TRUTH

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Witness Lee & the "Recovery Version" Bible

WITNESS LEE (1905-1997), LIVING STREAM MINISTRY &
THE NEW TESTAMENT "RECOVERY VERSION" BIBLE
Reviewed by Dale Brown

Chinese founder Witness Lee’s ministry is an extreme offshoot of the work started in China by Watchman Nee. Lee found his way to Los Angeles where his "local church" movement has its headquarters. Outside some of the peculiar English language used in the Recovery Version Bible it is the vast commentary by Witness Lee that presents the most concern. Often there is three quarters of a page of commentary on less than a quarter page of Biblical text. This gives one the impression that the Biblical text cannot be understood without viewing it through the lens of an interpreter, namely Witness Lee. First one must realize what Lee and his followers mean by "Recovery." This is not a twelve step program. When Dr. Walter Martin wrote about Lee and his theology in his book The New Cults (back in the early 80’s) he noted that the "Lord’s Recovery" was another word for Lee’s movement which described all other churches as off shoots of Babylon, the Catholic church. No mention is made of any other problematic religious systems such as Hinduism, or of Islam which makes up over one fifth of the worlds population. This type of language still appears in the commentary of the Recovery Version. So in essence "recovery" means to recover the global church from Catholic apostasy. And of course Lee and his ministry Living Stream is the means by which to accomplish this. Members of the movement have softened a bit regarding their criticism of other churches yet problems remain. They have a history of authoritarian control which has even been called brain washing by some.

Dr. Walter Martin was careful to point out that Lee’s teaching, though a problem, was not on the same level as the more obvious cults such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. A number of other ministries that address questionable religious groups or cults have been challenged by Lee’s Living Stream Ministry in court. The latest being Harvest House for comments by Ankerberg and Weldon in one of their books on cults.

RECOVERY COMMENTARY PECULIARITIES

With the Recovery often citing Greek as an authority the average Christian is left unequipped to investigate the reliability of the Recovery Version scholarship. One can easily be overwhelmed. Some problems however stand out quite clearly in plain English to those who are familiar with traditional orthodoxy.

Sin and Satan according to Lee
The Recovery commentary claims that God did not create flesh and that Satan is sin. "Satan injected himself into it (the flesh) at the fall." Commentary on Rom. 7:21 states that, "This must be the evil life, nature, and character of Satan himself, who is the indwelling sin in us. When sin is dormant within us, it is merely sin, but when it is aroused in us by our willing to do the good, it becomes ‘the evil‘." ". . .sin is a person, the embodiment of Satan, and is living and acting within us." In Lee's book "The Holy Word for Morning Revival" (Dispensing of the Divine Trinity, 2009) on page 162 he claims "Hence to put off the old man is to put off Satan." The Recovery commentary on Matthew 16:23 claims that "When we are setting our mind not on the things of God but on the things of men, we become Satan..."
The Bible however teaches that the fallen angel known as Satan is a person, and sin is transgression of God’s law, either by omission or commission. Though Satan or his demons may possess man Satan is not sin nor the "old man".

Recovery - "Sin existed before the law was given, but it was not manifested to man or charged to his account by God." (Commentary on Rom. 5:13) What does Lee do with Cain who not only sinned before the law was given but was also judged for that sin?

Modalism
Though there has been plenty of past criticism regarding Lee’s modalistic view of the Godhead the Recovery Version continues with a mixed bag of rhetoric on the Trinity, much of which is very problematic. Some of it comes across as the deification of man and the church. Regarding Jesus, Lee claims "Second, He took the step of death and resurrection to be transfigured into the Spirit that He might impart Himself into His believers . . ." "He became the Spirit to be everything and do everything for the completion of God’s building." "Hence, this Triune God—the Father in the Son and the Son as the Spirit—dispenses Himself into us to be our portion that we may enjoy Him as our everything in His divine trinity."

In reference to the Triune God the commentary at the end of Philippians 4:23 states, "Therefore, this is altogether a matter of the union and mingling of the processed Triune God, who has become the all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit, and the spirit of us, the tripartite men, who are being transformed by such a Spirit. We must live and act in our wonderful spirit by the Triune God as wonderful Spirit. Only then can we experience the enjoy the Triune God, who was processed through incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, as the inexhaustibly sufficient grace and thus become His fullness, His expression."

