1. Standard membersonship
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    07 Jul '14 21:15
    Caljust, its me sonship, can we converse some more about this post ?

    Hi sonship - a question, please. Are you a member of one of the Witness Lee Local Churches?

    For the information of the others, here is my experience.

    In the 1980s I was a member of a Home Church that consisted of about six families. We were studying (and trying to practice) the biblical model of NT churches. One of our members had to go overseas on a business trip to Stuttgart, Germany, and when he came back he was a changed person. He met in Stuttgart a group of believers that called themselves The Church in Stuttgart, based on Witness Lee teachings.

    He then broke away from our home church and stared his own church, calling it The Church in Pretoria. He had about ten members at peak.

    Now this person was a good friend of mine, highly intelligent. He was President of the Human Sciences Research Council and later became Rector of the University of Stellenbosch.

    Yet all our discussions on the model of the church ended in a total stalemate.
    Our arguments would go something like this:

    "Rolf, I agree that there should be only one church in one locality. That is the NT model. But the reality is that there are already a large number of churches in Pretoria, why start another one?"

    "Because all the other churches are not based on Locality, but on Doctrine. We will represent the Locality, and are hence the only True church in Pretoria"

    "But can you not see that you are only making the problem worse, not better? Do you realistically think all the other churches will now disband and join you?"

    "Well, if they don't, that is THEIR problem, and they will have to answer to God for that."

    They continued and became the most closed new denomination that i know. They get their Bible Study material from HO in Anaheim, California.

    Thirty years later they are still the same ten people and believe that they represent the Church in Pretoria.

    How terribly sad. So much for Witness Lee.


    I have a few questions for you. I have contacted the brothers meeting on the ground of locality in Pretoria. I asked them about the number regularly meeting there.

    Before they send reply do you wish to revize your statement that in the 30 years since you knew them to begin to meet it is the same 10 people ?
  2. Standard membersonship
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    07 Jul '14 21:414 edits
    Caljust, I intend this to be a constructive discussion about your experience with your friend Rolf who came back so excited about the ground of the church.

    I know that there are four passages in the New Testament which mention the church in someone's house:


    1.) Romans 16:5 - "Greet the church that is in their house."

    2.) First Corinthians 16:19 - "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house."

    3.) Colossians 4:15,16 - "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the cuirch which is in their house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans."

    4.) Philemon 1,2 - " ... to Philemon ... Apphia and Archippus ... and the church in thy house."

    Now you said the following:

    In the 1980s I was a member of a Home Church that consisted of about six families. We were studying (and trying to practice) the biblical model of NT churches.


    I would like to ask if at that time or now, you consider yourself something of a leader of this "Home Church" which consisted of about six families ?

    Have you read any of the books by Witness Lee concerning "Home Meetings" and how extensively he encouraged that it is good the every Christian have a meeting in his or her own home ?

    The Witness Lee I knew would have never discouraged saints from meeting by twos or threes or more as many "Home Meetings" or "Small Group Meetings." This is especially true towards the late 1980s.

    I am interested in your vision of "Home Church" and Lee's vision of "Home Meetings."

    What passage in the New Testament gives you the impression that a city could consist of many Home Churches ?

    In Jerusalem there must have been conservatively 10,000 believers meeting from house to house. Yet we never see the phrase of plural "churches" in Jerusalem.

    Can you justify your "model" of NT churches.


    One of our members had to go overseas on a business trip to Stuttgart, Germany, and when he came back he was a changed person. He met in Stuttgart a group of believers that called themselves The Church in Stuttgart, based on Witness Lee teachings.


    Okay. I was quite excited too when I first learned that there was a church in New York. My jaws ached with grinning I was so happy. And like Rolf, I probably in my excitement stepped on a few sensative toes. I remind you of Rolf. And you remind me of a few people I knew as well.

    Did you count Rolf's wanting to meet on the ground of locality as starting another church from your NT modeled "Home Church" ?

    Leave off the other matters of Trinity, Spirit, etc. I want to understand the point of departure you had with your brother Rolf over his excitement about the recovery of the local ground of churching.
  3. Standard memberCalJust
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    08 Jul '14 07:59
    Originally posted by sonship
    Did you count Rolf's wanting to meet on the ground of locality as starting another church from your NT modeled "Home Church" ?

