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Old 04-01-2013, 07:06 AM   #1
UntoHim
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Default LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

LSM’s Sacrament—the “Ground of the Local Church”

In the New Testament the “local church ground”—“one church, one city”—is one church pattern (among several patterns).
LSM has made this descriptive example into a prescription, an essential truth, and elevated it to the status of a sacrament.

Roman Catholics teach that physical sacraments—for example, the water of infant baptism and the communion bread (the “host at the Eucharist”)—are “means of grace,” that is, they actually impart God’s grace to recipients. “Catholics believe the sacraments are…means by which divine life is dispensed to us… [that by] simply participating in the rite the faithful believer receives grace from God,” say Driscoll and Breshers.1 Thus, for Roman Catholics physical elements (e.g. bread, water) impart spiritual benefits; this is the crux of their sacramentalism. Evangelicals reject such doctrines as spurious.

In contrast to Catholics, “evangelicals avoid the use of the word, ‘sacrament’ because it tends to suggest the idea of a sign that is efficacious simply by virtue of the rite itself. This view of sacramental efficacy…strikes them as magical,” notes Thomas Rausch.2 Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are called ‘ordinances’ by evangelicals, since they were ordained by the Lord. Evangelicals maintain that, rather than dispensing the divine life or grace (in and of themselves), such physical observances “express outwardly what is already inwardly true. They are… outward, visible signs of inward invisible grace,” Stanley Grenz explains.3 Thus, according to Baptist teacher, Jack Hoad,4 “ordinances are acts of obedience which set forth the central truths of the gospel, particularly the death and resurrection of Christ. The ordinances are therefore symbolic declarations of the Gospel and not in themselves channels of special grace to the obedient.' Another Baptist, Erroll Hulse explains,5 “For Baptists the ordinance of baptism is not a sacrament in which grace is infused into the believer in any way, but rather...a testimony of what God has done in regeneration…” Most evangelical Christians reject Catholic claims regarding the efficacy of the physical sacraments; they recognize only two ordinances—baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

LSM’s Sacramentalism

LSM’s local churches concur with the major tenets of evangelical Christianity. They are harsh critics of Roman Catholicism. However, LSM’s distinctive doctrine about the “ground of locality” is sacramentist; they claim that the physical ground of locality affords them an advantageous status before God. The fact that a local church is “standing on the local ground,” calling itself “the church in [city X]” (defined by the city’s physical boundary) allegedly provides members with greater divine blessings, compared to other Christians not “standing on the local ground.” Hence Witness Lee states that,6 “If you want the fullest blessing…you must come to the local churches.” Conversely, on leaving the “local ground” a believer (allegedly) forfeits God’s blessings; “when a person is in the church, he is blessed,” says W. Lee, 7 “but when he leaves the church, he loses the blessing. When I speak of the church, I am particularly referring to a local church that is standing on the proper ground.”

God’s “approval…based on their ground & not…their personal condition”—W. Lee

Moreover, W. Lee alleges that the mere position of “standing on the local ground” merits God’s approval. This privilege, he asserts is independent of the believer’s condition. Arguing by analogy from the Jewish exiles’ return from Babylon, W. Lee states,8 “among those [exiles] who returned, we find many who were not that spiritual…However, as far as their ground was concerned, they were approved by God…No matter how poor their situation was, their ground was still the right ground…no matter how poor and confused the returned captives were, they stood on the proper ground which God had ordained for them...Their approval was based on their ground and not on their personal condition.” Note the last statement asserts that God’s “approval was based on their ground and not on their personal condition.” W. Lee contends that this principle applies today;9 he argues that New Testament believers (regardless of condition) who “stand on the local ground” (defined by city boundaries) secure God’s approval, just as Jewish exiles’ who returned to Jerusalem merited God’s favor. He alleges that (independent of condition) if a believer “stands on the local ground,” this position earns God’s approval. This implies that, other believers, not in this position, are disapproved by God! Thus Witness Lee elevates a positional matter--“standing on the local ground”--into a sacrament which secures God’s approval.

To justify this, LSM contends that the Spirit connects the church ground to the Triune God (the physical with the spiritual). They first state that,10 “three elements—the oneness of the Spirit, the ground of locality, and the reality of the Spirit—keep the genuine oneness of the church.” Here the physical, “ground of locality” is grouped with the Spirit. Then W. Lee insists,11 “it is by this Spirit that the genuine ground of the church is linked with the Triune God.” This is sacramentalism; the physical (ground of locality) is “linked with the Triune God.”

What are the alleged benefits of this linkage? We’ve already mentioned “God’s approval.” W. Lee also links being “in the local church on the ground” with “the full experience of the triune God.” He proclaims,12 “We know where we must be today—in the local oneness, that is, in the local church on the ground of oneness. If we are not in the local oneness…we cannot have the full experience of the…Triune God…Only on this ground can we have the full experience of the processed Triune God.” Lack of this ground, W. Lee argues, is the13 “reason many Christians today are in spiritual poverty.” Thus a physical attribute—being “in the local church on the ground”—is deemed to provide spiritual benefits in terms of “the full experience of the Triune God.” Again, this is sacramentalism. In essence LSM claims that “standing on the local ground” (defined by city boundaries) is a means by which the divine life &/or grace are dispensed to believers. This matches Catholic assertions that, “the sacraments are…means by which divine life is dispensed to us.”14 This substantiates our claim that the “local ground” is LSM’s distinctive sacrament. Let’s examine LSM’s doctrine of the local ground in more detail.

1. The ground of locality—one city, one church, one eldership

LSM distinguishes the church’s foundation from its ground. They say,15 “the word ground…does not carry the denotation of a foundation; rather, it bears the denotation of a site, like the site on which the foundation of a building is laid.” LSM agrees that the church’s foundation is Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11). Its “ground” is something else. Let’s note here that the New Testament never mentions the church’s “ground;” undeterred by that fact, LSM has developed their distinctive “local ground” doctrine; in LSM’s publications phrases like “local ground” or “ground of locality” occur over 1,000 times. According to them the church’s “ground” has several elements.

At its basic level the “ground of locality” emphasizes one church, one city, defined by city boundaries. W. Lee recalls,16 “In 1930 Brother Nee…resolved to re-study the New Testament concerning the boundary of a local assembly. Through this study he saw that the boundary of a local assembly must be the boundary of that locality in which that assembly is…the local border.” Since then, this definition has been maintained and elaborated. Take for e.g., LSM’s statement that,17 the “ground of locality of a local church…is, the very locality—a city, a town, or a village—as the boundary within which a local church is established and exists, with each one locality having only one church”—one church, one city. Hence local churches typically adopt names like, “the Church in Chicago (LA, NYC, etc).” Plus, LSM asserts that, regardless of the believers’ number, there should be only one church with only one eldership. W. Lee states,18 “in one city there should be only one church. The eldership of a local church should cover the entire city where that church is…One city should only have one church with one eldership.” He contends this is Scripture’s unique pattern,19 “One city should have only one church with one eldership. This practice is…the clear pattern in the New Testament.” LSM’s Recovery Version asserts dogmatically,20 “One city should have only one church with one presbytery [eldership]. This practice [one city, one church, one eldership] is illustrated, beyond any question or doubt, by the clear pattern in the New Testament …and is an absolute prerequisite for the maintaining of proper order in a local church.”

Clearly, the “ground of locality” has a physical aspect—the city boundary. LSM states,21 “a local church…exists in a locality, its jurisdiction for its administration being within the boundary of the locality in which it exists.” They assert a local church ought to have one eldership regardless of city-size or ethnic and linguistic diversity.

2. LSM’s Double-speak: Local Church Ground—Inclusive or Exclusive?

Examining these issues ought to be straight-forward. It is not, due to LSM’s contradictory claims. Take for e.g., the definition of a “local church.” On occasion the “local church” is defined as including all genuine believers in a city. Thus W. Lee says,22 “We need to see what a local church is. First, a local church is all the genuine believers in a locality…Many believers are not meeting on the proper ground of locality, but they are all still members of the local churches…We should never use the term local church…to separate ourselves from other believers. Whenever believers gather simply as believers, that is a gathering of the local church in that city. There is no organizational requirement for a group to be part of a local church.” This definition is inclusive and innocuous; all believers in a city are already members of the local church; regardless of where they meet—“when believers gather simply as believers, that’s a gathering of the local church,” says W. Lee. Plus, “no organizational requirement” suggests they needn’t leave existing fellowships to “join us on the local ground.”

Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Efforts

An inclusive stance is espoused in Beliefs & Practices of the Local Churches (~1974). It declares,23 “We stand on the ground of the oneness of all believers in each locality; we recognize all the blood-redeemed and Spirit-regenerated believers in Christ as members of the one church in each city.” Yet words ought to be backed by actions. This declaration should be substantiated by significant efforts to express “oneness [with] all believers in the city” as recognized “members of the one church in the city.” Where are concrete manifestations of this? Typically local church members cannot be found at city-wide evangelistic efforts, gatherings to pray for the city, ‘Marches for Jesus,’ or major worship events. On such occasions, local church members are missing. LSM’s Ron Kangas gives the reason—‘they are Christianity; we are the local church.’ He says,24 “I respect [Billy Graham’s] preaching of the cross and his preaching of the gospel as he knows it…[But] We cannot labor in such a crusade when according to the Bible, according to Acts, those who were saved were added to the Church in that city (Acts 2:47). If there are any bridges…existing between a local church and Christianity, I hope we would go back, burn the bridges, and broaden the gap.” So, for LSM, separation from “Christianity” or “Babylon” trumps an inclusive definition of the local church. Only token efforts are made to apply that inclusive stance. Local church members testify, “I fellowship with some Christians at work (or school)” or “I talk to the pastor of the Chinese Church next door.” But, among Christians, such acts are common and unremarkable. Extra-ordinary efforts are required to justify the extraordinary claims of believers “standing on the local ground.” The inclusive view was trumped long ago by the exclusive version; it remains only as the “public face” of LSM.

“School fellowship groups…congregations on streets & alleys…not adequate”—W. Lee

More often, the local church is defined exclusively. Other believers in the city are not already members of the local church in the city; rather they are condemned for “standing on improper grounds”—“denominational or scattered grounds.” In LSM’s view, only “we” have returned to Jerusalem, “they” are in Babylon or the wilderness. Hence W. Lee states,25 “We must not remain on the ground of a denomination, the ground of organized Christianity. In typology, this is to come out of Babylon…we should not linger on small, scattered grounds…Some are family groups, others are fellowship groups in schools, and still others are congregations or chapels on certain streets and alleys. There are meetings that are so-called non-denominational, and…free groups. In type, these small, scattered grounds…between Babylon and Jerusalem…they have left Babylon but have not yet returned to Jerusalem. This is not adequate…We should…return to the proper ground of oneness.” “Believers gathering simply as believers” in family groups, schools, congregations, chapels, streets or alleys are now rejected outright LSM—“This is not adequate.” All other believers are condemned; LSM claims exclusive rights over the proper ground; they alone returned to Jerusalem and are acceptable to God! Isn’t this elitist?

3. “Standing on the ground of oneness”

LSM’s teaching adds the aspect of “oneness” to the church’s physical ground. Local churches claim they alone stand on the ground of26 “the unique oneness of the universal Body of Christ, i.e., the oneness of the one Spirit (Eph. 4:4-6).” Thus W. Lee derides other believers, saying,27 “You are meeting in division, but we are meeting in oneness as the church.” Yet the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to “keep the Spirit’s oneness,” (Eph. 4:3) not to claim proprietary rights over it! Paul aspired that all believers (not a select few) would “arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of God’s Son.” (Eph. 4:13.) He never charges believers to “stand on the ground of oneness,” as if it were a position to be occupied, a site that could be claimed to the exclusion of others. Nevertheless W. Lee argues,28 “All of the grounds of denominations, being divisive, are not according to the Bible; therefore, we should leave them. These divisive grounds, like Babylon, bring the children of God into captivity. Just as the people of Israel needed to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem, we also need to leave the divisive grounds and return to the ground of oneness.” Ironically the ground of oneness divides believers!

LSM’s Pretentious Claims

W. Lee’s “ground of oneness” doctrine is based on an Old Testament type; it is not a NT teaching. The New Testament never uses the phrase, “ground of oneness.” In contrast, it occurs 300+ times in LSM’s publications. The claim, “we stand on the ground of the unique oneness of the universal Body of Christ” has been repeated so often, it is accepted without question. But to serious Christians it’s a pretentious claim. LSM states,29 “the constitution of the church ground is the unique oneness of the universal Body of Christ, which is called the oneness of the Spirit…This oneness is…the oneness of the Triune God.” This saying, viewed in context, suggests they alone have exclusive rights over the “oneness of Christ’s Body, the oneness of the Spirit and the oneness of the Triune God”! We ask: which of the Triune God’s divine attributes has He ever made available for a particular Christian group to assert exclusive propriety rights over? Consider other attributes of the Trinity; can a Christian group assert “we alone have God’s mercy or love or God’s righteousness”? Which congregation can claim “we have exclusive rights over the fellowship of the Spirit”? Then, who can claim “we alone have exclusive rights over the oneness of the Spirit”? Who can demand all other Christians leave wherever they are and join ‘us,’ in order to participate in the Triune God’s oneness? Yet W. Lee and LSM make such audacious claims! Local church members have heard such assertions for so long they’re unperturbed; they ought to be perturbed!

“The Recovery Church of Witness Lee”

LSM denigrates denominations as “degraded Christianity,” saying,30 “To…denominate the church with any name other than the Lord's is spiritual fornication…Other names are an abomination in the eyes of God…The recovered church has no denominations (names), but the unique name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The… exaltation of so many names other than that of Christ are the most striking signs of degraded Christianity…We do not need the names Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or any other names.” This critique has some merit based on church history. However, LSM gives itself a “free pass” in this evaluation. What do you call a network of churches which teach the theology of one man, who use a study Bible with every footnote written by one man, who attend conferences reviewing that one man’s teaching and then review that review in their local congregations, exulting in the fact that they are “all on the same page” of his materials? Plus, they venerate that man with accolades such as, “the Minister of the Age,” the “wise master builder” and the “acting God.” Why do observers call it “the Recovery Church of Witness Lee”? When the name “Witness Lee” is mentioned more frequently than the Lord Jesus’ name, isn’t that a Witness Lee denomination?31

“They don’t fellowship with all the saints on the earth.”

LSM disqualifies all other Christian congregations due to32 their “having special names, special beliefs, and special fellowships, or having an “isolated local fellowship “as opposed to “a universal fellowship.” Moreover, congregations lacking special names, special beliefs, and special fellowships, (so-called) “free groups,” are still condemned by LSM because33 “They do not fellowship with all the saints on the earth. As a result, they become a local sect.” Let’s pause here to ask—which Christian group has “fellowship with all the saints on the earth”? There are over two billion Christians on the globe—who fellowships with them all? Certainly LSM’s local churches do not! Their vaunted claim of “universal fellowship” leads them to define Christ’s Body in a sectarian way--“the Body equals the recovery,” says LSM’s M. Chen,34 adding, “We know that the mystical Body of Christ includes all the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space, but practically for us today, the recovery is the Body.” For LSM “the Body equals the Recovery,” so they equate their intra-group fellowship of LSM-aligned churches with the “universal fellowship of Christ’s Body.” In fact it’s a sectarian fellowship! This is confirmed by the fact that it’s rare for LSM-adherents to partake the Lord’s Table with believers outside their own tight-knit circle. LSM fails to satisfy their own criteria for standing on the “proper ground of oneness”!

“To hear the Spirit's speaking we must be…in the local church on the ground”—W. Lee

W. Lee says the “ground of oneness” is no longer tied to one city (Israel’s Jerusalem); today it’s tied to the NT pattern of “one church, one city, meeting in oneness on the local ground.” LSM’s local churches claim exclusive rights over the “local ground”--that unique position (allegedly) qualifying them for God’s abundant blessing.

In contrast to other Christians, Local Church members claim they have returned to “Jerusalem,” the God-appointed place of worship. Against this backdrop, W. Lee declares,35 “When God's people in the Old Testament lost the ground of oneness, they spontaneously lost so many spiritual and holy things. However, when they returned to Jerusalem, to the ground of oneness, all these holy and spiritual things spontaneously returned. The principle is the same in the Lord's recovery today. Today our God, the Triune God, is…realized as the all-inclusive Spirit. Today this Spirit is speaking to the churches [Rev. 2:7]. Hence, in order to hear the Spirit's speaking, we must be in one of the churches…We know where we must be today—in the local oneness, i.e., in the local church on the ground of oneness.” Note that W. Lee asserts “to hear the Spirit's speaking, we must be…in the local church on the ground.” Here is yet another exclusive claim about “the ground”! If you’re not in “the local church, standing on the local ground,” you won’t hear the Holy Spirit’s speaking!

These claims rely on equating LSM’s local churches with the 7 churches in Revelation. However, Revelation’s seven churches included all the Christians in those cities. In contrast LSM’s local churches are small groups of believers “standing on the ground of oneness,” while excluding most Christians in their cities. LSM’s churches pay lip-service to the principle of receiving all believers; they claim “we receive all genuine believers.” Yet (in practice) their reception is conditional. LSM-President Benson Philips declares,36 “We should not bring anything of Christianity into the Lord’s recovery. We only take the faith. If some in Christianity are in the faith, then we accept them, but we accept nothing of Christianity.” The declaration, “we accept [Christians], but we accept nothing of Christianity” means “we don’t accept any of your teachings, practices, etc. Drop everything; then we’ll accept you! Meanwhile, we expect you to receive all our teachings and practices!” That’s the way LSM applies “receiving all believers.” The barriers to entry into LSM’s local churches are substantial.

4. W. Lee made “one church, one city” an essential item of “the Faith”

For Witness Lee the local church ground—one church, one city—was not merely a New Testament example, nor even the New Testament pattern. It is an essential item of the New Testament faith—the faith delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 3). It belongs alongside God, Christ’s person & work, and justification by faith! W. Lee enumerates these items, and then says,37 “These are the…main items of the proper Christian faith…Some [Christians] may disagree with [including] the point, one city, one church, but as a proper Christian we have to believe that the church is both universally one and locally one...A local church is locally one. This doesn't mean…that a real believer in Christ who does not agree with one city, one church is not saved. Still he or she is saved, but there is something lacking.” Due to their not “standing on the local ground,” other Christians are denigrated as “lacking something,” they are “second class Christians,” compared to local church members.

More seriously, “one church, one city” is included among the non-negotiable, essential items of “the faith.” W. Lee places his “one church, one city” doctrine on par with the Bible’s verbal, plenary inspiration. Any Local Church member who dissents from either teaching, he says, ought to be shunned.38 “One church, one city,” LSM’s “local ground” dogma, has been added to the essentials of the Christian faith; it is non-negotiable, part of the local churches’ creed. Yet the New Testament has no such teaching! For centuries Christians have proclaimed “in essentials—unity; in non-essentials—liberty; in all things—love.” It’s obvious that any Christian group, which claims to be inclusive by “standing for the oneness of the universal Body,” cannot insist on adding their distinctive doctrines to the essentials of the faith. To do so contradicts their “inclusive” claim. Why should this group’s favorite doctrine be included as “essential,” while others’ special doctrines are excluded? Yet, LSM’s local church insists that their distinctive “local ground” doctrine is an essential item of the faith!

