because of “the hardness of your heart…from the beginning it was not so.” As Brother Nee goes on to say “God’s will had never altered.” We may add that, the Lord today has, so to speak, given so many of His dear believers a “certificate of divorce,” allowing them to go their own way concerning the matter of church fellowship. We should realize, however, that this is not at all His desire; Rather, God has given them such permission only because of their “hardness of heart….from the beginning it was not so.”

In contrast, 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; shouldn’t this pattern be enough for us? I’ve been struck lately by the Lord’s word on the night He was betrayed:
He who has My commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves Me. — John 14:21a

It is not a small thing to receive a commandment from the Lord, because He will not give His commands to those who do not love Him. As Darby states in his Synopsys concerning this verse, “He who is mindful of the Lord’s will possesses it, and observes it.” Very simply, the reason why so many believers are short of the Lord’s commands, and in particular why so many have no interest in taking the way of the church, is that they don’t love the Lord that much, and so they don’t have the heart to receive His teaching; the way of the church really is only for those who are seriously committed to following the Lord. For this same reason I have never thought it was a small thing for anyone to have some clarity concerning the ground of locality; it should indicate that they have at least some heart for the Lord and His desire.

Many desire to follow the Lord, but do not have His commands, and leave His way by inventing their own commands. If this is our case, if we realize we are short of the Lord’s commands—His speaking to us and His leading in our lives—it should drive us to stop ourselves and spend time before Him until, in His presence, we do become clear.

The second reason the ground of locality is taught by example and not by precept in the New Testament is to help us realize that we should not try to impose it on others. It shows us that if we are concerned—as we certainly should be concerned—for our brothers ands sisters to be brought into the genuine oneness of the Body of Christ, and to meet on the proper ground, they must see our example of it, just as we have seen the example in the New Testament. In today’s tragically confused situation among the Lord’s children, it is necessary to teach concerning the proper ground, and to defend it when it is attacked, but the primary witness must be in our own living and fellowship; in the absence of such a witness all of our teaching will be in vain.

Now I would like to respond to two different claims that have been made, each of which seeks to show that there is a basis in the New Testament for meeting today on something other than the ground of oneness in locality. The first such claim refers very specifically to Acts 9:31:
So then the church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.

The claim regarding this verse is that it refers to one church that was composed of believers in a number of cities, and thus provides a basis for having a such a church today, i.e., a single church comprised of believers in multiple cities. However, this statement is properly understood simply as a collective reference to all the believers in that area; there’s no indication that it’s speaking of a particular church administration. (In fact, it’s really just saying that the church as the entire Body of Christ on the earth was located mainly in that area at that time.)

If this verse does indicate, indirectly, that the church in Jerusalem was extending its authority to these other areas, the significance of this is not at all positive, and certainly not a pattern for us (which is why the Holy Spirit leaves the reference so indirect, rather than referring to a definite church administration; it would not recognize such an extralocal church authority.) We know that historically, the early church very quickly degraded from the Lord’s arrangement into a system of hierarchy, and in part this involved the churches in the larger cities, such as Rome, coming to dominate, and eventually assimilate, those in smaller ones, so as to expand and enlarge the central authority. It may be that by referring to “the church” in Judea, etc., rather than to “the churches,” the Holy Spirit is indicating that this process was already taking place in Jerusalem.

Certainly from this point on the book of Acts shows us that the church in Jerusalem was on a path of steep spiritual decline; whereas in the first few chapters we see a marvelous testimony to Christ carried out by the church in Jerusalem, towards the end of this history we see a church that was dominated by a single brother, James, and which was assuming a commitment to uphold the law of Moses, rather than the testimony of Christ (cf. Acts 21:19-25). So, if this verse does refer indirectly to a church whose administration extended beyond the borders of a locality, it is only to warn against such a practice.

As for actual churches in the New Testament that may not have met on the ground of locality, the only real possibility are the references to churches that met in the believers’ homes (Rom. 16:3-5; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col 4:15-16; Philemon 2). However, when we look at each of these cases closely, we see that there is never any reference at all to there being more than one of these supposed “house churches” in the same locality, so they clearly provide no basis for saying there can be more than one church in a city.

We also realize that in each case, these gatherings were fully in fellowship both with all of the saints locally and, through the apostle, with the other churches universally. Finally, there is never really even any indication that any of these gatherings were different from the church in their city as a whole; rather, in each case it was a matter of a home being used as the base for the one unique church in that city, as we shall in a moment.

First, however, I want to note that even if we say that 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 very close and practical fellowship with all the other believers in their city, as well as with the Lord’s servants. Does such an example in any way justify the situation in Christianity today, with its endless sects, divisions, and separations among the believers? Clearly, it does not.

Now to consider the examples of the churches in the saints’ homes. Romans 16:23 speaks of Gaius as being host of “the whole church.” It seems clear that at the time he wrote Romans, Paul was in Corinth, based on his earlier reference to the collection that had been made in Macedonia and Achaia for the saints in Jerusalem (15:26), of which he spoke at length to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9). In addition, he also mentions a Gaius in his epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:14). Of course, the New Testament makes it very clear that there was only one church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1). So, what we have here is a clear example of a brother who opened his home to host “the whole church,” as it says, in his city.

First Corinthians 16:19 speaks of the church in the home of Aquilla and Priscilla. This epistle was written from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8). Again, the New Testament shows us very clearly that there was only one church in Ephesus (Rev. 1:11, 2:1-7), so what we see here is another example of a couple having the church in their home.

Colossians 4:15 speaks of the church in the home of Nymphas in Laodicea, but the verynext verse speaks of the local church in Laodicea, which shows us that Nymphas was the host of the local church in Laodicea. Of course, Revelation 1:11 and 3:14-22 also make it clear that there was only one church in Laodicea.

Philemon 2 speaks of the church which was in the home of Philemon. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul makes it clear that Philemon lived in Colossae, and was very much involved in the church life there, because he mentions both Philemon’s slave, Onesimus (Phlm. 10-16; Col. 4:9), and his son, Archippus (Phlm. 2; Col. 4:17), in a way that makes it clear that both were quite active in the church life in Colossae. The New Testament never specifically refers to “the church in Colossae” (the epistle was addressed to “the saints in Colossae”; 1:2), but clearly this case provides no basis for saying that the church in the home of Philemon was something other than the church in Colossae.

Romans 16:5 speaks of the church which was in the house of Prisca and Aquilla. It has often been claimed that this church was a second church meeting in the city of Rome. According to those who make this claim, the book of Romans was written to the church in Rome, so the phrase “the church in their house” refers to a second church in the same city.

The answer to this claim is very simple: when we actually read the book of Romans, we find that it was not addressed to the church in Rome, but to the saints there (Rom. 1:7).Therefore, the church that is mentioned at the end of this epistle is not a second church in the city of Rome; rather, it is mentioned as the culmination of the book of Romans. As Witness Lee has pointed out, this epistle shows us the gospel of God (1:1) in its fullness; that is, how sinners become sons of God for the building up of the Body of Christ in the local churches. In this case, the issue of the gospel of God was the unique local church that existed in the city of Rome, which Paul thus greets as the natural culmination of this epistle.

This understanding is confirmed by the fact that the greeting to the couple that hosted the church, and to the church itself, is the first of all the greetings in this chapter, so that the rest of the greetings are rightly understood as being to those of whom this local church was composed. Furthermore, there is no reference to any other supposed church in Rome in all of the greetings, despite the fact that several times in this same chapter the apostle refers to groups of saints (Rom. 16: 11, 14, 15). Finally, in this same chapter, Paul provides us with a clear example of a church in a city which met in a specific home: he refers to Gaius, with whom he was evidently staying in Corinth when he wrote this epistle, as being “my host, as well as of the whole church” (v. 23).

Moreover, this church met in the house of Prisca and Aquilla, a couple who were clearly among the very closest co-workers of the apostle Paul. If there was another church meeting in Rome besides the local church there that Paul was caring for, could we even imagine it would have been established by these ones? The thought is completely ridiculous.

However, it is indeed significant, as has been pointed out, that the Bible does not refer to the church in the home of Prisca and Aquilla as being “the church in Rome.” In contrast, consider the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 (Rev. 1:20b). There the Lord specifically refers to each church as being “the church in” a given locality (Rev. 2:1, etc.). A crucial principle for studying the Bible is that what the Bible does not say is often as important as what it does say, and it matters that in such a book as Romans the Bible omits any explicit reference to “the church in Rome.”

We cannot be certain why this is, but it may relate to how the church there had developed to that point, either in the realization of the saints or in its testimony before the Lord. Witness Lee, in his book, Knowing Life and the Church, states that at the beginning of the work in China, many of the churches there were like “the house of Obed-edom.” This was the house where the ark of God briefly dwelt on its way to the city of David, and which was therefore blessed by God (2 Sam. 6:11-12). Brother Lee goes on to state:

The house of Obed-edom, however, can last only a short period of time. Those who know God will not leave the Ark in the house of Obed-edom; instead, they will bring the Ark and set it in the city of David. The Ark can stay in a certain person’s house for a short time, but eventually it needs to enter into the temple.— page 132

Perhaps this was the situation of the meeting in Prisca and Aquilla’s home as well; a place where the Lord really was dwelling, but which also needed to be further developed to fully stand as the Lord’s testimony in Rome; it could even have been the reason for Paul’s letter to the saints there, no doubt based on fellowship with his co-workers, Prisca and Aquilla, who were already there. If so, it makes us appreciate Paul’s labor with the saints in Rome, and the nature of his letter to them, all the more:
For I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established... — Romans 1:11

What this clearly does show us, however, is that we cannot insist that, in order to stand for the oneness of the Body of Christ in a given locality, the saints in the church there have to refer to themselves, or even consider themselves, as “the church in” that locality. The church in the house of Prisca and Aquilla certainly was standing for the oneness, even without being specifically designated as “the church in Rome.” Even so, while we must avoid designating ourselves in any kind of sectarian way, there may be many places today were the believers are to some extent standing for the oneness of the Body of Christ, without referring to themselves as “the church in” their place. As I have tried to emphasize in my earlier letters, we cannot regard the designation of “the church in” a given place as a formula. Rather, we must keep the ground of oneness in locality as a spiritual reality, not as a mere outward form.

The matter of the churches in the homes is quite a significant topic in the New Testament, and worth much more consideration as to how it might apply to our church life today. The point of this study has simply been to show that the existence of these churches in no way contradicts the teaching of the ground of oneness in locality.

May the Lord lead all of His believers in His way, and may He in His mercy bless these articles to that end.

David Canfield

Chicago

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Regarding the Ground of Locality (2) - Lesson from Jeremiah 24

15 June 2011

My previous note on the ground of oneness in locality dealt with the need for a proper emphasis related to this teaching. That is, for our standing on the ground to be meaningful, we must be in the reality of the oneness of the Body of Christ. This does need to be stressed today, because in our church life in the past we separated the ground from the oneness, thus making the teaching of the ground something vain, a mere outward form. This does not mean anything is wrong with the teaching itself; certainly I believe the ground of oneness in locality is biblical, and vital for the practice of the New Testament church life. Rather, the problem is with how we practiced that teaching, i.e., turning it into a mere form.

Throughout the history of the church the Lord has begun various works among His people, but each time what began as something genuinely of the Lord turned into an outward form, with very little reality of God left in that work. As Watchman Nee expressed it so well, God would pour out a blessing, while men would make a cup to contain His blessing. However, after a while God’s blessing would move on and other men would make a new cup would to contain the new blessing. This process has been repeated over and over until today in so many places there is no more blessing, but only different men arguing over which cup is best!

Therefore, if we are blessed by the Lord to participate in His work in the present age, we must be in fear before Him. It is very possible that what we are in may be something genuine today, and yet become a form tomorrow, because the reality of God is no longer there. If this does happen to us, we must ask the Lord to bring us anew into His present work. Otherwise, if we choose to remain with the outward form of His work, as so many have throughout the history of the church—treasuring it because it is what we have known for so long, and where we are firmly attached—we will not be able to go on with Him.

In the Old Testament there is a very important passage that bears on this matter of holding onto the things of the Lord, and in particular to the ground of locality, as outward forms. In considering it I’m reminded of the Lord’s word in the New Testament:

To whom much is given, much more will be required.
— Luke 12:48b

That Old Testament passage is Jeremiah 24, which relates the vision of the “two baskets of figs before the temple of Jehovah” (v. 1). On the negative side this passage serves as a warning against maintaining merely outward forms as we follow the Lord. Positively, however, this passage can be very helpful to those of us who left the fellowship of churches we were previously in, by giving us an understanding of our experience and helping us to gain the profit from the trial we went through.
The Lord gave this vision to the prophet Jeremiah a few years before the end of the kingdom of Judah. Jeremiah writes of the two baskets:

One basket had very good figs, like the figs that are first ripe; and the other basket had very bad figs which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
— Jeremiah 24:2

In the Old Testament, Jerusalem was a type of the genuine ground of oneness. It was the place where the Lord put His name (Deut. 12:10-18; 1 Kings 9:3), and thus the unique place where all of God’s children should gather to worship Him. Yet, in this vision, the Lord declares that it is the ones who flee Jerusalem who are the “good figs” that He will eventually bless; it is these who will come to know Him as their God:

Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Jehovah; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.
— Jeremiah 24:4-7

In contrast, it is the ones who insist on staying in Jerusalem that are pictured as the “bad figs” that He will reject:

And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad—surely thus says Jehovah—so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.
— Jeremiah 24:8-10

This passage perplexed me for a long time; based on our teaching, it should have been the ones who stayed in Jerusalem, who stood for the oneness, who were blessed, and those who fled to Babylon who were cursed.

Only in the light of the turmoil that took place among the churches several years ago did this passage become clear to me. Yes, Jerusalem was indeed the place God had chosen for His name, but by the time of Jeremiah 24, due to the degradation of His people, the temple worship had become utterly vain, a system of ritual that God no longer accepted. In mercy the Lord granted His people more time before He left the city altogether (Ezk. 10) and it was finally destroyed, but it was only so that Jeremiah could warn the people to flee from the coming, and certain, destruction.

All that was left of that entire system was the appearance and the form; the reality of God, of His worship, and of the oneness of His people were all gone. What Darby states of Jerusalem in his Synopsis concerning a much later time, when Joseph and Mary went to the temple to have Jesus circumcised, was true at the time of Jeremiah 24 as well:

Jerusalem was not after all the place in which God visited the remnant of His people, but the seat of pride of those who said “the temple of the Lord.”[cf. Jer. 7:4]

In such a situation, what will we care for? Will we submit ourselves to the Lord and to His judgment, because we care more for Him as the reality than we do for the outward things? Or will we insist on holding onto the outward appearance and the form? This the lesson of Jeremiah 24 for us today; it is showing us that, when a move of the Lord degrades to the point that the Lord is no longer in that work, we must be prepared to leave it and follow the Lord in a fresh way. If so, He can eventually have a way to bring us to His testimony anew, but if not—if we hold onto the outward form of the Lord’s work when He is no longer in it—we are finished with the Lord.

In verse 8 of this passage the Lord connects those who stay in Jerusalem with “those who dwell in the land of Egypt.” In the Old Testament, Egypt was the place where God’s people were kept in captivity under Pharaoh; it is a picture of Satan’s world system that today struggles to enslave Christians so as to keep them from following God and serving Him. This connection between Jerusalem and Egypt shows us that, far from being God’s dwelling place, Jerusalem by that time had simply become another place for God’s people to be held in captivity; it was the “world” in another guise, from which God once again had to deliver His people. In the same way, we may hold onto outward forms today by claiming that we are serving God, while in reality the system we are in is just our own version of the world that has captured us for itself.

In such a case, God must do a work to deliver us so that we can follow Him again. As in the Old Testament, this may well require His judging work upon the system that has captured us, to the point that we become “exiles” from that system. As some commentators on this passage have pointed out, to be an exile in this way means we no longer have anything to trust in besides God Himself; no forms, no pretensions to piety, no false security, no strength of our own, no hope in this world. Yet, it is on this very basis—when we have nothing of our own to trust in or depend on—that we have access to the grace of God, and it is this grace which is able to operate to bring us into His desire anew. To receive such grace only requires us, as we submit to His judgment, to exercise the faith to believe that He will indeed carry out what He has promised to do.

In a deeper sense this is why the blessing of God rests upon those who leave, rather than on those who remain; the former have placed their trust in God Himself and in His grace, or at least have the opportunity to do so, while the latter pretend to believe in Him, but actually trust in the system. In brief, the former are on the proper ground to experience the grace of God, while the latter are not; rather, by staying in the system they remain, to quote from Darby above, in “the seat of pride.” Jeremiah 24 tells us that the vision it relates was given after Jeconiah the king and those with him were carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 24:1). This was the second, and largest, of the three major deportations of Judah, it is described simply as “the deportation” in Matthew 1:11. Elsewhere in the Old Testament it is described in this way:

And [Nebuchadnezzar] carried out from there all the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of Jehovah, as Jehovah had said.
—2 Kings 24:13

In type, the carrying away of the “treasures” and the cutting in pieces of “all the articles of gold” portray the loss of spiritual reality. Although Jerusalem and the temple had not yet been finally destroyed—that would happen a few years later at the time of the third deportation—all of the spiritual riches had already been lost.

So many times this tragic portion of the history of Israel has been repeated in the history of the church. So many times the Lord has begun a genuine move among His people, as in the case of the Reformers in the 1500s, the Moravians in the 1700s, and the Plymouth Brethren in the 1800s. Eventually, however, in each case the spiritual reality of His work was lost, and it became on the whole a lifeless form. Those who insisted on maintaining the form really suffered a kind of spiritual death, and I don’t believe there is any example of such a group ever being recovered to the Lord’s testimony.

Most recently, the history of the Plymouth Brethren provides a striking parallel to this history of the children of Israel. After a glorious beginning in the first half of the 1800s they went through a long period of gradual decline, interspersed with times of severe turmoil and division, until they eventually lost almost everything the Lord had committed to them; today the branch of the Exclusive Brethren that was never subject to being excommunicated is one of the most rigid sects in the world. Now it appears that this sad history may be repeating itself once again, this time among in the churches affiliated with the Living Stream Ministry; certainly the process has already begun.

When I was first saved, by the Lord’s mercy I had the faith to believe that He must be doing something on the earth today, and early on I began to look for His present work. (I was very much helped in this regard by reading a number of books by Watchman Nee.) When I did touch the church, I knew immediately—as in, before the first meeting started—that this was what I had been looking for, because I saw the saints in the corporate enjoyment of Christ; I had really never seen anything like that before! I would not have expressed it that way then, but within me I knew that this was what I had been seeking.

That was in 1984. By the time I was put out in 2006, more than twenty years later, most of the churches had become strongly sectarian, as a result of Satan’s working against the Lord’s testimony. I will always treasure the time I had in that church life and the genuine experiences of Christ that we shared. Moreover, I continue to appreciate and benefit from Brother Lee’s ministry, and am so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to be under his teaching. However, by the end so much of the reality of Christ had been lost, as the headship of Christ was replaced with the leadership of the brothers affiliated with the Living Stream Ministry, and the freedom of the Spirit was replaced by certain approved practices, such as the Holy Word for Morning Revival, the “Seven Feasts,” and the “One Publication.” As we found out when we were excommunicated by them (they called it a “quarantine”), by that time they could no longer be one with anyone who did not accept their leadership, or their view of Witness Lee, their current ministry, and their practices.

Just as was the case with those who left Jerusalem before it was finally destroyed, it was not my choice to leave; rather, I was put out by the brothers. Today, however, I feel it really was the Lord who “sent me out” of that system “for my own good,” as He states in Jeremiah 24:5, and I am so thankful to Him that He did. That kind of religious system was never what the Lord brought me into when I first touched the church life, and I would not stay there when it became such a system.

Those of us who left no longer had the structure of a familiar church life to provide a kind of guidance for us, and this has caused a number of the saints and churches to struggle. Yet, at least we are struggling before the Lord, and this can give the Lord the opportunity to once again bless us after this period of testing. I can say that in my own case this has been a very difficult time in a number of ways, but I also feel that through it I’ve come to know the Lord more deeply, and I would never go back to where I was before.

In contrast, I fear very much for the dear saints, the produce of the Lord’s work over so many years, who remain; I really wonder whether the Lord can ever have a way to recover them to Himself, or whether they will waste their lives serving a religious system.

May the Lord grant us His mercy and grace so that we would learn the lesson of Jeremiah 24 of not trusting in outward forms; may we insist on having Him as the reality of our church life, whatever the cost may be to us. May the churches stand clearly and definitely for Christ in each locality, and may all of the Lord’s children be brought into the reality of the oneness of the Body of Christ!

David Canfield
Chicago, Illinois


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Regarding the Ground of Locality (1) A Proper Perspective

28 April 2011

For some time I’ve been considering our conversation, while we were at Ashland Woods, regarding the ground of oneness in locality, and wanted to send you my thoughts on the proper place of this teaching; I hope to consider the teaching itself in a later note.

We need to remind ourselves, first of all, that the oneness of the Body of Christ does not come from the ground of locality. Rather, the reverse is true; the ground of oneness in locality really comes from the oneness of the Body of Christ, and this oneness, in turn, comes from the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself, and with one another as those who are in the Father and in the Son:

I do not ask concerning these only, but concerning those also who believe into Me through their word, that they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one, that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
— John 17:20-23

This prayer is so far beyond any merely human thought. We are in the Father and in the Son, and have been given the very glory the Father gave to the Son, so that we may be one in God and one with each other! Surely every genuine believer, when they consider the Lord’s prayer here, must have a deep feeling of our need to be one in a very practical way with all of our fellow believers in Christ. This is the real source of the ground of oneness in locality, which is simply that in each locality where the believers live, we should all come together in the Lord’s name to be the unique church in that place (e.g., Acts 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:2, Rev 1:11).

Thus, to be genuine, the oneness we practice in a locality must be the expression of the spiritual oneness we possess as the believers in Christ. This requires us to be those who are pursuing Christ in a serious and committed way, experiencing both His riches and His cross, so that we can grow in Him and be transformed. The real reason why Christians are so divided today is the shortage of this growth in Christ; when Paul rebuked the saints in Corinth for being divided between himself and Apollos and Peter, he told them they were “infants in Christ” and “fleshly” (1 Cor. 1:11-12, 3:1-4), so that he had to give them “milk to drink” and not “solid food” (1 Cor. 3:2).

In my view, the real reason some saints among us now question the value of the local ground is that, to a large extent, we have separated it from our spiritual oneness. We seem to have had the concept that if we just call ourselves “the church in” our locality it automatically means we are standing for the oneness of the Body of Christ, even if in reality we had special requirements for fellowship, such as appreciating a certain ministry, accepting the leadership of certain extra-local brothers, or following certain practices. This really has made the teaching of little value, and the saints sense this.

In fact, to practice these things shows that we are actually taking “The Church in” as our name, rather than as a simple description of who we are, and as the basis for our fellowship; we are treating it as a mere formula without any spiritual reality. In that case, instead of causing us to stand in the unique fellowship of the Body of Christ, that very designation is separating us from it. The outward form does matter—a special name denotes a special fellowship, something other than the unique fellowship of the Body of Christ—but not when it is separated from our relationship with Christ Himself.

To be practically in the oneness requires us to receive all genuine believers, without making issues over teachings, ministries, etc. Our focus must be on Christ Himself, not on such minor points; only when we have this proper focus can we experience the real oneness. In contrast, if we are not clear concerning the oneness, then the ground of locality becomes something vain.

The Normal Christian Church Life was one of the first books published among us on the practical church life, and it deals in part with the matter of the local ground. Witness Lee calls it Watchman Nee’s “main work concerning the practicality of the church” (Watchman Nee: A Seer, p. 258). How striking it is to note, given our history, that in his “Preface” and “Introduction” to such a book, Brother Nee warned repeatedly against taking these teachings as a mere form; several times he expressed his deep concern that some would attempt to use them merely as a method, apart from a vital relationship with the Lord:

One of the prayers I have offered in connection with this book is that the Lord should keep it from those who would oppose and use it as a chart for attack, and also from those who agree and would use it as a manual for service. I dread the latter far more than the former.
— page 7

It is wearisome to me, if not actually repulsive, to talk with those who aim at outward correctness, while they care little for that which is vital and spiritual.
— pages 12-13

We hope that this book will not fall into the hands of those who wish to improve their work by improving their methods, without adjusting their relationship to the Lord.
— page 13

May none of my readers use this book as a basis for external adjustments in their work, without letting the cross deal drastically with their natural life.
— page 18 (Living Stream Ministry, 1991 printing)

Tragically, these words have proven to be prophetic among us. We did indeed take the teaching of the ground of locality as a method, as a thing to hold onto in itself, without sufficient regard for the spiritual reality needed to support it in life. In fact, it became something of an idol among us, and as such it needed to be torn down, so that we could no longer practice it apart from a living relationship with Christ.

This is just like the case of the bronze serpent in the Old Testament. It was really something provided by God to meet His people’s need (Num. 21:5-9), but eventually it became an idol that had to be crushed (2 Kings 18:4). In fact, as J.N. Darby points out, almost every spiritual thing the Lord gave to His people, they turned into an idol of one sort or another. Whether it was the law, or the temple, or the priesthood, they took it as something that had value in and of itself, apart from God. In doing so, they made these spiritual things worthless—things which God had given to His people in order to connect them with Himself, not to separate them from Him—and brought themselves under God’s judgment. He is indeed a jealous God, and hates that we would attach ourselves to anything, even good and spiritual things, apart from Himself.

Is the ground of locality biblical? Indeed it is. Is it something good, important, and even vital to the proper, New Testament church life? Certainly. But, if we come to trust in the ground in and of itself, so that we no longer depend on God as the real source of our oneness, then that misplaced trust needs to be dealt with until we repent and once again come back to God so that we may fulfill His desire.

I recently finished the book Knowing Life and the Church by Witness Lee and was very, very much helped by it. In one chapter he considers the time in Israel’s history when the ark and the tabernacle, signifying Christ and the church, were separated from each other due to the degradation of God’s people (1 Sam. 4-6); what a lesson for us today!

From that moment forward, those who do not have a vision, which constitutes the majority of the people, look only at the outward appearance of the church and neglect the reality of Christ. Only a few people like David do not focus on the outward form and appearance of the tabernacle but care only for the Ark, for Christ. God’s eyes similarly are not on the outward form but on the reality; God does not look on the tabernacle but on the Ark. He does not regard the outward appearance of the church but the reality of Christ. From the beginning of Israel’s degradation, God was interested in the Ark and its location, not the tabernacle. Similarly, God is interested in where Christ can be found, not in the outward appearance of the church.
— page 122

This history shows us, in type, that we may indeed separate the outward form of the church from Christ. This is abnormal, but sadly, it is not unusual. In such a case, God’s heart is always with the reality of Christ, and not with the outward form of the church.

May God give us a heart like His to focus on Christ, and not on the outward form! May we never be satisfied with the mere appearance, but insist that Christ Himself be the content of our church life! May God bring us into Himself as reality, and into the reality of the oneness of the Body of Christ! And may the churches stand clearly in each locality as the testimony of Christ and of the blessed oneness that we, His believers, have in Him.

David Canfield
Chicago
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

I will eventually try to take on some of the specifics. But not enough time now. But here is my overall assessment:

Lots of generalities claimed to be made and demanded by scripture.

Assertions about how things should happen for which nothing referenced provides actual support.

A fantasy. Lately I have been impressed over and over how it seems that they think it must be true because they are really sincere. (Think Charlie Brown and winning baseball games. BTW. Go Rangers!!)
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:05 PM   #3
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I will eventually try to take on some of the specifics. But not enough time now. But here is my overall assessment:

Lots of generalities claimed to be made and demanded by scripture.

