Local Church Discussions  

Go Back   Local Church Discussions > Writings of Former Members

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-03-2016, 08:56 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6,027
Default Carry My Bones Up From Here


The context of James is the early church. James emphasizes this context in his book when he says that we should not “have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons”. The record in Acts and Galatians reveals a key human failing, we are prone to have the faith of Jesus “with respect of persons”. Imagine you are a new one, you are not sure what to believe. But, you know you can trust James, after all, he is the brother of Jesus and the son of the virgin Mary. In Acts and Galatians James had a big influence on the early church and what was recorded was not a positive one. James’ experience is as much a part of the context as Paul’s experience of persecuting Christians or Peter’s experience of denying the Lord. James experience of the early church respecting him according to who he was in the flesh is relevant for him to expose false prophets, to shut their mouths, and to help those who have wandered from the truth return to the normal church life. We might think that showing partiality is extremely rare. What is the teaching of slavery if not “having the faith of our Lord Jesus with respect of persons”? When John Adams was working on the declaration of Independence his wife mentioned the fact that women were not treated as equals. The Civil Rights movement and Women’s suffrage are both based on “having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons”. Some justified slavery saying the slaves were descendants of Ham, the son of Noah that was cursed. That is, by definition, to be a “respecter of persons”. Arguments against women’s suffrage were that women were weaker, that they were too occupied with domestic duties, and that they were too stupid to bear the responsibilities of voting. Once again, this by definition, is to “hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons”. What about Nazi Germany where Jews were required to wear the star of David, were housed in Ghettos and then exterminated in camps. This is the logical extreme of what it is to be a “respecter of persons” and what it is to show partiality.

Paul told us that “their mouths must be stopped” regarding the false prophets. How do you accomplish that? James tells us that no man can “tame the tongue”. “Taming the tongue” or “shutting the mouths” is a work of faith. It is the book of James, as much as any other New Testament book that will equip you to stand against a false prophet by “taming their tongue”.

Why are Christians deceived by false prophets? Like any disease you need to know what the risk factors are, what steps do you need to take to protect yourself and what are the symptoms of those who are being led astray. How do you diagnose if you have been deceived? What is the number one safeguard against false prophets? How do you speak to someone who is deceived, how do you reach them? These are some of the issues addressed in the book of James. Many tempations can be examined: investment schemes (Bernie Madoff), national security (Benedict Arnold), elections (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump) using the book of James. And the book is balanced, not only does it focus on false prophets but also on genuine faith. Orville and Wilbur Wright, Douglas Macarthur and Harry S. Truman are examples of people who were vilified as being false during their lifetime. These men reveal how difficult discerning the truth can be. James gives us a promise that if we lack wisdom we can ask God and He will give us this wisdom without upbraiding us. The book of James is the “perfect gift of God”. The New Covenant is about giving us a new heart, a heart of flesh. The book of James is about this new heart given to the genuine believers of Christ.

False prophets are “bullies”. Cults are characterized by bullying. How do you respond in a way that triumphs over bullies? This is an issue in schools and in the world, not just in the church. FDR and Marshall exemplified the way mentioned by James in their dealing with MacArthur, likewise Gandhi in his dealing with the British, and Mandela in his actions as President. Christians are destined to rule and reign with Jesus Christ and the book of James equips us to triumph over bullies.

What are the indicators that a man is genuine or false? James gives us a seven point checklist to discern. He also reveals the actions that should set off an alarm. How can a man who knows Jesus and ministers the word of God be a false prophet? James explains this and makes clear the matter of grace with three simple words. James also gives us the one thing, above all, that a believer should not do. Again, this can apply to a church, it can also apply to Germans living under Adolf Hitler, or investors considering an investment scheme from Bernie Madoff.

Finally, James explains how to return when you have wandered from the truth. The book is written to “the twelve tribes in the dispersion”. He identifies what led them astray, why they followed this false leader, and what is the path that leads back to a normal church life. It applies to traitors and scam artists of all kinds. James focus is on judging why you were deceived. This is not for us to judge others, but rather that we can remove the beam from our own eye.