5. “Ground of locality”—a descriptive e.g., not a prescriptive NT teaching

W. Lee’s view of the local ground differs dramatically from the New Testament. The NT has no prescriptive teaching regarding the ground of locality. It is merely a description. It is not a truth taught in Scripture, nor is it an “implied truth,” nor an “essential practice.” The NT has only two ‘essential practices’—baptism & Lord’s Table--both were ordained by Christ (Matt. 28:19; Luke 22:19). The “church in the city” occurs only in NT descriptions—e.g. the church in Philippi, in Corinth. The distinction between description and prescription is important; if the “ground of locality” were as important as W. Lee and LSM claim, it ought to be a definite New Testament teaching. It is not. Churches produced by the Apostle Paul’s labor tended to be city-churches; but other churches don’t fit LSM’s “one church, one city” maxim, e.g., Jerusalem and Rome don’t fit that mold.39

The New Testament record regarding the “local church ground” exhibits diversity. The city-church is a major pattern; but, it is not the only pattern. There are also scriptural precedents for sub-local, house churches (e.g. Rome, Rom. 16:5, 14-15), and supra-local, regional churches (e.g. the Church in Judea, Acts 9:31). Moreover, all these are merely descriptive examples; none is a prescriptive teaching. LSM elevates “one church, one city, one eldership” from being one pattern among several patterns, to be the definitive pattern and further insists upon this as a prescriptive dogma, an essential item of the faith and even a sacrament! This goes beyond Scripture.

6. In John 4 Jesus abolished all “Grounds,” including LSM’s “Local Ground”

A major rationale for LSM’s “local ground” dictum is the Old Testament type of Jerusalem as the physical center for Israel’s worship. LSM argues from the OT ground of Jerusalem to the NT ground of locality. For e.g. W. Lee alleges that,40 “When God's people in the Old Testament lost the ground of oneness, they spontaneously lost so many spiritual and holy things. However, when they returned to Jerusalem, to the ground of oneness, all these holy and spiritual things spontaneously returned. The principle is the same in the Lord's recovery today. Today our God, the Triune God, is…realized as the all-inclusive Spirit. Today this Spirit is speaking to the churches. Hence, in order to hear the Spirit's speaking, we must be in one of the churches…[So] we know where we must be today—in the local oneness, that is, in the local church on the ground of oneness.”

This argument starts from Jerusalem as the “ground,” the physical center, of Israel’s worship. It ends with the “church’s local ground,” with its physical aspect. Often W. Lee emphasizes the “ground of oneness,” rather than the physical place. But that emphasis doesn’t negate the fact that the church’s local ground has a physical aspect; the positional aspect remains even when it’s cloaked in the garb of “oneness.” W. Lee concludes that “we must be today…in the local church on the ground of oneness” which includes the physical ground of locality as the place for God’s New Testament peoples’ worship. Hence in W. Lee’s analogy the local church, standing on the local ground (one church, one city defined by its physical boundary) is the New Testament fulfillment of the OT type of Jerusalem, Israel’s physical worship center. To many local church members this logic is convincing. However it directly contradicts Jesus’ declaration in John 4 about New Testament worship.

Jesus’ Dispensation-Changing Declaration

Jesus’ words in John 4 are crucial; He told the Samaritan “Woman, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is of the Jews. But an hour is coming, and it is now [here], when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness, for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” [John 4:20-24, RcV.] This was a dispensation-changing declaration. As Trinity College (Melbourne, Australia) NT Professor, Dorothy Lee says,41 “Jesus’ response is to point to a new dispensation in which worship of the Father is dependent, not on a specific geographical location but on the ‘Spirit of truth’).” University of Gloucestershire, NT Professor Andrew T. Lincoln states,42 “Jesus…announces …the…change, affecting both the previous erroneous Samaritan view and the previous correct Jewish view, is already in the process of being realized…(Jn. 4:23). The authentic worship, that is no longer tied to particular places, entails worship in Spirit and truth.” The ESV study Bible says, “Jesus is inaugurating a new age in which people will not have to travel to a physical temple in one city to worship, but will be able to worship God in every place, because the Holy Spirit will dwell in them, and therefore God’s people everywhere will become the new temple where God dwells.” Bible expositors state emphatically that Jesus’ pronouncement relativizes all locations in terms of New Testament worship; neither Jerusalem, nor the Samaritans’ mountain, nor any other physical location confers an advantage or greater acceptability before God. NT Professor Andrew T. Lincoln asserts that Jesus’ declaration43 “frees people from particular holy spaces [places], while at the same time allowing them to see all space [every place] as holy because of Christ.” This means God is not a respecter of places or “grounds,” when it comes to NT worship.

By this one pronouncement recorded in John 4, Jesus changed the parameters of God’s chosen place of worship from physical to spiritual. This means the parameters of physical location are irrelevant for acceptable NT worship. A direct implication of Jesus’ words is that “standing on the local ground,” as the “church in the city” (defined by city boundaries) does not provide preferred access to God nor more acceptable worship to God. Via Jesus’ words, the “local church ground” was abolished together with the “ground” of Jerusalem’s Temple and the “ground” of the Samaritans’ mountain. LSM’s vaunted claims for the “church’s local ground” were abolished along with “Jerusalem’s Old Testament chosen status.” Moreover the “church’s local ground” cannot be rehabilitated merely by cloaking it in the garb of “oneness;” that is an illegitimate attempt to reintroduce “through the backdoor,” what has been explicitly excluded “at the front door”—it attempts to circumvent the obvious implications of Scripture recorded in John 4. The “bottom line” of John 4 is that acceptable New Testament worship is rendered to God the Father, “in Spirit/spirit and truth/truthfulness,” based on Christ’s salvation, and it can be offered anywhere and everywhere, independent of the “local ground.”

“The proper ground…today is in our spirit”—W. Lee

When W. Lee directly addresses Jesus’ words in John 4, he is obliged to admit,44 “This indicates clearly that the proper ground for the worship of God today is in our spirit. God's habitation, His dwelling place, is in our spirit. As long as we are in our spirit, we are in the right place for the worship of God.” Significantly there is no mention of the church’s “local ground” here. Instead W. Lee concedes that “As long as we are in our spirit, we are in the right place” to worship God. So, in the New Testament era, the “right place” is not the “local ground,” it is “our spirit.” Again W. Lee says,45 “In the type in Deuteronomy 12, the children of Israel were required to come to a particular geographical location. This means that in the Old Testament the chosen ground was an actual physical place…[But] the fulfillment of the type in Deut. 12 is not a matter of a geographical place—it is a matter of our spirit. This is proved by putting Eph. 2:22 together with John 4:21-23.…This indicates clearly that the proper ground for the worship of God today is in our spirit.” Here W. Lee affirms that “the proper ground for the worship of God today is in our spirit.” This rare statement, unqualified by caveats about the “local ground,” rightly unfolds God’s Word. Surely this direct implication of Jesus’ own words recorded in Scripture ought to trump questionable interpretations based on the (so-called) fulfillment of OT types!

How does W. Lee address the “local ground” in the context of John 4? He says,46 “Some may wonder why we emphasize the local church since the place for the worship of God is our spirit. For convenience & practicality, we meet in the different cities where we live. Apparently we are divided by geography, for we meet in separate cities...Actually we remain in the oneness and are not divided, for wherever we may be, we meet in the Lord's name, in the spirit, and with the cross. Therefore, no matter where we may be, we all meet in the same place.” Note that no spectacular claims are made here about the ground; allegedly, it is merely “for convenience and practicality, we meet in the different cities…” Isn’t this another example of double-speak? These muted claims confirm that W. Lee’s inflated assertions about the efficacy of the “local church ground” cannot be sustained in the light of Jesus’ words in John 4. If it is merely “for convenience and practicality, we meet” according to city, then why shouldn’t Christians gather by district, neighborhood or community, instead? The house-church, community-church and neighborhood-church are all equally valid, if (as W. Lee asserts here) when “we meet in the Lord's name, in the spirit, and with the cross…no matter where we may be, we all meet in the same place [in Spirit/spirit].” Moreover we note that (regardless of their assertions) LSM’s local churches do not have a monopoly on the Lord's name, the Spirit, or the cross; these are the common possession of all believers.

7. ‘Local Ground’ prevents division & brings God’s blessing—the Recovery’s track record

Great claims have been made regarding the ground of locality. It was supposed to prevent division and usher in God’s abundant blessing. W. Lee maintains47 that “the local ground has a great advantage of guarding against small divisions.” The Lord’s Recovery, standing on the ground of locality is not a recent phenomenon in North America. Witness Lee “brought the recovery” to North America 50 years ago. Half a century is a sufficient time period to generate observable data. We ask: Have the promised benefits been realized? Has the Local Church movement in North America been preserved from division? Is there evidence of the Lord’s manifold blessings?

a. Has the “local ground” prevented division?

Anyone familiar with the history of the Recovery in North America has to admit there has been frequent turmoil, chaos and divisions. Mention the names—Max Rappaport, Sal Benoit, Bill Freeman, John Ingalls, Bill Mallon, John So, Joseph Fung, Titus Chu, and Dong Yu-Lan, and there’s a story of “turmoil.” Plus these are just brothers with a “national profile.” W. Lee conceded48 “I observed that the chaos came in cycles. Every 8 or 10 years was a cycle.” He was obliged to admit that49 “In the 30 years that the Lord's recovery has been in the US, we have seen turmoil after turmoil, chaos after chaos. When there is turmoil in the church life, we may be bothered and ask, ‘Is this the church life? Is this the recovery? What is the difference between this and the denominations?’” These words were spoken in 1992; the 20 years since exhibit the same pattern. These data are sufficient to demonstrate, contrary to its claimed benefits, the “local ground” has not prevented divisions and factions. In fact, many feel that divisions within the Local Church movement have been more acrimonious than Christian congregations usually experience. In other Christian groups do factions routinely resort to lawsuits over church property, as LSM-adherents have done? The “local ground” has not prevented divisions.

Turmoil, Chaos, Division?—It’s all Satan’s fault—W. Lee

W. Lee’s response was to blame Satan! His explanation of “turmoil after turmoil, chaos after chaos,” was to say,50 “In order that we all may be comforted, I am burdened to point out the record in the Bible of the satanic chaos in the old creation and the divine economy for the new creation.” The underlying logic is “it’s all Satan’s fault; Satan is behind every turmoil.” No responsibility was ascribed to the Recovery’s leadership. Instead W. Lee perceived Satan’s activity—“the Satanic chaos”—behind those who “rebelled;” he said,52 “The Satanic chaos is still going on…Even within the Lord's recovery, we have experienced this chaos. Beginning in 1987 some among us rebelled against the recovery. Because of this rebellion, there are some divisions existing in the US.”

b. Has the “local ground” brought God’s abundant blessing?

“If you want the fullest blessing …you must come to the local churches,” proclaims W. Lee.53 He argues,54 negatively that “every person who has left the ground…of the church has lost the Lord's blessing,” and, positively, that, “the Lord's blessing has been a vindication to us.” W. Lee promised if the local churches55 practiced his “high peak of the divine revelation,” this would usher in “a new revival—the highest revival, and probably the last revival before the Lord's coming back.” But what is the evidence of God’s blessing, or of revival? Most LSM-adherents don’t need evidence; their evaluation is based entirely on their subjective feelings. Objective observers, however, expect proof in terms of verifiable data. Let’s look at data from the Lord’s Recovery’s 50+ years in the US. Around 2005 LSM reported that,56 “Today there are nearly 300 local churches across the United States, with a combined membership of almost 25,000.” This implies the average local church has under 100 members—hardly something to boast about. Moreover those 300 US LSM churches represent a mere 0.06% of all US congregations. In 2009 Christianity Today reported,57 “The local churches claim more than 30,000 U.S. adherents.” There are 150 Million US Christians, so LSM-adherents represent a mere 0.02% or one-in-5,000 US Christians. That’s a “drop in the bucket;” it’s very little to show for the Recovery’s 50+ years in the US. In summary there’s little objective evidence to back up LSM’s claims of God’s abundant blessing. LSM-adherents are left with the “fall-back position,” consoling themselves that they’re the “faithful remnant fulfilling God’s eternal purpose,” while maintaining that “numbers don’t really matter.”

8. Non-LSM Local Churches in the Great Lakes Area

Another category of local churches emerged after LSM’s latest turmoil in 2006/7--non-LSM churches in the Great Lakes Area (GLA) of North America. How are they faring? On one hand they’ve severed ties with LSM’s “blended brothers;” they don’t attend LSM’s “seven annual feasts” or use LSM’s HWMR and they no longer “prophesy” (recite) W. Lee’s messages in their gatherings. But, for many scattered GLA churches, little has changed. Witness Lee’s name may not be mentioned; LSM’s Recovery Version footnotes are seldom read as defining statements. Nevertheless, the “default setting” for Bible teaching and interpretation remains Witness Lee’s teachings. In most places, local church practices remain largely unchanged, except regional activities have replaced LSM’s global gatherings. Most GLA non-LSM local churches can be characterized as “LSM lite.”

A burst of GLA creative activity following the 2006/7 “turmoil,” called for a thorough re-examination of Local Church teachings and practices, in the light of Scripture.58 But it soon withered under the weight of benign neglect. As a result, 6-years after parting ways with LSM, the GLA churches have yet to provide a statement of their theological differences with LSM. Was it just a personality contest--“we refer Titus Chu to LSM’s ‘blended brothers’”? Or a drive for regional autonomy—“we reject LSM’s leadership; we’ll do it ourselves”? Recently there’s a move in the GLA to restore traditional “local church values” in the name of “preserving our distinct identity,” “not losing our vision & commitment,” and “honoring our unique heritage.” Extra-biblical teachings could be endorsed under such labels, even though they fail to match the “gold standard” of Scripture. Phrases like “our distinct identity” and “our heritage & commitment” can mask mere local church tradition. Yet, the local churches have long proclaimed59 “we don’t follow human tradition; we follow the Bible.” One candidate for this category is LSM’s “local ground” doctrine; already we’ve heard claims “it’s not an essential truth, but it’s an ‘essential practice’.” Yet, evangelical believers acknowledge only two ‘essential practices’ (ordinances)—baptism and Lord’s Table--both were ordained by the Lord (Matt. 28:19; Luke 22:19). Neither the Lord Jesus, nor the New Testament prescribes the “local ground.” Putting the local ground on par with baptism and the Lord’s Table elevates it beyond Scripture; it repeats LSM’s error of making the local ground into a sacrament.

A forthcoming US Midwest conference60 promises to address this topic. It remains to be seen, however, if the doctrine will merely be “tweaked,” with minor “cosmetic surgery”—e.g. “let’s not say all other Christians are not on the local ground (even though we still believe it).” To seriously grapple with this topic the major points enumerated here ought to be addressed, employing Watchman Nee’s (oft-quoted, seldom applied) dictum, “the Bible is our only standard.” Plus long-standing attitudes of sectarianism and elitism should be addressed. Minor “cosmetic surgery” won’t accomplish much; more radical measures, akin to a major operation, are required. Moreover, LSM’s “local ground” doctrine is a “tangled web of interwoven elements,” so individual aspects can’t simply be accepted or rejected independently.

In conclusion we inquire: Is the mission to preserve “our unique identity” misguided? It assumes the local church ought to differ significantly from other Christian congregations. We ask: what’s wrong with being a “normal Christian church” among other “normal Christian churches” in our city or community? Doesn’t history show that the drive for a “distinct identity” is a road littered with “cults,” sects or other aberrant expressions of the Christian faith. Haven’t we ventured down that road before? By seeking to re-create our former local church-life--in the name of “preserving our distinct identity” or “maintaining our particular vision and commitment”--don’t we risk repeating our sad history? Haven’t we “been there, done that” before?

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA
April, 2013


NOTES:

As always the views expressed here are those of the author alone. They should not be attributed to the believers, elders or churches with whom he is associated. Thanks are extended to those who commented on earlier drafts.

1. Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, Vintage Church, p. 112. Roman Catholics recognize 7 sacraments—Infant Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion (“eucharist”), Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, & the Anointing of the Sick ("extreme unction").

2. Thomas P. Rausch, Catholics & Evangelicals: Do They Share a Common Future? p. 111

3. Stanley J. Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, p. 48

4. ANTHONY R. CROSS, DISPELLING THE MYTH OF ENGLISH BAPTIST BAPTISMAL SACRAMENTALISM, Baptist Quarterly, pp. 367-391, emphasis added

5. ANTHONY R. CROSS, DISPELLING THE MYTH OF ENGLISH BAPTIST BAPTISMAL SACRAMENTALISM, Baptist Quarterly, pp. 367-391, emphasis added

6. W. Lee, Christ & the Church Revealed & Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 14, Section 4

7. W. Lee, Taking Christ as Our Person for the Church Life, Chapter 14, Section 1. LSM-President, Benson Philips asserts that, “Outside of the recovery it is almost impossible…to become...fully constituted with Christ.” The quote, in context, reads: “‘Today no other group of people on this earth have joined themselves together purposely to give the Lord a way to realize His goal. Of course merely being in the recovery is not a guarantee, but outside of the recovery it is almost impossible for you to become a person who is fully constituted with Christ.” [BP, The Ministry, Vol. 8, No. 7, (July/Aug. 2004) p. 245, emphasis added] He also alleges that “away from the Lord’s recovery…[there’s] no way for…sanctification to go forward.” Again, the quote in context reads: “In any case, do not leave the Lord’s recovery. I can assure you that if you go away from the Lord’s recovery, you will have no way for the process of sanctification to go forward within you. Instead, you will just enter into a bankrupt situation. I know of no one who has left the Lord’s recovery and today is a great spiritual person on the earth. The sanctification process is carried out in the Lord’s recovery.” (BP. The Ministry, vol. 8, No. 1, 2004, p. 189, emphasis added.) These quotes assert that spiritual benefits accrue to being in the “recovery,” on the local ground.

8. W. Lee, Crucial Words of Leading in the Lord's Recovery, Book 1: The Vision & Definite Steps for the Practice of the New Way, Chapter 3, Section 5 Also: Vision of the Age, Chapter 3, Section 6, emphasis added. Along the same lines W. Lee states: “Do you think that when the temple was rebuilt on the proper ground and the glory of God manifested that it was due to the spiritual situation? Had the people's condition changed? No, it had not changed. It was still the same. But because a building was erected on the proper ground, even though it was under the standard, the Shekinah glory of God was manifested. This was not because the spirituality of the people had been greatly improved. That did not bring in God's glory. It was simply due to the fact that they came back and rebuilt the temple on the proper ground. Though their situation and condition were poor, yet their standing and their ground were right. God honored the ground they took and upon which they built.” [W. Lee, Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 6, Section 1] Note again W. Lee emphasizes God’s peoples’ position, not their condition as a determinant of God’s blessing. He then extrapolates this principle to the NT “church’s local ground.” He says, “Whether a church is proper does not depend on its condition but on its ground. Hence, our basis for determining whether a church is proper must be the ground. We should inquire only concerning the ground, not the condition. When determining whether a certain place is Jerusalem, we should not consider the condition of the temple. There may be temples being built in Babylon, but we must reject them because their ground is wrong. Even though the temple in Jerusalem has been completely destroyed, we still go to Jerusalem because this is where God's people should be, and this is the proper ground.” [W. Lee, Lessons for New Believers, Chap. 17, Sect. 3, emphasis added]

9. For e.g. W. Lee states, “In both the Old Testament and New Testament, God never allowed His people to have two grounds of service, two grounds of worship. He ordained that the children of Israel worship Him in the place where He chose to put His name, His habitation (Deut. 12:5-14; 14:22-26; 16:2, 11, 15-16). They were told not to worship God “in every place that you see” (12:13).” Note he asserts that the same principle regarding the “ground” applies in both OT and NT. W. Lee continues: “If we apply this example today, God may tolerate another work for a period of time, but He will never tolerate setting up another ground for worship …A person's preaching of the gospel in school ….his laboring in the hospital also originates from the church. …God seemingly is willing to bear and permit this. But He condemns and cannot tolerate someone setting up another center of worship, another ground of service.” [W. Lee, Lessons for New Believers, Chapter 18, Section 1, emphasis added.]

