"Practically Speaking, for Us the Body Today is Just the Lord's
Did Minoru Chen "Go Beyond What Has Been Written"?
An article posted on the Internet attacks the co-workers in the Lord's recovery for "going beyond what has been written" concerning the truth of the Body of Christ. The dissenting writer claims that when Minoru Chen said, "...practically speaking, for us the Body today is just the Lord's recovery," he made a serious mistake related to the scriptural truth concerning the Body of Christ as presented in the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. This accusation is repeated in the July 22, 2006, letter from Titus Chu to twenty-one co-workers, which has also been publicly posted on the Internet. These dissenters' attacks are based on a distorted presentation of Brother Minoru's speaking. The Internet article goes further to blatantly alter Witness Lee's word on which Minoru's speaking was based.
Actually Minoru's fellowship was a faithful respeaking of Brother Lee's ministry. In light of both the spiritual and practical aspects of the Body of Christ, it presents the practical way for a local church to know the feeling of the Body, which is to care for the feeling of the other churches in the Lord's recovery. Titus Chu has abandoned this truth, which he himself once applied to correct others. It is in fact the writer of the dissenting Internet article who " goes beyond what has been written" by audaciously adding to Brother Lee's words to support his attack against Minoru's speaking. This he does in the principle of the " sleight of men" described in Ephesians 4:14.
Minoru's Faithful Respeaking of Brother Lee's Ministry
A key word in understanding Minoru's speaking properly is the word "practically". The title of Minoru's message was "Practicing the Church Life in the Consciousness of the Body of Christ". In the short excerpt from his speaking that was the subject of the dissenters' objections, the words "practical", "practically", and "practice(s)" are used a total of ten times.
Minoru's speaking was actually a reading from pages 34 and 35 of Brother Lee's book The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life interspersed with his own short comments. In the excerpt below, we have modified the format of the text of Minoru's speaking from how it appeared in The Ministry Magazine to make this more apparent. Brother Lee's words are in a darker green; Minoru's are in a lighter green and indented under Brother Lee's:
Brother Lee also says, "I want to say again that whenever we do something, we must have a proper consideration for the Body. We need to consider how the Body would feel about what we are doing."
We need to consider all the time how the Body would feel about what we are doing. I would say that, practically speaking, for us the Body today is just the Lord's recovery. We need to ask ourselves how what we do would affect the Lord's recovery as a whole. This is practical.
Brother Lee continues,
"The biggest problem, the unique problem, is not knowing the Body and not caring for the Body. If we take care of the Body and are concerned for the Body, there will be no problems."
"We are here for the Body. Without the backing of the Body, without the backing of the recovery, we have no way to practice the local churches."
In Brother Lee's understanding, the Body equals the recovery. We know that the mystical Body of Christ includes all of the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space, but practically for us today, the recovery is the Body. We have no way to practice the local churches without the backing of the recovery.
"If we practice the local church life and neglect the view of the Body, our local church becomes a local sect."
If some say that they are the church in such-and-such a place but they are a lone church all by themselves, they are isolated. This is not the way. Actually, we can hardly exist as a church without the Body.
"The recovery is for the Body, not for any individual or merely for any individual local church."
May we all remember this phrase: "The recovery is for the Body." This is the recovery of the Body. So this recovery is also for the Body. It is not for you or me; it is not for your church or my church; it is for the whole Body.
"If we are going to do something, we have to consider how the Body, the recovery, will react. The problems are all due to the lack of seeing the Body and of caring for the Body. We all need to come back to the truth, and to practice the truth is to take care of the Body."
The ultimate practice of the truth is to take care of the Body. We take care of the truth for the Body; all the truth practices are not for the practices themselves but for the building of the Body. [emphasis added]
(Minoru Chen, "Practicing the Church Life in the Consciousness of the Body of Christ," The Ministry Magazine, August 2003, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 196-197)
The above presentation shows that Minoru's word was a faithful respeaking of Brother Lee's burden that all of the local churches would care for the sense of the Body by caring for the feeling of the other churches in the Lord's recovery.
Two Aspects of the Body of Christ
With the Body of Christ there are spiritual and practical aspects. These complement one another and neither can replace the other. According to the spiritual aspect, all believers are members of the one Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). This is a fundamental truth concerning the Body of Christ and one that Minoru plainly acknowledged when he said, "We know that the mystical Body of Christ includes all of the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space..."
1 Cor. 12:12 - For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.
On the other hand, we in the Lord's recovery have been helped through the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee to see that this one Body is manifested in many localities as local churches (Rev. 1:11; Acts 8:1; 1 Cor. 1:2). The one universal church which has no bounds as to time and space must have a practical expression in time and space. Throughout the entire revelation of the New Testament, that practical expression is the one church manifested in locality after locality. From the time Watchman Nee first saw this in the 1930s, the leadership in the Lord's recovery has never wavered in speaking this truth and laboring to raise up local churches according to this pattern.
