[This e-mail was sent to Nigel Tomes and the list of co-workers to whom Nigel had addressed his questions.]
Nigel, since I am also one of the recipients of your letter of fellowship, I feel that I would like to respond. Kerry is, of course, not the initiator of the fellowship that was sent out at the request of we brothers who have been fellowshipping together over this issue of one publication for a number of years. I, like you, don't speak for anyone else but speak as a fellow partaker of this grace given to all of us who are members of the wonderful Body of Christ and especially of us who participate in the carrying out of the ministry given to us for the building up of His Body. In keeping with your feeling that we should fellowship with a view to all of the network of coworkers, I am responding to you in that network.
I feel that the tone and logic of your fellowship is very sound within the context of organizational debate, but it misses the point of the fellowship in the Body. In principle, we all would agree to the premise that anyone serving the Lord with a burden to function may be led to minister Christ in a particular way and this may also lead to a burden to write something of what the Lord has shown him. And similarly, if someone is burdened to write, he or his companions may feel burdened to distribute what is written to others in the way of a broader publication of the material.
At the same time, we all could agree, I think, that not everything that is written by genuine believers and ministers in the Christian faith contributes to the oneness of the Body and to the building up of the Body. In fact, many things that have been written in the world of Christianity have issued in the tearing down rather than the building up of the Body and are divisive rather than contributing to and being a part of the unique oneness of the Body of Christ according to the teaching of the apostles in the New Testament ministry. And it is at this point that we in the fellowship of the coworkers who gather from time to time for the mutual consideration and labor with a view to the carrying out of the Lord's present recovery felt the need to make a statement in mutuality concerning the particular burden of publication and distribution of ministry materials in the recovery.
As you pointed out it may be that the reason you see some problems with the statement is because of the lack of adequate fellowship. I believe and would hope that the problem is at this level rather than at a deeper level in our concepts and convictions concerning the genuine oneness of the Body and the move of the Lord on the earth. Our precise burden in these times of blending is to be able to labor as one and speak as one. I think that we all see and ascribe to the issue of one heart, one voice, and one mind in the unique Body of Christ as is clearly stated in Phil. 2 and Romans 15 among other places. The burden to issue the proposed statement concerning the one publication in the Lord's recovery is focused on this unique center of oneness in the "sounding of the trumpet" to provide the proper leading in the Lord's recovery. How else can we promote and maintain our oneness in practicality as the Lord continues His move over the whole earth except through thorough fellowship with much prayer? We are still small and to some degree in intimate fellowship because of our knowing one another face to face. But if the Lord tarries and we continue to experience His blessing for the carrying out of His purpose, our mutuality will be jeopardized by the lack of fellowship and mutuality in serving Him. If we did not see the fact of different publications creating different speakings and different leadings in the recovery, there would be no need to make a statement concerning one publication in the Lord's recovery. In our considerations, we appeal to the writings of our brother Lee because we all are debtors to him and to the ministry we have inherited through him for our understanding of the word of the Lord and the way to carry out His burden. When we quote the writings of our brothers Lee and Nee (or anyone else for that matter) we must do our utmost to enter into the spirit and burden of the one who wrote. We also must do our best to get to the heart of the Lord in His recovery. That is the burden of this ministry.
Now we are also the caretakers of this ministry. When we speak as coworkers we speak not only as coworkers of one another but coworkers of brothers Nee and Lee-as those who carry out the ministry we have received through them. Since we are coworkers, why would we publish and disseminate anything without the mutuality in fellowship with one another? In principle we agree that we need the fellowship of the Body to cover us in everything we do. If what we are doing is of a local nature, we fellowship at the local level; but Bro. Lee gave us the principle that what we do and say even at the local level affects the Body at the universal level; so even in the matters of what we do locally, in principle we need to consider the fellowship of the entire Body of Christ. How much more should we be concerned about what we are printing for distribution among many saints in many churches? We are an organic entity on the earth and as such we are interrelated in everything we do. We are not an organization formulating the bylaws that will govern our way of doing things now and in the future; rather, we are members of a body seeking to protect the health of the whole body from the diseases which come in as foreign elements to damage the health of the body.
This is the context of the fellowship (not the expressed fellowship but the understanding which gives direction to the statement we are developing for distribution among us for the health of the Body in which we all serve). On this basis, then, I would say that your logic is correct and well stated, but it misses the mark because it is in the wrong realm-in the realm of organization rather than organism. You may well say to me that the vehicle we have chosen seems more organizational than organic. I would say that we may be able to find a better vehicle but the principle must be in the realm of organic fellowship and consideration for the protection of the unique Body of Christ of which we are to some degree the earthly guardians at the present time.