10. “6 Brothers” 1993 Blending Conf. Messages concerning the Lord's Recovery & Our Present Need, Chapter 1, Section 15

11. W. Lee, Brief Presentation of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, Section 19

12. W. Lee, Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, Section 7, emphasis added

13. W. Lee, Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, Section 7

14. Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, Vintage Church, p. 112

15. LSM, Crystallization-Study Outlines—Building of God, Chapter 1, Section 7

16. W. Lee, Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, Section 10

17. LSM, Crucial Contents of God's NT Ministry, Training Outlines, Chapter 1, Section 11

18. LSM, Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—Vision & Building Up of the Church, Chapter 9, Section 5

19. W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus & Philemon, Chapter 21, Section 3, emphasis added

20. Titus 1:5, RcV, note 1, emphasis added. The footnote in its entirety read: “ These words, [Titus 1:5] compared with every church in Acts 14:23, indicate not only that the jurisdiction of a local church is the city in which it is located but also that in one city there should be only one church. The eldership of a local church should cover the entire city in which that church is located. Such a unique presbytery in a city preserves the unique oneness of the Body of Christ from damage. One city should have only one church with one presbytery. This practice is illustrated, beyond any question or doubt, by the clear pattern in the New Testament (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; Rev. 1:11) and is an absolute prerequisite for the maintaining of proper order in a local church. Because of this, the first thing the apostle charged Titus to do in setting things in order was to appoint elders in every city.” It asserts 3 propositions: [1] “the jurisdiction of a local church is the city”—the physical boundary of the church [2] In “one city there should be only one church”—one city, one church & [3] The “eldership of a local church should cover the entire city.”

21. LSM, Crucial Contents of God's NT Ministry, Training Outlines, Chapter 1, Section 11

22. W. Lee, Importance of Living Christ by Walking According to the Spirit, Chapter 5, Section 2, emphasis added

23. The Beliefs & Practices of the Local Churches, “Standing,” Point #4.

24. RK, The Ministry, vol. 8, No. 2, Feb. 2004, pp. 12-13

25. W. Lee, Lessons for New Believers, Chapter 18, Section 1, emphasis added

26. LSM, Crucial Contents of God's NT Ministry, Training Outlines, Chapter 1, Section 11

27. W. Lee, The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation and the Divine Economy for the New Creation, chap. 5

28. W. Lee, Testimony & Ground of the Church, Chapter 15, Section 9

29. “6 Brothers” 1993 Blending Conf. Messages concerning the Lord's Recovery & Our Present Need, Chap., 1, Section 15

30. W. Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, Chapter 15, Section 3

31. The assertion, “the name “Witness Lee” is mentioned more frequently than the Lord Jesus’ name,” applies to some messages given by LSM’s (so-called) “blended brothers”

32. W. Lee, Lessons for New Believers, Chapter 17, Section 4

33. W. Lee, Lessons for New Believers, Chapter 17, Section 4

34. MC, The Ministry, v. 7, no. 6, Aug. 2003, p. 196, emphasis added. Along the same lines W. Lee said, “In the recovery today there are over 1200 churches around the globe, yet we all are one Body. If we consider ourselves as individual churches or as individual believers, we are through. We should consider ourselves as one Body.” (W. Lee, The Issue of the Dispensing of the Processed Trinity and the Transmitting of the Transcending Christ, chap. 6) W. Lee’s statement “there are over 1200 churches around the globe, yet we all are one Body,” equates the 1200 local churches with Christ’s Body.

35. W. Lee, Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, Section 7

36. BP, The Ministry, Vol. 9, No. 3, March. 2005, p. 121, emphasis added

37. W. Lee, Speciality, Generality, & Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 1, Section 3

38. W. Lee says, “Suppose a local church stresses the oneness, the unity. It stresses one city, one church all the time. one city, one church even becomes the church's slogan. As a result, some of the saints become dissenting, even undermining the church by going from member to member and saying, ‘This is really too much. The church here is a one city, one church sect. It is a local church sect.’ If this were the case, Romans 16:17 [“watch out for those who cause divisions…contrary to the doctrine that
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:58 AM   #2
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Default LSM's Sacrament

I find the timing of this article to be just impeccable. One week before Cleveland's annual Spring Conference, this year to feature the "Ground of Locality," a life-changing foundational truth of the Recovery to restore our "Vision." In fact, this was the leader announcement on Cleveland's website ...
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COMING SOON! What you see affects and changes how you live. In fact, the Bible says that, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). Check back in the coming weeks to see a clear description of our vision and commitment, and how our lives have been changed as a result.
Then news leaks of disagreements among the Cleveland leaders. Apparently the "vision" has not gripped them all alike. Or perhaps, some have merely begun to re-examine the scriptures concerning this important "dogma" of the faith. Some have even read Myer's comment that "there is more scriptural justification for head-covering than there is for the ground of oneness."

Then Tomes' latest article hits the streets of Cleveland. Can it be that the once sacred "ground" we stand on is nothing more than a Catholic sacrament to bring us God's manifold blessing? Dare we risk all the saints showing up at the conference with Tomes' paper in hand? Imagine the ensuing chaos with TC out of the country!

But like that old cigarette add, some of these brothers would rather "fight than switch."
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:11 AM   #3
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LSM’s Sacrament—the “Ground of the Local Church”

In the New Testament the “local church ground”—“one church, one city”—is one church pattern (among several patterns).
LSM has made this descriptive example into a prescription, an essential truth, and elevated it to the status of a sacrament.

The speciality, Generality and Practicality of the Church Life, WL
These are the six main items of the proper Christian faith. All real Christians do not have any disputations about these items. Some may disagree with the point, one city, one church, but as a proper Christian we have to believe that the church is both universally one and locally one. As the Body of Christ, the church is universally one; as the expression of the Body of Christ, a local church is locally one. This doesn’t mean, however, that a real believer in Christ who does not agree with one city, one church is not saved. Still he or she is saved, but there is something lacking, not for salvation, but for the proper church life. (chapter 1, section 3)


WL has clearly listed his doctrine of "one church one city" as part of the common Christian faith and that any Christian who does not receive this teaching is "Lacking something".

Am I still the only one saying he was a false teacher?
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:16 AM   #4
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I find the timing of this article to be just impeccable.
Actually it seems there is a lot of overlap with our threads on this site and our recent fellowship. Who was first to discuss the prescriptive vs descriptive aspect, was it Igzy or Tomes, or does this precede both of them?
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

Tomes goes to the heart of the matter here, and his efforts are timely. As the TC-centered GLA gears up to reinforce the LC's local ground "heritage," the time has come to seriously question this centrally-defining doctrine.

It won't, however, be easy to question the local ground in a movement called the Local Church movement! Two things define this movement, and they aren't, as they'd like to believe, Christ and the Church. They are Lee and the local ground. Two clever impostors.

The fact is, as Tome's article helps make clearer, the local ground is a gimmick. It is a way to try to claim sole legitimacy to being a church. It's a way to legitimize "our way or the highway." To be exclusive and claim to be inclusive. To have their cake and eat it, too.

The Ground of Oneness should be renamed The Ground of Ourselves, because in the end that's what it was all about.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:20 AM   #6
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The Ground of Oneness should be renamed The Ground of Ourselves, because in the end that's what it was all about.
Great name, however what do we call it? Just like the "LRC" it seems to be a very valuable exercise to rename this for what it really is. I like LSM's Sacrament.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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Great name, however what do we call it? Just like the "LRC" it seems to be a very valuable exercise to rename this for what it really is. I like LSM's Sacrament.
I guess "Ground of Themselves." But it lacks the alliterative appeal.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
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Actually it seems there is a lot of overlap with our threads on this site and our recent fellowship. Who was first to discuss the prescriptive vs descriptive aspect, was it Igzy or Tomes, or does this precede both of them?
I heard it first on the forums from one of the posters. Not sure who, perhaps UntoHim.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:22 AM   #9
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I guess "Ground of Themselves." But it lacks the alliterative appeal.
Like the "doctrine of dirt?"

.

After this latest paper, connecting the church ground with the sacraments, ole Cassidy will never again refer to the professor as a proxy spokesman for TC
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:11 PM   #10
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Like the "doctrine of dirt?"

.

After this latest paper, connecting the church ground with the sacraments, ole Cassidy will never again refer to the professor as a proxy spokesman for TC
LSM's sacrament, the doctrine of dirt, the secret of their power. Makes them sound like vampires.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:35 PM   #11
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“To hear the Spirit's speaking we must be…in the local church on the ground”—W. Lee

W. Lee says the “ground of oneness” is no longer tied to one city (Israel’s Jerusalem); today it’s tied to the NT pattern of “one church, one city, meeting in oneness on the local ground.” LSM’s local churches claim exclusive rights over the “local ground”--that unique position (allegedly) qualifying them for God’s abundant blessing.

In contrast to other Christians, Local Church members claim they have returned to “Jerusalem,” the God-appointed place of worship. Against this backdrop, W. Lee declares,35 “When God's people in the Old Testament lost the ground of oneness, they spontaneously lost so many spiritual and holy things. However, when they returned to Jerusalem, to the ground of oneness, all these holy and spiritual things spontaneously returned. The principle is the same in the Lord's recovery today. Today our God, the Triune God, is…realized as the all-inclusive Spirit. Today this Spirit is speaking to the churches [Rev. 2:7]. Hence, in order to hear the Spirit's speaking, we must be in one of the churches…We know where we must be today—in the local oneness, i.e., in the local church on the ground of oneness.” Note that W. Lee asserts “to hear the Spirit's speaking, we must be…in the local church on the ground.” Here is yet another exclusive claim about “the ground”! If you’re not in “the local church, standing on the local ground,” you won’t hear the Holy Spirit’s speaking!
Here are two examples of how distorted this teaching is.

They are using the type of the Temple as a basis for this teaching. In the type the ground of the Temple is critical, it had to be put in the place where God appointed. That place was specifically chosen by God. There is no doubt from either Jewish or Christian scholars that the reason God chose the Temple mount is that this is the spot where Abraham offered up Isaac in a figure. This ground is identified as the place where God the Father offered up his Son for the sins of the world. The Temple mount is also the ground purchased by King David as a sin offering. Jesus as the greater David also made a sin offering when He offered up Himself on the Cross.

This is our ground. That is the one and only spot on which the church should be built.

The idea that this OT type prefigured the boundaries of modern day cities is absurd. There are only two possible explanations: WL willfully distorted the teaching or WL and WN are terrible Bible expositors.

However, this teaching is an article of the faith for the LSM. It is equivalent to a sacrament. This isn't merely some minor error, this is the foundation of the entire LSM franchise.

The second heinous error is the idea that the church can "take the ground". This ground that the temple was built on was purchased by Jesus when He was crucified on the cross. This price was paid so that all could be redeemed. The idea that a couple of saints can just "take it" is grossly irreverent. "One church one city" is not an item of the faith, but "the blood of Jesus shed so that we could be redeemed" is. I can take this by faith when I proclaim that Jesus is Lord and believe that God has raised him from the dead, just as Abraham, the father of faith, believed God was able to raise him.

Once again, how could the LSM and WL teach sacrilege? Either WL is willfully distorting this teaching to create his own little sect with a captive market for his books, or else he is utterly incompetent as a Bible teacher.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

I appreciate the true fellowship with which Nigel has written. There is no indication of diluting his words for the sake of his peers. Specifically being a co-worker of Titus. Much of what Nigel has spoken in this article has been expressed at one time or another on this forum.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:57 PM   #13
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I appreciate the true fellowship with which Nigel has written. There is no indication of diluting his words for the sake of his peers. Specifically being a co-worker of Titus. Much of what Nigel has spoken in this article has been expressed at one time or another on this forum.
I also have wondered if Nigel Tomes or John Myer got any of their ideas from this forum.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:33 AM   #14
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Tomes goes to the heart of the matter here, and his efforts are timely. As the TC-centered GLA gears up to reinforce the LC's local ground "heritage," the time has come to seriously question this centrally-defining doctrine.
Witness Lee, Lessons for New Believers, chpt 16, Sect 4
In lesson 14 we saw that the churches in each locality should be independent, each living directly before the Lord and not forming organizations such as federations or headquarters (Rev. 1:11-20). The local ground is the best safeguard against forming organizations and federations. The local ground always restricts the local churches in every locality from forming federations beyond the boundary of a locality, thus losing the nature of locality. The church in every locality should be administered locally; there should be one church in one locality. The church in Jerusalem did not interfere with the church in Antioch; neither did the church in Antioch interfere with the church in Jerusalem.


How does this work again? What is the difference between "the blendeds" and a federation? Doesn't the expression "LSM churches" equivalent to a federation? Is this Alice in Wonderland?
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:21 AM   #15
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

I think everyone interested in this subject should consider two things that Tomes brings out.
  1. The doctrine of the local ground is not taught prescriptively in the Bible.

  2. The LRC's attempted prescriptive teaching of the local ground has led to nothing but strife and division.
Any fair observer has to admit the above. Whether you sympathize with the teaching or not, whether you still wonder if it holds weight, you have to admit that as practiced by the LRC it has produced the opposite of oneness. It has produced tight, isolated, inwardly-focused sects which have nothing to do with the whole church in the cities in which they live--and which either fight to the death or disdainfully disregard any other groups or splinters in the city which also claim to be "on the local ground."

Something is clearly WRONG with this picture.

Where does the problem start? It starts with the mistaken belief that in order to be a legitimate church, a group must knowingly stand on the local ground.

Note, according to this belief it is not good enough to stand on the oneness of Christ. True churches must stand the ground of locality, or they are not true churches. But hardly anyone else believes this, or even knows about this doctrine! Do we really believe God thinks that in order for him to have a true church in a community the members need to hold to an obscure, barely-taught doctrine that almost no one in church history has believed?! And if they don't God just has to bide his time until someone figures out the doctrine?

Nowhere does the Bible say or imply that in order to be a legitimate church a group must stand on the local ground.

Further, one must look at the fruit of this practice. Once a group stands on the local ground, they become naturally motivated to protect their claimed status of uniquely being the church. In other words, it produces turf wars. So we inevitably witness varying accusations toward other city groups which also say they are on the local ground, including.
  • We were here first. You must join us.
  • You do not have appropriate fellowship with other churches. (i.e. you are not associated with our approved list of groups.)
  • You do not follow the correct ministry.
  • You follow rebellious leaders.
  • You are not following the Spirit.
  • You have the wrong taste, smell, feel.
  • You are worldly.
The list goes on, tacking on requirements which have nothing to do with being a legitimate church. The local ground teaching naturally leads to strife among groups, with no provision to solve these problems other than either all-out war or willful disregard. It ultimately produces division, not oneness.

Two things are clear. One, the Bible doesn't prescribe the local ground. Two, prescribing it produces division.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:02 AM   #16
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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I think everyone interested in this subject should consider two things that Tomes brings out.
[LIST=1][*]The doctrine of the local ground is not taught prescriptively in the Bible.
This exposes the hypocrisy because with regards to head covering the teaching of LSM is that if the Bible doesn't prescribe it, then neither should we. Yet they have elevated "One church one city" to the level of "the faith".


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[*]The LRC's attempted prescriptive teaching of the local ground has led to nothing but strife and division.
Clearly if the teaching is erroneous it has led to division the minute they created another sect.

However, the strife and division can be directly linked to various sins (Daystar, PL, etc). So to prove that those sins were part and parcel with this teaching you would have to argue that WL taught this with the intention of establishing a sect. Therefore that would make this teaching the first sin, just as James says.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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However, the strife and division can be directly linked to various sins (Daystar, PL, etc). So to prove that those sins were part and parcel with this teaching you would have to argue that WL taught this with the intention of establishing a sect. Therefore that would make this teaching the first sin, just as James says.
I don't think it's necessary to link those particular things with the fact that requiring the local ground leads to sectarianism. A group can be sectarian without having any other sins, though they likely will have other sins.

A "moral hazard"* is established by claiming to be the only legitimate place to meet in a city. Once you teach your group that it is THE group then tolerance of leadership sins by members is a requirement, since the members are expected to believe there is no where else to go.


* I borrow the term "moral hazard" from economics. It is the concept that incentives to take undue risks are established if the negative consequences of those risks are removed from the party taking the risks and passed to another, usually naive, party.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:21 PM   #18
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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A "moral hazard"* is established by claiming to be the only legitimate place to meet in a city. Once you teach your group that it is THE group then tolerance of leadership sins by members is a requirement, since the members are expected to believe there is no where else to go.
I still don't see how, based on this one teaching, you are not able to deal with the sin. There is nothing in the teaching that "trumps" sin. So it seems that "one church one city" is merely a component, but you have to include "deputy authority", MOTA, or something else before you are requiring tolerance of sins.
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:56 PM   #19
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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I still don't see how, based on this one teaching, you are not able to deal with the sin. There is nothing in the teaching that "trumps" sin. So it seems that "one church one city" is merely a component, but you have to include "deputy authority", MOTA, or something else before you are requiring tolerance of sins.
Okay, well look at the track record. How does an LRC member deal with the sins of local leadership? Let's say he goes to the elders and accuses them of sin. They reply, "We disagree. You are rebelling against the one true eldership of this city. We quarantine you!" If the member believes the LRC model, he has no recourse but either to submit or be a spiritual vagabond.

Of course, he can go find other fellowship in that city, but then that means he doesn't believe in the LRC model.

My point was if you believe the LRC model, the elders have the upper hand because you can't vote with your feet--which is another practical reason the model is suspect.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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Okay, well look at the track record. How does an LRC member deal with the sins of local leadership? Let's say he goes to the elders and accuses them of sin. They reply, "We disagree. You are rebelling against the one true eldership of this city. We quarantine you!" If the member believes the LRC model, he has no recourse but either to submit or be a spiritual vagabond.

Of course, he can go find other fellowship in that city, but then that means he doesn't believe in the LRC model.

My point was if you believe the LRC model, the elders have the upper hand because you can't vote with your feet--which is another practical reason the model is suspect.
What about BM, the elder in Irving who worked in the LSM.

I think it is the teaching on Deputy Authority which is more often abused in this way.

Based on the reaction to PL I doubt JI, AK, JS, etc. would have had any qualms about dealing with a similarly sinful elder in their locality. Even if the offense was brought to their attention by some other member of the Body.

