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Old 07-17-2015, 06:24 AM   #1
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Default “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

“Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic
Nigel Tomes

Who is Teresa Zimmerman-Liu?
You don’t know her by name, but Teresa Zimmerman-Liu was a shining star of the Local Church in the 1980s. In that era many Local Church members made the pilgrimage to Taiwan to participate in the “great act in church history,” carried out by means of door-knocking and bathtub baptizing, to “gospelize, truthize, and churchize Taiwan.”1 While participating in Taiwan’s Full-Time Training (FTT), many native English-speakers faced the challenge of operating in a foreign language and culture. It was there that Teresa Zimmerman-Liu emerged as a shining star. Here was a young girl, a Caucasian college-graduate who seemed fully fluent in2 Mandarin Chinese. Even more striking, she married into a traditional Chinese family. A number of Caucasian brothers returned from Taiwan with Taiwanese wives, but the incidence of Taiwanese brothers marrying a Caucasian wife was much lower. Perhaps she was blissfully ignorant of her celebrity status, but all this made Teresa Zimmerman-Liu a star in the FTT and the wider Local Church community. In the ensuing decades her linguistic talents proved a valuable asset on both sides of the Pacific; she was employed by Witness Lee and his associates (the soon-to-be “blended brothers”) in Taipei, Taiwan and Anaheim, CA. During that era, Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s unique abilities, position and celebrity-status gave her privileged access to the upper echelons of the Local Church community, including Witness Lee’s family.3

All this is reflected in her Blog biography which reads:4 “My name is Teresa Zimmerman-Liu. I was born and raised in a typical white family in the good old US of A. I love studying languages, and after graduating from Georgetown University [BS Languages (Spanish Lit.)] I went to Taiwan to learn Chinese. There I married into a traditional Chinese family. Since 1983 I have been a Chinese-English translator, ESL teacher, and facilitator of cross-cultural communication...” Plus her published papers recount that,5 “The author was a member of Local Church congregations in Taiwan and the United States from 1978-2008 and a translator for Witness Lee in his publishing companies in Taiwan and California from 1983-2001. The author was also the eldest daughter-in-law in a multigenerational Hakka Chinese household in Taiwan and the United States from 1986-2010.” Clearly she is no stranger to the inner workings of the Local Church. Plus her work among immigrants and refugees from mainland China arriving in the US6 provides insights into Local Church affiliates in China. Having married into a traditional Chinese family, Teresa Zimmerman-Liu has been immersed not only in the Chinese language, but also its culture at both the family and society levels. She is uniquely qualified to address issues such as the impact of Chinese culture on US Local Churches.

From Local Church Star to Secular Scholar

After 30-years in the Local Church (1978-2008) Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s life entered a new phase in 2008/9. Armed with a formidable linguistic skill-set and a wealth of life-experience she entered the academic sphere where her endeavors have begun to yield rich rewards. In 2009-12 she earned an MA in Asian Studies (Chinese Studies, Asian Lit), from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). From there Teresa Zimmerman-Liu has gone on to seek a Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis in Chinese culture and religion at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).7 She expects to complete her doctoral studies in 2018. Already she has an impressive list of peer-reviewed publications in academic journals. Zimmerman-Liu’s writings are of particular interest due to their focus on Witness Lee and the Local Churches. They have intriguing titles invoking Local Church themes; like, “The Divine & Mystical Realm...” and “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’...”. Yet these are social science studies, not spiritual publications. They convey no hint of hostility or resentment; on the contrary she expresses appreciation for Witness Lee and offers a sympathetic view of the Local Church. Her latest publication (co-authored with Dr. Teresa Wright of CSULB) is entitled, "What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious Cult in the United States and the People's Republic of China: Witness Lee and the Local Churches." It appeared in the Journal of Church and State on April 9, 2015.

Academic publications of this caliber must contain innovative elements extending the body of knowledge in their particular field. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s latest paper does this by reporting “previously unreported interviews, conducted by the authors, with U.S. leaders of the Local Churches’ Living Stream Ministry” and by capitalizing on the author’s experiences as a Local Church ‘insider.’ Appealing to her insider insights,8 “The paper is further informed by the co-author’s experience as a member of various Local Church congregations in the U.S. and Taiwan from 1978-2008, and her work as a translator for Local Church leader Witness Lee in his publication companies in Taipei and Anaheim, California during the 1980s and 1990s, and for church members who sought refuge in the U.S. from persecution in China during the early 2000s.”

This piece reviews the valuable insights offered by Teresa Zimmerman-Liu (& Teresa Wright) in this paper and her other publications. First we summarize (in our words) two valuable observations made by the author(s).

1. Witness Lee’s Local Churches have been labeled a ‘cult’ in North America and in mainland China where it is stigmatized as the “Shouter sect.” Despite multiple lawsuits, the expenditure of millions of dollars, and LSM’s denials, Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright conclude that the Local Church’s cult’ label has stuck in both the East and the West. In the foreseeable future, the prospects of change are remote.

2. Watchman Nee’s “Little Flock” churches in the Far East were an “indigenized”9 version of Christianity, “contextualized”10 to Chinese culture and values. This Chinese incarnation of Christianity was further developed by Witness Lee in Taiwan. Despite their claims to have “recovered” the original, culture-free form of the New Testament Church in all its pristine purity, T. Zimmerman-Liu contends that Watchman Nee’s “Little Flock” church and Witness Lee’s “Local Church” each represent “a Chinese interpretation of Christianity,” a “Sinicized version of Christianity.”11 These developments in the Far East “created a form of Protestantism that is very different from its Western counterparts.” Hence, on his arrival in the West, “Witness Lee brought Chinese Christianity to the United States in the 1960s.”12 This assessment directly contradicts Local Church’s official “party line” about recovering the original biblical pattern;13 nevertheless it rings true. This insight explains why LSM’s Local Church has proved attractive to Asian (particularly Chinese) immigrants to North America and their descendents. It also provides a rationale for the Local Church’s failure to attract significant numbers of “typical North Americans” (a Local Church euphemism for Caucasians). Simply put, despite its name, LSM’s “Local Church” is not local in the context of the Western world. Rather than indigenizing the Local Church, “contextualizing” it to western culture and values, Witness Lee presented and LSM currently propagates an imported version of Asian (Chinese) Christianity, miss-matched with 21st century North America. The Local Church is in many ways (which Zimmerman-Liu identifies) an ethnic, Oriental expression of the Christian faith. It was re-imported to China in the 1970s.

Here we briefly review, and comment upon, T. Zimmerman-Liu’s & T. Wright’s presentation of the first point. The second point will be the topic of a subsequent piece.

Local Church branded a Religious Cult in US & China
The abstract of Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s "What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious Cult in the United States and the People's Republic of China: Witness Lee and the Local Churches," states that:
“This paper focuses on the conflict surrounding a controversial religious group—known by its members as the ‘Local Churches,’ but called by its critics the ‘Shouters’—that...moved between China and the US. The paper examines how the categorization of the Local Churches [as a ‘cult’] has been shaped...in these two countries. It finds that in China, such categorization has occurred from the top-down, wherein the central government has played a key role in defining which religious groups are aberrant by placing them on a list of ‘evil religious cults.’ In the US, in contrast, [the ‘cult’] categorization has emanated from the bottom-up, as social groups and lobbyists have worked to shape public opinion, and to influence the way in which courts and legislative bodies regulate religions...”

The Making of a Cult in the US
T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright review the process by which the Local Church was labelled a ‘cult’ in the US. They write,14 “In 1962, [Witness] Lee immigrated to the United States and began to speak widely, preaching his and [Watchman] Nee’s version of Christianity in heavily-accented English, which was often difficult for average Americans to understand. Nonetheless, in the late 1960s, the Local Church movement began to take off in the U.S., especially in California. In the 1970s, when American evangelical Christians encountered Local Churches under the ministry of Witness Lee, they were put off by the unfamiliar doctrinal terminology used by Lee and by the strong Chinese influence that was evident even in Western congregations. As Local Church members proselytized on American campuses, they came into conflict with mainstream evangelical groups, such as Inter-varsity. Eventually, these campus conflicts raised questions within the anti-cult movement. During the mid to late 1970s, two research organizations of the anti-cult movement—the Christian Research Institute (CRI) of Charlotte, NC and the Spiritual Counterfeit Project (SCP) of Berkeley, CA —researched and published ‘highly critical evaluations’ of the Local Churches. These reports did not call the Local Churches a cult, but were cited in later publications that did...The conflict between the Local Churches and the anti-cult movement worsened after the publication of 2 books on cults: The Mind Benders, by Jack Sparks & The God-Men, by the SCP staff.’’

A Chinese Interpretation of Christianity
The authors acknowledge that in the 1960s Witness Lee began “preaching his and [Watchman] Nee’s version of Christianity” in the US. Earlier they state that Watchman “Nee did not change the Christian message; rather, he contextualized Christianity to his time and place”—i.e. China in the 1930s.15 Hence what W. Lee brought to the US, the authors identify (accurately I believe) as “a Chinese interpretation of Christianity.”16 This is seen as a factor contributing to the ‘cult’ label being affixed to the Local Church. That may be so, but I would emphasize that Witness Lee vehemently rejected the notion that he brought “a Chinese interpretation of Christianity” to the US. On the contrary, he asserted “I know that I came from China, but my teaching is not Chinese...[it] is just a quotation of the Holy Word.”17 He always claimed that he and W. Nee recovered the original version of Christianity in its pristine purity. Hence he wrote, “What was there at [the Apostle Paul’s] time was the original and recovered church...With us the Lord's recovery began in mainland China 72 years ago. Today there are mainly three kinds of churches...Catholic..., Protestant ...and the original & recovered church. We must choose the original & recovered church because it is genuine.”18 The Local Church, both in the East and West, W. Lee asserted, was “the original & recovered church,” which corresponds in all its essential features, to “what was there at [the Apostle Paul’s] time.” My point is that the authors’ characterization of the Local Church as a “Chinese interpretation of Christianity” contradicts Witness Lee’s own view of the Local Church as the recovery of the original New Testament pattern. If T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright are essentially correct (and I think they are) this seriously undermines the validity of Witness Lee’s Local Church model in the West.

LSM’s Litigious Actions
The authors review the saga of LSM’s litigation against the two books--The Mind Benders, by Jack Sparks and The God-Men, by SCP staff--and their subsequent (unsuccessful) litigation against Harvest House regarding the Encyclopedia of Cults & New Religions by John Ankerberg & John Weldon. All this is familiar ground for most Local Church members. The authors then state that19 “it appears that the main reason the Local Churches were labeled a cult was because they were too ‘Chinese’ for mainstream evangelical Protestants in 1970s America.”20 As support they quote, CRI’s Elliott Miller saying “the [Local Church’s] distinctively Chinese approach to the universal truths of Christianity has contributed significantly to their being misunderstood and mislabeled as a cult in the West.” Again I point out that the argument--“we were misunderstood due to our ‘distinctively Chinese approach to...Christianity’”--is inconsistent with the Local Church’s own raison d’être.

Not an Innocent Victim
I agree with these authors’ observations; the Local Church does have a distinctively Chinese approach to Christian truth & practice which aroused cult suspicions. However that is only half the story. Zimmerman-Liu & Wright appear overly sympathetic to Witness Lee. They fail to note that, from the beginning Witness Lee adopted an adversarial approach to US Christianity. He thoroughly denounced all expressions of the Christian faith in the West. Witness Lee declared,21 “All of Christianity is deformed...and is also degraded.” He asserted that “Today the so-called churches in Christianity are Babylon.”22 The Roman Catholic Church was denigrated as “the Great Prostitute,” the Protestant denominations as “prostitutes.” W. Lee alleged that since the “Mother of the Prostitutes” is the apostate [Roman Catholic] church, the prostitutes, her daughters, should be all the different sects and groups in Christianity...The pure church life has no evil transmitted from the apostate church...[and] overcome[s]...all the degradations of degraded Christendom.”23 In his view, only W. Lee’s Local Church has the “pure church life;” only his “recovered church” is free of heresy & tradition. W. Lee proclaimed “The deviation from the Word to heresies and the exaltation of so many names...are the most striking signs of degraded Christianity. The return to the pure Word from all heresies & traditions & the exaltation of the Lord’s name...are the most inspiring testimony in the recovered church”24 --his Local Church. He stigmatized others as “heretical.” “Reformed theology...is the worst,” he pronounced, “The views of many...[Reformed] theologians are altogether heretical.”25 Such vociferous denunciations were staples in Witness Lee’s messages.

Clearly Witness Lee was no innocent victim when it came to denunciation and accusation. He chose conflict over conciliation. He denounced other Christian groups as heretical, apostate, deformed and degraded, etc. Are we surprised that some grew tired of “turning the other cheek” in the face of W. Lee’s repeated accusations? I think it is fair to say that Witness Lee “gave as good as he got.” By ignoring Jesus’ ‘golden rule’ (Mt. 7:12; Lk. 6:31), W. Lee reaped what he had sown. It seems reasonable to conclude that Witness Lee ought to share some responsibility for the Local Church’s ‘cult’ label. An acknowledgment of this, “other side of the story,” by the authors would (in my opinion) provide a more balanced view of the genesis of the Local Church’s cult label.

US Local Church’s ‘Cult’ Label Irreversible
The authors report that LSM’s leaders regard the Local Church’s cult label as irreversible. They say26 “Living Stream Ministry (LSM) leaders state that earlier publications that disparage the Local Churches as a dangerous cult have influenced public opinion in a way that has been impossible to revise, even with successful lawsuits and public statements by former detractors recanting their prior criticisms of the group.” Appealing to an Asian-style metaphor, “LSM leaders liken the effect of these earlier criticisms as ‘opening a feather pillow in the wind;’ even if one succeeds in mending the tear in the pillow, the feathers can never be retrieved and stuffed back in. These leaders assert that they must go ‘person by person, campus by campus’ to clear their group’s name. And, they claim that whenever they are successful in attracting college students as followers, campus Inter-varsity representatives seek out those students and inform them that the Local Churches are a cult.”27 (Interview with LSM leaders, Anaheim, CA, Oct. 16, 2013) This is a candid admission of impotence by LSM’s leaders, divulged to a (former) ‘insider.’ Such statements are rarely heard from the LSM-conference podium.

“Most Americans familiar with the group view it as a cult.”
The authors observe that in the US the Local Church is still widely perceived as a cult. They attribute this enduring stigma to some commentators who “have continued to categorize the group as a cult and have worked to maintain this perception of the group within the general public. According to LSM leaders, the latter have been quite successful in this regard; most Americans who are familiar with the group view it as a cult.”28 They also conclude that “the case of the Local Churches demonstrates the relative impotence of legal judgments and academic research in influencing grassroots opinions about religious groups...The label of ‘cult’ frequently ‘scares off’ people from joining the group. Despite court rulings and public statements by former detractors declaring that the group is benign...members of the Local Churches are often viewed askance by their non-member friends and relatives. Moreover, there is really nothing more that the group can do to change grassroots opinion; the cult label appears to be very ‘sticky’ in the minds of the American public.”29

These are important conclusions; the authors’ observation concerning the “relative impotence of legal judgments...in influencing grassroots opinions” about the Local Church is significant. It implies that despite the millions of dollars and countless person-hours expended by LSM’s Defense & Confirmation Project (DCP) in litigation against Christian publishers, DCP has proved to be a “black hole” sucking the saints’ money “down the drain.” The only observable benefit was (perhaps) a temporary boost to the morale of LSM’s Local Church faithful. Given the inability of legal judgments to resolve the ‘cult’ issue, the authors conclude that “for the foreseeable future, the Local Churches will most likely continue to bear the cult label... In America, this is due to grassroots efforts on the part of individuals and groups who view the group as a dangerous threat, and who have succeeded in popularizing this conception.”30

The ‘chilling effect’ of LSM’s Litigation
T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright observe that LSM’s litigation had little impact on the perception of the Local Church as a ‘cult.’ This does not mean, however, that it had no effects. The authors fail to point out that LSM’s litigious practices have had a chilling effect on Christian publishing. In the wake of LSM’s multiple lawsuits against publishers they deem critical of Witness Lee & the Local Church, few publishers are willing to take the risk; hence they remain silent. These considerations also affect Internet publishing.31 The net effect is to “tilt the playing field in LSM’s favor”—critics “vacate the field,” leaving LSM free to present its own case.

Nothing more...the Group can do to change...the Cult Label
The authors contend that “there is really nothing more that the group can do to change grassroots opinion” regarding the Local Church’s “cult label.” Yet surely this is too fatalistic. The fact is the Local Church exhibits traits associated with cults, including Christian cults. Ironically after the publication of the “God-Men,” the “Mind-benders” and spin-off publications, the Local Church evolved towards the cult-profile. Over the ensuing decades Witness Lee was accorded virtual supernatural status by Local Church members. He could not err--“Even when he’s wrong, he’s right,” declared his ardent supporters. He had the “Midas touch,” hence LSM’s Recovery Version (replete with W. Lee’s footnotes) was popularly called, “the gold bar.”32 His teaching was on par with the Bible itself—“the ‘inspired Word’ of Scripture was canonized in 397 AD; the ‘interpreted Word’ (Witness Lee’s Recovery Version footnotes) in 1997.” These, and other adulations, were heaped upon W. Lee at LSM trainings; he did not decisively repudiate such veneration. Plus a “one publication” edict was issued—only LSM’s publications of W. Lee’s writings were approved for Local Church use.33 Aren’t these the traits of a cult?

These developments gradually impacted US Local Churches. Church members can be warm and zealous, but they are also ‘weird’ and unintelligible. LSM’s Local Churches subsist in a theological backwater, in self-imposed isolation from the wider Christian community. For over 50 years the “saints in the Lord’s Recovery,” attended trainings & conferences, listened to messages, read writings, and memorized & recited the teachings of one man—“Brother Witness Lee, the Minister of the Age.” They have their own distinctive terminology and practices—they “prophesy based on HWMR,” “PSRP LSM’s outlines,” attend “blending conferences” and “seven annual feasts conducted by the blended brothers,” participate in the FTTA and the ITERO, promote LSM’s Recovery Version via BFA and listen to Life-study Radio broadcasts. These terms and practices are foreign, and hence suspect, to most evangelical Christians. Conversely most Local Church members are ignorant of what is happening in the wider Christian community; they inhabit ‘a different universe.’

If it Walks and Quacks like a Duck...
Having little incentive for thorough investigation, most people apply the “litmus test”--“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.” On this basis they conclude the Local Church is a ‘cult.’ The authors’ assertion that “there is really nothing more that the group can do to change grassroots opinion [regarding] the cult label” is patently false. If LSM’s Local Church is serious about debunking the ‘cult label’ in the US, they ought to work at changing the teachings & practices mentioned above. However, all indications are that LSM’s Local Churches are not serious; 50-years of dogmatic teaching defining their way as the only valid, biblical way have “painted them into a corner.” They have too much vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Take LSM’s “one publication” edict for example. W. Lee’s initial response to the ‘cult’ moniker was to call a “writers’ conference,” encouraging a variety of writings.34 Only later was his ‘one publication’ edict enacted, reasserting control. LSM’s “blended brothers” could reverse those steps, but that would mean relinquishing control. The ‘cult’ epithet will remain affixed to LSM’s US Local Churches, not because “there is nothing more that the group can do,” but, rather, because they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in teachings and practices.

The Making of a Cult in mainland China

Another major section of Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s paper deals with the “Making of a Cult in the PRC [the Peoples’ Republic of China].” In contrast to the ‘bottom up,” grass roots origin of the Local Church’s cult label in the US, “In China, the Local Churches were categorized as a cult via a top-down process, wherein the central government played a key role in defining the group as aberrant by placing it on a list of ‘evil religious cults’,” branded as “the Shouters,” T. Zimmerman-Liu and T. Wright report.35 They explain that after Chairman Mao’s death, “members of Local Church congregations outside China traveled to the mainland to seek out congregations that had gone underground during the Mao Era. According to Xi Lian, ‘the bagfuls of Bibles and Shouters’ tracts (as well as occasional stacks of cash) that Li Changshou’s (aka Witness Lee’s) messengers brought were limited in amount. However, in the early 1980s, they represented spiritual, and material, fortunes to those underground church leaders who linked up with the overseas brethren’.”36

Let’s pause to ask, what did “Witness Lee’s messengers” bring to China? If asked, they would probably respond, “God’s up-to-date recovery in the form of W. Lee’s ministry.” How do Zimmerman-Liu and Wright perceive it? Tracing from the start, they say,37 “Watchman Nee localized Western Protestant teachings to match the cultural context of China in the early 20th century [as W. Nee’s ‘Little Flock churches’]. In the 1960s, the group and its teachings flowed back to the West in its [Eastern] indigenized form, where it [now as W. Lee’s ‘Local Church’] challenged mainstream American Protestant groups. In the late 1970s, the Local Churches reappeared in China during the post-Mao Era.” The “Local Churches [which] reappeared in China” were a “hybrid” introduced by LSM’s operatives. It was W. Nee’s indigenized Chinese version of Christianity, as it had evolved under W. Lee’s leadership during its passage via Taiwan to the USA; this “hybrid” version of (which Zimmerman-Liu & Wright identify as) “Chinese Christianity”38 was imported into China by “Witness Lee’s messengers.”

As a result of these efforts, “Local Church membership expanded quickly and dramatically, particularly in [China’s] inland areas.”39 Moreover, Zimmerman-Liu & Wright report that40 “Academics, church leaders, and CCP [China’s Communist Party] documents all agree that by 1983, the Chinese government was alarmed at the rapid growth and influence of the Local Churches throughout China. According to LSM leaders, the government’s decision to take action against the group was sparked by events in Dongyang county, Zhejiang province, in early 1982. In the account of LSM leaders, around that time, overseas Local Church leaders sent two representatives to Dongyang in order to set up a local congregation there. However, Dongyang’s Christians did not welcome their arrival. Shortly thereafter, local TSPM [Three-Self Patriotic Movement] and CCP [China’s Communist Party] leaders broke up the newly established Local Church congregation. Concurrently, a similar chain of events occurred in Dongwu county. These events brought the Local Churches to the attention of central government leaders.” We note here that, “According to LSM leaders,” this unforeseen chain of events was precipitated by “overseas Local Church leaders [who] sent 2 representatives to Dongyang in order to set up a local congregation” i.e., a Witness Lee-affiliated Local Church, while in mainland China.41

In response the government commissioned a “document [which] drew heavily on the accounts of the Local Churches found in The God-Men and The Mind Benders. Using this critical report as its justification, the CCP branded the Local Churches/Shouters as a ‘cult.’ Indeed, the Local Churches head the list of ‘seven cults identified in the documents issued by General Office of the Central Committee of CCP and by the General Office of the State’.”42 Note that T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright state unequivocally that, in China, “Local Churches,” are called “Shouters” by critics.43 But LSM contests this epithet’s application to the Local Church.

Origins of the Local Church’s “Shouters” Label

China-observer, P. de Vigo explains the likely source of the “Shouters” moniker; he says,44 “The ‘Shouters’ are so called because of their practice of shouting Bible verses and ‘Jesus is Lord’ in a mantra-like fashion.” US Local Church members from the 1970s should be able to identify this as an apt description of enthusiastic “pray-reading” and “calling on the Lord.”

Calvin College Professor Daniel Bays provides additional insights into the origin of the epithet, “Shouters.” He writes,45 “The ‘Local Church’ which is sometimes called by its adherents ‘churches in the Lord’s recovery,’ is a movement derived from the ideas of Watchman Nee. The Little Flock remnants in China which had survived [the Mao years] linked up around 1980 with missionary representatives of the Local Church movement based outside China. The result was a spectrum of groups, to greater or lesser degrees standing in the traditions of [Watchman] Nee’s old movement, mixed with the newer doctrines of Witness Lee. In the 1980s, some of the groups, especially those in Zhenjiang province, engaged in loud verbal behaviors during worship, and were dubbed ‘the shouters’ (huhan pai). Several cases of violent disruption among Protestants were associated with their activities in the 1980s. These elements, rightly or wrongly, were denounced by the government...as sectarian and illegitimate, and have been persecuted on and off ever since. In the early 2000s, ‘the shouters’ were still on the list of ‘evil cults’ pursued by the authorities.” One only has to recall the enthusiastic “calling on the Lord” in the Recovery’s early years in the US to deduce what those “loud verbal behaviors” might be.

These facts are supported by other scholars. For example, Fenggang Yang’s monograph on “Religion in China: Survival & Revival under Communist Rule” presents a “Partial List of Indigenous, Christianity-related Sectarian or Cultic Groups that had spread across Provincial Borders and were banned by the Chinese Government”46 The first line item is “Shouters; Chinese name: Huhan pai; Founder/Key Leader: Witness Lee (Li Changshou); Origin: U.S.A.; Year founded/spread: 1960s-1970s; Year banned: 1983.” Evidently the group derogatively labelled “the Shouters (callers, or yellers)” is the Local Church founded by Witness Lee (Li Changshou). Despite LSM’s protestations, this does not appear to be a case of mistaken identity.

