Answers to 23 Questions Posted on the Internet
and Circulated in South America1
Recently a dissenting brother posted a document on the Internet entitled, "Questions to the So-called 'Blended Brothers' that Until Today They Have Not Answered." This posting has been circulated by supporters of Brother Dong Yu Lan throughout parts of South America. The title of this document asserts that the blended co-workers have not answered the 23 questions that follow. On the contrary, most of the questions have been thoroughly answered, and those answers have been posted on www.afaithfulword.org for over two years in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.2 Many of the questions the dissenting brother asks are rhetorical questions, that is, they do not really seek an answer, but instead seek to plant in the reader an antipathy toward the co-workers in the Lord's recovery and Living Stream Ministry (LSM). They are intended as a challenge and seek to entrap any who would answer them in much the same way that the Pharisees and Sadducees sought to entrap the Lord (Matt. 22). Such questions are full of false insinuations, which expose the impure motive and diseased condition of the asker (1 Tim. 6:4).
The fact that most of the questions originated from a few dissenting brothers associated with Titus Chu was initially concealed from the readers. Questions 1-6 were originally part of an anonymous document posted on the Internet by one of these brothers. Questions 9-20 were originally part of a document by Nigel Tomes, a brother who has left the Lord's recovery and has posted many public attacks on the churches, the ministry, and the work in the Lord's recovery, including criticisms of the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.
Eight of the questions concern the leadership exercised in the ministry and the work by the leading co-workers in the Lord's recovery throughout the earth (the "blended brothers"). These questions all expose the fundamental difference between the work done by Dong Yu Lan and that being done in the whole of the Lord's recovery. It is he who is obsessed with his own personal authority and thus rejects the one work in the Lord's recovery today.
There are 13 questions concerning the matter of being restricted in one publication work in the ministry in the Lord's recovery. All 13 of these questions employ the same tactic in an effort to mislead the reader. That tactic is to shift the blame of Dong Yu Lan's divisive work back to the oneness practiced by the whole of the Lord's recovery apart from Dong Yu Lan's work. It is Dong Yu Lan who has caused division by building a closed circle of fellowship following his personal ministry. No part of the New Testament can be cited as grounds for this kind of division-making, and it is explicitly proscribed by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:10).
In the following pages, each of the 23 questions is presented in bold type, followed by an answer to the question.
1. Who and what are the names of the present so-called "blended brothers"?
This question has been thoroughly answered in "The Way of Blending and the Leadership in the Ministry in the Lord's Recovery Today,"3, from which the following is excerpted:
Near the end of Brother Lee's life, the Lord showed him that He had prepared a group of "blended brothers" to labor together in carrying out the ministry after his departure. Who are these "blended brothers"? One co-worker, when asked this question, answered, "The brothers who are blended." There is much wisdom in this answer. There is no fixed membership in the "blended brothers." No attempt has been made to make a list of those who are "blended brothers." Since Brother Lee's passing much attention has been given to broadening the blending to include more co-workers from all over the world. Some brothers have said they prefer the term "blending brothers" in acknowledgement that the Lord is still blending them together. Those who demand a formal list of the "blended brothers" are seeking a target to criticize so that they can transmute something organic into something organizational...
How then should we understand and apply the term "blending brothers"? Very simply the blending brothers are those who are themselves pursuing being blended together and who are seeking to lead all of the local churches on the earth into the universal blending of the Body of Christ. They are those who apply the principle of the Body to their ministry and work, those whose ministry and work is open to others, allowing others to adjust and temper them. Finally, they are those who are faithfully co-laboring according to the burden in Brother Lee's ministry to bring the churches into the reality of the Body of Christ through the high peak of the divine revelation, through the God-man living, and through shepherding according to God.
This blending is not confined to a closed group of brothers. Rather it is the Lord's desire that all of the believers in all of the local churches would enter into the reality of the Body of Christ through being blended together.
To insist on a roster of "blended brothers" is to misaim entirely. No such roster exists, nor should there be one. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the letter of warning concerning Dong Yu Lan and his co-workers was signed by 99 brothers representing the work on all six inhabited continents. This is a clear indication that the co-workers representing the work in the whole of the Lord's recovery have rejected Dong Yu Lan's divisive work.
2. How are the so-called "blended brothers" appointed according to the Scriptures?
There is no such appointment (see the answer to Question #1). Therefore, the question itself is invalid.
3. What is the scriptural basis for the so-called "blended brothers" to assume the present leadership in the work, the ministry, and the local churches in the Lord's recovery?
This question has been thoroughly answered, but the question itself misaims. The word "assume" in the question implies that the co-workers carrying out the leadership in the ministry and the work among the churches in the Lord's recovery today were not involved in that leadership before Brother Lee's passing. That is not true. Prior to Brother Lee's passing, his co-workers were already serving in coordination with him to travel, speak, publish, conduct trainings and conferences, and shepherd the churches. Brother Lee himself testified:
However, after I came back from Taiwan to the United States in 1989, from the time we began to have the training here in Anaheim to this day, I can testify that we have had a group of co-workers here who are truly in harmony. This harmony depends on our knowing the cross and the Spirit. The co-workers visited different places through the invitations of the churches and have thereby blended the churches as one. This is a good phenomenon. (The Governing and Controlling Vision in the Bible, p. 75)
Since Brother Lee's departure, the co-workers have simply continued to carry out the same work and ministry among the churches as they were prior to his passing.
Furthermore, as Brother Lee demonstrated from the New Testament, the unique leadership in the work, the ministry, and the churches is actually the apostles' teaching. The following excerpt from "Properly Discerning Spiritual Authority to Rightly Follow the Lord"4 presents this truth:
The apostles' teaching, which conveys their revelation of Christ to the believers, is the authority in the church today (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; Titus 2:15; cf. 1 Tim. 2:12). The first item in Paul's Epistle to Titus, the subject of which is the maintenance of order in the church, is "holding to the faithful word, which is according to the teachings of the apostles" (Titus 1:9). The maintenance of order is a matter of authority, and this authority rests in the apostles' teaching.