Another very sinister teaching is the idea of "one ministry". Based on this if you were to stand up in a meeting and say "hey, what is the Biblical basis for 'one church one city' because I don't think our practice is scriptural". I could see that getting you a quick ticket out of the LRC, but it would be based on the "one ministry", the elders would talk to this person and explain that speaking "differently" is not tolerated. They would then assume "deputy authority" as the basis for disciplining this person. Ultimately, the issue is not that you disagreed with "one church one city" but that you told someone else in the church your doubts. Hence, spreading poison and teaching differently, etc.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:33 PM   #21
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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What about BM, the elder in Irving who worked in the LSM.

I think it is the teaching on Deputy Authority which is more often abused in this way.

Ultimately, the issue is not that you disagreed with "one church one city" but that you told someone else in the church your doubts. Hence, spreading poison and teaching differently, etc.
Fine, but let's keep the thread on the subject of the local ground. And the fact is it is one of the ways the LRC uses to control its members and keep them on the reservation.

I recall the discussion I had with "Ryan," a particularly zealous and naive young man, who was extra proud of the fact he was on his way to the FTTA to get himself more equipped (indoctrinated).

I asked him what he would do if the Lord led him to leave the LC. His answer was that he didn't think the Lord would ever lead anyone to leave. (Note that he didn't answer my question.) When I asked why, he started talking about the local ground and how to leave the LC would be to violate the one church in the city principle, yada, yada.

So the doctrine is still effectively used to control the members, as is the MOTA doctrine.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:36 PM   #22
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I appreciate the true fellowship with which Nigel has written. There is no indication of diluting his words for the sake of his peers. Specifically being a co-worker of Titus. Much of what Nigel has spoken in this article has been expressed at one time or another on this forum.
I don't think Nigel and TC are "co-workers" as you might think. First of all, even in the years before the quarantine, no one really worked "together" with TC, side by side. TC never had real "peers." Some may have thought they were peers, like JR and BB of Chicago, but once TC demeaned BB in front of all, over what was none of TC's business, everyone knew better. That offense btw became the watershed moment of the Whistler episode. As gifted and fruitful as CD was in Cleveland, the way TC treated him made it clear that they were not "co-" anything, and that CD served only at TC's pleasure.

This latest article "Sacrament" shows how distant they now are. Perhaps I am wrong, but I see John Myer's fingerprints all over this article. Remember it was John who was called to Cleveland, where he was to be "questioned and found guilty," as he wrote in his epilog. The questions he was asked concerned "the ground." Obviously John "flunked" the LC litmus test stilled administered in Cleveland. For Cleveland to feature "the ground" in this conference obviously has TC's endorsement.

Nigel's article will not be received well in Cleveland. Definitely not! If he could, TC would cut his support and kick him out of church housing, as happened to John Myer for speaking the same truth. This article also tells me that the elders in Toronto are like-minded with Nigel concerning this matter, since they are the ones Nigel is accountable to, as it well should be. As others have pointed out, this whole "local" thing is a farce anyway, since prior to the quarantine all GLA leaders, with few exceptions, were ultimately responsible to TC.

Nigel has not just done one of his scholarly studies on another diverse LC topic, replete with 17 pages of end note documentation, in this paper. Nigel actually called the LC "ground" a sacrament! And I think he has proven it! This article has the power to shake the entire system to its foundations. I would think that both Anaheim and Cleveland would be compelled to retaliate. If TC has any connections left in Toronto, he would use them now.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:59 PM   #23
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Default "Ground of the Local Church"

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Witness Lee, Lessons for New Believers, chpt 16, Sect 4 ...
In lesson 14 we saw that the churches in each locality should be independent, each living directly before the Lord and not forming organizations such as federations or headquarters (Rev. 1:11-20). The local ground is the best safeguard against forming organizations and federations. The local ground always restricts the local churches in every locality from forming federations beyond the boundary of a locality, thus losing the nature of locality. The church in every locality should be administered locally; there should be one church in one locality. The church in Jerusalem did not interfere with the church in Antioch; neither did the church in Antioch interfere with the church in Jerusalem.
This quote highlights the hypocrisy in the Recovery which so surrounds the word "local." WN's early writings in China on this topic actually discussed the many safeguards of "locality," since their primary "enemy" was British colonial controls manifested through denominational mission boards. But WN's teachings on "The Work" actually have obliterated any benefits which may have once existed. In the hands of Lee, the available mechanisms which surrounded "The Work" have reduced the independence of localities to zero. WL even went so far to say that the decision-making prerogatives of the local eldership was limited to establishing the time of their meetings. There is not a denominational church affiliate today which has less autonomy than the LC's have.

History has proven repeatedly this is true. In that infamous Rosemead conference, WL even spat on G.H. Lang's book "Churches of God" which had become popular at the time due to Lang's insight on autonomy, born out of Darby's devastation to the Brethren movement. Bill Mallon had bought cases of the book, and circulated copies widespread to many brothers. The recent local lawsuits, instigated and trained by the Blendeds and their operatives, proves what little respect they have for local autonomy. They cared little for people, all they wanted was their money, their property, and their franchised "name."

As someone has so aptly said, "tell me again about how that church with no name is suing in court over their name."
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:19 PM   #24
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This article also tells me that the elders in Toronto are like-minded with Nigel concerning this matter, since they are the ones Nigel is accountable to, as it well should be. .
Ah, ah not so fast my dear brother Ohio...there is a disclaimer....
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LSM’s Sacrament—the “Ground of the Local Church”
Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA
April, 2013

NOTES:
As always the views expressed here are those of the author alone. They should not be attributed to the believers, elders or churches with whom he is associated. Thanks are extended to those who commented on earlier drafts.
When he first started with these disclaimers years ago, I think Nigel had Titus Chu in mind. Now I think he means the leading brothers/elders in the church there in Toronto. I could be wrong of course...
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:29 PM   #25
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Ah, ah not so fast my dear brother Ohio...there is a disclaimer....
Mark my words.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:17 PM   #26
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

Sorry, but how does someone who discredits the written word as prescriptive (See Witness Lee and the book of James) turn around and use descriptions in the Word (geography and historical newness of the Christian faith with locality) to set prescriptions for all Christians?

E.G. The Bible should be respected in THIS respect, but not in THAT respect. How do you know that? "Just listen to me...."

Rejection of this is pretty straight forward. Not on an adversarial basis, but rather BY THEIR OWN ARGUMENTS....

It takes some gymnastics.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:27 AM   #27
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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It takes some gymnastics.
O! Lord Jesus! The image of WL doing gymnastics was not what i was expecting first thing in the morning.

Reminds me of Rose Mary Woods "accidentally" erasing 20 minutes of the Watergate tapes.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:59 AM   #28
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

I found the highlighted quote by Nigel Tomes (today's featured post) very interesting. Talks about how WL's name is mentioned more often than Jesus. This is certainly the case on this forum. There does seem to be a slight issue with the pray reading and calling on the name. But our biggest issue by far is the monopoly of WL's ministry, the elevation of his name, and the goal of "all being on the same page" by the constant reiteration of WL's messages. If the LRC stopped those three things it would eliminate half or even 65% of the issues raised on this forum with their practices.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:47 AM   #29
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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If the LRC stopped those three things it would eliminate half or even 65% of the issues raised on this forum with their practices.
If the LRC eliminated all their scare tactics they'd lose half their membership in five years. And the rest would die off in twenty years. They know this, which is why they continue to try to scare people into staying.

This is what the conference to renew the vision of the local ground is all about. They are reinforcing the walls that keep everyone in.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:37 AM   #30
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If the LRC eliminated all their scare tactics they'd lose half their membership in five years. And the rest would die off in twenty years. They know this, which is why they continue to try to scare people into staying.

This is what the conference to renew the vision of the local ground is all about. They are reinforcing the walls that keep everyone in.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

The best thing to do in a situation like that is repent for whatever caused you to get into that situation in the first place.

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1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:57 AM   #31
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LSM disqualifies all other Christian congregations due to32 their “having special names, special beliefs, and special fellowships, or having an “isolated local fellowship “as opposed to “a universal fellowship.”
Talk about "isolated local fellowship". I do not see the LSM affiliated church active in the city where I live. Many non-LSM affiliated churches are active doing some form of community service, outreach, and in some cases coordinating with another Christian assembly in my city.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:21 PM   #32
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Default LSM's Sacrament

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More often, the local church is defined exclusively. Other believers in the city are not already members of the local church in the city; rather they are condemned for “standing on improper grounds”—“denominational or scattered grounds.” In LSM’s view, only “we” have returned to Jerusalem, “they” are in Babylon or the wilderness. “Believers gathering simply as believers” in family groups, schools, congregations, chapels, streets or alleys are now rejected outright LSM—“This is not adequate.” All other believers are condemned; LSM claims exclusive rights over the proper ground; they alone returned to Jerusalem and are acceptable to God! Isn’t this elitist?
I remember migrating to Columbus from Cleveland some 35 years ago. A number of campus organizations rose up to condemn us based on those books written about us. We would never even consider if any of their criticisms were valid. In our eyes we alone were the church, and all other Christian gatherings were counterfeits. We had no clue how arrogant we really were. One brother used this analogy concerning the opposition we received from other Christians, "it's like the real wife walked into the room, and all the concubines started to squabble."

We were that elitist!
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:08 PM   #33
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8. Non-LSM Local Churches in the Great Lakes Area

Another category of local churches emerged after LSM’s latest turmoil in 2006/7--non-LSM churches in the Great Lakes Area (GLA) of North America. How are they faring? On one hand they’ve severed ties with LSM’s “blended brothers;” they don’t attend LSM’s “seven annual feasts” or use LSM’s HWMR and they no longer “prophesy” (recite) W. Lee’s messages in their gatherings. But, for many scattered GLA churches, little has changed. Witness Lee’s name may not be mentioned; LSM’s Recovery Version footnotes are seldom read as defining statements. Nevertheless, the “default setting” for Bible teaching and interpretation remains Witness Lee’s teachings. In most places, local church practices remain largely unchanged, except regional activities have replaced LSM’s global gatherings. Most GLA non-LSM local churches can be characterized as “LSM lite.”
I find this very interesting. These churches have taken very definite steps to break away from a lot that binds. To sever ties with the Blendeds and not attend the conferences, stop using HWMR, stop regurgitating WL's messages, these are all very significant steps. You still have to meet, so the meetings will continue to fellowship the Bible, by not using WL's messages you open the door for the saints to read and fellowship the Bible without fear. In this environment of "LSM lite" it is possible for someone like Nigel to publish a word this radical. That is a very big step, very encouraging.

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A burst of GLA creative activity following the 2006/7 “turmoil,” called for a thorough re-examination of Local Church teachings and practices, in the light of Scripture.58 But it soon withered under the weight of benign neglect. As a result, 6-years after parting ways with LSM, the GLA churches have yet to provide a statement of their theological differences with LSM. Was it just a personality contest--“we refer Titus Chu to LSM’s ‘blended brothers’”? Or a drive for regional autonomy—“we reject LSM’s leadership; we’ll do it ourselves”? Recently there’s a move in the GLA to restore traditional “local church values” in the name of “preserving our distinct identity,” “not losing our vision & commitment,” and “honoring our unique heritage.” Extra-biblical teachings could be endorsed under such labels, even though they fail to match the “gold standard” of Scripture. Phrases like “our distinct identity” and “our heritage & commitment” can mask mere local church tradition. Yet, the local churches have long proclaimed59 “we don’t follow human tradition; we follow the Bible.” One candidate for this category is LSM’s “local ground” doctrine; already we’ve heard claims “it’s not an essential truth, but it’s an ‘essential practice’.” Yet, evangelical believers acknowledge only two ‘essential practices’ (ordinances)—baptism and Lord’s Table--both were ordained by the Lord (Matt. 28:19; Luke 22:19). Neither the Lord Jesus, nor the New Testament prescribes the “local ground.” Putting the local ground on par with baptism and the Lord’s Table elevates it beyond Scripture; it repeats LSM’s error of making the local ground into a sacrament.
He is calling for a "thorough reexamination of LRC teachings and practices" and begins by taking a direct shot at the most important teaching of the LRC. If the saints in the GLA can read this short article thoughtfully and without fear, then I think that will be the death knell for the LRC in this region.

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A forthcoming US Midwest conference60 promises to address this topic. It remains to be seen, however, if the doctrine will merely be “tweaked,” with minor “cosmetic surgery”—e.g. “let’s not say all other Christians are not on the local ground (even though we still believe it).” To seriously grapple with this topic the major points enumerated here ought to be addressed, employing Watchman Nee’s (oft-quoted, seldom applied) dictum, “the Bible is our only standard.” Plus long-standing attitudes of sectarianism and elitism should be addressed. Minor “cosmetic surgery” won’t accomplish much; more radical measures, akin to a major operation, are required. Moreover, LSM’s “local ground” doctrine is a “tangled web of interwoven elements,” so individual aspects can’t simply be accepted or rejected independently.
Look at the environment where a conference like this results in all of this push back. This was unthinkable back in 1979. To me this is a dramatic change.

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In conclusion we inquire: Is the mission to preserve “our unique identity” misguided? It assumes the local church ought to differ significantly from other Christian congregations. We ask: what’s wrong with being a “normal Christian church” among other “normal Christian churches” in our city or community? Doesn’t history show that the drive for a “distinct identity” is a road littered with “cults,” sects or other aberrant expressions of the Christian faith. Haven’t we ventured down that road before? By seeking to re-create our former local church-life--in the name of “preserving our distinct identity” or “maintaining our particular vision and commitment”--don’t we risk repeating our sad history? Haven’t we “been there, done that” before?

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA
April, 2013


[SIZE="1"]NOTES:

As always the views expressed here are those of the author alone. They should not be attributed to the believers, elders or churches with whom he is associated. Thanks are extended to those who commented on earlier drafts.
A word like this in 1980 would have surely gotten you excommunicated. I think this little caveat at the end is just to keep the hounds away from the elders in Toronto and protect them from any liability. I doubt if there were much dissension over this that he would be able to publish it. Obviously this is a very controversial paper. If the LSM doesn't fire back with some serious heat then the only real explanation is that they can't. This word undermines everything the LSM publishes.

If "one city one church" doctrine falls, then the ministry of WL falls with it. How can you say he is the MOTA? How could they say they are the "One true church"? If they are no better than any other Christian group then think of the shame over all the nasty things said concerning other Christian groups. This would demand a reassessment of their practices and teachings.

Luke
14:8 When you are bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than you be bidden of him;
14:9 And he that bade you and him come and say to you, Give this man place; and you begin with shame to take the lowest room.

It is one thing if a few people on a forum like this share these things, but if Nigel Tomes and others start picking this up as well, then this demands that LSM respond. This is far more serious than accusations of being a cult.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:59 PM   #34
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One brother used this analogy concerning the opposition we received from other Christians, "it's like the real wife walked into the room, and all the concubines started to squabble."
I had heard one analogy to describe the ground of the church. In each city there is only one location that has the proper ground. (Among the Exclusive Brethren/aka Plymouth Brethren their description of the ground is "the one place")
The analogy is when you go to someone's home, there is only one address. You can't go to the neighbors home, because that's the wrong address. Likewise the practical expression of the church in each city has to be on the proper ground for God's habitation.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:13 PM   #35
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A word like this in 1980 would have surely gotten you excommunicated.
Things haven't changed much. Anaheim has quarantined Tomes and Cleveland has effectively done the same.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:17 PM   #36
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I had heard one analogy to describe the ground of the church. In each city there is only one location that has the proper ground. (Among the Exclusive Brethren/aka Plymouth Brethren their description of the ground is "the one place")
The analogy is when you go to someone's home, there is only one address. You can't go to the neighbors home, because that's the wrong address. Likewise the practical expression of the church in each city has to be on the proper ground for God's habitation.
I remember a conference with Max Rapoport many years ago. He said the address to the meeting was "123 Spirit Street." He was emphasizing the point based on John 4.24, that the only address is in the Spirit, and the Father seeks such to worship Him there.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:20 PM   #37
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a. Has the “local ground” prevented division?

Anyone familiar with the history of the Recovery in North America has to admit there has been frequent turmoil, chaos and divisions. Mention the names—Max Rappaport, Sal Benoit, Bill Freeman, John Ingalls, Bill Mallon, John So, Joseph Fung, Titus Chu, and Dong Yu-Lan, and there’s a story of “turmoil.” Plus these are just brothers with a “national profile.” W. Lee conceded48 “I observed that the chaos came in cycles. Every 8 or 10 years was a cycle.” He was obliged to admit that49 “In the 30 years that the Lord's recovery has been in the US, we have seen turmoil after turmoil, chaos after chaos. When there is turmoil in the church life, we may be bothered and ask, ‘Is this the church life? Is this the recovery? What is the difference between this and the denominations?’” These words were spoken in 1992; the 20 years since exhibit the same pattern. These data are sufficient to demonstrate, contrary to its claimed benefits, the “local ground” has not prevented divisions and factions. In fact, many feel that divisions within the Local Church movement have been more acrimonious than Christian congregations usually experience. In other Christian groups do factions routinely resort to lawsuits over church property, as LSM-adherents have done? The “local ground” has not prevented divisions.
Turmoils are a conflict. How do you handle conflict? Do you bless the brothers and sisters who leave or do you curse them?
One thing for sure relationships are strained, damaged, and maybe terminated.
The turmoils are likely a result of:
  • poor communication
  • misunderstandings
  • differing values
  • competition and jealousy
James is exhorting the brothers when he says:
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God." James 4:1-2

You could say God's sovereignty allowed the turmoils to happen. For our good and for His glory. As conflict is an opportunity to glorify God.

"For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one [f]according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ [g]according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [h]he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and [i]He has [j]committed to us the word of reconciliation."
2 Corinthians 5:14-19

Nigel said, In fact, many feel that divisions within the Local Church movement have been more acrimonious than Christian congregations usually experience. Why is this? Is it due to a lack of forbearance? Or is it because a lack of Christ's love?
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:41 AM   #38
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Default Sacrament or sacrilege?

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James is exhorting the brothers when he says:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." James 4:1-3
Very interesting insight here. I had long interpreted this scripture as referring to one's individual and personal lusts, but this applies as well to organizations carrying out the pleasures of their leaders. In the name of genuine Christian ministry, both Anaheim and Cleveland have displayed their motive to dominate others based on coveting evil desires. In order to get what they want, they have quarreled and fought, both behind the scenes and publicly. Since they are so identical, having the same mentor, it is ludicrous to conceive that one could find legitimate fault with the other, unless, of course, the motive is to dominate the other.

So it's no wonder that God has not answered their numerous prayers for relief. They have asked evilly with wrong motives. Anaheim is far worse in this regard, since they have continually used the court system as their "God" to gain advantage of their opponent. Is this not a friendship with the world? I have long said that the feud between Anaheim and Cleveland had nothing to do with Christian teachings and practices. It was always about a lustful grab for power in the absence of their founder.