2 Pet 2:15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.

What is the path back to God? James gives us that path. The word “dispersion” refers to the pattern of distribution of individuals within a habitat. The kingdom of heaven is like a field where the Lord has distributed believers across this earth under His sovereignty. If these believers can root out the stony heart and take a heart of flesh, then there is no place left for God’s enemy. The Lord has prayed that we would all be one and overcome the world, and He has given us the book of James to help us according to His love and His purpose.

The truth is powerful whether or not you believe it. It did not matter that no one believed Wilbur and Orville Wright had built an airplane that could fly. They did not waste time arguing or debating. Instead Wilbur spent months rebuilding the plane damaged by the customs office and then in a demonstration lasting less than 5 minutes took off, circled the field and landed. Likewise, it didn’t matter that the British did not believe Gandhi when he said that they would pack up and leave on their own. It was the truth and it was what they did. However, for a false prophet his power is based on you “believing” his word. If you reject his word then he is powerless. For example, the followers of Hitler claimed that he “struck a chord with us, he uttered what was in the consciousness of all of us”. Charisma exists as an interaction between a speaker and an audience. Hitler told them what they wanted to hear. It is like a virus that needs a host to infect, without a host there is no life and no power. When we deal with our heart we will deal with the virus. As a rule James makes it clear we are not to judge our brother, however he also points out that teachers are subject to a “stricter judgement”. It is foolish to argue that the New Testament forbids us from judging teachings, that is akin to forbidding discernment, prudence or wisdom. Jesus tells the church in Thyatira that He has this against them, that they tolerate that woman Jezebel who teaches His believers to commit spiritual fornication. This book teaches us to discern the teachings and teachers, it doesn’t teach us to judge our brother.

2Pet 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

I will reference my personal experience with the Local Church through some of the discussion on the book of James. This group was founded by Witness Lee, a coworker of Watchman Nee. Since some may not know this relatively small and obscure Christian group it is important to give you a little background of key issues, doctrines, events and people.

Watchman Nee

When Mao took over China Watchman Nee remained and sent Witness Lee to take “the recovery” to Taiwan. Watchman Nee died in prison after Richard Nixon asked about him. One incident that is critical to this book is understanding who Watchman Nee is (author of Sit, Walk, Stand and other books on the Bible). In China Watchman Nee established a new sect of Christianity based on his doctrine “The Ground of the Church”. This is a highly contentious doctrine and it is the foundation of his sect. This doctrine is based on the Old Testament typology of the Temple which was built on a specific ground. The place where Abraham offered up Isaac. Since James uses this as “the” example of being “saved by works of faith” it is really a cornerstone to understanding both the book of James and the sect of Watchman Nee. This is also the same ground where King David offered a burnt offering to stop the plague brought on by pride. This “plague brought on by pride” is also a critical component of both James and the issues I raise with Witness Lee. The doctrine of “The Minister of the Age” exemplifies the extent of this “plague brought on by pride”. As a result it is important to introduce these two doctrines. The other incident that is crucial is Watchman Nee’s being disciplined by the elders in Shanghai for having a mistress. Witness Lee taught (in speaking, but not in writing) that Watchman Nee was disciplined for living with a woman, but that the woman was his mother. This lie was critical in preserving Watchman Nee’s legacy as a man of God, and by extension Witness Lee’s legacy as his closest coworker.

Ground of the church

According to the “Ground of the Church” doctrine you cannot just build the church anywhere, it has to be built on the “proper” ground (just like the Temple in the Old Testament). The verses in the Old Testament are clear, specific, and difficult to ignore. However, for a doctrine as important and central as this (according to Witness Lee you cannot have the real oneness of the Body unless you are on the proper ground) the New Testament references used by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee are obscure and vague. It is based on these two New Testament verses:

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge;


Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.