The New Testament leadership in the Gospels was a person. That person was the Lord Jesus Himself. But from Acts to Revelation, the unique New Testament leadership became the teaching of the apostles. Thus, neither Peter nor Paul controlled any church, but their teaching controlled. We can see this in 1 Timothy where Paul exhorted Timothy to remain in Ephesus in order that he might charge certain ones not to teach different things other than the economy of God (1:3-4). Different teachings are teachings which are different from the apostles' teaching concerning God's economy. This teaching is the unique leadership.
The apostles' teaching is our constitution which governs us. Peter and Paul did not govern the churches. It is the teaching of the apostles, the teaching concerning God's economy, which governs. (Elders' Training, Book 9: The Eldership and the God-ordained Way (1), p. 80)
The apostles' leadership in the New Testament was exercised through their teaching, not by any kind of control.
But the leadership in the New Testament ministry is not the leadership in the worldly sense to control others. In the Lord's recovery we do not have board members with a chairman or president.
Furthermore, this leadership is not the leadership in the ministers' acts, but in their teaching to restrict them from being divisive... The leadership which is shown in the New Testament is mainly in the teachings of the ministers, not in the acts of co-workers. (Leadership in the New Testament, p. 17)
The co-workers did not assume leadership as the questioner contends. Rather, they have faithfully followed the leadership in the Lord's recovery, that is, the teaching and fellowship of the apostles in the New Testament concerning God's economy, according to the pattern established in the ministry of Brother Nee and Brother Lee.
4. What is the scriptural basis and spiritual authority for the so-called "blended co-workers" to call the twice yearly "international elders' trainings," when the majority of the churches in the Lord's recovery were not directly or indirectly established by them and the respective elders of these local churches were not directly or indirectly appointed by them?
Brother Lee initiated the semi-annual international trainings for elders and responsible ones. Having seen their value in building up the churches over many years, Brother Lee charged his co-workers to continue these trainings after his departure. As Brother Ron Kangas recounted:
In the fall of 1996 Brother Lee had a time of fellowship in his home with a number of brothers who had been closely serving with him. That was a very precious and poignant time, for we all knew the serious condition of our brother's health. On our part, having had some fellowship, we assured him in the Lord that whatever was needed during that time, we surely would provide. He just said, "Thank you." He then opened up his heart to fellowship with us in a very endearing yet firm way. He said that after he would go to the Lord, certain things must continue. He said that the full-time training established by him in Anaheim, the two semi-annual trainings, and the other annual gatherings-the Chinese New Year's conference, the two trainings for the elders and responsible ones, the Memorial Day conference, and the Thanksgiving conference-must continue. Then he said, "This you should regard as my will." (Ron Kangas, "A Man of Prayer Praying to the Mysterious God in the Divine and Mystical Realm," The Ministry Magazine, vol. 5, no. 9, October 2001, p. 17)
The word "call" in the question gives a sense of a summons, but participation in such trainings has always been voluntary, not mandatory. Those who carry out the ministry in the Lord's recovery do not exercise authority in the natural way implied in this question. Rather they exercise to build up the churches through speaking according to the ministry of the New Testament.
2 Cor. 10:8 - For even if I should boast somewhat more abundantly concerning our authority, which the Lord has given for building you up and not for overthrowing you, I will not be put to shame.
As Brother Lee pointed out in his footnote on this verse:
Apostolic authority, in contrast to people's consideration in their natural concept, is not for ruling over the believers but for building them up.
The wording of this question implies that churches should be aligned with particular workers. This is contrary to the clear word of the Bible (1 Cor. 1:10-13), as well as the oneness of the Body of Christ and the nature of the one work in the Lord's recovery.
Some co-workers in the past did have the feeling that a certain area was their territory. But we need to see that it is not healthy or profitable in the Lord's recovery for anyone to have a boundary for his work. The only boundary is the boundary of the recovery. We should not say, "That's my church. That's the work in my territory." We have only one work. That work is the work of the recovery based upon the teaching of the apostles. (A Brief Presentation of the Lord's Recovery, p. 42)
Although attending the semi-annual elders' trainings has always been voluntary, those who have participated in them can testify of the great spiritual profit of doing so, while those who have avoided and despised them have gone increasingly adrift.
5. In what meeting or in which book did Brother Lee explicitly confer his apostolic authority upon the so-called "blended co-workers" in order for them to have the spiritual authority to call and conduct a twice yearly "international elders' training"?
The question itself makes several false assumptions regarding spiritual authority. Apostolic authority is not conferred by one person upon another. Nevertheless, it is true that in the same way Paul could perceive that Timothy was like-souled with him (Phil. 2:20), a genuinely spiritual person such as Brother Lee can recognize those who closely follow his ministry and can charge them to be faithful to continue in the same steps:
1 Tim. 4:6 - If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.
2 Tim. 3:10 - But you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, endurance.
In this vein, three months before his passing Brother Lee wrote a letter to the churches in which he said:
The Lord has shown me that He has prepared many brothers who will serve as fellow slaves with me in a blended way. I feel that this is the Lord's sovereign provision for His Body and the up-to-date way to fulfill His ministry. ("A Letter of Fellowship with Thanks," March 24, 1997)
In the last months of his life, Brother Lee gave his co-workers several charges related to their going on in the ministry and work in the Lord's recovery. These co-workers have simply endeavored to be faithful to Brother Lee's admonition to continue the ministry and work in the Lord's recovery according to the same pattern established by Brother Nee and himself.
6. Isn't this the doctrine of apostolic succession practiced by the Roman Catholic Church and most of the Protestant denominations?