    Leave off the other matters of Trinity, Spirit, etc. I want to understand the point of departure you had with your brother Rolf over his excitement about the recovery of the local ground of churching.
    With all due respect, I had this discussion over many months - even years - with probably the most intelligent, logical as well as Bible-savvy person I know, without making an inch of headway.

    Even friendship played no role.

    So I am 100% convinced that I will be unable to talk any sense into you, or that you will be able to convince me for one microsecond that the LC is NOT just another denomination, differentiating yourself on the basis of some specific teachings where you differ from other denominations.

    So let's agree to differ and each go our various ways, in accordance with the light that we each believe that we have.

    In peace

    CJ
  4. Standard membersonship
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    08 Jul '14 12:441 edit
    Originally posted by CalJust
    With all due respect, I had this discussion over many months - even years - with probably the most intelligent, logical as well as Bible-savvy person I know, without making an inch of headway.


    But you made some statements that I think should be examined in light of the Scriptures. I want some people here to think about some of the logic you presented.


    Even friendship played no role.


    Though you loved one another in the Lord, probably your concern was for where truth can be found. I can be the same way.

    In light of your little testimony some should see more about the principles of churching, of assembling together. I think you gave a false impression of the situation which was biased. I think you left an impression that Rolf was a divisive brother.

    "He went off and started a new church" [paraphrased] is your conclusion.
    Well, let's examine that charge a little here in this Forum.

    It is easy to say that you know you'll make no headway, so just let the accusations stand as they stand. But I think they should be examined just a little bit.

    The Lord said that any gathering in His name of two or three will have His presence. We do not need to have a church in order to have the dear presence of the Lord.

    "For where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst." (Matthew 18:20)

    Two or three believers have every right in their home or homes to gather into the Lords name and enjoy the presence of the Lord. The Lord, however, did not say that every gathering of two or three in His name is a church.

    In Jerusalem, where conservatively upwards of 10,000 believers met from house to house, there were many gatherings with the Lord's presence. Right? The Scriptures never says that there were plural [churches] in Jerusalem.

    Why not? The reason must be that it is one thing to have gatherings in the Lord's name with the Lord's presence, but another thing to declare that we are a church.

    Rolf did not want to "start a new church" at all. Rolf wanted to start meeting AS the church, to return TO the church. I am pretty sure that Rolf would have been overjoyed if those in your three or four home meetings had seen the vision also.

    He would have probably been happy had those three home meetings decided "You know we have had a great time with the presence of the Lord among us, meeting in His name. But let's go on to meet from house to house as the local church like the hundreds of home meetings in Jerusalem that the Bible calls - "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1) .

    So probably Rolf did not want to "start a new church" but return to the ground of the "church at Pretoria". That was not divisive because once you are in division leaving division is not being divisive.

    Perhaps you didn't see that many "Home Churches" in a city is actually divisive. There was "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1) and not hundreds of "home churches" in Jerusalem.

    No doubt the Lord was faithful to gather the home meeting saints into His presence according to His promise in Matthew 18:20. But there can be an ever richer blessing by returning to the ground of the local oneness.

    Your home meetings could have continued with brother Rolf as several home gatherings of the church in Pretoria and I bet he would have been overjoyed.

    If you all did not see that you were making the mistake of making the church smaller than the locality he had felt led to stand upon that scriptural ground for the greater blessing.

    So I am 100% convinced that I will be unable to talk any sense into you, or that you will be able to convince me for one microsecond that the LC is NOT just another denomination, differentiating yourself on the basis of some specific teachings where you differ from other denominations.


    This sounds like you do not believe that it is possible for Christians in this age to have anything else besides denominations.

    So then when will the church be built? Has the promise of Christ been defeated when He prophesied - "I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:19b)

    So is your reply to the Lord that He is mistaken? The gates of death have actually been rather successful and every gathering of Christians by definition can ONLY be a division, a denominating?

    This is a defeatist vision. When then will the church be built? Will she be built only when we leave the earth and go to heaven?

    I don't believe that. I believe that Christ in so many localities on this earth can build His church. I do not accept that there can never again be "the church at Jerusalem" or any other city where the Lord's recovery of the proper local standing can arise.