James says so too.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:31 AM   #39
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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Things haven't changed much. Anaheim has quarantined Tomes and Cleveland has effectively done the same.
If he has been quarantined should he still be speaking and teaching? Isn't the biggest fear of those in authority that no one listens when they make judgments?
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:26 PM   #40
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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If he has been quarantined should he still be speaking and teaching?
Take John Ingalls' quarantine for example. You could say that was God's provision to open up another door for John to speak, teach, and simply minister Christ to another part of the Body of Christ. Listening to messages of Art Katz, he had a similar experience. When one door closes, another door opens.
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Old 04-04-2013, 04:03 PM   #41
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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Take John Ingalls' quarantine for example. You could say that was God's provision to open up another door for John to speak, teach, and simply minister Christ to another part of the Body of Christ. Listening to messages of Art Katz, he had a similar experience. When one door closes, another door opens.
My point is that everyone in authority is always scared of what happens if no one listens to them. Clearly Nigel is not listening to them, the whole world can see this, now what are they going to do about it. If the answer is nothing then it demonstrates for the whole world to see that they have no authority.

Did TC stop doing what he was doing when he was quarantined?

This is humiliating to the Blendeds, their word is meaningless, no one cares what they think or say.

The only way the Blendeds could have any authority is if they can claim to be "the keepers of the vision". If it turns out though that this "vision" is a sham, then poof, there goes the authority. That is why this thread is so important. Demonstrate that their venerated teaching of "the Ground of the Local Church" is a sham, then poof, there is no "vision" to be the keeper of.

Either WN is a "genius" for discovering and then recovering this "hidden truth" or he is an idiot for elevating a bogus teaching to the level of "the faith". As far as I can tell the entire "Recovery" hinges in the balance based on what happens in this thread. It is quite obvious based on this forum and Nigel's writing that this teaching is under serious attack. If the Blendeds do not respond then they are clearly completely powerless and are ceding that the teaching is a sham.

Respond and defend your teaching or admit through their silence that it is indefensible.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:27 AM   #42
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church"

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My point is that everyone in authority is always scared of what happens if no one listens to them. Clearly Nigel is not listening to them, the whole world can see this, now what are they going to do about it. If the answer is nothing then it demonstrates for the whole world to see that they have no authority.
Using the past to predict the future, the next step is to find some brothers in Toronto who are willing to side with them against the eldership in Toronto, which Nigel is a part of. If you remember after the quarantine, LSM successfully garnered two Toronto elders DW and RM in an attempt to seize control of the entire church, with her assets. Eventually they left with a number of pro-LSM saints. Note that the original elders in Toronto from decades ago BB, PO, and GS? all came back to Toronto in order to assist in that coup d'etat.

Ironically both Anaheim and Cleveland are both using the ground of locality doctrine to undermine the very local administration which that teaching guarantees and protects. It's not that I still support that doctrine, but it is of utmost hypocrisy for any ministry to attempt to use the very teaching which supposedly preserves local churches from outside interferences. How in the world can they call this a "vision" of oneness, when they are using extra-Biblical doctrines in an attempt to divide the church in Toronto. Shame on all of them.

It's helpful to note that the GLA basically has three main "camps," for lack of a better word. First is pro-Anaheim, second is pro-Cleveland, and the third is pro-local. During the first round of splits (circa 2007) in the GLA, the 2nd and 3rd camps united in an attempt to protect their saints from LSM operatives, "brought in secretly to spy out our freedom, in order to bring us into bondage," by instigating the 1st camp. At that time TC's supporters continually spread the word that "TC had changed," hoping to keep the 3rd group intact under TC. Soon after the dust settled, TC proved that he had never really changed after all, and dumped John Myer. This sent a message loud and clear to the 3rd camp that their recent freedoms were now in jeopardy.

A city like Columbus now has 3 churches where one formerly existed. LSM came in and took their spoils, including the meeting hall. Then Cleveland came in and took theirs. Likewise, the church in Toronto is just to fair a prize to let fall into camp 3, a true local church. Even though most of those favorable to LSM have now been long gone, there still exists an element of Cleveland supporters. That is who was targeted for this weekend's conference. Most of these ones, of course, will be Chinese, and Toronto has lots of Chinese people.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:10 AM   #43
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

This is all so sad and disheartening. By now, every God filled person in Christ who was/is in the LC from back in the day should be mature enough to lead people to Christ and disciple the young ones in the Word of God.

Christ is our Head..not the ground of locality. We ought to be encouraging and lifting up the saints in the Word, by the Word. The local "ground" should not be the focus of our Faith.

Every religious group has a "ground of locality": the Catholic church, the Baptist church, the Pentecostal church

I recently attended a service where the visiting leading brother/pastor lavished his praises on the pastor of that church group. Wow!!! There is no pastor like that pastor!!!

:/

Haven't we all heard that same story???

So how different is the LSM from the rest of the bunch?

The real difference I see between the LCR/LSM is the LCR / LSM does not call or refer to the blended men and the leading men of their respective local churches, pastors/ministers/bishops/apostles/prophets/evangelists or "doctors" to their credit.

To my knowledge, they do not mandate "Tithes and offerings" also to their credit.
(Let the Holy Spirit direct the hearts).

Thirdly, they do not emphasize and/or mandate "praying/speaking in tongues"..also to their credit.

Unfortunately, Lee stifled the saints from growing in Christ by mandating the LR bible, the "life studies", the "HWMR", the ground of "locality" under Lee's umbrella, not Christ's and distancing themselves from other Christians (though they might deny this as many are tuning in to Christian radio and possibly Christian TV).

The bottom line is we all ought to be focused on God's heart..not on Lee's heart "the local ground". That is not our crown of Glory!!!

May God have exceedingly mercy on us all for judgment (rewards) first comes to the house of God. If He is not Numero Uno in our lives, our crowns could very well be taken from us (Revelation 3:11) (not the loss of our salvation).

Blessings everyone! And may the Lord Jesus and His Spirit of Truth and Love be everything to us.

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Old 04-05-2013, 10:52 AM   #44
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It's helpful to note that the GLA basically has three main "camps," for lack of a better word. First is pro-Anaheim, second is pro-Cleveland, and the third is pro-local.
What about the Brazilians? The Dong Yu Lan group seems to be quite aggressive about spreading their "kingdom". They are quite active in the North-east, including Canada (also Florida). What camp are they with? Cleveland?
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:51 PM   #45
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What about the Brazilians? The Dong Yu Lan group seems to be quite aggressive about spreading their "kingdom". They are quite active in the North-east, including Canada (also Florida). What camp are they with? Cleveland?
I know Dong has visited London, Ontario, but not sure about other places. Dr. David Wang, the leader there has never really aligned himself with either the Blendeds or with Titus Chu.
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:57 PM   #46
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Is this David Wang the same person in toronto?

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I know Dong has been visited London, Ontario, but not sure about other places. Dr. David Wang, the leader there has never really aligned himself with the Blendeds or Titus Chu.

Does his "kingdom" divide the saints, like Anaheim and Cleveland do?
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:54 PM   #47
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Default Re: scattered everywhere without unity

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What about the Brazilians? The Dong Yu Lan group seems to be quite aggressive about spreading their "kingdom". They are quite active in the North-east, including Canada (also Florida). What camp are they with? Cleveland?
I received this from a Brazilian brother two days ago.


Dear Brother,

I would have loved to be in touch with bro. _______ . That's the city where I live [Sao Paulo]. ....
Both because of old and recent facts envolving LSM, I do not meet in the churches that follow it closely anymore. Neither do I attend meetings at the Dong's churches that broke off fellowship with LSM. But I often talk and meet with many dear brothers and sisters from both branches of the Recovery tree and others that are in neither of the branches.
I am presently a member of _________ here in SP.

Yours in Him


Witness Lee's Final message was on unity, and the need for elders and co-workers to learn from our past and to consider where we - including himself - have been wrong in receiving others, just as God receives them, according to His Son.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swcs5pbzoDI


Skype with Brazilian brother 2009

[2/20/2009 1:47:59 PM]
Brazil brother: I do not meet with the church any longer, but I still love the Lord and have fellowship with real saints, as the ones I thought were "brothers" or "sisters" actually were not.
Brazil brother: Dear brother, I read a lot about what you wrote. Do not worry. I hold you dear to my heart in the Lord.
Steve isitt: I wonder if you have heard negative things about me from blending brothers. Did they send out a message or speak something in meetings about me. I know this took place in Ecuador.
Brazil brother: Apostasy is so widespread throughout Brazil as far as the Recovery is concerned, that people here do not know you.
Brazil brother: I was in [a U. S. Local Church] for only one week and met with them. It was really wonderful.
Brazil brother: There are so many so many so many saints like you here, which confronted the strange things going on in the Recovery and as a result were kicked off from the meeting halls that you wouldn't believe it.
Brazil brother: I myself am one of them. Brazil brother: But the way is enjoying the Lord and you know it, as far as I could read from your writings.
Brazil brother: The local leader in Brazil is a Chinese named Dong Yu Lan. He is worshipped by many and those who dare to question his practices are quickly expelled.
Brazil brother: I worked for their publishing house and was close to the rotten things they did and do.
Brazil brother; [2/20/2009 1:48:10 : The same way some people see you there, that's how they see me here.
[2/20/2009 1:48:17 : I have a good relationship with LSM though.
[2/20/2009 1:49:11 : I was the leading translator for them for Morning Revival into Brazilian Portuguese.
[[2/20/2009 1:50:02 : I have not worked for LSM any longer. I had to choose between them and my translation clients. I preferred the latter.
[2/20/2009 1:50:29 PM] Steve Isitt: Are you in fellowship with others?
[2/20/2009 1:50:57 : I do fellowship with other saints, but I am not meeting in any meeting hall.
[2/20/2009 1:51:13 PM] Steve Isitt: and, no home meeting for you?
[2/20/2009 1:51:24 : There is a positive movement of returning to the roots, which has been striking Dong Yu Lan's sect.
[2/20/2009 1:51:31 : No home meeting.
[2/20/2009 1:51:54 PM] Steve Isitt: a movement, are you much involved?
[2/20/2009 1:52:20 : I live in a small town, and the saints here literally argued with each other, with swearwords and defamation until there was not meeting hall left.

[2/20/2009 1:52:32 PM] Steve Isitt: Thank you for your fellowship, I better get off to work now
[2/20/2009 1:52:38 : I am not involved, but I silently support it.
[2/20/2009 1:52:51 : Take your time. We'll talk again soon.
[2/20/2009 1:52:57 : If you ever come here, be my guest.
[2/20/2009 1:53:26 PM] Steve Isitt: Okay, brother, sad about the situation in your locality at this time - I hope that will change
[2/20/2009 1:53:32 PM] Steve Isitt: bye for now

[5:50:11 : Amen, Steve.
[5:50:18 : Amen. Quite good. Thank the Lord.
[5:50:45 PM] Steve Isitt: I wanted to ask you about Brother Dong. A letter of warning has gone out concerning him.What is your feeling and that of others about this.[5:51:12 PM] Steve Isitt: If you are too busy now
[5:51:24 PM] Steve Isitt: You could write later.
[5:51:27 : I read all of those letters.
[5:51:32 PM] Steve Isitt: okay
[5:51:33 : It is COMPLETELY true.
[5:51:40 PM] Steve Isitt: Ohhhh
[5:51:43 PM] Steve Isitt: true
[5:51:58 : Church life in Brazil has been like a churchdeath.
[5:52:27 PM] Steve Isitt: This is important for me to hear. I feel I can trust your feeling.
[5:52:44 PM] Steve Isitt: Others feel this way??
[5:52:48 : Except for those who have taken a stand for the Lord, there has been horror and threats and lies and everything evil you can imagine concerning the security guards that are now following Dong Yu Lan.[5:53:40 : He has come to the point of saying that every American church has fallen and that the Recovery Version should not be read, that the Brazilian Portuguese version was mistranslated etc. etc. etc.
[5:53:49 PM] Steve Isitt: Could you write to me by email so that information can be contained and possibly publicized, with or without your name being used.
[5:54:29 : Provided you do not publish my name, it's OK.
[5:54:43 PM] Steve Isitt: okay
[5:54:49 : I am afraid for my life, brother. I am sure some might be literally killed for this.
[5:56:19 : Is that enough for you?
[5:56:20 PM] Steve Isitt: okay
[5:57:42 PM] Steve Isitt: Let me ask, do you feel that is enough. You have certainly made me clear on how you feel. i will write again if I have certain questions. Thanks _________.
[5:58:04 : You are welcome brother.

This Skype was from 2009. A U. S. LC brother today says that LSM has pursued Sao Paulo and other churches in Brazil aggressively to recover saints and churches, with a good degree of success.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swcs5pbzoDI
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:40 PM   #48
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I know Dong has been visited London, Ontario, --Does his "kingdom" divide the saints, like Anaheim and Cleveland do?
The Brasilian Arvore Da Vida push their ministry hard. But they act inclusive with other Christians. This will make them accept the TC camp, but ultimately the TC GLA will expel them for that very reason. Too inclusive.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:45 PM   #49
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Default Re: scattered everywhere without unity

I took the liberty to edit this report given to Steve Isitt by the Brazilian brother who left the Recovery there. ...

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Brazilian brother: Both because of old and recent facts involving LSM, I do not meet in the churches that follow it closely anymore. Neither do I attend meetings at the Dong's churches that broke off fellowship with LSM. But I often talk and meet with many dear brothers and sisters from both branches of the Recovery tree and others that are in neither of the branches.

There are so many so many so many saints like you here, who confronted the strange things going on in the Recovery and as a result were kicked off from the meeting halls that you wouldn't believe it. I myself am one of them. But the way is enjoying the Lord and you know it, as far as I could read from your writings. The local leader in Brazil is a Chinese named Dong Yu Lan. He is worshiped by many and those who dare to question his practices are quickly expelled. I worked for their publishing house and was close to the rotten things they did and do.

I live in a small town, and the saints here literally argued with each other, with swearwords and defamation until there was not meeting hall left. Church life in Brazil has been like a church death.

Except for those who have taken a stand for the Lord, there has been horror and threats and lies and everything evil you can imagine concerning the security guards that are now following Dong Yu Lan. He has come to the point of saying that every American church has fallen and that the Recovery Version should not be read, that the Brazilian Portuguese version was mistranslated etc. etc. etc.

I am afraid for my life, brother. I am sure some might be literally killed for this.
This sounds like many places in the USA. Note there there are also 3 "camps" in Brazil. And Dong wants to export this wonderful "oneness" around the world?
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:57 PM   #50
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Is this David Wang the same person in toronto?
No.

There was another David Wang in Toronto who left with Ron McVicar. They both sided with LSM, and agreed with their quarantine of Titus Chu.

Here is an old picture of David Wang speaking in London. Seated to his right is elder Ron Brubaker, and to his right is Del Martin, who is now in Toronto.

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Old 04-06-2013, 08:08 PM   #51
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Nigel said, In fact, many feel that divisions within the Local Church movement have been more acrimonious than Christian congregations usually experience. Why is this? Is it due to a lack of forbearance? Or is it because a lack of Christ's love?
I have noticed several characteristics in non-LC churches that have been lacking in the LC:
  • Forbearance
  • Love
  • Meekness
  • Forgiveness

Ironically these words were uttered at the Phoenix Accord in 2003. To any Christian these words are not meant to be rhetoric, but to have action. In my honest opinion the faulty practice of deputy authority is preventing brothers from expressing forbearance, love, meekness, and forgiveness in their actions.

In Nigel's article The “PHOENIX ACCORD” An Historic Document – Presentation & Commentary, the applications that came out of the Phoenix Accord were,

1. In whatever fellowship we have, we should exercise forbearance, love, meekness, and forgiveness as we work through problems that confront us.
2. In all of our speaking-privately, publicly, and globally-we should refrain from indictments and innuendos.
3. At all times we should find ways to keep open lines of fellowship among the brothers.
4. We should let go of the negative and, in turn, emphasize the positive.
5. Direct communication is imperative in all our relationships.
6. We should look for resolution of problems through constant, personal, face-to-face fellowship.
7. We should try not to misunderstand one another but to understand by giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
8. We should endeavor to help the saints and those with whom we serve to keep the oneness of the Spirit and to speak well of all the churches, saints, elders, and co-workers.


Paul's word to the Colossians, he exhorted them to put aside "anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth". To avoid this acrimonious trend in the Local Churches, words of blessing, grace, and mercy in humility must become the new normal.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:26 AM   #52
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I have noticed several characteristics in non-LC churches that have been lacking in the LC:
  • Forbearance
  • Love
  • Meekness
  • Forgiveness
I'm very sorry to say but we saw very little of these attributes in the life of Witness Lee, especially the last 20 years or so. Since the blendeds consider themselves "brother Lee's continuation" it should be no wonder that we see the very same lack in these critical areas. The fact is that they are imitating their leader, their apostle.

As far as "The Phoenix Accord" is concerned, we now know that this was really no more than window shopping on the part of the LSM brothers. They had absolutely no intention of following through with spirit of this agreement, much, much less the letter. This was made extremely clear by the "One Publication" edict a couple of years later. Then the "quarantine" of Chu and the subsequent shunning of many of the GLA/Canadian churches simply made official what was a stark reality for many, many years.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:44 AM   #53
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As far as "The Phoenix Accord" is concerned, we now know that this was really no more than window shopping on the part of the LSM brothers. They had absolutely no intention of following through with spirit of this agreement, much, much less the letter.
When a federation of brothers refuses to be governed by the laws of common decency, the plain instruction of the scripture, or the teaching of the anointing within, then any agreed upon accord, such as was drawn up together in Phoenix, will not stop them either.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:46 AM   #54
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When a federation of brothers refuses to be governed by the laws of common decency, the plain instruction of the scripture, or the teaching of the anointing within, then any agreed upon accord, such as was drawn up together in Phoenix, will not stop them either.
I realize how weighty the blended brothers influence is. Whatever is spoken, whatever is uttered, the saints want to be one with their current burden. Their speaking should be consistent with the Bible. Ministering Christ to us. The brothers have something to minister, but not to be a pattern.
Our pattern should not be men but Jesus Christ.
Even when our brothers exhibit unbecoming conduct, we can ask for our Father to bless them. In regard to UntoHim's post even when speaking from the brothers appear as window dressing, take heed what Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew:

therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. Matthew 23:3

But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. Matthew 23:8-10
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:17 PM   #55
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LSM’s Sacramentalism

LSM’s local churches concur with the major tenets of evangelical Christianity. They are harsh critics of Roman Catholicism. However, LSM’s distinctive doctrine about the “ground of locality” is sacramentist; they claim that the physical ground of locality affords them an advantageous status before God. The fact that a local church is “standing on the local ground,” calling itself “the church in [city X]” (defined by the city’s physical boundary) allegedly provides members with greater divine blessings, compared to other Christians not “standing on the local ground.” Hence Witness Lee states that,6 “If you want the fullest blessing…you must come to the local churches.” Conversely, on leaving the “local ground” a believer (allegedly) forfeits God’s blessings; “when a person is in the church, he is blessed,” says W. Lee, 7 “but when he leaves the church, he loses the blessing. When I speak of the church, I am particularly referring to a local church that is standing on the proper ground.”
The Greek word for heresy meant “school of thought”. It has come to mean an opinion or teaching that is at odds with the orthodox beliefs. (The word should not be confused with apostasy or blasphemy.)