A more detailed narrative of the origin of the “Shouters” epithet is offered by the University of Birmingham’s Professor Allan Anderson & Research Director, Edmond Tang. They write,47 “Sometimes also translated as ‘Shouters’, the ‘Yellers’ are a group that gained a widespread following in China in the late 1980s, the first to be criticised by the China Christian Council and then condemned by the government as an ‘evil cult’ in 1983. They are a group under the leadership of Li Changshou (Witness Lee) that broke away from another independent group, the Little Flock, sometimes called the Assembly Hall, founded by Watchman Nee in the 1920s. In 1949 Li took some of the Little Flock to Taiwan where he took charge of the Assembly halls there and in south-east Asia. In 1962 he established the church in the USA. In 1967 he started the movement of ‘yelling’ [‘calling’]—a form of public, emotional repentance for sin with loud confession—and his followers took on that name. When China opened up in the late 1970s the group established itself along the south-eastern coast of China and spread to a number of provinces.” This account may not be 100% accurate, nevertheless it plausibly links the name “Yellers,” or “Shouters” with the “calling on the Lord,” practiced enthusiastically by the US Local Churches in the 1970s. It would be unsurprising if something similar happened in China during that era.

Anderson and Tang continue by saying,48 “Under the influence of Li, followers of the sect consider all other Christian churches as heretical and in China this exclusive stand led to violent attacks on other Christian groups and attempts to take over churches and meeting points. They were also sent out in teams of two or three to other churches where they denounced [government-approved] Three-Self churches as ‘whores’ and threatened to bring down ‘Jericho’ with their shouts. These extreme actions led to many divisions in the Christian communities and violent clashes. In 1983 the Chinese government banned the group, and many leaders were sentenced to long period in prison. However, the ban did not stop them from spreading underground.” Before dismissing this account out of hand this author asks readers to consider whether it is plausible. The Local Church certainly views itself as the only biblically-valid church in each city; Witness Lee was not averse to describing other churches as “heretical,” and “whores.” Plus this author recalls49 in the early 1970s the Church in Chicago’s young people attending Founders’ Week celebrations at Moody Bible Institute [MBI] in order to disrupt and denounce it, while marching around like the ancient siege of Jericho. Based on his own experience this author finds Anderson & Tang’s account of similar (& more drastic) events in China, credible. The difference was that the Chicago Local Church’s “youthful indiscretions” at MBI were met with Christian tolerance and a minor “black mark” on the church’s reputation. In China, the CCP felt threatened by the spread of a competing “ideology,” emanating from a Chinese Christian group headquartered in the US, with historical links to Taiwan, the base of China’s nemesis, the Nationalist KMT. China’s rulers reacted strongly with a “strike hard” campaign against Witness Lee’s Local Church, labelling it “the Shouters’ sect.”

LSM’s Disingenuous Denial
Against this background, the “Statement by Living Stream Ministry Regarding Aberrant Religious Groups in China” on an LSM-affiliated website, using Living Stream Ministry letterhead, is perplexing.50 Disassociating themselves from religious splinter groups, like "Eastern Lightning" and the "All Mighty God Sect," LSM asserts “the so‐called ‘Shouters,’ [was] a designation given by the Chinese government to various groups in the early 1980s. Historically, the local churches in China have sometimes been wrongly identified by this term [i.e., ‘Shouters,’] in official government documents and press accounts, as have many other genuine Christian groups. Living Stream Ministry and the more than 4000 local churches it supports around the globe have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to either ‘The Shouters’ or the groups that are currently the focus of the government crackdown, namely ‘Lightning from the East’ and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’."

Firstly, T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright state that Local Church leaders concur with academics, church leaders, and CCP [China’s Communist Party] that the original designation of the Local Church/ Shouters as an “evil religious cult” was precipitated by the actions of Local Church operatives in China. The epithet, “Shouters” was first applied to Local Churches founded by Witness Lee (Li Changshou) in China. Local Church leaders may consider this moniker disparaging, however, it is misleading of LSM to claim that “the local churches in China have sometimes been wrongly identified by this term [i.e., ‘Shouters,’]...”51 Given the historical record, in what sense have Local Churches been “wrongly identified”? The term may have been applied more broadly, but it is clear that the Local Church was the original target. Ironically LSM’s own website contains a testimony by David Aikman, former Beijing bureau chief for Time, and author of Jesus in Beijing, which says,52 “As a long-time observer and reporter on the Christian church in China, I have been familiar with the persecution suffered in China by members of the Local Church, sometimes labeled by the pejorative term, ‘Shouters’.” While the term is pejorative, Mr. Aikman acknowledges a link or connection identifying the Local Church as the “Shouters.”

Second, it is disingenuous of LSM to assert that “Living Stream Ministry and the...local churches it supports ...have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to...‘The Shouters’.” LSM might wish (for obvious reasons) to disassociate itself from the “Eastern Lightning” and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’. However, to claim that LSM and its Local Churches have “no connection or linkage” even “informally, to...‘The Shouters’,” is patently false. On this point the academic integrity of scholars like T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright puts LSM and its affiliated Local Churches to shame! LSM’s prevarication might be expected from politicians; it is unworthy of any Christian organization. When the Apostle Paul was accused of belonging to “the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5), he did not deny any connection or linkage. Rather he confessed that “according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship God” (Acts 24:14). Why isn’t LSM as forthright? Certainly observers with knowledge of China’s Christian scene won’t be persuaded by LSM’s disingenuous denial. Whom is LSM seeking to convince? Could this denial be aimed at LSM-faithful who blindly accept any statement from their leaders?

LSM’s Abortive Attempts to rescind the Local Church’s ‘Cult’ Label
Zimmerman-Liu & Wright report on LSM’s attempts to have the Local Church’s ‘cult’ label rescinded in China. They state that53 “LSM leaders report that since 2005, they have traveled to mainland China (particularly Shanghai) roughly twice a year to meet with local officials in charge of dealing with the ‘Shouters’.” They found that Chinese officials at lower levels of government bureaucracy54 “do not have the power to remove the group from China’s cult list.” Plus LSM’s efforts to establish rapport with government officials were stymied because55 “every five years there has been a wholesale leadership change across all levels of government, such that Local Church leaders have had to establish relationships with new political officials.” Based on these experiences LSM’s56 “church leaders believe that in order to clear the group’s name, they will have to find a backer on the Central Committee of the CCP [China’s Communist Party], who might able to persuade the other Committee members to remove the group from the list. Until such time, in China, the group will be subject to the vicissitudes of CCP policy, and its members will live under constant threat of arrest and imprisonment.”

Since the Local Church’s ‘cult’ label originated at the very top of China’s power structure it makes sense that change must emanate from the top, from China’s Central Committee. However, the chances of that happening are remote. Local officials might derive some benefit in cordial relations with LSM’s representatives—e.g. help establishing their family members in the US. However, the power, wealth &/or influence of China’s Central Committee members dwarf any tangible benefits that LSM could offer. Nothing short of a miracle (including the miracle of conversion) would provide LSM with a backer on China’s Central Committee. Based on such considerations, Zimmerman-Liu & Wright conclude that “To the disappointment of the Local Churches, the CCP is unlikely to change its mind any time soon...[so] its members in China will continue live under constant threat of repression...”57 The bottom line is that the Local Church is stuck with the ‘cult’ label in China also. The strenuous (but unsuccessful) efforts by Local Church leaders to rescind this designation is evidence of its substantial effect—in persecution and hardship for Local Churches in China and attenuating their growth.

The underlying causes differ, yet the net result is the same—the authors conclude that “For the foreseeable future, the Local Churches will most likely continue to bear the cult label both in China and the U.S.”58 This statement represents the “bottom line” conclusion of Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright’s article. It is well researched, adequately documented and cogently argued. This valuable contribution should focus more attention on the “influential yet controversial religious group”59 which is Witness Lee’s Local Church. Hopefully it will spark further academic research into the Local Church’s history, teachings and practices.

This paper should constitute one chapter in Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s PhD thesis. Together with her other articles on Witness Lee and the Local Churches, this should form the basis of a book on this topic. I for one would warmly welcome such a publication from someone who is eminently qualified to write it. I also applaud Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s courage in entering the academic arena and writing on this subject. As a former member of the Local Church she risks being denigrated before the Christian community to which she belonged for 30-years. One can foresee ominous statements being uttered for the LSM podium about not emulating Esau by “selling one’s birthright in the Lord’s Recovery for the ‘pottage’ (red bean soup) of academic acclaim.” Plus members are routinely warned that leaving LSM’s Local Church is detrimental to their Christian life.60

Are there any implications for non-LSM local churches, such as those on the “Great Lakes area” of North America? I would suggest that there are. Zimmerman-Liu & Wright report that Local Church leaders concede that “most Americans who are familiar with the group view it as a cult.” They conclude that the Local Churches will continue to be stigmatized by the ‘cult’ label for the foreseeable future. In the US it is claimed that “there is really nothing more that the group can do to change grassroots opinion [regarding] the cult label.” We reject LSM’s claims of impotence. The ‘cult’ stigma remains, not because LSM is unable to do anything, but because they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in teachings and practices. LSM’s local churches exhibit traits commonly associated with cults, hence they are often taken to be such. The cult stigma has seriously compromised the Local Church ‘brand’ in both the East and the West, and it is not going away anytime soon. That being so, non-LSM local churches ought to differentiate themselves more clearly from their LSM-counterparts if they wish to avoid “guilt by association.” A similar phenomenon occurred among the Plymouth Brethren. The “Open Brethren” (George Muller’s branch) suffered due to peoples’ inability to distinguish them from the “Exclusive” branch led by James Taylor Sr. & then James Taylor Jr. Both branches were “tarred with the same brush” due to the Exclusives’ scandals. An equivalent situation pertains to LSM & non-LSM local churches in North America. Advocates of maintaining the status quo within non-LSM local churches in order to preserve “our distinct heritage” or “our unique commitment from the Lord,” ought to be reminded that the cult stigma is part of “our distinct heritage.” Do they really want to preserve that?

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA
July, 2015


Notes: Thanks to those commenting on earlier drafts. The author alone is responsible for the contents of this piece. The views expressed here are solely the author’s and should not be attributed to any believers, elders, co-workers or churches he is associated with.
1. W. Lee, Economy of God & the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity, Chap. 10, Sect. 5. For more on this episode of Local Church history see my, History, Not Hagiography – The Recovery’s "Great Leap Forward" "The God-Ordained Way" (April, 2008). The author spent 40-days in Taiwan’s FTT in the Fall of 1987.
2. We say, “seemed fully fluent in Mandarin Chinese,” because this statement is based on observing (from afar) her interactions with other Mandarin Chinese-speakers. The present author claims no facility whatsoever in the language.
3. Another paper recounts “the author’s observation of Local Church leader Witness Lee using guanxi skills in California in 1996,” during interactions with her parents-in-law. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group” [unpublished working paper]
4. Blogger’s profile: https://www.blogger.com/profile/12831169405732892599 at blog entitled: “East Meets West: Memoirs of a White Chinese Daughter-in-Law” http://wwwwhitechinese.blogspot.ca/ The most recent post on this blog is dated Oct., 2013. Part of T. Zimmerman-Liu’s role as an “ESL teacher” was her involvement in Watchman Nee Memorial School in San Gabriel, CA as Principal (Jan. 1995- Dec. 2005), K-12 Teacher (1995-2006), ESL Tutor (1997-2008) Founded, managed, & taught all grades at K-12 home-school co-op with an ESL tutoring service. According to its website: “The Watchman Nee Memorial School is a private school that serves 10 students in grades 4-10. It is coed (school has male & female students) and is Christian (no specific denomination) in orientation.”
5. This biographical information appears in Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 4 (emphasis added), Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Working Paper]
6. See the earlier paper by T. Wright & T. Zimmerman-Liu “Atheist Political Activists Turned Protestants: Religious Conversion Among Chinese Dissidents,” Journal of Church and State, (Advance Access November 20, 2013)
7. We note that Teresa Zimmerman-Liu was awarded the prestigious UCSD Frieda Daum Urey*Fellowship to support her graduate studies & research.
8. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 3 The quotes in the present piece are from the version “Prepared for delivery at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association Seattle, WA, April 17-19, 2014.” This paper is available on line at: http://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/papers/...14%20paper.pdf The final, published version appears in the Journal of Church & State, Advance Access May 5, 2015 Our quotations from T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright’s papers fall within the parameters of “fair use” for review purposes.
9. The authors state that “The Local Churches’ founder—Watchman Nee—localized Western Protestant teachings to match the cultural context of China in the early twentieth century. In the 1960s, the group and its teachings flowed back to the West in its indigenized form, where it challenged mainstream American Protestant groups...” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name?...” p. 2]
10. Watchman “Nee did not change the Christian message; rather, he contextualized Christianity to his time and place.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name?...” p. 12] Zimmerman-Liu has another published paper devoted specifically to this topic. She explains: “This paper analyzes the writings of Watchman Nee and other Local Church members to show how [Watchman] Nee contextualized the message of Western missionaries to China...” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “The Divine & Mystical Realm: Removing Chinese Christianity from the Fixed Structures of Mission Church & Clergy,” Social Sciences & Missions, vol. 27 (2-3) 2014, pp. 239-266 (emphasis added)]
11. T. Zimmerman-Liu’s other paper seeks to “describe in detail how an indigenous Chinese Protestant group—the Local Churches—reconstituted guanxi during the twentieth century. It will show how in the process of redefining guanxi to make its members committed Christians, the Local Churches also Sinicized Christianity.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 1 (emphasis added), Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Working Paper] She also asserts that, “The Local Church founders further sought to emphasize the elements of scriptural and historical Christianity that would most appeal to their audience of Republican-era (1911-1949) Chinese people.” [T. Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’...” p. 2 (emphasis added)] Again she says, “The Local Churches reconstituted guanxi relationships among their members, and they also Sinicized their version of Christianity.” [T. Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’...” p. 3 (emphasis added)]
12. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu says, “when Witness Lee brought Chinese Christianity to the United States in the 1960s, his church’s ‘distinctively Chinese approach to the universal truths of Christianity…contributed greatly to their being misunderstood and mislabeled as a cult in the West’ (Miller 2009:31).” Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 28 (emphasis added), Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Working Paper] The quote is from Elliot Miller, "Addressing the Open Letter's Concerns: On the Nature of Humanity." Journal of the Christian Research Institute (2009) p. 31.
13. Consider for e.g. Witness Lee’s assertion: “I know that I came from China, but my teaching is not Chinese, nor is it something of man. My teaching is just a quotation of the Holy Word. If you honor His Word, you surely would appreciate this kind of teaching.” [W. Lee, Concerning the Lord's Recovery, Chap. 4, Sect. 6]
14. “In 1962, Lee immigrated to the United States and began to speak widely, preaching his and [Watchman] Nee’s version of Christianity in heavily-accented English, which was often difficult for average Americans to understand. Nonetheless, in the late 1960s, the Local Church movement began to take off in the U.S., especially in California...In the 1970s, when American evangelical Christians encountered Local Churches under the ministry of Witness Lee, they were put off by the unfamiliar doctrinal terminology used by Lee and by the strong Chinese influence that was evident even in Western congregations.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 13 (emphasis added)]
15. Watchman “Nee did not change the Christian message; rather, he contextualized Christianity to his time and place.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 12]
16. T. Zimmerman-Liu states that “When Witness Lee brought Chinese Christianity to the United States in the 1960s, his church’s ‘distinctively Chinese approach to the universal truths of Christianity … contributed greatly to their being misunderstood and mislabeled as a cult in the West’. (Miller 2009:31)” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 28 (emphasis added), Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Working Paper. The quote is from Elliot Miller, "Addressing the Open Letter's Concerns: On the Nature of Humanity." Journal of the Christian Research Institute (2009) p. 31]
17. W. Lee, Concerning the Lord's Recovery, Chap. 4, Sect. 6
18. W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, & Esther, Chap. 26, Sect. 1
19. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 17
20. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 12
21. Witness Lee, God-ordained Way to Practice the NT Economy, Chap. 3, Sect. 1
22. Witness Lee, Three Aspects of the Church: Book 2, The Course of the Church, Chap. 4, Sect. 3
23. Witness Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 221-239), Chap. 6, Sect. 5
24. Witness Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 221-239), Chap. 18, Sect. 1 (emphasis added)
25. Witness Lee, Economy of God & the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity, Chap. 11, Sect. 3 (emphasis added)
26. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 18 (emphasis added)
27. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 18
28. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 23
29. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 25 (emphasis added)
30. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee & the Local Churches,” p. 26 (emphasis added) The quote, in context refers to both the USA & China; it says: “For the foreseeable future, the Local Churches will most likely continue to bear the cult label both in China and the U.S. In America, this is due to grassroots efforts on the part of individuals and groups who view the group as a dangerous threat, and who have succeeded in popularizing this conception...” The authors’ observations about China are reviewed below.
31. This statement is made based upon the author’s interactions with publishers of Christian websites who are familiar with LSM, Witness Lee & the Local Church.
32. W. Lee used the terms on multiple occasions. For e.g., he said, “Some saints in Taiwan began to call our Recovery Version “the gold bar” because of the precious, valuable truths it contains. On this basis, I would say that we all need to preach “the gold bar gospel” and teach “the gold bar truths”.” [W. Lee, The Way to Practice the Lord's Present Move, Chap. 6, Sect. 2] “We dispense the truths embodied in the “gold bar,” the Recovery Version. We have no other merchandise! If we would be like this, the entire earth will be taken! It breaks my heart to see some practicing to have another ministry, using the material of the ministry.” [W. Lee, Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-Pulse of the Lord's Present Move, Chap. 8, Sect. 3] Notice the emphasis on W. Lee’s ‘gold bar’ to the exclusion of others’ materials. “All the elders should promote the reading of the Recovery Version, the “gold bar,” in the homes plus all the Life-studies and other publications by the Living Stream Ministry.” [W. Lee, Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-Pulse of the Lord's Present Move, Chap. 5, Sect. 5]
33. Witness Lee issued the ‘one publication edict’ at an “Elders’ Training.” He told the assembled elders: “It bothers me that some brothers among us still put out publications. According to my truthful observation there is no new light or life supply there. They may contain some biblical doctrines, but any point of life or light has been adopted from the publications of Living Stream Ministry. There is nearly no item of life or light that has not been covered by our publications. Based upon this fact, what is the need for these brothers to put out their publications? ...By putting out your own publication, you waste your time and money. You waste the money given by the saints, and you waste their time in reading what you publish. Where is the food, the life supply, and the real enlightenment in the other publications among us? Be assured that there is definitely at least one major revelation in every Living Stream Ministry publication...Our sounding must be one, so we must be restricted in one publication.” [W. Lee, Remaining in the Unique NT Ministry of God's Economy under the Proper Leadership in His Move, Chap. 1, Sect. 12] This established a precedent for LSM’s “blended brothers”—W. Lee’s presumed successors--to re-issue a ‘one publication edict’ against Titus Chu (Cleveland, OH) & Yu-Lan Dong (Brazil) in 2006, with their subsequent, ‘quarantine.’
34. W. Lee acknowledges these events when he says: “My intention in calling a writers' conference was to encourage you to write something...” [W. Lee, Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-Pulse of the Lord's Present Move, Chap. 11, Sect. 2] A major causal factor behind W. Lee’s “one publication” policy in the mid-1980s was to counter the influence of Bill Freeman in the NW (Seattle). Later in 2006/7 LSM’s “blended brothers” invoked W. Lee’s “one publication” edict as a precedent to counter Titus Chu (Cleveland) in the US Great Lakes area & Yu-Lan Dong (Brazil) in S. America. In both cases, the concern for control trumped discrediting the “cult” label. In 2006/7 LSM’s “blended brothers” could have invoked W. Lee’s “writers’ conference” as an historical precedent; they invoked his “one publication” edict instead.
35. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 2
36. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 20 The source quoted by them is Xi Lian, Redeemed by Fire, p. 217. Dr. G. Wright Doyle observes that “Lian Xi’s book, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China will provoke not a little consternation among Local Church leaders in the U.S., who have recently succeeded in having the label of “cult” withdrawn by leading evangelical spokesmen. If Lian is accurate, however, the Shouters’ designation as a cult by the Chinese government might have some merit – a possibility that will be angrily denied by Li Changshou’s [Witness Lee’s] disciples, who have not been shy about taking critics to court, claiming that this label will cause needless suffering to their brothers and sisters in China.” [Dr. G. Wright Doyle’s review of Lian Xi’s book, Redeemed by Fire (Aug. 3, 2010) http://www.globalchinacenter.org/ana...e-churches.php (emphasis added)]
37. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 2
38. Note that T. Zimmermna-Liu says elsewhere that “The adaptations made by Local Church Protestantism to conform to the cultural scripts of guanxi networks created a form of Protestantism that is very different from its Western counterparts. In fact, when Witness Lee brought Chinese Christianity to the United States in the 1960s, his church’s ‘distinctively Chinese approach to the universal truths of Christianity…contributed greatly to their being misunderstood and mis-labeled as a cult in the West’.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 29 (emphasis added)]
39. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 20
40. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 21
41. We note that Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s (peer-reviewed) account attributes the source of precipitating events to the actions of “overseas Local Church leaders [who] sent two representatives to Dongyang in order to set up a local congregation” This contradicts the account in the Wikipedia entry “The Shouters” which states that “On February 14–16 [1982], two representatives of the TSPM [Three-Self Patriotic Movement—government approved agency] had visited Dongyang to set up a TSPM chapter there.” In this Wikipedia account “the TSPM” was seeking to establish “a TSPM chapter,” rather than “Local Church leaders” trying to establishing a “Local Church congregation” (as Zimmerman-Liu & Wright assert). This Wikipedia entry appears to suffer the problem of multiple, conflicting entries on a controversial issue and the lack of “quality control.” I find Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s account more credible.
42. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 21
43. Zimmerman-Liu & Wright state (without further qualification) that “The group under study here is known by its members as the “Local Churches,” but is called by its critics the ‘Shouters’.” Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 2 Note that, in contrast to LSM (see below), these authors do not contest the label’s application.
44. Peregrine de Vigo, “Chinese Cults, Sects, and Heresies,” China Source, March 13, 2015 http://www.chinasource.org/resource-...s-and-heresies The entry begins: “Shouters” (呼喊派*hūhǎnpài)
Other Names:*Local Church or Local Assembly (地方教会*dìfāngjiàohuì); The Lord’s Recovery
Leader/Founder: Li Changshou [Witness Lee] (李常受 1905-1997)
Background:*Li [W. Lee] comes from a Baptist background with later Brethren influence and was a close companion of Watchman Nee for some time before they separated in 1949 when Li left mainland China for Taiwan., He later moved to the United States in 1962. A prolific writer, he oversaw a new translation of the New Testament, called the*Recovery Version. His major work is*Life-study of the Bible, a 25,000 page tome commenting on every book of the Bible. In the PRC [Peoples’ Republic of China] the group is commonly referred to as the “Shouters,” and in the U.S. they are known as the Local Church.” (emphasis added) We note that the author gives an accurate description of W. Lee & the Local Church. He also links “the Shouters” unambiguously with the “Local Church,” “Lord’s Recovery” and Li Changshou [Witness Lee]
45. Daniel Bays, “Local Church (and ‘shouters’)” in*Edward L. Davis (ed.) Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture (emphasis added) The same Encyclopedia also has an entry on the “Little Flock” by Jason Kindropp which says: “Led by the charismatic Ni Tuoshen (Watchman Nee, 1903–72), the Little Flock organized a nationwide network of highly associational assemblies...Li Changshou (Witness Lee), migrated to Taiwan, where he established a splinter group, the Local Church [see Local Church (and ‘shouters’)] based in part on Little Flock traditions and in part on Li’s own subjective doctrines. He migrated to Anaheim Ca., where the church’s global headquarters remain today. Local Church missionaries returned to the mainland after 1978, primarily targeting Little Flock congregations. Although the state quickly banned the Local Church, dubbing it the 'shouter sect' (huhan pai) after its charismatic worship practices, the group expanded rapidly, attracting over 200,000 by the mid 1980s.” [Jason Kindropp, “Little Flock” in Edward L. Davis (ed.) Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, pp. 477-8 (emphasis added)]
46. Fenggang Yang, “Religion in China: Survival & Revival under Communist Rule” presents a “Partial List of Indigenous, Christianity-related Sectarian or Cultic Groups that had spread across Provincial Borders and were banned by the Chinese Government,” Table 5.2, pp. 103-5
47. Allan Anderson & Edmond Tang, “Grassroots Christianity in China,” in Chapter 7, “Independency in Africa & Asia” in Hugh McLeod (ed.) The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 9, World Christianities: c. 1914-2000, p. 121 We note that the (anonymous multi-author) Wikipedia entry on “The Shouters” names an “Edmond Tang” (whom we assume is the same person) among a group whom it asserts are “sympathetic to the TSPM’s viewpoint.”
48. Allan Anderson & Edmond Tang, “Grassroots Christianity in China” in Chapter 7, “Independency in Africa & Asia” in Hugh McLeod (ed.) The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 9, World Christianities: c. 1914-2000, p. 121
49. According to this author’s recollection this incident happened in late 1972 or in 1973. The author had just moved into a “Brothers’ House” operated by one of the Church in Chicago’s elders—James [‘Jim’] D. Reetzke & his wife, Bette. The other church elders at that time were John Ulicki & John Little. William (Bill) Barker moved to Chicago later.
50. The “Statement by Living Stream Ministry Regarding Aberrant Religious Groups in China” appears with LSM-letterhead on the LSM-linked website: http://www.contendingforthefaith.org..._China_en.html
The body of the statement says:
“Recently stories have begun to surface in the West regarding problems the Chinese government is having with some splinter religious groups in Western China. At least one of these groups, "Lightning from the East," has been linked in government reports to the so‐called "Shouters," a designation given by the Chinese government to various groups in the early 1980s. Historically, the local churches in China have sometimes been wrongly identified by this term in official government documents and press accounts, as have many other genuine Christian groups. Living Stream Ministry and the more than 4000 local churches it supports around the globe have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to either "The Shouters" or the groups that are currently the focus of the government crackdown, namely "Lightning from the East" and the "All Mighty God Sect." Members of genuine local churches, like those who utilize the ministry materials put out by Living Stream Ministry, are proper, law‐abiding citizens and condemn the extreme and anti‐Christian teachings of these aberrant groups.” (emphasis added)
51. The South China Morning Post, (Hong Kong) reported that “A 2012 raid on a Bible study group in rural Henan province has resulted in the jailing of 7 participants for being members of an "evil cult"...” “The local public security bureau...says its officers raided an illegal gathering of an evil cult & seized nearly 800 copies of Morning Revival,*The Collected Works of Watchman Nee*and the Recovery Version of the Bible. The Domestic Security and Anti-terrorism Team at the Public Security Bureau...identifies those 3 titles as being materials used by "evil cult" The Shouters.” The Recovery Version - that used in Daying - is a study Bible translated by the Living Stream Ministry with aids, such as footnotes, charts & maps, produced by Lee. A non-profit corporation founded in 1965 by Lee, Living Stream Ministry, which is based in California, in the US, also publishes the works of Watchman Nee. Morning Revival is a series of pamphlets dedicated to morning worship & study printed by the ministry. In 1995, the government branded The Shouters and its derivatives, which include the Church of Almighty God, or Eastern Lightning, an evil cult. Further "strike-hard" campaigns were launched, in 1996, 2001 and 2010. [“Shouted Down,” Post Magazine, South China Morning Post, (Hong Kong) 7 July, 2013 http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-m.../shouted-down] Notice that, according to this press report, China’s Public Security Bureau identified LSM’s publications – [Holy Word for] Morning Revival,*The Collected Works of Watchman Nee*& the Recovery Version of the Bible—as materials used by "evil cult" The Shouters. Again this was not a case of “mistaken identity.”
52. http://an-open-letter.org/testimonies/ This website is LSM’s response to the publication by 60 Evangelical Christian Scholars’ of an “Open Letter,” dated January 9, 2007 www.open-letter.org
53. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 23
54. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 24 The quote, in context, reads “LSM leaders state that most high-placed government officials are aware that the ‘cult’ label has no basis in fact, but the Chinese officials in question do not have the power to remove the group from China’s cult list. In 2009, the LSM leaders thought they had things worked out with Chinese officials to remove the group’s cult status, but in 2010, there was a change in SARA leadership and they had to begin all over again.” (italics indicates quote in the main text)
55. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” pp. 23-24
56. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 24
57. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 26
58. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches,” p. 26
59. Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright, “What is in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee & the Local Churches,” p. 1
60. Take for e.g. the following quote: “What is the Lord's recovery? Strictly speaking, the Lord's recovery is the Lord's reserving ‘seven thousand’ for His name. Because we have adopted this attitude and taken this ground, our actions and behavior have been a cause for some misunderstanding by others. We are misunderstood by society and by our relatives and friends. We do not follow tradition, and we do not even follow religion. Religion is going downward, while the recovery is going upward. Within three to five years after the Lord's recovery came to the United States, Christianity began to oppose us.” [W. Lee, Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord's Recovery, Book 1: The Vision & Definite Steps for the Practice of the New Way, Chap. 7, Sect. 2 (emphasis added)] LSM’s “blended brothers” have spelled out the implications—leaving “the recovery” results in “going downward,” instead of “going upward.” As a further e.g. W. Lee said: “The vision of the church is our safeguard and balance. As long as we stand with the church, we are safe. If we stay away from the church, we are in danger of damaging the church... Today in the Lord's recovery, the Lord desires to show us the ultimate goal of His purpose—the church life.” [W. Lee, The History of the Church and the Local Churches, Chap. 1, Sect. 5 (emphasis added)]
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Old 07-17-2015, 10:09 AM   #2
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Nigel brings out some excellent points, especially regarding the "cult" label of the LC. I would agree with him that: 1)The "cult" label is partly self-induced, 2)It's not going away, 3) The inability of the LC to fit the American culture, makes it unappealing and even suspicious to Americans.