    So let's agree to differ and each go our various ways, in accordance with the light that we each believe that we have.

    In peace


    I will continue writing about the actual problems that concern people like yourself in the recovery of the local church. I will continue to shed light on the matter through the Bible.

    I don't need to feel that we convinced each other. It is enough that more light is shown on a matter which I think you dismissed flippantly in an inaccurate and misrepresentation way. You can leave the thread if you wish.

    I will probably bring up common objections and re-examine them fairly.
  5. Standard memberCalJust
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    08 Jul '14 18:17
    Originally posted by sonship
    Rolf was a divisive brother who went off and started a new church"
    Yes.

    A bicycle is still only a bicycle, no matter what you call it or how you dress it up.
  6. Standard memberCalJust
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    09 Jul '14 07:031 edit
    P.S. EVERY single "reformer" who started a new movement did so with the sincere intention of bringing the church "back to the TRUE DOCTRINE", and to "restore something that had been lost".

    Your long explanation says exactly that: it eloquently describes how you differentiate yourself, and what "lost" teaching has been restored.

    To any objective outside observer there is now another denomination on the block.

    That is all there is, nothing more, nothing less.
  7. Standard membersonship
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    09 Jul '14 18:08
    Originally posted by CalJust
    Yes.

    A bicycle is still only a bicycle, no matter what you call it or how you dress it up.
    Yes.

    A bicycle is still only a bicycle, no matter what you call it or how you dress it up.


    Your analogy about the bicycle has its limitation. The question issue is not about the foundation of the practical church. The issue is about the ground upon which the foundation is lain.

    Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church. And no other foundation can anyone lay except that which is lain says the Apostle Paul.

    " ... as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds upon it ... For another foundation no one else to lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." ( 1 Cor. 3:10,11)

    An assembly built upon Jesus Christ is an assembly built upon Jesus Christ. That corresponds, I think, to your saying "A bicycle is a bicycle no matter what you call it or how you dress it."

    This is not the issue with the ground upon which the foundation is lain. Paul laid the church in Corinthian upon the city, the locality of Corinth. To start a new church would be to establish another church in Corinth, albeit based on the foundation of Jesus Christ, yet upon another ground.

    This is why the first problem Paul attacks in "the church of God which is in Corinth" (1:1) is division. That is the tendency to divide the assembly whose ground and scope is the city of Corinth into either a smaller ground or a larger ground than the city.

    Paul did not encourage them that a gathering was a gathering was a gathering no matter what they dressed it up to be. He encouraged them to realize that in Corinth, Christ is not divided.

    And that is what Rolf probably longed for you to see as he had seen.

    We do not see Paul say - "Well lift up me Paul, and meet in my name. After all a chariot is a chariot is a chariot. And some others of you meet in the name of Apollos as your ground. For a chariot is a chariot is a chariot no matter what you call it. And some others of you, you meet on the ground of Peter. It doesn't matter because a chariot is a chariot is a chariot."

    He wrote to "the church of God which is at Corinth" urging them not to divide to be the church which is at Corinth under the vision that Christ is not divided in Corinth.

    Your analogy of the different styles of bicycles misrepresents the problem of practical Christian unity as God ordained it through the apostles.

    Its cute. But it is misses the point of the ground of the local church.

    What I hear you implying is that the ordained unity of the practical church is impossible to practice today. You imply that once it may have existed but it has disappeared and CANNOT be recovered.

    It is no use to seek the proper unity. Yet you thought that a Home Church was a move towards that direction. Why did not throw up your hands and stay in a denomination saying - "Well, a bicycle is a bicycle is a bicycle." ?
  8. Standard memberRJHinds
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    10 Jul '14 00:03
    Originally posted by sonship
    Yes.

    A bicycle is still only a bicycle, no matter what you call it or how you dress it up.


    Your analogy about the bicycle has its limitation. The question issue is not about the foundation of the practical church. The issue is about the ground upon which the foundation is lain.

    Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church ...[text shortened]... up your hands and stay in a denomination saying - "Well, a bicycle is a bicycle is a bicycle." ?
    In that case, Witness Lee should have just joined the local Oneness Pentacostal Church.
  9. Standard memberCalJust
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    10 Jul '14 15:31
    Originally posted by CalJust
    Your long explanation says exactly that: it eloquently describes how you differentiate yourself, and what "lost" teaching has been restored.

    To any objective outside observer there is now another denomination on the block.
    Hi sonship,

    Can you fault the simple logic of this statement?

    CJ
  10. Standard membersonship
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    10 Jul '14 16:003 edits
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    In that case, Witness Lee should have just joined the local Oneness Pentacostal Church.
    In that case, Witness Lee should have just joined the local Oneness Pentacostal Church.


    No. What Watchman Nee and Witness Lee did was return to one city / one church. They dropped all other names except the name of the city as we see in the New Testament.

    Seven churches in Revelation 1:11.

    Are they called by any doctrine? No.
    Are they called by any practice? No.
    Are they called by any particular teacher? No.

    Are they called by a race of ethnicity? No.
    Are they called by a Southern, Northern, or other directional designation? No.

    Are they called by a country? No.
    Are they called by a province? No.

    Are they called by a certain view of the Trinity? No.
    Are they called by a certain particlar day like "Pentacost" or "Pentacostal"? No.

    Are they called by a certain spiritual gift such as tongues? No.
    Are they called by the neglect of one like "No Tongues"? No.

    Then what are they designated by if not by these customary ways of making denominations?

    They are disignated by localities -

    "What you see write in a scroll and sent it to the seven churches:"

    Now we get the names of these seven churches respectively

    "To Ephesus
    and to Smyrna
    and to Pergamos
    and to Thyatira
    and to Sardis
    and to Philadelphia
    and to Laodicea."

    And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands ..." (Rev. 1:11,12)


    These are local churches.

    But HEY! That's not fair. Some of these churches had problems and were in pretty bad shape. Look at Thyatira!

    But to God she was a golden lampstand too. All seven churches were to God golden lampstands.

    It is not the spiritual condition that determined that they were churches.
    It was that they stood on local ground in the God ordained practical unity.

    So Witness Lee would never start any kind of church even if the label advertized some interpretation of the nature of God. You get people saved. And you encourage them to meet as the local church for the locality.

    IE. "Paul, a called apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Sosthenes the brother, to the church of God which is in Corinth ..." (1 Cor. 1:1)

    IE. "Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons." (Phil. 1:1)

    IE. " Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy the brother, to the saints in Colossae and faithful brothers in Christ ..." (Col. 1:1,2a)

    IE. "Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 1:1)

    IE. "Paul, an apostle ... and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia." (Gal. 1:1)

    Galatia is a province which consists of many cities. So naturally Galatia does not have one "Galatian Church" but the "churches of Galatia" according to her many cities.
  11. Standard membersonship
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    10 Jul '14 16:194 edits
    Originally posted by CalJust
    Hi sonship,

    Can you fault the simple logic of this statement?

    CJ
    Here is the statements I believe you refer to:

    Your long explanation says exactly that: it eloquently describes how you differentiate yourself, and what "lost" teaching has been restored.


    And your comment about it:


    To any objective outside observer there is now another denomination on the block.
    Hi sonship,

    Can you fault the simple logic of this statement?


    The logic would apply that a Christian claiming to be forgiven, justified, and in a relationship with Jesus, to an objective observer with no revelation, would appear to be no different from any other human being.

    " A dude is a dude is a dude. What's this about any of you being um, a saved person, a Christian ?"

    Do we operate by what God has revealed to us? Or do we operate along the lines of the what the worldlings see?

    Jesus told Peter that flesh and blood did not reveal to him that He [Christ] was the Son of the living God. But His Father revealed it to him.

    The Christ the Son of God is seen by revelation. And the reason that your Rolf brother came back to crazy from Stuttgart was because it dawned upon him to his amazement that the church is also seen by revelation.

    If you can see it, by God's mercy, you can see that we have been led astray deceptively by men's natural minds, by religious traditions.

    It takes no revelation to see the Lion's Club.
    It takes no revelation to see the Rotary Club, or the YMCA, or the Democratic Party, or the German Race, or any natural collection of human beings.