No. The co-workers have explicitly repudiated the concept of apostolic succession. It is neither scriptural nor is it something practiced in the ministry in the Lord's recovery. What the co-workers have expressed is their desire to continue the ministry in the Lord's recovery in the same line established by Brother Nee and Brother Lee. As Brother Ron Kangas stated in his message to open the Crystallization-study of 2 Corinthians:
.our burden is to continue the unique ministry of the new covenant for the building up of the Body of Christ. Our burden is to continue. We are not claiming succession of any kind. Timothy was not Paul's successor, but he surely was Paul's continuation. My son is not my successor; he is my continuation. His son is not his successor but his continuation. We are here burdened to continue the unique ministry of the new covenant for the building up of the Body of Christ. Whoever wants to stand one with the burden to continue faithfully, absolutely, and without reservation the unique ministry of the new covenant as we have inherited it, as it has been presented to us as the ministry of this age with the vision of the age, has the blessed privilege of being part of this continuation. (Ron Kangas, "The Constitution of the New Covenant Ministry," The Ministry Magazine, vol. 7, no. 5, June/July 2003, p. 15)
7. Has the so-called "blended co-workers'" participation in this apostolic succession become a kind of Pergamos holding the teachings of Balaam and practicing the teaching of the Nicolaitans as we have been taught by Brother Lee and Nee in Revelation 2:14-13 [sic]?
As stated above, there is no apostolic succession in the Lord's recovery. This is not a genuine question seeking a genuine answer, but an evil insinuation. It presents no basis for its claim that the co-workers hold the teachings of Balaam or practice the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Rather, this question is a rhetorical one that is merely intended to sow evil suspicions in its readers' minds. It is indicative of someone who is "blinded with pride" and "diseased with questions and contentions of words" (1 Tim. 6:4).
8. Are the so-called "blended co-workers" a kind of "Sanhedrin" who, by having in their hands the writings of Moses, Isaiah, etc., proclaimed themselves an authority insubordinate to God's economy, and who ironically, having the prophecies regarding the Messiah, crucified Him?
See the answer to Question #7. The question itself is insidious and perverse. Like the other 22 questions, it includes no reference to anything that the co-workers have actually said, but instead makes broad mischaracterizations with no supporting facts whatsoever. Propagating such pronouncements without substantiating their veracity is at best willful ignorance, particularly in light of the availability of so much contradictory evidence. Those sincere seekers who want to know the true nature of the ministry and work of the co-workers in the Lord's recovery should review the materials posted on the LSM site at http://www.lsm.org/. Many churches in southern Chile recognized the deviation of Brother Dong and his co-workers just by tasting the richness of the ministry in the Lord's recovery through that site.
9. Is the "One Publication" policy Scriptural?
This question has been answered in detail in "Is 'One Publication' Scriptural?".5 The co-workers' fellowship, which echoes Brother Lee's fellowship with the elders and co-workers in Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, chapter 11, is based on the following principles:
- The uniqueness of the teaching and fellowship of the apostles (Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:9),
- The apostles teaching the same thing in every church (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33, 36; 16:1; Rev. 1:12),
- The Lord's speaking to one church being His speaking to all of the churches (Col. 4:16; Rev. 1:11; 2:7a),
- The oneness of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:4; Eph. 2:16; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13),
- The one accord (Acts 1:14; 2:46; 15:25; Rom. 15:6),
- Thinking the same thing (Phil. 2:2; 4:2; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Cor. 1:10b),
- Speaking the same thing (1 Cor. 1:10a; Rom. 15:6),
- The one ministry of the New Testament (Acts 1:17, 25; 2 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 4:12; 1 Tim. 1:12),
- The one work with one goal (Eph. 4:12; 1 Cor. 15:58; 1 Cor. 16:10), and
- Serving in the one flow of the Lord's move (Rev. 22:1; Ezek. 47:1; Acts 15:39).
Those who have dissented from the practice of "one publication" have also dissented from these thoroughly biblical principles in order to promote different teachings and to do a separate and divisive work to gain a personal following. Such a practice is fundamentally contrary to the nature of the oneness of the Body of Christ that should be expressed in the practice of the church life, the ministry, and the work. This is why Brother Lee told the co-workers and elders:
When I came into the recovery, I realized what the recovery was and that it was uniquely one. The one who brought the recovery to China among us was Brother Watchman Nee. If I would not have taken the way of the recovery, I could have had a work in northern China, but I gave that up. I fully realized that the Lord has only one Body, one work, one Bible, one revelation, and one current, one flow, in one fellowship. At that time Brother Nee was being used by the Lord. I never tried to speak anything different from his teaching. This does not mean that I did not have any other teachings, but my speaking always followed Brother Nee's speaking in order to keep the unique fellowship in the Lord's unique recovery.. There is only one Lord, one Body, one Bible, one divine revelation, one speaking, one recovery, one fellowship, and one way to practice the recovery. (Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-ordained Way (2), pp. 117-118)
The question is also misleading in its use of the word "policy." A policy is something official. If something is a policy, adherence to it is mandatory. Policy also implies a mechanism of enforcement. The co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery is not of that nature (see the answer to question #12).
10. Is "One Publication" an item of "the Speciality" or "the Generality of the church life"?
This question was thoroughly answered in "Is 'One Publication' an Item of 'Speciality' or 'Generality'?"6 Again, the question itself is errant. In Brother Lee's book The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, there is a third category, practicality, which does not refer to items of the faith but to healthy practices that build up the churches. "One publication" is an item of practicality as it relates to the church life. The practice of being restricted in one publication is a safeguard to the oneness among the churches in the Lord's recovery against the devastation caused by different teachings. This oneness is the source of the blessing in and the characteristic of the Lord's recovery. Different teachings damage the oneness and bring in division.