I grew up in the LC, and over time I became aware of the "cult" label. It never concerned me too much, because before a certain point in time, I had felt that my experiences were mostly positive. I was thus able to buy into the narrative that problem was simply "opposers" who were out to slander the LC.

As I began to question things in the LC more, I came to the realization that there were lots of practices that were unnecessary and even a bit bizarre. For example, I could never figure out why anyone would want to pray-read outlines. I finally had to admit to myself that the LC wasn't for everyone. Over time, as I was subjected to various practices and situations that were borderline abusive, I realize that it's no wonder there are some people who think the LC is a cult. Not only that, but I realized that if the LC really didn't want such a label, the first thing they could do would be to try to be a bit more "normal" in many respects.

As much as the LC has tried to get rid of the cult label, it has stuck. This is despite lawsuits and CRI's endorsement of W. Lee and the LC. Back when the CRI "We Were Wrong" journal came out, there was a "new one" in the LC I'm from who the brothers had been trying to take care of. He had read some things about the LC, and started having some questions about what he was really involved with. The brothers gave him the CRI journal to read in an attempt to salvage the situation. It had no effect and he eventually left.

The situation made me realize that people's perception of the LC wasn't really so much related to what is said about the LC, rather it comes out of their interactions with the LC. The CRI can go on all day long about how "orthodox" the LC is, but at the end of the day, if they've even managed to convince anyone, it doesn't mean anyone new is going to join or think it's a relevant group to be involved with.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

Can we now be done with sensitivities toward calling the local church a cult?
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

I'm curious if Teresa Zimmerman-Liu is the same sister whose husband went to work on Grace Gardens (end 1994/beginning 1995). The Teresa I knew is fluent in Chinese and Spanish.
If this is the same sister, their Bellevue home was turned into a brother's house after they relocated to Anaheim.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:56 PM   #5
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Can we now be done with sensitivities toward calling the local church a cult?
Is it worth the risk?

To me, the whole reason the LC doesn't like the c-word is because they don't have the ability to influence public perception on a broad scale in a positive way. They might have a few newcomers here and there who have a positive impression of the group, but it seems to stop there. Why isn't Lee's The Economy of God a best-seller like The Purpose Driven Life? The public has already spoken. Lee is irrelevant and generally viewed in a negative light.

When lawsuits or soliciting the help of the CRI are the primary means by which they are seeking to change the public's perception of the group, it demonstrates there is something fundamentally wrong.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:08 PM   #6
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When lawsuits or soliciting the help of the CRI are the primary means by which they are seeking to change the public's perception of the group, it demonstrates there is something fundamentally wrong.
The lawsuits are self defeating. They actually prove they are a cult.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:14 PM   #7
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Is it worth the risk?

To me, the whole reason the LC doesn't like the c-word is because they don't have the ability to influence public perception on a broad scale in a positive way. They might have a few newcomers here and there who have a positive impression of the group, but it seems to stop there. Why isn't Lee's The Economy of God a best-seller like The Purpose Driven Life? The public has already spoken. Lee is irrelevant and generally viewed in a negative light.
It's that that LSM/Lc don't have the ability, but they don't want to. Lee's ministry is the golden egg the drives LSM. If they were to execute their ability to influence public perception, several things might happen;
A. Lee's ministry is not so unique as the Blendeds have striven to present.
B. Veils may be ripped away from the local churches exposing the real situation.
When you have two former Nee co-workers in Witness Lee and Stephen Kaung, why is Witness Lee identified with cult and Stephen Kaung is not?
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Old 07-18-2015, 01:51 PM   #8
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When lawsuits or soliciting the help of CRI are the primary means by which they are seeking to change the public's perception of the group, it demonstrates there is something fundamentally wrong.
I was a little surprised to find that at this last bi-annual Training (1st week of July) they were still distributing the pamphlet entitled "Voices of Confirmation Concerning Watchman Nee, Witness Lee & the Local Churches".

This pamphlet was produced about 5 years ago. (and the endorsements contained within it are even older) Is this the most recent "confirmation" that LSM/DCP can come up with? Let's face it, that weak, decidedly uninformed "endorsement" from a pathetically compromised Hank Hanegraaff et al over at CRI is getting stale...really, really stale. (woo who, oh Haaannnnk...where ya been? Haven't heard anything from you about Witness Lee/The Local Church in years.) How long before CRI produces a "We were Wrong about being Wrong" retraction-of-their-retraction?

And the "endorsement" by Fuller Theological Seminary is even less informed then the one from CRI (which I would have thought to be impossible!). Any true evangelical, orthodox academic with a basic, or even cursory, knowledge of what Witness Lee actually taught and what is actually practiced in the Local Church would never come to the conclusion "that the teachings and practices of the local churches and its members represent the genuine, historical, biblical Christian faith in every essential aspect". It is painfully obvious that instead of actually doing some substantial, objective research, the brothers over at Fuller let the LSM/DCP brothers dictate to them their version of "the genuine, historical, biblical Christian faith", and somehow convince them that they are actually speaking the same language.

As for the "Evangelical Voices Speak" section, well the fact that J. Gordon Melton is the one leading the parade tells any objective observer that anything that these people speak about the Local Church/LSM should be taken with a grain of salt the size of a dump truck. Besides, since when does "The Lord's Recovery", "God's Move on Earth" and "The one Ministry for the Age" need the endorsements of people with fancy, schmansy acronyms after their names? There is one guy in there with a white clerical collar! (I think Witness Lee must of been rolling in his beautiful Grace Terrace grave)


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Advocates of maintaining the status quo within non-LSM local churches in order to preserve “our distinct heritage” or “our unique commitment from the Lord,” ought to be reminded that the cult stigma is part of “our distinct heritage.” Do they really want to preserve that?
Yeah, what he say!

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Old 07-18-2015, 02:43 PM   #9
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I would suggest that there are. Zimmerman-Liu & Wright report that Local Church leaders concede that “most Americans who are familiar with the group view it as a cult.” They conclude that the Local Churches will continue to be stigmatized by the ‘cult’ label for the foreseeable future. In the US it is claimed that “there is really nothing more that the group can do to change grassroots opinion [regarding] the cult label.” We reject LSM’s claims of impotence. The ‘cult’ stigma remains, not because LSM is unable to do anything, but because they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in teachings and practices.
I would agree with Nigel's assessments. Especially pertaining to the portion I have bolded. It's not that the cult label is irreversible, rather an unwillingness to do what is necessary to reverse the cult label.
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Old 07-18-2015, 02:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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Advocates of maintaining the status quo within non-LSM local churches in order to preserve “our distinct heritage” or “our unique commitment from the Lord,” ought to be reminded that the cult stigma is part of “our distinct heritage.” Do they really want to preserve that?
"Our distinct heritage." "Our unique commitment from the Lord."

In other words, we can't live without being special.

Their unique committedness is only to themselves. I've never seen a group of people, and this includes the Kardashians, more utterly self-absorbed that the LCM. Their self-appreciation and self-aggrandizement is beyond the pale. It's a spectacular display, like fireworks spelling out their names for all to see, again and again...

If we are to be committed to any uniqueness, any distinction, it should be the uniqueness of our God and his Christ. The LCM once got this, or at least they seemed to. But now, it's all about them and their glory, not God's.

So close, yet so far. Yet... not really that close any more. Just a sad "distinction."
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Old 07-18-2015, 02:54 PM   #11
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

So what's the story with this gal? Is she still a LCMer?
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Old 07-18-2015, 09:35 PM   #12
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Nigel's article seems to be taking a different, and more interesting tack than simply name-calling a despised group. It seems to me, in my quick perusal, that he is issuing a call to those of us still in an LC environment but no longer associated with the LSM to separate ourselves further from them, perhaps even to denounce them.

As a person who has borne the shame of the cult label as well as the repudiation of the LSM, this seems like a great idea. "No, no, officer, it's not me ... It's THEM! Get them! They're a CULT! "[Hands in pockets, whistling while he slips off into the night.]

But this seems an admission of weakness to me. I hate that there are some in this world who think I'm in a cult (and some quite close to home), but I refuse to exonerate myself by flinging that vile term upon others.

Last edited by SpeakersCorner; 07-18-2015 at 09:38 PM. Reason: Said it better
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Old 07-19-2015, 05:48 AM   #13
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Nigel's article seems to be taking a different, and more interesting tack than simply name-calling a despised group. It seems to me, in my quick perusal, that he is issuing a call to those of us still in an LC environment but no longer associated with the LSM to separate ourselves further from them, perhaps even to denounce them.

As a person who has borne the shame of the cult label as well as the repudiation of the LSM, this seems like a great idea. "No, no, officer, it's not me ... It's THEM! Get them! They're a CULT! "[Hands in pockets, whistling while he slips off into the night.]

But this seems an admission of weakness to me. I hate that there are some in this world who think I'm in a cult (and some quite close to home), but I refuse to exonerate myself by flinging that vile term upon others.
Take heart bro SpeakersCorner, early Christianity was considered a cult.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:23 AM   #14
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I was a little surprised to find that at this last bi-annual Training (1st week of July) they were still distributing the pamphlet entitled "Voices of Confirmation Concerning Watchman Nee, Witness Lee & the Local Churches".

This pamphlet was produced about 5 years ago. (and the endorsements contained within it are even older) Is this the most recent "confirmation" that LSM/DCP can come up with? Let's face it, that weak, decidedly uninformed "endorsement" from a pathetically compromised Hank Hanegraaff et al over at CRI is getting stale...really, really stale. (woo who, oh Haaannnnk...where ya been? Haven't heard anything from you about Witness Lee/The Local Church in years.) How long before CRI produces a "We were Wrong about being Wrong" retraction-of-their-retraction?
It's interesting that they would still be distributing these pamphlets. Are they worried that saints might be "concerned" about the LC?

Like I was saying earlier, even if outside groups endorse the LC, that doesn't mean that people will start flocking to the LC. It seems to me that the #1 barrier to new people joining the LC is being able to handle the peculiar environment. If they can get past that, then Nee/Lee and the "cult" status of the LC might be of concern.

I would assume that part of the goal of these DCP publications is to be a morale boost. It's not like anyone outside the LC is going to be reading them. It's the same thing with recognizing Nee/Lee in the congressional record. It means absolutely for the general public, but you can bet that it got everyone in the LC excited.
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SpeakersCorner View Post
Nigel's article seems to be taking a different, and more interesting tack than simply name-calling a despised group. It seems to me, in my quick perusal, that he is issuing a call to those of us still in an LC environment but no longer associated with the LSM to separate ourselves further from them, perhaps even to denounce them.
Thanks for popping back in SpeakersCorner, your thoughts and input are always appreciated!

I definitely don't see Nigel or anyone else calling for folks in your position to denounce the Local Church/LSM, rather they are merely pointing out that the main way to deter outsiders from labeling them as a cult is to stop teaching and practicing in a cultic manner. After all, it's not like other Christians just call them a cult because they don't like the way they dress. The questionable teachings and practices have been the main source of concern for decades. And instead of dealing with issues and concerns, Witness Lee and his followers have continually turned to petty name calling and even taking the matter up with the worldly courts of law (a direct, flagrant violation of 1 Cor 6) , which simply raises further questions and concerns. It's a vicious cycle that has been repeating itself for all these years, and the cheap endorsement from some discredited "apologist", or pulling the wool over the eyes of some liberal academics is not going to make any appreciable difference in how the overall Christian public views them.

Speaker, I would be very interested in you expounding upon what you mean by "an Local Church environment". Do you and the brothers and sisters in your fellowship still use the Recovery Version with the footnotes and the messages of Witness Lee has your main source of teaching? Do you still consider your fellowship as the only genuine Church in your city? Inquiring minds want to know!

Thanks again for stopping by my dear brother. Don't make yourself so scarce!
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:23 AM   #16
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But this seems an admission of weakness to me. I hate that there are some in this world who think I'm in a cult (and some quite close to home), but I refuse to exonerate myself by flinging that vile term upon others.
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Take heart bro SpeakersCorner, early Christianity was considered a cult.
It's different when one pulls a "Judas" on those he once loved and served with.

There's a world of difference, at least to me, between identifying incidents of unrighteousness in LC leaders and hurling cult-stones at any and all who once participated in the program.
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:27 AM   #17
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It's different when one pulls a "Judas" on those he once loved and served with.

There's a world of difference, at least to me, between identifying incidents of unrighteousness in LC leaders and hurling cult-stones at any and all who once participated in the program.
For me and others I know it's cathartic to admit we were in a cult.
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Old 07-19-2015, 11:19 AM   #18
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So what's the story with this gal? Is she still a LCMer?
“The author was a member of Local Church congregations in Taiwan and the United States from 1978-2008 and a translator for Witness Lee in his publishing companies in Taiwan and California from 1983-2001. The author was also the eldest daughter-in-law in a multigenerational Hakka Chinese household in Taiwan and the United States from 1986-2010.”

"The authors report that LSM’s leaders regard the Local Church’s cult label as irreversible. They say26 “Living Stream Ministry (LSM) leaders state that earlier publications that disparage the Local Churches as a dangerous cult have influenced public opinion in a way that has been impossible to revise, even with successful lawsuits and public statements by former detractors recanting their prior criticisms of the group.” Appealing to an Asian-style metaphor, “LSM leaders liken the effect of these earlier criticisms as ‘opening a feather pillow in the wind;’ even if one succeeds in mending the tear in the pillow, the feathers can never be retrieved and stuffed back in. These leaders assert that they must go ‘person by person, campus by campus’ to clear their group’s name. And, they claim that whenever they are successful in attracting college students as followers, campus Inter-varsity representatives seek out those students and inform them that the Local Churches are a cult.”27 (Interview with LSM leaders, Anaheim, CA, Oct. 16, 2013) This is a candid admission of impotence by LSM’s leaders, divulged to a (former) ‘insider.’ Such statements are rarely heard from the LSM-conference podium."

Obviously, if Teresa did stop meeting in 2008 and was able to interview LSM leaders in 2013 indicates at the very least a perception having left on good terms.
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Old 07-19-2015, 11:35 AM   #19
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I definitely don't see Nigel or anyone else calling for folks in your position to denounce the Local Church/LSM, rather they are merely pointing out that the main way to deter outsiders from labeling them as a cult is to stop teaching and practicing in a cultic manner. After all, it's not like other Christians just call them a cult because they don't like the way they dress. The questionable teachings and practices have been the main source of concern for decades. And instead of dealing with issues and concerns, Witness Lee and his followers have continually turned to petty name calling and even taking the matter up with the worldly courts of law (a direct, flagrant violation of 1 Cor 6) , which simply raises further questions and concerns.
As I see, Nigel was commenting on a sister's article which is directly related to the local churches. I suspect Nigel had been in the local church culture for around 40 years? So he would know very well about the cult label. What is being done the shirk the label?
As I understand prior to the Great Lakes Area turmoil, many localities opted to the chagrin of LSM not to participate in the lawsuit against Harvest House. That's one way. Another is how to you present yourself as a locality? Is it as a ministry church or as a church general in nature to all those in your community?
For example: http://churchintoronto.com/

Only by your speaking in content and actions through receiving is the cult label going to have a hope to change. My personal opinion is a corporate repentance is in order. Specifically regarding lawsuits and quarantines.

As I see from Nigel's article, it's not that LSM is unable to do anything regarding the cult stigma, it's because they won't do anything in regard to their teachings and practices.
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Old 07-19-2015, 02:25 PM   #20
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After all, it's not like other Christians just call them a cult because they don't like the way they dress. The questionable teachings and practices have been the main source of concern for decades. And instead of dealing with issues and concerns, Witness Lee and his followers have continually turned to petty name calling and even taking the matter up with the worldly courts of law (a direct, flagrant violation of 1 Cor 6) , which simply raises further questions and concerns. It's a vicious cycle that has been repeating itself for all these years, and the cheap endorsement from some discredited "apologist", or pulling the wool over the eyes of some liberal academics is not going to make any appreciable difference in how the overall Christian public views them.
The Church of Scientology is a big group that comes to mind in who also like lawsuits. They are known as probably the most litigious religious group around. Obviously they are considered a cult. So when you see a group like the LC doing the same thing, I'm sure it makes everyone wonder. What is there to hide? What do they need to protect so much?
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Old 07-19-2015, 03:38 PM   #21
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Nigel's article seems to be taking a different, and more interesting tack than simply name-calling a despised group. It seems to me, in my quick perusal, that he is issuing a call to those of us still in an LC environment but no longer associated with the LSM to separate ourselves further from them, perhaps even to denounce them.

As a person who has borne the shame of the cult label as well as the repudiation of the LSM, this seems like a great idea. "No, no, officer, it's not me ... It's THEM! Get them! They're a CULT! "[Hands in pockets, whistling while he slips off into the night.]

But this seems an admission of weakness to me. I hate that there are some in this world who think I'm in a cult (and some quite close to home), but I refuse to exonerate myself by flinging that vile term upon others.
That's a kind of cynical view of it. And you can't be so naive to not understand why the LCM is considered cultic, nor to continue to ascribe those reasons to the "blindness of Christianity."

If you believe the LCM was cultic, then you owe it to your members and message to separate yourself publicly from the cultic root. If that means denouncing LSM them what's the problem? Were you ever squeamish about denouncing Christianity?

At some point you have to admit to yourself that the LCM is and always has been unhealthily cultic. In fact, the case can be made that all the LCM's problems are due to its cultic tendencies (lording it over saints, being different for the sake of being different ("our distinct heritage"), living in a bubble, building walls, making enemies, lacking accountability, etc.) It's not just a matter of denouncing these things and those that will not repent from them. It's a matter of taking steps so that they don't appear in your church.
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:13 PM   #22
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Speaker, I would be very interested in you expounding upon what you mean by "an Local Church environment". Do you and the brothers and sisters in your fellowship still use the Recovery Version with the footnotes and the messages of Witness Lee has your main source of teaching? Do you still consider your fellowship as the only genuine Church in your city? Inquiring minds want to know!
UntoHim,

Thanks for asking. Here's a thumbnail sketch of who we are in my locality.

We are still a "local church" because we do believe all the believers in a community are one body, one church despite the walls erected around them (including our own). Time and tears have helped us to see this reality. So how are we different from other assemblies in our town? Well, besides the style of meetings, teaching, etc. (the minor things) the only real difference is that we have made a conscious decision not to divide ourselves by name. I myself have struggled mightily with this and I do believe I've come out the other side of the tunnel on it. It's a big deal simply not to take a name. The "Church in ___" is not our name, despite the fact that we are registered as such. By standing naked in name, we are declaring, "Lord, we have no strength to be one with others but we do have the strength and the vision to say this is our hope and calling."

I know that will seem ridiculous to some of you, but it is a big point to me. It is simply a contract we signed with God to stand for oneness despite our inability to back up that stand.

As for the particulars in questions you asked, we do not use the Recovery Version as our standard. A few still bring it to the meetings, but it is rarely what we read from. That said, I myself do refer to it when I prepare to speak in meetings (which I do from time to time) just to see what Witness Lee had to say about matters. I find I usually not only agree with his take, I cherish it. But not always. I recall at Lee's memorial service one of the soon-to-be Blended Brothers stood in front and declared, "In 397 (or whenever it was) the Bible was canonized and in 1997 the interpretation of it was as well." That statement marked the day I realized these guys have gone off the deep end.

Witness Lee is not the main source of our teaching, at least not directly. But those of us who have been around (some since 1969's famous Erie Conference) cannot and do not desire to purge ourselves of the truth we found over the years in the (I hate to use this word) "Recovery." It's in us till we die. So indirectly, Lee influences us still. But we seldom read anything in the meeting from him. I must hasten to add, however, that in recent days, we are becoming less afraid to use his name. I think maybe the half-life of his toxicity is about up.