I think that by any viewpoint WL’s teaching “one city one church” is a heresy. It is a school of thought on what the NT teaches that is at odds with orthodox beliefs. The Apostle Peter referred to “damnable heresies”. These are heresies that involve God’s damnation and blessing. This quote from WL clearly ties his teaching of “one city one church” to God’s blessing and curse. You are blessed if you receive this teaching, you lose this blessing if you reject this teaching. The teaching is used to create the LSM sect. The teaching is used to denigrate other Christians who do not subscribe to this teaching. We have spent a lot of time examining this teaching and I think we have done a good job proving that it is a “damnable heresy”.

False teachers, according to Peter bring in “damnable heresies even denying the Lord that bought them”.

So then I have a question. Does WL’s teaching on “one city one church” deny the Lord that bought us? The NT is very clear that we have only one foundation, and that foundation is Christ. We stand on Christ alone (all other ground is sinking sand). So then, does adding a second requirement that we stand on “the ground of the church” in addition to Christ who is the foundation, does this requirement “deny the Lord who bought us”?


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God’s “approval…based on their ground & not…their personal condition”—W. Lee

Moreover, W. Lee alleges that the mere position of “standing on the local ground” merits God’s approval. This privilege, he asserts is independent of the believer’s condition. Arguing by analogy from the Jewish exiles’ return from Babylon, W. Lee states,8 “among those [exiles] who returned, we find many who were not that spiritual…However, as far as their ground was concerned, they were approved by God…No matter how poor their situation was, their ground was still the right ground…no matter how poor and confused the returned captives were, they stood on the proper ground which God had ordained for them...Their approval was based on their ground and not on their personal condition.” Note the last statement asserts that God’s “approval was based on their ground and not on their personal condition.” W. Lee contends that this principle applies today;9 he argues that New Testament believers (regardless of condition) who “stand on the local ground” (defined by city boundaries) secure God’s approval, just as Jewish exiles’ who returned to Jerusalem merited God’s favor. He alleges that (independent of condition) if a believer “stands on the local ground,” this position earns God’s approval. This implies that, other believers, not in this position, are disapproved by God! Thus Witness Lee elevates a positional matter--“standing on the local ground”--into a sacrament which secures God’s approval.
The NT teaches clearly that we stand before God based solely on Christ's redemption and not on our merit. It is not by anything that we have done but by His grace. So then, does this teaching "deny the Lord that bought us"?

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To justify this, LSM contends that the Spirit connects the church ground to the Triune God (the physical with the spiritual). They first state that,10 “three elements—the oneness of the Spirit, the ground of locality, and the reality of the Spirit—keep the genuine oneness of the church.” Here the physical, “ground of locality” is grouped with the Spirit. Then W. Lee insists,11 “it is by this Spirit that the genuine ground of the church is linked with the Triune God.” This is sacramentalism; the physical (ground of locality) is “linked with the Triune God.”

What are the alleged benefits of this linkage? We’ve already mentioned “God’s approval.” W. Lee also links being “in the local church on the ground” with “the full experience of the triune God.” He proclaims,12 “We know where we must be today—in the local oneness, that is, in the local church on the ground of oneness. If we are not in the local oneness…we cannot have the full experience of the…Triune God…Only on this ground can we have the full experience of the processed Triune God.” Lack of this ground, W. Lee argues, is the13 “reason many Christians today are in spiritual poverty.” Thus a physical attribute—being “in the local church on the ground”—is deemed to provide spiritual benefits in terms of “the full experience of the Triune God.” Again, this is sacramentalism. In essence LSM claims that “standing on the local ground” (defined by city boundaries) is a means by which the divine life &/or grace are dispensed to believers. This matches Catholic assertions that, “the sacraments are…means by which divine life is dispensed to us.”14 This substantiates our claim that the “local ground” is LSM’s distinctive sacrament. Let’s examine LSM’s doctrine of the local ground in more detail.
According to WL you have to stand on "the ground of the church" in order to have the "full experience of the Triune God". Jesus taught "I am the way, the truth and the Light, no man comes to the Father but by me". So then, again I ask, does this teaching of "the ground of the church" deny the Lord that bought us?

Last edited by ZNPaaneah; 04-29-2013 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Does WL's teaching deny the Lord that bought us?
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:23 AM   #56
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

Nigel has finally addressed the "sacred cow" of the LC system and as Ohio has pointed out I'm sure Titus Chu will not be a happy camper! (Smart move adding the disclaimer Nigel!)

This is a fundamental doctrine that makes the LC system tick. It grips people as a stronghold in their minds because it has a certain superficial logic to it: the NT says "The Church in Jerusalem", "The Church in Antioch" etc therefore we must do the same thing to to be a true NT church. And each church must have elders appointed by apostles like in the NT. So if we simply call ourselves the church in a city and have an apostle appoint elders it's the same as in the NT. Yippee! We'll be the only legitimate church in a city. But although it seems logical it ignores a basic tenet of exposition work i.e. application. It takes a historical description and turns it into dogma with no real practical application in 2013.

For this kind of thing to work today you need at least 2 things: cities with no Christians and apostles with apostolic authority to appoint elders. Where do these conditions exist? Where are these cities and where are these apostles?

And as some have already pointed out what is the history of the LC system in practicing their own ground of locality doctrine? If you disagree with the apostle they'll go down the street and start another church in that city which is why in Toronto for example there's about 4 variations of "The Church in Toronto." ( But before going down the street they'll probably try to sue you so you can go down the street instead of them!) So what is the true ground of oneness for the LC system? The LSM version is the ministry of Witness Lee. The Cleveland version is the ministry of Titus Chu. In promoting such a doctrine they are not only ignoring 2000 years of church history they are ignoring their own history as well. Why don't they just be honest and admit what they actually are: The Church of Witness Lee and The Church of Titus Chu?
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:46 AM   #57
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Default Nigel Tomes "Sacrament ..."

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False teachers, according to Peter bring in “damnable heresies even denying the Lord that bought them”.

So then I have a question. Does WL’s teaching on “one city one church” deny the Lord that bought us? The NT is very clear that we have only one foundation, and that foundation is Christ. We stand on Christ alone (all other ground is sinking sand). So then, does adding a second requirement that we stand on “the ground of the church” in addition to Christ who is the foundation, does this requirement “deny the Lord who bought us”?

According to WL you have to stand on "the ground of the church" in order to have the "full experience of the Triune God". Jesus taught "I am the way, the truth and the Light, no man comes to the Father but by me". So then, again I ask, does this teaching of "the ground of the church" deny the Lord that bought us?
I can't see how Lee's "one city one church" rises to the level of a "damnable heresy, denying even the Master who bought us."

Pentecostal Christians make the same arguments about "praying in the Spirit," i.e. praying in tongues. They are convinced that God's full blessing, i.e. the "full experience of the Triune God" is only experienced by those who "worship in the Spirit." They look with pity upon their Christian brethren who have not embraced the "gifts" of the Spirit, and have missed out on these promised blessings. The case could be made that they also consider tongues to be their "sacrament." Paul does make the case that tongues can be a childish toy to some immature ones.

They have their points. I could never in good conscience say that the insistence of some to speak in tongues rises to the level of heresy, "denying the Master who redeemed us." It is unfortunate, however, that every time the Bible says "in the Spirit," the Pentecostals do interpret this as praying in tongues.

Yes "heresy" refers to "schools of thought" in the original language, but Peter's use of the word must be reserved for those errant lines of reasoning that "deny the Master who bought them." In this way they propose another means of salvation apart from Christ, our Redeemer, and reject the deity of Christ, our Lord. The Jehovah Witnesses immediately come to mind.
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:36 AM   #58
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So what is the true ground of oneness for the LC system? The LSM version is the ministry of Witness Lee. The Cleveland version is the ministry of Titus Chu. In promoting such a doctrine they are not only ignoring 2000 years of church history they are ignoring their own history as well. Why don't they just be honest and admit what they actually are: The Church of Witness Lee and The Church of Titus Chu?
I would go even further and suggest that the ground of the LSM/Local Churches is the person and work of Witness Lee. It is not just the work (the ministry) that these people follow, but they also fiercely follow his person. This dynamic was much easier to expose while Lee was still alive - he had the final say, the final authority in all matters of teaching and practice. Anyone who challenged his authority soon found themselves "quarantined", or at least shunned from the Local Church movement at large. If what Lee said or did was found to be ad odds with the Bible....oh well...."even if he was wrong he was right!". Yet this very same dynamic exists within the Movement today. This is why the Blended Brothers can run around the whole planet declaring such bizarre things such as they, and they alone have the proper "feeling of the Body". Their apostle declared such things on a regular basis, and since they are his "continuation"...voila!....
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Old 04-30-2013, 08:48 AM   #59
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I can't see how Lee's "one city one church" rises to the level of a "damnable heresy, denying even the Master who bought us."

Pentecostal Christians make the same arguments about "praying in the Spirit," i.e. praying in tongues. They are convinced that God's full blessing, i.e. the "full experience of the Triune God" is only experienced by those who "worship in the Spirit." They look with pity upon their Christian brethren who have not embraced the "gifts" of the Spirit, and have missed out on these promised blessings. The case could be made that they also consider tongues to be their "sacrament." Paul does make the case that tongues can be a childish toy to some immature ones.

They have their points. I could never in good conscience say that the insistence of some to speak in tongues rises to the level of heresy, "denying the Master who redeemed us." It is unfortunate, however, that every time the Bible says "in the Spirit," the Pentecostals do interpret this as praying in tongues.

Yes "heresy" refers to "schools of thought" in the original language, but Peter's use of the word must be reserved for those errant lines of reasoning that "deny the Master who bought them." In this way they propose another means of salvation apart from Christ, our Redeemer, and reject the deity of Christ, our Lord. The Jehovah Witnesses immediately come to mind.
Deny – to refuse the truth of.

Do you agree that the NT truth regarding our oneness is something that was obtained solely by the Lord’s earthly ministry, particularly His work on the cross (both crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension) as well as the sending of the Spirit? If so, does the teaching of “one city one church” deny this truth requiring something in addition to the Lord's work for us to have the "proper" oneness?

Denying the work of the cross is equivalent to denying “the Lord who bought them”. If I argue that the Lord's work is 90% of our oneness then I am denying the truth that the Lord's work is 100% of our oneness.

The Apostle Peter does not refer to apostasy or blasphemy. He doesn’t say they speak sacrilegiously about Jesus, or that he spoke profanely about Jesus, or that he renounced his faith in Jesus. He said that he has a non orthodox teaching of the NT, this teaching creates a sect of Christians, dividing the Body, which is damnable. This teaching requires us to stand on something other than the Lord's work of redemption, hence it denies the Lord who bought us.

According to UntoHim in post 58 the ground of the LSM/Local churches is the "person and work of WL". That, to my understanding, is to deny the Lord who bought us.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:49 AM   #60
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Default Re: Nigel Tomes "Sacrament ..."

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Deny – to refuse the truth of.

Do you agree that the NT truth regarding our oneness is something that was obtained solely by the Lord’s earthly ministry, particularly His work on the cross (both crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension) as well as the sending of the Spirit? If so, does the teaching of “one city one church” deny this truth requiring something in addition to the Lord's work for us to have the "proper" oneness?
No, OCOC does not deny the truth of the Lord's work on the cross (both crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension) as well as the sending of the Spirit.

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Denying the work of the cross is equivalent to denying “the Lord who bought them”. If I argue that the Lord's work is 90% of our oneness then I am denying the truth that the Lord's work is 100% of our oneness.

The Apostle Peter does not refer to apostasy or blasphemy. He doesn’t say they speak sacrilegiously about Jesus, or that he spoke profanely about Jesus, or that he renounced his faith in Jesus. He said that he has a non orthodox teaching of the NT, this teaching creates a sect of Christians, dividing the Body, which is damnable. This teaching requires us to stand on something other than the Lord's work of redemption, hence it denies the Lord who bought us.

According to UntoHim in post 58 the ground of the LSM/Local churches is the "person and work of WL". That, to my understanding, is to deny the Lord who bought us.
They did not "deny the Master who bought them," but added extra conditions to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." He never abolished nor refuted the place of the Pharisees nor the commandments of Moses which they claimed to uphold, instead He exposed their leaven and hypocrisy, elevating the teachings of man to the level of the word of God.

To the apostle Peter, what is "damnable" about these false teachings, is not that they resulted in divisions, but that they denied the Lord who redeemed us. Witness Lee has never done this. What he did was introduce and elevate the "extras," a.k.a. leaven, into the truth of the gospel.

If we apply this level of judgment to Lee, then we must also apply the same judgment to Lutherans, Pentecostals, Methodists, etc.

Is there anyone left who can then be properly acknowledged as "orthodox."
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:52 AM   #61
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They did not "deny the Master who bought them," but added extra conditions to the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Adding extra conditions by definition is to deny the truth. For example, the NT says "whosoever will may drink freely". The minute you add conditions to that then you have denied that truth.

If you say that there are "extra blessings" if you follow my special teaching then you are denying the truth of God's blessing.

If you say that you don't have a proper stand before the Lord without my special teaching then you are denying the truth concerning our stand before the Lord.

If you say that you lose the blessing of the Lord if you leave the LRC then you are creating non biblical conditions on God's blessing and by definition you are denying the truth of the NT.

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If we apply this level of judgment to Lee, then we must also apply the same judgment to Lutherans, Pentecostals, Methodists, etc.

Is there anyone left who can then be properly acknowledged as "orthodox."
Sure, Peter, Paul, John and the rest of the NT writers.

There was a time when you had to be baptized by a certain group to be able to partake of the Table with that group. That has for the most part been recognized as "a damnable heresy denying even the Lord who bought them". As a result people have backed away from that and become much more inclusive.

The cost for admitting an error is not in any way a valid reason to say there is no error.
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:57 AM   #62
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I would go even further and suggest that the ground of the LSM/Local Churches is the person and work of Witness Lee. It is not just the work (the ministry) that these people follow, but they also fiercely follow his person. This dynamic was much easier to expose while Lee was still alive - he had the final say, the final authority in all matters of teaching and practice. Anyone who challenged his authority soon found themselves "quarantined", or at least shunned from the Local Church movement at large. If what Lee said or did was found to be ad odds with the Bible....oh well...."even if he was wrong he was right!". Yet this very same dynamic exists within the Movement today. This is why the Blended Brothers can run around the whole planet declaring such bizarre things such as they, and they alone have the proper "feeling of the Body". Their apostle declared such things on a regular basis, and since they are his "continuation"...voila!....
Very true! Thank you for this additional note on the true nature of their "ground of oneness".
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Old 04-30-2013, 12:00 PM   #63
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

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Nigel has finally addressed the "sacred cow" of the LC system and as Ohio has pointed out I'm sure Titus Chu will not be a happy camper! (Smart move adding the disclaimer Nigel!)

This is a fundamental doctrine that makes the LC system tick. It grips people as a stronghold in their minds because it has a certain superficial logic to it: the NT says "The Church in Jerusalem", "The Church in Antioch" etc therefore we must do the same thing to to be a true NT church.
You don't even need apostolic appointment of elders. Let's call it what it is. Taking a name. All you need to do is register as the Church in _____ and no other assembly of Christians would be able to register as the same name.
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Old 04-30-2013, 12:19 PM   #64
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You don't even need apostolic appointment of elders. Let's call it what it is. Taking a name. All you need to do is register as the Church in _____ and no other assembly of Christians would be able to register as the same name.
This is true of their practice at it's most basic level. But once done what are they really asking all Christians in a city to do? Meet with them and submit to the local eldership appointed by their apostle. They are the only legitimate church in that city - the Jerusalem. All else are Babylon. In their scheme of things all other churches have no legitimacy.

But what is the reality? In the NT churches did not have to register for tax purposes. So in NT terms registering such a name is meaningless. Today all Christians in a city are the one church in that city and most Christians know this as a common fact. Registering a name doesn't make it so spiritual reality makes it so. Registering a name, "taking the ground" and all the rest of it are just words.

Of course the LC system has shrunk this down and in fact their oneness now has nothing to do with locality at all. It has everything to do with the acceptance of the person and work of Witness Lee for LSM churches and the person and work of Titus Chu for GLA churches.
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:44 AM   #65
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I would go even further and suggest that the ground of the LSM/Local Churches is the person and work of Witness Lee.
We were purchased with the blood of Jesus. This is the basis for our stand before God. It is the church that Jesus is building. Hence it is "His" church. Peter's revelation that Jesus was the Christ is the rock on which the church is built, that is our foundation. The ground of the church in typology was bought by King David as a Sin offering. Jesus work on the cross was a sin offering where we were bought with a price.

To say that "the ground of the LSM/Local Churches is the person and work of Witness Lee is equivalent to "denying the Lord who bought them".
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:52 AM   #66
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And as some have already pointed out what is the history of the LC system in practicing their own ground of locality doctrine? If you disagree with the apostle they'll go down the street and start another church in that city which is why in Toronto for example there's about 4 variations of "The Church in Toronto." ( But before going down the street they'll probably try to sue you so you can go down the street instead of them!) So what is the true ground of oneness for the LC system? The LSM version is the ministry of Witness Lee. The Cleveland version is the ministry of Titus Chu. In promoting such a doctrine they are not only ignoring 2000 years of church history they are ignoring their own history as well. Why don't they just be honest and admit what they actually are: The Church of Witness Lee and The Church of Titus Chu?
We were taught that WN was bothered by the divisions in Christianity and so studied the NT looking for the solution, and from this study derived the "one city one church" doctrine.

However, this teaching is not the solution. Rather I would argue that the ground of oneness is the Lord's blood. That is the ground on which we must accept all believers and the ground on which all walls and barriers are broken down. Anyone who tries to create a denomination or sect of Christians through some teaching is denying "the Lord who bought them".

Meeting together according to the Lord's instructions to worship the Lord does not deny Jesus. But, teaching that you must meet in a way not according to the Lord's instructions otherwise you lose the blessing, and denigrating other Christians who do not subscribe to your unorthodox teachings is to deny the Lord who bought us. To then elevate this unorthodox teaching to the items of the faith is also to deny the Lord. To create a sacrament out of this teaching other than the ordinances given to us by the Lord is again to deny the Lord who bought us.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:58 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by ZNPaaneah View Post
Anyone who tries to create a denomination or sect of Christians through some teaching is denying "the Lord who bought them".
I think this is going a bit too far, unless you are talking about a teaching which denies one of the "essential" items of the faith - The virgin birth - the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, His deity and lordship, his bodily resurrection after the third day and ascension to the Father, the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit, baptism as a figure of our salvation, the resurrection of the saints. Maybe there are more, if so just fill in the blanks for me.

Creating a denomination or sect is certainly not the unforgivable sin, although this has caused untold confusion, grief and dissention among God's people for over 2,000 years. Yet the reality of the oneness of the Body of Christ still remains, as hard has man has tried to kill it....it still remains and thank God for this fact! I think the fact that man has not been able to completely extinguish the oneness of the Body is because it is based upon God’s life, which of course we know that nothing in the universe can extinguish God’s life.

I believe that the oneness of all the true believers, of the Body of Christ, is best described in Ephesians 4. “The unity of the Spirit” IS the unity of the Body. All the “ones” which follow – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all” are no more or less than the description of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s influence and work among the believers. Of course we latter day saints (especially those of us in the West) have fallen woefully short in our cooperation in letting the Head of the Body have his way in this glorious work. In light of all the recent world events, maybe we can do a little less fighting and bickering among us, and “let the Spirit have his precious way”.
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Old 05-01-2013, 03:40 PM   #68
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In Acts 9:5 Saul of Tarsus says “Who art thou Lord?” I think we all agree that this is the same Lord that Peter was referring to when he said that false teachers “deny the Lord that bought them”.