Nevertheless, all of us need to realize that we are in the Lord's recovery. The first characteristic of the Lord's recovery is oneness. Once we lose the oneness, we are through. If we lose the oneness, we are no longer the Lord's recovery. Therefore, we need to see that there is a peril of different teachings and different opinions damaging the oneness.. Opinions may be good, and teachings may be scriptural, yet they may be different. Sooner or later, these matters will create a hidden division. The blessing that always comes down from God to His recovery is based upon the oneness (Psa. 133). If we lose the oneness, we will lose the blessing. (Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament, p. 29)
With respect to the ministry Brother Lee spoke strongly that those who would teach differently, those who would sound a different trumpet, those who would carry out an independent work, had no part in the ministry the Lord had committed to him:
I have to be faithful to the Lord, faithful to so many of you who have been very much affected by this ministry, and faithful to myself. For this reason, this ministry cannot allow anyone to pretend to be in it and yet still say something different. (Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move, pp. 81-82)
The term "co-worker" indicates that a person is co-laboring with the Lord and with the Lord's servants in the common and unique ministry to build up the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 3:9; 6:1; 2 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 4:12). To claim to be a co-worker yet to promote different teachings is a pretence. The unique teaching is the healthy teaching of God's New Testament economy (1 Tim. 6:3; Titus 1:9). The apostles brought the churches into a oneness in life, nature, expression and practice by teaching the same thing in every church (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33, 36; 16:1; Rev. 1:12). This principle underlies the co-workers' practice of being restricted in one publication work. This publication work is no one's private work, but is carried out under the oversight exercised through the fellowship of the co-workers throughout the earth in the principle of being one Body (1 Cor. 1:9). Brother Dong's unwillingness to participate in or be limited by this fellowship is a strong indication that he is doing a separate and independent work.
11. If a local church adopts the "one publication" policy, is it still a genuine local church or has it become a "ministry church"?
This is a twisting of Brother Nee's word in The Normal Christian Church Life that turns the truth on its head. There Brother Nee said that all workers should labor to build up the local churches, not to build up fellowships around their own personal ministry. A proper ministry is one that builds up the churches all over the earth in one common fellowship. The unique ministry that all of the churches should receive is the ministry that carries out the New Testament teaching of the apostles. Brother Lee referred to this as a "general ministry."
Let me cite another illustration to show that something done by a local church may not merely be a local church matter, but fully related to the entire Body. For a local church to receive a ministry that is different from the general ministry which produces the churches, establishes the churches, and is still edifying the churches affects the entire Body. Paul's ministry was a general ministry to produce the Gentile churches, to establish them, to edify them, and to help them grow. I refer to Paul's ministry as a general ministry. Then Apollos came in with another ministry. For the church in Corinth to receive such a ministry, they must consider the effect of receiving such a ministry. Undoubtedly, you have the right to receive any ministry because you are a local church. However, you must consider that your receiving of such a ministry is not merely a local matter. This is not like making a decision as to how many meetings a local church should have.
We must also realize that for a local church to print and distribute publications affects the testimony of all the churches. When a local church puts out a printed testimony it should be done in a very careful way with much consideration as to how this would affect the Lord's testimony universally. We must always consider the effect of what we do on all the local churches.
These three illustrations are good enough and strong enough to tell us that it is not right to think that just because we have a regional work with a few churches under this regional work, we have the full jurisdiction to do everything according to our choice without caring for the Lord's universal testimony, universal Body, universal ministry, and universal move. If we think and practice in this way, we will get in trouble, and we will make trouble for others. Every local church does have its own jurisdiction, but whatever a local church does must be done in a careful consideration as to how this would affect the Lord's universal testimony, universal Body, universal move, and universal ministry. (Elders' Training, Book 4: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, p. 33)
A ministry that is outside the bounds of the teaching of the apostles is a different ministry with different teachings (1 Tim. 1:4) that seek to draw men to a particular worker (Acts 20:30). To choose to follow the general ministry in the Lord's recovery, the ministry that is according to the teaching of the apostles, is not to become a "ministry church," nor does refusing to receive workers who have deviated from the teaching of the apostles cause a church to forfeit its standing. A "ministry church" is a church that establishes an exclusive fellowship based upon following a particular minister's teaching. The churches in the Lord's recovery maintain an open fellowship with all genuine local churches. This fellowship is not based on following a particular person's ministry. Those who have accused the churches in the Lord's recovery of becoming "ministry churches" have themselves sought to establish closed circles of fellowship based upon a particular person's work. This was the case with Titus Chu and it is the case with Dong Yu Lan and his workers.
(Concerning the use of the word "policy" in the question, see the answer to Question #9.)
12. Why has an informal, voluntary, personal practice among the co-workers been converted into a teaching which has now become a public policy, mandated upon the saints and the local churches?
This question has been thoroughly answered in "'An Informal, Voluntary, Personal Practice'?"7 The question uses loaded language that is inaccurate. The practice of being restricted in one publication is not something new but has been the common practice among the co-workers in the Lord's recovery from the time the Lord raised up Brother Nee in China.
To characterize the co-workers' practice of being restricted in one publication work as merely "informal" is inaccurate. In the 1986 elders' training Brother Lee explicitly charged the co-workers and elders in the Lord's recovery to observe this practice and presented the common practice in the ministry in the Lord's recovery as a pattern for all the elders and co-workers to follow:
One thing that has caused the Lord's recovery trouble is the fact that we have different publications. If we mean business for the Lord's recovery, we must avoid any kind of involvement in problems. When we were on mainland China, only Brother Nee had a publication, and the Gospel Room belonged solely and uniquely to him.. I never published anything by myself. I always mailed my manuscript to the Gospel Room, which was under Brother Nee and his helper. It was up to their discernment whether my manuscript should be published or not. I liked to have my writings checked as to whether there might be some inaccuracy in the truth.. We only had one publication. Everything was published through Brother Nee's Gospel Room because the publication is really the trumpeting. The sounding of our trumpet is not just in the verbal message but more in the publication...
