Originally posted by 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?