    To see the real nature of the church is by revelation exactly as to see the real nature of Jesus Christ is seen by revelation.

    "I was in spirit on the Lord's day ..." He turned. He TURNED to see. We need to turn our hearts to see by revelation, the local churches.

    Sure, to the worldly outsider whose spiritual eyes have not been opened, there is only one thing - "Christianity". Or more likely "Religion".

    Should we seek to dumb down the New Testament to what the unenlightened observer sees with his natural eyes. Or should we like Paul say "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision" ?

    I saw the vision of the local church. I can never, ever be the same again. Something in me DIED the night God showed me the local church. I'd like to speak for you and every Christian. But I cannot.

    Some of us have seen it and are amazed how off we have been led through centuries of natural thinking.
  12. Standard memberCalJust
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    10 Jul '14 17:421 edit
    Why don't you just answer my question?

    Where do you fault the logic of the statement: Witness Lee saw that there was some error in the church, he corrected it and renewed the truth.

    Voila, a new denomination is born!

    ALL the other stuff you wrote are red herrings!
  13. Standard membersonship
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    10 Jul '14 20:063 edits
    Originally posted by CalJust
    Why don't you just answer my question?

    Where do you fault the logic of the statement: Witness Lee saw that there was some error in the church, he corrected it and renewed the truth.

    Voila, a new denomination is born!

    ALL the other stuff you wrote are red herrings!


    I am not aware of any evasion on my part.

    As for unanswered questions, you didn't reply to mine, I don't think.

    When you went from denomination Christianity to your Home Church why did you not throw up your hands and decide you should not because of "a bike is a bike" logic?

    Why was it applicable to Rolf but not to yourself when you sought to lead the three families to form a home church?

    You want an answer from me. Reciprocate.

    Now for your point above which I don't think I evaded:

    Witness Lee saw that there was some error in the church, he corrected it and renewed the truth.

    Voila, a new denomination is born!

    ALL the other stuff you wrote are red herrings!


    It was the Brethren who first took a step to recover normal church ground by leaving denominations. They began to call each other simply "Brothers" and meet in homes. This was before Watchman Nee saw where they fell short.

    The step was in the right direction to just receive one another as brothers, (hence the name stuck - the Brethren). Where they fell short was in not realizing yet that many brother's churches in one locality was still a defeat to them missing the NT model.

    I am persuaded that when Watchman Nee went back to the Bible with the leading of the Lord, he discovered where they fell short. In the New Testament there was one church for one locality. That is the problem Nee remedied. And if you ask my opinion I think he had the leading of God in doing so.

    I would say that he had that leading in the exact same way Luther had a leading to proclaim "Justification by Faith" as an item of God's recovery.

    Witness Lee continued to be used by God in this recovery after Nee was imprisoned by the Communist for the last 20 years of his life. So Witness Lee did not invent anything new but continued to be used by God to carry on what God had shown Watchman Nee.

    Now there are many problems that can be remedied. And your view that Witness Lee started a new denomination because he remedied some problem misses the point.

    God used Lee to continue the recovery of the proper oneness as it God ordained it to be practiced.

    Now you object and call my explanation a "red herring". But if we take your view then there will never be a genuine church upon the earth. You are really saying that the practical church is an illusion and no longer exists.

    I am not ever sure you would regard the churches mentioned in New Testament as genuine local churches. If you do recognize, for example, the church in Jerusalem as a local church, then your philosophy is that what God started has disappeared from the earth forever.

    But this is to me like the Jews in Babylon not wanting to return to the promise land and Jerusalem under the dispair that God's will was all over. They are now dispersed forever among the nations and all promise of a Jerusalem and a house of God there are null and void forever.

    We do not accept this dispair, this defeatist attitude. We do not believe that a local church can be loosely or falsly formed. But we do believe that the Holy Spirit in many cities HAS done a work of recovery.

    Others may despise this as "just starting a new denomination." But if the characteristics of universal receiving are present and fellowship with other local churches so that one does not have merely a localistic sect, then God CAN and MUST have recovered church ground.

    Now I have tried to give you a reasonably concise and honest answer. You are going to now tell me WHY you didn't throw up hands in dispair over the "bike is a bike is a bike" when you felt to arrange for several families to form a Home Church.