Even though I wrote some books in mainland China, I never dared to publish anything by myself. I do not like to have another sounding. Our sounding must be one, so we must be restricted in one publication. (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, pp. 161-162, 163)
The opening words of Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery echo Brother Lee's fellowship and his concern for preserving the oneness among the churches in the Lord's recovery:
Through Brother Lee's fellowship over the years, we have long realized that there should be one publication among us. The one publication is not only a testimony of our oneness in the Body but also a safeguard for the unique ministry in the Lord's recovery. Without one publication, there is no way to preserve the integrity of the Lord's ministry among us, which is crucial to the practical oneness among the local churches.
What has transpired since Brother Lee spoke these words, including the open opposition of Brother Dong and his co-workers to Brother Lee's fellowship and the division fostered by their deviating teachings, has only confirmed the need for those serving in the ministry in the Lord's recovery to follow Brother Lee's pattern and to be restricted in one publication.
Furthermore, the word "mandated" implies compulsion. This is completely contrary to the language of the co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery, which says:
However, the one publication should not become the basis of our accepting or rejecting any persons in the communion of faith or in the fellowship of the churches; it should not be insisted on as an item of the faith. If any are not inclined to be restricted in one publication, these ones are still our brothers; they are still in the genuine local churches. (Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery, p. 9)
Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery informs the saints that the co-workers have chosen to follow the pattern established by Brother Nee and Brother Lee to be restricted in one publication work. This publication work represents the general ministry in the Lord's recovery and is carried out according to the fellowship of the co-workers throughout the earth. To call it "a public policy, mandated upon the saints and the local churches" is a gross misrepresentation. The co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery not only repeats Brother Lee's fellowship from Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, chapter 11, but it also reiterates what was circulated in a letter signed by co-workers from North America, Taiwan, and South America (including Dong Yu Lan, Pedro Dong, Andre Dong, Ezra Ma, and Miguel Ma) in a letter dated August 1, 1997:
We agree that there should be only one publishing work in the Lord's recovery and in the whole earth, that is, the one that publishes and distributes the writings of Brothers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. We believe that these brothers are special gifts given by the ascended Head to the Body in this age to open up the intrinsic significance of the divine revelation, to complete the interpretation of the Scriptures, to minister the unsearchable riches of Christ to God's chosen, to take the lead in the recovery through their speaking, and to perfect the saints through their ministry to build up the overcoming part of the Body of Christ for the preparation of the Bride. In order to avoid concerns and unnecessary questions among the churches, we agree that today no other publications should appear to compete with, or even worse, replace the books of these two servants of the Lord.
Thus, Brother Dong and his co-workers' criticism of the principle of "one publication" not only contradicts Brother Lee's fellowship but also represents a reversal of their own earlier affirmation of that same principle.
13. Has the Living Stream Ministry office been elevated above the "Levitical service" established by Brother Lee?
This question has been thoroughly answered in "False Accusations Against LSM and What Is Behind Them."8 The dissenting ones have misrepresented the role of LSM, in part by confusing the respective roles of LSM and the co-workers. LSM publishes the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and supports the activities of the co-workers who seek to continue that ministry. LSM continues to function as a Levitical service in the same way that it did when Brother Lee was alive.
14. Isn't the policy of "one publication" the practice of Roman Catholicism concerning publications?
This question is undeserving of an answer. No specific objection is raised. Only a parallel is drawn without reference to the merits of the issue at hand.
The real question is whether it is within the purview of the co workers serving in the work and ministry of the Lord's recovery throughout the earth to inform the saints what publication work represents the general and common ministry in the Lord's recovery. As clearly presented in the article, "Is 'One Publication' Scriptural?",9 the co-workers have an obligation to guard the churches against the teachings which differ from God's New Testament economy (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-5a; Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8-9; 2:11-14; 3:1; 5:7; Eph. 4:14; 5:6; Col. 2:8, 18; 2 Thes. 3:6; 2 Tim. 3:5; 4:2b; Titus 1:9, 11; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:16; 2 John 1:10).
It should be noted that the person who originally drafted this particular question, Nigel Tomes, did not raise this issue when Brother Lee first presented it in 1986, but rather signed a letter pledging to care for the one accord in the churches in the Lord's recovery by receiving Brother Lee's fellowship. Brother Dong and his co-workers also signed a letter dated August 1, 1997, agreeing to the principle of being restricted in one publication work in the Lord's recovery with a view to maintaining the oneness among the churches (see the answer to question #12). Since Nigel first published this question, he has become more and more critical of Brother Lee's ministry and of the churches in the Lord's recovery and has increasingly separated himself from both. This same pattern is evident in Dong Yu Lan's ministry and work.
15. Is this document [Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery] an example of "Historical Revisionism"? Is the intention to rewrite the record of history in a manner not supported by the facts?
This question has been thoroughly answered in "Whose 'Historical Revisionism'?"10 and "Was the Hong Kong Book Room a Separate Publisher? - What Did Watchman Nee Really Say?".11 Nigel Tomes disputed the claim that being restricted in one publication has been the common practice of the Lord's recovery since Brother Nee's time based on the false premise that the Hong Kong Book Room was a separate publisher. In fact, Watchman Nee set up the Hong Kong Book Room to publish his ministry along with the Shanghai Gospel Book Room and the Taipei Gospel Book Room. As Brother Lee explained:
In 1950, Brother Nee arrived in Hong Kong and wanted me to come from Taiwan to see him. When he fellowshipped about the matter of issuing publications, he took the opportunity to make some arrangements. It was decided that the Gospel Book Room would remain one, yet due to the political situations, it had to conduct business separately in three places: Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong. Brother Nee was responsible for the bookroom in Shanghai. I was responsible for the one in Taipei, and Brother Weigh was responsible for the one in Hong Kong. However, Brother Nee wanted me also to take care of the responsibility for the publications of the Hong Kong bookroom. (Words of Training for the New Way, Vol. 1, pp. 34-35)
Thus, the three offices coordinated together to carry out one publication work in the same way that LSM and the Taiwan Gospel Book Room coordinate today to publish the ministry of Brother Nee and Brother Lee. This was also the original intent in the establishment of Editora Árvore da Vida (EÁV) before it was subverted to other purposes (see the answer to Question #21).