Our particular locality has long been an outlier among the churches. We never really bought into a lot of the strange practices that evolved in the churches. We used to pray-read in meetings, but not aggressively. We never did the mandatory calling on the Lord in the meetings. One travelling brother who came through once told me after the meeting in which he spoke, "Get the saints to make some noise!" I guess, compared to other assemblies, we were the Quakers.

So there's a little view as to where we are. I think if you came to one of our meetings, you would recognize us as a "local church" but certainly not a typical one.
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Old 07-19-2015, 05:42 PM   #23
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That's a kind of cynical view of it. And you can't be so naive to not understand why the LCM is considered cultic, nor to continue to ascribe those reasons to the "blindness of Christianity."

If you believe the LCM was cultic, then you owe it to your members and message to separate yourself publicly from the cultic root. If that means denouncing LSM them what's the problem? Were you ever squeamish about denouncing Christianity?

At some point you have to admit to yourself that the LCM is and always has been unhealthily cultic. In fact, the case can be made that all the LCM's problems are due to its cultic tendencies (lording it over saints, being different for the sake of being different ("our distinct heritage"), living in a bubble, building walls, making enemies, lacking accountability, etc. It's not just a matter of denouncing these things and those that will not repent from them. It's a matter taking steps so that they don't appear in your church.
Take away deputy authority and they wouldn't be a cult. I doubt the non-LSM locality SpeakersCorner attends has that sort of problem. Unless they are pushing Lee and Nee books they're just guilty by association, and possibly by name.
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Old 07-19-2015, 06:47 PM   #24
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But those of us who have been around (some since 1969's famous Erie Conference) cannot and do not desire to purge ourselves of the truth we found over the years in the (I hate to use this word) "Recovery." It's in us till we die.
The problem was never the truth. If the LCM was really just for the truth they never would have been labeled a cult. The problem was wanting to be different and special. That's what leads to being cultic, wanting to be the "chosen few."

The LCM was never for the truth as much as for the idea that they had the truth. I hope people appreciate the difference.
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Old 07-19-2015, 07:28 PM   #25
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

Let me state things a little clearer. I don't like this idea, which we were fed, that the LCM was labeled a cult because they were so much for the truth that it made them seem weird. That is self-serving nonsense. Billy Graham was uncompromisingly for the truth in his crusades, so much so that he truly seemed not of this world, and he never got labeled a cult leader.

The LCM got labeled a cult because they took on cultic characteristics, beginning with, as Harold said, unaccountable, absolute authority afforded to Lee, and all the baggage that grew from that.

I've never visited SC's group, but I believe him when he says it is benign. I would just ask, is the decision about not having a name really about oneness? Or is it actually about being different and distinct? It seems to me that not taking a name is something that sets you apart, but, oops, isn't oneness about not setting yourself apart? And if you really want to be one, wouldn't the way to do it in this day and age be to take a name, because after all the Bible never prohibits it? It's just that you have decided it is somehow bad. But it seems to me it works to accomplish exactly the opposite of what you claim to want to accomplish. You want oneness, but you don't get oneness by consciously being different in an arbitrary way.

To me it's sort of like wearing white shirts when everybody else is wearing colored shirts because you've decided it makes you more holy, when really what it's about is being different.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:12 PM   #26
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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Plus this author recalls49 in the early 1970s the Church in Chicago’s young people attending Founders’ Week celebrations at Moody Bible Institute [MBI] in order to disrupt and denounce it, while marching around like the ancient siege of Jericho. Source : “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic"
I participated in that march with other members from the Church in Detroit. There were members from other churches in the region and it wasn't just "young people." As I recall it, elders from Detroit including Ron Kangas himself was there with a megaphone. We shouted "Babylon has fallen" at the buildings of the MBI! Why would anybody find anything bizarre or cultic about that?
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:30 PM   #27
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I participated in that march as a member of the Church in Detroit. There were members from other churches in the region and it wasn't just "young people." As I recall it, elders from Detroit including Ron Kangas himself was there with a megaphone. We shouted "Babylon has fallen" at the buildings of the MBI! Nothing bizarre or cultic going on there.
Zeek,

Then it appears your definition of "cult" is anyone who attacks the status quo. By this definition, Martin Luther, who tacked 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg was a cult leader.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:38 PM   #28
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I've never visited SC's group, but I believe him when he says it is benign. I would just ask, is the decision about not having a name really about oneness? Or is it actually about being different and distinct?
Igzy,

It's not about being distinctive and different. I suppose once upon a time it was, to some degree. I plead guilty of all charges. I bought into the whole local church thing as an idealist supreme. With that mindset I accepted all kinds of rationalizations and strange logic.

But along with the crazy came something I can't let go of. I'm guessing you can't either, based on the fact you're still here, how many years hence, sorting out your feelings about the whole LC experience.

I note you're tagline says you were crazy enough to join the LC and sane enough to leave. I was crazy enough to join and I'm crazier to stay. But it strangely comforts me to be able to say that.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:44 PM   #29
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Zeek,

Then it appears your definition of "cult" is anyone who attacks the status quo. By this definition, Martin Luther, who tacked 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg was a cult leader.
Martin Luther was a little more coherent in the 95 theses than our message was that day marching in lockstep, chanting loudly in our "gospel shirts", carrying large banners, and literally banging our drums. Were you there? What exactly was the message we were trying to convey to our brothers and sisters in Moody Bible Institute? Please tell me since you seem to know what it was all about.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:49 PM   #30
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Martin Luther was a little more coherent in the 95 theses than our message was that day marching in lockstep chanting in our "gospel shirts", carrying our banners, and literally banging our drums. Were you there? What exactly was the message we were trying to convey to our brothers and sisters in Moody Bible Institute? Please tell me since you seem to know what it was all about. Incidentally, we marched around the Picasso statue downtown for good measure.
Wasn't there then but did the gospel march thing once in Chicago. Didn't enjoy it.

My point was that the definition of "cult" you seem to be operating from is not a standard one.

As for what the message was that day, I'm guessing it was simply that Moody was part of Babylon. Seems pretty clear to me, whether you agree with it or not.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:57 PM   #31
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Wasn't there then but did the gospel march thing once in Chicago. Didn't enjoy it.

My point was that the definition of "cult" you seem to be operating from is not a standard one.
No actually my definition is the standard one. And when a group of people abdicates the rational use of their mind to follow a charismatic leader who claims to be the minister of the age and have absolute spiritual authority over them like Witness Lee did, they sometimes do bizarre things like that march. That, my friend, fits the standard definition of a cult.
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:32 PM   #32
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No actually my definition is the standard one. And when a group of people abdicates the rational use of their mind to follow a charismatic leader who claims to be the minister of the age and have absolute spiritual authority over them like Witness Lee did, they sometimes do bizarre things like that march. That, my friend, fits the standard definition of a cult.
Well, okay.
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Old 07-19-2015, 11:53 PM   #33
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Igzy,
I note you're tagline says you were crazy enough to join the LC and sane enough to leave. I was crazy enough to join and I'm crazier to stay. But it strangely comforts me to be able to say that.
I would have stayed if they hadn't let me go, but I am now in a church life that makes exiting the Local Churches easier, and a reasonable and righteous move to make for some of the seeking brothers and sisters.
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Old 07-20-2015, 05:15 AM   #34
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Igzy,

It's not about being distinctive and different. I suppose once upon a time it was, to some degree. I plead guilty of all charges. I bought into the whole local church thing as an idealist supreme. With that mindset I accepted all kinds of rationalizations and strange logic.

But along with the crazy came something I can't let go of. I'm guessing you can't either, based on the fact you're still here, how many years hence, sorting out your feelings about the whole LC experience.

I note you're tagline says you were crazy enough to join the LC and sane enough to leave. I was crazy enough to join and I'm crazier to stay. But it strangely comforts me to be able to say that.
You have a point. I'm an idealist and a perfectionist, too. Though I like to think of myself as a "practical" idealist and perfectionist. I do participate here to continue to try to understand what it was all about. But also to try to help those who are still confused about it. And as I go on, less and less about the LCM gets validated, and more gets explained away.

This doesn't mean my experience of God gets diminished, it grows. I come away with what is essential and generic, much of which the LCM gave special names to and tried to claim was unique to them, but which is everywhere if you look for it and don't expect it to be wearing plain clothes and chanting "O Lord Jesus."

This is why I asked you to reconsider the naming thing, not because I think you should change your policy, but rather to consider if the reason you have it is an essential value, or truly serves one. Like I said, if oneness is your goal, why be different? I understand being holy. I just don't have any Biblical reason to believe that not taking a name makes you more holy. It's an LCM extrapolation that eventually led to division, not only between them and others, but even between themselves. It's a shovel that couldn't dig a hole.

The LCM put in a us deep appreciation for some very valid things: oneness, union with God, indwelling Spirit, holiness, judgment seat. It was in the outworking of those things that the LCM fell flat. And it is the outworking tools and techniques that we tend to cling to, rather than the essential principles they were supposed to support. I've found if you try to get back to the essentials, you reconcile those truths you talked about with the Christians who never heard of the LCM. You realize your differences were less essential than you thought, and so potentially divisive.

When I see people still struggling with the tools the LCM gave them I try to point them back to the essentials. The point after all is not to use a shovel, the point is to dig a hole, if you catch my meaning.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:06 AM   #35
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This is why I asked you to reconsider the naming thing, not because I think you should change your policy, but rather to consider if the reason you have it is an essential value, or truly serves one. Like I said, if oneness is your goal, why be different? I understand being holy. I just don't have any Biblical reason to believe that not taking a name makes you more holy.
Agreed. The name business has nothing to do with holiness, IMHO. In a sense, it's not even a big deal to me. But the issue comes up all the time and we have to take a position on it. Me, I dislike the re-naming pandemic going on in Christianity today. Everyone's trying to hide their past. Further, the new names to me are -- how do I put this mildly? -- stupid. I heard of a church in Minneapolis named "Substance." A person going there told me they're all the time having to explain that it doesn't have to do with substance abuse.

I know, I know, my judgmentalholicism is showing. Oh, well.

But to a deeper point, the naming/non-naming issue is really hard on me because I know, in my heart of hearts, that I'm every bit as divisive if not more so than the people I condemn. So what am I to do? I believe in John 17 but I can't live it out.

And that's where the non-named church helps. It forces me to be one with anyone who would agree at least to drop their name. I know this is true because, as I have chronicled here in the past, it happened in my very community. We ended up joining with some very unlike us believers (Jesus only crowd) just because they too took the stand of one church per city. It was extremely difficult and almost destroyed our own group. But we took this matter seriuosly unlike the LSM who sues for non-name rights.

So I think there is something very deep and powerful about this matter of not taking a name.
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:10 AM   #36
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Agreed. The name business has nothing to do with holiness, IMHO. In a sense, it's not even a big deal to me. But the issue comes up all the time and we have to take a position on it. Me, I dislike the re-naming pandemic going on in Christianity today. Everyone's trying to hide their past. Further, the new names to me are -- how do I put this mildly? -- stupid. I heard of a church in Minneapolis named "Substance." A person going there told me they're all the time having to explain that it doesn't have to do with substance abuse.
Try explaining the "Recovery" version of the Bible.
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:26 AM   #37
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Try explaining the "Recovery" version of the Bible.
I always hated having to explain what was meant by "Recovery version" to people.

It seemed that everyone always misunderstood the name (no surprise there), and then when you did tell them what was meant by Recovery, it freaked them out. A study Bible that uncovers esoteric truths that no one else knows about?!? Hmmmm sounds a bit suspicious...
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:31 AM   #38
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So there's a little view as to where we are. I think if you came to one of our meetings, you would recognize us as a "local church" but certainly not a typical one.
Thanks Speaker, I suspected as much but I appreciate you filling in the details for us. I also appreciate you making your stand clear, despite knowing that you'll probably take some push-back and criticism from some folks around here. But if LocalChurchDiscussions.Com can't be a place of fellowship, understanding and reconciliation for brothers like you, then how in the world could it ever be such a place for current Local Church/LSM saints? So I want to thank you for coming back around and sharing your feeling and understanding of where the Lord has taken you and those with you in your journey "to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth".
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:50 AM   #39
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And that's where the non-named church helps. It forces me to be one with anyone who would agree at least to drop their name. I know this is true because, as I have chronicled here in the past, it happened in my very community. We ended up joining with some very unlike us believers (Jesus only crowd) just because they too took the stand of one church per city. It was extremely difficult and almost destroyed our own group. But we took this matter seriuosly unlike the LSM who sues for non-name rights.

So I think there is something very deep and powerful about this matter of not taking a name.
I would say you should be one with anyone, whether they drop their name or not. It's not a matter of being forced, it's a matter of what is.

But I don't think we are required to "join up" in a way of organization with a group that is very different from us. We can cooperate with them, have occasional joint gatherings, but I don't seen the requirement to merge, especially just because we both have no name. But I guess you deserve credit for being consistent in your beliefs. To me they are sort of like those of my Catholic friend who keeps having kids on into his 50s because he thinks birth control is wrong. Devotion to principle for principle's sake.

The LCM notion of "practical oneness" is another extrapolation I don't see in the Bible.
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Old 07-20-2015, 11:40 AM   #40
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The LCM notion of "practical oneness" is another extrapolation I don't see in the Bible.
Either be one or don't at all. There's no need of using a term as "practical" to qualify for oneness.
If a ministry publication gets in the way of being one in Christ, drop the ministry publications.
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:13 PM   #41
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The LCM notion of "practical oneness" is another extrapolation I don't see in the Bible.
I now believe that "oneness," practical or otherwise, was never the right goal. It is a misaiming, misused by those who wish to wield power over others. Genuine N.T. oneness rather is an indicator of spiritual health. Mature love, obedience, and humility are some of the necessary ingredients. We thought we were one because we were told so by Lee. We thought we were one because we had the right names. We thought that we alone were really one, but every test that came our way proved otherwise.
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:42 PM   #42
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I now believe that "oneness," practical or otherwise, was never the right goal. It is a misaiming, misused by those who wish to wield power over others. Genuine N.T. oneness rather is an indicator of spiritual health. Mature love, obedience, and humility are some of the necessary ingredients. We thought we were one because we were told so by Lee. We thought we were one because we had the right names. We thought that we alone were really one, but every test that came our way proved otherwise.
As paradoxical as it might sound, when "oneness" is made a goal, it can quickly result in division. I think that the LC is an example of this. They were so concerned with practicing their version of "oneness", that they were oblivious to the division that it was resulting in.

Humans are imperfect and to think there there can ever be any absolute form of "oneness" among any group of people is a bit naive.

It seems that the groups trying to implement "oneness" turn out to be a bit suspicious. How many cults are there who expect uniformity among members. How many cults encourage groupthink? How many cults promote their doctrines as being essential to unity?

My point here is that to have any form of "oneness" essentially requires that some type of uniformity be mandated and that independent thought be discouraged. Everyone can make up their own minds about the LC, but my point is simply by their heavy emphasis on oneness, they have put themselves under a lot of people's radar. And this should be expected. I have a hard time believing any group who claims to be "one" really is without uniformity being involved.
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:51 PM   #43
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Wasn't there then but did the gospel march thing once in Chicago. Didn't enjoy it.

My point was that the definition of "cult" you seem to be operating from is not a standard one.

As for what the message was that day, I'm guessing it was simply that Moody was part of Babylon. Seems pretty clear to me, whether you agree with it or not.
I was in that march as an old man, 42. Most everyone else were kids. I did not feel that good about the march. I had known of Moody Bible all my life and somehow linked them with Wheaton. Remember our song "It's not a chapel in the air" a clear put down of a very good short radio noonish program by that name which I listened to hundreds of times. When your team is winning though you don't care too much what you say of your competitors. It was just Chinese and it didn't last very long. I haven't heard of a gospel march or that song in many many years.

How the singing has changed. LSM has been printing the liturgy for quite a long time. One song, occasionally two on Sunday AM. How sad. The singing was such an important part of our coming together. With that gone, just an empty shell. I've been told, come to the Lord's Table. We sing alot there. Sorry. I trust LC's form now less than the form where I attend. Where I meet we repeat the Apostles Creed which I like very much. I like the Lord's prayer. The liturgy of the LC eventually got to me.
Unfortunately or maybe not, I live with LC people so I take the hypocrital oath. I don't feel that badly.
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:59 PM   #44
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As paradoxical as it might sound, when "oneness" is made a goal, it can quickly result in division. I think that the LC is an example of this. They were so concerned with practicing their version of "oneness", that they were oblivious to the division that it was resulting in.

Humans are imperfect and to think there there can ever be any absolute form of "oneness" among any group of people is a bit naive.

It seems that the groups trying to implement "oneness" turn out to be a bit suspicious. How many cults are there who expect uniformity among members. How many cults encourage groupthink? How many cults promote their doctrines as being essential to unity?

My point here is that to have any form of "oneness" essentially requires that some type of uniformity be mandated and that independent thought be discouraged. Everyone can make up their own minds about the LC, but my point is simply by their heavy emphasis on oneness, they have put themselves under a lot of people's radar. And this should be expected. I have a hard time believing any group who claims to be "one" really is without uniformity being involved.
Think about what Rome has done flying the flag of "oneness."

The dark ages, superstitions galore, inquisitions, elimination of scripture, illiteracy, priestly corruption, etc. this list can fill encyclopedias, and none of it is good.
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Old 07-20-2015, 04:45 PM   #45
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As paradoxical as it might sound, when "oneness" is made a goal, it can quickly result in division. I think that the LC is an example of this. They were so concerned with practicing their version of "oneness", that they were oblivious to the division that it was resulting in.
Interesting observation. And true, I believe.

I confess oneness was never my goal. What was? I think it was having a deeper experience of Christ, but maybe I'm just flattering myself. The real thing, I believe, was that Bethel experience I had way back when. It was awesome and terrible and life-changing. "Indiana" alluded to it in an above post.

That's really the whole thing, for me. That experience. Can't let it go.
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Old 07-20-2015, 05:21 PM   #46
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To anyone interested Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright's "What's in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches" can be found and downloaded at:
http://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/papers/...14%20paper.pdf
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:49 PM   #47
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Interesting observation. And true, I believe.

I confess oneness was never my goal. What was? I think it was having a deeper experience of Christ, . . .
. . . That's really the whole thing, for me. That experience. Can't let it go.
And of course that doesn't depend at all on Nee & Lee.

This is my personal honest attitude concerning the both of them:

I could not have any thing to do with any Christian group that had any association with Nee and Lee, and their movements.

I realize they both have "high peak" teachings. But I see the fruit of them, both here in America, and from reading, in China.

My feeling, in the least, is: Why be related in any way, with Nee and Lee, when their resulting groups or movements are labeled a cult, in both the East, where it originated, and the West, where it was exported to?

Why be tainted by what your neighbors, and fellow Christians, call a cult?

Especially since anything of value that came/comes from them, is in the Bible, and Nee and Lee are superfluous to experiencing Christ.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:10 PM   #48
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And of course that doesn't depend at all on Nee & Lee....Especially since anything of value that came/comes from them, is in the Bible, and Nee and Lee are superfluous to experiencing Christ.
A big amen to that! But, for some unknown reason the Spirit chose this legalistic self-absorbed group to help revive my love.
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Old 07-20-2015, 08:26 PM   #49
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A big amen to that! But, for some unknown reason the Spirit chose this legalistic self-absorbed group to help revive my love.
Amen to the Spirit reviving love ... slough off the cocoon to become a butterfly.
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Old 07-20-2015, 09:12 PM   #50
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To anyone interested Teresa Zimmerman-Liu & Teresa Wright's "What's in a Name? A Comparison of Being Branded a Religious “Cult” in the U.S. and the PRC: Witness Lee and the Local Churches" can be found and downloaded at:
http://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/papers/...14%20paper.pdf
Thanks for posting this Bro. Awareness. Reading the original, it is clearer to me that this is a whitewash job. And by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, shouldn't author Zimmerman-Liu include an explicit acknowledge that she was/is? a member of the Lee's "Local Church" herself?
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Old 07-20-2015, 09:38 PM   #51
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"high peak" teachings
Whenever I hear the phrase high peak teachings, I think of an aircraft flying at 35,000 feet missing everything happening at ground level. I have this formula that sums up my feelings on the "high peaks"

"high peaks"- basic Christian fundamentals=clanging of cymbals
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:12 AM   #52
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I'm curious when SpeakersCorner says he is still "in" the LC. What does it mean to be "in?" And who is really out?

How can you be in the LC if you are not following LSM? Or even majoring in Witness Lee? What actually makes you in the LC? When do you stop being in it?

Is it, again, thinking you are not in "Christianity?" Or religion? Is the "Bethel experience" that feeling that you are truly in God's purpose?, and the reason you can only have it in the "LC" is because you believe you cannot have it in "Christianity?" Which is why you need to remain in the "LC?" Even though you really aren't in it anymore?
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:34 AM   #53
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I confess oneness was never my goal. What was? I think it was having a deeper experience of Christ, but maybe I'm just flattering myself. The real thing, I believe, was that Bethel experience I had way back when. It was awesome and terrible and life-changing. "Indiana" alluded to it in an above post.

That's really the whole thing, for me. That experience. Can't let it go.
I still chase that experience, also. But I realize that the experience isn't based on the "proper ground", so-called. I no longer pursue Christ within a "proper church life". Looking back, that was a snare, and a distraction. Jesus was the piece of corn in the middle, but the corn was surrounded by a snare.

"My soul has escaped, as a bird from the snare of the fowler." Satan was a fowler and he used WL & Co to set a snare, of the "proper church life", to lure us in, thinking we could find "more Jesus", or a "deeper experience of Christ" in there than in "degraded Christianity". The reverse was true: the 'Jesus' we found was just a vapor; it was the excitement of the placebo effect. "We're in the Local Church/God's chosen ground/Here we have Christ as life/And blessings all abound". If we shouted it loudly and repeatedly enough, we really felt it! It was a charismatic experience, but ultimately the shouting has to stop and we have to find what's behind the curtain.

I remember it well, the experience of meeting in the LC, and don't regret it; it's part of the journey. But I'm SO grateful that one day the Holy Spirit thrust me out. I believe that ultimately, what we seek is not the Church, or the Move, or the Ministry, or the Building, or the High Peak Truth. What we Christians seek is the Man who was and is the Chosen One of God, the Heart's Delight of the Father. Setting up exclusive clubs, and judging those who don't meet our criteria for belonging, is to fall into a trap. In Luke 18:10, the story of the two men praying, the man who judged his neighbor was actually right: the other guy was indeed a sinner - disgusting, poor, and wretched. But God loved the sinful man, and by turning away in disgust the despiser rejected the opportunity to find God's love and mercy.

I don't regret my time meeting in the LC. But I do believe Jesus is much, much bigger than that; His love cannot be contained within their walls. So the search continues. I think of what Paul wrote: "Letting go of what is behind, and stretching forward to what is before."
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:40 AM   #54
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Thanks for posting this Bro. Awareness. Reading the original, it is clearer to me that this is a whitewash job. And by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, shouldn't author Zimmerman-Liu include an explicit acknowledge that she was/is? a member of the Lee's "Local Church" herself?
True. Without Nigel we wouldn't know Teresa was a member of the LC. I can't find any reference on the web either. Nigel must have contact with her.

I've written to her. It's summer time so it might be a while before I hear from her, if ever. If I get the chance I'll ask her about it.
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:53 AM   #55
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Can we now be done with sensitivities toward calling the local church a cult?
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Reading the original, it is clearer to me that this is a whitewash job.
So much for cult-bashing. From what I have read so far, she is not very critical of Lee.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:02 AM   #56
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True. Without Nigel we wouldn't know Teresa was a member of the LC. I can't find any reference on the web either. Nigel must have contact with her.

I've written to her. It's summer time so it might be a while before I hear from her, if ever. If I get the chance I'll ask her about it.
I'm not understanding this comment. On PDF page 4 she comes right out and says ...