The commentary on Philippians 3:21 says, "In His salvation God first regenerated our spirit (John 3:6), now is transforming our soul (Rom. 12:2), and consummately will transfigure our body, making us the same as Christ in all three parts of our being." In "Dispencing of the Divine Trinity" (pg 16) we read "Having been regenerated by Christ, we have become a part of Him, and now we are the same as He is - divinely human and humanly divine." On page 9 "Since we, the believers in Christ, participate in God's divinity, we are gods". This sounds a bit like Mormonism. Satan's lie that we can become gods got us thrown out of the garden of Eden.
Lee teaches a form of recovery elitism, "We are not here to carry on an ordinary Christian work." (Dispensing of the Divine Trinity pg. 33) And because Paul said he was the least of all the saints Lee claims "This indicates that Paul was even smaller than we are." (pg.33) "Unless we know God's economy, we will not understand the Bible." (pg. 17) God's elite "economy" is something that Lee speaks much of.

Though many involved with Living Stream Ministry may have a heart for God and many are likely Christians, the commentary in the Recovery Bible and Lee's books introduces much confusion. The incarnation and the Trinity is hard enough to define much less grasp without adding Lee’s misleading commentary. Within the nature of the one God, there are three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One did not become the other. All three have coexisted for eternity. Man on the other hand, like Satan, is simply a created being.
 
Murray Grindlay has compiled quite a list of questionable translation problems and weird language used in the text of the Recovery Version Bible.
www.bible-researcher.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9a76n-xzqg

25 comments:

  1. Dale,

    Thank you for your review of this Bible version. I recently received this Bible for free after ordering online. I have read the "traditional orthodoxy" Bibles and I am always interested in studying more. I did a search and this is how I came across your blog review which is very detailed.

    Again, thank you. I think I will not bother with reading it as a whole and just use it for future reference if needed.

    Sincerely - Christopher

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  2. I would suggest you read this book and you will understand better.
    http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=%23%27%2DK%2F%0A

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  3. Dear Dale,

    1. Thank you for your comments on the Recovery Version.

    2. In fact, I have just bought a Chinese edition of this bible the day before in the Christian Books Fair in Hong Kong.

    3. You have quoted the comments made by Dr Walter Martin, a renowned American theologian. I have read Dr Martin's books, and I believe him.

    4. Same as one of your comentator, I will only use the Recovery Bible as another reference, and NOT to treat it as "the standard".

    5. Thanks again,

    Dr Peter Lam, Hong Kong, October 18, 2010.

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    1. Dr. Walter Martin is the founder of CRI now led by Hank Hanegraaff. Mr. Hanegraaff has done a extensive study of Witness Lee and found Dr. Martin's findings erroneous. See Mr. Hanegraaff's comments on Witness Lee www.equip.org/tag/witness-lee

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  4. Thank you for this post... my pastor and I have been working on a mission project for local homeless and I ordered this free Bible... I received it today and did not recognize the version as one I had ever seen so I decided to do some online research. I am glad I came across your page. I was troubled by the extensive commentary. Thank you again.

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    1. It's a shame that you are listening to this blog without first reading the Recovery version yourself. Much of what Dale Brown says above is erroneous. The local church does not and never has taught "modalism, "_for example. As for sin being Satan, Jesus himself said to Peter, when Peter thought sinful thoughts, get thee hence, SATAN. Because Dale Brown wishes to stick to old but erroneous ideas, rather than what you the scripture actually says, I recommend you see for yourself what the Recovery version actually says.

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    2. Robert, what you said is absolutely True.

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    3. Well, Robert, what does it say? Please don't leave us in suspense....

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  5. With much of this review based on Dr. Martin's research, it may be appropriate to update it with his predecessors' recent reconsideration of this group and their admission that they, including Dr. Martin, were wrong: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/we-were-wrong-2/

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  6. It reverences sin in this world coming from within a person tru Satan's spiritual dominance over a person who is not walking in the holy spirit of of God.
    As interesting as it presense itself, it can deter one from getting the guidance from the Holy Spirit himself. When we study and meditate on the word ourselves, being filled with the Spirit, which will show us all truth, then it's uncomfortable to accept any man's interpretation which is unable to penetrate the heart, even unto bone and marrow. Walk always in the Spirit that you may be able ward off the wales of the devil. I think this what is meant when the bible says about men preaching another gospel.