According to Nee and Lee, “appointing elders in every church” = “appointing elders in every city”. You could reasonably deduce that the boundaries for each missionary was geographic, perhaps they were given cities to work in. But these two verses become the basis to say that the proper ground of the church is the geographic boundary of a city. This inference is then supported by Nee and Lee by showing that anywhere in the New Testament when the word “church” is used it is associated with a single city, and when “churches” are used it is associated with a larger geographic region (church in Ephesus, churches of Galatia). Like any good lie it is based on the truth. It is true that the Old Testament Temple is a type of the church. It is also true that the ground that the church is built on is specific and important. This ground was purchased by Christ with his blood on the cross. To try and equate this ground with the boundaries of geographic cities is an insult to Jesus. This different gospel that they preach becomes very ugly when you look at the application. Based on this doctrine all Christian gatherings are divisive because they do not claim to be the church in that city. Any other name other than “church in _________” is an abomination. Only the elders of this group are legitimate, any other Christian leader that does not submit to their authority is wrong. Also, what do you do when the church in a city has tens of thousands of members? In Taipei they have 23 meeting halls, each with elders in that hall. So the issue isn’t with different meeting halls, each with their own elders, the issue is with all of the elders reporting to Witness Lee. Only the “apostle” has the authority to appoint elders (or remove them) and they are all under his authority. So then, Watchman Nee teaches that “authority is local, each local church answers to the Lord” yet in practice every local church answers to Witness Lee and they are not “legitimate” unless he sanctions them. There are several requirements put on a local church. Each one must have a standing order with the Living Stream Ministry, receiving monthly shipments of books that they don’t want. They must participate in yearly trainings, sending people and paying fees for these. And they must contribute on a monthly basis to the Legal Defense Fund, paying for the legal team of lawyers that the Living Stream Ministry controls. This legal team is used for lawsuits against others. The teaching is used to judge others and to bring the believers into bondage. Then worst of all, they are told that if they leave the “proper ground” of Witness Lee’s churches then they cannot go on with the Lord.

Matt 18:6 but whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that [a]a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea.

Minister of the Age

The second doctrine is the “Minister of the Age” doctrine. According to this the Lord is working out His purpose in this age, building His church. In each “mini time period” say the time of Martin Luther or the time of Watchman Nee the Lord has a particular vision, He gives that vision to one servant to minister and that servant is the “Minister of the Age”. Martin Luther was a “Minister of the Age” and Watchman Nee was a “Minister of the Age”. The vision that Martin Luther had was “justification by faith”, the vision that Watchman Nee had was “the ground of the church”. This doctrine is supported with an extensive review of the Old Testament showing that at any given moment in time God was moving through one key man (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Elisha, etc.). Then in the New Testament you can see that Peter took the lead at one time, then James was clearly the leading elder at one time, then Paul when he rebuked Peter was taking the lead, etc. But then when you study church history this teaching collapses. There was never, apart from James, a “Minister of the Age” that all other ministers appear to submit to. They use a verse from Moses saying that there will be a prophet like him, but that verse is very clearly referring to Jesus. The Old Testament type of the “Minister of the Age” is a type of Jesus and the “vision of the age” is salvation by grace. This doctrine teaches that this type of Jesus is actually a type of Watchman Nee, that is equivalent to preaching another Jesus that Paul warns us of.

2 Cor 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach,

The book of James condemns the history where he was the leading elder saying that we should not have the faith of our Lord Jesus with respect of persons. He condemns boasting and pride.

Key Issues


Many Christians became alarmed by this group. Books like the “God Men” and “The Mindbenders” were published accusing the church of being a cult. Witness Lee put together a legal defense team and sued these publishers. All of the churches are required to send money to Living Stream Ministry to support this legal defense team. Ultimately the publishers of those books went broke and could no longer fight the lawsuit, hence Witness Lee won. Witness Lee’s use of lawsuits to sue Christians is a major issue many have with him.

1Cor 6:6 but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded? 8 Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren


Witness Lee was involved in numerous investment schemes. The one I refer to is called “Daystar” it was a motor home company that was located in Taiwan. He sold stock in this company to all of the saints in the United States. His sons, Philip and Timothy ran the company. The company went bankrupt yet Philip and Timothy and Witness Lee made money. Witness Lee convinced all of the saints to not seek remuneration. Selling the stock as he did violated SEC regulations. There were a number of issues with this company that had the saints sought to get their money back would have put Witness Lee and his sons in jail.