Assertions about how things should happen for which nothing referenced provides actual support.

A fantasy. Lately I have been impressed over and over how it seems that they think it must be true because they are really sincere. (Think Charlie Brown and winning baseball games. BTW. Go Rangers!!)
Yes, Canfield is really just preaching to the choir. This is an argument from a person who's made up his mind, and is now trying to create an interpretation to match his belief.

His treatment of house churches is a circular argument. It presumes what it purports to prove. Nowhere does the Bible make it clear that the mentions of house churches correspond directly to city churches, and Canfield should know better than to pretend it does. He's reaching for a conclusion that the Bible doesn't provide, I guess because he thinks there ought to be one. But why does he think that?

He says there is "absolutely no exception" to the local pattern of churches in the Bible, then proceeds to sweep five plain exceptions under the rug. The mention of the church in the region, and the four mentions of house churches.

One could just as easily say that the Bible shows there is in one sense one church in the city, and in another sense there can be more than one church in the city. But since Canfield is already convinced the city church is the only legitimate expression, that's the way he interprets it.

Throughout his sprinkles in suggestions that if you don't agree with him then you are fleshly and otherwise not a faithful Christian. This kind of threatening approach to teaching is typical of LRCers and is self-serving.

Canfield also says, "[t]he second reason the ground of locality is taught by example and not by precept in the New Testament is to help us realize that we should not try to impose it on others."

Okay, if we shouldn't try to impose it on others what is Canfield doing by writing these articles? He should know that in practice the local ground is black and white. Either you are meeting on it or you aren't. Either you are submitting to the local administration (assuming you know who they are, more on that below) or you aren't. There is no way to practice the local ground the way the LRC teaches it without imposing it on others. Why do you think they believe everyone but them is divisive? I would say if you claim people are divisive for not following your pet teaching about church organization then you are imposing that teaching on them.

What is worse about Canfield's treatise is not what he addresses, but what he doesn't address. He never addresses the problem of two or more "administrations" in one city claiming to be the true one. Given the LRC's history of ostracizing any rivals, maybe that makes sense; he probably doesn't want to talk about that. But they really have no answer to the question of how one unmistakably discerns the "true" church administration of a city, because there isn't a way.
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:40 PM   #4
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His treatment of house churches is a circular argument. It presumes what it purports to prove. Nowhere does the Bible make it clear that the mentions of house churches correspond directly to city churches, and Canfield should know better than to pretend it does. He's reaching for a conclusion that the Bible doesn't provide, I guess because he thinks there ought to be one. But why does he think that?

He says there is "absolutely no exception" to the local pattern of churches in the Bible, then proceeds to sweep five plain exceptions under the rug. The mention of the church in the region, and the four mentions of house churches.
Spot on.

I remember when we had this discussion two or three years ago, probably on the other forum. I recall reading Nee's writings on the subject and seeing clearly that even Nee was doing the same thing. When he came to the house churches, he simply said (in so many words) "since we have the city-church rule, this cannot mean that there is something different from a city-church."

He used a rule already established (by himself) to exclude and redefine the meaning of evidence of a contrary explanation. This is the classic case of begging the question. State a rule as true before any evidence that could contradict it is considered. Then assess contrary evidence based on the rule rather than in concert with all evidence to determine whether the rule is actually valid.
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Old 10-27-2011, 05:38 PM   #5
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Yes, Canfield is really just preaching to the choir. This is an argument from a person who's made up his mind, and is now trying to create an interpretation to match his belief.

His treatment of house churches is a circular argument. It presumes what it purports to prove. Nowhere does the Bible make it clear that the mentions of house churches correspond directly to city churches, and Canfield should know better than to pretend it does. He's reaching for a conclusion that the Bible doesn't provide, I guess because he thinks there ought to be one. But why does he think that?
If you or I had thoroughly studied this topic in the N.T., we would not have come to the conclusion of one city -- one church. Oh we might have a hunch about it after reading Revelations 2 and 3 a few times, but an exhaustive study would not bring us to this conclusion, which explains why most scholars don't come to that conclusion either.

My personal belief concerning this matter of church ground is simple. WN taught it. WN is so highly respected, that no one dares to question his conclusion. That is why we can today have 4 or 5 churches in a city all claiming to stand on the one unique ground of locality, and all clinging to WN's teachings on the subject, yet none of them can even say "hi" if they pass by on the street.

As John Myer once said, "there is more scriptural basis for head covering in the N.T. than for the ground of locality."
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:12 PM   #6
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Yet we must be clear that, if we do choose to go our own way in this matter, we will pay a great price in terms of our following the Lord, our fellowship with Him, and our service unto Him. To have the church is the desire of God’s heart; it is His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:8-11), and it is what Christ gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). Thus, if we forsake the church to take the way of the sects, our ability to touch what is on the Lord’s heart will, of necessity, be severely limited.
A polemic about the "ground". Seriously?

I thought people like David who left the LC would eventually have the growth and spiritual insight to understand that God does not tie himself to the doctrine of dirt. In Rev 2-3 was the Lord concerned with "the ground" or the condition of the churches? He would take away their lampstands based on what? The ground "teaching"? I think not. How long they went on "meeting on the ground" without being a lampstand is a good question don't you think?

Tying a persons spiritual growth, maturity service, etc. to their acceptance of the ground "teaching" is undisciplined and wildly speculative exposition of the NT and indicates either an ignorance or willful ignoring of history. Andrew Murray, AB Simpson, AW Tozer, G. Campbell Morgan, Hudson Taylor, George Muller, Charles Spurgeon to mention a few were all in so called "sects" and yet the Lord greatly used them as instruments in their generations.
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Old 10-27-2011, 06:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

A little bird flew my way and reminded me of this particular post:
http://localchurchdiscussions.com/vB...read.php?t=447
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:27 PM   #8
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Yet, some who would deny this teaching never tire of pointing out that it is not presented as a prescriptive teaching in the New Testament, but rather is only taught by way of example. I would reply, first of all, that this gives no basis to deny the teaching, because God often teaches us, in the Bible and otherwise, by way of example. Yet, it is indeed quite important that the teaching concerning the proper way to meet is given by example, not by precept, and we need to consider why this is. I believe there are mainly two reasons.

First, for those who do not accept this teaching, they are free to go their own way concerning the matter of church fellowship. To take the way of the church, the way the Lord has ordained, is by no means easy, and the Lord does not force his believers to do so, since there is no direct statement in the New Testament saying, “You must meet together with all of the Christians in your locality.”

Yet we must be clear that, if we do choose to go our own way in this matter, we will pay a great price in terms of our following the Lord, our fellowship with Him, and our service unto Him. To have the church is the desire of God’s heart; it is His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:8-11), and it is what Christ gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). Thus, if we forsake the church to take the way of the sects, our ability to touch what is on the Lord’s heart will, of necessity, be severely limited.

David Canfield

Chicago
By now, sufficient time has passed to ascertain the promised blessings and the supposed fruits of taking this "narrow way" of the ground of locality. One of the primary difficulties in making an impartial assessment of this practice is that those who promote it benefits also misuse it for their own gain. While we don't have good data on China under WN, since it was cut short by the Communist takeover, we do have adequate history from the Brethren under Darby and the Recovery under Lee. In both cases, the practice produced narrow minded exclusivism and expulsions of those who refused headquarter mandates, both of which resulted in arrogant Laodicean pride in those who remained "true to the vision."

It seems that the real "price" involved to go this narrow way of meeting on the ground of locality is to be robbed of the liberty to follow one's own heart for the Lord. I say this because nearly every brother who has left the program, willingly or reluctantly, did so because of violations to one's own conscience. I know of many who had no desire to leave the "narrow way," on the contrary the reason they left the Recovery was to once again return to the narrow way that leads to life.

At this point in time, I find it hard to believe that dear brother Dave Canfield still clings to the tired notion that leaving the Recovery is "forsaking the church, the desire of God’s heart, His eternal purpose." Has Canfield not realized how far askew the Recovery has deviated from God's eternal purpose. It has become just another denomination, headquartered in Anaheim, that is just all about WL. Being in Chicago, he witnessed firsthand the hypocrisy of siding with LSM agents, and how Chicago leaders flip-flopped their stand for freedom due to personal offenses.

Most annoying is Canfield's method of using fear to lure departing members back into the fold, threatening them with a "great price" which must be paid in this age or the next.
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:02 AM   #9
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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[Canfield] used a rule already established (by himself) to exclude and redefine the meaning of evidence of a contrary explanation. This is the classic case of begging the question. State a rule as true before any evidence that could contradict it is considered. Then assess contrary evidence based on the rule rather than in concert with all evidence to determine whether the rule is actually valid.
I agree with your assessment. This is not cutting straight the word of the Lord; rather it seems to be forcing the Bible to fit a conceptual matrix. Canfield says "no exceptions"... what happens when there is a scriptural exception? What happens when there is a use of ekklesia which doesn't fit his local church philosophy?

For example: in the LXX the word ekklesia is used repeatedly, and these OT examples are cited in constructing the NT(Acts 7:38, Hebrews 2:12, e.g.). But since there was no "local church" before the day of Pentecost, and their interpretive grid allows "no exceptions", Nee et al must then re-interpret the Bible so our scheme is not disturbed. So what does Nee/Lee/Canfield do? Just call it an "assembly". Then you can have multiple "assemblies" in one city and not violate the "One church per city rule".

All of which involves some mental gymnastics, which Canfield's explanation of Romans "house churches" involves. His conclusion is not self-evident to me. Ultimately we are required to believe that Nee's interpretive logic is equivalent to "the way of the Lord". As Ohio said, now we have to "Believe into Nee", in addition to believing into Jesus Christ. If Nee says it, then we have to accept it, no matter the mental strain, and the decades of bad fruit.

Which brings me to my real objection. The "way of the Lord", it seems to me, is that we are to love one another. If you don't have that, all your "church models" are rubbish. Where is the love in Canfield's message? Where is the saving love of God in Jesus Christ? Does he really think that the proper organization will bring in brotherly love?

I really don't see any mature and thoughtful believer taking this path. It is only going to convince the simple and unschooled, who are easily blown about by various winds of teaching.

p.s. all of us do mental gymnastics, and interpret partly in truth and partly in error. Such is the benefit of the assembly: of critical examination by others, of "...in many counselors there is safety" (Prov 11:14). I am just kind of peeved that David Canfield thinks Nee's interpretation is "the way of the Lord" while everyone else is "going his own way". How can anyone have a conversation with such ideas?
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:38 AM   #10
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At this point in time, I find it hard to believe that dear brother Dave Canfield still clings to the tired notion that leaving the Recovery is "forsaking the church, the desire of God’s heart, His eternal purpose." Has Canfield not realized how far askew the Recovery has deviated from God's eternal purpose. It has become just another denomination, headquartered in Anaheim, that is just all about WL. Being in Chicago, he witnessed firsthand the hypocrisy of siding with LSM agents, and how Chicago leaders flip-flopped their stand for freedom due to personal offenses.

Most annoying is Canfield's method of using fear to lure departing members back into the fold, threatening them with a "great price" which must be paid in this age or the next.
Ohio am I wrong to assume that Canfield left the Anaheim based Recovery and is now with the Cleveland based Recovery? If part of Cleveland's thing wouldn't his article's intended audience be those who left the LC and are meeting with other Christian groups and/or those elders in the Midwest like John Myer, etc who are no longer "ground of locality" advocates?
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:49 AM   #11
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I really don't see any mature and thoughtful believer taking this path. It is only going to convince the simple and unschooled, who are easily blown about by various winds of teaching.

p.s. all of us do mental gymnastics, and interpret partly in truth and partly in error. Such is the benefit of the assembly: of critical examination by others, of "...in many counselors there is safety" (Prov 11:14). I am just kind of peeved that David Canfield thinks Nee's interpretation is "the way of the Lord" while everyone else is "going his own way". How can anyone have a conversation with such ideas?
I don't doubt Canfield really believes the stuff he says. But the root of his problem is esteeming "oneness" too highly. "Oneness" has become an idol to the the LRC, much like speaking in tongues became an idol to some charismatics.

And because they made it an idol, of course they've distorted it.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:16 AM   #12
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Ohio am I wrong to assume that Canfield left the Anaheim based Recovery and is now with the Cleveland based Recovery? If part of Cleveland's thing wouldn't his article's intended audience be those who left the LC and are meeting with other Christian groups and/or those elders in the Midwest like John Myer, etc who are no longer "ground of locality" advocates?
If Canfield were true to his convictions, then he would remain with the established Chicago leadership, in order to maintain the oneness and stand on the local ground, would he not?
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

Ok guys, let's take it a little easier on Canfield. I've invited him to come, register and participate in the dialog. Let's give him a chance before we rip him totally to shreds, shall we?
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:35 AM   #14
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

Then there is the problem of administration. I see a pattern of local churches in the NT (with some plain exceptions). But I don't see a clear pattern that those local churches necessarily have one local administration. Titus 1:5 is just not enough to go on.

The only clue the Bible gives us is that possibly workers (apostles?) appoint elders who then administrate the whole church in the city. This is clearly fraught with problems. Who are the genuine workers? How do you treat those who don't recognize them? What if two workers with equal credentials appoint different elders in the same city? What if no workers are appointing elders or are ones who are of questionable character?

It seems enough to know that God, in some sense, sees all the Christians in a city as one church, and we should keep that in mind. It is going too far to extrapolate from that that they all must "come together" (what exactly does that entail?) or even worse that they have to submit to one coordinated set of pre-defined leaders.

To insist that all Christians in a city are supposed to come together under one administration is something LRCers more believe ought to be true than they believe is true. But it is more than the Bible commands.

The LRC makes these idealistic demands coupled with dire warnings and then never gets around to explaining how these details are worked out. That's about as irresponsible as it gets.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:35 AM   #15
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And because they made [the ground of oneness] an idol, of course they've distorted it.
Not for nothing the first epistle of John concludes with "Little children, guard yourselves from idols."

We all occasionally get stuck, conceptually. The ones who won't admit this are the most stuck.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:44 AM   #16
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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To insist that all Christians in a city are supposed to come together under one administration is something LRCers more believe ought to be true than they believe is true. But it is more than the Bible commands.

The LRC makes these idealistic demands coupled with dire warnings and then never gets around to explaining how these details are worked out. That's about as irresponsible as it gets.
To insist that the Bible only allows this one interpretation and understanding, that there are no exceptions and that "going your own way" (i.e. thinking different than Nee et al) will bring a penalty at the judgment seat of Christ is irresponsible; I agree. I myself don't quake with fear but I feel bad for the young and impressionable who have this stuff waved over their heads. They are so glad to be saved and forgiven by the Savior Jesus, and then suddenly you get this little "contract rider" courtesy of somebody other than the Christ. One of his "deputies".

The only things we should insist on as christians, in fellowship with one another, are things like "Did or did not God raise His Son Jesus from the dead [answer: yes]. A few basics.

But whether there were possibly more than one ekklesia/churches/assemblies/fellowships/meetings existing simultaneously in Rome when Paul wrote his epistle... insisting on your answer and base your further fellowship on acceptance Nee's "revelation of truth" (i.e. thinking) is just not moving in the right direction. Sorry.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:47 AM   #17
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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Ok guys, let's take it a little easier on Canfield. I've invited him to come, register and participate in the dialog. Let's give him a chance before we rip him totally to shreds, shall we?
How were we supposed to know that he might show up? What he wrote has become very controversial, and I thought you posted it to stir up trouble. You've been known to do that by the way.

Anyways, these forums can be like throwing a lamb into a den of lions. I'm not sure if brother David is ready for that. Posting on the Concerned Brothers site is a whole lot safer.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:17 AM   #18
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Then there is the problem of administration. I see a pattern of local churches in the NT (with some plain exceptions). But I don't see a clear pattern that those local churches necessarily have one local administration. Titus 1:5 is just not enough to go on.

The only clue the Bible gives us is that possibly workers (apostles?) appoint elders who then administrate the whole church in the city. This is clearly fraught with problems. Who are the genuine workers? How do you treat those who don't recognize them? What if two workers with equal credentials appoint different elders in the same city? What if no workers are appointing elders or are ones who are of questionable character?
John Darby, like WL, taught that the "system" in Christianity was hopelessly and helplessly lost and has failed God completely. Both of them basically had all their adherents believing that their collection of church assemblies alone were the true testimonies of the Lord's body in every city.

Darby taught that there should be no eldership in the assemblies, because it was a part of the failed system, and that we all are brothers of equal status in the body of Christ. Darby, however, had the most equal status. Eventually it was the London oligarchy which became the most equal of all the brothers.

WN tried to correct this by teaching that the elders were the highest authority in the church, and establishing autonomy in every local church. He taught that no church should be exclusive to one ministry. His books on ecclesiology are in no way practiced in the local churches today.

WL reversed much of WN's ecclesiology, returning to many of the bad Brethren habits, and while he did keep the elders in name, he made them subordinate to his ministry workers, thus making the local eldership somewhat of a farce. He even went so far as to say the responsibility of the local elders was in matters such as setting the times of the meetings.

Anyone who would like to see an ugly example of how the ground of oneness, with one unique assembly in the city and one official eldership, really operates should read the sad story of the Brethren excommunication of old Doctor Cronin, who btw was with the Brethren over 50 years, and even preceded Darby.

In my observation of close to 35 years with the Recovery along with my study of the Plymouth Brethren, I have not seen how the ground of locality has ever helped the believers to be one in Christ, rather this teaching and practice eventually assisted them in being proud and narrow-minded, and in the end, more divided than ever.
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:43 PM   #19
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If Canfield were true to his convictions, then he would remain with the established Chicago leadership, in order to maintain the oneness and stand on the local ground, would he not?
Yes but I am under the impression that those under the influence of the Cleveland based Recovery have in their own minds delegitimized the Anaheim based Recovery churches claiming that they have become ministry churches and not "genuine" local churches meeting "on the ground of locality". I assume this is the position David has taken and thus considers himself a purist in this matter and therefore justified in his rejection of "The Church in Chicago's" administration.

My own view is that neither the Anaheim based nor the Cleveland recoveries follow their own idealistic teaching. One is based on Witness Lee and the other on Titus Chu. The recent division was over the Blended Brothers understanding of Witness Lee vs. Titus Chu's understanding. This kind of activity is in direct opposition to what Paul taught in 1st Corinthians and even what Watchman Nee taught in his Normal Christian Church Life regarding ministries and ministers not being a basis of fellowship among Christians. So even if David's article was correct it's irrelevant to the current situation that exists unless David is outside the influence of both Anaheim and Cleveland and is beckoning others to leave these ministry based churches for locality based churches - whatever and wherever they are. If this is the case then at least he has positioned himself to be an apologist for his idealistic view and is not merely the pot calling the kettle black.
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:19 PM   #20
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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Anyone who would like to see an ugly example of how the ground of oneness, with one unique assembly in the city and one official eldership, really operates should read the sad story of the Brethren excommunication of old Doctor Cronin, who btw was with the Brethren over 50 years, and even preceded Darby.

In my observation of close to 35 years with the Recovery along with my study of the Plymouth Brethren, I have not seen how the ground of locality has ever helped the believers to be one in Christ, rather this teaching and practice eventually assisted them in being proud and narrow-minded, and in the end, more divided than ever.
I was reading an interesting article on the casting of lots as a decisionmaking process, both in the OT and NT, and at the Essene Qumran community (with shades of the Urim and Thummim thrown in), and read this interesting quote: "No one shall either fall from his station, or rise from the place of his lot" (1QS ii 23). In other words, what God gave you, deal with it.

That echoed for me many of Jesus' parables: like the card game - 21 - you try to maximize your allotted portion (the hand you are dealt), without going over the bounds prescribed by God.

There are two perils here. First is the guy who "buries his talent"... he doesn't do anything with the lot he is dealt. He may initially receive the word of salvation with joy, but eventually you can't tell him from an unbeliever. At the Master's return, he has nothing to show for his time, and God's gift. "Behold, My reward is according to your works" -- he has no, or little works, to show that he really did follow the Master, and did take up his cross, and deny his soul-life, and feed his brothers and sisters (see Luke 12:43, Matt 24:46, e.g.)

The other peril is to over-step your boundaries, to go where God has not allowed you. Jude verse 6 tells of angels who did not keep their "first estate", referencing Genesis 6, probably. Satan of course was lifted up because of his beauty and excellence. The OT is full of 'shepherds' who 'beat the sheep'. Too many references to even bother with. God clearly didn't like it when the leaders placed heavy burdens on the flock.

Now we come to the NT. Same thing. Jesus castigated the moral leaders for just that (Luke 11:46, Matt 23:4). Then, after the resurrection, this trend continued, with religious zealots imposing their concepts of "the way of the Lord" on the rest. See Paul's experiences with the 'Judaizers' and Peter's admonition not to lord it over the flock, for example.

My strong sense is that Nee and Canfield are committing this error. They are following the error of the Brethren and so many well-meaning, zealous and pious people who tried to impose their version of the scriptures on the rest of the flock: "for their own good", of course.

Why do they place heavy burdens on others? I think it comes down to one word: control. Whether it is under the rubric of "one apostle for the age", or "one trumpet" or "the ground of oneness" or what-have-you, it is still about someone trying to get someone else to do something, instead of allowing them to follow the Spirit of life. We abandon the law of the spirit of life and go back to the law of sin and death (cf Rom 8:2).

Canfield's iron-clad "no exceptions" reading of the 'one-church-per-city' seems to fall in this camp. He now has fashioned a nice biblical, scriptural club to beat the believers with. Folks like myself and OBW and Ohio and awareness have thick enough skin to withstand such assaults on our freedom, but I feel bad for the new believer who no sooner is free from sin and death but that they find themselves confronted with Canfield's rules. What a shame. It was a shame in the book of Acts, in Peter's epistle, in Salem Mass and Rome Italy and now anywhere such burdens are placed on the saints. It is a shame to the gospel.
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:38 PM   #21
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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That echoed for me many of Jesus' parables: like the card game - 21 - you try to maximize your allotted portion (the hand you are dealt), without going over the bounds prescribed by God.
The operative word here is "stewardship"(Gk oikonomia), which not coincidentally is the same word which the LSM folks translate into "masticating the processed and consummated Triune God to become God in life and nature but not in the Godhead."

Oikonomia operationally for we believers means that God gave us an allotted portion of the faith, and now we have the freedom, and the responsibility, to either (1) bury it in a hole in the ground, or (2) use it to feed others and give them an open door for the gospel, or (3) to become a religious zealots and control freaks who impose on the rest how we think they should live and act and move.

The "narrow way", I think, is to be strict with oneself but merciful to others. Mercy triumphs over judgment. The two failures are either to be a lazy good-for-nothing slob, or to be an uptight religious know-it-all. I am not saying that either Canfield or Nee is the latter, but in presenting the believers with two choices, writing that it is either "the way of the church" or "a certificate of divorce from God" they certainly place themselves, and others, in danger.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:15 PM   #22
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As I mentioned in the first note, we must be clear that the oneness of the Body of Christ does not come from the ground of locality. Rather, the opposite is true; the ground of oneness in locality comes from the oneness of the Body of Christ, and this oneness, in turn, comes from the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself, and with one another as those who are in the Father and in the Son:
And I do not ask concerning these only, but concerning those also who believe into Me through their word, that they all may be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.— John 17:20-21

Here, just before He was betrayed, the Lord prayed for all of His believers to be one, so that “the world may know” that He was sent by the Father. Clearly, He was praying for a visible, practical oneness, not merely for the mystical oneness that would be accomplished through His death and resurrection. Moreover, He did not pray simply that they would be “one,” but that His believers would be one in the Triune God. That is, it is not sufficient for the saints to be organized into a man-made oneness, such as we see in the Roman Church or in the various sects and denominations; rather, the oneness the Lord prayed for must be the visible expression of the believers’ oneness in the Triune God.
Those of us who had spent time in the local churches know what it means to have "practical oneness" or oneness of the body of Christ. There is no sense of "practical oneness" or oneess of the body of Christ with Christians not meeting in the local churches. Such as statement is strictly in relationship to the local churches and what such a statement implies is to defer to the ministry leadership in all things. Meaning if an elder choose not to defer to Anaheim or as others have illustrated Cleveland, that elder would be viewed as being different or at worse in rebellion.

For example prior to Titus's excommunication, for there to be practical oneness, Titus had to defer to the blended brothers. See my direction? My point is the concept practical oneness only flows in one direction. At no point in the public letters did I ever see a willingness by the blended brothers to defer to Titus. There is no relationship of deference. Really if you consider what it really takes for there to be practical oneness, no one has insist nor teach submission and authority. Rather out of life, there is deferring to one another.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:05 PM   #23
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I would like D. Canfield to provide one substantial example of any proponents of "the ground" (Lee, Chu, etc.) reaching out to any Christian group in order to pursue "visible practical oneness." Indeed, what groups has Dave himself pursued in order to realize the "visible practical oneness?" Please give the name of the group, what fellowship took place, and why it didn't work. If there has not been valiant and continuing efforts, then none of these people who teach "the ground" actually believe it. Without efforts to attain it, championing "the ground" is mere hollow dogma. In fact, stating it as a divine requirement with reasoning and verses while not practicing it is just sin. Dear Dave, please work through the hardships related to this "visible oneness" by actively pursuing it and learning the cross. By now you should have realized that your version of "visible oneness" does not even work within the LC program that taught it for almost a century. Hopefully at some point you will also realize that such oneness cannot be founded on your own terms (i.e., your elders, your apostle, your opinions about church structure, worship styles, what counts as the Spirit, what ministry materials are valuable, etc.).
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:39 PM   #24
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Two (different) thoughts:

First, if I read Canfield's post and interpret his definition of "ground of locality" as ALL the teachings and practices every promulgated by the LC, then there is really no end of ways I could tear into the article (really, I started a word doc with his quotes and my comments....which I'll spare you all). But we may be assuming to much to impute all that to his definition. He hasn't said much more than all the believers in a city are the church in that city - and we should stand on that, not excluding others. There is a difference between "not excluding others" versus "y'all are wrong but WE'RE ON THE GROUND". Again, there MAY be a distinction between his argument here and the LC practice.

Second, the statement in the article, "There is absolutely no exception to this pattern in the New Testament." I am still not certain why this matters. The new testament does talk about Judaizers and false prophets entering in. But these mostly talk about the negative and damaging influence of pre-Christ Judaism. Otherwise, Christianity was NEW. Of course there aren't varieties and groups springing up in EACH locality! There were dangerous INFLUENCES (both personalities and concepts), but not RIVAL groups claiming exclusivity. Thus, even if the NT patter is UNIFORM, that does not give rise to a prescriptive point.

Finally (and relatedly), meeting separately does not mean a divergence from the broad definition of the "local ground" (this goes to my first point). The fact that I meet with you because you have classical music and austerity in worship does not mean I violate the "local ground" just because you meet separately and prefer a folk-music based free group. Now, if I say that you can't join our group unless you adhere to non-essential teachings, that's a separate issue. But meeting separately comes about for many reasons other than "oneness" issues.
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:55 PM   #25
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I'll just add this. There is an expression in textual interpretation:

expresio unius est exlusivo alterius

I may have the grammatical endings wrong on that: "the expression of one is the exclusion of another."

That is, if God gave us no prescriptions on how to interact with (or stand with) one another as Christians, then I might be inclined to take a "pattern" more in the way of a prescription. But, when God makes a specific point of making prescriptions about how to interact with one another within Christianity, but leaves out other prescriptions - I take those other prescriptions as LEFT OUT for a reason.

God used specific precepts in regards to how we interact with one another regarding differing beliefs within Christianity. See Romans 14. I would need more convincing that there is an additional category of "commands" that come to us as a group that don't take that form.