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  7. You do not understand the context of this sentence: "Sin existed before the law was given, but it was not manifested to man or charged to his account by God." (Commentary on Rom. 5:13). Witness Lee meant the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses could not charge anybody before the law was given. That is why Ap. Paul mentioned 'from Adam until Moses' (Romans 5:14). Your comment about Cain is not make sense. Please read always the context.

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  8. You did not understand the context of the, Romans 7:21 and following commentary of Witness Lee. The Recovery commentary does not claims that God did not create flesh and that Satan is sin. Please read carefully: “This must be evil life, nature, and character of Satan himself, who is the indwelling sin in us”. This is absolutely true because Hebrew word ‘Satan’ mean ‘the adversary’. Bible say there is a seed of devil and seed of God. Satan/Serpent deceived Eve. And he is doing this with other people. The result of deception is a weak mind, and weak body. Ap. Paul was living with God, but he still fought with sin in his body who affect his mind from time to time because of the degraded nature and Satan’s attack (Romans 7:21; 2 Corinth. 12:7). You can see that ap. Peter has been called as an adversary by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 16:23. The right translation is ‘But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan!”. Did you notice that He said this to PETER? In the ancient world when the follower made mistake the teacher was telling to him ‘Get behind Me’. It was mean that this person still does need to learn from the teacher because of different point of view. Peter had a wrong point of view and that is why he was the adversary. Commentary to Romans 7:21 RV, 1999 does not say: "Satan injected himself into it (the flesh) at the fall." I do not see this in my copy of this translation. You wrote as well: “The Bible however teaches that the fallen angel known as Satan is a person, and sin is transgression of God’s law, either by omission or commission. Though Satan or his demons may possess man Satan is not sin nor the "old man"”. Of course you have right, and the same point of you is in Isaiah 14:12 in RV commentary (see Isaiah 14:12 RV).

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  9. You wrote: “Though there has been plenty of past criticism regarding Lee’s modalistic view of the Godhead the Recovery Version continues with a mixed bag of rhetoric on the Trinity, much of which is very problematic.”. I do not agree with you. The recovery version does not contain any modalistic point of view. First point is there is few different modalistic conceptions and called as a heresy but Lee is not following those concepts. You wrote: “Some of it comes across as the deification of man and the church”. This is not true. You wrote: “Lee claims "Second, He took the step of death and resurrection to be transfigured into the Spirit that He might impart Himself into His believers . . .". I would like to see the source of this quote, but as you know Jesus transformed from human body into spiritual body (1 Corinth. 15:45-49). Jesus is a human in spiritual human body (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinth 15:45-49). It goes on: "He became the Spirit to be everything and do everything for the completion of God’s building." This is true, see: Luke 24:49; John 16:13; Acts 2:1-4; Revelation 5:6 compare with Rev. 1:14. This Spirit of God is come from the God Father through Son straight to his earthly messengers by the angels-Spirit (Rev. 1:1-2; 1:20; 5:6). This Spirit has been sent into presbyters as an angels (messengers of the churches)-Revelation 1:14; Rev. 2:1. It goes on: "Hence, this Triune God—the Father in the Son and the Son as the Spirit—dispenses Himself into us to be our portion that we may enjoy Him as our everything in His divine trinity.". This is true because Jesus as a Spirit is coming through Angels (Rev. 5:6; John 16:13). That is why Spirit cannot speak by himself, but only in the name of Jesus, because Jesus is inside the angels and after that inside us (Gal. 2:20; Revelation. 5:6; John 16:13). You can sin against Holy Ghost if you refuse angels which are send by Jesus from God, because Spirit of God Father sent through Spirit of Son was in Paul, because this is the same Spirit (Revel. 3:20). The same way as Paul we can accept the Spirit of God tobe inside us (Gal. 2:20). Revelation 3:21; 1 John 3:9 say that God is giving as part of Himself-a ‘seed’ greek ‘sperma’.

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  10. Dear author.