My understanding of Acts 9 is that when Paul persecuted Christians Jesus equated this to say that Paul was “persecuting Him”. I also understand this to be the basis of his revelation on “the Body of Christ”. I also do not see any reason to say that this principle only applies to unbelievers. Believers can also “Persecute Jesus”. Later Paul said he obtained mercy because he did it in unbelief.

This may seem harsh. You might take this to the extreme and say “if I call my brother a fool that is ‘persecution’, does that mean I am in danger of the judgment?” Suppose I call my sister “worthless” and excommunicate her on trumped up charges, does that mean that Jesus is also being persecuted with her, a kind of “footsteps in the sand” and that I am in danger of the gehenna of fire? I would say that is how I understand the Lord's word in the gospels.

So then, suppose I deny my brother’s stand in the Lord? Does that mean that I am also denying the Lord who bought him? Suppose I deny that my brother has the full blessings of God? Suppose I deny that my brother has the full experience of the Triune God? Does this mean that Jesus is also being denied? Again, that is the way I read the NT. Jesus died that I might be saved and stand before God. If you deny that, then you deny the Lord who bought me and placed me in Him.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:49 PM   #69
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

ZNP,
Sorry, but your post is rather convoluted, and it doesn't begin to address what I stated in my post (I assume you were trying to address what I just wrote in the previous post.)

Sorry, but I don't know anybody who would "understand the Lord's word in the gospels" as you have here in your post. I'm not saying this to insult you, or show you up, but rather to nudge you a bit to maybe clarify what you are getting at. Maybe you could read my post again, gather your thoughts, and then take another shot at it? If you want your post to stand as it is, then that's just as well and good. No harm, no foul.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:41 AM   #70
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Sorry, but I don't know anybody who would "understand the Lord's word in the gospels" as you have here in your post.
Matt 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thoufool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Regardless of how you understand this word it is hard to believe that many don't understand it literally. I virtually quoted the word verbatim. How could you argue that no one would understand it the way it is written?

Matt
25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Once again I virtually quoted this passage in Matt 25. Regardless of how you understand it it seems ridiculous that you cannot envision anyone taking this word at face value.

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ZNP,
Sorry, but your post is rather convoluted, and it doesn't begin to address what I stated in my post (I assume you were trying to address what I just wrote in the previous post.)
Your post said that "to deny the Lord who bought them" must refer to an essential item of the faith. The Lord's work on the cross which is the ground on which we stand when we appear before God is an essential item of the faith. To say that this is the sole ground on which we stand before God is an essential item of the faith. To say that the Lord broke down any middle wall of partition at the cross so that both Jews and Gentiles could be one is an essential item of the faith. To say that our stand before God or our blessing from God or our experience of God requires something in addition to this blood is to deny this essential item of the faith. This is what I said in my post which you dismissed because "it doesn't deny an essential item of the faith"? It is your post that presumed to address mine and didn't.

I added these quotes from the gospels and Acts because if you agree with Jesus that "If you have done it to the least of my brethren you have done it to Me" then you have to agree that everything WL did to the brethren he did to the Lord as well. I added the verse in Matt 5 because you might agree with the previous point but feel that "it is not that serious" as to rise to the level of a false teacher. Matt 5 makes it clear to me that the way we treat any saint can be as serious as hellfire and damnation.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:09 AM   #71
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

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Originally Posted by ZNPaaneah View Post
Your post said that "to deny the Lord who bought them" must refer to an essential item of the faith. The Lord's work on the cross which is the ground on which we stand when we appear before God is an essential item of the faith. To say that this is the sole ground on which we stand before God is an essential item of the faith. To say that the Lord broke down any middle wall of partition at the cross so that both Jews and Gentiles could be one is an essential item of the faith. To say that our stand before God or our blessing from God or our experience of God requires something in addition to this blood is to deny this essential item of the faith. This is what I said in my post which you dismissed because "it doesn't deny an essential item of the faith"? It is your post that presumed to address mine and didn't.

I added these quotes from the gospels and Acts because if you agree with Jesus that "If you have done it to the least of my brethren you have done it to Me" then you have to agree that everything WL did to the brethren he did to the Lord as well. I added the verse in Matt 5 because you might agree with the previous point but feel that "it is not that serious" as to rise to the level of a false teacher. Matt 5 makes it clear to me that the way we treat any saint can be as serious as hellfire and damnation.
I think that you are juxtaposing disparate ideas here. And I think that Unto is generally correct.

If doing something, or refraining from such, is to do it to the Lord or to refrain from doing it to the Lord, that is a matter of obedience. It is a matter of failing to do as commanded. That is very different from denying the Lord.

The former demonstrates our lack of faith (Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief).

The latter concerns a misdirection to something other than Jesus. To deny the Lord.

If you are correct, then we are all in trouble because I assume that none of us have change available to give to every beggar on the street. If the bar is that high, do you feel you have the right to choose (or discern) which one God is calling you to help and which is to be left alone? It seems that your Matt 5 passage would suggest that you cannot know and therefore are constantly at risk for failing, and therefore denying the Lord (layering in your "deny the Lord" thinking).

Seems we have moved from one kind of extremist view to another. Everything must be so precise. Yet another barrier to oneness. The oneness of the Spirit is insufficient because we are now pointing fingers at those who fail to be entirely righteous all the time, therefore are denying the Lord (the One Lord).

Rather than just see through the added sacrament of the LRC's ground, we get a different "must" added-on.

I think that the reference (I think by Paul) to the simplicity of the gospel is too often missed. I am not saying that it is like some think just a ticket to streets of gold. But some of this new stuff that is created by sticking different things together as if there is no way to avoid it simply being true (even though nothing says it is) just goes way too far.

But the gospel really is simple. Believe in Christ. Obey. And at the top of obey is love God and love your neighbor as yourself. And the parable that helped describe "neighbor" should make it clear that neighbor is not just other believers because to a Jew a Samaritan was not a follower of the true God. Jesus used the example of an outsider being a neighbor to one of the chosen.

People like Lee come along to add more rules. It seems spiritual, but it is really burdens that even they cannot bear.

Seems that this linking of Matt 5 to denying the Lord is yet another burden that no one can bear. And it is not written in that manner. I don't think you are trying to do that. Your purpose is sound find the problems with Lee and/or Nee. But the consequences seem (to me) to go way beyond that and add a complication to the gospel that is not really there.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:48 AM   #72
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1. I did not use the Matt 5 quote in the way you are suggesting. All I am using that quote for is to point out that the way in which you treat a brother can result in a very serious judgment, even the Gehenna fire. That seems to me to a very reasonable understanding of that word. I do not in any way use it to make my case, other than the fact that a serious judgment is possible.

The key concept is given in the Matt 25 verse, which is echoed in the Acts 9 verse and then taught by Paul in the Epistles. The point is that everything you say that WL did to the saints can also be said that he did to the Lord.

Jesus said "as you did to the least of my brethren you have done also to me"

then again "Why persecutedst me".

You may not agree with this principle, but Witness Lee taught that there are two kinds of Christians:

Those who are redeemed by the Lord's blood and "stand on the proper ground"

and

Those that are redeemed by the Lord's blood but do not have "the proper stand".

To me, this teaching "denies the Lord who bought them".

I would argue that according to the NT there is only one kind of Christian and any teaching to the contrary violates the basic tenets of the faith and is a direct insult to the Lord Jesus and His work of redemption the cross. And that this is equivalent to what Peter was referring to when he said "they deny the Lord who bought them".
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:57 PM   #73
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We were taught that WN was bothered by the divisions in Christianity and so studied the NT looking for the solution, and from this study derived the "one city one church" doctrine.

However, this teaching is not the solution. Rather I would argue that the ground of oneness is the Lord's blood. That is the ground on which we must accept all believers and the ground on which all walls and barriers are broken down. Anyone who tries to create a denomination or sect of Christians through some teaching is denying "the Lord who bought them".
I frankly don't think Watchman Nee was so bothered by the "divisions" in Christianity. He wanted to start indigenous churches in China and needed a model so he devised one and it so happened that the one he devised by nature had to illegitimize all other churches for it to work i.e. he had to classify them as divisions. Witness Lee took this further and classified all other churches as either the whore or daughters of the whore who were spiritually blind and stupid. By doing so his church became the elect of the elect, God's best, etc. All other Christians were 2nd class citizens or worse.

This teaching was not a solution because there isn't a solution and IMHO to waste our valuable time looking for one will only prove futile. Often (not always) there are some very valid reasons that Christians decide to meet separately from each other otherwise we would all still be meeting in the Roman Catholic Church - the church with the most historical legitimacy.

I agree the ground of oneness includes the blood of Christ i.e. His work of redemption but it also includes His person and other work i.e. the "common faith". The ground is certainly not a piece of dirt in a physical city and to make it such devalues Christians and the Lord they love.
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:34 AM   #74
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I frankly don't think Watchman Nee was so bothered by the "divisions" in Christianity. He wanted to start indigenous churches in China and needed a model so he devised one and it so happened that the one he devised by nature had to illegitimize all other churches for it to work i.e. he had to classify them as divisions. Witness Lee took this further and classified all other churches as either the whore or daughters of the whore who were spiritually blind and stupid. By doing so his church became the elect of the elect, God's best, etc. All other Christians were 2nd class citizens or worse.
I cannot speak concerning WN since I do not know enough. However, concerning WL I think I have seen some critical actions. Although it is not for us to know what was in his heart, we can and should examine his life. Each of these actions has the appearance of evil and though not proof of evil, the preponderance of so many elements does make a very strong case.

1. He brought in damnable heresies, creating a sect.
2. His ways were pernicious.
3. He operated through covetousness
4. He fabricated stories, particularly about WN, but also about any who stood against him.
5. He made merchandise of the saints
6. His sons, who he placed in very high positions and defended at all costs, walked in the lust of uncleanness
7. He despised the laws of this government in running DayStar
8. His teachings in the Bible were full of presumption. His teachings begin with the presumption that certain things are true.
9. He was self willed and answered to no one but himself.
10. He spoke evil of other Christians and other Christian leaders
11. His sons had eyes full of adultery (again relevant since they were supported and protected by WL despite his being made fully aware of this fact).
12. His heart was exercised with covetous practices.
13. And, he followed the way of Balaam, becoming a prophet for hire once he monetized LSM, the trainings, etc.


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This teaching was not a solution because there isn't a solution and IMHO to waste our valuable time looking for one will only prove futile. Often (not always) there are some very valid reasons that Christians decide to meet separately from each other otherwise we would all still be meeting in the Roman Catholic Church - the church with the most historical legitimacy.

I agree the ground of oneness includes the blood of Christ i.e. His work of redemption but it also includes His person and other work i.e. the "common faith". The ground is certainly not a piece of dirt in a physical city and to make it such devalues Christians and the Lord they love.
I believe that the divisions are a result of immature Christians and false teachers that take advantage of their immaturity. This in part is due to the mature Christians not being active enough in their role and leave a vacuum for the swindlers to take advantage of.

Yes, oneness includes more than the Blood, but everything is based on our being redeemed by the Lord. Also, I do agree with WN and WL that the OT type is significant, only I disagree with their interpretation. When Jesus died on the cross He did purchase some dirt with His sin offering, us. The ground of the church is not the ever changing boundaries of thousands of cities on this earth, but rather the ground of the church is the redeemed of the Lord who stand on His blood.

Jesus said He would build the church. The argument that you cannot build a building on land that doesn't belong to you is valid. Hence, the land that the church is built on is the land purchased by Jesus in His redeeming work.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:34 AM   #75
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Default Re: LSM's Sacrament - the "Ground of the Local Church" NIGEL TOMES

Nigel's endnote #20 says ...

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Titus 1:5, RcV, note 1, emphasis added. The footnote in its entirety read: “ These words, [Titus 1:5] compared with every church in Acts 14:23, indicate not only that the jurisdiction of a local church is the city in which it is located but also that in one city there should be only one church. The eldership of a local church should cover the entire city in which that church is located. Such a unique presbytery in a city preserves the unique oneness of the Body of Christ from damage. One city should have only one church with one presbytery. This practice is illustrated, beyond any question or doubt, by the clear pattern in the New Testament (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; Rev. 1:11) and is an absolute prerequisite for the maintaining of proper order in a local church. Because of this, the first thing the apostle charged Titus to do in setting things in order was to appoint elders in every city.” It asserts 3 propositions: [1] “the jurisdiction of a local church is the city”—the physical boundary of the church [2] In “one city there should be only one church”—one city, one church & [3] The “eldership of a local church should cover the entire city.”
I would add to Nigel's 3 propositions here that the one unique eldership over the one unique church within the boundaries of every unique city ...

[4] Said eldership must be appointed only by "the apostles"

[5] These apostles are only these which Lee recognizes
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:48 AM   #76
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This teaching was not a solution because there isn't a solution and IMHO to waste our valuable time looking for one will only prove futile.
Yes. Look how many people out there claim the true, or recovered, or reformed church.

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This Often (not always) there are some very valid reasons that Christians decide to meet separately from each other otherwise we would all still be meeting in the Roman Catholic Church - the church with the most historical legitimacy.
I am not sure the Orthodox churches would call the Roman Catholic Church most legitimat.

See http://www.orthodoxresource.co.uk/or...y/timeline.jpg

and http://orthodoxdelmarva.org/images/a...rchHistory.gif
for example.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:31 AM   #77
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I believe that the divisions are a result of immature Christians and false teachers that take advantage of their immaturity.
Some divisions may be of this nature but it's not a universal. Some divisions are the result of mature Christians not wanting to meet with a certain church any longer for very legitimate reasons.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:34 AM   #78
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I would add to Nigel's 3 propositions here that the one unique eldership over the one unique church within the boundaries of every unique city ...

[4] Said eldership must be appointed only by "the apostles"

[5] These apostles are only these which Lee recognizes
Indeed! And this is one of the main methods by which Witness Lee controlled the LC system while denying doing so. Another way was the curriculum.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:03 AM   #79
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I am not sure the Orthodox churches would call the Roman Catholic Church most legitimat.

See http://www.orthodoxresource.co.uk/or...y/timeline.jpg

and http://orthodoxdelmarva.org/images/a...rchHistory.gif
for example.
Very true and thanks for pointing this out!
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:48 PM   #80
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1. The ground of locality—one city, one church, one eldership

LSM distinguishes the church’s foundation from its ground. They say,15 “the word ground…does not carry the denotation of a foundation; rather, it bears the denotation of a site, like the site on which the foundation of a building is laid.” LSM agrees that the church’s foundation is Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11). Its “ground” is something else. Let’s note here that the New Testament never mentions the church’s “ground;” undeterred by that fact, LSM has developed their distinctive “local ground” doctrine; in LSM’s publications phrases like “local ground” or “ground of locality” occur over 1,000 times. According to them the church’s “ground” has several elements.
It is undeniable that the term “local ground” or “ground of locality” are not found in the NT. On the other hand the principal is clearly spoken and established in the OT. Therefore I think there has to be a more thorough handling of this topic.

1. In the OT God clearly says that there is a distinction between the ground and the foundation.
2. The idea that you must own the land that you build on is a valid principle.
3. God also makes it clear in the OT that the “place where He puts his name” was critical to keeping the unity of Israel.
4. Historically, anyone who divided Israel established another temple on another site.
5. The temple is a type of the church, this is established by the Apostle’s teaching.

These five key points to the teaching of WN and WL are valid. They need to be acknowledged.

Based on the importance of the ground of the temple in the OT and the fact that the temple is a type of the church WN and WL both suggest that there should be an equally important principle in the NT. This is a reasonable basis on which to look for a “ground of the church”. To dismiss this concept based solely on the fact that the term “local ground” or “ground of the church” is not used is not a convincing argument.

The argument that the NT never teaches “one church one city” is a very compelling argument to dismiss the boundary of the city as the “ground of the church”. Something as important as this concept was in the OT should not be left to inferences in the NT. Since the boundary of the city is completely tied up with the worldly system which was condemned on the cross of Christ it is even less likely that this could be the “ground of the church”. Matt 4:8-9 makes this interpretation extremely implausible.

The ground of the temple was purchased by king David as a sin offering for his pride. Since Jesus is the greater David and since Jesus also purchased “land” with His sin offering it seems that there is a very good agreement with the “land” redeemed by the Lord’s sin offering and that purchased by King David.

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

The church is not built with bricks, it is people who are “built together and fitly framed”. Therefore it is foolish to think that the “ground” of the church refers to actual dirt. Jesus purchased a people, that is the ground that He is building His church on.

ICor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

1. The NT is very clear that Jesus redemption of us justifies God in saving us and using us to build the church.
2. The need to redeem us from sin is a very clear principle in the NT and is a matter of fulfilling all righteousness.
3. The NT makes it clear that the Lord’s redemption becomes a basis for keeping the unity. We are required to apply this principle every time we keep the Lord’s table.
4. Historically anyone creating a denomination added requirements to taking the Lord’s table that were not taught by the apostles.
5. This understanding is completely in line with the idea that the temple is a type of the church.

Therefore the Lord's redemption is the "ground of the church". That is the solid rock that we stand on. This idiotic teaching that the boundaries of cities, part of Satan's worldly system, is the ground that we stand on is nothing but sinking sand.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:25 PM   #81
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4. Historically anyone creating a denomination added requirements to taking the Lord’s table that were not taught by the apostles.
IMHO this is a rather simplistic understanding of church history. Most so called denominations did not start out wanting to be denominations. What they wanted was to be left alone unmolested by existing church government/s to believe and practice their faith according to their conscience and their understanding of God's word. E.g. Luther didn't want to start the Lutheran church. He didn't even want to leave the RC. He wanted to clean it up. And Baptists didn't want their children to be baptized as infants per their understanding of God's word on the subject. Of course they were persecuted for their beliefs. The Brethren wanted to practice their church life a certain way unavailable in the Anglican Church so they started their own church.

Quite frankly I believe in religious liberty i.e. we are free to follow the Lord according to the light He has given us and not give up that liberty in the name of some nebulous blanket "oneness" that when looked at closely just means: practice the church based on our interpretation of the Bible or you are divisive and not legitimate.

I'm all for the "apostolic" or NT church. The only problem is the apostles aren't here to check with every time we have a question about some doctrinal or practice issue. Some of their writings are here and we are left to interpret them 2000+ years later. And hopefully we can get on the same page more or less on the core items of our "common faith". But I'm certainly not holding my breath for the apostolic NT church from the "pure" word of God to come along and IMHO anyone who is is credulous.

I think the LC system is a case in point on the futility of such endeavors. If nothing else our experience hopefully taught us not to waste our time searching for the right church and God's move and this anointed ministry and that great work over there somewhere. Instead why not be one in helping the poor and feeding the hungry and visiting the sick and comforting those in sorrow and caring for orphans and widows, etc.?
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Old 05-17-2013, 04:17 PM   #82
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IMHO this is a rather simplistic understanding of church history.
If a group has no other requirement to taking the Lord's table, other than the request that you examine yourself that you are in Christ, per Paul's instruction, knowing nothing else about them, could you conclude that they are a division of the Body of Christ? I would say no.