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The paper is further informed by the co-author’s experience as a member of various Local Church congregations in the U.S. and Taiwan from 1978 - 2008, and her work as a translator for Local Church leader Witness Lee in his publication companies in Taipei and Anaheim, California during the 1980s and 1990s, and for church members who sought refuge in the U.S. from persecution in China during the early 2000s.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:10 AM   #57
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How can you be in the LC if you are not following LSM? Or even majoring in Witness Lee? What actually makes you in the LC? When do you stop being in it?
Based on several I know well, they desire a church-life like the early days, where Christ was all and in all. Based on what has happened over the years, they want nothing to do with the present leadership in the LC's, including Cleveland, but still read the Life-Studies, Recovery Version, and Hymnal.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:35 AM   #58
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True. Without Nigel we wouldn't know Teresa was a member of the LC.
I could have told you that. She was in my home meeting group before she and her family moved to Anaheim in late 1994/early 1995.
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Old 07-21-2015, 08:38 AM   #59
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I could have told you that. She was in my home meeting group before she and her family moved to Anaheim in late 1994/early 1995.
Do you have any info why she left in 2008?
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Old 07-21-2015, 08:48 AM   #60
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Do you have any info why she left in 2008?
No clue. The sister I saw in the mid-90's was very vocal. Active in the prophesying meetings and usually had something to share in the home meetings.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:03 AM   #61
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No clue. The sister I saw in the mid-90's was very vocal. Active in the prophesying meetings and usually had something to share in the home meetings.
She is not the first one to enter academia as a means to escape the LC.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:09 AM   #62
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She is not the first one to enter academia as a means to escape the LC.
I presume she left more or less on good terms. After all, if she left in 2008 and was later granted an interview with LSM leaders, an opportunity like that doesn't come about unless they don't perceive her to be a "threat". Just imagine someone like Nigel trying to sit down and interview LSM leaders.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:22 AM   #63
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I presume she left more or less on good terms. After all, if she left in 2008 and was later granted an interview with LSM leaders, an opportunity like that doesn't come about unless they don't perceive her to be a "threat". Just imagine someone like Nigel trying to sit down and interview LSM leaders.
Nigel is a nice guy, a real gentleman. The one the Blendeds fear is TC. They would never even sit alone in the same room with him.
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Old 07-21-2015, 09:47 AM   #64
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Nigel is a nice guy, a real gentleman. The one the Blendeds fear is TC. They would never even sit alone in the same room with him.
The DCP could extend Nigel the courtesy of responding to his writings. They did while the quarantines were occurring, then they stopped. Maybe they don't feel it's worth the effort now. But I take their silence as an admission of guilt. It doesn't seem DCP does anything these days. I would hate to be someone in the LC donating money to them.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:13 AM   #65
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Based on several I know well, they desire a church-life like the early days, where Christ was all and in all. Based on what has happened over the years, they want nothing to do with the present leadership in the LC's, including Cleveland, but still read the Life-Studies, Recovery Version, and Hymnal.
So what, they still believe in The Recovery, and that they are part and parcel to fulfilling it?

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True. Without Nigel we wouldn't know Teresa was a member of the LC. I can't find any reference on the web either. Nigel must have contact with her.

I've written to her. It's summer time so it might be a while before I hear from her, if ever. If I get the chance I'll ask her about it.


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I'm not understanding this comment. On PDF page 4 she comes right out and says ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa
The paper is further informed by the co-author’s experience as a member of various Local Church congregations in the U.S. and Taiwan from 1978 - 2008, and her work as a translator for Local Church leader Witness Lee in his publication companies in Taipei and Anaheim, California during the 1980s and 1990s, and for church members who sought refuge in the U.S. from persecution in China during the early 2000s.
Great correction. Thanks. I'm still wishing to chat with her. I want to know if she thinks the LC is a cult or not.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:35 AM   #66
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She is not the first one to enter academia as a means to escape the LC.
Nor the first to pursue academia as a defense against falling for anything like the LC again, and to get out of the stupidity that allowed falling for it.

Burnt once you've gone to school! Burnt twice you've become a fool!
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:54 AM   #67
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The DCP could extend Nigel the courtesy of responding to his writings. They did while the quarantines were occurring, then they stopped. Maybe they don't feel it's worth the effort now. But I take their silence as an admission of guilt. It doesn't seem DCP does anything these days. I would hate to be someone in the LC donating money to them.
Back in 2002, long before the quarantines, there was that "Phoenix Accord" signed by both LSM and GLA leaders in some vain attempt to be "civil" towards each other. At the time I was church "treasurer" among my many duties. Word came down to us from TC that we were to send DCP a check for $100/month whether we could afford it or not. That was during the Harvest House litigation.

Politics, "pure" politics.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:56 AM   #68
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Burnt once you've gone to school! Burnt twice you've become a fool!
I like that. It should be taught in schools.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:08 PM   #69
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The DCP could extend Nigel the courtesy of responding to his writings. They did while the quarantines were occurring, then they stopped. Maybe they don't feel it's worth the effort now. But I take their silence as an admission of guilt. It doesn't seem DCP does anything these days. I would hate to be someone in the LC donating money to them.
DCP wrote while saints were "on the fence" deciding who to follow. Once the last of the stranglers chose sides, the lawsuits in the GLA were settled, and the church assets were properly distributed, DCP had nothing more to gain. Like a loyal Doberman, they were instructed to stand down.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:05 PM   #70
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I still chase that experience, also.
Take care to not end up like Elizabeth Taylor, who loved the feeling of falling in love so much she got married eight times. And never, it seems, learned what love really is.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:33 PM   #71
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Take care to not end up like Elizabeth Taylor, who loved the feeling of falling in love so much she got married eight times. And never, it seems, learned what love really is.
The "drug" of romance is more powerful than any addiction.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:49 PM   #72
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Back in 2002, long before the quarantines, there was that "Phoenix Accord" signed by both LSM and GLA leaders in some vain attempt to be "civil" towards each other. At the time I was church "treasurer" among my many duties. Word came down to us from TC that we were to send DCP a check for $100/month whether we could afford it or not. That was during the Harvest House litigation.

Politics, "pure" politics.
Interesting. I know the person who was doing a particular LC's books at that time and she said that they were not invovled in supporting the Harvest House lawsuit. I wonder if there was the same check (or one like it) going to DCP and she just had no real idea what that meant.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:56 PM   #73
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BTW. I note that there was a lot of discussion about church names and oneness. Seems to me that I see more oneness among churches of different names than I do between the LCM and anyone else. Somehow names just turn out to be something of much less importance than the LCM wants to admit, but is a great boogeyman to keep their own in line.

Same nonsense surrounding "Babylon." Outside of one relatively unclear reference in Revelation, Babylon is the name of a secular nation that, among other things, held Israel captive for 70 or so years. Nothing about fallen religion in there anywhere that I can see. Virtually all of our use of the word is based upon Lee's use which was designed to differentiate us from other Christians. (And once again the issue of oneness comes up. Instead of doing anything about being one, we were too busy labeling them as worse than a cult — the world!!)
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:12 PM   #74
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Interesting. I know the person who was doing a particular LC's books at that time and she said that they were not invovled in supporting the Harvest House lawsuit. I wonder if there was the same check (or one like it) going to DCP and she just had no real idea what that meant.
Officially we were not plaintiffs in the lawsuit, yet we did help the lawsuit. It was kind of like co-signing a note -- you get included in the liability, yet enjoy none of the benefits.
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:44 PM   #75
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I note that there's discussion about church names and oneness. Seems to me that I see more oneness among churches of different names than I do between the LCM and anyone else. Somehow names just turn out to be something of much less importance than the LCM wants to admit, but is a great boogeyman to keep their own in line.
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It's a free concert from now on. That doesn't mean that anything goes....The one major thing you have to remember...is that the man next to you is your brother, and you'd damn well better treat each other that way because if you don't, then we blow the whole thing, but we've got it right there..
The vaunted oneness is as close to you as your neighbor. But if you think you can package it in a box and sell it you are delusional.

We Christians find the reality of that oneness in the name of our Savior. But I don't think we should be presumptuous, but humble. If anyone should be able to find oneness with our neighbor, we should. Look at our Shepherd, Guide, and Captain - again and again He met them where they were. So should we. If we'd humble ourselves.

The aspiration of the Woodstock Nation was found for 3 days on Max Yasgur's farm, when 400,000 people got together and (as far as I know) not even a fistfight broke out. The reality of that spirit is available for us all in Jesus Christ, anytime, anywhere.
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:34 PM   #76
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The "drug" of romance is more powerful than any addiction.
And love can sometimes be a wrecking ball.
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:12 PM   #77
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And love can sometimes be a wrecking ball.
Didn't Meat Loaf do a song about that?
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:20 PM   #78
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And love can sometimes be a wrecking ball.
Then it's not love.

Remember Paul's famous words: "Love is patient, Love is kind ..."
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:27 PM   #79
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Take care to not end up like Elizabeth Taylor, who loved the feeling of falling in love so much she got married eight times. And never, it seems, learned what love really is.
Hm, another interesting point. Solomon, you know, chased that experience hundreds of times ... and one of them resulted in a book of scripture.
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Old 07-21-2015, 08:08 PM   #80
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Hm, another interesting point. Solomon, you know, chased that experience hundreds of times ... and one of them resulted in a book of scripture.
Comparing Solomon and Liz Taylor ... UntoHim will blow his circuits!
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Old 07-22-2015, 05:52 AM   #81
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Comparing Solomon and Liz Taylor ... UntoHim will blow his circuits!
How about the woman at the well? She was determined to find true and lasting love, and was willing to go through half the population of Samaria to find it!

Paul made an interesting point: "Love does not seek its own things, but the things of others." Conversely, in the LC we got 'love-bombed' when we came under the ministry of Witness Lee, because we were coming under the sphere, or domain, of the seeking of his own things. The "rich ministry of Witness Lee" sought its own promotion, and nothing else. So the spigot of love would get turned off, when we couldn't "line up" with the ministry's seeking.

Regarding the 'cult' label, we've seen several iterations of the discussion here on this forum. I don't think they're a cult like the Mormons (my poster child) but they are an awfully contentious and weird sect of Christianity. Small, pinched, and self-absorbed. Its leaders seem determined to get as close to the line as possible without going over, so that they can still say they are "most orthodox", and yet differentiate themselves from everyone else, who is "deformed", "dark", yada-yada.

Think about this: if the group's Maximum Leader (and now his Blended Minions) makes a big deal about being a "particular" and "peculiar" people (if I remember the verbiage), and then suddenly he says that "we all have to be absolutely identical" (see e.g. RecV footnotes in Revelations 2 & 3, on the seven Asian churches), what does that look like? So you consciously want to be a strange, fringe group, and simultaneously insist that everyone else has to be exactly the same as you are? Don't be surprised that a) a great crowd doesn't rush after you, and b) the 'cult' label has an unpleasant habit of sticking around.
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Old 07-22-2015, 06:53 AM   #82
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Hm, another interesting point. Solomon, you know, chased that experience hundreds of times ... and one of them resulted in a book of scripture.
So your point is... what? "Let us do evil so grace may abound?"
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Old 07-22-2015, 07:52 AM   #83
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How about the woman at the well? She was determined to find true and lasting love, and was willing to go through half the population of Samaria to find it!
And did she ever find lasting love in the Savior! Then she went through the entire population of Samaria to let them know!


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Paul made an interesting point: "Love does not seek its own things, but the things of others." The "rich ministry of Witness Lee" sought its own promotion, and nothing else.
Great verse! But exposing to LSM ---
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Love does not dishonor others;
Does not seek its own things;
Is not easily angered;
Does not keep an account of evil. -- I Cor. 13.5
Lee made a career of dishonoring others, especially Christians. Listening to him for years, I was left with the conclusion that he alone of all ministers was without fault, since he "faithfully" pointed out everyone else's. His ministry was absolutely self-seeking, willing to sacrifice even righteousness (think about his son Phil-E ) to advance it and bring other leaders under subjection.

It seems to me that from top to bottom, LC leaders were type-A, high-strung, hot-tempered, and abusive folks. "Not easily angered" never described them. These guys had massive memories, keeping a laundry list of "dirt" on friend and foe alike, yet Lee would preach to us that "forgiving equals forgetting" and remind us of the "fox-tail" of unforgiven offenses which would rise from the grave. Such a staggering demand was placed on us, yet never practiced it himself. Remember the Whistler kangaroo court? LSM could never forget that ole Titus demanded clean sheets.
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:01 AM   #84
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Poor SpeakersCorner. I don't think he deserves how we're treating him (myself included).

I took a look at the church he's meeting with on the web. They credit their spiritual influences as:

"We have been helped many saints through the church age, from the early church fathers to the reformers such as Luther and the Anabaptists to the Plymouth Brethren of the 1850’s England to Watchman Nee and his work in China in the 20th century. Truly, we appreciate all those who have gone before us seeking to stay tuned to the essence of the Apostles’ teaching."

I personally would take exception to Nee, maybe (The Spiritual Man and Submission and Authority), but, there's no mention of Witness Lee.

That's quite a disconnect from the LSM movement. And there's no hint of cultic activities or thinking. They "have no clergy, no paid staff of any kind, and we belong to no larger church structure."

Kudos bro SC.
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Old 07-22-2015, 11:26 AM   #85
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Comparing Solomon and Liz Taylor ... UntoHim will blow his circuits!
I have slightly more hair than him, but otherwise the guy's a dead ringer.

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Old 07-22-2015, 11:56 AM   #86
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The DCP could extend Nigel the courtesy of responding to his writings. They did while the quarantines were occurring, then they stopped. Maybe they don't feel it's worth the effort now. But I take their silence as an admission of guilt. It doesn't seem DCP does anything these days. I would hate to be someone in the LC donating money to them.
Used to be in announcements when I used to attend 2009/2010, weekly soliciting giving to DCP for defense against the internet.
Speaking of DCP I believe it was late 2011/early 2012 "Indiana" called DCP offering to meet with them. They were conveniently unavailable. Probably as Freedom said; "silence as an admission of guilt". Articles such as Steve Isitt among others they don't want to address.
1. It would provide free advertisement.
2. In their conscience the brothers at DCP know Steve is accurate in his writings.
3. Should they ever entertain initiating a lawsuit, do they really want to risk having to subject the blended coworkers to depositions? As there is nothing to be gained by it.
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Old 07-22-2015, 01:43 PM   #87
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Used to be in announcements when I used to attend 2009/2010, weekly soliciting giving to DCP for defense against the internet.
Speaking of DCP I believe it was late 2011/early 2012 "Indiana" called DCP offering to meet with them. They were conveniently unavailable. Probably as Freedom said; "silence as an admission of guilt". Articles such as Steve Isitt among others they don't want to address.
1. It would provide free advertisement.
2. In their conscience the brothers at DCP know Steve is accurate in his writings.
3. Should they ever entertain initiating a lawsuit, do they really want to risk having to subject the blended coworkers to depositions? As there is nothing to be gained by it.
I think the reason Teresa Zimmerman-Liu probably didn't say the local church is a cult is because she feared she and U of C would likely be sued by them.

No matter. They walk like a duck and quack like a duck. Maybe they should sue themselves, for proving they're a cult more than the PRC or cult busters here in America.
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:18 PM   #88
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Used to be in announcements when I used to attend 2009/2010, weekly soliciting giving to DCP for defense against the internet.
Speaking of DCP I believe it was late 2011/early 2012 "Indiana" called DCP offering to meet with them. They were conveniently unavailable. Probably as Freedom said; "silence as an admission of guilt". Articles such as Steve Isitt among others they don't want to address.
What I have realized is DCP has an impossible task on their hands. Their mission is to defend Nee/Lee and the practices of the LC's. That simply cannot be done.

Nee is indefensibly because so few are around that knew him while he was alive, and there are now conflicting accounts of his life, and no account is verifiable either way. Nee's writings might be considered helpful to some, but any serious study could quickly point out the holes in some of his teachings.

Lee is indefensibly because so many know what he was really like. We have his ministry in writing which speaks for itself, but we also have the writings of former members providing an alternative to the LSM narrative of Lee.

LC practices are indefensible because there are documented cases of abuses such as misusing deputy authority.

Any way you look at it, it becomes clear that nothing can really be done to defend the LC, so DCP tactics seem to gravitate towards lawsuits, ad hominem attacks, and whatever else they can do to change public perception. That's what it's really about.
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:25 PM   #89
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No matter. They walk like a duck and quack like a duck. Maybe they should sue themselves, for proving they're a cult more than the PRC or cult busters here in America.
You're too funny
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Old 07-22-2015, 03:38 PM   #90
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Hm, another interesting point. Solomon, you know, chased that experience hundreds of times ... and one of them resulted in a book of scripture.
And the whole of them carried him off to degradation. Solomon may have written a couple or so significant bits of scripture, but in the end he did not have a heart for God like his father, but rather for the roughly 1,000 wifes and concubines he had. Unlike the command not to marry any of the women of the world.
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:00 AM   #91
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Solomon may have written a couple or so significant bits of scripture, but in the end he did not have a heart for God like his father, but rather for the roughly 1,000 wives and concubines he had.
At his peak, however, Solomon had an unworldly wisdom about him, which made him the magnet of civilization. And he wasn't the only king with a roving eye - his dad was also notorious in that respect.

Back to the idea of chasing the vapor trail of the "early glory" of the LC experience: at its core there seems to be something there, no? We believed in God, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, and we had a nearly overwhelming sensory experience. I remember the LC hymn with the refrain: "His glory broke upon us when we saw him in the church" - here, supposedly were "all His riches", leading us to give up "our search". Later, when the experiences seem to dry up, we frantically tried to re-create them. Just shout louder!! More meetings!! More conferences!! Middle-aged training!!

I've now been out of the LC orbit for longer than I was in it, and I still pursue. But for me the contact high is in the word. Nothing wrong with the old experiences, but we can still pursue. I don't judge others' experiences, past or present, but today I suspect that mine was that of the rube who swallowed the pill, and the others shouted excitedly at him(her), "Do you feel it!!?? Do you feel it!!??" At some point I also began to yell and dance. But looking back there was nothing there.

I say this with some confidence because today I see something in the word, which the shouters and dancers and arm-wavers were ignorant of. And when I tried to point it out to them they weren't interested. So I became clear that they were chasing sensory experience. RK assures them that if they shout and jump they will leave their meetings with "more Christ" than when they arrived. To me that's a confidence game; I fell for it once, when I was naive, but no longer.
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:56 AM   #92
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At his peak, however, Solomon had an unworldly wisdom about him, which made him the magnet of civilization. And he wasn't the only king with a roving eye - his dad was also notorious in that respect.

Back to the idea of chasing the vapor trail of the "early glory" of the LC experience: at its core there seems to be something there, no? We believed in God, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, and we had a nearly overwhelming sensory experience. I remember the LC hymn with the refrain: "His glory broke upon us when we saw him in the church" - here, supposedly were "all His riches", leading us to give up "our search". Later, when the experiences seem to dry up, we frantically tried to re-create them. Just shout louder!! More meetings!! More conferences!! Middle-aged training!!

I've now been out of the LC orbit for longer than I was in it, and I still pursue. But for me the contact high is in the word. Nothing wrong with the old experiences, but we can still pursue. I don't judge others' experiences, past or present, but today I suspect that mine was that of the rube who swallowed the pill, and the others shouted excitedly at him(her), "Do you feel it!!?? Do you feel it!!??" At some point I also began to yell and dance. But looking back there was nothing there.

I say this with some confidence because today I see something in the word, which the shouters and dancers and arm-wavers were ignorant of. And when I tried to point it out to them they weren't interested. So I became clear that they were chasing sensory experience. RK assures them that if they shout and jump they will leave their meetings with "more Christ" than when they arrived. To me that's a confidence game; I fell for it once, when I was naive, but no longer.
I don't have a lifetime in Pentecostal circles, but some of the ones I've seen fit your descriptions more than the LCs. Screaming slogans intelligibly seems more benign than shaking uncontrollibly while laying on the floor as if struck by the divine lightning.

People want sensory because it goes beyond mere information in the mind. They want feelings which can affect them, improve their life. God understands this too, and that's why they are more common in our youth. Trouble begins when faith does not properly grow within us.
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Old 07-23-2015, 07:01 AM   #93
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I don't have a lifetime in Pentecostal circles, but some of the ones I've seen fit your descriptions more than the LCs. Screaming slogans intelligibly seems more benign than shaking uncontrollibly while laying on the floor as if struck by the divine lightning.
The pernicious aspect of the LC is that people aren't on all fours, barking like dogs. So they can say it is not mere Pentecostalism. When repeatedly shouting slogans is actually creating the same physiological/mental stimulus. So they can call it "spirit" and "glory" when it is fleshly excitement and soulish enthusiasm.

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People want sensory because it goes beyond mere information in the mind. They want feelings which can affect them, improve their life. God understands this too, and that's why they are more common in our youth. Trouble begins when faith does not properly grow within us.
When the experience becomes the target, then we have missed the point. Paul wrote a rather admonishing letter to the Corinthians in this regard. Yet, WL approvingly called the Mainland Chinese branch of his sect "Shouters". He told us that there were millions of Shouters in the PRC, and we murmured with happy surprise.
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Old 07-23-2015, 07:59 AM   #94
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He told us that there were millions of Shouters in the PRC, and we murmured with happy surprise.
From Tomes:
“the so‐called ‘Shouters,’ [was] a designation given by the Chinese government to various groups in the early 1980s. Historically, the local churches in China have sometimes been wrongly identified by this term [i.e., ‘Shouters,’] in official government documents and press accounts, as have many other genuine Christian groups. Living Stream Ministry and the more than 4000 local churches it supports around the globe have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to either ‘The Shouters’ or the groups that are currently the focus of the government crackdown, namely ‘Lightning from the East’ and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’."
-The “Statement by Living Stream Ministry Regarding Aberrant Religious Groups in China” appears with LSM-letterhead on the LSM-linked website: http://www.contendingforthefaith.org..._China_en.html

Written while Lee's followers were still shouting ...
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:27 AM   #95
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From Tomes:
“the so‐called ‘Shouters,’ [was] a designation given by the Chinese government to various groups in the early 1980s. Historically, the local churches in China have sometimes been wrongly identified by this term [i.e., ‘Shouters,’] in official government documents and press accounts, as have many other genuine Christian groups. Living Stream Ministry and the more than 4000 local churches it supports around the globe have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to either ‘The Shouters’ or the groups that are currently the focus of the government crackdown, namely ‘Lightning from the East’ and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’."
-The “Statement by Living Stream Ministry Regarding Aberrant Religious Groups in China” appears with LSM-letterhead on the LSM-linked website: http://www.contendingforthefaith.org..._China_en.html

Written while Lee's followers were still shouting ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Tomes
Second, it is disingenuous of LSM to assert that “Living Stream Ministry and the...local churches it supports ...have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to...‘The Shouters’.” LSM might wish (for obvious reasons) to disassociate itself from the “Eastern Lightning” and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’. However, to claim that LSM and its Local Churches have “no connection or linkage” even “informally, to...‘The Shouters’,” is patently false.
Kudos to Nigel for calling LSM out on this blatant lie. I'm not sure who would believe this, even among LCers. Within the LC, I was always told that 'Shouters' was an undesirable name given LCers in China. I'm sure that for any LCers who are not aware of the LSM statement, and if they were questioned as to who the Shouters are, they would provide an answer indicating that it is another name for those in the LC in China.

It seems LSM think they get to provide the official narrative, after all, no one is going to challenge them. Maybe next they will tell everyone that the sky is green.
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Old 07-23-2015, 09:10 AM   #96
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It seems LSM think they get to provide the official narrative, after all, no one is going to challenge them. Maybe next they will tell everyone that the sky is green.
Or that Jesus is both the Father and the Spirit ... the Trinity all rolled up in one.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:43 AM   #97
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I'm not sure who would believe this, even among LCers. Within the LC, I was always told that 'Shouters' was an undesirable name given LCers in China. I'm sure that for any LCers who are not aware of the LSM statement, and if they were questioned as to who the Shouters are, they would provide an answer indicating that it is another name for those in the LC in China
I was in the meeting where WL was citing LC membership around the globe. He got to the end of the list and very dramatically said, "In China, the Shouters, 10 to 15 million" or some other very large number. We all made gasping noises from the audience. If he had wanted to pass on the Shouter appellation, he could have. But he didn't - quite the opposite, in fact; it sounded to us like he embraced the name, and the group.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:12 AM   #98
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I was in the meeting where WL was citing LC membership around the globe. He got to the end of the list and very dramatically said, "In China, the Shouters, 10 to 15 million" or some other very large number. We all made gasping noises from the audience. If he had wanted to pass on the Shouter appellation, he could have. But he didn't - quite the opposite, in fact; it sounded to us like he embraced the name, and the group.
LSM had better hope no one has a tape of this meeting.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:39 AM   #99
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Or that Jesus is both the Father and the Spirit ... the Trinity all rolled up in one.
You guys crack me up!
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:44 AM   #100
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This may be the statement aron is referring to:
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A nation is not built upon a school or a club; its foundation is the homes. Without the homes a nation cannot exist. In the same way, if the church is to prosper today, the homes need to rise up. If the homes in the church are strong, the church will have a good prospect and a bright future. This is the new way revealed to us in the Bible. Today in mainland China, Satan hates the churches that meet in the homes. These churches comprise more than fifty million believers. The authorities condemn the “shouters,” who are predominantly those who meet in the homes. Some saints have written telling us how strong and revived these home meetings in mainland China are. They have no apparent leaders. Whoever tries to be the leader is asking for trouble because the authorities focus their attention on the leaders. However, when everyone is a leader, the authorities can do nothing. (Witness Lee, Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord's Recovery, Book 1: The Vision and Definite Steps for the Practice of the New Way, Chapter 10, Section 2)
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Old 07-23-2015, 01:07 PM   #101
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This may be the statement aron is referring to:
Thanks for finding this. It seems pretty clear that Lee had no intention of hiding the 'shouters' linkage. It should raise a lot of concern as to LSM's intentions. If the Shouters are good, then there is nothing to hide, if the Shouters are bad, then LSM has a lot of explaining to do.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:51 PM   #102
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Thanks for finding this. It seems pretty clear that Lee had no intention of hiding the 'shouters' linkage.
I have no idea when the meeting that I remember took place, but it was probably before LSM needed to acknowledge no connection, either formal or informal, with the Shouters. (And Lee was an accountant, after all, always interested in numbers [except when he'd say that he didn't care if anyone took the way of recovery]).