    I think that your criticism that Witness Lee's teachings of the Trinity can introduce modalistic confusion might be true. However, the more I think of modalism, I think modalism was just the best attempt of a genuine believer to think of the Trinity in the Bible at least as a metaphor. The bible does say the Son is called the Eternal Father, and the Last Adam became a life-giving spirit. If Witness Lee is saying that the Son is identical to Father or to the Holy Spirit because He is the Eternal Father and the Life-Giving Spirit, who can really argue with him? In the gospel of John, when Jesus promised the coming of the comforter, He also added "I will come to you." This does sound like the Spirit coming to believers as the Comforter would be Jesus himself, but disciples were still before the physical presence of Jesus at that time and would not be able to understand Jesus' direct way of speaking. So I think even Jesus was doing his best to explain such a deep mystery with his usual way of metaphorically speaking. Later, you see after the synoptic gospels the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the Lord Spirit which is identified as Christ (whenever hearts turn to Christ... now the Lord is Spirit, this is from the Lord Spirit, 2 Corinthians). It does seem like that Jesus is the Spirit. In a sense the Spirit and Jesus are distinguishable, but they are also identical. Augustine defined the Trinity that God is one in essence but three in person. I do not think this kind of metaphysical way of speaking has less danger of misunderstanding the mystery of the Trinity. What does he really mean by 'one in essence' or 'three in person'? How does it really differ from Modalism he wanted to oppose? It seems so called orthodox understanding of the Trinity is also quite full of empty metaphysical (idle) chatter. After I realized this, I really did not condemn modalism harshly. That guy was doing his best job.

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  11. The article is very useful, familiar greeting from our institute study course “ KAMPUNG INGGRIS PARE ”.

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  12. The Recovery Version of the Old Testament consistently uses "Jehovah" as God's name. Witness Lee has written, "“God is the faithful, mighty One, whose name is Jehovah. The title Jehovah is also a Hebrew word which is basically the same as the verb to be. The name Jehovah simply means ‘to be’.” [Witness Lee, All-Inclusiveness & Unlimitedness of Christ, Chap. 1] However, this statement is seriously misleading. The introduction to the RSV Bible says,""The word 'Jehovah' does not accurately represent any form of the name ever used in Hebrew.”
    Katharine Barnwell of Wycliffe Bible Translators/SIL says, “Sometimes YHWH is transliterated in English as ‘Jehovah.’ However, no recent major English translation follows this form and using the name Jehovah is not recommended. If YHWH is retained as a name, it is preferable to base the transliteration on the original Hebrew form of the name Yahweh.” [Katharine Barnwell (SIL), “Translating the tetragrammaton YHWH,” Notes on Translation, Vol. 11, No. 4, (1997) p. 25] Ron Rhodes writes, "“The term Jehovah, strictly speaking, is not a biblical term. It is a man-made term that is used to render the Hebrew term YHWH.” [Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 51] "Jehovah" is a weird hybrid term, never used by God's people before about 500 AD. “Jehovah is essentially a Germanic pronunciation of the Latinized transliteration of the Hebrew YHWH. It is the letters of the tetragrammaton, Latinized into JHVH, with vowels [from Adonai (Lord)] inserted.” [“Is Jehovah the true name of God?" GotQuestions.com] That's why it is not used by the vast majority of contemporary English Bible translations.

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  13. Thanks for your review. It saves me some trouble. Not just Witness Lee, but Watchman Nee also, presented me with some stumbling blocks early in my faith.

    I had just found this "Recovery" version and was trying to get some discernment after seeing their books offered for free as well as the version.

    I saw a bit of text that immediately gave me a strong check: " "Second, He took the step of death and resurrection to be transfigured into the Spirit that He might impart Himself into His believers . . ."

    Unequivocally, that is errant. I found it 'fortuitous' that you had also quoted that very 'problematic' text on this page.

    I've just discovered and learned enough about this version and thus also the ministry promoting it to move on.

    No need for me personally to spend any more time with it.

    See ya up yonder.

    Respectfully, some huy in the mile hi city.

    '- )

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  14. addendum: fwiw, I'm convinced that no one has a perfect understanding of the Scriptures.

    e.g., I unequivocally disagree with your position on tongues, and your awkward attempt to apologize baptism.

    neither will I return to this site.

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  15. It very interesting how as Christians we're quick to denounce each other. How anyone will dare denounce the great apostolic ministry of Watchman Nee which was continued by Witness Lee is mind boggling. As a Christian I have always loved the many mainstream english version of the bible and my attitude to the RV had been the same knowing very well how versatile the original Greek text is compared to the English language. What we don't realise when we embark on such unnecessary smear campaign is that it is the believers who looses out.In any case, if Witness Lee is preaching division in the body of christ; may I ask: what do you call what you are doing? And can you confidently say that anyone who wholeheartedly follows Witness Lee teaching will be lead astray from the salvation of Jesus Christ into eternal damnation? Witness Lee always maintained that his entire ministry stands on the shoulders of the work of the great men of God in the past. Let us concentrate on primary mission to bring many into the kingdom of God instead of confusing and driving them away. May the name of the Lord Jesus be exalted forever.