This speaks to ONENESS and how to preserve it. I am not sure how "locality" adds to that.

If I meet down the street from you and it is simply because I like folk music and the particular paster and you don't meet with me because you like the writings of your group's founder and like the conferences in Anaheim, yet neither one of us would exlude the other from our meetings.... then I think we have a lot to discuss, but neither one of us is violating any "ground." We're still "one" - there's just way more of us then there were in any of the localities in the first generation of Christians...
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:15 PM   #26
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Okay, it is absolutely clear now that Canfield is NOT defending the PARTICULAR iteration of "ground of locality" as PRACTICED in the LC (the subject of much debate here - i.e. a basis for meeting separately from other believers).

It is clear that he is speaking as an individual addressing the state of sectarian Christianity. From the strict words of his post, he is not indicting any particular group, but instead a "mindset." For example, it is clear from his post that he has no problem with the "house church," so long as they aren't claiming exlusive "ground."

Turning that into a larger point, he isn't so much protecting the "ground of locality" as he is rejecting groups that carve out any other "ground" apart from oneness. His point, if you read it without the skeptical-of-Lee glasses is that there should not be a "ground" to meet other than our shared salvation.... and geography.

There are only two problems with this. The first is, nowadays, geography is not the same as it was in the first generation of Chritianity. Which is why the "Church in Cleveland" doesn't feel its violating the "ground of locality" by having Hall 1, Hall 2 and whatever... The second problem is that even if you agree with his point, you CAN'T divorce the argument from the PRACTICE in the LC. That PRACTICE is one which treated the "ground of locality" as a REASON to meet SEPARATELY from other Christians, NOT TO JOIN THEM - EVEN WHEN other groups were meeting in non-exclusive ways.
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:34 PM   #27
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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In my observation of close to 35 years with the Recovery along with my study of the Plymouth Brethren, I have not seen how the ground of locality has ever helped the believers to be one in Christ, rather this teaching and practice eventually assisted them in being proud and narrow-minded, and in the end, more divided than ever.
If a "ground of oneness" gives rise to a vigalence to be open and embracing, and conversely skeptical of statements of exclusivity, then I am behind it.

If it fosters a sense to "establish" something, then I think we're getting into God's exclusive territory.

The more I interact with other Christians - and their groups - the more I realize the primacy of the gospel and not the levels we add on to it. In fact, the more just try to live my fumbling life with the relationships within it, the more I realilze the primacy of my need for a savior and the "building" that accomlishes as it plays out...
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Old 10-31-2011, 05:07 AM   #28
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If a "ground of oneness" gives rise to a vigalence to be open and embracing, and conversely skeptical of statements of exclusivity, then I am behind it.

If it fosters a sense to "establish" something, then I think we're getting into God's exclusive territory.

The more I interact with other Christians - and their groups - the more I realize the primacy of the gospel and not the levels we add on to it. In fact, the more just try to live my fumbling life with the relationships within it, the more I realilze the primacy of my need for a savior and the "building" that accomlishes as it plays out...
It took me a couple of passes through this to understand. And in the end I agree.

To me, the problem with focusing on a "ground of oneness" is that by taking the energy to give it a label that is not simply "Christ" and the realization of the common thread of Christ among so many groups from the most fundamental/evangelical to the most liturgical/high church, we take our eyes off of Christ and put it on the "ground of oneness" and thereby force it to be something other than Christ. (And before someone suggests that I am embracing what is so wrong in what is now seen as "fundamental" within the "fundamentalists," I intend the term to mean what it started out as in the early 20th century, not what it became in its own closed, semi-exclusivist way.)

Now to say there is a ground of oneness in a sermon, and take great pains to describe that as Christ and the common link between us all is well and good. And if that sermon goes further to challenge any "we are the best Christians" thoughts among those listening, even better. But if that is the case, then the emphasis will be on Christ and what we have in common. But if the emphasis becomes what is different about those others from you, then the emphasis is not really on Christ. It becomes, like in the LRC, a way to redefine "Christ" into your way of seeing, thinking, believing, and doing. Being "Christ-like" becomes being one with a particular take on things that are not simply "Christ."

And since I only hear "ground of oneness" from one place — the LRC, which is exclusivist at its core — then the term really has no meaning of value within the Christian community. For those who have ever considered the term, it is evidence of a lack of oneness. It is a thing defined so wrongly that even those who hold to the true "fundamentals" are excluded because they do not also hold to something else (dirt, city, LSM ministry).
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Old 10-31-2011, 05:22 AM   #29
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As I wrote my last post, I thought of "ground" as a word in isolation of its context. As I did that, for some reason I was struck with a vague similarity to a bit of philosophical nonsense from one of our favorites bands, The Moody Blues. Here is "The Word" (1968, from In Search of the Lost Chord) with one minor change:
This garden universe vibrates complete.
Some, we get a sound so sweet.
Vibrations reach on up to become light,
And then thru gamma, out of sight.

Between the eyes and ears there lay,
The sounds of colour and the light of a sigh.
And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe.
But it's all around if we could but perceive.

To know ultra-violet, infra-red and X-rays,
Beauty to find in so many ways.
Two notes of the chord, that's our fluoroscope.
But to reach the chord is our lifes hope.

And to name the chord is important to some.
So they give a word, and the word is "GROUND."

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Old 10-31-2011, 06:21 AM   #30
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If a "ground of oneness" gives rise to a vigilance to be open and embracing, and conversely skeptical of statements of exclusivity, then I am behind it.

If it fosters a sense to "establish" something, then I think we're getting into God's exclusive territory.

The more I interact with other Christians - and their groups - the more I realize the primacy of the gospel and not the levels we add on to it. In fact, the more just try to live my fumbling life with the relationships within it, the more I realize the primacy of my need for a savior and the "building" that accomplishes as it plays out...
Yes, definitely.

So nice to hear from you again.

Those who were "vigilant to be open and embracing," even while committed to the LC's, seemed to place the Lord and His people above any presumed standards of fellowship.

I often wonder if the demise of the "ground of oneness" was the exclusive platform of the ministry or flaws within the construct itself. In other words, what if the "ground of oneness" was practiced without excessive promotion accompanied by pride and the wholesale judgment of all of Christianity, the hallmarks of exclusivism?
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:10 AM   #31
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Really if you consider what it really takes for there to be practical oneness, no one has insist nor teach submission and authority. Rather out of life, there is deferring to one another.
As I travel further afield from the "recovery" and into "christianity", my experience has been this point of Terry's. People being real with one another instead of talking about it. Being one is an experience, not a teaching. The more we slice and dice it into nuanced concepts, which get hermetically sealed in packages and dispensed like airline meals (an anachronism and an oxymoron now, I know; but I remember) the more we move from the spirit to the letter. And the letter definitely, unoquivically does not give life.

For that matter, have any of my posts given Mr. Canfield life? Probably not, but I am under no illusions about my "ministry". It is Jesus who gives life. It is the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead who gives life. It is not a teaching about the "ground of oneness" or "the way of the church" that gives life. Do not be suckered by scripturally appearing counterfeits. Just be one with the neighbor which God has put next to you (a challenge enough, to be sure) and the truth will emerge in novel ways which your teachings could never anticipate nor envision. The spirit wants to move; don't cage the Spirit with your teachings.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:24 AM   #32
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

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To me, the problem with focusing on a "ground of oneness" is that by taking the energy to give it a label that is not simply "Christ" and the realization of the common thread of Christ among so many groups from the most fundamental/evangelical to the most liturgical/high church, we take our eyes off of Christ and put it on the "ground of oneness" and thereby force it to be something other than Christ.
I remember when in a meeting Mr. Lee made such a big deal that "Christ is everything." He said in our dictionary there is only one word: Christ. "Christ, Christ, Christ", he said with much vehemence.

How could that morph into "Christ and the church"? Jesus Christ is the way, not the church or some ground. The more we realize how Christ has made peace, breaking down all walls, the less we need to concern ourselves with their non-existence. We are already one, by believing into the One.

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Now to say there is a ground of oneness in a sermon, and take great pains to describe that as Christ and the common link between us all is well and good. And if that sermon goes further to challenge any "we are the best Christians" thoughts among those listening, even better. But if that is the case, then the emphasis will be on Christ and what we have in common.
It is sooo easy to discern the splinter elsewhere. But as soon as you see the splinter elsewhere (manifest in some sectarian fashion, for instance) you are in danger of missing the beam of sectarianism lodging in your own. Thus the irony that the publisher of the book "Christ Versus Religion" now promulgating the idea of "no buying or selling in the local churches unless it bears the mark of the Living Stream Ministry", which is religion more sinister than anything it previously identified.

I think Christ ultimately dissolves everything but Himself. He is God's love, come to us. He is God's forgiveness, reaching us. He is the resolution of God and man. He is the only peace we ever need. He is our wisdom, our joy, our hope, our strength. He is our way. All teachings must fade.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:59 AM   #33
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I remember when in a meeting Mr. Lee made such a big deal that "Christ is everything." He said in our dictionary there is only one word: Christ. "Christ, Christ, Christ", he said with much vehemence.

How could that morph into "Christ and the church"? Jesus Christ is the way, not the church or some ground. The more we realize how Christ has made peace, breaking down all walls, the less we need to concern ourselves with their non-existence. We are already one, by believing into the One.
I think that the problem that, for Lee, "Christ" means all of the specific things that he (Lee) taught about Christ. Christ is the church. Christ is the body. Christ is the grace. Christ is the teaching. Christ is the church life.

The answer lies in the teachings like the last two. If Christ is the teaching, then if my teachings are Christ, then teachings that disagree must not be Christ. If our "church life" is Christ, then different kinds of "church life" must not be Christ.

This kind of teaching gradually redefines "Christ" into something that others do not have. They would never say that out loud because too many of the followers would reject such a statement. But they effectively believe it because they do accept that their practice/belief about Christ, church, body, etc., is the best and therefore something is wrong with the teachings and practices of others. They would speak it as a problem with practicing oneness, claiming that it is everyone else that is not practicing oneness while the LRC is. But they are no different than any others in practicing some kind of separation. Yet there is a difference. Others acknowledge their differences but are willing to be one in Christ while the LRC claims that the differences are differences in Christ and thereby refuse real oneness. And they blame it on the others.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:08 AM   #34
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Okay, it is absolutely clear now that Canfield is NOT defending the PARTICULAR iteration of "ground of locality" as PRACTICED in the LC (the subject of much debate here - i.e. a basis for meeting separately from other believers).

It is clear that he is speaking as an individual addressing the state of sectarian Christianity.

Turning that into a larger point, he isn't so much protecting the "ground of locality" as he is rejecting groups that carve out any other "ground" apart from oneness. His point, if you read it without the skeptical-of-Lee glasses is that there should not be a "ground" to meet other than our shared salvation.... and geography.
I'm not sure if it's "absolutely clear" or not but what is clear is that David has taken a dogmatic position which ties a Christians spiritual growth to the adoption and practice of his particular ecclesiology. This is an unfortunate and I might add arrogant stance. As one poster has indicated he should tone down his rhetoric and demonstrate to us in practical terms the working out of his position in the here and now. We know the LC is a complete flop at implementing their own doctrine of the church so let's see what Canfield can do? Where is it?
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:16 AM   #35
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Those who were "vigilant to be open and embracing," even while committed to the LC's, seemed to place the Lord and His people above any presumed standards of fellowship.

I often wonder if the demise of the "ground of oneness" was the exclusive platform of the ministry or flaws within the construct itself. In other words, what if the "ground of oneness" was practiced without excessive promotion accompanied by pride and the wholesale judgment of all of Christianity, the hallmarks of exclusivism?
Frankly I'm sure that this is enough. IMHO it is not just a matter of being open and embracing of other Christian but also allowing ourselves to be embraced by them. It is not just about receiving but also about being received.

The stance that "we meet on the ground and are/should be open to receive all Christians" still carries a subtle level of superiority. Our house (the right house) is open to you but when you reciprocate and invite us we won't come and meet with you. You have to come and meet with us. We'll let you come to our Lord's Table but we won't come and partake at yours.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:29 AM   #36
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And since I only hear "ground of oneness" from one place — the LRC
Yah got that right. It's certainly not a term in the New Testament. Nor is "taking the ground."

Taking the ground reveals the division right off. What are they taking, and who are they taking it for?

Of course the ideal, or on the abstract, they could say they are taking the ground for Christ.

But the truth is, they are taking it for headquarters, and for Living Stream Ministry.

And the whole idea of taking the ground was a complete figment of Nee and Lee. It is not in the New Testament, nor was it practiced in the early days of the followers of The Way, that were classified as Christians in a city for expedient reasons only ... not as dogma.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:14 AM   #37
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Frankly I'm sure that this is enough. IMHO it is not just a matter of being open and embracing of other Christian but also allowing ourselves to be embraced by them. It is not just about receiving but also about being received.

The stance that "we meet on the ground and are/should be open to receive all Christians" still carries a subtle level of superiority. Our house (the right house) is open to you but when you reciprocate and invite us we won't come and meet with you. You have to come and meet with us. We'll let you come to our Lord's Table but we won't come and partake at yours.
"Open and embracing" should go both ways, otherwise it is not "open and embracing." There's not a sect or cult on earth that does not "openly embrace" new converts, so your point is accepted without saying.

I am convinced that many of WL's teachings, most notably the "ground of oneness," were designed to build walls around the Recovery, and then to "uplift" the Recovery by the exclusive nature of the teachings. The Laodician arrogance was taught by the ministry for self-serving purposes.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:22 AM   #38
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Taking the ground reveals the division right off. What are they taking, and who are they taking it for?
Or from? ? ?
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:28 AM   #39
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Okay, it is absolutely clear now that Canfield is NOT defending the PARTICULAR iteration of "ground of locality" as PRACTICED in the LC (the subject of much debate here - i.e. a basis for meeting separately from other believers).

It is clear that he is speaking as an individual addressing the state of sectarian Christianity. From the strict words of his post, he is not indicting any particular group, but instead a "mindset." For example, it is clear from his post that he has no problem with the "house church," so long as they aren't claiming exlusive "ground."
I'm not so "clear" abut Canfield's audience. It seems from the quote here that he is addressing those who have (recently?) left the Recovery.

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Yet, some who would deny this teaching never tire of pointing out that it is not presented as a prescriptive teaching in the New Testament, but rather is only taught by way of example. I would reply, first of all, that this gives no basis to deny the teaching, because God often teaches us, in the Bible and otherwise, by way of example. Yet, it is indeed quite important that the teaching concerning the proper way to meet is given by example, not by precept, and we need to consider why this is. I believe there are mainly two reasons.

First, for those who do not accept this teaching, they are free to go their own way concerning the matter of church fellowship. To take the way of the church, the way the Lord has ordained, is by no means easy, and the Lord does not force his believers to do so, since there is no direct statement in the New Testament saying, “You must meet together with all of the Christians in your locality.”

Yet we must be clear that, if we do choose to go our own way in this matter, we will pay a great price in terms of our following the Lord, our fellowship with Him, and our service unto Him. To have the church is the desire of God’s heart; it is His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:8-11), and it is what Christ gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). Thus, if we forsake the church to take the way of the sects, our ability to touch what is on the Lord’s heart will, of necessity, be severely limited.
Who else in the greater body of Christ even talks this way. It is only we who have left the Recovery who now are persuaded that the "ground of oneness" in the Bible, the matter of one church / one city, is not a "prescriptive teaching in the New Testament," as we so long had been taught.

Were Canfield "speaking as an individual addressing the state of sectarian Christianity," then he would speak in a language which Christianity understands.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:06 AM   #40
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Were Canfield "speaking as an individual addressing the state of sectarian Christianity," then he would speak in a language which Christianity understands.
Which, for me, is evidence that the LRC has mostly written-off Christianity and only speaks to its own kind. They refuse to speak in terms that mainstream Christianity understands, choosing instead to use LRC-speak.
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:26 PM   #41
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Or from? ? ?
Well in the case of the C. in Ft. Lauderdale, since Bob Mumford had "declared the ground," before we got there, we took the ground from Bob Mumford and his ministry. A clear violation of the doctrine of the ground...

And who did God bless? Not the C. in Ft. Lauderdale. Bob Coy was with Mumford in those days, and now leads a church of 14,000.
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:30 PM   #42
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It took me a couple of passes through this to understand. And in the end I agree.

To me, the problem with focusing on a "ground of oneness" is that by taking the energy to give it a label that is not simply "Christ" and the realization of the common thread of Christ among so many groups from the most fundamental/evangelical to the most liturgical/high church, we take our eyes off of Christ and put it on the "ground of oneness" and thereby force it to be something other than Christ. (And before someone suggests that I am embracing what is so wrong in what is now seen as "fundamental" within the "fundamentalists," I intend the term to mean what it started out as in the early 20th century, not what it became in its own closed, semi-exclusivist way.)

Now to say there is a ground of oneness in a sermon, and take great pains to describe that as Christ and the common link between us all is well and good. And if that sermon goes further to challenge any "we are the best Christians" thoughts among those listening, even better. But if that is the case, then the emphasis will be on Christ and what we have in common. But if the emphasis becomes what is different about those others from you, then the emphasis is not really on Christ. It becomes, like in the LRC, a way to redefine "Christ" into your way of seeing, thinking, believing, and doing. Being "Christ-like" becomes being one with a particular take on things that are not simply "Christ."

And since I only hear "ground of oneness" from one place — the LRC, which is exclusivist at its core — then the term really has no meaning of value within the Christian community. For those who have ever considered the term, it is evidence of a lack of oneness. It is a thing defined so wrongly that even those who hold to the true "fundamentals" are excluded because they do not also hold to something else (dirt, city, LSM ministry).
I agree. And I'm not sure Canfield would disagree with you. You are right that only one group uses language like this - and that insistance on the language gives rise to exclusivity. But that also happens to be the group Canfield is in (or emerging from). Its part of the vocabular and its a contentious part - which is why he's addressing it.

He seems to be saying, essentially, if this "ground of oneness" thing means anything at all, then it means something much broader than the way it has been exclusively applied in the LC. It is a "stance" but it is a "stance of the heart" for each Christian to make in regards to how they relate to other Christians. To be BROADER, not narrower.

Really, from my reading, this is all he is saying. If you read his "cautions" they are to those who would claim exclusivity in a sect smaller than all Christians in a city or those who would perhaps for a Regional hierarchy etc..., not those who pursue freedom to meet with all. If I took his writing and turned it into a simplistic "test" - I think it would say, you are on the "ground" if it broadens the Christians are willing to meet with, not narrows it.

We are understandably reading into his writing everything that the "ground" connotes to us from a long history of abusive use of the concept. And really, that may be enough to drop the terminology. But saying that doesn't negate the truth of what he's actually saying here.
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Old 10-31-2011, 12:46 PM   #43
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Canfield ...seems to be saying, essentially, if this "ground of oneness" thing means anything at all, then it means something much broader than the way it has been exclusively applied in the LC. It is a "stance" but it is a "stance of the heart" for each Christian to make in regards to how they relate to other Christians. To be BROADER, not narrower.

We are understandably reading into his writing everything that the "ground" connotes to us from a long history of abusive use of the concept. And really, that may be enough to drop the terminology. But saying that doesn't negate the truth of what he's actually saying here.
Well, I've always valued your perspective and if this is what he seems to be saying then I've probably mis-read him (been known to happen a few times, with me).

I read it through too briefly, perhaps, looking for "red flag" catch-phrases that I grabbed out of context. Mea culpa, if so. If he really is moving beyond dogma and is speaking broadly/generically concerning the ground, then maybe we are on similar footing: my ground is to believe into the Lord Jesus Christ.

To me that is the litmus test: do you believe into Jesus? I certainly don't want to go broader, and I likewise resist going narrower.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:05 PM   #44
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"Open and embracing" should go both ways, otherwise it is not "open and embracing." There's not a sect or cult on earth that does not "openly embrace" new converts, so your point is accepted without saying.
Yes but for the sake of argument let's pretend that the LC actually practiced the "ground of locality" and were not based on Witness Lee or Titus Chu. When they say "open and embracing" they mean a one way street. You go to them. Will they go to Lord's Table at their friend's church? Will they go out and work with other churches to help the poor in their communities? Not likely.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:27 PM   #45
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23 August 2011

First, for those who do not accept this teaching, they are free to go their own way concerning the matter of church fellowship. To take the way of the church, the way the Lord has ordained, is by no means easy, and the Lord does not force his believers to do so, since there is no direct statement in the New Testament saying, “You must meet together with all of the Christians in your locality.”

Yet we must be clear that, if we do choose to go our own way in this matter, we will pay a great price in terms of our following the Lord, our fellowship with Him, and our service unto Him. To have the church is the desire of God’s heart; it is His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:8-11), and it is what Christ gave Himself up for (Eph. 5:25). Thus, if we forsake the church to take the way of the sects, our ability to touch what is on the Lord’s heart will, of necessity, be severely limited.
The attitude expressed by Canfield is quite typical of the Local Church: You will accept my/our interpretation of the NT as it pertains to "how to do church". If you do not accept it you are not merely disagreeing with our idea or interpretation or methods but you are rejecting "the way the Lord has ordained" and will thus suffer. Our interpretation is the interpretation.

Witness Lee did the same thing when he introduced the New Way. Every idea and method he came up with had the label: God's ordained way.

Once a non-essential of the faith is elevated into "God's ordained way" it's not a non-essential anymore is it? This is how localism became an item of the faith for the LC and how one minister of the age (Witness Lee) became another item of their faith.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:55 PM   #46
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I agree. And I'm not sure Canfield would disagree with you. You are right that only one group uses language like this - and that insistance on the language gives rise to exclusivity. But that also happens to be the group Canfield is in (or emerging from). Its part of the vocabular and its a contentious part - which is why he's addressing it.
I understand — at least a little. My problem is that it is so hard to figure out where some of these people are coming from. Since many of the players in the GLA drama are not familiar to me (even when I was in the LRC — except for TC) I "can't tell one from another without a program."

And I thought I remembered Canfield as being one who did a fair bit of fence-hopping when the TC thing came down, leaving me entirely unsure of his stance on anything. And when I read this particular bit he wrote, I get no clear sense. As an outsider (now) I am more cognizant of the things said that place him squarely within the LRC camp. And even the things you read that indicate to you that he is stepping — or at least looking — outside of the old LRC dogmas is not apparent to me. It looks more like "inter-league play" within the LSM and non-LSM flavors of the LRC.

I realize that some will legitimately suggest that I am giving too little respect to the changes happening in the non-LSM assemblies. That is not my intent. And I realize that there is significant variation among those assemblies. But since there are those who are beginning to doubt the significance of the ground of dirt, and other teachings, whether Canfield is discussing it from the perspective of an insider or an outsider (in terms of the LSM) is not clear to me. I have good reason to defer to your thoughts on the subject.

But it just shows how muddy the whole thing is getting. While I would expect the rhetoric from the BBs and the LSM in general to sound like standard LSM dogma, just because the dogma is somewhat missing from the writing of others does not mean that I can figure out which team they are playing for.

Anyway, thanks for the info. BTW. Where doe Canfield stand at the present?
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:08 PM   #47
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground (3): The Teaching - David Canfield

Mike,

My post really wasn't "info." My take was just an admittedly generous reading of the article. But I simply tried to read it and take it on its own terms. In fact, my initial reading was not a generous one at all - I was actually inflamed (the language about "those who do not chose this way" - because when I read "this way" I imputed "the Local Church way of exclusivity." But upon re-reading it, he wasn't going that far.

Frankly, I don't know much more than you about where these brothers are at in their paths. So, I could be completely off the mark.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:07 PM   #48
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Our house (the right house) is open to you but when you reciprocate and invite us we won't come and meet with you. You have to come and meet with us. We'll let you come to our Lord's Table but we won't come and partake at yours.
Yeah, I can relate. Receiving isn't reciprocated. Part of the problem is the minstry has become a crutch. LSM publications would need to be a prerequisite to meet. No ministry, no meeting.
To meet beyond the scope of the ministry is considered as shaking hands over the fence.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:46 AM   #49
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Yeah, I can relate. Receiving isn't reciprocated. Part of the problem is the minstry has become a crutch. LSM publications would need to be a prerequisite to meet. No ministry, no meeting.
To meet beyond the scope of the ministry is considered as shaking hands over the fence.
For the sake of argument let's say we take the ministry out of the equation you will still be left with the LC having one way street "fellowship". You go to them. You go to their Lord's Table. They won't come to yours. The "we are uniquely and specially Jerusalem and all other Christians churches are Babylon" is part of the basic LC church doctrine.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:46 PM   #50
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Yes but for the sake of argument let's pretend that the LC actually practiced the "ground of locality" and were not based on Witness Lee or Titus Chu.
Yes, for the sake of argument, debate, point/counterpoint, etc, suppose the loca churches did practice the ground of locality and were not based on the ministries of Witness Lee or Titus Chu, I believe what you would have is not a ministry church, but something resembling a community church.

In the part of town I live in there are several community churches HCC and ERCC. Attendees of these community churches reside in the town where these churches function.

In the same town, the CIR (LC) didn't come into exisitence until 2009. From the time I was meeting with the Church in Bellevue, residents from this town would drive roughly 15 minutes in order to meet with the nearest local church which is Bellevue.

When you really get down to it and what these churches represent, community churches function more as a local church. whereas Local Churches (The Church in ______) function more as a ministry church.
Where do people live in relationship to the church they attend?
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:43 PM   #51
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Yes, for the sake of argument, debate, point/counterpoint, etc, suppose the loca churches did practice the ground of locality and were not based on the ministries of Witness Lee or Titus Chu, I believe what you would have is not a ministry church, but something resembling a community church.
At any time in there history in the U.S. were the LCs not ministry churches? If so how often did they go and take Lord's Table with other Christians not "on the ground" i.e. not meeting with them? Did they join with other Christians in projects to help the the poor in their communities? Did they attend conferences by speakers outside their LC system? How often did these kind of things happen?

If we want to talk about a other definition of the "ground of locality" than great: all Christians in a location are part of the church. Fine. Most Christians believe this to be true already. That's nothing new. Will they accept only the LC meeting as such? Nope. Will they accept the eldership of the LC as the only one in their location? Not gonna happen. And it's not gonna happen for very good reasons and I think that's why it's not taught in the NT. (E.g. what do you do when you have a Witness Lee and his son Philip on your hands? "Maintain the oneness"?)

And those like David who want to turn something sometimes descriptive into dogma might as well say we should all shave our heads, make a vow and go to Jerusalem because that describes what Paul did!
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:55 PM   #52
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At any time in there history in the U.S. were the LCs not ministry churches?

If so how often did they go and take Lord's Table with other Christians not "on the ground" i.e. not meeting with them? Did they join with other Christians in projects to help the the poor in their communities? Did they attend conferences by speakers outside their LC system? How often did these kind of things happen?
Unregistered, I'll have to respopnd in two parts. First to the first part, at any time in there history in the U.S. were the LCs not ministry churches?

If you go by history, the time that keeps coming up in the beginning of 1974. That's when Witness Lee and his ministry seems to had taken center stage. If you go by experience and personally mine, I'd say prior to the New Way. Until that time, there was liberty to invite friends and acquaintances from school. After the New Way, any inviting was done with "do they have vision" in mind. No longer was it sufficient to be "just a Christian".