What I remember about the meeting was two things: first was the glaring disparity in the numbers. It was like: "USA & Canada, 40,000; South America, 20,000; Africa, 12,000; Europe, 8,000; Russia, 15,000; Asia, 60,000; China, 50 million". The number from China was an order of magnitude exponentially higher than the others. And Lee was obviously pleased to shock us with such a high number. The second thing was the noise from the crowd when they heard the number. There was this big, collective, "Ooooohhhh!" Like everybody audibly gasped all at once.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:42 PM   #103
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So your point is... what? "Let us do evil so grace may abound?"
My point is that a romantic experience of Christ trumps everything else. Ephesus had it and lost it. Most who contribute to this site had such an experience as well.

Jacob had such an experience at Bethel, then he went off and had a romantic life experiencing God in ways both hidden and overt. He wrestled all night against him ... and fought him to a draw.

Too much criticism here of the LC experience is shortsighted, seeing only the negative side of such Jacobian struggles. I prefer to look at all these bends and crooks in the road as opportunities to have an all-night battle with God. I've lost them all but I cherish the scars.

(Note to God: I just making a rhetorical point here with some perhaps overly-zealous flourish. No need to reinforce past lessons. . )
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:46 PM   #104
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And the whole of them carried him off to degradation. Solomon may have written a couple or so significant bits of scripture, but in the end he did not have a heart for God like his father, but rather for the roughly 1,000 wifes and concubines he had. Unlike the command not to marry any of the women of the world.
Gee, you're sounding like Witness Lee here. He wasn't a big Solomon fan.
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Old 07-24-2015, 04:33 AM   #105
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My point is that a romantic experience of Christ trumps everything else. Ephesus had it and lost it.
The LC experience certainly stressed love for the Lord Jesus in continual expression, both corporate and private. I don't really remember such talk before coming to the LC (though my initial church experience was pretty limited). It undoubtedly attracted me, as it did many others.

The other half of the Great Commandment, to love one's neighbor as oneself, can be problematic, obviously. Given the strong emphasis on the LC "corporate life" there was the appearance of love, at first glance, and again, this was attractive. People were visiting each other in the homes, staying after church meetings to talk, have meals, etc. We'd travel to other cities to have conferences, and would stay in the homes of the LC saints. They called it "hospitality", as in 1 Peter 4:9. There seemed to be an awful lot of love expressed in openness, reception, and giving and sharing.

So far so good. But what of those outside the ministry's sphere of influence? No love. I am thinking specifically our attitude toward "degraded Christianity", and also the "poor building material" like the poor, the aged, the infirm, etc. "Don't waste your time", I was told by the FTTA trainer. Go for the young, Caucasian, college students. That's what we're after.

Secondly, what of the inevitable schism when Leader A doesn't want to kowtow to Leader B? Leader A takes "his" flock away, and Leader B likewise, and you're like a kid whose parents divorce: you love both Mom and Dad, but Mom now seems to hate Dad and vice verse. What to do? How to show love? Do I love the folks in Leader A's flock now, or Leader B's? Or both? Or neither?

So we continue to attempt our love affair with Jesus, but under considerably straightened circumstances than when the journey first began. But we go on. In my case I take comfort in the word of God, and try to minister from it, to whomever my neighbour may be. Others, obviously, may be led to minister in more formal, structured organizational environments. Like SC in his church, f'rinstance. Some of us may occasionally feel like John on Patmos, gazing back "in spirit, on the Lord's Day", at the churches on the mainland. We're now physically removed, but something inside keeps us connected.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:55 AM   #106
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The LC experience certainly stressed love for the Lord Jesus in continual expression, both corporate and private. ... Given the strong emphasis on the "corporate life" there was the appearance of love, at first glance. Again, this was attractive. There seemed to be an awful lot of love expressed in openness, reception, and giving and sharing.

So far so good. But what of those outside the ministry's sphere of influence? No love. I am thinking specifically our attitude toward "degraded Christianity", and also the "poor building material" like the poor, the aged, the infirm, etc. "Don't waste your time", I was told by the FTTA trainer. Go for the young, Caucasian, college students. That's what we're after.
I understand that my views are simplistic here, but I see all LC problems based on Acts 20.30, as Paul warned Ephesus with tears.

Those "early days" were notable because we were Christ-centered, and focused on the word of God. Despite our problems, it was a life-changing for many of us in positive ways. Lee, however, along with his minions demanded all the perks and glories of God's blessings. As Lee steadily rose in prominence, accompanied by storms and quarantines, all the positives vanished. Today we merely have a shell of the reality once enjoyed, but that does not mean that our reality was flawed, only that those who remained have chosen not to heed Paul's warning.
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Old 07-24-2015, 06:49 AM   #107
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So we continue to attempt our love affair with Jesus, but under considerably straightened circumstances than when the journey first began. But we go on. In my case I take comfort in the word of God, and try to minister from it, to whomever my neighbour may be. Others, obviously, may be led to minister in more formal, structured organizational environments. Like SC in his church, f'rinstance. Some of us may occasionally feel like John on Patmos, gazing back "in spirit, on the Lord's Day", at the churches on the mainland. We're now physically removed, but something inside keeps us connected.
Yes, this is part of that romantic experience I'm talking about. I really liked your line, "gazing back 'in spirit, on the Lord's Day' at the churches on the mainland."
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:35 AM   #108
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Watchman Nee’s “Little Flock” churches in the Far East were an “indigenized” version of Christianity, “contextualized” to Chinese culture and values. This Chinese incarnation of Christianity was further developed by Witness Lee in Taiwan. Despite their claims to have “recovered” the original, culture-free form of the New Testament Church in all its pristine purity, T. Zimmerman-Liu contends that Watchman Nee’s “Little Flock” church and Witness Lee’s “Local Church” each represent “a Chinese interpretation of Christianity,” a “Sinicized version of Christianity.” (see footnote 11) These developments in the Far East “created a form of Protestantism that is very different from its Western counterparts.” Hence, on his arrival in the West, “Witness Lee brought Chinese Christianity to the United States in the 1960s.” This assessment directly contradicts Local Church’s official “party line” about recovering the original biblical pattern; nevertheless it rings true. This insight explains why LSM’s Local Church has proved attractive to Asian (particularly Chinese) immigrants to North America and their descendents. It also provides a rationale for the Local Church’s failure to attract significant numbers of “typical North Americans” (a Local Church euphemism for Caucasians). Simply put, despite its name, LSM’s “Local Church” is not local in the context of the Western world. Rather than indigenizing the Local Church, “contextualizing” it to western culture and values, Witness Lee presented and LSM currently propagates an imported version of Asian (Chinese) Christianity, miss-matched with 21st century North America. The Local Church is in many ways (which Zimmerman-Liu identifies) an ethnic, Oriental expression of the Christian faith.

11. T. Zimmerman-Liu’s other paper seeks to “describe in detail how an indigenous Chinese Protestant group—the Local Churches—reconstituted guanxi during the twentieth century. It will show how in the process of redefining guanxi to make its members committed Christians, the Local Churches also Sinicized Christianity.” [Teresa Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’: The Reconfiguration of Guanxi in a 20th Century Indigenous Chinese Protestant Group,” p. 1 (emphasis added), Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, Working Paper] She also asserts that, “The Local Church founders further sought to emphasize the elements of scriptural and historical Christianity that would most appeal to their audience of Republican-era (1911-1949) Chinese people.” [T. Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’...” p. 2 (emphasis added)] Again she says, “The Local Churches reconstituted guanxi relationships among their members, and they also Sinicized their version of Christianity.” [T. Zimmerman-Liu, “From ‘Children of the Devil’ to ‘Sons of God’...” p. 3 (emphasis added)]
Two points: first that I tried to make some of this explicit in the thread "The Asian Mind and the Western Mind", and elsewhere. It would be fun if someone like Zimmerman-Liu would come on this forum and mix it up with the hoi palloi, but it would probably be a bad career move, if she is trying to be seen as a serious scholar and an academic.

Nonetheless, I can say, "Yeah, that's what I was talking about!"

Secondly, in her footnote (11) she says that the LC leaders tried to redefine quanxi for the Christian polity. That would be an interesting read, no? Maybe someone can post that paper. I bet that would be a hot cake. Seriously, that paper should see the light of day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanxi
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Old 07-24-2015, 12:21 PM   #109
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.........................

My edit feature is acting up just like my car.
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Old 07-24-2015, 12:23 PM   #110
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“The Local Churches reconstituted guanxi relationships among their members, and they also Sinicized their version of Christianity.”
Can someone translate these concepts for an American layman like me? I'm understanding guanxi as manipulation, and Sinicized as Chinese culture.
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Old 07-24-2015, 01:59 PM   #111
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My point is that a romantic experience of Christ trumps everything else. Ephesus had it and lost it. Most who contribute to this site had such an experience as well.

Jacob had such an experience at Bethel, then he went off and had a romantic life experiencing God in ways both hidden and overt. He wrestled all night against him ... and fought him to a draw.

Too much criticism here of the LC experience is shortsighted, seeing only the negative side of such Jacobian struggles. I prefer to look at all these bends and crooks in the road as opportunities to have an all-night battle with God. I've lost them all but I cherish the scars.

(Note to God: I just making a rhetorical point here with some perhaps overly-zealous flourish. No need to reinforce past lessons. . )
Well, that makes some sense, but you have to differentiate between healthy things and things which are not healthy but which God uses to work good.

Romans says God causes all things to work together for good for those that love him. A wonderful and incredible promise which probably deserves its own thread if not forum.

But that's not license to say "It doesn't matter what I do because God will use it for good." In the first place, that attitude doesn't show love for God, and in the second place it, if taken to the nth degree, says there's essentially no difference between good and evil--or even that evil is in some way superior to good.

For example, suppose a terrorist bombs a shop. No one is killed, but several are maimed. Through their suffering and the extenuating circumstances, all the maimed come to Christ. Fast forward to judgment. The terrorist stands before God and says, "Look God, these people would not have been saved if I hadn't bombed that shop."

And he may be right, but he's still guilty. Don't confuse God's power to transcend with the bogus idea that evil is in some way good. Evil is still evil. Let's not get all gooey and sentimental about it.

That said, I appreciate the lessons I learned as well.
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Old 07-24-2015, 03:01 PM   #112
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Gee, you're sounding like Witness Lee here. He wasn't a big Solomon fan.
I'm not saying that I am not a fan of Solomon. Like much of the Bible, it is recorded by frail humans. It records God in the midst of the chaos of natural life.

My real comment was that suggesting that the Song of Solomon was simply about one of his wives might be a little simplistic. Especially when it was the preponderance of wives that turned his head from following the true God, unlike his father who, though continually failing, turned his heart back to God.

To be honest, I think that the "ooo" and "aaaah" of the emotional and personal portions of the Song of Solomon are too easily replacements for sober following of God/Christ. We too often think of the value of having a heart for God in terms of feelings rather than in the practical evidence of living. Not saying there is nothing worthwhile in the SofS, but rather that we focus on it at an impractical, and therefore sort of useless level. Turning away from everything to chase through the woods after a lover as the end-all metaphor of the Christian experience results in a spirituality that has no evidence for someone like James to see as proof you were actually chasing after God/Christ. We have turned from the pursuit of God through the pursuit of living as he directs into an ethereal exercise in faux spirituality that does nothing except be spiritual.

Now there is a time and a place for pursuing a lover. It has a season, or seasons. It is not the "instead of works" or however people want to think about it. That is, to me, the fatal flaw in most inner life ministries. (And Nee was clearly inner life before and while he was grand poohbah of the Little Flock.) They rightly point us to more than just works, then convince us that there are no works, only inner life. And it will magically do everything for you.
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Old 07-24-2015, 03:18 PM   #113
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. . . .

In my case I take comfort in the word of God, and try to minister from it, to whomever my neighbour may be. Others, obviously, may be led to minister in more formal, structured organizational environments. Like SC in his church, f'rinstance. Some of us may occasionally feel like John on Patmos, gazing back "in spirit, on the Lord's Day", at the churches on the mainland. We're now physically removed, but something inside keeps us connected.
I liked your post overall. But this part caused a question in me. What is loving your neighbor as yourself? What you mention here is potentially only a part of what you think would encompass that command. But it is not stated in that way.

I note that there are a lot of people that think of loving their neighbor only in terms of how they share the Word with them, preach the gospel to them, help them become more Christ-like, etc. I am constantly baffled at how many good Christians will only engage in "social" activities if there is the opportunity to share the gospel or talk about Christ. If that is not an option, they are not interested.

But it would seem that giving food to one of the "least of these" is part of loving neighbor. And Jesus didn't say that you should feed them and teach them some good teachings. Just feed them.

So why, when the discussion turns to loving your neighbor as yourself, does our talk turn to preaching the gospel or sharing the Word? Seems that the command to "justice" is about food, shelter, and righteous interactions, not preaching and teaching. And surely the command to justice is a significant part of loving your neighbor as yourself.

This is probably the reason that evangelicals so often do not seem to think that being righteous is more important than relying on grace to continually cover their shortcomings. They think that how they live is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. They think that their testimony is mainly in the speaking of un-seeable events rather than in living visibly in a manner that is not like the "nations." They think that the way they actually live is irrelevant to their testimony. They think that the fact they can claim to have Christ in their lives and get great enjoyment from it, and feel free from their sins (even the ones they keep on doing) is attractive to people who otherwise don't care. People don't want to just feel better about themselves. They want to actually be better. But we are teaching ourselves that you don't have to be better. Just keep on relying on grace (which does work) and feel better about yourself. Not a whole lot different from some of the superiority shtick that the LCM taught us.
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Old 07-24-2015, 03:27 PM   #114
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Romans says God causes all things to work together for good for those that love him. A wonderful and incredible promise which probably deserves its own thread if not forum.
The thing that I see in this too often is the idea that God "causes all things." Full stop. The old "God is sovereign over everything" idea.

The problem with that position is that there is therefore nothing that can happen that is not caused by God. Therefore no reason to (fill in the blank) because it is completely pre-ordained. Don't worry how you drive. God will use the mayhem in your wake for his glory. (Boy do I need to listen to myself sometimes!!)

I don't think it says that. It does say that He causes things to work together for good for those that love Him. But that is not the same as saying He causes the things. I think that the better English phrase would be that God uses all things for good for those that love him. He doesn't necessarily cause them. He just causes what we give him to work out for ultimate good.
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Old 07-24-2015, 04:54 PM   #115
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I don't think it says that. It does say that He causes things to work together for good for those that love Him. But that is not the same as saying He causes the things. I think that the better English phrase would be that God uses all things for good for those that love him. He doesn't necessarily cause them. He just causes what we give him to work out for ultimate good.
Right. If you love God then somehow he can use all your circumstances for your good. But that doesn't make them good, it makes him good.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:05 PM   #116
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Two points: first that I tried to make some of this explicit in the thread "The Asian Mind and the Western Mind", and elsewhere. It would be fun if someone like Zimmerman-Liu would come on this forum and mix it up with the hoi palloi, but it would probably be a bad career move, if she is trying to be seen as a serious scholar and an academic.
Talking about the Asian mind, an interesting subject of debate to discuss using Asian culture utilized with a Biblical spin (covering Noah).
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:13 PM   #117
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What is loving your neighbor as yourself? What you mention here is potentially only a part of what you think would encompass that command. But it is not stated in that way.

I note that there are a lot of people that think of loving their neighbor only in terms of how they share the Word with them, preach the gospel to them, help them become more Christ-like, etc. .. it would seem that giving food to one of the "least of these" is part of loving neighbor. And Jesus didn't say that you should feed them and teach them some good teachings. Just feed them.

So why, when the discussion turns to loving your neighbor as yourself, does our talk turn to preaching the gospel or sharing the Word? Seems that the command to "justice" is about food, shelter, and righteous interactions, not preaching and teaching. And surely the command to justice is a significant part of loving your neighbor as yourself.
Of course, Jesus gave actual food to actual people, not just Bible expositions. He healed actual sick people. But the giving and healing were not of themselves, but rather evidences of the coming kingdom of God which He incessantly proclaimed. So what I do is point to the Healer and Giver. I myself am not so much, but I do attempt to follow. And yes that involves doing things, as well, or at least trying.

But Jesus' focus was on the Father's kingdom. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done", and "Thy will be done not Mine" were his speaking. Likewise as Paul said, we don't preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.

Simply put, this is what interests me. Something else may interest someone else. So I selfishly pursue my joy, and if I get too much then I share my joy, and that is to see Jesus Christ, without which food or shelter would be plain things, indeed.

But speaking without works, or without substance, is bland as well. Yet what works I do, merely give motive force to the speaking - the works are for the speaking and the speaking is for the kingdom. "If you do not believe Me, believe the works themselves." Because the works are speaking forth the arrival of the Father's kingdom.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:14 PM   #118
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But that's not license to say "It doesn't matter what I do because God will use it for good." In the first place, that attitude doesn't show love for God, and in the second place it, if taken to the nth degree, says there's essentially no difference between good and evil--or even that evil is in some way superior to good.

For example, suppose a terrorist bombs a shop. No one is killed, but several are maimed. Through their suffering and the extenuating circumstances, all the maimed come to Christ. Fast forward to judgment. The terrorist stands before God and says, "Look God, these people would not have been saved if I hadn't bombed that shop."
This is definitely an attitude prevalent in the GLA. Whenever a brother addresses wrongdoings by the leadership, the plaintiff will be interrogated, "but did you gain Christ?" As if one's grace justifies all they do. If one furthers his complaint, one might hear a little mockery, "Ohhh, do you have an ouchy?" Or they might just hit you like a soldier, "Man up, be a man, and take your lumps!" But never will there ever be an apology.

They might say all things work for my good by preparing me for all the insults this forum dishes out from time to time.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:33 PM   #119
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Talking about the Asian mind, an interesting subject of debate to discuss using Asian culture utilized with a Biblical spin (covering Noah).
Exactly. Guanxi, with a Bible verse or two, becomes "covering Noah". We cannot let the Oracle lose face. Right?

From Wikipedia: "Reciprocal favors are the key factor to maintaining one’s guanxi web, failure to reciprocate is considered an unforgivable offense." I don't think it's too much to wonder, if the blood of Christ can even overcome cultural dictates, here. These social expectations are deeply ingrained and not questioned. They are implicit in the system itself.

How much of the lens of culture dictated what was 'normal' in Watchman Nee's supposedly normal Christian Church life? None? Was he really that good? Even that he was so good a scholar as to produce a scheme without flaw is a culturally derived notion.

And so on. The idea that engineering, or ordering society to further the harmonious operation of the whole didn't take off in the bourgeois German or French societies but with the Russians and Chinese. And when the Russian variant imploded (and with it the Czech, [East] German, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, etc etc) the Chinese model still soldiered on. Why? Perhaps partly because the harmonious function of the Mother Ship was as intrinsic as breathing in the Eastern mind, as necessary as "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in the Western one.

So Nee & Lee took Paul's idea of setting things in order in the church into the Asian mind, and then exported it as the new universal norm. When Nee said, "Line up with the person in front of you" and when Lee said, "All local churches should be exactly identical" this was culture speaking through religion. Occasionally, when they can't find a Bible verse, they just give you the maxim: "The age of Spiritual Giants is over. It is now the age of the Small Potatoes." Why - because the harmonious functioning of the Mother Ship dictates that it be so.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:39 PM   #120
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This is definitely an attitude prevalent in the GLA. Whenever a brother addresses wrongdoings by the leadership, the plaintiff will be interrogated, "but did you gain Christ?" As if one's grace justifies all they do.
Conversely, WL could ask the Shanghai elders how they felt when they expelled Nee for wrongdoing. The problem to WL wasn't Nee's sins, but that the elders broke the social code by exposing the Maximum Leader and causing him to lose face. How did that feel to them, he wondered? Their newly deceased God, here, wasn't the God of the Bible but of social harmony. They had violated the code and then they'd felt bad. So their conscience was used against them: they had sinned, not Nee. They had rebelled against God's deputy.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:44 PM   #121
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Occasionally, when they can't find a Bible verse, they just give you the maxim: "The age of Spiritual Giants is over. It is now the age of the Small Potatoes." Why - because the harmonious functioning of the Mother Ship dictates that it be so.
But how does this look in the USA? When the True Believer Caucasians like BP, RG, MP, KR, RK, and EM pursue the building of the Mothership and dismiss things like basic human rights, respect, due process, and objective truth, it looks cultic.
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Old 07-25-2015, 07:50 AM   #122
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But how does this look in the USA? When the True Believer Caucasians like BP, RG, MP, KR, RK, and EM pursue the building of the Mothership and dismiss things like basic human rights, respect, due process, and objective truth, it looks cultic.
I understand Witness Lee and his 'collectivism-groupthink" but for the life of me don't understand that of BP, RG, MP, KR, and RK.
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:55 AM   #123
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I understand Witness Lee and his 'collectivism-groupthink" but for the life of me don't understand that of BP, RG, MP, KR, and RK.
Being brothers, I cannot understand their blatant disregard. Aside from being brothers I can only identify the fleshly nature of personal ambition and financial support LSM provides.
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:50 PM   #124
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But Jesus' focus was on the Father's kingdom. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done", and "Thy will be done not Mine" were his speaking. Likewise as Paul said, we don't preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.
So what is the kingdom? Spirituality?

Or righteousness, peace, love, joy, justice, etc. All the things that go into bearing the image of God?
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Old 07-26-2015, 05:26 PM   #125
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So what is the kingdom?
The kingdom is to do the Father's will. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" is set up as two sides of the same coin. Just as "Love God" and "Love your neighbor" are.

Whether I live in the kingdom or not, I cannot say, but I do know what it is. The years have not been altogether vain.
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Old 07-27-2015, 05:45 AM   #126
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The kingdom is to do the Father's will. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" is set up as two sides of the same coin. Just as "Love God" and "Love your neighbor" are.
Expanded, I would say that a kingdom consists of a king and his subjects*. If the people are not subject then there is no kingdom. Therefore, we might view the kingdom as consisting of the king, his subjects, and the relations between them. The subjects obey and render honor and glory, and the king rules, and gives peace to the land.

Jesus was the Obedient Son: He was the Son of the King, the Man who went to the proverbial "far country" to receive for Himself a kingdom (Luke 19:12). He then became the King of kings and Lord of lords. The disciples were obedient to Him, and thus procured for themselves kingship as well. But our kingship is not to boss others around, but to exhibit self control, to hear and obey the Word of God, and to tell the forces of darkness which have usurped humankind that their day is over. In the name of Jesus, they must depart. They must now and henceforth release the enslaved human race.

A story on obedience: once Jesus told Peter to do something really stupid. But Peter obeyed, because of his relationship with Jesus. I bet he felt dumb, going down to the seashore and casting a hook into the water. What a dumb way to get a coin! Peter, a fisherman, probably had never seen a fish with a coin in its mouth. Yet Jesus commanded, and Peter obeyed. It wasn't about a coin, or about fishing, or about the temple tax. It was about remaining in relationship with Jesus, just as Jesus continually remained in relationship with His Father in heaven.

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Whether I live in the kingdom or not, I cannot say, but I do know what it is. The years have not been altogether vain.
As a confessing Christian I do believe the rudiments of the faith. I have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, and thus I do hold myself as a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven. But how much I obey, and how much I live in the reality of my confession, the Father knows. I don't judge myself or others, but attempt to press on, while it is today.

*Of course that should be a regent, and his/her subjects. The English case is a good example: we have very successful queens such as Queen Elizabeth I and II, Queen Victoria, and so forth. But I'll keep it in the masculine here, according to the ideas of "Father" and "Son".
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:26 AM   #127
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The kingdom is to do the Father's will. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" is set up as two sides of the same coin. Just as "Love God" and "Love your neighbor" are.
I am glad that you provided a follow-on post because "to do the Father's will" is, at some level, about as vague as we can get.

Seems that "love God and lover your neighbor" is a better definition, although it is still within "do the Father's will."