16. In speaking about one publication, did Brother Lee establish a general principle or was he having fellowship about a specific situation or person?
This question has been thoroughly answered in "'Situation-specific' or 'Person-specific'?"12 Although Brother Lee spoke this in a particular context with a particular background, his fellowship described the practice of being restricted in one publication as being characteristic of the common practice in the ministry from the time of Brother Nee. Furthermore, his speaking on the need to have a single sounding of the trumpet in the Lord's ministry in His recovery was not restricted to this particular time and circumstance. For example, in 1975 he said:
God would not send out trumpeters to sound different trumpets for His army to fight the battle (1 Cor. 14:8; Num. 10:9; Judg. 7:18). This would be confusion. God is wiser than this. He will raise up only one trumpeter to sound one calling, one voice, so that His people on the earth can march on. (The Testimony of Jesus, p. 99)
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul addressed specific situations, but what he taught in his epistles was neither situation nor person specific. Brother Lee practiced the same thing in his ministry. While he may have spoken with a background of a specific situation, he presented general principles. This is very clear in his speaking about one publication. He addressed the specific problems being caused at that time by different publications with different teachings producing different ministries with personal followings by referring to both the common practice among the co-workers in the Lord's recovery since the time of Brother Nee and to his own practice of always submitting his own writings to Brother Nee's Gospel Book Room for review (see Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, pp. 161-162). His clear desire was that the co-workers and elders would follow that pattern. To say that the pattern practiced by the co-workers generally and Brother Lee personally over the entire course of the Lord's recovery among us was merely "situation" or "person" specific is a transparent attempt to rationalize carrying out a private work.
17. Doesn't the policy of "one publication" contradict Brother Nee's teaching concerning the futility of using institutional arrangements to contain the Lord's blessing?
This question mischaracterizes the co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery by referring to it as an institutional arrangement. An institutional arrangement is something that has an organizational structure which includes enforcement. The co-workers' fellowship was simply that-fellowship. The saints and the churches were free to receive it or not.
Brother Nee's fellowship about not using institutional arrangements to contain the Lord's blessing does not preclude practical arrangements to take care of the Lord's interest. Both Brother Nee and Brother Lee established publishing offices to disseminate the ministry in the Lord's recovery. Throughout the history of the Lord's recovery among us, the norm has always been to have a single publication work. While Brother Lee was in mainland China, he served in Brother Nee's literature work and would not publish anything apart from that work. When he went to Taiwan, Brother Lee continued the publication of Brother Nee's ministry in the same way that the co-workers through Living Stream Ministry are continuing to publish Brother Lee's ministry. To misuse Brother Nee's word to criticize this labor is a disservice to the saints and churches in the Lord's recovery.
When Brother Lee presented the matter of being restricted in one publication to the co-workers and elders in 1986, he said that when he was in China he always submitted anything he wrote to Brother Nee's Gospel Book Room because "I liked to have my writings checked as to whether there might be some inaccuracy in the truth." Thus, one goal of being restricted in one publication work in the Lord's recovery is to protect the churches from deviations from the truth. In June 2005, 21 co-workers wrote to Brother Dong expressing concerns about deviations from the truth in his ministry. Their concerns were ignored. When the co-workers, after much forbearance, issued a letter of warning in April 2009, they identified several significant matters on which Brother Dong's teaching deviated from the truth in the New Testament, including his undermining of the inspiration and authority of New Testaement writers, his depreciation of the twelve apostles ministry as "traditional" and of Paul's ministry as "judicial," his self-serving interpretations of John's "organic ministry," of Revelation 12, and of Philadelphia and Laodicea, and his overarching claims of personal authority. These deviations are the fruit of building up a private work and ministry without regard for the churches as a whole apart from the common fellowship of the co-workers throughout the earth.
18. What impact will the "one publication" policy have on the saints?
Those who have received this fellowship as it was intended have received much benefit. The co workers' fellowship brought much clarity to situations where confusion was brought in by different ministries with teachings that differ from God's New Testament economy. The problems that have occurred have been due to the public opposition of some. Brother Dong and his co-workers had been sowing distrust among the saints in South America toward the co-workers from North America for many years. Their critical speaking intensified when Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery was released. Nigel Tomes' dissenting opinions were disseminated by them throughout South America. This seriously damaged the fellowship between the churches in South America and other parts of the earth. At the same time, Brother Dong and his co-workers discouraged the saints from reading the co workers' statement. This prevented the saints from seeing the true nature and tone of that fellowship for themselves.
19. What impact will the "one publication" policy have on the local churches?
See the answer to Question #18. Those who criticize the co-workers' action in releasing Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery should recall the situation in the Lord's recovery when Brother Lee spoke about being restricted in one publication in the 1986 elders' training. Brother Lee had already spoken about the problems caused by different ministries. At that time there were a few brothers who were carrying out private works to build up personal followings among the saints. Some had their own publication works in rivalry with the publication work of the general ministry in the Lord's recovery being carried out under the leadership of Brother Lee. After Brother Lee's fellowship, some of these brothers departed from the fellowship of the churches and a few saints followed them, but the vast majority of the saints and churches were preserved in oneness. Had he not spoken when he did, the situation might have been much worse. In 2005 the co-workers were faced with how to respond to numerous instances of damage and confusion in the churches from different publications promoting different teachings. They recalled how Brother Lee had addressed the problem in the 1980s and affirmed their intention to follow his pattern by being restricted in one publication in the hope of preserving the churches on the earth in oneness.