Second part I'd say this is systemic of Christianity. Very few brothers and sisters I know are willing to meet outside their comfort zone. Not very often is there an event such as a conference that draws Christians out of their comfort zone. For example just this year Greg Laurie came to speak at an event held at the Tacoma Dome, in Tacoma, WA. This event was a draw. A denominational pastor I know attended and enjoyed it. When you talk about the local churches in the same light, no it has not happened since the 1960's that I'm aware of.
I do know of individuals in the local churches who reach out to non-LC churches, but that's strictly an individual decision. The recovery is specialized and lacks generality to meet all needs. Precisely why some local church brothers and sisters need to reach out to non-LC churches in order to have their needs met.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:21 AM   #53
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Second part I'd say this is systemic of Christianity. Very few brothers and sisters I know are willing to meet outside their comfort zone. Not very often is there an event such as a conference that draws Christians out of their comfort zone. For example just this year Greg Laurie came to speak at an event held at the Tacoma Dome, in Tacoma, WA. This event was a draw. A denominational pastor I know attended and enjoyed it. When you talk about the local churches in the same light, no it has not happened since the 1960's that I'm aware of.
I'm not sure I understand you. It seems you are saying the problem is Christianity-wide and then give an example that contradicts it.

My own experience is that Christians freely move between churches. This week I went to a men's group meeting at one church and then another night to a Bible study at a home that includes people from several different churches. Of course I also attend larger events like conferences with Christians from many different churches. This is quite common.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:28 AM   #54
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If you go by experience and personally mine, I'd say prior to the New Way. Until that time, there was liberty to invite friends and acquaintances from school. After the New Way, any inviting was done with "do they have vision" in mind. No longer was it sufficient to be "just a Christian".
There was liberty to invite friends and acquaintances to the "proper ground" meeting of the LC. They could come to you. But the LC doctrine of the church is: if you reciprocated and went to visit their church that would be going to Babylon. And I'm being polite about the descriptions used for non-LC churches by Witness Lee and other LC teachers.
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:29 PM   #55
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Please note that the entire series of three papers has been posted at the very beginning of this thread.

Also, David Canfield asked me to post the following:


------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for your note, and for posting that article. I’m happy to have these out on the forum, because I’m sure a good number of those still meeting with the LSM churches will see them there.

FYI, my intention is to publish this series of articles in booklet form in the near future, in part because they really are meant to be read together. My feeling is, the teaching concerning the proper ground has been poisoned by the Blended Brothers and those with them, and my hope in writing these articles was to try to defend that teaching from their abuse of it.

I don’t have any desire to sign up for the forum, but I will make a few comments re. the current thread; feel free to post this as my sole response. I wasn’t able to get back to you before now, but I’m glad I didn’t because it seems that some of the later posts have softened a little bit.

1. Again, these articles should be read as a series. I made it abundantly clear in the first two articles that I agree that the ground became an idol among us, and that was a big part of the problem. (If those who have commented on the third article go back and read the first two, it should address at least some of what they have said.) Only after that improper emphasis is torn down can we have a proper consideration of the ground itself.

The last time Brother Titus ministered to the church in Chicago, in the spring of 2005, the full-timers had lunch with him after the last meeting. I said something to him along the lines that, “We’ve really become sectarian,” and he affirmed that strongly, saying, “We’ve become so sectarian.” The problem, as I’ve said elsewhere, was that we made a subtle but very profound change, from saying “All Christians should be one,” to saying “All Christians should be one with us.”

Darby identified the real source of this attitude in a very touching way in his statement regarding his dispute with Benjamin Newton:

The first sign of weakness is the gathering itself becoming the object of attention….
— Narrative of the Facts, p. 14

So it was with us.

2. Some of the later posts focus on our need to have an attitude of oneness in the heart, which is very good. But, in the New Testament we not only see such an inward attitude; we also have solid, definite local churches, with a defined and identifiable leadership. The believers absolutely needed to be gathered together with these churches, so that the Lord could have His testimony.

This shows us that, if we truly desire to enjoy the wine of our new life in Christ, the wineskin absolutely does matter. This is why we must be sure that our basis for gathering is according to the New Testament, especially given the horrible and hopelessly confused situation in Christianity today. So, it is not enough to have an attitude of oneness; we must also learn how to meet in such a way as to keep the oneness. This is why the matter of the proper ground is so crucial.

3. These articles considered the matter of the ground as a New Testament principle, rather than in terms of its practical application. My feeling is, you need to be clear about the principle first, then you can consider the application. On the other hand, if you give up the principle, the application becomes moot.

And yes, the application may get messy, in particular when you have more than one group of saints in a locality claiming to be the one church there. That kind of situation will really test us as to whether we are standing for our own group, or really standing for the oneness.

4. It is indeed wrong to make an issue out of the ground in our personal fellowship with other believers, i.e., “If you don’t stand on the ground I can’t fellowship with you!”; that is really ugly. But, this statement needs to be balanced. First, we do need to defend the truth in the New Testament, especially regarding an important matter such as this, which has been so maligned, on the one hand, and so misrepresented on the other. Second, there is no requirement to be one with, or to seek any fellowship with, Christian groups that have taken a divisive stand on something other than the ground of oneness.

5. I was asked a specific question about what other Christian groups I have reached out to, in order “to pursue ‘visible practical oneness’” (Post #23). No, I won’t publicly identify them here, since I don’t know who will see this. But I will say that I have indeed had a particular burden to seek out, and to fellowship with, other Christian groups who have some feeling for the practical oneness of the Body of Christ, even if they don’t explicitly teach as we have concerning the ground. As a result, I have had very good fellowship with several such groups over an extended period of time. This fellowship has always been very sweet to me, and often quite helpful as well. May it prove to be fruitful unto the Lord’s building.

6. Some have also wondered about my current situation. Soon after the Blended Brothers issued their warning statement of quarantine / excommunication in October of 2006, I was put out of the Church in Chicago by the elders there, due to my public condemnation of that evil act. However, this matter of my being put out has never been brought before the church as a whole (which the New Testament clearly indicates is the only authority for taking such action; 1 Cor. 5:4-5, 2 Cor. 2:6). Therefore it remains the personal action of the elders, rather than an official act of the church. (In June of 2009 I did send a private letter to the elders there, asking them to clarify my standing in relationship to the Church in Chicago, and followed up with an email to them in September of that year, but I never received a response.)

It has now been almost exactly five years since I was put out, but thank the Lord, all of this has only proven, once again, that He truly is over all. It has been a very difficult time for me, but a very blessed one as well. Looking back, I realize that I could never really have gone on with the Lord if I had remained in that system, but I would never have left it apart from His intervening in the way that He did, and so I worship Him for bringing me out.

I continue to love and to long for the dear saints who meet with the Church in Chicago, including the very dear brothers who put me out; my heart truly goes out to them, and to the saints I know in the other LSM churches in this metro area and elsewhere. Of course, since being put out my contact with the saints meeting there has been quite limited, but still I would say, if there is any feeling of separation between us, it is entirely on their side; I have never had any sense of separating myself from them. But, I have to be faithful to what Christ has shown me, so I had to take the stand that I did.

I’m now enjoying a very sweet meeting life in Evanston with a number of other saints who have left the Church in Chicago, as well as some new ones who are now meeting with us.

Regards, David Canfield
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:31 PM   #56
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There was liberty to invite friends and acquaintances to the "proper ground" meeting of the LC. They could come to you. But the LC doctrine of the church is: if you reciprocated and went to visit their church that would be going to Babylon. And I'm being polite about the descriptions used for non-LC churches by Witness Lee and other LC teachers.
What you're saying may have been the case post-1974. I know from my parent's account and those that were present in the 1960's, what you're saying was not so.
As for the present time what many mature and spiritually sober saints are learning is, the recovery doesn't meet all their needs. Thus a need to reach out to non-LSM assemblies/congregations/churches. I'm sure what I've just said probably does not apply to the brother/sister who has absolute undeniable zeal for the ministry.
Please not I had underlined sober, because if you're sober, you do not have that absolute zeal for the ministry.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:11 PM   #57
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Terry, I think the general dynamic that "Unregistered" has described existed in the Local Church long before 1974. There is a lot of evidence that, under the leadership of Witness Lee, many if not most of the Local Churches and their members carried this attitude going back to the 50s and 60s in Taiwan. Neither is there is a record of the Local Churches being very cooperative with other Christian groups and ministries back in those days. Yes, Witness Lee had T. Austin Sparks come and speak on a number of occasions, but even that "cooperation" ended in disaster.

When Witness Lee moved here to America he was a little more "liberal" and accepting of other Christians and ministries. Then when he had built up enough of a self-supporting base here in the USA, he reverted back to his sectarian and authoritative ways. Sorry to be so blunt with you my brother but it's a little hard to deny these facts at this point.

Does this mean that your parents and others in the early days did not experience anything of Christ or even of the oneness of the Body? Of course they did. But the seeds of the problems that emerged and reared their ugly head at later dates did NOT just appear out of nowhere. They were already there going back to the beginnings in Elden Hall and earlier.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:29 PM   #58
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Terry, I think the general dynamic that "Unregistered" has described existed in the Local Church long before 1974. There is a lot of evidence that, under the leadership of Witness Lee, many if not most of the Local Churches and their members carried this attitude going back to the 50s and 60s in Taiwan. Neither is there is a record of the Local Churches being very cooperative with other Christian groups and ministries back in those days. Yes, Witness Lee had T. Austin Sparks come and speak on a number of occasions, but even that "cooperation" ended in disaster.

When Witness Lee moved here to America he was a little more "liberal" and accepting of other Christians and ministries. Then when he had built up enough of a self-supporting base here in the USA, he reverted back to his sectarian and authoritative ways. Sorry to be so blunt with you my brother but it's a little hard to deny these facts at this point.

Does this mean that your parents and others in the early days did not experience anything of Christ or even of the oneness of the Body? Of course they did. But the seeds of the problems that emerged and reared their ugly head at later dates did NOT just appear out of nowhere. They were already there going back to the beginnings in Elden Hall and earlier.
I agree with this assessment. It corresponds with all the facts.

The problem is that those who entered the LC's back in those early days (the so-called glory days of the Lord's Recovery) had no idea what happened in Taiwan. After WL came to the USA, he became the one and only source for Recovery history. Not only did he re-write our history, he also re-wrote Brethren history, and for that matter, he re-wrote all church history in a manner that best served him and his ministry.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:30 PM   #59
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2. Some of the later posts focus on our need to have an attitude of oneness in the heart, which is very good. But, in the New Testament we not only see such an inward attitude; we also have solid, definite local churches, with a defined and identifiable leadership. The believers absolutely needed to be gathered together with these churches, so that the Lord could have His testimony.
The last sentence is all presumption, as is his assertion that each church had a defined and identifiable leadership (assuming he meant LRC-like administration).

Again, Canfield has not explained how the "one administration" over the church in a city is identified. Nor has he told us what believers are to do when that "administration" goes so bad that believers due to conscience cannot follow them (as it has in the LRC many times over). How does the church decide who the new leadership is? Has Canfield even thought about these things? Probably not. But what the hey, when a church implodes over a leadership struggle who cares about the collateral damage to the members, as long as we "tried" to have a "genuine local church."

His attitude seems to be "we'll work out the details later." Well, the LRC has had 70 years to work out those details, and they still haven't even begun. Thousands of believers have been plowed under the turf because the LRC acted like these questions don't need answers. What is to make us think they are going to get different results by doing basically the same thing but just acting nicer.

Canfield's idealism doesn't impress me. Idealist Christians who refuse to answer relevant questions have been leading Christians down the primrose path for too long. When they go off the cliff like lemmings these "leaders" never seem to take responsibility either. Lee didn't and I see no indication his disciples will either.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:59 PM   #60
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My feeling is, the teaching concerning the proper ground has been poisoned by the Blended Brothers and those with them, and my hope in writing these articles was to try to defend that teaching from their abuse of it.

... I agree that the ground became an idol among us, and that was a big part of the problem. Only after that improper emphasis is torn down can we have a proper consideration of the ground itself.

The last time Brother Titus ministered to the church in Chicago, in the spring of 2005, the full-timers had lunch with him after the last meeting. I said something to him along the lines that, “We’ve really become sectarian,” and he affirmed that strongly, saying, “We’ve become so sectarian.” The problem, as I’ve said elsewhere, was that we made a subtle but very profound change, from saying “All Christians should be one,” to saying “All Christians should be one with us.

Darby identified the real source of this attitude in a very touching way in his statement regarding his dispute with Benjamin Newton:

The first sign of weakness is the gathering itself becoming the object of attention ... Narrative of the Facts, p. 14

Brother David Canfield,


I realize that you have greatly been influenced by WN's books such as Further Talks and The Normal Christian Church Life. So have I. Many of us were. The books basically describe an idealistic church which seems to be rooted in the N.T., yet never has been realistically and practically set in practice. The Bible does describe the so-called "ground of oneness" in a round about way, but never teaches it. The writers of the Bible had ample opportunity, especially Paul and John, yet the Spirit never anointed such a word. The Bible never prescribes this teaching. You seem to think that the so-called "ground of oneness" is a viable teaching that the church should practice. I could not disagree more.

You continually believe that the teaching is scriptural, healthy, and pleasing to the Lord, yet it has never been properly practiced. So did I. I agree with you that what we have seen coming out of LSM is distorted, and should be discarded. You thought that the so-called "ground of oneness" had become an idol in the LC's. I'm not sure I completely agree. I am more convinced that WL et. al. used this teaching for their own gains. WL used the teachings of WN to establish his ministry in the US, and then reverted back to his old ways seen in Taipei. Did you know he came to the US, not because of the Lord's leading, but because the Taiwan churches rejected him?

I now view the so-called "ground of oneness" as an item in the Bible not too dissimilar to having "all things common ... and no one lacked anything." (Acts 2) What a glorious operation of God's dynamic salvation! Never in history had such a thing occurred! What kind of church life was that! Even though it has never again occurred in church history, and the pattern of "all things common" got really messed up by guys like Lenin, Stalin and Mao, how this matter of "all things common" needs to be recovered in these days! Isn't money is a root of all evils? Does not all of our money belong to Him? This is why God can not pour out His blessing upon the church. The church of God pays a huge price for forsaking the God-ordained way of having "all things common." One day all Christians will have to give an account to the Lord for how they have mishandled their finances, contrary to God's economy.

I do believe that I could promote "all things common" as you are with the so-called "ground of oneness." The only difference is that WN taught the latter, but not the former. Hence, when you read the N.T., you read it according to Nee's teaching, and not what the Bible teaches. You read the Bible with green-colored "ground of oneness" glasses, and I read the Bible with red-colored "all things common" glasses.

Brother Dave
, I'm sure you will disagree with me. Of course, I was being facetious about "all things common" just trying to make a point. But don't I have a point? You cannot write off my analogy just because you know better. Try to see things concerning the "ground of oneness" as a brother outside the LC's, yet who desires all that the Lord wants for us.

P.S. Concerning Darby's circular entitled "Narrative of the Facts," which you referenced, I have read far too much of the events surrounding Plymouth and Bristol in the late 1840's to believe anything that Darby wrote is fair, balanced or accurate. The Plymouth meetings were no more "the object of attention" to the elders there with Newton than any other Christian congregation. Newton's public "lynching" was not too different from LC quarantines a.k.a. a "kangaroo court."
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Old 11-03-2011, 06:39 AM   #61
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Again, Canfield has not explained how the "one administration" over the church in a city is identified. Nor has he told us what believers are to do when that "administration" goes so bad that believers due to conscience cannot follow them (as it has in the LRC many times over). How does the church decide who the new leadership is? Has Canfield even thought about these things?
IMHO this is a fundamental flaw with the "ground of locality" as rigid church model. Basic questions must be answered in order for the theory to work out in application. Who are the elders and who decides who gets to be the elders?

The problem with lifting this sometimes practiced but never taught idea from the early church era and insisting it must be taught and practiced in today's context is that it requires a false premise: Christianity is brand new, the NT is not fully written yet, there are apostles with authority to set up churches in cities where there were no Christians before they arrived and appoint elders that should be recognized as such by all Christians in a city.

I would ask David a very simple question: is that the situation we have today? When some from LA moved to Chicago to "take the ground" (including a founding elder who was being sent there to get away because he was having an affair with another man's wife in the LC) there were no Christians in Chicago? Moody, etc had never worked there yet? It was like Paul and his coworkers showing up in Corinth? Same thing? So since Witness Lee appointed the elders of "The Church in Chicago" (some sent from another city 2000+ plus miles away) now all Christians there should come under their authority? Seriously David? Really?
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:16 AM   #62
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Okay, I said I was going to work on my tone and I will.

Dear Brother Dave,

I ask you to look at the practical considerations involved with encouraging one church, one administration per city. Once you teach this idea to followers, their consciences become locked into it and they cannot go any other way easily. This sets up all kinds of practical dilemmas which are pretty much guaranteed to result in the destruction of the faith of some members.

In the first place, as I've said, the LRC-model of ground of oneness with its insistence on one administration gives no guidance for what members are to do when leadership becomes sectarian, heretical or otherwise sinful. If indeed there is supposed to be only one administration per city, then how are crises of leadership handled? The history of the LRC shows these problems are disastrous, as innocent saints are caught in the cross-fire of warring leaders and ministries, with no other guidance but to "submit" and "be one" (which is sort of like asking citizens to sing the national anthem and wave flags while the ship of state is sinking).

You spoke of the "horrible and hopeless situation in Christianity." In what sense do you say this? It seems to me there have been some pretty horrible and hopeless things going on in your movement. And there is much in "Christianity" that gives me hope that the Lord is indeed working to bring a real oneness to Christians in cities. The situation in Christianity is "horrible and hopeless" only when compared to an idealistic standard which may not even be what the Lord desires.

Simply put, although I agree there is in some sense "one church" in a city, I doubt seriously whether the Lord wants to establish and have all Christians submit to one official local administration. Official administrations, especially ones that are not accountable, always open up the door to abuse and control. The more power they have, the more damage their abuse can bring. Although official leadership is needed for churches (on a smaller than local scale) members also need the option to reject leadership which goes bad. If there is to be one official administration per city then fights over this position are inevitable, both for insincere and sincere reasons. But how are saints to make heads or tails of whom to follow in such situations? The answer is you don't provide an answer. You pretend the problem doesn't exist. In other words, the saints become fodder for the cannons of idealism. This is the history of your movement.

Witness the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, which are held forth by the LRC as final evidence of the validity of the ground of locality. The letters were not addressed to the elders of each church, nor to any official administration. Rather they were addressed to the "angel" or "messenger" of each church, that is the real spiritual leader or leaders. This suggests a spiritual reality of leadership which exists alongside any official leadership. If the Lord was with you on your claim of one official administration, I think he would have addressed the letters to the elders.
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Old 11-03-2011, 08:10 AM   #63
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IMHO this is a fundamental flaw with the "ground of locality" as rigid church model. Basic questions must be answered in order for the theory to work out in application. Who are the elders and who decides who gets to be the elders?
I agree. If the so-called "apostolic age" has passed with the death of the evangelist John, then according to the LRC paradigm, there are no more apostles around to even appoint elders. But let's say that we do have contemporary "apostles." The LRC system, by definition, can only operate with so-called "new churches," and only for the first generation.

Today even the Recovery does not practice what WN taught, i.e. that the "founding apostle" should appoint elders. Paul himself did not strictly practice this, since he sent Titus at one point to appoint elders in the churches he established. The LRC actually practices a Bishopric in the appointment of elders.

Take the GLA, for example. Many brothers went out over the years and established new LC's. Twice I personally migrated to start new churches. The brothers who went did not appoint elders, instead TC, who did not go, appointed the elders. Nominally, we were against the system of bishops, but actually we operated accordingly. Don't the bishops oversee elders, appoint elders, train elders, send elders to new places?
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:24 AM   #64
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I agree. If the so-called "apostolic age" has passed with the death of the evangelist John, then according to the LRC paradigm, there are no more apostles around to even appoint elders. But let's say that we do have contemporary "apostles." The LRC system, by definition, can only operate with so-called "new churches," and only for the first generation.

Today even the Recovery does not practice what WN taught, i.e. that the "founding apostle" should appoint elders. Paul himself did not strictly practice this, since he sent Titus at one point to appoint elders in the churches he established. The LRC actually practices a Bishopric in the appointment of elders.

Take the GLA, for example. Many brothers went out over the years and established new LC's. Twice I personally migrated to start new churches. The brothers who went did not appoint elders, instead TC, who did not go, appointed the elders. Nominally, we were against the system of bishops, but actually we operated accordingly. Don't the bishops oversee elders, appoint elders, train elders, send elders to new places?
Yes I agree the LCs do operate more as a Bishopric.

But even the model Watchman Nee discussed and tried to practice was not really contextual in terms of the early church era. Paul planted churches where none existed upon his arrival so there literally was only one church in those cities. In Rome prior to Paul's arrival there was already a church there and so as Nigel points out in his article how Paul addresses Rome was different than some of the other places.

The only application I could see now is if a missionary (derived from Latin word for apostle) went to a place with no Christians, preached the gospel and planted a church and then later came back and appointed elders from that city (not sent from elsewhere like Witness Lee did). This scenario would be the only thing close to what was going on sometimes in the NT.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:14 PM   #65
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When Witness Lee moved here to America he was a little more "liberal" and accepting of other Christians and ministries. Then when he had built up enough of a self-supporting base here in the USA, he reverted back to his sectarian and authoritative ways. Sorry to be so blunt with you my brother but it's a little hard to deny these facts at this point.
UntoHim, on points you've brought up I agree on some and disagree on others. Taiwan is not North America, It's a different culture. Plus it has a different history. We don't even know the depths of the history in Taiwan. No one has been willing to be the "whistleblower". What is tolerated in Taiwan (then and maybe now) would not be tolerated in North America.
The important thing to remember, Witness Lee was only one brother. Once Witness Lee was able to find brothers who were respecters of men, he was able to impress his opinions upon them. In the localities he needed yes-men, brothers who took Lee's opinion as their own. Brothers who would use their roles in leadership to impress Lee's opinions as fact.
Well, we know the track record and what happened. What about now? Witness Lee has been gone 14 years. He cannot say anything. The focus of LSM's work is primarily on the young people and college freshmen. There's no children work so parents with children who need resources beyond their own have to go to non-LSM Christianity.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:31 PM   #66
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

David Canfield in post #65: Some of the later posts focus on our need to have an attitude of oneness in the heart, which is very good. But, in the New Testament we not only see such an inward attitude; we also have solid, definite local churches, with a defined and identifiable leadership. The believers absolutely needed to be gathered together with these churches, so that the Lord could have His testimony. This is why we must be sure that our basis for gathering is according to the New Testament, especially given the horrible and hopelessly confused situation in Christianity today. So, it is not enough to have an attitude of oneness; we must also learn how to meet in such a way as to keep the oneness. This is why the matter of the proper ground is so crucial.

Igzy in post #62: The situation in Christianity is "horrible and hopeless" only when compared to an idealistic standard which may not even be what the Lord desires.

The following are some notes I made about a month ago. I’m posting them, after editing them for readability, as food for thought, because they came to mind after reading the above. (Sorry, there are verses without references but they can be found by searching a King James version, if you are interested.)

Lee taught us that God's foremost, all-consuming concern, with respect to His house and to the bride of Christ, was a testimony of “oneness.” This is the premise upon which he built his case that God needed a “practical expression” of oneness on the ground of locality.

After looking into the Bible for myself to see what it reveals to be of greatest importance to God, I have come to believe that Lee’s premise was false.

In the Bible, I cannot find that “oneness” is what is most important to God with respect to His people and His habitation. Rather, I find that His emphasis is on their holiness, in both Old and New Testaments. There is no possibility of any thing called oneness, without holiness. The Father is holy. Jesus is holy. They were perfectly one in that holiness. Christ died for us that we would also be made holy. As we are made holy by the blood of the Lamb and by the washing of the water in the Word, we are truly one with God and Christ and with one another.

I am convinced that the Bible supports that the most important thing to God concerning His people and His habitation is holiness, not oneness; He desires and requires, first and foremost, that His people, His habitation, be holy.


A word search of the Bible on “oneness,” “unity,” “be ye one,” “be one,” etc. produces a paltry list of verses supporting the idea that God’s desire and requirement for His house is “oneness,” in comparison to the list of verses that show his desire for it being holy.

A word search on “holy,” “holiness,” “be ye holy,” “be holy,” returns hundreds of verses which appear to be primarily about God’s people and about what God desires and expects concerning them.

For example:

- His habitation is a mountain of holiness.

- Holiness becomes thine house, O LORD, for ever.

- And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

- But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness

- The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.

- And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

- For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

- That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

- According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

- If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

God’s people are called “saints” which means “holy ones.”

In the Local Church, because we became convinced that what we called “practical oneness” was pre-eminent in importance to God, everything in the Bible went through that filter. In verses such as above, we would understand the word “holiness” as if it actually said “oneness.”

How much righteousness and holiness do we see in the Local Church today? Holiness has been let go in order to preserve sectarian oneness.

How many messages did Mr. Lee give on holiness??? What is one of the biggest doctrinal hang-ups that many people, who leave, or kind-of-leave, the Local Church, have? Are they hung-up about needing to be holy? No, they are confused about “church” and are struggling with "oneness” concerns. Some are so stuck on the idea that God is looking for a “testimony of oneness” that this colors all their thinking and fellowship …. They believe they still have a superior understanding of the topic.

The operative Local Church belief is that Christ is coming for the church that is practically one, even though the Bible says of His bride that she is “holy and without blemish,” not that she is a testimony of practical oneness. She is clothed in fine linen bright and pure. She is clothed with the light. She has come out of filthiness and is washed and sanctified (made holy) by His Word and His blood. Revelation calls the New Jerusalem the Holy City not the Oneness City.

It seems that once infected with the “practical-oneness-is-what-God-is-after” disease, it is almost impossible to recover from it.

I was surprised to realize that in John 17, there is no evidence that Jesus was praying for a visible or practical church oneness that others could see, as Lee claimed. Instead, He was praying that we all be one as the Father and Son are.

Joh 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one,as we are.

How are the Father and Son one? Just what does “one as we are” look like? Does it look like a bunch of people surrounded by a city boundary who can say “we are one because we understand and practice the doctrine of locality?”

Take a look at Revelation. Just what are those in heaven saying--those before the throne of God and the Lamb, those who are seeing Him as He is on the throne … what are they saying day and night?

“Oneness, Oneness, Oneness” ??

No, their cry is, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” over and over and over, day and night.

Be ye holy as I AM holy. I AM is holy, so must we be.

Being taught that Satan feared our “oneness” most of all, we embraced, as supreme in importance, a perverted, packaged definition and model, of oneness (ground of locality). We then practiced that model at the expense of holiness. Why? because we were deceived by the devil who really feared our walking in holiness by the blood and the Word.

Satan knows that when God’s people are clean, righteous, holy, they can move heaven and earth with their prayers and that God’s enemies will be made a footstool for the feet of Jesus. He also knows that defilement defeats God’s people and stops God’s answers to their prayers. Having a vested interest in stopping our effective prayers, Satan had to make something more important to us than holiness. In our case, that something was a special understanding and practice of “oneness.” When there was a choice between being “holy” or being “one,” holy lost out.

So, the bad news is that in the Local Church case, oneness has trumped holiness and the devil has won, at least temporarily…but the good news is that Revelation shows multitudes of cleansed ones, holy ones, undefiled ones--the bride of Christ--who overcame Satan.

May we be in that number.

Instead of continuing to spin our wheels in the church oneness mire, shouldn’t we begin now to learn how to say “Holy, Holy, Holy,” to be holy as He is, and to move heaven and earth with our prayers?
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:21 PM   #67
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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I am convinced that the Bible supports that the most important thing to God concerning His people and His habitation is holiness, not oneness; He desires and requires, first and foremost, that His people, His habitation, be holy.

In the Local Church, because we became convinced that what we called “practical oneness” was pre-eminent in importance to God, everything in the Bible went through that filter. In verses such as above, we would understand the word “holiness” as if it actually said “oneness.”

How much righteousness and holiness do we see in the Local Church today? Holiness has been let go in order to preserve sectarian oneness.