And what we do together in the setting of a meeting can, at best, only deal with one of those commandments to love. And even that one can be missed in that setting. This is why I have been so strong concerning the practical aspects of righteousness, justice, joy, peace, love, etc., outside of meetings because if we are getting this part wrong, it is likely that we are getting the meeting parts wrong as well. We may say all the right "you are lord and king" stuff and declare that we love him. But if we don't continue it into loving neighbor as self, it was probably just window dressing.

Surely doing all the outward stuff without God is meaningless. But how often do any of us do the outward stuff even with God? I suspect that actually doing the outward stuff would tend to be pretty good evidence that it is "with God." No need to point at the amount of quiet time or the involvement in meeting stuff. It must be enough if we are actually managing to do the outward stuff. Otherwise we would probably be falling flat on our faces. Meanwhile, too many still focus on getting all the "inward" stuff right and hope that it will some day manifest itself in the outward. But not a single step in that direction in the mean time.
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:52 AM   #128
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This is definitely an attitude prevalent in the GLA. Whenever a brother addresses wrongdoings by the leadership, the plaintiff will be interrogated, "but did you gain Christ?" As if one's grace justifies all they do. If one furthers his complaint, one might hear a little mockery, "Ohhh, do you have an ouchy?" Or they might just hit you like a soldier, "Man up, be a man, and take your lumps!" But never will there ever be an apology.
Yeah, that's nothing but a cop-out. That's Bad Parenting 101. How many parents refuse to apologize to their kids because they think that "even when I'm wrong I'm right"? It's an utterly stupid attitude and really has nothing to do with the good of the other and everything to do with trying to feel good about some thing that was bad.
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Old 07-27-2015, 01:03 PM   #129
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Yeah, that's nothing but a cop-out. That's Bad Parenting 101. How many parents refuse to apologize to their kids because they think that "even when I'm wrong I'm right"? It's an utterly stupid attitude and really has nothing to do with the good of the other and everything to do with trying to feel good about some thing that was bad.
Bad Parenting 101. Bad Management 101. Bad Shepherding 101. Bad Friendship 101. Bad Marriage 101.

Yet that was the system that shaped us. Unfortunately, the LC leadership had a negative impact on many areas of our lives.
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Old 07-27-2015, 01:16 PM   #130
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What's the relationship (if any) between the Church of the Almighty God, Eastern Lightening, and the Shouters in China?

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/china-jail...074520255.html
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:00 PM   #131
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What's the relationship (if any) between the Church of the Almighty God, Eastern Lightening, and the Shouters in China?

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/china-jail...074520255.html
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One branch of the Shouters held Witness Lee in such high esteem that they began to regard his authority and status as greater than Christ’s.[16] They called Witness Lee, “Lord Changshou” [17] (Changshou is Witness Lee’s given name).
http://www.facts.org.cn/ebook/201310...11_1137654.htm

In March 1989, Mr. Zhao was made head of the Changshou sect in Heilongjiang and was named “Lord of Power”. He Zhexun was made the Leader of the Hengshan Church (a Shouter church).

At the end of 1990 because of pressure from the public security authorities and other reasons, the Changshou sect was broken up. Mr. Zhao saw his opportunity and sent some of his core people to various Changshou sect areas and got those believers to believe in the Lord of Power (that is, himself) instead of Witness Lee. He wrote his own tract, called “Preaching the Word”. Under this tract’s influence, his followers gave up the Bible and Witness Lee’s Life-Study of the Bible.
http://www.chinasource.org/resource-...ders-come-from
My understanding is that "the Shouters" is a somewhat generic term that has been used to describe members of various underground churches in China, but most commonly, members of the local church movement. As Nigel points out, LSM vehemently denies any linkage whatsoever, and given the fact that there are numerous sources on the internet that say otherwise, it raises the question of what are they trying to hide.

Part of the answer to that question can be found in the snippets I provided above. An offshoot of the Shouters, called the "Changshou sect" gave rise to "Mr. Zhao" who was involved with starting the Eastern Lightning (aka Church of the Almighty God). Obviously, this kind of connection is a little too close for comfort. The DCP site even admits that they received correspondence from "concerned" saints in LC after the Eastern Lightning McDonalds incident happened a year or so ago. LCers are not completely naive, they know when something stinks, and why would they have inquired of the connection if there was none in the first place?
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:36 PM   #132
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Surely doing all the outward stuff without God is meaningless. But how often do any of us do the outward stuff even with God? I suspect that actually doing the outward stuff would tend to be pretty good evidence that it is "with God."
Faith without works is dead, as are works independent of God. But Jesus' works were living and operative, because everything that He did was according to the Father's will. Everything was in obedience. Nothing was done apart from the Father - there was no delay, no remonstration, no false promise, no half-hearted gestures, no defiance. Everything He did was one with the Father in heaven. Surely the gates of heaven were open, and angels were ascending and descending.

So it is not works per se, but obedience which resulted in works. It was not merely faith but faithfulness, i.e. continual abiding in the reality of the Father's will. The Father may say, "Speak", or "Be silent", and either one is an opportunity to obey and be one with God.

At its core the gospel record is very simple. There was a Man on earth, wholly one with Father God in heaven. All the rest is just details. Marvelous, wonderful details. "And if all the things Jesus did were written, I suppose the world itself could not contain all the books."
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:45 PM   #133
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Another interesting point about Chinese culture in the history of the formation of the Local Church: the trial of Watchman Nee. Some observers pointed out that Nee confessed, when asked at trial, that the pornography was produced by him; they then said that this was akin to proof of his guilt. But my reply was to ask, How many people on trial in China, in say 1952-1967, pled not guilty, got a lawyer or made some defense, fought the charges and were exonerated? I doubt many, if any at all. Once you were accused by the state, that was it - harmonious social order required that the state prevail. To fight the state would be unthinkable.

Watchman Nee on trial found himself caught by the same system he once presided over: you have to get in line with those before you. In this case it was the prosecuting agent on behalf of the state, or the Chinese people. Once Nee had been the authorized (in his eyes, anyway) agent on behalf of the church, i.e. the deputy God, and now the will of the Collective was manifested as the State, or the People, and Nee had to yield its authorized representatives. Right and wrong, truth and evidence, were irrelevant: the harmonious functioning of the Collective demanded complete subservience. Nee now found himself on the wrong side of "Authority and Submission", the secular version, and had no choice but to comply.

In both cases culture (the collective ordering through shared expectations and values) drove the proceedings. In in the formation of the Little Flock movement, in Nee's supposedly "normal church", it was religious, and in the other case it was supposedly the will of the proletariat. But in both cases the harmonious functioning of society depended on the will of the individual being subsumed by that of the collective. In both cases established culture ruled; in neither case was there any opportunity to deviate.
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Old 07-27-2015, 03:42 PM   #134
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Another interesting point about Chinese culture in the history of the formation of the Local Church: the trial of Watchman Nee. Some observers pointed out that Nee confessed, when asked at trial, that the pornography was produced by him; they then said that this was akin to proof of his guilt. But my reply was to ask, How many people on trial in China, in say 1952-1967, pled not guilty, got a lawyer or made some defense, fought the charges and were exonerated? I doubt many, if any at all. Once you were accused by the state, that was it - harmonious social order required that the state prevail. To fight the state would be unthinkable.

Watchman Nee on trial found himself caught by the same system he once presided over: you have to get in line with those before you. In this case it was the prosecuting agent on behalf of the state, or the Chinese people. Once Nee had been the authorized (in his eyes, anyway) agent on behalf of the church, i.e. the deputy God, and now the will of the Collective was manifested as the State, or the People, and Nee had to yield its authorized representatives. Right and wrong, truth and evidence, were irrelevant: the harmonious functioning of the Collective demanded complete subservience. Nee now found himself on the wrong side of "Authority and Submission", the secular version, and had no choice but to comply.

In both cases culture (the collective ordering through shared expectations and values) drove the proceedings. In in the formation of the Little Flock movement, in Nee's supposedly "normal church", it was religious, and in the other case it was supposedly the will of the proletariat. But in both cases the harmonious functioning of society depended on the will of the individual being subsumed by that of the collective. In both cases established culture ruled; in neither case was there any opportunity to deviate.
Yes, but there is some second-hand evidence that does not involve the Chinese Communist government that supports the fact that what he was accused of was true. So even though falsehoods may not have been defended against, it does not therefore follow that charges were all necessarily false.

And even the fact of second-hand evidence does not make the charges true. Neither does it make them false. Yet it does make the charge more credible. And takes a hard-to-swallow charge for the cause of Nee's excommunication earlier and gives it much more credibility as being exactly what it was said to have been (no Communist government involvement there). That he was carrying on in an immoral manner with a woman not his wife.

And it makes that story told by Lee that called all the elders in Shanghai to be ignorant and stupid for charging Nee with immorality into itself a stupid and ignorant story. Well, maybe it is more like it made us (previously) into stupid and ignorant people to think that the ones who were there could fabricate something so ridiculous as living in the same house with his mother or an aunt was somehow immoral. Those elders weren't stupid. We were for buying Lee's ridiculous fable.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:18 PM   #135
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I understand that my views are simplistic here, but I see all LC problems based on Acts 20.30, as Paul warned Ephesus with tears.

Those "early days" were notable because we were Christ-centered, and focused on the word of God. Despite our problems, it was a life-changing for many of us in positive ways. Lee, however, along with his minions demanded all the perks and glories of God's blessings. As Lee steadily rose in prominence, accompanied by storms and quarantines, all the positives vanished. Today we merely have a shell of the reality once enjoyed, but that does not mean that our reality was flawed, only that those who remained have chosen not to heed Paul's warning.
I can somewhat agree with this post but. Looking back over my forty years and possibly learning of Lee ten or so years Pryor, I have great concerns about our church life of the sixties of which I had no part. Had I known I was joining a group that was headed up by the only apostle of the 20th century, I don't believe I would have come in.

Having been completely out only two a half years, I get clearer and clearer as time goes on that we were just plain conned.

The first thing that attracted us was the "today and this week" enjoyment of our salvation. Years down the road this kind of testimony was to be belittled.
Early, 'we were just for the pure word of God. This got badly derailed as WL chose what was God's economy.

I for years knew the term 'garlic room' but never heard it spoken of so much. Why? We were being ushered into the garlic room and never to say anything about it. The garlic room was 'out there'.
They have hirelings 'out there'. Our elders all have jobs. We never take an offering. One has to ask how to contribute. Not that long ago, two brothers came to Dallas to raise money for the new property in Boston. Their first words were we are not here for the money. Huh? What kind of idiots did they think we were?
WL is a lowly bond slave of the Lord an by extension so are the BBs. They care for 75 millions of dollars of real estate. A slave? Excommunicate churches thousands of miles away? A slave?

This is just plain evil and it is hard for me to believe it didn't start a long time ago. Paul said, "From among you will come wolves." I do think it is obviously wolves in sheep's clothing. WL was such a soft speaking fellow. I heard of elder's meetings where the real Lee stood up. We sheeple only heard the Lee who began to be transformed by his sister close to the time of his conversion.

The horrible part of it all, are we all the same way. At this stage in the game, I don't trust BP, RG, RK, MC or who? I trust my present minister more than the BBs and I don't feel so good about that.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:38 AM   #136
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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Yes, but there is some second-hand evidence that does not involve the Chinese Communist government that supports the fact that what he was accused of was true. So even though falsehoods may not have been defended against, it does not therefore follow that charges were all necessarily false.
I didn't mean to infer that the evidence of the Chinese Communist government was false, or irrelevant. Just trying to show that a confession in Chinese court was de rigueur (required by fashion, custom, or etiquette). And that should be remembered when we say, "He confessed!"

But the larger point was that, just as WL ran a kangaroo court on Jane Anderson and John Ingalls, in which accusation was tantamount to fact, so also did WN get it from the Commies. And for the same reason: harmonious functioning of the social order demands complete submission to the face of social authority. The Big Boss wants you taken down, and so you go down. Due process is irrelevant.

I must repeat my word at the beginning of the "Asian Mind and the Western Mind" thread: Western culture is not superior to Asian culture. The Chinese method of social arrangement has a 5,000 year history, so they say - then it must have some utility.

The dilemma here is not Asian culture, but that we don't see it and recognize it for what it is in the LC movement. Then the issues it engenders, when superimposed upon Western culture, morals, and values become a perennial source of confusion, frustration, and misunderstanding. In my case, I misunderstood Chinese ways for Biblical spirituality, and attempted to follow them in the LC "church life". But eventually I found out that where the LC church life and the Bible didn't coincide, the LC church life won, every time.
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And it makes that story told by Lee that called all the elders in Shanghai to be ignorant and stupid for charging Nee with immorality into itself a stupid and ignorant story. Well, maybe it is more like it made us (previously) into stupid and ignorant people to think that the ones who were there could fabricate something so ridiculous as living in the same house with his mother or an aunt was somehow immoral. Those elders weren't stupid. We were for buying Lee's ridiculous fable.
We had to buy the ridiculous fable because "good order in the church" demanded it. You don't want to go against the Big Boss, do you? Even today, in the PRC you can get fired for criticizing Mao, 40 years after his death. Culture, my friend. Culture.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:52 AM   #137
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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I am glad that you provided a follow-on post because "to do the Father's will" is, at some level, about as vague as we can get.

Seems that "love God and lover your neighbor" is a better definition, although it is still within "do the Father's will."

And what we do together in the setting of a meeting can, at best, only deal with one of those commandments to love. And even that one can be missed in that setting. This is why I have been so strong concerning the practical aspects of righteousness, justice, joy, peace, love, etc., outside of meetings because if we are getting this part wrong, it is likely that we are getting the meeting parts wrong as well.
"Love your neighbor" is also vague. We can come to the meetings, and declare, "How we love our neighbors!!", while we ignore them, or badmouth them. Funny, now that I think of it, that's the LC, isn't it? "We love everyone, but since they're not on the proper ground we can't have anything to do with them, except point out all their flaws."

Jesus wasn't a Bible teacher who sat in a corner and taught a few acolytes. He got on the street and radically changed lives. Lives that seemed unchangeable. He not only fed with the bread that perishes, but the bread that comes down out of heaven. He not only healed bodies but healed souls. He mended both flesh and psyche.

He didn't sit in a closet and have an "inner life" that was in continual communion with the Father, but had this communion continue on the street. Yes it drew its source in the quiet time. The record is clear. Yet, the result of this quiet time was seen in the market, and the homes, and the highways and byways of the world.

The real love is to love those who can't love you back. And the real work is to do the Father's will. And both of these are found in the person of Jesus Christ. Our job, as disciples, is to announce this One, preaching and teaching to every man and woman, both small and great. Along the way there are also "works", yes; the works prove the ministry. And obedience proves the relation with the Father, just as with Jesus. "If you don't believe my words, then believe the works that I do. This shows that I came forth from the Father."
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Old 07-28-2015, 01:49 PM   #138
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

Actually, I don't find it to be that vague. It seems that we may not always like what it obviously says, so we qualify it to death. We insist that "tough love" is what the world (and poor mooing-cow Christianity) deserves. But that is sort of like where Jesus mentioned that some chose to claim to set their money aside to the Temple (or something like that) so they could avoid their commanded task of caring for their aging parents. It is something that "was not from the beginning" used to avoid what actually was.

It is the ultimate picture of a hypocrite. Trying and failing is not being a hypocrite. But failing to try while putting on the airs of someone who is achieving is.

And saying you love your neighbors in meetings is pointless. It doesn't matter what you say. Only what you do. And ignoring them, badmouthing them, or just being cold and unrighteous toward them is evidence of your love, or lack thereof. A declaration in a meeting is nothing. Sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

I would take your "real love" further. Real love is to actually love everyone. Even those who rightly deserve and get society's censure. (And you don't have to say they shouldn't get that censure to still be loving them.)

Not just those you want to love. Everyone. The lovely and the unlovely.
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Old 07-28-2015, 04:22 PM   #139
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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And saying you love your neighbors in meetings is pointless. It doesn't matter what you say. Only what you do.

I would take your "real love" further. Real love is to actually love everyone. Even those who rightly deserve and get society's censure. (And you don't have to say they shouldn't get that censure to still be loving them.)

Not just those you want to love. Everyone. The lovely and the unlovely.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people." -- GKC

Talk is cheap, but when your neighbors become your enemies, then everything gets exposed to the light of day.
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:34 PM   #140
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"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people." -- GKC

Talk is cheap, but when your neighbors become your enemies, then everything gets exposed to the light of day.
Hey bro Ohio, who is GKC?
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Old 07-28-2015, 05:46 PM   #141
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Hey bro Ohio, who is GKC?
Chesterton.
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Old 07-28-2015, 06:13 PM   #142
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Chesterton.
Thanks Aron. I Googled him and I think I'll read some of his stuff.
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Old 08-02-2015, 06:17 AM   #143
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"Love your neighbor" is also vague. We can come to the meetings, and declare, "How we love our neighbors!!", while we ignore them, or badmouth them. Funny, now that I think of it, that's the LC, isn't it? "We love everyone, but since they're not on the proper ground we can't have anything to do with them, except point out all their flaws."

Jesus wasn't a Bible teacher who sat in a corner and taught a few acolytes. He got on the street and radically changed lives. Lives that seemed unchangeable. He not only fed with the bread that perishes, but the bread that comes down out of heaven. He not only healed bodies but healed souls. He mended both flesh and psyche.

He didn't sit in a closet and have an "inner life" that was in continual communion with the Father, but had this communion continue on the street. Yes it drew its source in the quiet time. The record is clear. Yet, the result of this quiet time was seen in the market, and the homes, and the highways and byways of the world.

The real love is to love those who can't love you back. And the real work is to do the Father's will. And both of these are found in the person of Jesus Christ. Our job, as disciples, is to announce this One, preaching and teaching to every man and woman, both small and great. Along the way there are also "works", yes; the works prove the ministry. And obedience proves the relation with the Father, just as with Jesus. "If you don't believe my words, then believe the works that I do. This shows that I came forth from the Father."
Jesus also loved the people of his day by telling the truth. Telling the truth eventually led to his own demise. This is self-sacrificing love. Even today, if you tell the truth, it can get you buried...it's not "PC". Just as then, many times people today don't want to hear the truth...as though the truth can be altered by the willful ignorance of men.

Truth cannot be bent by the will of men. Sometimes, the truth hurts, yet the greatest love is to tell the truth, because, the truth will set you free. Telling the truth is not an option. It's mandatory. You may pay a price, but not telling your brother the truth is to hate him.

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Old 08-03-2015, 06:38 AM   #144
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Jesus also loved the people of his day by telling the truth. ... Sometimes, the truth hurts, yet the greatest love is to tell the truth, because, the truth will set you free.
What is the truth? A readily agreed-upon set of facts which has been tested by history. It isn't too much to say that once there was a distinct people, the Jews, whose cultural, political, economic, and religious life was centered in a city called Jerusalem. Archeological excavations have shown the various gates and walls used in the city, as well as the aqueducts supplying water. Roman and Assyrian stele prominently show captured Jewish religious symbols, providing independent verification of the existence of this people and its culture.

This people had books, parchments which outlined their religious activities. Recent discoveries in the Judean desert have verified the antiquity of these writings.

https://global.oup.com/academic/cont...?cc=fr&lang=en

Oxford university press is a respected scholarly publisher, and they (among many others) have ample studies on Jewish religious thought and practices of the late classical period. One of those Jewish ideas, looming increasingly large under centuries of foreign domination, was the idea of an Israelite King, or Messiah, who'd rise up to rule unchallenged, and would restore Israel to its former glory. This leader was to be a great religious or spiritual figure, whose power came from a unique and even unparalleled relationship with God, and who was thus to be the clear leader in temporal (earthly, political, or societal) matters as well. With a strong central control, peace and prosperity would be established in the land; God would be glorified and humanity would be restored to a place of promised blessedness.

Isaiah 11:6,7 "And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox..." We can't say it's "truth" that these scriptures fed what a fervent expectation of the Jewish people under Roman rule, but most scholars feel that there was an discussion going on amongst religious, political and social thought of the day, referencing a Messianic Expectation amongst the general populace.

And now we come to the story of Jesus the Nazarene, either a remarkable, multi-part forgery or a narrative with some historical truth woven into it. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Was He really born of a virgin and the Holy Ghost? Certainly there's debate on many quarters, but a consensus remains that a narrative of this Person emerged relatively early in respect to the facts which it purports to convey. In other words we have a number of first-person accounts which are independently verified. The apostle Paul, for instance; nobody that I'm aware of pretends that Paul the actual person or character was a forgery. And Paul in his writing claims to have seen the disciples who were themselves witnesses of Jesus. Certainly some of Paul's epistolary writings may have been redacted or editorialized or even forged (i.e. written by someone else in the name of Paul), but the great mass of evidence points to a real man who was quite active, both in work and in writing, much of which writing survives today (note, by contrast, that his epistle to the Laodiceans apparently didn't survive [Col 4:16]).

All of which says what? To me, it says that there's a lot of truth to work with here. Surely there's grey area around the edges, as well as blank spots, and possible blind alley-ways and gaps. But the great mass of work testifies to a simple narrative: that many people, either concurrent with or close to the event in question, believed that the God who created heaven and earth loved us so much that He sent His only-begotten Son, that we might be saved and have eternal life in His name.

Etc, etc... the rest is just details. Where the 'cult' appellation comes in (and many have come in), is by significantly departing from the agreed-upon narrative, either by inserting something that fundamentally changes its message, or likewise by removing things. So we ask, to what extent did the influence of Chinese culture on the formation of the thought and practice of this particular Christian group contribute to its spectacular growth in Mainland China in the 1930s, its successful introduction to post-war USA, and the various "storms" and "turmoils" and "rebellions" which followed? I think the answer is "quite a bit"; this is of course an opinion, and not buttressed by much objective observation, i.e. what we'd call "facts." But it's encouraging that someone like Teresa Zimmerman-Liu is trying to take this on: how much of this Chinese-flavored Christian narrative, when transposed upon Western society, will seem strange, and alien, or 'cultic' versus 'spiritual' or 'biblically-based'?

I'd encourage our readers to question and to challenge. Don't take the earnest assurance and bland repetition of your source as the equivalent of certitude, or "truth", or "facts". Test all things and hold to what is good. If your church leaders say that asking questions is akin to rebellion, what is it that they're so threatened by? Why does asking questions constitute such a formidable challenge to the established authority? What is that established authority built upon that it apparently can't survive even the most feeble or tentative probings?

I'd also encourage folks to seek multiple accounts, or sources, before assigning something to the realm of actual existence or reality. And if your source insists that you shouldn't listen to anyone else, because everyone else is either delusional or a liar, what does that say about your source? Why are they so threatened by the idea of independent verification?

For example, if someone says "We have no opinions here in the church", that leads me to wonder, Isn't that statement itself a kind of subjective assessment or opinion? And what's the cultural norm which might engender such opinion, and make it seem equivalent to reality or "truth" itself, and then allow it to be exported and flourish as a social norm? Does group cohesion require such an idea? It clearly didn't emerge in a vacuum - an idea has both a genesis and a history.

This is where contemporary scholars, such as sociologists, can come in and shed light. And I believe it would do a service to us all. We can speculate, and wonder out loud, and even offer hypotheses, but someone has to do the hard work (and it's hard work, even drudgery), to sort through the mass of social detritus and find out what actually happened that brought us all here today.
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:01 AM   #145
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Default Watchman Nee and his ministry emerges in China

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What is the truth? A readily agreed-upon set of facts which has been tested by history...
Psalm 19:12 says, But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. (NIV)

Psalm 19 says that we cannot perceive our own errors; in this vein, perhaps, WL said that he and his church group were free from all taint of human culture, while yet still immersed in it. Subjective self-assessment, always partly flawed, needs the help of objective witness; we need outsiders to help us to see our own quirks, foibles, and biases. Our cultural presuppositions may cause uncritical acceptance, and promote things which others might not, and their rejection or modification of our message might not mean that they're "dark" or "twisted" but rather that God can use their different perspective to shine light on our own journey.

Back to Jesus the Nazarene, there is an interesting quote when they came down from the mountain transfiguration scene in Matthew 17. He speaks of His rising from the dead, and verse 10 says, The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” The teachers of the law were talking about God's Christ, or Messiah. They taught that Elijah would come first, making straight the paths and declaring the Great Day of the LORD, and then Messiah would appear in glory, and then the age would turn. So the expectation of Messianic rescue was already there in the community. Therefore we can say that Jesus didn't come into a spiritual or conceptual vacuum, but rather came into one in which conjectures of His person and role were already becoming established.

Thus, even if one may not believe into Jesus as God's Christ, and the Savior of the world, one can still accept as "truth" (established historical fact) that the Second Temple-era Jews were expecting divine deliverance in the person of a "Teacher of Righteousness", and from this cultural backdrop came our present written narrative of Jesus the Nazarene. Likewise, it might be instructive to look at the cultural milieu in early 20th century China which saw the emergence of the ministry of Watchman Nee, and his Little Flock movement. The recent Boxer rebellion was fresh on everyone's minds, and there was general and widespread resentment against Western (Barbarian) imperialism, i.e. the "foriegn devils". Lo and behold "God raised up" Watchman Nee to continue the narrative.