    If it was not vain for you to move in the direction of more authentic NT practice why is it vain for Rolf to desire to do so?
  14. Standard membersonship
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    10 Jul '14 20:171 edit
    Witness Lee saw that there was some error in the church, he corrected it and renewed the truth.

    Voila, a new denomination is born!

    ALL the other stuff you wrote are red herrings!


    The implication of this is that any fixing of a problem is the vain starting of a new denomination.

    No, the saints who saw the truth came OUT of the denominations to go BACK to the original standing of the practical church life.

    You are saying "Going back to the local ground is starting a new denomination."

    I regard that as an error. It might be true if the real practice of receiving all whom the Lord has received is not being practiced. And if the saints were not in spirit. For the church only exists in the realm of being in spirit.

    If the real receiving is NOT being practiced then I would put a question mark on that group.

    When reading books by Witness Lee becomes the mandatory requirement for me to participate in any local church that is the day I leave that so called church. But for over 36 years that has never been a requirement. And I have met in New York, Boston, Greensboro, and Dunn Loring.

    Some attempt to portray "agreement" with brother Lee as a requirement for fellowship. No, in the local church being a believer is a requirement for being a constituent in a church.
  15. Standard memberCalJust
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    11 Jul '14 11:30
    Originally posted by sonship
    Hi sonship,

    I still believe that you (and the entire LC movement) have a blind spot in this matter, but since you seem to be sincere in examining WHY I say you are "just another denomination" I am prepared to continue this discussion.

    It seems to me that the core issue at stake here is that we do not have a common understanding, or definition, of the words "church" and "denomination".

    Let's start with this statement of yours:
    When you went from denomination Christianity to your Home Church why did you not throw up your hands and decide you should not because of "a bike is a bike" logic?
    Why was it applicable to Rolf but not to yourself when you sought to lead the three families to form a home church?
    Firstly, Christianity is NOT a denomination, but a form of religion (for lack of a better word). It is generally recognized as containing MANY different sub-groups, some large and some small, and some such larger sub-groups (especially Pentecostalism) having itself many sub-groups. But to call christianity a denomination is simply wrong.

    Other faiths, such as Buddhism and Islam, also have divisions and sub-sets, but i am not sure that they are called "denominations". So let us for the sake of this discussion define a "denomination" as a separately identifiable group within the larger concept of Christianity, which can be identified to outsiders as well as insiders by means of some commonly held beliefs, practices or structures that differentiate them from other such groups

    Typical examples of Denominations (not to labour a point, but for clarity) are the Southern Baptist Convention in the US, the Methodists, the Presbyterians and a whole bagful of Pentecostals.

    So to come back to your quote above, I did NOT leave christianity, nor did we start another denomination. There is NO denomination called The Home Church Movement, (if there was, I would not join it!) but home churches exist as informal gatherings of people with common interests and objectives. There is no common denominator among such churches other than being loosely based on Christianity, and there are huge differences among them.

    The Denomination that I left was the Baptist Church. Our home church consisted of Baptists, Methodist, Dutch Reformed, Catholic as well as unaffiliated. It had no organisation other than a common agreement to meet! We did not claim to be the sole representatives of Christ (what arrogance!) nor did we claim to be better (even worse!) but merely different, and that we enjoyed worshiping together and in a certain way. We made NO doctrinal statement claims.

    What Rolf (and the LC) did and does, was fundamentally different. They now said THIS IS THE TRUTH AND THE ONLY TRUTH. When they separated from us it was to form a structure which had the following characteristics:
    1. A formal doctrine, which was specified, exposited and clearly different in many aspects from other groups, hence separately identifiable.
    2. It made specific claims, such as being the only True Representatives of the Church Of Jesus Christ (sounds similar to another group, does it not?) which also differentiated it from all other groups.

    In my books, it has all the external earmarks of what the normal man-in-the-street would recognize by the word "denomination".
    It was the Brethren who first took a step to recover normal church ground by leaving denominations. They began to call each other simply "Brothers" and meet in homes. The step was in the right direction to just receive one another as brothers, (hence the name stuck - the Brethren).