How many messages did Mr. Lee give on holiness??? What is one of the biggest doctrinal hang-ups that many people, who leave, or kind-of-leave, the Local Church, have? Are they hung-up about needing to be holy? No, they are confused about “church” and are struggling with "oneness” concerns. Some are so stuck on the idea that God is looking for a “testimony of oneness” that this colors all their thinking and fellowship …. They believe they still have a superior understanding of the topic.
Great insight. When we are holy, then we are one with the Lord our God. We have the real oneness.

I think Mr. Canfield should also consider that the greatest error and damage to God's interests in the entire history of the church was accomplished in the name of oneness by the Roman Oneness (or catholic) Church.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:41 PM   #68
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

From Canfield:
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4. It is indeed wrong to make an issue out of the ground in our personal fellowship with other believers, i.e., “If you don’t stand on the ground I can’t fellowship with you!”; that is really ugly. But, this statement needs to be balanced. First, we do need to defend the truth in the New Testament, especially regarding an important matter such as this, which has been so maligned, on the one hand, and so misrepresented on the other. Second, there is no requirement to be one with, or to seek any fellowship with, Christian groups that have taken a divisive stand on something other than the ground of oneness.
There's a catch phrase here: "other than the ground of oneness". If you go to any group of genuine Christians and ask them what is their "ground of oneness?", most will say something along the lines of "our oneness is the faith we share in the Lord Jesus Christ - that He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, gave his life for us on the cross, was raised from the dead on the third day, ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit as our comforter and helper." Witness Lee and his followers have absolutely ADDED to this stand with their doctrine of locality (aka doctrine of dirt). In fact, as indicated by brother Canfield's statement "something other than the ground of oneness", they have even made this doctrine a major item of the faith, at least insomuch as it relates to whom we have fellowship with.
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Old 11-04-2011, 04:43 AM   #69
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

We clearly do not hear from Jane enough.

Yes, Jesus prayed that we would be one. But even with the number of verses in that prayer, it was not the major theme of his teaching.

Paul had to tell more than one group to get along (at least one time due to consideration for who they were naturally, and another for fighting over preeminence of teachers) but even then it was more about the lack of righteousness in the position of separateness than in some overriding "call to be one."

Jesus spent virtually the whole "Sermon on the Mount" giving instructions in righteousness. The "Great Commandment" is about loving God and others — and all others, not just the Christian "brethren." And the outgrowth of this is the kind of righteousness that does not neglect a foreigner (to you) who is found wounded on the side of the road of life.

The commands for righteousness, for holiness, are many, are vocal, and are pointedly clear and direct. The call for oneness was in a prayer that one disciple overheard and recorded. Yes you can find other references that indicate unity and oneness, but they are also indirect. And the way I read "they will know you are my disciples . . ." is that when you are truly following Christ, you will become one and you will love one another and then the world will know.

And right now, there is more oneness between Baptists and Lutherans than there is among the splinters of the LRC. And, with exceptions, when you see individual Christians, they are not concerned with sect, or with "being one." They are just in agreement as Christians. They do not need to sing a song that goes "we are one (we are all made one) . . ." but are simply one in a way that does not need direction.

"Until we all arrive at the oneness of the ground, at a fully taken city, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Lee's teachings."

Wrong! We must arrive at oneness. And it is not of ground, but of faith. As our faith grows, it becomes more mature and recognizes that which is common among us. And it is not locality, it is faith. We share locality with heathen. We share faith with all who call on the Lord in every place, both theirs and ours.

If it was just about ground, there would be no arriving. It would be dictated. But while we may have a claim of faith from the first, it does grow. And as it grows, it becomes — arrives at being — one. But from the first steps of faith, we are called to be righteous. We are called to obey. The law that was in our flesh was not that law. It was the realization of the law without means. But we now have means.

All scripture is from God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. From it the people of God are completely equipped for the work to which they are called. (my paraphrase)

Nothing about oneness here. It is about righteousness, works, and obedience. Why do they keep singing this song? Besides the catchy tune, it is contrary to the teachings of Lee. But very instructive concerning the teachings of Christ.
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Old 11-04-2011, 06:18 AM   #70
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There's a catch phrase here: "other than the ground of oneness". If you go to any group of genuine Christians and ask them what is their "ground of oneness?", most will say something along the lines of "our oneness is the faith we share in the Lord Jesus Christ - that He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, gave his life for us on the cross, was raised from the dead on the third day, ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit as our comforter and helper." Witness Lee and his followers have absolutely ADDED to this stand with their doctrine of locality (aka doctrine of dirt). In fact, as indicated by brother Canfield's statement "something other than the ground of oneness", they have even made this doctrine a major item of the faith, at least insomuch as it relates to whom we have fellowship with.
Yes our oneness is based on the common faith we share! Nothing to do with the doctrine of dirt.
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Old 11-04-2011, 06:37 AM   #71
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The commands for righteousness, for holiness, are many, are vocal, and are pointedly clear and direct. The call for oneness was in a prayer that one disciple overheard and recorded. Yes you can find other references that indicate unity and oneness, but they are also indirect. And the way I read "they will know you are my disciples . . ." is that when you are truly following Christ, you will become one and you will love one another and then the world will know.
I agree with you and Thankful about this issue of holiness and I would add to that love as you have done in the above quote. In the LC these two virtues were sacrificed on the altar of the doctrine of dirt. Anything can happen as long as we are "meeting on the ground" - a wholly positional stance without regard to the condition of the assembly. The Lord in Rev 2-3 repudiates this when he starts judging the churches based on their condition and threatens to remove their lampstands if things didn't change. I hope someone in the LC gives a message one day about: Meeting on the Ground Without Being a Lampstand!
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:49 AM   #72
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

The problem with lifting this sometimes practiced but never taught idea from the early church era and insisting it must be taught and practiced in today's context is that it requires a false premise: Christianity is brand new, the NT is not fully written yet, there are apostles with authority to set up churches in cities where there were no Christians before they arrived and appoint elders that should be recognized as such by all Christians in a city.

I agree. These men (LSM) were claiming to be apostles according to the NT order and to set up churches as such. However, there were already churches in these cities, the gospel had already been announced there, and believers established, in many cases for centuries.

So then, given Nee (whom I regard very highly) and Lee’s position on authority and submission, and the covering doctrine (that you should submit to the leadership unequivocally and not be accountable [covered] for any error because you were just following orders). Why did they not submit to the local presbityrian church, or any of the numerous churches, both denominational and not, that have eldership structure. After all, they would have been the leadership in place, that God established (all authority is from God), and right or wrong, ground of oneness or not, they should’ve been recognized and submitted to. If you really want to go there, we should all still be Catholic! Submitting to the one’s that “God has placed” in the lead.

I know in many instances there were believers who were already meeting on the basis of Christ alone and LSM & co. Still came in and “took the ground” claiming to be the true church in that city without any regard to the ones already there, standing on Christ alone.

The “ground" doctrine is something that has gotten completely out of control. Although speculative, I believe that Lee’s ambitions got the best of him. I believe he needed the “ground” doctrine to get rid of sparks and to be “king of the mountain” and like Herald Hsu testified, if Watchman Nee were there he would of changed his mind on the ground of locality. But it was already too late for Lee; he had made up his mind. Sparks was and still is the antidote to Lee. It’s funny how Lee borrowed from sparks. Sparks wrote “the universality and centrality of the cross” and Lee wrote “the universality and centrality of Christ”. Sparks would always admonish the saints not “crystallize” teachings, “don’t you dare crystallize that! And turn it into some sort of teaching. He’d say, and Lee would have entire conferences on “the crystallization of such and such”.

Anyhow, Christ is the only ground we should be on, as the song goes “all other ground is sinking sand”.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:38 AM   #73
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

The local ground is like the Holy Grail, or the Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings.

It promises so much. It entices and beckons. Men fight over it. Yet in the end it delivers little, and leaves disaster in its wake.
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:55 PM   #74
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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The local ground is like the Holy Grail, or the Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings.

It promises so much. It entices and beckons. Men fight over it. Yet in the end it delivers little, and leaves disaster in its wake.
The Ring of Power!

Now there is some imagery that is understood in this generation. Very fitting.
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Old 11-04-2011, 03:34 PM   #75
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If you really want to go there, we should all still be Catholic! Submitting to the one’s that “God has placed” in the lead.
That's right! And Roman Catholics consider themselves the church in each city too e.g. The Church in Rome. So we should all submit to either the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox leaders IF you really want to go there. But of course the LC doesn't want to go there. Their doctrine of the church de-legitimizes all other church governments and places themselves as the only remaining admin (in their own heads).
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I know in many instances there were believers who were already meeting on the basis of Christ alone and LSM & co. Still came in and “took the ground” claiming to be the true church in that city without any regard to the ones already there, standing on Christ alone.
They sure did and when they divide they continue to call themselves variations of "The Church in __________" all claiming the one ground with the one admin. It's hilarious!
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:50 AM   #76
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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That's right! And Roman Catholics consider themselves the church in each city too e.g. The Church in Rome. So we should all submit to either the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox leaders IF you really want to go there. But of course the LC doesn't want to go there. Their doctrine of the church de-legitimizes all other church governments and places themselves as the only remaining admin (in their own heads).They sure did and when they divide they continue to call themselves variations of "The Church in __________" all claiming the one ground with the one admin. It's hilarious!
Concerning being "quaranteed"; does that mean you lose your ground? Is oneness in the ground? I was wondering where the LCM brothers came up with this concept and have been asking myself if it came from leading brothers there who have "Catholic" background roots as the Catholic Church has a history of excommunication. Many people have experienced this when "authority" is questioned or challenged.

For several months I have been in a debate online now in another forum with a catholic man who feels he is serving God by promoting the Catholic view including that one needs to be part of the "universal church to be in oneness" and that the Protestants are serving the opposer. He picks and chooses verses that can be twisted by Catholic interpretation to promote the Catholic point. Including the need to participate in their eucharist which they proclaim becomes the flesh and blood of Christ which of course the protestants don't have the priests endowed with that power. When really confronted about this begrudgingly he will admit that the wafer and the wine doesn't really turn into flesh and blood but that it is "deeper' and "these are symbols but more than symbols" and that the Priest by reading the Word to those attending the Mass changes and causes the flesh and blood of Christ to appear in His body. Of course that is the universal Catholic Church founded on the Rock (St Peter the first pope). Did you know that if you attend the Mass everytime for three years you will have heard the whole Word of God" even though they only read it in latin until a few years ago? "Whole" means the whole Catholic bible which includes all the books which the Protestants are missing. From this argument I figured out that it is in the extra books in the Catholic bible that they base and justify their system of priests and other beliefs such as that tradition can be placed on the same level as the Word of God. In fact they have even labled the fundamentalists principle as "sole scripturral and have volumes to justify their point of view as to why this is an error". So whenever you say "It say this or that in the Word of God" they discount what you say as to your error in just believing "Sole Scriptural" and then proceed to quote from one of their "fathers" or what this or that pope said.

I have found that the only way to debate with him is to stick to "Sole Scriptural" as Jesus did when He was in the wilderness. The debate has kept me in the Word and Spirit as I have found that when I rely on mans knowlege or my own that the Catholic Church has had two thousand years to prepare a fortress around their mountain. But when just sticking to the Word of God I have been called a bunch of derogatory names as they try to argue against the Truth. I also was called a few names plus insane when I questioned why the eucharist had symbols of the sun and moon on it. Of course this is just a coincidence that the same exact symbols are used today in Islam and were used by the Eygyptions

Samarians Babylonians and many others. I found that the Samarians were the home of Balaam who knew the things of God but did not share their "food" with the Israelites. I recently found that the Vatican is built so that from the view from above it is built into an image or symbol of a key with a star that points to the same star as the pyramids are designed to point to. The statue of St Peter there has his finger pointing and holding the key is pictured on the following http://www.thehiddenrecords.com/vatican_solution.htm

Could it be that the sun and the moon in Rev. where it says there will be no need of sun and moon refers to this sun and moon worship including what the Catholics use in their Mas?. Isn't this the ground that the Catholics use as their oneness? It is created by following the Catholic Church wheras the true oneness that we seek is in the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:3
Being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace:

Last edited by RollingStone; 11-05-2011 at 12:27 PM. Reason: correct grammer and make clearer
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:21 AM   #77
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

For all the faults of the RCC, I would be careful that inserting an overlay from an external source to insist on some worldly, even Satanic, view of their faith and practice is not much different from their view of Protestants as being outside of oneness because we left the "first church" as they want to say of themselves.

Besides, other than the North Star, there is no star that a statue or configuration of buildings can point to other than one day each year. Hardly proof of Satanic influence.

But if there is a building aligned with the North Star, then buildings would be consistently aligned. It can be checked day after day during the building process. More a matter of architecture than of religion.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:40 AM   #78
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

I think the problem is that we are always looking for a basis to compare ourselves to others, and to build ourselves up in the process. There are faults in all of us. Why look to others for faults? Our yardstick should be Christ and it should be evident that no one measures up.

I am not suggesting that we not try to help others see the way. Or see it better. Or deny that there may be problems worthy of correction. But when we try to denigrate any so that they are seen as demonic, Satanic, Whore of Babylon, etc., then we have more nearly placed ourselves in the position of God. If either we or they have been building (or have been built upon) with wood, hay, and stubble, it is the job of "the day" to reveal it. We may find that speaking so definitively negative about our brothers and sisters in Christ contains as much or more stubble than their errors.

And yet I would never cease making the case for what I believe is right, but hopefully in a manner in which "they" are brought to the reasonableness of better understanding. It has happened to me. And probably will continue to do so.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:56 AM   #79
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Concerning being "quaranteed"; does that mean you lose your ground? Is oneness in the ground? I was wondering where the LCM brothers came up with this concept and have been asking myself if it came from leading brothers there who have "Catholic" background roots as the Catholic Church has a history of excommunication. Many people have experienced this when "authority" is questioned or challenged.
Watchman Nee taught that "the work" is regional with a centralized location within each regional where workers come and go from e.g. Antioch. So there may be 100s regions and centers of "the work" around the world. Eventually Witness Lee changed it to one global work with him at the center of it holding apostolic authority over all other workers. Disagreement with him or his peons = quarantine/excommunication. In effect he became a papal figure to those in the LC.
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:57 AM   #80
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Eventually Witness Lee changed it to one global work with him at the center of it holding apostolic authority over all other workers. Disagreement with him or his peons = quarantine/excommunication. In effect he became a papal figure to those in the LC.
Full circle, eh? First we left the RCC as dissidents and protesters. Then we discover a previously hidden "ground of oneness" and begin assembling our "one true church", complete with supreme authority and all its trappings.

It reminds me nothing so much as the final scene in "Animal Farm" where the old mare Clover is peering in the farmhouse windows and she sees the pigs and the farmers playing cards and swilling beers. The Glorious Revolution had come to this: Clover couldn't tell which was which.

Genesis 3:1 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made..." (NIV)
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:26 AM   #81
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Full circle, eh? First we left the RCC as dissidents and protesters. Then we discover a previously hidden "ground of oneness" and begin assembling our "one true church", complete with supreme authority and all its trappings.
Have you ever noticed how most of the LRC's pillar unique teachings are "hidden" and/or based on obscure typology?
Mingling
Dispensing
Economy
Son being Spirit, Son being Father
Local Ground
Recovery
Minister of the Age
One Publication
These are some of the teachings that make the LRC distinct from mainstream orthodox Christianity. Yet none of them are apparent in the Bible. Some are based solely on typology. Others on one or two verses. Yet they are on the forefront of what the LRC says is important. In short the LRC makes what the Bible plainly says take a back seat to what they think it covertly says.

The "local ground" was never an issue, as far as I can tell, in the early church. The church fathers didn't fight over it or defend it. No one wrote about it until a few Brethren teachers, then Nee, picked up on it.

Why should anyone believe such an obscure and historically irrelevant teaching should actually be one of the most crucial and central ideas in the Bible, particularly in the light of how the LRC's history has shown the idea to be so monstrously sectarian?
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:25 AM   #82
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The "local ground" was never an issue, as far as I can tell, in the early church. The church fathers didn't fight over it or defend it. No one wrote about it until a few Brethren teachers, then Nee, picked up on it.

Why should anyone believe such an obscure and historically irrelevant teaching should actually be one of the most crucial and central ideas in the Bible, particularly in the light of how the LRC's history has shown the idea to be so monstrously sectarian?
The funny thing about the LC is that they like to purposely create controversy with other Christians over non-essentials and language. It's quite strange. Instead of using a incendiary term: like "man becoming God" they could use NT words like sanctification or transformation. Anyone who wants to reach out to people and communicate effectively knows that using language they understand is essential. If the LC really wanted the rest of Christianity to know these so called "hidden recovered truths" they would make an effort to explain them in vernacular terms.

Same with their "ground of locality" church doctrine. Instead of saying all Christians in a city are one church regardless of where they meet and leaving it at that they have to create controversy by saying things like: "We are Jerusalem and you are a Babylonian Whore if you don't come and meet with us and come under the administration set up by Witness Lee who lives 5,000 miles away." Obviously their conceited insistence on the universal application of their own church model is offensive and insulting to the intelligence of anyone who has connected the dots and understands the implications of it.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:22 AM   #83
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Have you ever noticed how most of the LRC's pillar unique teachings are "hidden" and/or based on obscure typology?
Mingling
Dispensing
Economy
Son being Spirit, Son being Father
Local Ground
Recovery
Minister of the Age
One Publication
Conversely, have you noticed what is missing?
Off the top:
Fearing God
Love and compassion as seen in 1 Corinthians 13.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:33 AM   #84
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Same with their "ground of locality" church doctrine. Instead of saying all Christians in a city are one church regardless of where they meet and leaving it at that they have to create controversy by saying things like: "We are Jerusalem and you are a Babylonian Whore if you don't come and meet with us and come under the administration set up by Witness Lee who lives 5,000 miles away." Obviously their conceited insistence on the universal application of their own church model is offensive and insulting to the intelligence of anyone who has connected the dots and understands the implications of it.
Hypothetically "unregistered", suppose where you live, or some North American city where there isn't "The Church in _____". Suppose the Christians you meet with register as The Church in ______, does that make you the church on the proper ground? Suppose when the saints who recieve LSM as the one publication, want to have a lampstand in your city, do they have to come and meet where you're at since you're already meeting as the church in _______?
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:52 PM   #85
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Hypothetically "unregistered", suppose where you live, or some North American city where there isn't "The Church in _____". Suppose the Christians you meet with register as The Church in ______, does that make you the church on the proper ground? Suppose when the saints who recieve LSM as the one publication, want to have a lampstand in your city, do they have to come and meet where you're at since you're already meeting as the church in _______?
Proper ground? Register? LSM? One publication? Where is any of this in the Bible?

Churches and "ministries" register in North America to get tax free status, ability to buy property, accept charitable donations so donors can write them off, etc.

If someone registers a name of their church with the government and calls it "The Church in __________". That's all they've done. It's a piece of paper.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:48 PM   #86
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Hypothetically "unregistered", suppose where you live, or some North American city where there isn't "The Church in _____". Suppose the Christians you meet with register as The Church in ______, does that make you the church on the proper ground? Suppose when the saints who recieve LSM as the one publication, want to have a lampstand in your city, do they have to come and meet where you're at since you're already meeting as the church in _______?
Of course not. History shows they will trump up some claim to say the group is invalid, then set up their own shop as the "genuine" church in the city. E.g. Raleigh, Toronto, Columbus, etc.

Their reasons for finding fault with other groups and invalidating them reminds me of the techno-babble in Star Trek when in order to get out of some fix they "re-route the emitter array through the warp coil" or whatever. The LRC is just as creative (and goofy) with their reasons other groups aren't properly "on the round." But their real reason is always "they ain't us."
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:37 AM   #87
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The LRC is perfectly within their rights to "meet as the church in the city" if that's what their conscience dictates. What is in question is the right to say every group that doesn't "meet as the church in the city" is therefore not a valid expression of the church or, even less so, is divisive. This where they get into trouble. They are claiming to have knowledge they can't possibly have given the pattern in the NT.

The mention of churches in houses throws a monkey wrench into their thesis that the only valid churches are city churches. House church mentions in the NT create just enough doubt about the city church thesis to render unreasonable any insistence on the city church model, not to mention the one city administration model.

Zeal for an ideal is not always a bad thing. But hard-nosed zeal for an ideal which is neither commanded nor sufficiently blueprinted is folly.

There is nothing wrong with seeing all the Christians in a city as one church. Whenever I get the chance I mention it. I bought some items at a sale at a Methodist church. I didn't quibble over the price and let them keep the change and they thanked me and I said, "It's okay, we're all in the same church, right?" I always enjoy the reaction to that when I do it. It's usually a mixture of "Huh? followed by "Oh...yeah."
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:09 AM   #88
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There is nothing wrong with seeing all the Christians in a city as one church. Whenever I get the chance I mention it. I bought some items at a sale at a Methodist church. I didn't quibble over the price and let them keep the change and they thanked me and I said, "It's okay, we're all in the same church, right?" I always enjoy the reaction to that when I do it. It's usually a mixture of "Huh? followed by "Oh...yeah."
Actually, our church says it at times. They acknowledge that the church is people, not buildings or specific assemblies, although each assembly is also "church" in that it is the gathering.

And so we all are the church wherever we are. We should pray that the word goes out strongly from all who gather in His name. Even those that we probably couldn't stomach their way of meeting. It is not about meeting style. It is about Christ. And they are about Christ, as are we.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:35 AM   #89
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Proper ground? Register? LSM? One publication? Where is any of this in the Bible?

Churches and "ministries" register in North America to get tax free status, ability to buy property, accept charitable donations so donors can write them off, etc.

If someone registers a name of their church with the government and calls it "The Church in __________". That's all they've done. It's a piece of paper.
Yeah, I don't disagree with you. What you've said is what it amounts to. I can only testify to what my ears have listened to. In one breath, "we don't take a name". When someone has already taken a name, well if you want to register you'll have to take a name. Previously somewhere else on the forum I brought up the Church in Bellevue. Prior to there being a Church in Bellevue as we now know, there was a brother from the Church in Seattle in the mid-70's who was burdened for Bellevue. I'm not privy to the details, but the end result was excommunication for not going through the proper channles of fellowship. He may have beenresponsible for the first registration of the Church in Bellevue, but by the time those from the Church in Seattle picked up this burden and desired for there to be a lampstand in bellevue, guess what? A different name had to be selected. That is until the registration lapsed and they were now free to choose the Church in Bellevue. Of course this is all second-hand information by those that were present at the time.

So you see, calling yourself the church in _____ doesn't make it so. It's just a name for legal and tax purposes. OBW's post echoes my sentiments what the church is.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:55 PM   #90
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Lee taught us that God's foremost, all-consuming concern, with respect to His house and to the bride of Christ, was a testimony of “oneness.” This is the premise upon which he built his case that God needed a “practical expression” of oneness on the ground of locality.

After looking into the Bible for myself to see what it reveals to be of greatest importance to God, I have come to believe that Lee’s premise was false.

[SIZE=2]In the Bible, I cannot find that “oneness” is what is most important to God with respect to His people and His habitation. Rather, I find that His emphasis is on their holiness, in both Old and New Testaments. There is no possibility of any thing called oneness, without holiness. The Father is holy. Jesus is holy. They were perfectly one in that holiness. Christ died for us that we would also be made holy. As we are made holy by the blood of the Lamb and by the washing of the water in the Word, we are truly one with God and Christ and with one another.
Jane, I've been meaning to repsond to your post for days. You should know as well as I do, the crux of local church practices on oneness is based on John 17:21. Sure we have a supplement song talking about unity based on Psalms 133. Talk about unity and talk about oneness, what is that based on? IMHO it's unity and oneness in a ministry. Where you live and where I live, there are probably over a thousand Christians in your city and in mine. Where is the oneness with them. Where is the unity with other Christian gatherings?

Reading what you had to say about holiness. What is unity without holiness? It's easy for people or even Christians to be united. It's called politics. In such circumstances you don't need to be holy, you just need to exhibit unity behind a specific "group think". When we're in holiness, we don't care about politics, we don't care where so and so meets. You don't think whether to accept so and so, it just happens.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:31 AM   #91
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Reading what you had to say about holiness. What is unity without holiness? It's easy for people or even Christians to be united. It's called politics. In such circumstances you don't need to be holy, you just need to exhibit unity behind a specific "group think". When we're in holiness, we don't care about politics, we don't care where so and so meets. You don't think whether to accept so and so, it just happens.
Now I would not dare to suggest that there is a lot of holiness at my place — at least no more than anywhere else — but politics has begun to take a back burner. When you have as diverse a group as we do, you quickly learn that we are not all WASPs. Not all Republican. Not all uber conservative. Didn't vote for the same things. Don't value the same issues in the same way. It is very intentionally not discussed from the pulpit, mostly because it would cause problems with unity since it is not a basis for unity. It is a basis for division.

Reading and considering the "emerging church" issues and questions sometimes reveals flaws in my "that's what I grew up believing" dogma. Similarly, discussions of political issues with thoughtful people that do not toe the "Christian right" group-think makes me realize that just holding to something we think is "the way" because we think it is can be blinding us to the real way.

I understand that a reporter was talking with one of the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street offshoot in Dallas (I think it was). They have now set in place measures to be sure that those sharing the resources of the tent city actually are on board with their mission. This from a group that is complaining how the rich on Wall Street and in big business are not sharing their wealth. The reporter said out loud "how ironic." The guy didn't even get it.

How often is our demand for what we think is the "best," whether in politics or religion, just as hypocritical? And if you never even give serious consideration to something outside your group-think, you will never see your error. Totally homogeneous, same-thinking religious and political groups are a little like inbred families in remote Appalachia. I pray that I escape my tendency for ignorance of my own ignorance and hypocrisy.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:17 AM   #92
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Now I would not dare to suggest that there is a lot of holiness at my place — at least no more than anywhere else — but politics has begun to take a back burner. When you have as diverse a group as we do, you quickly learn that we are not all WASPs. Not all Republican. Not all uber conservative. Didn't vote for the same things. Don't value the same issues in the same way. It is very intentionally not discussed from the pulpit, mostly because it would cause problems with unity since it is not a basis for unity. It is a basis for division.
For clarification, when I speak of politics I'm not speaking of Republicans or Democrats. I'm speaking of polarization into taking sides. Suanne has brought out in her posts in Mansfield, OH she didn't want to take sides. She wanted to take Christ, but it was impressed a side needed to be taken. That is what I call being political.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:46 AM   #93
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For clarification, when I speak of politics I'm not speaking of Republicans or Democrats. I'm speaking of polarization into taking sides. Suanne has brought out in her posts in Mansfield, OH she didn't want to take sides. She wanted to take Christ, but it was impressed a side needed to be taken. That is what I call being political.
Well, it seems that Paul referred to that kind of "politics" when he advised that thinking more highly of your kind — Jew, Gentile, slave, slave owner, freeman, servant, rich, poor — was an offense to God and to the gospel (in so many words). I can point to people who were busy complaining how things weren't the way it was back when there were 375. Or when they were the one leading (fill-in-the-blank ministry, work, etc.). And the number of them that eventually leave over it is amazing. Too taken with themselves.

And the same thing runs over into secular politics. We presume that the way we (meaning "I") think is the best and wonder how the church could let some liberal "I voted for Clinton and Obama" so-and-so join and even sometimes teach. Whether you call it politics, or just "my way," and whether it is about religious politics or secular politics, it really is the same thing when it gets in the way of fellowship.
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:56 AM   #94
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The local ground with one administration only works (and I use the term "works" in a very qualified sense) with a small movement which exists within the larger context of Christians who do not follow the teaching. With the mentality of being a unique faithful "remnant," a small group holding to the teaching can tell itself that they are not separating from the rest of the Body (although they are), but rather are being faithful to the truth. In this mindset, they can live in the mistaken belief that they are standing properly, when in fact their belief that their elders are over the whole city is entirely presumptuous.