Rev. 1:11 - Saying, What you see write in a scroll and 1send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.
fn. 1:11 1 - This book's being sent to the seven churches equals its being sent to the seven cities. This shows clearly that the practice of the church life in the early days was the practice of having one church for one city, one city with only one church. In no city was there more than one church. This is the local church, with the city, not the street or the area, as the unit. The jurisdiction of a local church should cover the whole city in which the church is located; it should not be greater or lesser than the boundary of the city. All the believers within that boundary should constitute the one unique local church within that city.
Acts 8:1 - And Saul approved of his killing. And there occurred in that day a great persecution against the 1church which was in Jerusalem; and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
fn. 8:1 1 - This was the first church established in a locality (see note 11 1 in ch. 5) within the jurisdiction of a city, the city of Jerusalem. It was a local church in its locality, as indicated by the Lord in Matt. 18:17. It was not the universal church, as revealed by the Lord in Matt. 16:18, but only a part of the universal church, which is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). The record concerning this matter (the establishing of the church in its locality) is consistent throughout the New Testament (13:1; 14:23; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 8:1; Gal. 1:2; Rev. 1:4, 11).
1 Cor. 1:2 - To the church of God which is 2in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, who is theirs and ours:
fn. 1:2 2 - The church is constituted of the universal God, but it exists on earth in many localities, one of which was Corinth. In nature the church is universal in God, but in practice the church is local in a definite place. Hence, the church has two aspects: the universal and the local. Without the universal aspect, the church is void of content; without the local aspect, it is impossible for the church to have any expression and practice. Hence, the New Testament stresses the local aspect of the church also (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rev. 1:11; etc.).
In the New Testament there is one method and one alone of dividing the Church into churches, and that God-ordained method is division on the basis of locality. All other methods are man-made, not God-given. May the Spirit of God engrave this truth deeply on our hearts, that the only reason for the division of God's children into different churches is because of the different places in which they live. ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 30 , p. 54)
You see, this is the problem. People have seen just one aspect, but not the other. Regarding the church there are two terms in the Bible: "the church of God" (I Cor. 10:32), and "the churches of God" (I Cor. 11:16). Is the church one, or many? The church of God is universal, but the churches of God are expressed in so many localities.
The church is the expression of Christ, but how can the church be practically expressed? Only by the local churches, i.e., by one church in each locality. As the expression of Christ, the church is universally one, but it is expressed in many, many local churches. ( The Practical Expression of the Church , p. 24)
The universal church as the Body of Christ is expressed through the local churches. The local churches, as the expressions of the one Body of Christ, are locally one. Without the local churches there would be no practicality and actuality of the universal church. The universal church is realized in the local churches. Knowing the church universally must be consummated in knowing the church locally. It is a great advance for us to know and practice the local churches. ( The Conclusion of the New Testament, Messages 189-204 , p. 2149)
We meet on the ground of the church as the local expression of the universal Body of Christ. Christ does not have many bodies. He has only one Body, but this one Body is expressed in many localities. The local churches standing on the ground of oneness are the local expressions of the unique, universal Body of Christ. ( The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation and the Divine Economy for the New Creation , p. 119)
The mystical Body of Christ includes all believers regardless of time or space. The Body of Christ on earth at any point in time includes all believers in all places. The practical expression of the Body of Christ is the local church, that is, the church manifested in a given time and place. A genuine local church counts as members all believers in that locality. However, in practicality, the local church consists of those believers who stand together on the proper ground as the manifestation of the one unique Body of Christ in time and space. Thus, the practicality of the Body of Christ on the earth is the aggregate of all of the local churches.
Although the one Body is expressed in the many local churches, the local churches cannot be isolated or independent of one another. Rather, our practice of the local church life must be governed by the vision of the oneness of the universal Body. Without this realization we will easily become a local sect. The local church derives its existence from the universal church and exists for the building up of the one unique Body of Christ.
The local churches should not have an independent attitude, and they should not be isolated from one another. If we have an independent attitude, we may become a local sect instead of a local church. Christ has just one Body in the universe. If each local church were an independent body for Christ, this would mean that Christ has a great many bodies. No matter how many local churches there may be, Christ still has just one Body. For this reason, the local churches need to be fitted together and to grow into the one universal temple. In Christ as the foundation and the cornerstone, all the building, the universal church, is fitted together and is growing in the Lord. ( Life-study of Ephesians , p. 732)
...The local churches in different localities are not merely for a local expression, but for the universal expression of Christ. All the churches express the same person-Christ. The local churches should express Christ universally, not just locally. If the church in a locality expresses only their locality, that is terrible. That makes them a local sect, a local division. They are a local church, but they do not express a "local" Christ. Christ is not a local Christ. God, Christ, the Spirit, and the Bible are not local. Some make the Bible local, they make God local, they make Christ local, and they make the Spirit local. They make everything local. In this case they have become local divisions, local sects. ( Five Emphases in the Lord's Recovery , pp. 51-52)
These truths have many implications for the practice of the church life. They mean, for example, that we must receive all believers in fellowship (Rom. 14:1, 3; 15:7), regardless of their beliefs on minor points of doctrine, as long as they hold to the common faith, do not live in sin (1 Cor. 5:2, 11, 13), are not heretics or idolaters (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 John 9-10), and are not divisive (Rom. 16:7; Titus 3:10). By this we acknowledge all believers in Christ as co-members of His one Body (Eph. 3:6).