20. Isn't there the appearance of a "Conflict of Interest" in the "one publication" policy?
This is an evil insinuation meant to incite distrust against the brothers faithfully carrying out the publication of Brother Lee's ministry. It attempts to recast the co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery in terms of a competitive business. Fostering such suspicion is an old tradition going back to the serpent in the garden (Gen. 3:1). Paul mentions that some in Corinth were saying he was crafty and took them by guile (2 Cor. 12:16). Similarly, Brother Lee faced false accusations of self-interest in his fellowship with the elders and co-workers in the 1980s. The opposition to the co-workers' fellowship is the same in principle.
In their efforts to castigate LSM, those who pose this question depend in part on distorting facts. Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery is not LSM's statement; it is the co-workers' fellowship to all the churches throughout the earth. LSM merely published the statement on the co-workers' behalf. Brother Dong's supporters have attempted to portray the co-workers' warning concerning his teachings and practices as merely a conflict of commercial interests between two publishing houses. Titus Chu and his followers tried to do the same. This distortion exposes the wrong mentality and motive of those who propagate it. Anyone who has read the co-workers' letter of warning concerning Brother Dong and his co-workers can see that the issues involved relate to serious deviations in truth and abusive practices.
21. Why did Witness Lee, while he was among us, never specifically request that we in South America submit to a single publication directed from the north by LSM?
Editora Árvore da Vida was established in fellowship with Brother Lee with the understanding that it would operate in concert with Living Stream Ministry and the Taiwan Gospel Book Room and that its purpose was to translate the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee into Portuguese and to publish it in that language. In Taiwan in November 1981, Brother Dong himself testified:
After some fellowship with Brother Lee, we in Brazil also set up a Bookroom to publish Brother Lee's messages, translated from the English books published by Living Stream Ministry. (Dong Yu Lan, speaking translated from Chinese printing of History and Revelation, vol. 2, p. 280)
A promotional pamphlet advertising the construction of Estância Árvore da Vida and published by Editora Árvore da Vida stated:
THE EDITORA ÁRVORE DA VIDA (Tree of Life Publishers): Established in 1976 with the goal of translating and publishing the books of brothers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee in the Portuguese language. ("A 10,000 People Meeting Hall for the Universal Blending of the Body of Christ," p. 6)
Brother Lee expected that EÁV would carry out this charge in fellowship with LSM, the Taiwan Gospel Book Room, and the other publishing offices that were translating and publishing his ministry. However, Brother Dong deviated from this charge. In a 2004 meeting of the Board of Directors of EÁV, Brother Dong declared, "Editora is mine, the money is mine, and Editora exists just to publish my books."
Brother Lee did clearly speak concerning being restricted in one publication work in the elders' training in 1986. He also spoke directly to Brother Dong on this subject in the presence of other co-workers, including an extended fellowship on July 7, 1991. As mentioned in the answer to Question #12, Brother Dong and his co-workers acknowledged and agreed with the principle of having one publication work in the Lord's recovery in 1997, but the facts of history show that they never followed it.
Brother Lee spoke in principle. Whether a person applied his fellowship or not was up to that person. Those who took his fellowship received the benefit, but there was no enforcement. The co-workers' practice as reflected in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery is the same. It presents principles. There was never any indication that other publishing offices should be directed "from the north" or "by LSM." Nevertheless, Brother Dong and his co-workers have repeatedly attacked the co-workers' fellowship and the co-workers themselves in public conferences throughout South America and elsewhere. The co-workers' letter of warning, issued nearly four years later, came only after Brother Dong and his co-workers' public attacks and divisive actions around the globe made it clear that they were intentionally carrying out a separate and divisive work in the Lord's recovery.
22. Who assumes the responsibility for the partisanship and divisions that have been raised up and are increasing every day in the local churches as a result of "Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery" (booklet published by LSM), which also includes dividing families in the Lord's recovery?
It is an exaggeration to say that divisions are increasing every day among the churches, but even one division is too many. The question assigns blame for divisions to the co-workers' statement in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery. This is unfounded. Division is produced by different ministries with different teachings. As Brother Lee pointed out in the first chapter of Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament:
Why is it that there were divisions even from the time while the apostles, including Paul and John, were still here on this earth? Divisions began to take place from the last part of the first century and have continued to take place until the present century. There have been divisions after divisions, which have caused all kinds of confusion. What is the reason for all these divisions? They all came about simply because of different so-called ministries.
At the time that Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery was released, the dissemination of different teachings by some seeking to build up personal followings was already leading the Lord's recovery in the direction of division. Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery has been a great rescue and preservation to those who received the co-workers' fellowship. That fellowship simply indicated the co-workers' intention to continue on the same line as that established in the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. The responsibility for any divisions that have occurred rests with those who deviated from the apostles' teaching in the New Testament and began to teach differently, that is, Titus Chu, Dong Yu Lan, and their co workers who aggressively promote their teachings.
Those who teach differently will cause trouble first to themselves and then to others and to the recovery. They will damage others and then cause damage to the recovery. Such damage is the responsibility of those who teach differently. (Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, p. 129)
To practice the church life on the local ground is not divisive because it represents a return to the proper biblical standing of the church. In the same way, the general ministry in the Lord's recovery is not divisive because it represents a return to the apostles' teaching in the New Testament. Just as the local ground preserves the oneness locally, so the upholding of the apostles' teaching preserves all of the churches in oneness universally.
It should be noted that the problems caused by Brother Dong's work and ministry preceded Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery by many years. Many saints and even many co-workers of Brother Dong stopped following him over the past two decades because they could not agree with what they saw in Brother Dong's ministry and work. Some, due to conscience, cannot meet with those who promote Dong Yu Lan's deviant teachings. Many have been forced out and their reputations savaged by Brother Dong's workers. In some cases, Brother Dong's workers have advised wives and children to leave their husbands and parents because they would not submit to Brother Dong's assumed leadership. This is utterly contrary to the Lord's own words (for example, Matthew 19:6). The co-workers throughout the Lord's recovery issued their warning letter of April 4, 2009,13 in part because they were not willing to allow such practices by Brother Dong and his co workers to be perceived as representing the Lord's ministry in His recovery.