The fact is, their model of unity has never truly been tested in the reality of the complete Body of Christ (except in the early church, where it led to Catholicism). If a large portion of the Christians in the city begin to hold to the one church per city and the one administration doctrine one of two things will happen: There will be disagreements over which administrative group is the correct one, or the group will fall under one administrative body which will eventually become entrenched, ossified and possibly corrupt. This has been the history of Christianity.

Ultimately, with one administrative group presuming to have authority, they must exercise that authority to prevent split offs. However, suppose the saints splitting off feel before the Lord that the administrative group has become corrupt. Does the administrative group retain validity simply because they adhere to the local ground teaching? Because they were there first? What is the basis of the authority of the administrative group claiming to possess it?

One can see it is because the LRC movement has been for the most part the only group caring to claim to have the correct city-wide administrative group that they can put pressure on their members to continue to submit to that group. If there were two, three or more fairly large groups claiming to stand on the local ground, it's easy to see that the claims of any group being the correct one could (and should) be viewed as arbitrary.

It is in fact then only the LRC's small numbers and relative lack of competition in the local ground arena that allows their model to hold up in any sense. The ironic fact is, the more the local ground teaching would be accepted by Christians, the less the one administration model would be able to hold up.

The Church has already seen the long term results of having one church administration per city. The Catholic church employed this model in its early years. The natural result was entrenchment and ossification. One administration is no magic elixir to producing the church the Lord desires. In fact, history shows it is a deterrent. Which is likely another reason that it is not plainly recommended by scripture.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:03 AM   #95
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As I mentioned in the first note, we must be clear that the oneness of the Body of Christ does not come from the ground of locality. Rather, the opposite is true; the ground of oneness in locality comes from the oneness of the Body of Christ, and this oneness, in turn, comes from the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself, and with one another as those who are in the Father and in the Son (Canfield)
Canfield admits here that the ground, the very basis of our oneness as Christians, comes from "the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself". So why, when it comes to meeting together practically, must we add another ground to the ground we already have? Why must the "the oneness of the Body of Christ", the universal Church, be forced into some man-made, artificial formula, such as one city - one church?

Watchman Nee, while admitting that our oneness is a spiritual oneness, concluded that the "boundary" of the local church should be the boundary of a city (or district?). He does cite several biblical references of "the church in such and such a city" and "appoint elders in every city". The problem is that Nee wanted to basically skip 1900 years of human history and development, including all those years of church history, and simply declare a fellowship of his own making as THE CHURCH in a particular city.

The next hurdle Nee faced was "who gets to appoint the elders in your new THE CHURCH is a particular city". In the NT elders are appointed by apostles, and Nee had previously denied that he, or any of the Local Church movement pioneers with him, were apostles. So he had to do a double-take and boldly declare "ok, ok, I guess we are apostles after all!"

Soon Nee was promoting a whole system of regional apostles and co-workers, which he dubbed "the work". Though he claimed that the Local Churches were autonomous, from the very beginning there was a strong connection of the churches with the work – Watchman Nee's work. (aka his Ministry). So what was there? A man or a group of men, their set of teachings, values and traditions and group or association of churches affiliated and administered by this man/men. Sound familiar?

We know what happened next. The Communists took power in China, Nee was imprisoned, and the Local Churches (along with all Christian churches/organizations) were forced underground.

Fast forward to Taiwan and Witness Lee emerging as the lead "apostle" of the Local Church movement. Lee quickly strengthened and formalized the work and it’s influence over the Local Churches. Autonomy of the churches was discouraged. Those with differing opinions were marginalized (if they were lucky). By now the work was nearly indistinguishable from the Local Churches – the Churches existed to support and expand the work. But it was all ok because Lee and his followers were “meeting on the local ground”.

Fast forward to Witness Lee coming to America. Same time, same channel. What have become of the Local Churches here in America? Are the Local Churches based upon “the oneness of the Body of Christ” that Canfield talked about at the beginning of his latest piece? Are they not still on the “ground of the locality” – One church/one city? (even if they had to sue in a court of law to enforce it). If the original ground was indeed “the oneness of the Body of Christ” how could that ground not produce the good fruit?
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:24 AM   #96
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Canfield admits here that the ground, the very basis of our oneness as Christians, comes from "the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself". So why, when it comes to meeting together practically, must we add another ground to the ground we already have? Why must the "the oneness of the Body of Christ", the universal Church, be forced into some man-made, artificial formula, such as one city - one church?
It's completely reasonable to assume that since the Church is organically one then geographically proximate believers should manifest that oneness. This is one basis of the LRC's position on the local ground.

The questions arise when we ask what that manifestation of oneness is actually supposed to look like. And this is where the LRC creates problems by insisting that this which they call "practical oneness" must possess certain characteristics, including:
  • Declaration of standing on the "local ground"
  • One administration per city
  • No "name"
  • Standing apart from "Christianity"
  • Following one ministry
  • Clarity of purpose being the "building of the the Body for the producing of the Bride"
  • Fellowship with other likeminded churches, but not with any other group.

The fact is none of these presumed qualifications for being a legitimate local church are required by scripture, and some are flat out false. They are simply Lee and Nee's formula which LRC followers have taken and run with.

The fundamental flaw in their thinking is the underlying assumption that there "must" be an objective way to determine which group is (or to make one's group) the true church in the city, and that only one group gets that honor. Both of these assumptions are baseless according the scripture.
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:52 AM   #97
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The next hurdle Nee faced was "who gets to appoint the elders in your new THE CHURCH is a particular city". In the NT elders are appointed by apostles, and Nee had previously denied that he, or any of the Local Church movement pioneers with him, were apostles. So he had to do a double-take and boldly declare "ok, ok, I guess we are apostles after all!"
The LRC logic says the following: Our leader was the apostle and he appointed our elders therefore they are the correct elders in the city therefore ours is the correct church in the city.

Leaving alone for the moment the completely unsupportable presumption that their leader was indeed an apostle with the authority to appoint elders, the idea that they are the correct church in the city because of their presumed apostolic elder appointment emphasizes the fact that their whole claim to church legitimacy is based on the so-called apostle, not on Christ or even the church.

Nowhere does the Bible claim that church legitimacy is based on who appointed the elders in a city. Apostles never got to decide what was the church and what wasn't. Furthermore, elders, whether appointed by the apostle or not, never got to make this distinction either.

Ultimately, then, the LRC oneness is not based on the oneness of the Body, but rather on who is the apostle. This is a false oneness.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:32 AM   #98
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Canfield admits here that the ground, the very basis of our oneness as Christians, comes from "the organic relationship the believers have with God Himself".

The next hurdle Nee faced was "who gets to appoint the elders in your new THE CHURCH is a particular city". In the NT elders are appointed by apostles, and Nee had previously denied that he, or any of the Local Church movement pioneers with him, were apostles. So he had to do a double-take and boldly declare "ok, ok, I guess we are apostles after all!"

Soon Nee was promoting a whole system of regional apostles and co-workers, which he dubbed "the work". Though he claimed that the Local Churches were autonomous, from the very beginning there was a strong connection of the churches with the work – Watchman Nee's work. (aka his Ministry).

If the original ground was indeed “the oneness of the Body of Christ” how could that ground not produce the good fruit?
Good points, all of which have helped to change my views.

(1) The very word "ground." The Bible does not speak of the "ground of oneness," but the oneness of the Spirit. Does the oneness possess a "ground," or is it the Spirit which holds the oneness? WN said the foundation of the church is indeed Christ, yet he went further to question where this foundation must be laid. Is this question legitimate? He concluded that the "ground" was the geographical city or a "locality," but this teaching does not appear in scripture.

I should note that John Myer was basically expelled from the GLA fellowship under TC for incorrectly answering a question about the "ground" of locality.

(2) Does the Bible teach or indicate that the apostles alone must appoint elders. I know brothers who will live and die for this practice, using Titus 1.5 and Acts 14.23. Too bad the Bible never explicitly taught this. Was Titus an apostle? II Cor 8.23 indicates he may be, yet never designates him as "Apostle" Titus. I am under the belief that initially elders were designated as such by the apostles, who also recorded healthy guidelines for their appointments, but this should not be considered anything more than a pattern for the later church.

If the early apostles were those who raised up churches, then the LC's rarely practiced this, because nearly all their elders were appointed by regional leaders acting as Bishops, not apostles. It was not the "sent" ones who appointed elders, but the "sending" one.

(3) WN's teachings concerning "the work," a para-church organizational structure of workers financially supported by the church, eventually became the undoing of anything we might call "local" or autonomous in the Recovery. Elders basically reported to local workers, local workers reported to more senior workers, and regional workers had to report to the most senior worker -- which is nothing more than the ingredients for a destructive hierarchy in which man wrests control of the church of God from Christ, the real Head.

Actually, the practice of so-called "degraded" Christianity, in which pastors are accountable to the local eldership, is a tremendous safeguard against this form of corruption creeping into the church, as warned by Paul in Acts 20.30.

(4) WN's "groundbreaking" recoveries of long lost ecclesiastical practices needed time to manifest the fruit of his discoveries. WL, his protege and heir apparent, supposedly hand-picked by WN to deliver these discoveries to the free world, proved that this experiment bore little "good fruit." As with any experiment, sufficient time is needed to flush out these practices in "real life." Today we have the benefit of such time. As with Darby's ecclesiastical "discoveries" a century before, the results are discouraging indeed. Narrow-minded and judgmental exclusivism summarizes the results, accompanied by regular and "necessary" excommunications and/or quarantines.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:40 AM   #99
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The LRC logic says the following: Our leader was the apostle and he appointed our elders therefore they are the correct elders in the city therefore ours is the correct church in the city.

Leaving alone for the moment the completely unsupportable presumption that their leader was indeed an apostle with the authority to appoint elders, the idea that they are the correct church in the city because of their presumed apostolic elder appointment emphasizes the fact that their whole claim to church legitimacy is based on the so-called apostle, not on Christ or even the church.

Nowhere does the Bible claim that church legitimacy is based on who appointed the elders in a city. Apostles never got to decide what was the church and what wasn't. Furthermore, elders, whether appointed by the apostle or not, never got to make this distinction either.

Ultimately, then, the LRC oneness is not based on the oneness of the Body, but rather on who is the apostle. This is a false oneness.
--------------------------------------------------

Good discussion.. you pretty much nailed it...
Is the Bride of Christ "groinal" and the Body of Christ as well?..
Or are they metaphorical references speaking of "the spirit"..

The Roman Catholic Church(RCC) has gone pretty much gone "groinal" with
Pope's, Bishops, Cardinals flamboyant clothing, jewelery and statues of
every size and shape.. and the fleshly host to feed the flesh of every
congregant for fleshly means.. by a fleshly priest.. They have gone
"groinal" to the Nines.. The rest of christianty has gone groinal to the
eights, sevens an sixes.. The local church surely has..

Is the Body of Christ "male flesh" or "spirit"?.. Is the Bride of Christ a woman or a spirit?.. When you take a metaphor and morph it into "skin and bones" the metaphor can be "cartoonized".. Making a deep spiritual truth a cartoon..

Elders, bishops, oracles, deacons and apostles can "groinize" the church..
As they have in many places.. How can you make a Sheep Pen other than
a Synagogue?.. So many options have been tried.. in Church history..

I have forgiven the Local Church for "groinizing" the church...
The RCC is one of many doing the same thing.. Does God have the body parts to sit on a throne?.. I suspect there are many things we as humans cannot conceive of yet.. So, we "groinize" many things.. Could be when we look into a mirror we are beholding "the devil"...

Interesting dialog.. and meme.. thanks...
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:29 PM   #100
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Some interesting questions.

Lee and Nee seem to say that the "apostle" that establishes a church is the one who appoints the elders there. I don't know about mainland China or Taiwan, but in the US, now many churches did Lee establish? Even if you say that churches were established by the discovery of Lee's teachings by some locals, did Lee actually do anything to establish any of them?

And if not, then how is he claiming authority to name elders?

If 30 people (or more or less) leave the church in Dallas (or a collection of churches in Texas) to establish a church in OKC, or Alexandria, LA, or to join with those who are already followers in Shreveport, how is Lee involved other than possibly being asked for an opinion on the venture (often referred to as "fellowship")? On what basis does he claim authority to appoint the elders for any of those places?

And it would seem that in those places where Paul made mention of appointing elders, it seems that it is always the appointment of locals after some observation. He seems to have left Timothy for that purpose in at least one case, and instructed Titus to do it in another. He did not send Titus to be the lead elder, nor Timothy.

There is no example in scripture of a whole collection of Christians moving from one city to another and simply declaring themselves to be the church, naming those among them as the elders, and expecting to then begin to add to their transplanted numbers from the locals (who are not considered for eldership).

Where did Lee (and Nee) get this stuff?
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:39 PM   #101
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Some interesting questions.

If 30 people (or more or less) leave the church in Dallas (or a collection of churches in Texas) to establish a church in OKC, or Alexandria, LA, or to join with those who are already followers in Shreveport, how is Lee involved other than possibly being asked for an opinion on the venture (often referred to as "fellowship")? On what basis does he claim authority to appoint the elders for any of those places?

There is no example in scripture of a whole collection of Christians moving from one city to another and simply declaring themselves to be the church, naming those among them as the elders, and expecting to then begin to add to their transplanted numbers from the locals (who are not considered for eldership).
OBW, along the lines of what you've posted. Not pertaining to eldership, but the claim of standing on the local ground. It's been spoken, but yet brothers and sisters will travel beyond their own city in order to meet with the nearest Local church which is after all not quote local to their own residence.
Example: Suppose prior to this past summer you lived in Vancouver, Washington. Since there was no Local Church, you had to drive across the Columbia River to Portland in order to meet with the Church in Portland. All the while there are local churches in Vancouver or different varieties. Once it had been decided Vancouver was going to "take the ground", only then could you meet in Vancouver on the ground of oneness. What oneness is there with other Christians in Vancouver, WA?
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:05 AM   #102
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From Post 66: Thankful Jane >>

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In the Bible, I cannot find that “oneness” is what is most important to God with respect to His people and His habitation. Rather, I find that His emphasis is on their holiness, in both Old and New Testaments.
The argument presented by this poster is flawed. It is a fallacy of instances argument. There are more instances of the word "holiness" than there are "oneness" therefore God cares more about holiness than oneness so the argument hinges. The poster concludes that we should take care of holiness and relegates oneness to a lower tier of importance to the point of dismissing it..

There is no basis to apply that kind of "statistical" logic to the Bible. we know holiness, oneness, godliness, righteousness, mercy, kindness, grace, etc. are all mentioned by the Bible and we don't rank them by instances to determine what is more important than another. All are important, relevant, desirable, and applicable in the christian life.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:29 AM   #103
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Example: Suppose prior to this past summer you lived in Vancouver, Washington. Since there was no Local Church, you had to drive across the Columbia River to Portland in order to meet with the Church in Portland.
Interesting choice of locations. My son lives in Vancouver, WA. But his only contact with the local church has been through his cousins who were always so haughty about the LRC or being at my parent's house and going with them to some meeting.That's been many years ago.

And I expect it will stay that way. He is part of a church in Vancouver. He has no reason to consider the Church in Portland. And some reason not to.
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:50 AM   #104
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The argument presented by this poster is flawed. It is a fallacy of instances argument. There are more instances of the word "holiness" than there are "oneness" therefore God cares more about holiness than oneness so the argument hinges. The poster concludes that we should take care of holiness and relegates oneness to a lower tier of importance to the point of dismissing it..
There is no basis to apply that kind of "statistical" logic to the Bible. we know holiness, oneness, godliness, righteousness, mercy, kindness, grace, etc. are all mentioned by the Bible and we don't rank them by instances to determine what is more important than another. All are important, relevant, desirable, and applicable in the Christian life.
I will admit that reading scripture is not an effort in statistics. But there is a difference between commands and prayers. Between numerous commands concerning righteousness and holiness, and a prayer concerning oneness.

And when coupled with the way that oneness is mentioned in the indirect speaking (in the epistles), it should be clear that whatever oneness is, it comes out of righteousness. As we grow in obedience, we will "arrive" at the unity of the faith. We don't dictate the terms of oneness and then righteousness will follow. You obey in righteousness and discover that you are becoming one with others who are doing the same.

Let's put it another way. Majoring on righteousness will result in oneness. Majoring on oneness will not necessarily result in righteousness. The proof is somewhat anecdotal. But very real. While far from complete, the numbers of those in Christianity that are focused on righteousness rather than some kind of oneness/unity are becoming more one. Not necessarily in terms of just dropping everything and meeting together, but in realizing that they can meet together because those other things are not the main thing. In the mean time, those who focus on oneness/unity are busy defining the basis of their unity more narrowly (and differently) than Jesus did. And becoming what Paul chastised the Corinthians for in their divisions.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:32 AM   #105
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I will admit that reading scripture is not an effort in statistics. But there is a difference between commands and prayers. Between numerous commands concerning righteousness and holiness, and a prayer concerning oneness.

And when coupled with the way that oneness is mentioned in the indirect speaking (in the epistles), it should be clear that whatever oneness is, it comes out of righteousness. As we grow in obedience, we will "arrive" at the unity of the faith. We don't dictate the terms of oneness and then righteousness will follow. You obey in righteousness and discover that you are becoming one with others who are doing the same.

Let's put it another way. Majoring on righteousness will result in oneness. Majoring on oneness will not necessarily result in righteousness. The proof is somewhat anecdotal. But very real. While far from complete, the numbers of those in Christianity that are focused on righteousness rather than some kind of oneness/unity are becoming more one. Not necessarily in terms of just dropping everything and meeting together, but in realizing that they can meet together because those other things are not the main thing. In the mean time, those who focus on oneness/unity are busy defining the basis of their unity more narrowly (and differently) than Jesus did. And becoming what Paul chastised the Corinthians for in their divisions.
I am quite uneasy with the whole "majoring on righteousness will result in oneness" theory because so many divisions within the body are justified with a self serving pseudo righteousness.

I would look at this differently. If I was going to start a vineyard I might spend a lot of time discussing which type of seed to use, what are the merits, why is this the best choice for my vineyard. This would be based on the nature of the seed, how hardy it is, what soil, what climate, etc. You might consider all of that discussion to be analogous to a discussion of holiness in the Bible (assuming you like the definition of holiness to be the nature of God). However, once that seed is planted the discussion on choosing the which seed to go with is no longer of primary importance. Now the issue becomes how to help my vineyard thrive, how to fight the pests, how to irrigate, harvest and prune. At this point my focus would be on the production of the vineyard and how to maximize quality and quantity. Now if I prune a branch from the vine tree that is not because it was not "holy" (that branch had the same nature as the rest of the vine tree) it is because the vine tree does not assume it will have a husbandman taking care of its every need, so it's focus is not aligned with mine.

Now if you were in the LRC you know that brothers and sisters who no longer meet with the LRC are equated with backsliders. They go back to sin, they dry up, etc.

However the real question is not about sin, or holiness, or righteousness. The real question, according to John 15, is "fruitfulness". Since leaving the LRC have you become more fruitful? If so the husbandman cut off the LRC so that you could be more fruitful. Since leaving the LRC has the LRC become more fruitful now that you are gone?

But if you are a fruitful member then there will be a oneness in that. This is why the export of wine and spirits are so easy to cross cultures and borders.

So in this sense the oneness is the expression of the final product. Holiness would be a critical discussion for the husbandman prior to planting his vineyard, oneness would be a critical discussion for the wine critic after tasting the final product, and righteousness would be the path that we walk from start to finish.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:45 AM   #106
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I will admit that reading scripture is not an effort in statistics. But there is a difference between commands and prayers. Between numerous commands concerning righteousness and holiness, and a prayer concerning oneness.

And when coupled with the way that oneness is mentioned in the indirect speaking (in the epistles), it should be clear that whatever oneness is, it comes out of righteousness. As we grow in obedience, we will "arrive" at the unity of the faith. We don't dictate the terms of oneness and then righteousness will follow. You obey in righteousness and discover that you are becoming one with others who are doing the same.

Let's put it another way. Majoring on righteousness will result in oneness. Majoring on oneness will not necessarily result in righteousness. The proof is somewhat anecdotal. But very real. While far from complete, the numbers of those in Christianity that are focused on righteousness rather than some kind of oneness/unity are becoming more one. Not necessarily in terms of just dropping everything and meeting together, but in realizing that they can meet together because those other things are not the main thing. In the mean time, those who focus on oneness/unity are busy defining the basis of their unity more narrowly (and differently) than Jesus did. And becoming what Paul chastised the Corinthians for in their divisions.
OBW,

Your logic is that a Catholic, a Baptist, a Church of Christ member, and an Episcopal who practice righteousness are becoming more one for example than a Catholic, a Baptist, a Church of Christ member, and an Episcopal who decide to meet together by dropping all those things that previously separated them to pray and fellowship in Christ.

I disagree because the testimony of scripture (Acts 2) says:

"1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

The promise of the Holy Spirit was poured out when a number of the disciples of the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem were all with one accord in one place. There is no indication that when they were all "righteous" and had become righteous enough then the Spirit came as a mighty rushing wind.

OBW, There is no disagreement that we are called to live a righteous life and have a righteous living, and we are called to be holy as our Father is Holy. In addition, the Lord's prayer in John 17 that we would become one as He and the Father are one must be taken no less seriously just because it was a prayer and not a command per se.
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Old 11-13-2011, 09:28 AM   #107
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Let's put it another way. Majoring on righteousness will result in oneness. Majoring on oneness will not necessarily result in righteousness.
I would take it one step further and say that neither righteousness nor holiness should ever be sacrificed for the sake of oneness. Unfortunately, the history of the Local Church is replete with examples where righteousness and holiness were sacrificed to maintain and enforce a man-made oneness. As a matter of fact, this became a kind of culture in the movement, so much so that I don't think they even realize it.

It's sort of like how the temple and the rituals became more important to the people than the glory of the Lord that was supposed to fill it. Likewise, the outward, physical “oneness” and the rituals surrounding it have become more important than the righteousness and holiness of the very God who is supposed to be the basis of their oneness.

Even more dangerous, even more hideous is the fact that the oneness has become based upon the person and work of a man and his ministry. All things are to be sacrificed at the altar of being one with this ministry, including righteousness and holiness. May God have mercy.
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Old 11-13-2011, 04:54 PM   #108
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Interesting choice of locations. My son lives in Vancouver, WA. But his only contact with the local church has been through his cousins who were always so haughty about the LRC or being at my parent's house and going with them to some meeting.That's been many years ago.

And I expect it will stay that way. He is part of a church in Vancouver. He has no reason to consider the Church in Portland. And some reason not to.
Choice due for several reasons:
1. Vancouver became a Local Church this past summer.
2. Back in the mid-ninties when I was a single brother, I attended a home meeting in Vancouver with the family I was visiting in SE Portland.
3. I do have a sister living in a Portland suburb with her family. Like me, she was raised in the local churches. Now, no need to meet with the Church in Portland, when she and her husband are very active with the Christians in their community. It comes down to choice. Why make a lengthy drive where the Church of Portland meets, when there are many Christian gatherings in west of Portland where my sister lives?
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Old 11-13-2011, 05:43 PM   #109
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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I would take it one step further and say that neither righteousness nor holiness should ever be sacrificed for the sake of oneness. Unfortunately, the history of the Local Church is replete with examples where righteousness and holiness were sacrificed to maintain and enforce a man-made oneness. As a matter of fact, this became a kind of culture in the movement, so much so that I don't think they even realize it.

It's sort of like how the temple and the rituals became more important to the people than the glory of the Lord that was supposed to fill it. Likewise, the outward, physical “oneness” and the rituals surrounding it have become more important than the righteousness and holiness of the very God who is supposed to be the basis of their oneness.

Even more dangerous, even more hideous is the fact that the oneness has become based upon the person and work of a man and his ministry. All things are to be sacrificed at the altar of being one with this ministry, including righteousness and holiness. May God have mercy.
Church history shows us that when we obsess with oneness, beyond the commands of scripture, we end up with a distorted man-made oneness which requires corruption and unrighteousness for its maintenance. This form of distorted oneness gets used by corrupt men to lord it over the flock and build their own empires.

The early days of the Recovery in the US did enjoy oneness as a blessing of the Spirit. The move of the Spirit during the so-called "Jesus movement," with the focus on the Person and the work of Christ in our lives, and a return to the pure word of God all facilitated this blessing, which included a blessed oneness among many saints. WL used his association with WN to grab hold of a segment of that movement for his own gains.

WL with his cadre of lackeys corrupted that simplicity which we once enjoyed. He and his ministry became the focus of the saints. Recovery "oneness" became based solely on one's relationship with WL. The oneness of the Spirit was transformed into the oneness of WL and his ministry. Instead of treasuring the word of God, they now treasure the "interpreted word" of the teachings of the ministry.

Look at how this distorted oneness is maintained in the Recovery. Not by love and prayer and the arbitration of the indwelling Spirit, but by political backbiting, lawsuits, and man-pleasing hypocrisy. This is why many of us who have left the Recovery no longer focus on some contrived exhibition of uniformity, but on the reality of kingdom of God, which is based on His righteousness and holiness.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:24 PM   #110
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The argument presented by this poster is flawed. It is a fallacy of instances argument. There are more instances of the word "holiness" than there are "oneness" therefore God cares more about holiness than oneness so the argument hinges. The poster concludes that we should take care of holiness and relegates oneness to a lower tier of importance to the point of dismissing it..

There is no basis to apply that kind of "statistical" logic to the Bible. we know holiness, oneness, godliness, righteousness, mercy, kindness, grace, etc. are all mentioned by the Bible and we don't rank them by instances to determine what is more important than another. All are important, relevant, desirable, and applicable in the christian life.
I disagree. Thankful Jane is not using statistics, i.e. "the fallacy of instances," to determine her faith or to interpret scripture. Neither is she dismissing oneness from from the Bible. Please go back and reread her post.



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Old 11-14-2011, 05:09 AM   #111
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I am quite uneasy with the whole "majoring on righteousness will result in oneness" theory because so many divisions within the body are justified with a self serving pseudo righteousness.
Most divisions in the body that stand willfully apart from the rest are not about righteousness, but about doctrine. And the doctrine of the LRC is pseudo oneness. A kind of cookie-cutter oneness married to an open meeting style that looks enticing, but allows believers to ignore righteousness by diminishing its importance in favor of something called "the spirit."
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Now if you were in the LRC you know that brothers and sisters who no longer meet with the LRC are equated with backsliders. They go back to sin, they dry up, etc.
That is a presumption of unparalleled ignorance and arrogance. To declare that everyone who is not of your sect to be a "sinner" and "dried up" cannot be consistent with any kind of claim of oneness.
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However the real question is not about sin, or holiness, or righteousness. The real question, according to John 15, is "fruitfulness". Since leaving the LRC have you become more fruitful? If so the husbandman cut off the LRC so that you could be more fruitful. Since leaving the LRC has the LRC become more fruitful now that you are gone?
It would appear that the LRC is not particularly fruitful. Neither before nor after my departure.

The real question is whether you have the liberty to assess people and organizations based on how they appear (to you) to be before and after certain events. Does the condition of the LRC before or after me, or John Ingalls, or anyone else necessarily compare to the thrust of Jesus' speaking on the vine and the branches? The fact that you can presume to see a parallel does not make it so.

And the "real question" is not just any one thing. It is a further presumption to assume that the discussion of the vine and the branches, the pruning, the abiding, etc., is the only really important thing in scripture. In fact, taking some of Lee's own formula for importance, it would seem that this one is not preeminent. It is really only mentioned this once.