When we say that there is one publication, therefore, we do not mean one writer or one special group of writers. We mean one source of publication so that there may be preserved the one voice in the recovery. This singular source should bein my feeling and in the fellowship of brother Leethe "blended coworkers." The blended coworkers should not refer to a specified set of brothers, but to those of us who have been burdened for the Lord's recovery and have been raised up by the Lord with some measure of grace which is recognized by the saints in general in the recovery. We don't know how to define this group, but we should have some basic feeling as to who we are. If then I as a coworker have anything which I think is worthy of publication, I would hope that there would be an "amen" among the coworkers to that burden. Hence, I would like to be in the fellowship of the coworkers so that I could hear that amen. If the amen is not given, I would hope that I would receive grace from the Head of the Body to realize that what I have written is not what He is ready to say to His Body at least at this present time. If I do not have the covering of the Body in this way, I do not want to expose myself to the judgment of the Head for destroying the Body.
In this context some of the writings that have been published recently in the way of separate publications being distributed among the saints and the churches in the recovery are, in my opinion, damaging to the Body. I make this statement in the narrow context of the oneness of the Body, not in terms of heresy or of any intent to deceive or to divide. But in the context of the fellowship of the Body for the unique building up of the Body, these publications in my opinion are not for the building up but for the tearing down. The intent of the enemy behind the scenes is to divide and destroy the Body of Christ which is being built up through the one ministry. Any of us in our individuality or in our "local" or "regional" fellowship may begin to promote something a little different from the stream of the Lord's move in His recovery. Our intent may not be to divide. But in fact, we are planting seeds of division in the very process of promoting our ministry or our writing. We may feel that we have as much right as anyone to promote our ministry. I do not argue with that right as citizens of the world. But we have a different citizenship-we experience and are governed by the divine speaking and the divine leading within our commonwealth which is in the heavens; this governing comes through and in the universal fellowship of the Body as practically carried out in the universal fellowship of that group of coworkers who have been sovereignly assigned with the responsibility for the current ministry, that is, for the building up of His Body.
When we begin to feel that we are a minority in the "voice" of the current set of coworkers, we have left the realm of the sovereign governing in the Lord's current arrangement and have entered the realm of political thinking. I do believe that it is here that we actually experience our disagreement concerning this burden of the one publication-for some of us, we are no longer in the realm of fellowship but in the realm of political argument and maneuvering. Its origin is ambition; Bro. Lee points out that ambition is the source of all different teachings. He bases this on Paul's statement in First Timothy, "If anyone teaches different things and does not consent to healthy words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to godliness, He is blinded with pride, understanding nothing, but is diseased with questionings and contentions of words, out of which come envy, strife, slanders, evil suspicions" (6:3-4). Of course, we may argue that our ministry is the ministry of the apostles and therefore is right and good for the recovery to go on. My feeling is that we are able to fully rely on His sovereignty in the feeling of the coworkers. We do not base our feeling on who agrees with me nor on the basis of majority opinion. We believe that the Lord is speaking in His body and that this speaking is monitored by the fellowship of the Body.
Anyway, Bro. Nigel, I just felt to open to you the context and understanding in which I (and I believe all of us) have fellowshipped in putting together this document of which Bro. Kerry as our scribe so to speak has been the author. We all are profoundly concerned for the preserving and promoting of the unique oneness of the unique Body of Christ through the unique ministry for the building up of the Body in fellowship with the divine life dwelling in frail human beings. We have an awesome responsibility for which we all will have to give account in the day that we meet our Lord at His judgment seat. How did we care for His interests during our time of responsibility?
I have written this with fear and trembling because I know that "e-fellowship" is extremely limited in its effectiveness. At the same time, I feel that we need to do our best to communicate within the limitation of our means. For this reason, brother, I appeal to you that you along with others of us who must be faithful to what has been measured to us: let us keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. Practicality this oneness is promoted by keeping our fellowship with one another not by this type of communication by mail but face to face at the appointed times of the feasts and the accompanying times of blending fellowship. We cannot avoid difference of concept and opinion, but we can restrict ourselves to the fellowship of the Body. This is our protection and eventually this will be our boast before the judgment seat: we not only guarded the faith, but we also kept the oneness.
Your brother in our dear Lord,