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  16. What you say is real ? you should read about this http://www.equip.org/PDF/EnglishOpt.pdf

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  17. 《We are wrong》 you should read
    基督教研究院(Christian Research Institute/CRI)是美国最有权威和最资深的基督教异端研究机构,其成立的目的乃是为了捍卫基督教教义的正统性。他们在2009年第32卷第六期以特刊的方式,在《基督教研究杂志(Christian ResearchJournal/CRJ)》破天荒的以李常受为封面,和“我们错了!(We Were Wrong!)”作标题,为过去CRI因为误解了地方教会(Local Churches),对地方教会的教导的负面批判,做出正式的道歉。这也使得李常受成为有史以来第一位登上美国基督教主流杂志封面的中国人!事情的发生源于1970年代,当时基督教研究院的创办人马丁华特(Walter Martin)与巴沙迪诺夫妇(Bob and Gretchen Pas-santino)二位研究人士合作,对地方教会进行评估,其极具批评性的结论铸成了日后错误信息的主要来源⑷。事实真相到了2003年才逐渐浮现。

    因着一次与地方教会代表坦诚而深入的会晤和对话,汉尼葛夫汉克(Hank Hanegraaff,于1989年马丁过世后,接管基督教研究所)和米勒艾略特(Elliot Miller,基督教研究学报创刊编辑)及巴莎迪诺女士(Gretchen Passantino,于2003年巴莎迪诺先生过世后接管真道实践会)开始了一项为时六年的研究计划,以重新评估地方教会在历史正统及整个基督教界中所站的地位。

    他们不仅在美国进行全面而深入地研究,通过不受任何限制地取阅地方教会所有的文字出版,与地方教会的代表人士进行数百小时的直接对话,并且完全自由的接触教会中的成员以收集第一手资料,甚至远赴中国大陆、台湾、南韩和英国。研究内容包括审慎地评估数以百计的书籍、文章、教会文件、影音记录,甚至法庭文件。他们第一手研究的结果,一言以蔽之,就是:“我们错了!”⑸ 汉尼葛夫汉克继续表示:虽然这样作的代价是大的。我们的人格受到质疑,动机受到挑战,声誉受到攻击,对我们的支持也因此减少。然而无论代价有多少,都无法与中国和全球其他地方受到逼迫的教会相比。或许没有什么话比“我错了”更难启齿。然而,对一个恪守“真理至上”的事工而言,愿意道出此语不是可有可无的选择,而是基本的要求⑹。

    接着米勒艾略特在研究报告中详述了事情的经过,并从历史,神学,护教等方面认证了地方教会的正统性。针对福音派基督教人士的公开信,从神的本质,人性的本质,宗派的正当性及基督徒之间的诉讼四个方面一一给出了专业的学术回应:

    第一,地方教会的教义既未教导三神论,更未教导形态论,而是以“同时共存,互相内住”来两面平衡地论及三一神,李氏基于相信神圣真理有两面,就教导说:“要正确地持守圣经的真理,我们必须持守真理的两面。圣经中对三一神纯正的启示,在形态论和三神论两个极端之间,占着中心的位置。”⑺ 就李氏而论,地方教会在维持这个平衡。而这也正是许多神学家所渴望达到的最佳表述⑻;

    第二,地方教会成神的教义,根本就是更正教福音派人士耳熟能详的信徒圣化、得荣的教义,只不过其观点较为奥秘而已;他们的说法与教会历史的先例和福音派主流的信仰是相当吻合的。地方教会的成神论,与东正教的成神论相比,也是更为接近更正教义的。他们无论在神论、基督论、圣灵论、救恩论和末世论等方面,与正统基督教神学都有不谋而合之处⑼ ;

    第三,李常受所反对的,既不是在宗派公会里的基督徒,也不是他们在基督的名里所相信、所传扬并所行的一切,李氏所弃绝的乃是宗派主义本身。事实上,李氏经常赞许其他基督徒领导人或团体的教导、福音和善工⑽,他的教导也从未阻止地方教会的成员与其他基督徒共事,只要不是推广宗派主义,在其余的事上都可共同努力⑾。事实上,地方教会有着惊人的包容性;