    Unfortunately, you were a little late with that. Although the name "Brethren" cannot be patented, there have been others before you. Right here on our doorstep in Pretoria we have the "denomination" called the Plymouth Brethren, who call each other Brethren, have no paid pastor, doctrinally are fairly calvinistic, but clearly separately identifiable as a Denomination. Everybody knows who is part of it and who is not. So to call each other simply Brethren, well, that spot has been taken - not that you are unable to do the same, but THAT does not distinguish you.

    Witness Lee continued to be used by God in this recovery after Nee was imprisoned by the Communist for the last 20 years of his life. So Witness Lee did not invent anything new but continued to be used by God to carry on what God had shown


    For the record, you will have noted that so far I have not engaged you at all on any doctrinal level. Quite frankly, I have no problem with ANYTHING that either Witness Lee or Watchman Nee said doctrinally, and that includes your interpretation of "now the Lord is the Spirit" (Aside: who understands the concept of the trinity anyway? Chances are pretty good that you HAVE got hold of an interesting and valid take on the subject, who am I to argue?)

    So I do not dispute anything that you have said and scriptures that you have quoted at length. The only point where I disagree with you is the very practicality of HOW the church has developed over the past two millennia and is still developing, and HOW we should now practically live with that very real situation. Let's tackle that subject now:

    But if we take your view then there will never be a genuine church upon the earth. You are really saying that the practical church is an illusion. I am not ever sure you would regard the churches mentioned in New Testament as genuine local churches. If you do recognize, for example, the church in Jerusalem as a local church, then your philosophy is that what God started has disappeared from the earth forever.


    Yes, the physical and outward manifestation of the Early Church in Jerusalem has disappeared from the earth for ever. That is not speculation or belief, but observable fact.

    And, what is more, it started to so disappear ALREADY IN PAUL'S DAYS! When Paul rebukes the "Church in Corinth" that they have groups that call themselves "Paulites", "Appollosites" and "Peterites" he was referring to the phenomenon of denominationalism that had already started!

    We do not actually know whether these groups took Paul's admonishment to heart and disbanded or not. I for one do not believe that they did, for the simple reason that sectarianism and divisions only multiplied over time, and did not reduce. Only now is there a discernible movement AWAY from rigid denominationalism, towards the concept of the Unity of All Believers, (what Paul called One Hope, One Faith, One Baptism). But if you claim to know exactly HOW the church in Jerusalem (or Corinth) looked practically, then you are speculating.

    Today we are faced with the following situation, which are undeniable facts.

    FACT 1. In any given geographic locality there are already many different groups of Christians meeting in various different ways. The clock cannot be turned back to undo it, and if one could time travel back, chances are that the same thing would occur all over again. Human beings are funny that way - our ego often gets in the way and needs recognition. (Another aside: I would predict that it will not be long before the LC movement itself splits into two or more pieces again, with at least one group believing that the "others" are no longer "pure" enough, and that "reformation and revival" needs to take place!)

    FACT 2. In EACH of these groups (denominations) there are "wheat" and "tares". Call them True Believers and Hangers-on. The sum-total of ALL True Believers, wherever they may find themselves, are a part of the church in that Locality, whether they are recognized as such by Witness Lee or anybody else or not. That is a simple fact stated in the Gospels, and you don't need scripture and word from me for that.

    I readily acknowledge that there may well have been times in history when the creation of a new movement was not only inevitable, but desirable, such as e.g. the Reformation. However, imho the vast majority of rifts and schisms in the history of the church has been through well intentioned, but misplaced ego-driven zeal.

    The answer (again, only IMHO) is to not recognize these man-made divisions, but to accept all believers in love. The WAY in which we chose to meet, is open to our choices, and our various preferences and interpretations. However, the option to claim that any one group now PHYSICALLY represents all believers in a particular locality, is simply not open to us, because of its obvious absurdity.

    To summarise: if you or any other group were to feel that they have to "restore" some teaching that has been lost, and want to form a group or groups that worship in a specific way, then I would gladly give you encouragement and acceptance - even if I do not agree with you, I grant you the full right to your freedom of speech and expression.

    But please, for goodness' sake, don't now spoil the whole thing by claiming that you are the only kid on the block and that God speaks only directly to you.

    Have I now made myself clear enough?

    In peace

    CJ
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