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

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Old 12-28-2017, 05:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 4
Default Claim of Watchman Nee Leadership Practice in China?

I came across a book with some interesting claims about Watchman Nee, Witness Lee, and the local churches in mainland China and Taiwan. The book is "Religion and Democracy in Taiwan" by Cheng-Tian Kuo, SUNY Press, May 8, 2008. Mr. Kuo is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Here is a paraphrase of some of the information presented on pages 50-52 of the book on The Local Church. The bracketed question mark in the paragraph below is by me indicating that the author must mean 70 million Christians in China (not 7 million) or he is way off on his facts.

Watchman Nee founded the Local Church in China in the 1920s. He was influenced by western evangelists, but "developed an indigenized theology critical of the principal churches but accessible to ordinary Chinese". Witness Lee was his "right-hand man". "The Local Churches constitute the majority of the seven million Christians in China [?] and include a membership of 91,000 Taiwanese associated with more than 170 churches in Taiwan. The Local Church is the second largest Christian denomination in Taiwan".

"The ecclesiology of the Local Church was a mixture of supreme mastership, equality of all believers, and a centralized decision core with strong local autonomy. Ni was the supreme master of all church members, including Ni's successor, Li Chang-shou, who served Ni as his own son. Ni's writings were the main, if not the only, instructional materials in Bible study sessions. His leadership and biblical interpretation was beyond challenge by his members; those who dared to question were driven out of the church. He appointed all elders in local churches. After Ni's death, Li succeeded him to supreme mastership. In addition to inheriting all the supreme powers Ni had, Li's writings, especially the Recovered Version of the Bible he edited, have replaced those by Ni in the church's Bible Study sessions."

The author later talks about the local churches in Taiwan:

"The Local Church headquarters makes important decisions about church activities and personnel. Local churches cannot but obey; otherwise, they would be excommunicated from the church, as occurred in the 1960s. Among the various charges against these saboteurs, Li mentioned that they challenged his leadership in general, including refusing to sing the eighty-five new hymns composed by Li for all member churches. These saboteurs were first suspended of their elder positions and left the Local Church one year later to establish independent churches. The Living Stone Church in Taipei is one of the remnants of this split".

If what this author states is true, then it appears that Witness Lee carried on Watchman Nee's original idea of spiritual authority. If that is the case, then the idea of following one set of teachings/ministry was all part of the original practice. I think the unhealthy level of control that followed had to be used to keep everyone following the same script (i.e. one teaching or ministry).

Has anyone else ever come across this author/book? The author does use references for many of his statements so it's probably worthwhile to follow the reference trail to see where it leads.
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