    第四,地方教会对基督徒的诉讼总共只有三次,每一次他们所面临两难的处境,都颇值得同情。从西到东他们都因着那些不实的反邪教著作遭受了无数难以置信的精神和物质上的迫害⑿,而且他们采取法律途径,都是在对方完全拒绝以基督徒弟兄的身分与他们会面后,才采取最后不得已的手段。保罗为了保护他的自由、职事和名誉,“上诉于该撒”。地方教会正是如此看待并解释为何他们在已过三十年间,三次不得已地诉诸法律行动。⒀

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  18. 同时米勒也指出了福音派基督教人士与地方教会之间冲突的内在深层原因,客观地说,双方都有责任:

    第一,由于西方传统主导了教会历史,这深厚地影响了西方人对今日一切基督教事物的态度。而地方教会及其领导人,都未承袭西方的传统。他们异于传统的崇拜模式,不为人熟知的教义和措辞(如“调和”),以及对倪氏与李氏职事的热衷,以至于他们拓展至西方时带有依然显见的浓厚中国影响。这些都让备感陌生和不习惯的西方基督教人士生发了邪教之联想⒁。而这样先入为主的观念一开始就导致了他们对地方教会异于平常的态度,甚至造成了刻意的敌视和刁难,很多研究人员并未深入了解地方教会自身的文化背景和神学内容,也没有全面严谨地按其上下文研读地方教会的文献,以明白其整体的教训及其前因后果,就匆匆地下出了草率的判断,这从福音派公开信中一再地出现断章取义、罔顾事实的表述就可看出。正如水流职事站媒体主任魏尔克利(Chris Wilde)所说:“人之所以批评李常受的教训,几乎都是因为选择性地摘录他著述中的某一部分,但是对于他在著述的其余部分,甚或常在同一段话里所作之完全平衡的陈述,却只字不提⒂。

    第二,当地方教会的成员迁移来美,首度面对西方基督教人士时,还没有做好足够心理上的准备。由于他们的母语不是英语,他们接触基督教著作及薰陶的机会也很有限。而李氏又偏好作具争议性的论述,却又未随即加上限定的解释,以致造成莫大的误会。而地方教会的成员对于公开批评的回应,则态度极为强硬。成员中有较不成熟者,其手段及言辞更加深外界的误解。在试图对话时,语言和文化上的差异往往阻滞了进展。以至于李常受和其他华裔领导人缺乏福音派背景的西方跟随者,对于他们某些遣词用字可能给西方福音派人士所造成的印象也许浑然不知。而西方的研究人员对地方教会的研究方法又不够彻底,手段也不够公允;自此演成双方恶意相向,情形愈演愈烈,至终造成今日的局面⒃。

    此外,米勒也给出了充分研究后的心得,肯定和推荐:

    第一,我认为地方教会是一个正统的基督徒团体,他们在世界上一个非常关键的区域,追求神的旨意,他们也是该区域最大的基督徒团体之一(地方教会在中国的会众为数约一百万,全球会众数约二百万,主要人数分布在亚洲各国),此一运动乃代表神在该区域极关键的工作;

    第二,可能再也找不到一个比地方教会更为中国本土化的基督教运动了。我们都知道,地方教会是倪柝声在中国创立的,由中国的同工承继传扬,其中最主要的是李常受。他们发展出的一套神学和教会生活,虽然合乎正统,却独具中国特质,是西方世界所未见的。

    第三,这班人不仅是基督徒,在许多方面更是基督徒的楷模。这一群信徒在对基督的忠信及所受的训练上,要让大多数西方的基督教团体羞愧。他们经过火炼逼迫的试验,仍然坚定站住,以致被煅炼成基督的样式,感人至深。他们对耶稣的爱令人佩服,他们奉献的生活折服人心⒃。

    第四,地方教会要在二十一世纪乃至更远,在捍卫正统教训并开展福音的事上,扮演重要的角色。虽然我们与地方教会在信仰和实行的一些非基要议题上仍存歧异,但我们绝对相信,我们先前将他们评估为“偏激的基督教团体”,对他们并不公平。他们虽然与我们在西方常见的基督徒有所不同,却是一班扎实稳固的正统信徒。⒄