Starting around 1972, Witness Lee expressed a concern for the financial suffering of the migrating saints and their need to be able to purchase proper meeting places. I was in a meeting of visiting elders and co-workers in which he introduced the Daystar business. He shared that his son Timothy had approached him about a business and that the business seemed to Witness Lee to be ideal for us (the local churches). The brothers and sisters could invest money, earn a nice profit of around 35%, and generate significant profit for the support of the new churches. He then spoke of manufacturing only the finest product. We could produce the product in Taiwan, which would help the believers there with employment and sell the product in the USA. He spoke at length concerning how the members of the churches should only invest their surplus and that he felt very positive that this was of the Lord. The business consisted of manufacturing and selling an expensive motor home. This was certainly a very different meeting than anything I had ever attended. I and others left with our heads spinning. I was bothered and asked James Barber what was going on. He replied that Witness Lee was God’s anointed and I should be very careful about criticizing. He declared that even if Witness Lee was wrong, God would bless the endeavor. (Taken from “History by Don Rutledge” posted on the Local Church Discussions website).

Philip Lee

After Daystar Witness Lee formed “Living Stream Ministry” and put Philip Lee, an unsaved person, in charge. Philip Lee was involved in many evil deeds including molesting sisters and having drunken parties in the office. The elders brought these to the attention of Witness Lee. All those that did were slandered, libeled and excommunicated. Max Rappaport, his wife, John Ingalls, Bill Mallon, John So, etc. There is a long list of people who became aware of the sins of Philip Lee and as a result were maligned and driven out of the Local church and everyone was told to avoid them because they were “poisoned”. These were the key spiritual leaders in the church. In addition, Philip Lee was the one who forced all the churches to get “standing orders”. This means that each month the church pays for books they don’t want. The boxes of books would build up in the closet until they have no more room. At that point they have a “yard sale” to get rid of them.

Key People

Ray Graver, Benson Phillips, Kerry Robichaux and Ed Marks were all in the church in Houston at the same time I was from 1978 to 1981. All five of us then went to form the church in Irving to build a large conference center for the Living Stream Ministry and were there until 1983. So for six years I was in a church of 200 (Houston) and 100 (Irving) with these four. Today Ray Graver and Benson Phillips run Living Stream Ministry. Ed Marks is a key elder, taking over when the elders in Anaheim resigned over Philip Lee. He is notorious for signing an apology letter to Phillip Lee apologizing for the elders that had disciplined him over his adulterous behavior with sisters (married and single) at the Living Stream office. Kerry Robichaux is the “scribe”. He graduated with a degree in linguistics. He has studied Greek and has a Phd. I went to Rice university at the same time he was there. Ray Graver and Benson Phillips are notorious for refusing to listen to John Ingalls when he came to them about Philip Lee. They argued that Philip was a “local matter”. They basically stuck the knife in the back of the elders in Anaheim and then the four of them (Ray, Benson, Ed and Kerry) replaced them.

Upon coming together we attempted amid protests to mention the matter of the misconduct in the LSM office. They steadfastly refused to hear about it, but we proceeded to speak. Ray [Ray Graver] Graver then quickly rose and exited the room. Benson [Benson Phillips] (in whose home we were meeting) also rose to register his displeasure. We felt that they had knowledge relevant to the matter and wanted to confer with them about it. Benson admitted that the same sister from the LSM office (mentioned previously) had come to him in Taipei to disclose a related event, but he strongly protested our bringing this matter before them. They argued that this affair was exclusively under the jurisdiction of the church in Anaheim, and they had no business being involved. We felt, as we mentioned earlier, that it was more than local, and that since that they were leaders in the LSM operation, they could be consulted. (Taken from Speaking the Truth in Love, by John Ingalls)

For those interested in reading the full 61 page document here is the PDF
Attached Files
File Type: pdf carrybones09042016.pdf (436.8 KB, 98 views)
ZNPaaneah is online now   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:47 AM.