On the other hand if a group has a requirement that was not stipulated by Paul, say Catechism class in which you learn the apostle's creed, etc, or membership with their church, or adherence to items they feel are important, knowing nothing else about them, could you conclude that they are a division of the Body of Christ? I would say yes.

Simple.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:04 PM   #83
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If a group has no other requirement to taking the Lord's table, other than the request that you examine yourself that you are in Christ, per Paul's instruction, knowing nothing else about them, could you conclude that they are a division of the Body of Christ? I would say no.
OIC. That helps clear things up.

I've taken the Lord's Table at Westminster Abbey in London, a Roman Catholic church, a Baptist Church, an EV Free Church, home churches, community churches, etc. They welcomed me warmly and had no requirement. Wonderful people. And I'm happy to know that none of them are a division in the Body of Christ!
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:17 PM   #84
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OIC. That helps clear things up.

I've taken the Lord's Table at Westminster Abbey in London, a Roman Catholic church, a Baptist Church, an EV Free Church, home churches, community churches, etc. They welcomed me warmly and had no requirement. Wonderful people. And I'm happy to know that none of them are a division in the Body of Christ!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church,
The Paschal Banquet
includes the following requirements:

1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders."236 It is for this reason that Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible for the Catholic Church. However these ecclesial communities, "when they commemorate the Lord's death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory."

It is quite clear from the entire section that you are required to accept their understanding of the Bible, including Transubstantiation, in order to take communion. It is also clear that coming from a group "derived from the reformation" results in you being excluded from the table.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:57 AM   #85
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It is quite clear from the entire section that you are required to accept their understanding of the Bible, including Transubstantiation, in order to take communion. It is also clear that coming from a group "derived from the reformation" results in you being excluded from the table.
But I was not required to do that. I was not excluded. I was warmly welcomed in all the churches I listed in my previous email and partook of the Lord's Table with them. That is my experience.
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Old 05-19-2013, 03:35 PM   #86
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But I was not required to do that. I was not excluded. I was warmly welcomed in all the churches I listed in my previous email and partook of the Lord's Table with them. That is my experience.
So in my post I said that if we knew nothing else we would have to conclude that the group was not a sect. But that is not this case, we do know something else. You told us the name of the group. We know that the Catholic Church does have other requirements.

So does your experience trump their documented requirements?

In Ohio a man was recently arrested for kidnapping three women and holding them as prisoners for 10 years. Now suppose at the trial someone comes out and says I knew this man, he didn't treat me this way. As a member of the jury does that trump what he did to the three women?

So yes, your experience is relevant, but as far as I am concerned it is trumped by the decrees of the Pope.
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Old 05-19-2013, 07:30 PM   #87
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So in my post I said that if we knew nothing else we would have to conclude that the group was not a sect.
I didn't know anything else. I was warmly welcomed. I partook of the Lord's Table with them. A piece of paper in Rome which I was not aware of didn't hinder that.
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #88
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But I was not required to do that. I was not excluded. I was warmly welcomed in all the churches I listed in my previous email and partook of the Lord's Table with them. That is my experience.
Same here with the exception the only requirement was being a member of the Body of Christ.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:50 AM   #89
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Same here with the exception the only requirement was being a member of the Body of Christ.
The Lord gave us two ordinances to keep in the NT.

Baptism and the Lord's Table. Both support the oneness with all believers.

If a group requires more than Baptism to becoming a member of the Body of Christ those additional requirements are symptoms of a lack of oneness.

Likewise the Lord's table promotes the oneness in several ways.

1. We are required to welcome all genuine believers without prejudice or additional requirements.
2. We are charged that taking the Lord's table is a proclamation that you have no issue with any other believers, if you do you are to first reconcile those issues before taking the table.

The "ground of oneness" doctrine violates this in several ways. In addition to requiring you to be a genuine believer they also require that you "are on the proper ground". The commandment was to "do this in remembrance of Me". Christ in the proper ground for the table, teaching any other ground is contrary to the commandments given to us by the Lord Jesus and the Apostles. We are required to welcome all genuine believers, putting the requirement that they accept some arbitrary eldership is another commandment other than that given to us by the Lord and the apostles. Proclaiming that all other Christians are reprobate for taking the table on the wrong ground is clearly an example of something that should be reconciled prior to taking the Lord's table. In three ways this teaching teaches the believers to break one of the most important commandments given to us by the Lord Jesus.

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:24 AM   #90
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The "ground of oneness" doctrine violates this in several ways. In addition to requiring you to be a genuine believer they also require that you "are on the proper ground".

Proclaiming that all other Christians are reprobate for taking the table on the wrong ground is clearly an example of something that should be reconciled prior to taking the Lord's table.
According to WL and the Blindeds, the "true" remembrance of the Lord at His table can only be legitimately celebrated by churches on "the proper ground" of oneness. There is not a single Table meeting or Communion service in all of Christendom which they would recognize as licit and scriptural.

Actually their hypocrisy has been exposed on countless occasions that the "true" standard of their approval, getting past all the hype and jive so characteristic with LSM, is not the "ground of oneness" per se, but it is your relationship with LSM. As we have seen with the quarantine of GLA churches, adherence to proper Lee and Nee teachings on the subject are grossly inadequate. Only the president at LSM, Benson Philips himself, can properly determine who has the correct interpretation of the teachings of Lee and Nee.

Even though Titus Chu and the rest of the Great Lakes Area churches had all the proper teachings concerning the "ground of oneness," and many in fact had been practicing this way for decades, they were not willing to comply with the growing list of requirements which accompany local church legitimacy, without which their Table must be considered just another division in the body of Christ.

Some of these mandates have been made public by LSM in their "afaithfulword.com" website: rejection of drums, daily use of The Holy Word for Morning Revival, weekly prophecying meetings using the same, attendance at LSM's 7 annual "Feasts," etc. In other words, your Table meeting can be completely invalidated if one of your members plays an electric guitar.

Funny thing is the exclusive Darby Brethren taught that Table legitimacy was voided by using a piano. John Nelson Darby, the supposed Minister of the Age directly preceding Watchman Nee taught that musical accompaniment from a piano was "sensual" and not spiritual. The standards he imposed on churches still exist today.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:33 AM   #91
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According to WL and the Blindeds, the "true" remembrance of the Lord at His table can only be legitimately celebrated by churches on "the proper ground" of oneness. There is not a single Table meeting or Communion service in all of Christendom which they would recognize as licit and scriptural.
That is an excellent point. If you claim that the ground of the church has nothing to do with the relationship with LSM, then where is the example of a church that adheres to this doctrine, that does not follow LSM, but is still considered a proper church? If you cannot point to a single church then clearly the "ground of the church" is really a matter of a relationship with LSM.

Oneness is a matter of a relationship with Christ

whereas the "ground of the church" is a matter of a relationship with LSM.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:34 AM   #92
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1. We are required to welcome all genuine believers without prejudice or additional requirements.
2. We are charged that taking the Lord's table is a proclamation that you have no issue with any other believers, if you do you are to first reconcile those issues before taking the table.

The "ground of oneness" doctrine violates this in several ways. In addition to requiring you to be a genuine believer they also require that you "are on the proper ground". The commandment was to "do this in remembrance of Me". Christ in the proper ground for the table, teaching any other ground is contrary to the commandments given to us by the Lord Jesus and the Apostles. We are required to welcome all genuine believers, putting the requirement that they accept some arbitrary eldership is another commandment other than that given to us by the Lord and the apostles. Proclaiming that all other Christians are reprobate for taking the table on the wrong ground is clearly an example of something that should be reconciled prior to taking the Lord's table. In three ways this teaching teaches the believers to break one of the most important commandments given to us by the Lord Jesus.

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
This is key ZNP. IMHO many saints ingrained with the ground of locality doctrine have difficulty meeting anywhere else because of the matter of communion. To meet apart from a LSM sanctioned local church is considered to be meeting in division. Thus to take communion apart from a LSM local church is to take communion divisely.
Which leads to another question what consititutes division? Is it to teach heresy, to form a party or to have a contrary opinion. Say when you were in Houston and you're speaking according to the Word instead of parroting Lee's ministry. Those partial to Lee's ministry could make the claim you're a divisive brother. That's another topic.
The preferred option I have heard from LC saints when meeting with a non-LSM assembly will simply refuse to partake in communion.
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Old 05-22-2013, 12:05 PM   #93
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That is an excellent point. If you claim that the ground of the church has nothing to do with the relationship with LSM, then where is the example of a church that adheres to this doctrine, that does not follow LSM, but is still considered a proper church? If you cannot point to a single church then clearly the "ground of the church" is really a matter of a relationship with LSM.

Oneness is a matter of a relationship with Christ

whereas the "ground of the church" is a matter of a relationship with LSM.
That is why I concluded that Lee and the Blendeds, by demanding an unwavering allegiance, have usurped the Head's rightful place in the body.

To the vast majority of unsuspecting members, like myself, in the LC's, this was subtly done unawares even as Jude warned us --

For certain persons have crept in unawares, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.-- Jude 4 NASB

The Local Church reader might initially find this verse to be entirely unsuited to those at LSM, but which old-timer would deny that something had crept into the LC's unawares so that what we have today is a far cry from those early days. Do not the words of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles condemn the exclusive teachings and practices of LSM? Was not the ungodly and licentious Philip Lee promoted to be Witness Lee's "most trusted co-worker" to the perversion and destruction of many a brother and sister? Did not the demands of absolute, unwavering loyalty to Lee and his ministry violate the conscience of many a brother and the rightful place of God's Son in our hearts, as our only Lord and Master?
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:57 PM   #94
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Actually their hypocrisy has been exposed on countless occasions that the "true" standard of their approval, getting past all the hype and jive so characteristic with LSM, is not the "ground of oneness" per se, but it is your relationship with LSM.
Indeed! The ground of oneness teaching is fraught with several problems not least of which is the lack of practice thereof by those who proclaim it the loudest!

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Even though Titus Chu and the rest of the Great Lakes Area churches had all the proper teachings concerning the "ground of oneness," and many in fact had been practicing this way for decades, they were not willing to comply with the growing list of requirements which accompany local church legitimacy, without which their Table must be considered just another division in the body of Christ.
And so the likes of Ray Graver can declare with boldness that there are no more lampstands in the GLA and get a ready consensus of this view among his fellow LSMites. A notion that suggests he is the one walking in the midst of the churches and thus gets to decide who is a lampstand and who isn't.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:07 PM   #95
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And so the likes of Ray Graver can declare with boldness that there are no more lampstands in the GLA and get a ready consensus of this view among his fellow LSMites. A notion that suggests he is the one walking in the midst of the churches and thus gets to decide who is a lampstand and who isn't.
What is the basis? Is it based on which localities are generating revenue for LSM?
If the basis is upon Witness Lee's ministry, our late brother Lee himself said a local church doesn't have to take his ministry to be a genuine local church (1986). Or so to say. Naturally the faithful editors probably saw to it those words never made it into the printed version though I could be wrong.

However alwayslearning what you have posted is thought provoking and likely to initiate a new topic.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:17 AM   #96
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And so the likes of Ray Graver can declare with boldness that there are no more lampstands in the GLA and get a ready consensus of this view among his fellow LSMites. A notion that suggests he is the one walking in the midst of the churches and thus gets to decide who is a lampstand and who isn't.
I think the basic issue is the misuse of the metaphor of the church being the Temple. Yes, the church is the Temple, and yes as a result there is a ground on which the church is built. However this is a type, the church is not so one dimensional. The church is also the Body of Christ. A Body is a building. So then the ground of the church does not refer to a plot of land or a cities dimensions. Man is made of dust. The Lord's blood covers the entire earth and covers all mankind. However, when God builds the church as the one new man, He is not referring to just any man. There is only one man that has the proper stand to meet with God, and that man is Jesus Christ. So, just as the temple could only be built in one spot, the church as the one new man can also only be built in one spot, that spot is "in Christ". If you are in yourself or in any other man, including Witness Lee, then you are not on the proper ground to build the church. When you participate in the Lord's table your testimony is:

11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

We were all included in that death.

Is the ground of the church crucial? Yes. Is it decided by city councilmen in NY in the 1800s? No. It was decided by God when Jesus rose from the dead.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:56 AM   #97
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What is the basis? Is it based on which localities are generating revenue for LSM?

If the basis is upon Witness Lee's ministry, our late brother Lee himself said a local church doesn't have to take his ministry to be a genuine local church (1986). Or so to say. Naturally the faithful editors probably saw to it those words never made it into the printed version though I could be wrong.
The years 1997, when Lee passed away, thru 2005, when LSM first decided to quarantine Titus Chu, could be described as an exploration into "What did Witness really say." Titus Chu had all his workers going back to read all the books by Lee and cull all pertinent quotes concerning multiple "hot topics" in the Recovery such as the leadership, the work, the oneness, the church, etc. Titus Chu would then visit Anaheim during the trainings and purposely take copies of these well-documented quotations to Andrew Yu, Ron Kangas, and other Blendeds. At one point Titus commented that he "doubted that any body even looked at them."

The point of the story is this. The Blendeds response to endless man-hours of work by dozens of GLA workers was this -- "how dare you tell us what Brother Lee said?!? We were with him day in and day out. We know what he said! Who are you to pick quotes 'out of context' and attempt to teach us?"

Thus there were two distinct versions of Witness Lee. One from his numerous books and one from his personal assistants. The growing body of documentation, taken from Lee's own messages spanning half a century, indicting the Blended's current teachings and attitudes was far too dangerous to ignore. They had no choice but to eliminate Titus Chu, and so they quarantined him.

Getting back to Terry's post about what Lee said about being a genuine local church. Witness Lee's polished writings and actual in person communiques are full of contradictions. Each can be used to say anything one pleases. Early on Lee was far more scriptural, but as time passed, he became far more exclusive. Witness Lee changed!

At this point I care little for what he said. The Bible is our only standard. And that is not just a cliche or some building plaque in Taiwan, that must be the actual practice of every child of God in order to really keep the oneness of the faith. Building on the ever-changing teachings of Witness Lee is like re-building your home on the sinking sand of the Jersey shore.
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Old 05-23-2013, 11:36 AM   #98
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Getting back to Terry's post about what Lee said about being a genuine local church. Witness Lee's polished writings and actual in person communiques are full of contradictions. Each can be used to say anything one pleases. Early on Lee was far more scriptural, but as time passed, he became far more exclusive. Witness Lee changed!

At this point I care little for what he said. The Bible is our only standard. And that is not just a cliche or some building plaque in Taiwan, that must be the actual practice of every child of God in order to really keep the oneness of the faith. Building on the ever-changing teachings of Witness Lee is like re-building your home on the sinking sand of the Jersey shore.
For sake of discussion on this forum what WL said has relevance.
  • Lee's ministry is considered more weighty than the Word
    Among LC circles, LSM promoters prefer Lee's ministry parroted than speaking directly from the Word.
  • Doublespeak
    If you listen to Lee's messages, you will find Lee's speaking is contradicting his actions and in some cases contradicting what he already said.
  • Editing
    LSM editors have heavily edited Lee's messages to make them palatable for consumption and for his image, pristine.
Speaking about sinking sand, WL spend an inordinate amount of time at the 86 Elders conference talking about Linko.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:36 PM   #99
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The years 1997, when Lee passed away, thru 2005, when LSM first decided to quarantine Titus Chu, could be described as an exploration into "What did Witness really say." Titus Chu had all his workers going back to read all the books by Lee and cull all pertinent quotes concerning multiple "hot topics" in the Recovery such as the leadership, the work, the oneness, the church, etc. Titus Chu would then visit Anaheim during the trainings and purposely take copies of these well-documented quotations to Andrew Yu, Ron Kangas, and other Blendeds. At one point Titus commented that he "doubted that any body even looked at them."

The point of the story is this. The Blendeds response to endless man-hours of work by dozens of GLA workers was this -- "how dare you tell us what Brother Lee said?!? We were with him day in and day out. We know what he said! Who are you to pick quotes 'out of context' and attempt to teach us?"
The leadership being occupied with this kind of activity speaks volumes. It exposes what the LC system is really all about.

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Thus there were two distinct versions of Witness Lee.
And this is really the basis of the division that occurred. Who are the real authorized official interpreters of Witness Lee and bearers of the Witness Lee "trademark"? In essence it was a "trademark" infringement dispute. Nothing at all to do with the Bible. Zero to do with the Bible. And nothing to do with the church. They could couldn't care less about the impact of their stupid decisions on the churches, families, etc.

But since it wasn't legally a trademark dispute there are now at least 2 versions of Witness Lee in the U.S. and one in Brazil and who knows how many more are out there.

WITNESS LEE! WITNESS LEE! WITNESS LEE!
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Old 05-23-2013, 03:44 PM   #100
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Thus there were two distinct versions of Witness Lee. One from his numerous books and one from his personal assistants.
This, by definition, is a hypocrite. This is why the Lord said "woe unto you".

1. They have sold their soul for their reward, hence "they have their reward"
2. They can discern the face of the sky, but not the sign of the times.
3. They worship the Lord in vain.
4. They make the word of God of none effect through their traditions which they teach men to do.

as a result the Lord compares hypocrites to plants that His Father has not planted and which will be rooted up.

They heap up woe to themselves

1. They shut up the kingdom of men, forbidding them to enter and neither do they enter.
2. Devour widow's houses
3. They compass land and sea to make a proselyte and then make him twofold the son of gehenna.
4. They have have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith
5. They make clean the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
6. They appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness
7. They are children of those that killed the prophets.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:44 PM   #101
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“They don’t fellowship with all the saints on the earth.”

LSM disqualifies all other Christian congregations due to32 their “having special names, special beliefs, and special fellowships, or having an “isolated local fellowship “as opposed to “a universal fellowship.” Moreover, congregations lacking special names, special beliefs, and special fellowships, (so-called) “free groups,” are still condemned by LSM because33 “They do not fellowship with all the saints on the earth. As a result, they become a local sect.” Let’s pause here to ask—which Christian group has “fellowship with all the saints on the earth”? There are over two billion Christians on the globe—who fellowships with them all? Certainly LSM’s local churches do not! Their vaunted claim of “universal fellowship” leads them to define Christ’s Body in a sectarian way--“the Body equals the recovery,” says LSM’s M. Chen,34 adding, “We know that the mystical Body of Christ includes all the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space, but practically for us today, the recovery is the Body.” For LSM “the Body equals the Recovery,” so they equate their intra-group fellowship of LSM-aligned churches with the “universal fellowship of Christ’s Body.” In fact it’s a sectarian fellowship! This is confirmed by the fact that it’s rare for LSM-adherents to partake the Lord’s Table with believers outside their own tight-knit circle. LSM fails to satisfy their own criteria for standing on the “proper ground of oneness”!
After re-reading this paragraph a scriptural phrase came to mind, "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:24). An issue is being made about universal fellowship? How can you strive for universal fellowship when there isn't even local fellowship apart from the common denominator of LSM?
Nigel is calling what it is; sectarian fellowship. The local churches of my youth, there was encouragement to invite your friends and peers. Now? You are likely to be discouraged from inviting friends and peers. Whether verbally or the transparent realization fellowship has become narrow in the LSM branded local churches.
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