    事实上,和他们持相同观点并有类似研究结论的还有很多西方资深的神学专家,如富勒神学院(Fuller Theological Seminary,全球最大的跨宗派神学院之一)的前院长Richard J. Mouw, Ph. D., (目前任美国神学院协会会长,并参与多个协会和委员会),教务长和神学与伦理学教授Howard J. Loewen, Ph.D.,(已在神学领域教学且著述长达三十年),以及系统神学教授Veli-Matti Karkkainen Th. D.,(赫尔辛基大学的普世教会学专题讲员,著述、编辑作品甚丰,应聘为多处编辑委员会委员),他们组成的小组经过与地方教会多年对话后作出结论,地方教会及其成员的教训与实行,在每一基本面,均体现出纯正、合乎历史、并合于圣经的基督徒信仰。⒅还有加州大学河滨分校历史和宗教研究教授Edwin S. Gaustad, Ph. D(曾任美国教会历史学会会长。著述十余本,包括《纵观美国宗教的历史》及《美国的政教关系》):就我的观察所作出的结论,地方教会承继了基督教福音派的精神,是重视圣经权威的更正教派之一,属于注重内里生命的奥秘派和敬虔派,相信且等待千年国度,也是一群强调重生、经历生命的基督徒。他们一同聚会、一同祷告、一同唱诗、一同学习、并一同成长。他们执着忠诚于自己对基督徒生活的独特看见。我想,这就够了⒆。

    在基督新教来华之两百多年的历史中,东方与西方因在各方面的差异而导致的冲突就一直存在并发展着,而这次可以说是第一次真正意义上的神学教义之争,并最终能让西方的基督教折服,这在基督教历史上着实具有里程碑的时代意义。当然美国基督教研究院能有这样的认错,地方教会能沉冤得雪,这一切都得益于:第一,作为社会公民,他们能够公开,平等,自由地对话,双方也有着坦诚,认真负责的态度;第二,作为研究人员,他们有着全面而深入,广泛而细致,客观而公正,严谨而审慎的治学态度和专业水准;第三,作为基督里的信徒,他们有着恪守真理至上,敢于认错的谦卑和胆量,以及优良正直负责任的灵性良知。这次中西方教义之争见证着一件事:基督是他们的,也是我们的!(《圣经·新约哥林多前书》一章2节),也宣示着一件事,正如美国基督教研究院院长汉尼葛夫汉克在文末所言:“让我们在古训中一同往前:在基要的事上合一,在次要的事上自由,在所有的事上相爱。

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  19. by Elliot Miller
    New Religious Movements/Doctrinal Discernment: One of the largest and most dynamic Christian movements in China, the “local churches” (LC) of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, planted churches in the United States beginning in the 1960s. It was greeted with suspicion by the evangelical community, and it was not long before CRI and other discernment ministries began labeling it heretical. But, after a six-year reevaluation, CRI has concluded that the LC has been misunderstood and is neither cultic nor aberrant, but merely different. Learn the reasons why in this special five-part article, along with some valuable lessons on how to do—and not to do—discernment ministry
    08 Part 1: The “Local Church” as Movement and Source of Controversy
    The LC have persevered through persecution in China and charges of cultism in the West. Here is an overview of their history, from the conversion of Watchman Nee in 1920 to the release in 2007 of an “open letter” calling on them to withdraw three of the teachings of Witness Lee and to renounce their use of litigation against Christians
    14 Part 2: Addressing the Open Letter’s Concerns: On the Nature of God
    Witness Lee said that Jesus is both the Father and the Holy Spirit. He also denied that he was teaching the ancient heresy of modalism. Lee’s critics insist that these two statements are contradictory, but have they missed something in Lee’s writings that would reconcile them?
    24 Part 3: Addressing the Open Letter’s Concerns: On the Nature of Humanity
    Witness Lee taught that the culmination of God’s salvation plan is for believers to become God. This sounds heretical, but before setting Lee’s books on fire (or adding our names to an open letter), shouldn’t we first find out what he meant by that?
    32 Part 4: Addressing the Open Letter’s Concerns: On the Legitimacy of Evangelical Churches and Denominations
    Witness Lee wrote that “the denominational organizations have been utilized by Satan to set up his satanic system to destroy God’s economy of the proper church life.” By this many Christians assume Lee is claiming that only his movement has true churches and that denominational Christians are lost and outside the universal church; but these have never been Lee’s claims
    38 Part 5: Addressing the Open Letter’s Concerns: On Lawsuits with Evangelical Christians
    The “local church” movement has sued evangelical publishers and authors three times in the past three decades. To many evangelicals this makes the LC aggressors and the authors and publishers victims. Again, however, things are not as simple as they seem

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