But righteousness, obedience, and holiness are mentioned over and over, even in the NT. And in the middle of Lee's "Kingdom Constitution" Jesus declares that anyone who teaches contrary to the righteousness found in the law (and the enhancements that Jesus gives) is the least in the kingdom. Based on that, it would seem that rather than learning from an apostle, an oracle, or an "acting god," the LRC has been following the teachings of one who is condemned (not in eternal terms) for teaching against the holiness and righteousness of God.

Just as Jane pointed out, oneness and unity are mentioned very few times. The one place that is most pointed on it was not a teaching or a command, but a prayer that it would come to be. And when Paul talked about it, his speaking was of something that would arise from growth, not something that would be the source of growth. It would arise from the focus on the faith. "Until we all arrive at the unity of the faith." Not the unity of the ministry, the unity of the ground, or the unity of the doctrine. We will likely continue to have honest disagreement over doctrines. And have debates about what is the best understanding. And the point of those is to spur one another on to a better understanding. But the LRC will be stuck arguing about unity with their dirt, with their so-called apostle-appointed elders, with their administration, and with the ministry of Lee as being "the ministry of the age."
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:40 AM   #112
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Your logic is that a Catholic, a Baptist, a Church of Christ member, and an Episcopal who practice righteousness are becoming more one for example than a Catholic, a Baptist, a Church of Christ member, and an Episcopal who decide to meet together by dropping all those things that previously separated them to pray and fellowship in Christ.
The issue is not how one they are with each other within their assembly, but how one they are with those of all assemblies. Your solution requires that others be abandoned and there be no oneness with them because they will not drop the differences and agree on so much.

I know that you will claim that the agreement is only on the essentials, but the practice would make that claim a lie. Disagreement with nonessential teachings of Lee, or the BBs, and anything published by the LSM is grounds for excommunication. Where is the oneness in that?

And once within the confines of the LRC, you can be one with others in the LRC, but not really with any others because they are declared to be "not one" by your very stance. Where is the oneness in that?



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I disagree because the testimony of scripture (Acts 2) says:

"1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place . . . ."

The promise of the Holy Spirit was poured out when a number of the disciples of the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem were all with one accord in one place.
This is the creation of formula by observation. An anecdote becomes the reason for the outpouring of the Spirit. Yes, "they" were all there. At least all that were there. Those that weren't there were not there. That is the place that the Spirit was poured out. Those that were there were there. So they were all there.

Find for me the "clear" inference that one of them being missing would deny the outpouring. The point was not particularly where they were. It was that they had done as they were told and it was the day of Pentecost. They were told to wait in Jerusalem. And they obeyed. And those that were there were there. The Spirit was going to be poured out there. That does not mean that you have to know the right place after that time.

This is where Harold's "cargo cult" comments are actually very appropriate. Because Jesus commanded that they wait in Jerusalem and that is where the Holy Spirit first out-poured, then we have to define our meetings in such a way that we can replicate those conditions to get it again. (Now why is it that Lee was not charismatic/Pentecostal?) There is no ongoing command to meet together in one place. But on that day "they" were in one place. And they were in one accord.

I do not diminish the significance of that time. Of their obedience. But the command was to wait there for the Spirit. And he came. We are no longer waiting on the Spirit in that way. We are going out. We have had our huddle. It is time to execute the plays.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:54 AM   #113
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I am quite uneasy with the whole "majoring on righteousness will result in oneness" theory because so many divisions within the body are justified with a self serving pseudo righteousness.
Let's look at this another way ...

I left the Recovery after 30 odd years mostly because the "majoring in oneness theory" resulted in so many excommunications and divisions, and because so much unrighteousness within the Recovery was "justified with a self-serving pseudo-oneness."

The Catholic Church should have proven to us once and for all that
pseudo-oneness, or as I prefer to say, distorted oneness can be used by evil leaders to accomplish the most horrific of evils upon the children of God. Pseudo-oneness is a fake oneness, a oneness in appearance only, a man-made uniformity, a pretense of the real thing. Distorted oneness is far worse. It is used by men corrupt in conscience as a tool to silence the concerns of godly men crying out for righteousness. LSM is guilty of both forms of fake oneness.

Real oneness can never be orchestrated by a ministry headquarters. Real oneness is not even "of the body," as LSM loves to say, but real oneness is only "of the Spirit." The Lord prayed for this real oneness saying "as the Father and the Son are one." Thus real oneness is built upon a relationship with the Father and the Son. This relationship requires obedience, which is the foundation of righteousness.

It's amazing now for me to see LSM's supporters condemn "so many divisions within the body," when there are now "so many divisions" in the Recovery itself. Isn't there a name for that? Something like hypocrisy?


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Old 11-14-2011, 08:56 AM   #114
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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The argument presented by this poster is flawed. It is a fallacy of instances argument. There are more instances of the word "holiness" than there are "oneness" therefore God cares more about holiness than oneness so the argument hinges. The poster concludes that we should take care of holiness and relegates oneness to a lower tier of importance to the point of dismissing it..

There is no basis to apply that kind of "statistical" logic to the Bible. we know holiness, oneness, godliness, righteousness, mercy, kindness, grace, etc. are all mentioned by the Bible and we don't rank them by instances to determine what is more important than another. All are important, relevant, desirable, and applicable in the christian life.
Well if all your arguments are based on who follows proper college debating rules...I guess. Sort of reminds me of someone from another forum.

Anyway, one thing is indisputable. The Catholic Church decided to forego righteousness in favor of their brand of oneness. We know how that works out. In fact, when their clergy circles the wagons around someone accused of pedophilia today they are favoring "oneness" over righteousness. Also, we know that the LSM brothers (who are today's "Blendeds") forfeited the righteousness of God in favor of sticking up for a man and his ministry (Oneness). Look how horribly that has worked out for them. They are becoming every bit the overgrown tree that they accuse the Catholic Church of being.

But I will not totally give up the point that frequency of word usage in the Bible caries some weight. Especially when you have a sect like the LSM Church which will interject words that don't even appear in the Bible (Triiiiiune God), and wear them out, while giving relatively little importance to the ones that do (Father, Son, Spirit).

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Old 11-14-2011, 11:07 AM   #115
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Anyway, one thing is indisputable. The Catholic Church decided to forgo righteousness in favor of their brand of oneness. We know how that works out. In fact, when their clergy circles the wagons around someone accused of pedophilia today they are favoring "oneness" over righteousness.
The current scandal at Penn State is another example of how powerful men forgo the matter of righteousness and place their program, their own futures, their university, their own reputations, and the so-called "greater good" first and foremost. It may sound good for a season, but that is not the Lord's way.

Wouldn't it have been far better for the nation of Israel not to have known about the death of some insignificant Hittite soldier named Uriah? For goodness sake, he was not even a full-blooded Hebrew. Why all the commotion? Why did Nathan the prophet have to make such a big deal about the king's "personal life?" Were not David's job approval "ratings" at an all time high?

But those are exactly the things that our God cares about. He takes keen interest in all the minor matters of righteousness, and appears little concerned for most of our "loftier" goals, such as our success, our reputation, and our financial gain. Our God cares far more about the details of righteousness than we could ever imagine. Though He loved David immensely, He could not allow the "privileges" of earthly kings to contaminate David with unrighteousness.

Think about it. God could have made sure that no one ever found out David's sin. Neither did he discipline David privately. The whole nation knew and also suffered the consequences. The story has been told and retold for 3,000 years.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:56 AM   #116
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The current scandal at Penn State is another example of how powerful men forgo the matter of righteousness and place their program, their own futures, their university, their own reputations, and the so-called "greater good" first and foremost. It may sound good for a season, but that is not the Lord's way.
Nor can you manuever out of an unrighteous situation by saying "it's not about right or wrong, but about life". As Ohio has pointed out through David, there are many instances in the Bible about unrighteous situations. None I read are being covered over.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:39 PM   #117
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Nor can you maneuver out of an unrighteous situation by saying "it's not about right or wrong, but about life".
Notice how the old spin line, "these things happened years ago ... it's about time for us all to move on," means nothing either to the victims or the law.

Neither does that line by certain posters concerning the wounded and hurting victims from the past, "nobody made them do all those things ... you know, we all have a free will here ... we all have to pay for our choices ..."
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:20 PM   #118
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The issue is not how one they are with each other within their assembly, but how one they are with those of all assemblies. Your solution requires that others be abandoned and there be no oneness with them because they will not drop the differences and agree on so much...
OBW,

Thanks for your response. I disagree with you on Acts 2... the one accord is relevant as mentioned in the verse "they were all in one accord...." unless you regard that insertion to be equal with something like "and it was a bright and sunny day"

However, I'd like to address this point you made if I may.

You said: "And once within the confines of the LRC, you can be one with others in the LRC, but not really with any others because they are declared to be "not one" by your very stance. Where is the oneness in that?"

Your argument above is like saying that a group of people who believe in freedom forfeit that stance if they won't embrace dictators. After all, dictators should have the freedom to be dictators. In fact, those who embrace true freedom are exclusive in their stance and they compromise their stance if they were to allow dictatorship ideas as part of their platform.

Oneness is like that also. Oneness does not mean that division must be embraced. On the contrary oneness is like freedom and division must be rejected else the oneness is compromised.

I am speaking about the oneness defined in the Bible and not any extra-biblical kind of oneness.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:48 PM   #119
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I am speaking about the oneness defined in the Bible and not any extra-biblical kind of oneness.
You mean like oneness with a certain man and his ministry?
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:20 PM   #120
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Most divisions in the body that stand willfully apart from the rest are not about righteousness, but about doctrine.
As I understand it the argument you are making is quite simple, LSM focused on oneness and ignored unrighteousness. This was a (the?) flaw. As a result the solution is to focus on righteousness.

If that is the argument you are making I disagree with it. In my experience when people sin they will often try to cover up that sin with lies, adding to the original sin. When people question them about the sin and the lies they then resort to insults and slander to protect themselves. To me what happened in the LRC is simply sin running its course, and in my experience better teachings are very ineffective at dealing with sin.

For example a few days ago I watched as Herman Cain was lecturing a reporter on the right way to ask questions. Someone had made some allegations against Mr. Cain, he responded that he rejected the allegations, and so the reporter asked if the allegations were true. This is reasonable since rejecting something is not the same as saying it is a lie. However instead of answering this question he gave the reporter a lecture on righteousness.

Likewise I was following this recent scandal at Penn State and learned that the claim for years about Penn State was that "they did it the right way" referring to their football program. Once again, self righteousness as a cloak to cover up sin.

What you are complaining about with the LRC, the over emphasis on oneness, was seen during WWII. German soldiers claimed they "were just following orders". Many seemingly "righteous" people did nothing, or looked the other way, or just followed orders. In stark contrast there was a man named Oscar Schindler. Now I find it hard to believe that anyone would attribute his standing for righteousness based on better teachings. Whatever you want to say about him, "self righteous" was certainly not a word that would describe him.

So although I agree that the road to life is narrow and that there are few that find it, I don't believe that the lesson from the LRC is that what we need is better teachings.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:12 AM   #121
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OBW,

Thanks for your response. I disagree with you on Acts 2... the one accord is relevant as mentioned in the verse "they were all in one accord...." unless you regard that insertion to be equal with something like "and it was a bright and sunny day"

However, I'd like to address this point you made if I may.

You said: "And once within the confines of the LRC, you can be one with others in the LRC, but not really with any others because they are declared to be "not one" by your very stance. Where is the oneness in that?"

Your argument above is like saying that a group of people who believe in freedom forfeit that stance if they won't embrace dictators. After all, dictators should have the freedom to be dictators. In fact, those who embrace true freedom are exclusive in their stance and they compromise their stance if they were to allow dictatorship ideas as part of their platform.

Oneness is like that also. Oneness does not mean that division must be embraced. On the contrary oneness is like freedom and division must be rejected else the oneness is compromised.

I am speaking about the oneness defined in the Bible and not any extra-biblical kind of oneness.
Since no one is talking about dictators, you might as well have likened everyone else to Hitler. It makes the argument against the LRC all the more simple. They do not see what is, but rather what they would like it to be.

25 years ago, the manager of our tax department noted that when our shareholder's tax lawyers got together, they sometimes went off into the most bizarre tangents. He likened it to arguing that the sky was green. And so much of the LRC claims against Christianity is just like that. It is empty rhetoric designed to convince the listener of things that are so far from true that it is hard to believe that anyone could even accept it as true. Unless they do not have eyes to see what is true while listening to the lies that proceed from the mouth of first Lee, then the BBs.

Point to specific ones who are like dictators if you will. They are not the whole of Christianity any more than some specific LRC elder is the whole of the LRC. But the fact that you look out at Christianity and see only dictators and fiefdoms evidences that you see through a lens of distortion. A darkened lens in which colors lose their distinction and shadows become something of substance to fear.

In the darkness, shadows become something something of substance and that which casts the shadow is not seen for what it is. You are not the source of the error or the lens. But in the darkness of the LRC, the picture that was so carefully painted for you has been believed. And I dare say that if you step out of the LRC to observe Christianity more closely, you will likely continue to see what you expect — at least until you force yourself to see it without the prejudice (pre-judging) of the LRC.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:35 AM   #122
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Hey guys. Rather than responding based on who we think the writer may be, respond to what they say. It is irrelevant who says what. If they make certain errors, it is what it is no matter who they are. If they speak the truth, again it does not matter who they are.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:32 AM   #123
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Oneness, righteousness and holiness are all important. So are grace and forgiveness. Ultimately, then, all things considered, the bottom line is conscience, because it is the only means to evaluate the proper application of any of these other values.

This is why freedom is a requirement, and why condemning people as they walk out the door of whatever group you attach yourself to is out of bounds. Such condemnation denies people of the right to exercise their consciences. I think this is why the Lord said it was a sin to call our brother a "rebel." Such far-reaching evaluations are beyond our purview.

Further, this is why the LRC's presumption of broadcasting to the whole world which brothers to avoid and quarantine is so off-the-charts wrong. They have no right to do such a thing. It is one thing for one local congregation to decide a certain brother is not welcome. That's biblical. It's another for them to advise every other congregation they know to steer clear of him, too. That is assuming knowledge and authority they do not have.

And a ministry organization like LSM has no business advising, let alone insisting, that a group of churches close the door to certain people. The motive of "keeping the Recovery pure" is an invalid justification for ostracizing anyone, particularly since "the Recovery" is not a biblical entity.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:41 AM   #124
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As I understand it the argument you are making is quite simple, LSM focused on oneness and ignored unrighteousness. This was a (the?) flaw. As a result the solution is to focus on righteousness.

Likewise I was following this recent scandal at Penn State and learned that the claim for years about Penn State was that "they did it the right way" referring to their football program. Once again, self righteousness as a cloak to cover up sin.
I'm not agreeing with this. Self-righteousness and ignoring righteousness are different beasts, but, of course, no analogy between ministries and universities will be perfect.

LSM and Penn State are similar in that they hid sins and unrighteousness supposedly for the "greater good." For Penn State that was the lovable idol Joe Pa and his mighty football program, for the Recovery it was WL, the so-called "minister of the age," and his ministry for the oneness of the body of Christ.

What we have yet to see is the Penn State leadership orchestrating a massive smear campaign upon all the lowly whistle-blowers, those who bravely rose up to speak their conscience, and then hold quarantines to oust them from the community and expunge all references to their names from all publications. In this regard LSM is more unrighteous than Penn State.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:45 AM   #125
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Hey guys. Rather than responding based on who we think the writer may be, respond to what they say. It is irrelevant who says what. If they make certain errors, it is what it is no matter who they are. If they speak the truth, again it does not matter who they are.
I agree ... but it is kind of hard to have a conversation in a dark room with a bunch of people whose voices are muffled and all sound the same ...
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:56 AM   #126
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I agree ... but it is kind of hard to have a conversation in a dark room with a bunch of people whose voices are muffled and all sound the same ...
I just can't tell all the "Unregistered" apart. I suggest requiring registration to post.
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Old 11-15-2011, 07:27 AM   #127
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I just can't tell all the "Unregistered" apart. I suggest requiring registration to post.
I would tend to agree. Given that nothing but the user name is necessarily revealed to anyone, they would still be just as anonymous as being unregistered.

Except that they could not become confused with all the other "Unregistereds."

Then again, it might be nice to be able to assert that one particular unregistered is not "me." We just can't get away with that. "Hey that OBW was someone else!!" (Although at times I wish it were true.)
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:06 AM   #128
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What we have yet to see is the Penn State leadership orchestrating a massive smear campaign upon all the lowly whistle-blowers, those who bravely rose up to speak their conscience, and then hold quarantines to oust them from the community and expunge all references to their names from all publications. In this regard LSM is more unrighteous than Penn State.
Give it time. What we have seen is that this was covered up for no apparent reason. Were they covering it up out of "love" for JoePa, or were they afraid of being excommunicated if they said anything against the beloved football program? The feds are obviously worried enough about the latter to start their own investigation.
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:07 PM   #129
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As I understand it the argument you are making is quite simple, LSM focused on oneness and ignored unrighteousness. This was a (the?) flaw. As a result the solution is to focus on righteousness.

If that is the argument you are making I disagree with it. In my experience when people sin they will often try to cover up that sin with lies, adding to the original sin. When people question them about the sin and the lies they then resort to insults and slander to protect themselves. To me what happened in the LRC is simply sin running its course, and in my experience better teachings are very ineffective at dealing with sin.
I would disagree. Oneness is not the subject, but a desired result. Problem is you're not going to have oneness in the recovery by covering over sin, or by looking the other way when you know better.
Here we have had brothers in leadership positions ignoring righteousness and as the LSM/LRC equates oneness as in John 17 to define their decision making process. So if an unrighteous decision is made, to disagree with that decision is not to be one as seen in John 17. It's a misapplication of scripture to rationalize why you must "take their fellowship".
I would say there's large portions of an entire book that focuses on righteousness. A good portion of Proverbs is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked has been described as those who should have known better, had opportunity to know better, but actions are still greivous.

As I see the solution is not oneness, but strive to be righteous, loving, compassionate Christians. If our living exemplifies the humanity of Christ, is what can best match those verses in John 17, where the LSM/LC claims to teach as oneness.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:23 AM   #130
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Now if you were in the LRC you know that brothers and sisters who no longer meet with the LRC are equated with backsliders. They go back to sin, they dry up, etc.
Question I raise, just because one may meet in the LRC does not mean you're immune to backsliding.
I do suggest it is possible to mask backsliding in the LRC. Just come to the LT meeting and perform by re-speaking the Holy Word for Morning Revival. I'm not saying everyone is performing, but the possibility exists. However, in each of our heart's we know whether we're backsliding or not. How much time is spent in the Word? What is our living?
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:57 PM   #131
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I would take it one step further and say that neither righteousness nor holiness should ever be sacrificed for the sake of oneness. Unfortunately, the history of the Local Church is replete with examples where righteousness and holiness were sacrificed to maintain and enforce a man-made oneness. As a matter of fact, this became a kind of culture in the movement, so much so that I don't think they even realize it.

It's sort of like how the temple and the rituals became more important to the people than the glory of the Lord that was supposed to fill it. Likewise, the outward, physical “oneness” and the rituals surrounding it have become more important than the righteousness and holiness of the very God who is supposed to be the basis of their oneness.

Even more dangerous, even more hideous is the fact that the oneness has become based upon the person and work of a man and his ministry. All things are to be sacrificed at the altar of being one with this ministry, including righteousness and holiness. May God have mercy.
Cover-ups in the Penn State scandal have backlashed; truth and justice are beginning to prevail in that college town. Not so in the churches of the blending brothers where truth remains pressed down and injustice continues to prevail.

http://www.hidinghistoryinthelordsre...Government.pdf

The Record
Witness Lee’s hiring of his own non-spiritual son and his reluctance to fire him amid growing confirmed reports of his moral violations and his interferences in the churches was both bizarre and inexplicable. It also had an impure element related to nepotism. It was a catastrophic mistake to make him the LSM manager. Philip Lee brought immorality into the office, chaos into the church in Anaheim, corruption into the churches, and major division into the recovery (with help).

Andrew Yu on Witness Lee
“There has never been a case, either in the Scriptures or in church history, where a servant of God has been found to be perfect. A perfect person does not exist. None of us can claim to be perfect.” (p. 5 An Affirmation of the Proper Authority in the Body of Christ)

Witness Lee on Philip
John Ingalls reports, “after the board meeting was adjourned, Sister Lee and Philip Lee left the room, and Brother Lee continued to talk at length with Francis Ball and myself [John Ingalls] about the current situation. I just listened, saying very little. He said how much he and Philip Lee and their families had suffered through all the talk about them. He then stated, “Philip, of course, is not perfect; nobody is perfect!” It shocked me that he would make such an inappropriate statement as that after all that had been said and done. _ John Ingalls

John Ingalls on Philip Lee - Philip Lee’s name is mentioned 51 times with grave concern about him revealed throughout John Ingalls’ book, Speaking the Truth in Love, related to events and concerns of the late eighties turmoil.

Bill Mallon on Philip Lee – 50 times in an 8-page letter to Witness Lee, Philip or the office is referred to with great consternation over interferences from Philip, Benson, and Ray Graver in the Southeastern churches.

John So on Philip Lee – 49 times in his address in Manila, John So referred to Philip Lee or the office as the source of major grief and despair for the brothers in Europe.

LC history book The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion on Witness Lee - Not a contrary word said about him. He was depicted as a perfect God-man.

LC history book The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion on Philip Lee - No mention of his name in the book. He is referred to as “the office” or “the Living Stream manager”, and only in a positive sense.

Yet, voices of truth do speak. John So and the brothers in Europe sent a letter to Brother Lee announcing their disassociation with Witness Lee and his work due to the divisive behavior and moral misconduct of Philip Lee while employed as LSM office manager.

http://www.unfaithfulwitness.org/Eur...Depart1989.pdf
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:29 AM   #132
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Indy,

You post all those things about the alleged oracle of God, and don't seem to understand that it points to the fact that the foundational teachings of the group you continually want to get back into is based on the theology of a man that the apostle Paul would have ordered to keep silent in the church. To have refused a forum to teach. That is, if Paul didn't expel him altogether until he repented for placing his immoral son at the helm of his "ministry."

I know that many have claimed to understand your quandary. But I cannot. The cancer that Lee spread cannot be washed away by so-called high peak teachings. But any claim of great teachings can be washed away by such cancer. It is the very connection of the cancer and the source of the teachings that makes those teachings so very suspect. The soiled platter on which the alleged feast of theology was presented should not only make you worry about the platter, but the meal itself. You can't get blessings and cursings from the same mouth. Or sustenance and poison from the same kitchen. If there is poison, then it is all poisoned. If the poison was added to something of truth, then it can be found somewhere else. Quit trying to find the antidote for poison that will continually be streaming from the kitchen, meal after meal, as you hope for one of those tasty meals of the 60s or early 70s. They were poisoned too. Just not as obviously so.
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:25 AM   #133
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Indy,
You post all those things about the alleged oracle of God, and don't seem to understand that it points to the fact that the foundational teachings of the group you continually want to get back into is based on the theology of a man that the apostle Paul would have ordered to keep silent in the church. To have refused a forum to teach. That is, if Paul didn't expel him altogether until he repented for placing his immoral son at the helm of his "ministry."
I know that many have claimed to understand your quandary. But I cannot. The cancer that Lee spread cannot be washed away by so-called high peak teachings. But any claim of great teachings can be washed away by such cancer. It is the very connection of the cancer and the source of the teachings that makes those teachings so very suspect. The soiled platter on which the alleged feast of theology was presented should not only make you worry about the platter, but the meal itself. You can't get blessings and cursings from the same mouth. Or sustenance and poison from the same kitchen. If there is poison, then it is all poisoned. If the poison was added to something of truth, then it can be found somewhere else. Quit trying to find the antidote for poison that will continually be streaming from the kitchen, meal after meal, as you hope for one of those tasty meals of the 60s or early 70s. They were poisoned too. Just not as obviously so.
Ha!Ha!Ha! I get it, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When it comes to dissing other ministries WL doesn't have anything on you.

Interesting theology here, WL's sins makes all of his teachings suspect or "you can't get blessing and cursing from the same mouth". Wow! Should I burn all of my Psalms from David? Of course, based on this teaching, we should reject the entire Pentateuch as being suspect, after all Moses can't curse the children of Israel and bless them with the same mouth. Surely the sins of Solomon were every bit as licentious as those of PL, I suppose the books of Moses are all suspect as a result.

One question, which of the writers of the Bible was truly pure of all sin?

Another thought, since much of WL's sins revolve around his attitude towards his son's sins, should we also reject the psalms from the sons of Korah?
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:05 PM   #134
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Unreg Guest,

You really don't mean to compare David, Moses and Solomon to Witness Lee and his son Phillip, do you? I mean, really, three of the major characters in the Old Testament, compared to some self-declared apostle and his wayward son? Really?

Sorry but the "blessing and cursing from the same mouth" is a biblical principle, and it's a principle that we all are under - you, me, Witness Lee, his son, everybody.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:05 PM   #135
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Unreg Guest,

You really don't mean to compare David, Moses and Solomon to Witness Lee and his son Phillip, do you? I mean, really, three of the major characters in the Old Testament, compared to some self-declared apostle and his wayward son? Really?

Sorry but the "blessing and cursing from the same mouth" is a biblical principle, and it's a principle that we all are under - you, me, Witness Lee, his son, everybody.
That depends, do "biblical principles" apply to Biblical characters or only to a "self-declared apostle and his wayward son"? Because if biblical principles apply to everyone what difference does it make that I am wondering why a principle that OBW so freely uses to dismiss all of WL's teachings cannot be used to dismiss others teachings?

No doubt, that is a biblical principle. So is "pride goeth before a fall", why not consider that it was WL's pride and arrogance that is the poison. Or how about "there is none righteous, not one" that is a biblical principle. Are we to believe that David, or Moses or Solomon were righteous contrary to this biblical principle? If they weren't then how come their sin didn't poison their teaching? How does one apply a teaching to WL but not to others? How about "judge not lest you be judged for with what judgement you judge you shall be judged" isn't that a biblical principle? Shouldn't we take the very judgement that OBW has passed on WL and apply it to him? Does OBW have a sinful son? Should that be relevant to determine if OBW's teachings are poisoned? Isn't it hypocritical to apply a standard towards others that you feel is not permissible to be applied to yourself?
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:25 AM   #136
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Ha!Ha!Ha! I get it, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When it comes to dissing other ministries WL doesn't have anything on you.

Interesting theology here, WL's sins makes all of his teachings suspect or "you can't get blessing and cursing from the same mouth". Wow! Should I burn all of my Psalms from David? Of course, based on this teaching, we should reject the entire Pentateuch as being suspect, after all Moses can't curse the children of Israel and bless them with the same mouth. Surely the sins of Solomon were every bit as licentious as those of PL, I suppose the books of Moses are all suspect as a result.

One question, which of the writers of the Bible was truly pure of all sin?

Another thought, since much of WL's sins revolve around his attitude towards his son's sins, should we also reject the psalms from the sons of Korah?
2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The word of God came to us through holy men, cleansed men, such as David and Moses.

Witness Lee was not clean. His words do not equate to the word of God, though his followers treat his every word as if they did. His defilement, which your post actually admits to, means that his many teachings about the word of God cannot be trusted.


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Old 11-19-2011, 02:15 PM   #137
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2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The word of God came to us through holy men, cleansed men, such as David and Moses.

Witness Lee was not clean. His words do not equate to the word of God, though his followers treat his every word as if they did. His defilement, which your post actually admits to, means that his many teachings about the word of God cannot be trusted.