23. Why are we being accused of promoting false teachings in our publications after Brother Lee passed away and not before, since our publications have been public since the 80s?
The question implies that Brother Lee had no concerns about Brother Dong's publication work. That is not true. As mentioned in the answer to Question #21, Editora Árvore da Vida was established to translate and publish the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Brother Lee was not happy with Brother Dong publishing books under his own name and told him so on several occasions.
Since Brother Lee's passing, three developments have heightened concerns about Brother Dong's work. First, EÁV has increasingly shifted its emphasis to spreading the teachings of Brother Dong. Second, Brother Dong's teaching has deviated much further from the truth on many points. Third, Brother Dong and his co-workers have become very aggressive to propagate his deviant teachings in Africa, Europe, Japan, Central America, and North America. As a result, many churches have suffered damage and confusion. All of this has been documented in the co-workers' letter of warning dated April 4, 2009, and on the Website https://www.afaithfulwitness.org/warnings/.
Note: These 23 items are not statements, but rather questions that we hope the so-called "blended co-workers" will some day respond to with the same diligence and dedication they have used in trying to impose upon us the "one publication" policy, which now has caused division and strife in the churches.
This note is false and dissembling. Many of the questions are argumentative and are in the form of rhetorical questions, which are in effect statements of an opinion. Thus, the presentation of these as innocent questions is fundamentally dishonest. Furthermore, the use of loaded language clearly indicates a pernicious agenda to ascribe an evil intent to the co-workers.
The compiler of these 23 questions pretends to be guileless, innocently asking questions; this is itself a deceit. He is a Dong Yu Lan partisan who assailed the church in Madrid after it posted its warning letter concerning Brother Dong, saying, "Since the Lord no longer speaks to your consciences and that trashy letter continues to be published, I demand that you upload my comments, because I am determined to carry this on to the ultimate consequence in the name of Jesus!"
As documented above, most of the questions have been thoroughly answered already, and the fact that this dissenting brother still felt the liberty to post these questions and claim that they were as yet unanswered undermines his own credibility. It is well known that Brother Dong and his workers have charged their followers not to read the co-workers' letter of warning or any of the materials published by Defense and Confirmation Project (DCP), on Websites and in books. These materials contain the answers to many of the questions asked in this document. It is indeed ironic that the dissenting brother falsely claims that these questions have been asked but not answered while he defends and supports a work that has forbidden its followers to read the answers that have been given.
The intrinsic factor behind the two basic issues raised in these 23 questions-the leadership of the co-workers in the Lord's recovery and their fellowship concerning being restricted in one publication-is the desire of some to do a separate and independent work to build up a private following among the churches in the Lord's recovery. Those who are unwilling to bring their private work within the sphere of the co-workers' fellowship desire to be the leaders themselves. They seek to assert their leadership by putting out their own publications with their own teachings. Thus, different publications come from different ministries. Once you have a different ministry, you have division.
We need to see this principle throughout the entire Christian era. All the troubles, divisions, and confusions came from the one source of the tolerance of different ministries. Many Christian teachers have known the peril of different ministries; nevertheless, they have tolerated them. There has been a tolerance of different ministries. In the Lord's recovery, for the long run, we should not believe that this kind of creeping in of the different ministries would never take place. Rather, we must be on the alert. Such a peril is ahead of us. If we are not watchful, if we are careless, in one way or another the enemy would creepingly use some means, some ways, to bring in different ministries. Such a thing would end the Lord's recovery. (Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament, p. 16)
Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery reflects a proper watchfulness among the co-workers to safeguard the Lord's recovery from the damage caused by different ministries promoting different teachings through different publications resulting in division. Those who have attacked the matter of being restricted in one publication and the leadership of the one work in the Lord's recovery are division-makers. All who desire to be preserved in the genuine oneness and one accord should turn away from them (Rom. 16:17).
1 Defense and Confirmation Project (DCP), which prepared these responses, adheres to the principle of being restricted in one publication. Thus, all DCP publications, whether electronically or in print, are initiated and carried out in fellowship with and are subjected to review by co-workers in the Lord's recovery.
2 The DCP books in the series entitled "A Faithful Word" are all available in electronic form at http://www.afaithfulword.org/ebooks.html. Printed copies of these books can also be requested using the button at the bottom of that Web page. Requests will be filled subject to availability.
3 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/Blending/index.html and in the book The Direction and Leadership of the Lord's Recovery (see note 2).
4 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/DiscerningAuthority/index.html and in the book Properly Discerning Spiritual Authority to Rightly Follow the Lord (see note 2).
5 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/Scriptural/index.html and in the book The Scriptural Basis of One Publication (1) (see note 2).
6 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/spec_gen.html and in the book Not Carried About by Winds of Teaching (1) (see note 2).
7 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/personal.html and in the book Not Carried About by Winds of Teaching (3) (see note 2).
8 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/AttacksOnLSM/index.html and in the book Concerning Attacks on Living Stream Ministry (see note 2).
9 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/Scriptural/index.html and in the book The Scriptural Basis of One Publication (2) (see note 2).
10 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/Hist_Rev.html and in the book Not Carried About by Winds of Teaching (3) (see note 2).
11 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/HongKongBkrm.html and in the book A Pattern of Twisting (1) (see note 2).
12 Available at http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/sit_pers.html and in the book Not Carried About by Winds of Teaching (2) (see note 2).
13 Available at https://www.afaithfulwitness.org/warnings/Co-workers.pdf. and in the book A Letter of Fellowship and Warning / The Lord's Table and the Oneness of the Body (see note 2).