The Little Flock started out an indigenous Asian reaction to Western imperialist domination. Later, it became so successful that it was exported as an Asian imperialist venture itself, with both the pleasures ('new') and perils ('strange', even 'cultic') that such cultural crossovers entail. But there's no actual contradiction to the apparent reversal (a reaction to imperialism becoming imperialistic itself) if you realize that it was always in line with its cultural imperatives. Human culture possibly explains a lot here.
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:46 AM   #146
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We reject LSM’s claims of impotence. The ‘cult’ stigma remains, not because LSM is unable to do anything, but because they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in teachings and practices. LSM’s local churches exhibit traits commonly associated with cults, hence they are often taken to be such. The cult stigma has seriously compromised the Local Church ‘brand’ in both the East and the West, and it is not going away anytime soon.
This is a very good point. It is something all LC leaders need to read. Virtually all LCers are aware of the cult label, so it never ceases to amaze me that they wouldn't be concerned about various teachings and practices that would lead people to believe that the LC is a cult.

There are so many things that leaders could change in the LC help people view it as an average Christian group rather than a cultic one. Do they make these changes? Nope. Instead, they choose to sue for their reputation (which hasn't worked out too well for them). Consider this: while they were suing Harvest House to supposedly improve their reputation, they introduced their latest cultic practice, the One Publication. It seems pretty clear that they have no interest in making any changes . Everything has to be on their own terms.
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Old 08-14-2015, 10:18 AM   #147
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This is a very good point. It is something all LC leaders need to read. Virtually all LCers are aware of the cult label, so it never ceases to amaze me that they wouldn't be concerned about various teachings and practices that would lead people to believe that the LC is a cult.

There are so many things that leaders could change in the LC help people view it as an average Christian group rather than a cultic one. Do they make these changes? Nope. Instead, they choose to sue for their reputation (which hasn't worked out too well for them). Consider this: while they were suing Harvest House to supposedly improve their reputation, they introduced their latest cultic practice, the One Publication. It seems pretty clear that they have no interest in making any changes . Everything has to be on their own terms.
The lawsuit was cultic in and of itself. They only proved that they are a cult.
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Old 08-14-2015, 10:49 AM   #148
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What is the truth? A readily agreed-upon set of facts which has been tested by history...
If I understand you correctly, I'm not sure how you arrived at this statement, but it cannot stand alone as an accurate definition of "truth".

Just because people agree on a set of "facts" doesn't mean a matter is true. The test of history can also be skewed. History is frequently "rewritten" to suit men's desire to promote a cause. In other words, politics.

Truth is absolute and not subject to the opinions of men. Truth is not bent by men's relationship, agreement or disagreement to it. As Christians we believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and as such is the bedrock of Truth. Man is fallen. As such there must be a standard apart from fallen man, and that standard is God's Word.

This is my definition of truth.

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Old 08-14-2015, 06:56 PM   #149
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There are so many things that leaders could change in the LC help people view it as an average Christian group rather than a cultic one. Do they make these changes? Nope. Instead, they choose to sue for their reputation (which hasn't worked out too well for them). Consider this: while they were suing Harvest House to supposedly improve their reputation, they introduced their latest cultic practice, the One Publication. It seems pretty clear that they have no interest in making any changes . Everything has to be on their own terms.
In the matter of Harvest House lawsuit one agreed upon opinion is one side was willing to come to the table of fellowship and the other side wouldn't respond. Each LSM and Harvest House claimed to be willing to come to the table of fellowship. It's a matter whose opinion are you willing to accept as believable.

There are things LSM-affiliated local churches can do that shirk off the cultic label. The drawback is the LSM/LC would lose their uniqueness. Problem is to take those steps, they would be just another church.
Ironically that's the image LSM wants to present publically, but internally the LSM projects the local churches as where the overcomers will be produced.
They regard the Body of Christ being composed of brothers and sisters meeting with the local churches. LSM affiliated of course.
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:19 PM   #150
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There are things LSM-affiliated local churches can do that shirk off the cultic label. The drawback is the LSM/LC would lose their uniqueness. Problem is to take those steps, they would be just another church.
Ironically that's the image LSM wants to present publically, but internally the LSM projects the local churches as where the overcomers will be produced.
They regard the Body of Christ being composed of brothers and sisters meeting with the local churches. LSM affiliated of course.
I think any notion of throwing out things that are part of their "uniqueness" is of big concern to them. If they throw enough things out the window, they become like everyone else, just an average group. If it wasn't for the notion that the LC contains God's remnant, I'm sure many would have left for other groups already. I mean the meetings are boring, dry, and feel like a time capsule from 50 years ago.
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:24 PM   #151
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The lawsuit was cultic in and of itself. They only proved that they are a cult.
They have attained the same notoriety as other litigious religious groups like Scientology. I would hope that LCers wouldn't be delusional enough to believe they actually improved their image. I know for a fact that giving people the CRI journal to read hasn't worked out so well to "inoculate" new members. They still run away quickly, as they should.
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Old 08-15-2015, 12:02 AM   #152
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I know for a fact that giving people the CRI journal to read hasn't worked out so well to "inoculate" new members.
As if CRI should offer instant credibility and negate any concerns and reservations one might have. On the contrary CRI never did any thing to offer regarding LC practices. These practices in itself results in a series of concerns.
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Old 08-15-2015, 07:36 AM   #153
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They have attained the same notoriety as other litigious religious groups like Scientology. I would hope that LCers wouldn't be delusional enough to believe they actually improved their image. I know for a fact that giving people the CRI journal to read hasn't worked out so well to "inoculate" new members. They still run away quickly, as they should.
The quarantine of Titus Chu began years before the actual event when he decided to instruct the GLA LC's not to participate in the Heritage House lawsuit.
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Old 08-15-2015, 09:38 AM   #154
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The quarantine of Titus Chu began years before the actual event when he decided to instruct the GLA LC's not to participate in the Heritage House lawsuit.
It just goes to show how twisted the system really is. It's one thing to initiate a lawsuit against other Christians, but to expect all affiliated churches to participate is really pushing it. I guess what happened with the GLA shows what happens to those who don't do what the blinded brothers tell them to.

I remember when the HH lawsuit was about to happen, some brothers came to the LC's in our area from some "tellowship" about the lawsuit. It was basically a rationalization of what they were doing. They lead us to believe they had exhausted other all avenues and had no choice but to treat HH as tax collectors. Everyone swallowed that narrative without question. It sickens me to think about it now. I remember going to prayer meetings praying that we would win the HH lawsuit. There was just such arrogance about us being right and everyone else being wrong. The Lord was going to vindicate us, or so we thought.

I know I've said this already, but I think CRI's support of the LC eclipsed the court throwing out the HH lawsuit. At the point in time where things didn't go the way that DCP expected them to, LCers should have began to question leaders: What was the purpose of this failed lawsuit? What about all the wasted money? What about the court rejecting the premise of the lawsuit? Those are important question that should have been asked. Yet, when it happened, it was just quietly swept under the run and everyone moved on, not discussing it any more. Everyone was so excited about CRI supporting the LC that all attention went to that.
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Old 08-15-2015, 10:26 AM   #155
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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What was the purpose of this failed lawsuit? What about all the wasted money?
Answer to both questions is an estimated 6 million US dollars.
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Old 08-15-2015, 10:33 AM   #156
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The quarantine of Titus Chu began years before the actual event when he decided to instruct the GLA LC's not to participate in the Heritage House lawsuit.
Perhaps, that was received by the blended brothers as Titus Chu's feeling as a member of the Body as being rebellious against the fellowship given by Blended coworkers.
Call it hearsay, leading elders from various localities were asked how much could their localities be counted on to "pledge" to the lawsuit. Nothing from the GLA localities? That's rebellion, but then again what ever happened to each local church's administration being local. Rather it seems a localities administration is merely a rubber stamp for the edicts of a publishing house.
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Old 08-15-2015, 12:48 PM   #157
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

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Perhaps, that was received by the blended brothers as Titus Chu's feeling as a member of the Body as being rebellious against the fellowship given by Blended coworkers.
Call it hearsay, leading elders from various localities were asked how much could their localities be counted on to "pledge" to the lawsuit. Nothing from the GLA localities? That's rebellion, but then again what ever happened to each local church's administration being local. Rather it seems a localities administration is merely a rubber stamp for the edicts of a publishing house.
The concept of "local" is today merely a ruse, and yes, absolutely loyalty is expected and demanded, even in the TC camp. Look what happened to John Myer.
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Old 08-31-2015, 11:48 AM   #158
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It seems to me that Nigel has some explaining to do.

He quotes, and makes much noise about, a passage in Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s draft article that was actually changed (and significantly so) in the final version, published in the online Journal of Church and State. Because the initial version, prepared for a meeting of the Western Political Science Association, was a work in progress, it clearly stated on the cover page, “Please do not cite or quote without the author’s permission.” Nonetheless, Nigel quoted it as follows:

“In the account of LSM leaders, around that time, overseas Local Church leaders sent two representatives to Dongyang in order to set up a local congregation there. However, Dongyang’s Christians did not welcome their arrival. Shortly thereafter, local TSPM and CCP leaders broke up the newly established Local Church congregation. Concurrently, a similar chain of events occurred in Dongwu county.” (emphasis added)

However, the final version reads:

“Around that time, TSPM leaders sent two representatives to Dongyang to set up a local chapter. However, Dongyang’s Christians did not welcome their arrival. Shortly thereafter, the TSPM representatives incited local cadres to violently break up various Christian meetings in the county. A similar chain of events occurred in Yiwu County, also in Zhejiang Province.” (emphasis added)

According to the final version of Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s article, two TSPM representatives went to Dongyang County to set up a local TSPM chapter. When they were not welcomed by the Christians there, they incited violent breakups of Christian meetings.

Evidently, the draft article was in error when it said that two overseas Local Church representatives set up an unwelcome congregation in Dongyang, so the authors made the correction. Note that the Wikipedia entry addressing these incidents, which Nigel attempts to discredit in footnote 41 of his article, supports the corrected version of Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s article. Nigel writes:

“We note that Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s (peer-reviewed) account attributes the source of precipitating events to the actions of “overseas Local Church leaders [who] sent two representatives to Dongyang in order to set up a local congregation” This contradicts the account in the Wikipedia entry “The Shouters” which states that “On February 14–16 [1982], two representatives of the TSPM [Three-Self Patriotic Movement—government approved agency] had visited Dongyang to set up a TSPM chapter there.” In this Wikipedia account “the TSPM” was seeking to establish “a TSPM chapter,” rather than “Local Church leaders” trying to establishing a “Local Church congregation” (as Zimmerman-Liu & Wright assert). This Wikipedia entry appears to suffer the problem of multiple, conflicting entries on a controversial issue and the lack of “quality control.” I find Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s account more credible.”

The “peer-reviewed” version of Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s article is the corrected, Journal of Church and State version posted online, not the one that Nigel quoted from. He was aware that the final version was available, but he chose instead to quote from the draft version, claiming “fair use” privileges despite the authors’ request that the draft version not be quoted without permission. Footnote 8 of his article reads:

“The quotes in the present piece are from the version “Prepared for delivery at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association Seattle, WA, April 17-19, 2014.” This paper is available on line at:http://wpsa.research.pdx.edu/papers/...14%20paper.pdf The final, published version appears in the Journal of Church & State, Advance Access May 5, 2015 Our quotations from T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright’s papers fall within the parameters of “fair use” for review purposes.”

So, I again suggest that Nigel has some explaining to do.
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Old 09-11-2015, 12:27 PM   #159
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

Response by Nigel Tomes
to the Post by “Unregistered Guest” 31 Aug. 2015

Dear “Unregistered Guest,”

Thank you for your response to my piece. Your comments (along with the posts of prior contributors to this thread) provide additional insights on the topic. I do not usually respond personally to comments on my articles. In this case, however, there are grounds to believe this comment originated from LSM’s Defense & Confirmation Project (DCP); plus the style and tone match those of DCP (in my view). Therefore, I shall respond in person.

1. Quoting for Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s draft article
You are correct in asserting that my article quotes & cites Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s draft article (April 2014), rather than the final published version (May, 2015). I made that fact clear in my article. Since the Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s draft article (upon which my piece was based) was available on-line for free, it was more accessible & affordable for Forum members than the final published version, priced at $30 US [$40 CAN]. Unlike LSM/DCP operatives most contributors to this Forum are not financed by an organization with substantial resources.

Since the draft version of Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s article correlates 99% with the final published version the draft’s “Please do not cite or quote...” request is abrogated upon publication. Your complaint on this score is misinformed; it is a typical of “red herrings” thrown out by DCP. As Witness Lee liked to say, “You are blowing the hair to find a fault.” I have not received any such complaint from the authors; I stand by the statement that my “quotations from T. Zimmerman-Liu & T. Wright’s papers fall within the parameters of ‘fair use’ for review purposes.”

2. Dongyang/Yiwu Incidents & the Shouters
Dear “Unregistered Guest,” your main point seems to be that the final, published version of Zimmerman-Liu/Wright’s article differs from the draft in its attribution of incidents at Dongyang/Yiwu in mainland China. The draft (which I quoted) said, “overseas Local Church leaders sent two representatives to Dongyang...to set up a local congregation there...” In contrast the published version (you quote) says, “TSPM leaders sent two representatives to Dongyang to set up a local chapter. However, Dongyang’s Christians did not welcome their arrival. Shortly thereafter, the TSPM representatives incited local cadres to violently break up various Christian meetings.”

I admit this difference escaped my notice. I thank you for pointing this out, and I stand corrected. This is the only substantive contribution of you post here. I would firstly ask: what are we to make of this discrepancy? Clearly, there are two competing accounts of events in China which (reportedly) served as a catalyst for the Chinese government’s crackdown of the “Shouters” sect associated with Witness Lee.

Zimmerman-Liu & Wright’s draft indicates that they were aware of reports that “overseas Local Church leaders [who] sent two representatives to Dongyang...to set up a local congregation...” Moreover, they attribute these reports to “the account of LSM leaders.” What did the LSM leaders tell the authors? Did the authors’ misunderstand? Did LSM’s leader misspeak? Presumably there is an audio recording somewhere of Teresa Zimmerman-Liu’s interviews with (unnamed) LSM’s leaders which might resolve this issue. I don’t have access to those recordings, if they still exist.

Secondly, I ask—what difference does the details of the Dongyang/Yiwu incident make? The overall facts are (as far as I know) not in dispute. As I wrote, Zimmerman-Liu/Wright state that after Chairman Mao’s death, “members of Local Church congregations outside China traveled to the mainland to seek out congregations that had gone underground during the Mao Era.” As a result of these efforts, “Local Church membership expanded quickly and dramatically, particularly in [China’s] inland areas.” Moreover, Zimmerman-Liu/Wright report that “Academics, church leaders, and CCP [China’s Communist Party] documents all agree that by 1983, the Chinese government was alarmed at the rapid growth & influence of the Local Churches throughout China.” So the [Chinese] government commissioned a “document [which] drew heavily on ...The God-Men & The Mind Benders. Using this critical report as its justification, the CCP branded the Local Churches/Shouters as a ‘cult.’ Indeed, the Local Churches head the list of ‘seven cults identified in [Government] the documents...” Here T. Zimmerman-Liu/Wright state unequivocally that, in China, “Local Churches,” are called “Shouters” by critics.

The net result of all this is that in China the “Local Churches,” are called “Shouters” and head the Government list of banned “evil cults.” This conclusion is independent of the details of the Dongyang/Yiwu incident which you seem so concerned with establishing. I’m afraid that you have “lost sight of the forest by being preoccupied with the trees.”
3. Wikipedia
You refer to Wikipedia’s entry on “The Shouters” and the Dongyang/Yiwu incidents. However, Wikipedia’s vulnerability to manipulation renders it unaccepted as arbiter on such issues. Wikipedia’s own disclaimer states “nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by professionals with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information. … The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields.” For these reasons, I wrote, “This Wikipedia entry [on the Shouters] appears to suffer the problem of multiple, conflicting entries on a controversial issue and the lack of ‘quality control’.”
4. “Straining the Gnat, but Swallowing the Camel” (Mt. 23:24)
Dear “Unregistered Guest,” I am disappointed that you focussed exclusively on an historical event that occurred in China in 1983. Your laser focus on the Dongyang/Yiwu incident means you have addressed only 2% of my article and left the overwhelming majority—98%--unaddressed. I’m afraid that you have “strain out the gnat,” but have left “the Camel”—the more substantive issues. Those issues, related to China, include [1] Have LSM’s Local Churches in China been wrongly identified as “the Shouters”? [2] Are there any connections or linkages (formal or informal) between LSM’s Local Churches & “the Shouters”? [3] Is there any basis for claims that Witness Lee is (was) the head of the “Shouters”? [4] Were there any actions or behaviours by “the Shouters” which might have precipitated the Chinese Government’s labelling then an “evil cult”?

Rather than answer these questions one-by-one, allow me a brief response.
1. First (as pointed out by a contributor to this Forum) Witness Lee, himself acknowledged the existence of “the Shouters” in China. Rather than disassociating himself & LSM from “the Shouters,” he appraised their home meetings. W. Lee said: “Today in mainland China, Satan hates the churches that meet in the homes. These churches comprise more than 50 million believers. The authorities condemn the ‘shouters,’ who are predominantly those who meet in the homes...” [W. Lee, Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord's Recovery, Bk. 1, Ch. 10, Sect. 2]
2. Second, in a scholarly monograph “Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China,” published by Yale University Press in 2010, Dr. Lian Xi, Professor of History at Hanover College, traces developments from Watchman Nee’s “Little Flock” congregations in China to Witness Lee’s Local Church movement in Taiwan, N. America and China, referring to the practice of “calling on the Lord” or “Shouting.” Professor Lian Xi writes:
“A significant evolution of the Little Flock occurred while Nee was still alive but locked away in a labor camp. It began in Taiwan, under the leadership of Li Changshou [Witness Lee], one of Nee’s former lieutenants....After the late 1960s, Li took the Local Church (the Little Flock’s preferred self-designation) down a new path—in quest of what he called ‘the release of the spirit’ by way of ‘shouting.’ His followers later became known as the Shouters (Huhanpai).” [Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China, Yale University Press (2010) p. 216]

“In 1962, Li [W. Lee] made a permanent move from Taiwan to Los Angeles, where he eventually established the Living Stream Ministry to oversee dozens of Little Flock congregations in a few U.S. cities. With a total of only about 5,000 in North America by the 1970s, Li’s scattered, though animated, congregations faced almost certain oblivion.” [Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire, p. 217]

He further observes: “The ‘opening’ of China...lifted the Shouters of Southern California and their kin in Taiwan out of anonymity. As early as 1979, their evangels began to join the throngs of overseas Chinese and other foreign tourists who crossed into the mainland from Hong Kong. The bagfuls of Bibles and Shouters’ tracts (as well as occasional stacks of cash) that Li Changshou’s (aka Witness Lee’s) messengers brought were limited in amount. However, in the early 1980s, they represented spiritual, and material, fortunes to those underground church leaders who linked up with the overseas brethren. After Nee’s death, Li enjoyed an unrivaled privilege among the sect’s followers in China. As a result his doctrines struck fire almost overnight in underground congregations that were already disillusioned with the TSPM’s perceived adulterations of the Christian faith. In both the southeastern coastal provinces and the rural hinterland of Henan—two separate strongholds ...the Shouters built their major bases of operation. There was obvious buoyancy and vigor in the movement: the magic of ‘shouting’ was simple and easily acquired...In many rural Little Flock congregations in coastal China, ‘shouting’ broke out daily from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM and resumed in the evenings...” [Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire, p. 217] The last statements ought to remind readers of “calling on the Lord” in the 1970s.

Concerning events that might have precipitated the Government’s crackdown, Dr. Lian Xi writes: “In incidents in Zhejiang that recalled the Red Guards of the Cultural revolution, Li’s devotees armed with ‘big character posters’ stormed official churches, denounced the TSPM as the ‘great whore’ and pledged themselves to a battle with ‘the powers.’ ...The crackdown on the group as a ‘heretical cult’ (xiejiao) came in 1983 when, according to the government, the Shouters had already built a following of more than 200,000 ‘deluded people’ in 20 provinces....Two decades after it was outlawed, the Shouters sect reportedly grew to include 500,000 followers.” [Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire, p. 218]

Rather than dismissing these accounts as implausible, readers ought to remember “embarrassing incidents” in N. America, like the disruption of “Founder’s Week” at Moody Bible Institute & the Church in Chicago’s march around MBI with cries of “Down with Babylon.” Recall the “Young Galileans” movement in Boston & NE USA. Plus think of the 1977 Berkeley conference (led by LSM soon-to-be ‘Blended Brothers’) and Max Rappaport’s simultaneous 1977 Chicago conference, both replete with scenes of anarchy & chaos. Against the backdrop of such incidents in the Lord’s Recovery in the US, the events reported in China don’t appear so implausible. The difference is that in the US freedom of speech & expression is upheld; China is a different story.

Dear “Unregistered Guest,” we might not like the tone of Dr. Lian Xi’s writing, however, most people & groups don’t get the luxury of writing their own history. Overlooking Prof. Lian Xi’s cynical tone, he provides a plausible account of the origin of the “Shouters” epithet attached to Witness Lee’s Local Church in China.

In a detailed review this book, Dr. G. Wright Doyle, editor of the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity, observed, “My guess is that Redeemed by Fire will provoke not a little consternation among Local Church leaders in the U.S., who have recently succeeded in having the label of ‘cult’ withdrawn by leading evangelical spokesmen. If Lian [Xi] is accurate, however, the ‘Shouters’ designation as a cult by the Chinese government might have some merit – a possibility that will be angrily denied by Li Changshou’s [W. Lee’s] disciples, who have not been shy about taking critics to court, claiming that this label will cause needless suffering to their brothers and sisters in China.” [Dr. G. Wright Doyle, Review of Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China, by Lian Xi, Global China Center, August 3, 2010.]

Please allow me to reiterate a major point of my article: It is disingenuous of LSM, DCP or other LSM-affiliates, to assert that “Living Stream Ministry and the...local churches it supports...have no connection or linkage, formally or informally, to...‘The Shouters’.” [DCP Contendingforthefaith 21 Dec 2012] LSM might wish (for obvious reasons) to disassociate itself from the “Eastern Lightning” and the ‘All Mighty God Sect’. However, to claim that LSM and its Local Churches have “no connection or linkage” even “informally, to...‘The Shouters’,” is patently false. The correlation between Witness Lee’s Local Churches & the “Shouters” in China might not be perfect (100%) but it is high enough to render this assertion by LSM/DCP dishonest & deceitful.

Numerous accounts by reputable China observers link Witness Lee & the Local Church with “the Shouters.” A recent DCP statement (June 10, 2014) observes that “reports in [China’s] official government news outlets identified Witness Lee as the head of ‘the Shouters’...” Do LSM & DCP also dispute that claim? Almost a decade ago, Tony Lambert observed that “The first cult to make nationwide impact in China were the ‘Shouters’ in the early 1980s. An offshoot of the biblically-based ‘Little Flock’ founded by Watchman Nee in the 1930s, the ‘Shouters’ looked for inspiration to Witness Lee, Watchman Nee’s chief lieutenant…” [Tony Lambert, China’s Christian Millions, Monarch Books, Oxford (2006) p. 122 (emphasis added)].

The “bottom line” of all this is that the “cult” label and the “Shouters” epithet have been firmly attached to the Local Churches in China associated with Witness Lee, Living Stream Ministry, Taiwan Gospel Book Room and their various affiliates. For 30+ years the “Shouters” affiliated with W. Lee & the Local Church have been on the Government list of banned evil cults; that’s not likely to change any time soon. Scholars Zimmerman-Liu & Wright conclude that the ‘cult’ label will remain affixed to Witness Lee’s Local Church in both North America & mainland China for the foreseeable future.

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA,
September, 2015.



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Old 09-21-2015, 05:02 PM   #160
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Default Re: “Local Church ‘Cult’ Label has stuck”—says LSM Star turned Academic

I'm bringing this back to the forefront. Come on "Unregistered Guest", Nigel gave you the courtesy of a reply. How bout you return the favor?
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Old 10-30-2015, 02:40 AM   #161
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Listen up,

...when I say that I "have" no 'linkage or connection either formally or informally' with the Shouters of mainland China, it does not necessarily follow that that is untrue. I "have" no linkage or connection! That's a fact!

I "may" have "had" a linkage and connection, either formally or informally, with those dear Chinese brethren many years ago. But that does not mean that I "presently have" a linkage or connection with them.

I mean, did Bill Clinton really "have sexual relations with that woman?"....or...was his behavior simply "inappropriate"..?...?...

C'mon guys, get with the program, here!
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