Thankful Jane
To me, I disliked WL's condemnation of other Christians and of other ministries more than any other thing he taught. I think it was his willingness to condemn others which made it so easy to also sue them and even slander them. So I found it very funny that someone would teach that we could condemn all of WL's teachings based on these very same sins. The irony and hypocrisy just seemed overwhelmingly funny, to me. If you were going to decide that everything he did was poisoned, why wouldn't you conclude that condemning others was first and foremost on that list, take warning, and not do it? Michael didn't condemn Satan when fighting over the body of Moses. Isn't that a Biblical principle you would like to imitate instead? Why wouldn't you instead conclude that it was WL's pride and arrogance that caused him to think that it was his place to condemn other ministries? To me that Biblical principle that trumps all others is that "Jesus is Lord", not WL, not me, and who am I to judge another man's servant, to his own master he stands or falls.

By all means, judge the truth concerning the "ground of the church" teaching or any other plank in WL's theology. But how is saying that everything he taught is invalid due to some phony Biblical principle and different from someone else saying that everything a sister teaches is invalid because Paul forbid sisters to teach?

3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
More
3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

According to James every person is guilty of both blessing God and cursing men with their mouth, he doesn't say these things are not possible, but that these things ought not to be.
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Old 11-19-2011, 06:23 PM   #138
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2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
The word of God came to us through holy men, cleansed men, such as David and Moses.

Witness Lee was not clean. His words do not equate to the word of God, though his followers treat his every word as if they did. His defilement, which your post actually admits to, means that his many teachings about the word of God cannot be trusted.


Thankful Jane
Thankful Jane,

You are in no position to make a declaration that Witness Lee was not clean.

All believers are clean by one thing and one thing alone, the precious ever-efficacious blood of Jesus Christ, both your Savior and WL's Savior.

Unreg makes a point, that you avoided or ignored. Using your standard of holiness, then David's Psalms should be stuck from the Bible because he committed adultery and sent Bathsheba's husband into harm's way, premeditated murder of Uriah. Solomon had many wives and committed idolatry so we should strike Song of Songs from the Holy Writ. Moses was excluded from the good land because he misrepresented God before His people so we should take a pair of scissors to the Pentatuech.

Thankful Jane, your definition of "holy" to speak God's Word is out of sync with the testimony of the Bible. You want it both ways and want to apply a double standard. Were it not for the blood of the Lamb and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit none could speak the Word of God.

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Old 11-19-2011, 06:46 PM   #139
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Unreg Guest,

I appreciate your tenacity, but….

Saying that you disliked Witness Lee’s condemnation of other Christians and other ministries is kind of like saying that the only thing you don’t like about chocolate milk is the chocolate and the milk.

Witness Lee’s pride and arrogance (which are legendary) were a natural outcome of the hero worship he received from his followers. I should know, I was one of them for many years. Witness Lee never broke the principle that “Jesus is Lord”, so I’m not sure why you bring this up, however whether or not he was a true servant to God is now up for review, and whether you like it or not the jury is composed of me, other members of this forum, and many other Christians who may or may not have any experience with the Local Church. My PERSONAL opinion is that Witness Lee, as an “apostle”, has been tried and found to be false. So it naturally follows that his teachings, most if not all of the major ones, cannot be trusted. We can haggle over each and every one of the major teachings and practices, and this is one reason why this forum exists.

“everything a sister teaches is invalid because Paul forbid sisters to teach”. Could you please point me to where anybody (sister or brother) is teaching here on the forum? We are all here just discussing as far as I’m concerned. Sorry if you feel like a sister is getting the best of you here in the discussions, but lashing out is not going to get you back in ballgame; just step up to the plate, take a swing, and if you strikeout just walk back to the dugout like everybody else and hope for better results next time. I’ve been struck out by some sisters quite a number of times. Hey, it happens. Actually you’re kind of lucky – there is a certain sister out there in the bullpen who you would not want to face…….. just sayin.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:45 PM   #140
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

The ground of the church that David Canfield writes about is basically what the Local Church teaches concerning oneness among believers and the practical church life around the world. But the Local Churches have a special oneness also that tacitly requires of its members a universal accord with a universal leadership and ministry. This emphasis causes division and makes them sectarian.

When I began to address the causes of division in the Local Churches, I was put out of the church by some leaders in full exhibition of their sectarian mindset. There was no ground for them to put me out, as I was seeking meaningful discussion and mutual fellowship with them over points of my concern.

Finally, after ten years of being ignored and misrepresented by LC leaders, I filed a lawsuit for defamation of character. I did this to get their attention over their divisive ways, coverups, and abuses of the saints. My goal was for their repentance and return to Christ alone for the building up of His Body in love in every place.

It has been a year, November 2010, since I filed the lawsuit, and did not talk about it till word came to testing123 about it and he shared this news, in part, on the forum which DJ then confirmed officially days later, Jan 2011.


DOCKET
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/was...v01848/171776/

COMPLAINT
www.twoturmoils.com/ComplaintFinal.pdf

APPEAL to BROTHERS
www.twoturmoils.com/DanTowleDefamationLetter.pdf
Initial appeal letter included

Sister’s Enouragement
www.twoturmoils.com/cklBearLetter.pdf


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Nov. 19, 2011
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:17 AM   #141
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Ha!Ha!Ha! I get it, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When it comes to dissing other ministries WL doesn't have anything on you.

Interesting theology here, WL's sins makes all of his teachings suspect or "you can't get blessing and cursing from the same mouth".
Unfortunately, you haven't bothered to read all of my critiques and have tried to make anything I have said similar to Lee, therefore either just as bad, or just as good.

But on the whole, my stance on Lee is mostly based on the constant juxtaposition of the unrighteousness that was visibly surrounding him and his family and his claim to be something so special in "God's move on the earth." In several places, the writers of the epistles, mostly Paul, but also John and I think even Peter, warn us of bad teachers and bad teachings. Paul gave some warning signs. Things like caring for their belly, and teachings things like endless genealogies and things that result in disputings. And it seems like there was always a lot of that. The result of so much of Lee's teaching was disputing the "Christian" in "Christianity."

And when the split among the churches in Taiwan focused at least partly on Lee saddling the church with his private business debts, and then we come to the US where an ingeniously structured business venture resulted in a continued stream of money for the Lees at the expense of his followers — first in the loss of their investments in that scheme, and then with the nearly-forced purchase of merchandise from the revamped factory (I believe that certain stacking chairs came from it). Yes you can point to other "Christian" ministers and say that there are similar things going on. And for those, I suggest that the same rejection should occur.

My wholesale rejection of Lee's ministry is not to say that nothing he said was true, but to warn that too often even the truth was nuanced with something false. Or altered just enough to create pride about it, such as through the superior thoughts of better terminology for otherwise common things of the faith. If Lee had taught nothing true, even most of the truly weak-minded would have seen through it and left. So he had to start with a sound base.

You also probably think that only Lee is a bad teacher in my mind. You would be far from right.

But let's forget all of what I have mentioned above and return to your complaint. Let's say that you are right and I am just like Lee. Then you defense of Lee is a defense of me. But you didn't actually defend him, but instead attacked me. And David. Solomon. Moses. You think that all failure is like failure. In the sense that we are all fallen man, you are correct. But beyond that, there are degrees. And there is timing.

And there is repentance. David repented. As did Moses, Solomon, and others.

And the same can be said of many modern ministers. There's Jim Baaker who boasted in code of his sexual encounters with a secretary only minutes before a big speaking event. And it uncovered a belly fed by sex, excesses of wealth, and much more. Even if he repents, he is ruined.

Then there are those like Lee, and Jimmy Swaggert, who can be caught in their sins and they either refuse to admit that it ever happened, or refuse to step down from ministry and a whole bunch of people follow them blindly.

But with or without any of that, forget whether there are a lot of bad examples in Christianity or none. Whether there is a way to discredit the messenger. Just focus on what is said about Lee. Defend that or fail. The way you are going about it is to say "everyone is corrupt — so what!!"

Ha!Ha!Ha! I get it! Don't consider the evidence that the emperor has no clothes. Attack anyone who suggests he doesn't. Avoid even considering the claim and trying to find evidence against it. You might discover that the claim is correct. Then what do you do with your years of blind, loyal following.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:25 AM   #142
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But the Local Churches have a special oneness also that tacitly requires of its members a universal accord with a universal leadership and ministry. This emphasis causes division and makes them sectarian.
Steve, I understand that you believe that there was a point in time (when is not important now) in which the Local Churches "changed", and went from meeting in true biblical oneness to becoming sectarian, emphasizing a universal leadership and ministry. Could you please point us to some concrete proof that the Local Churches ever practiced true biblical oneness with the Body of Christ at large, and not just within the confines of their meeting halls?

Proof, in my estimation, would be one or more of the following:
* Real and genuine cooperation with other churches and ministries in the cities in which they resided. Was there any joint gospel efforts? Did the LC join with other churches or ministries to fulfill the biblical mandate of taking care of the poor, taking care of orphans, widows and other needy ones? What joint efforts were made with other churches or ministries to represent and lift up the name of Christ in their community?

* A real and genuine effort to bring in outside ministers, teachers, scholars, etc. so as to expose the LC membership to a wider knowledge and appreciation of what God has done and is doing in the Body of Christ.

* The establishment of an independent board of directors for the Living Stream Ministry. A board composed of renown and approved men and women (gasp) not simply and solely beholden to the person and work of Witness Lee. This board would set the practical and moral standards for anybody who would minister among or have influence among the churches. Safeguards would be established and strictly maintained - no matter what your position or last name.

Steve, were any of the above things even remotely followed by Witness Lee or the Local Churches here in the US -EVER? I don't believe so. Maybe I've missed something over the past 35 years.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:42 AM   #143
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My PERSONAL opinion is that Witness Lee, as an “apostle”, has been tried and found to be false. So it naturally follows that his teachings, most if not all of the major ones, cannot be trusted.
Untohim,

One of Witness Lee's major teachings is salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation.

Toss that major teaching out too?

That is the logical conclusion of your argument.

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Old 11-20-2011, 09:11 AM   #144
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The ground of the church that David Canfield writes about is basically what the Local Church teaches concerning oneness among believers and the practical church life around the world. But the Local Churches have a special oneness also that tacitly requires of its members a universal accord with a universal leadership and ministry. This emphasis causes division and makes them sectarian.

When I began to address the causes of division in the Local Churches, I was put out of the church by some leaders in full exhibition of their sectarian mindset. There was no ground for them to put me out, as I was seeking meaningful discussion and mutual fellowship with them over points of my concern.

Finally, after ten years of being ignored and misrepresented by LC leaders, I filed a lawsuit for defamation of character. I did this to get their attention over their divisive ways, coverups, and abuses of the saints. My goal was for their repentance and return to Christ alone for the building up of His Body in love in every place.

It has been a year, November 2010, since I filed the lawsuit, and did not talk about it till word came to testing123 about it and he shared this news, in part, on the forum which DJ then confirmed officially days later, Jan 2011.


DOCKET
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/was...v01848/171776/

COMPLAINT
www.twoturmoils.com/ComplaintFinal.pdf

APPEAL to BROTHERS
www.twoturmoils.com/DanTowleDefamationLetter.pdf
Initial appeal letter included

Sister’s Enouragement
www.twoturmoils.com/cklBearLetter.pdf


Steve Isitt
Nov. 19, 2011
Steve,

If your goal is to get others to repent then it appears that whatever you have tried in the past has not worked. Therefore, your expectations are overstated and your techniques are ineffectual.

If you want acceptance in the local church fellowship then you obviously need to satisfy their requests. You refused so we can assume that you don't a restoration of fellowship.

Else, for the long haul you appear to be in that middle place without a home and lacking inner rest.

By the way, using the legal system to settle matters of religious disputes is frowned upon by the civil courts. You would have to show how being ostracized without cause impacted your financial standing. Not easy to do. Not getting counter sued and/or being ignored is probably the best you can hope for under the circumstances.

Hope you find the real rest, wherever that may be.

Cassidy
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:47 AM   #145
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To me, I disliked WL's condemnation of other Christians and of other ministries more than any other thing he taught. I think it was his willingness to condemn others which made it so easy to also sue them and even slander them. So I found it very funny that someone would teach that we could condemn all of WL's teachings based on these very same sins. The irony and hypocrisy just seemed overwhelmingly funny, to me. If you were going to decide that everything he did was poisoned, why wouldn't you conclude that condemning others was first and foremost on that list, take warning, and not do it? Why wouldn't you instead conclude that it was WL's pride and arrogance that caused him to think that it was his place to condemn other ministries?
Great points.

Too bad you haven't registered and addressed other ironies, but that's your decision. You can add much to the discussion.

I also have been restricted from a wholesale condemnation of WL/LSM/LC's because it is just not right to do that, even though we were instructed by WL in this way, and it is often difficult not to do. Thus I have attempted to limit my posts to those actions by LC leaders which directly have hurt others, without throwing out everything WL taught and worked for the Lord.

For me personally, what WL and his minions have done to other brothers, who were once a part of the Recovery, who have no other fault than to speak their conscience in an attempt to right the wrongs and expose the evils of the Recovery system, is the most egregious part of WL's ministry. I was there for many years being fooled that LC leadership was filled with God-fearing, holy men who placed the Lord's interests ahead of their own. Boy was I wrong!
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:56 AM   #146
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Unreg Guest,
everything a sister teaches is invalid because Paul forbid sisters to teach. Could you please point me to where anybody (sister or brother) is teaching here on the forum?
I don't think Unreg was saying that at all. Rather Unreg was using that as an example of what we should not do.

Or am I misunderstanding the discussion?
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:31 PM   #147
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Untohim,
One of Witness Lee's major teachings is salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation.
Toss that major teaching out too?
That is the logical conclusion of your argument.
Cassidy
When I said "his teachings" I think most people here would understand this to mean the particular teachings of Witness Lee. I would, however, beg to differ with you that one of Lee's major teachings (as far as emphasis and time spent) was salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation. Lee tended to major in minors when it comes to the major themes of the Christian faith, and the serious lack of knowledge and appreciation of these major themes among LC members is proof positive of this.
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #148
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One of Witness Lee's major teachings is salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation.

Toss that major teaching out too?

That is the logical conclusion of your argument.
Actually, it is not. The contention is not that everything Lee taught was false, or that nothing Lee taught should be accepted at all. It is that Lee's version of things is tainted. So ignore Lee. Look elsewhere. There you will find salvation by faith through the blood.

The problem is the willingness to accept everything because something was right. So all I need to do is teach something right and I should be accepted as a Christian teacher. Paul would disagree.

And while salvation through faith in the work of Christ in his death, shedding of blood, resurrection, etc., is an underpinning of Lee's theology, that fact does not make the rest of his teachings good. Or even OK.

So pointing to a correct teaching does not deal with the body of Lee's teachings. It doesn't make the others good. Just the one.

And we are in a thread on the ground of locality. This was as major a teaching as Lee ever had. And he was just wrong about it. And being right about salvation doesn't fix it.
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:10 PM   #149
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When I said "his teachings" I think most people here would understand this to mean the particular teachings of Witness Lee. I would, however, beg to differ with you that one of Lee's major teachings (as far as emphasis and time spent) was salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation. Lee tended to major in minors when it comes to the major themes of the Christian faith, and the serious lack of knowledge and appreciation of these major themes among LC members is proof positive of this.
Untohim,

Witness Lee has delivered more messages on salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ than have been posted in this forum all posters combined you included.

If you don't agree with the teachings of Witness Lee or Watchman Nee, those that are their "particular teachings" such as the ground of the church then no one is insisting that you do and no one is even asking you to believe. It is fair and healthy to assess those teachings in light of the Bible and on their own merits.

However, if anyone believes they are qualified to judge WL righteously based on his shortcomings and failures then they should at least extend us the courtesy to disclose their own shortcomings and failures publicly so we can decide whether they are qualified to judge.

That is the thing that I find the most disconcerting: That brothers and sisters will without hesitation presume to sit on the judgment seat of Christ and usurp His headship and act as if they themselves are qualified to do so because they are without sin or failure.

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Old 11-20-2011, 06:34 PM   #150
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Witness Lee has delivered more messages on salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ than have been posted in this forum all posters combined you included.
Nah, you must be talking about a different Witness Lee. For the 35 plus years that I have been intimately familiar with the ministry of Witness Lee (including over 20 while he was still alive and speaking in public) I have never known him to emphasize the basic gospel - that of "salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ". Lee called this the "lower gospel" and proudly proclaimed that his particular teachings as the "higher gospel".
Quote:
It is fair and healthy to assess those teachings in light of the Bible and on their own merits.
Really? Ya don't say. Glad you see fit to concede this. Thanks.
Quote:
However, if anyone believes they are qualified to judge WL righteously based on his shortcomings and failures then they should at least extend us the courtesy to disclose their own shortcomings and failures publicly so we can decide whether they are qualified to judge.
I already said that we (or at least me) are not judging solely on his shortcomings and failures - although certain of these shortcomings and failures surely disqualify Witness Lee from being the lead "apostle" or chief theologian among a sizable group of churches. Even the secular world holds it's leaders to a higher standard that was set by Lee and his sons. MY shortcomings and failures? Do you want the list alphabetical or numerical? Don't answer that - my shortcomings and failures are not going to be a topic on this forum - and neither are yours. They are irrelevant to the topic at hand.
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That is the thing that I find the most disconcerting: That brothers and sisters will without hesitation presume to sit on the judgment seat of Christ and usurp His headship and act as if they themselves are qualified to do so because they are without sin or failure. Cassidy
Who here has said that they are without sin or failure? Nobody that I know of. Again, God Himself has required that we judge - please see the New Testament for details.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:35 PM   #151
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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When I said "his teachings" I think most people here would understand this to mean the particular teachings of Witness Lee. I would, however, beg to differ with you that one of Lee's major teachings (as far as emphasis and time spent) was salvation by faith through the precious blood of Jesus and His completed work of salvation. Lee tended to major in minors when it comes to the major themes of the Christian faith, and the serious lack of knowledge and appreciation of these major themes among LC members is proof positive of this.
I can't agree with this either.

Furthermore, after the late 70's, the emphasis on the "Ground of Locality" mostly stopped. Rarely did we speak of the "one church - one city" after that. It still existed to varying degrees, but it was not stressed much.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:41 PM   #152
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Nah, you must be talking about a different Witness Lee. For the 35 plus years that I have been intimately familiar with the ministry of Witness Lee (including over 20 while he was still alive and speaking in public) I have never known him to emphasize the basic gospel - that of "salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ". Lee called this the "lower gospel" and proudly proclaimed that his particular teachings as the "higher gospel".
WL did not preach the gospel much in his English language trainings and conferences, but did preach the gospel much more in Chinese language gospel meetings, esp. the ones around the Chinese New Year.

But he regularly emphasized the basic plan of salvation during his life-study days.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:43 PM   #153
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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I assume this sophomoric counter argument is meant for me so thanks for the opportunity to respond. Yet you are truly straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

In another thread you turn a complete blind eye to a poster who claimed that WL was not "clean" because of his sins therefore his ministry should be discarded too. The premise of that argument is even worse than the one OBW made because that argument suggests that the blood of Christ is not efficacious for that brother (WL). What poster has a right to make such a declaration? None. Yet it is part and parcel to the attitudes expressed in this forum such as yours where people seat themselves in the judgment seat reserved for Christ and Christ alone.

You let that camel slip right down without so much as hiccup.

Cassidy
Again this argument is false. No one made the case that the blood of Jesus is not good enough for WL, and no one intended to. The fact that you see some way that what someone said could be interpreted in such a way does not show it was meant that way. "Clean" can have several meanings.

You are simply putting words in someone's mouth, I assume in a attempt to diminish his larger point. That's called a red herring.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:24 PM   #154
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Untohim,

Witness Lee has delivered more messages on salvation by faith through the blood of Jesus Christ than have been posted in this forum all posters combined you included.

If you don't agree with the teachings of Witness Lee or Watchman Nee, those that are their "particular teachings" such as the ground of the church then no one is insisting that you do and no one is even asking you to believe. It is fair and healthy to assess those teachings in light of the Bible and on their own merits.

However, if anyone believes they are qualified to judge WL righteously based on his shortcomings and failures then they should at least extend us the courtesy to disclose their own shortcomings and failures publicly so we can decide whether they are qualified to judge.

That is the thing that I find the most disconcerting: That brothers and sisters will without hesitation presume to sit on the judgment seat of Christ and usurp His headship and act as if they themselves are qualified to do so because they are without sin or failure.

Cassidy
The issue is not to sit in judgment. The issue is to deal with misconceptions about who he was. He and his followers have made some pretty lofty claims for him, calling him the minister of the age, and so forth. By these claims they attempt to put pressure on the lives of others. This pressure has caused considerable damage to people, and it's inexcusable.

They set the bar high, no one else did. They made that bed, now they need to own it. It's pretty late in the day to cop a plea of, "Aw shucks everyone. WL was just a simple bible teacher among many. He should be judged the same as anyone else."

No. If you or your followers claim you are someone exceedingly special, if you or your followers radically influence lives based on those claims, then you darn sure need to be held to a higher standard than anyone else. That is only right.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:31 PM   #155
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Furthermore, after the late 70's, the emphasis on the "Ground of Locality" mostly stopped. Rarely did we speak of the "one church - one city" after that. It still existed to varying degrees, but it was not stressed much.
Really? It seems that it became so ingrained that nothing more need be said. They used it without comment to sue for property and the right to a name in some of the places you have called home — or at least close by home. It is the very catalyst for ongoing strife throughout the GLA. Who is on the proper "ground"? It's not you, so we can declare it to be us.

The ground of locality is the cornerstone of the whole system. Without it, they lose their speciality and revert to just another assembly like any other in the neighborhood. (And what would be wrong with that? Wouldn't you agree?)
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Old 11-22-2011, 06:54 PM   #156
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Really? It seems that it became so ingrained that nothing more need be said. They used it without comment to sue for property and the right to a name in some of the places you have called home — or at least close by home. It is the very catalyst for ongoing strife throughout the GLA. Who is on the proper "ground"? It's not you, so we can declare it to be us.

The ground of locality is the cornerstone of the whole system. Without it, they lose their speciality and revert to just another assembly like any other in the neighborhood. (And what would be wrong with that? Wouldn't you agree?)
Somewhat.

Actually the cases I was more familiar with used the argument that the LC was built up by the ministry (LSM) and have been receiving the ministry all along, and now you elders want us to stop receiving from LSM thus depriving us of our rights ... yada, yada ...

The "proper ground" was not the ground of locality but being one with the ministry. By steering the church away from LSM, the LC's were accuse of "teaching differently," thus in the way of error, etc.

Thus the claims in the lawsuits were that the elders "abruptly changed direction" contrary to the wishes of the congregation.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:37 PM   #157
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Unto,
In his book, Against the Tide, Angus Kinear describes how that when Witness Lee joined up with Watchman Nee all of a sudden saints had to wear name tags to the table meeting, and sense of sectarianism emerged. This is all the way back in China.

I think you have evaluated Lee's M.O. accurately. For periods of time when he was trying to attract membership, and build up his base there may have been times when it seemed less sectarian. I believe this is what many ex-local Churchers fondly refer to as the good ole days of the "glorious Church-life." But with Witness Lee you could always look for the other foot to drop if the saints were enjoying something good.

He was who he was from the very beginning. I believe he always saw himself as the "One Man" who God had appointed to carry the mantle once Watchman Nee was safely tucked away in a Communist Red China gulag.
P.C.
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:19 AM   #158
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Somewhat.

Actually the cases I was more familiar with used the argument that the LC was built up by the ministry (LSM) and have been receiving the ministry all along, and now you elders want us to stop receiving from LSM thus depriving us of our rights ... yada, yada ...

The "proper ground" was not the ground of locality but being one with the ministry. By steering the church away from LSM, the LC's were accuse of "teaching differently," thus in the way of error, etc.

Thus the claims in the lawsuits were that the elders "abruptly changed direction" contrary to the wishes of the congregation.
You know more than I do, but I still think the ground of locality is their fall back "ace in the hole" for legitimacy.

Remember Ryan on the other board? He said flat out he thought the Lord would never lead anyone out of the "Recovery." When I asked him to explain why he started talking about being on the local ground. I didn't get the impression he was an old-timer. He was attending the FTTA.
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:55 AM   #159
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You know more than I do, but I still think the ground of locality is their fall back "ace in the hole" for legitimacy.
You can't file a petition with the court saying you are the only "legitimate" church in town.

But ... sure the ground of locality means something to its members. Didn't Myer and TC part ways after John failed to answer some local ground question "satisfactorily?" That was after the quarantine dust had a chance to settle.
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Old 11-23-2011, 09:36 AM   #160
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But ... sure the ground of locality means something to its members. Didn't Myer and TC part ways after John failed to answer some local ground question "satisfactorily?" That was after the quarantine dust had a chance to settle.
LC members like to argue over semantics pre recent quarantine and post recent quarantine it seems. And this extends to the non-essentials such as the "ground of locality" which has for them become an essential item of their faith.

Community Church with pastors is verbotem language! After 1000 years in outer darkness purgatory I'm sure John Myer will come to his senses about his language sins and realize the error of his ways.
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:58 AM   #161
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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Remember Ryan on the other board? He said flat out he thought the Lord would never lead anyone out of the "Recovery." When I asked him to explain why he started talking about being on the local ground.
For all intent and purposes, as much rhetoric there is to make "the recovery" so unique, it's not. Learn your history and it will be realized, "the recovery" is really an offshoot of the EB. Sure, the terminology has changed, but the practices are still the same. Including the ground of locality.
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:57 PM   #162
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

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LC members like to argue over semantics pre recent quarantine and post recent quarantine it seems. And this extends to the non-essentials such as the "ground of locality" which has for them become an essential item of their faith.

Community Church with pastors is verboten language! After 1000 years in outer darkness purgatory I'm sure John Myer will come to his senses about his language sins and realize the error of his ways.
Yes "me," how very true!

I'll never forget one brother, an elder and full-timer, who got so upset with me, he yelled at me "don't make me a pastor." During the same tirade he dumped an f-bomb on me.

Strange but true folks! The "P-Word" had become more dreaded than the "F-word." Yikes!

That P-word was verboten language in the Recovery. Thanks for teaching me a new word. You can say anything else, but not that!
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:14 AM   #163
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Default Re: Regarding the Ground of Locality - David Canfield

Meeting "on the ground of locality" certainly isn't unbiblical. But then again neither is meeting on the ground of the home. What is unbiblical is insisting that the ground of locality is the only way to meet as a church. The Bible simply does not support this notion.

Insistence on the ground of locality as the only place to meet springs not from a biblical imperative, but from the belief that there ought to be an imperative--from the belief that it makes sense that there should be only one way to meet as the church, so that what are and what are not churches can be defined and standardized.

Unfortunately (from a human standpoint) the Bible seems to disagree. It does not provide an airtight case for the ground of locality. It provides several "leaks," particularly the mention of house churches, including the church in the house of Aquilla and Priscilla in Romans 16. Although LRC doctrine tries to fit this and other mentions of house churches into the mold of the city church, such exegesis is forced and unnatural.

For example, I work for an organization which has many chapters, most of which are associated with cities. But there is no requirement that chapters be so organized. Some, for example, are organized around college campuses.

Imagine that I wrote a letter to the organization members in a particular city. Suppose I spent several pages conveying all sorts of information and at the end greeted several members by name and along with all those salutations said hello to the "chapter that meets in Andy and Pamela's house," much like Paul's greeting in Romans 16.

Would anyone think that the chapter in Andy and Pamela's house was a chapter actually made up of everyone I had previously addressed and greeted and indeed every member in the city? No one would think such a thing. Yet this is how the LRC explains away house churches.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:24 AM   #164
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