Rom. 14:1 - Now him who is weak in faith receive, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his considerations.
Rom. 14:3 - He who eats, let him not despise him who does not eat; and he who does not eat, let him not judge him who eats, for God has received him.
Rom. 15:7 - Therefore receive one another, as Christ also received you to the glory of God.
1 Cor. 5:2 - And you are puffed up? And have you not rather mourned, that the one who has done this deed might be removed from your midst?
1 Cor. 5:11 - But now I have written to you not to mingle with anyone who is called a brother, if he is a fornicator or a covetous man or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or a rapacious man, with such a one not even to eat.
1 Cor. 5:13 - But those who are outside, God will judge. Remove the evil man from among yourselves.
2 John 9-10 -  Everyone who goes beyond and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not say to him, Rejoice!
Rom. 16:7 - Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Titus 3:10 - A factious man, after a first and second admonition, refuse.
Eph. 3:6 - That in Christ Jesus the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the Body and fellow partakers of the promise through the gospel.
We should receive people according to God's receiving, not being more narrow than God, thereby demonstrating and maintaining the oneness of the Body of Christ. Furthermore, we should receive people according to the Son of God, according to God, not according to doctrine or practice, thus maintaining a condition of absolute peace, smoothness, and order, without any deviation and discord, in the fellowship of the Body of Christ to the glory of God (Rom. 14:3; 15:7)... ( The Experience of God's Organic Salvation Equaling Reigning in Christ's Life , p. 68)
Such a standing is not narrow and exclusive, but broad and inclusive. It is not elitist; it is general. It is the only means by which the universal oneness of the Body of Christ can be practiced.
When we say that this is wrong and that we all must be one, others say that we are narrow and exclusive. But in all these years, it has been proved who is narrow and exclusive. The church in the locality is not narrow. It includes all the believers in that locality. The only thing in which you may say that the church on the proper ground is narrow is that it will not take anything divisive. We will accept all kinds of Christians as long as they are saved. We will accept those who are sprinkled as well as those who are immersed. Would those who say that we are narrow receive such?
What does it mean to be narrow and exclusive? Most people simply do not know what they mean when they speak thus. To be narrow means to disregard the proper ground of unity. If we are on the proper ground, we can never be narrow, for the ground of unity is common to all the people of the Lord. ( The Practical Expression of the Church , pp. 84-85)
Some say that we in the Lord's recovery are narrow. However, we are willing to receive all kinds of Christians. We receive those who practice immersion and those who practice sprinkling. Who then are the narrow ones-those in the Lord's recovery or those who accept into their fellowship only those who meet special requirements related to doctrine or practice?...
The Lord can testify on our behalf that in our practice of the church life we have been general, receiving all different kinds of believers. For instance, we do not stop the saints from speaking in tongues, but neither do we insist on tongues-speaking. Nevertheless, we have been accused of narrowness. Actually it is those in the denominations who are narrow, for they do not receive all different kinds of Christians.... ( Life-study of Romans , pp. 620-621)
This unique oneness should be the ground on which we are being built. We should not be sectarian; we should not be exclusive. We must be all-inclusive, open and loving to all the dear saints. As long as they are Christians, they are our brothers. Our brothers have been scattered to many denominations. In spite of this, we still love them.... ( The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures , p. 73)
Our standing as local churches manifesting the one universal Body of Christ in time and space also means that no local church can exist in isolation, for it is only a part of the one Body. All of the local churches must maintain an open fellowship with all of the other genuine local churches. There is no such thing as a closed, local or regional oneness, because oneness in a locality or a region is based on the oneness of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3) as the element of the oneness of the universal Body of Christ (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:12). Thus, the churches that are located in a given geographic area or that were raised up by a certain worker must be in full fellowship with all of the other churches on the earth or they lose the reality of participating in the fellowship of the one Body of Christ. To merely fellowship with selected churches is sectarian.
Eph. 4:3-4 -  Being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace:  One Body and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling.
1 Cor. 12:12 - For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.
According to the truth of the Body, the Body is universally one. For this reason, the local churches should not be isolated from one another. Isolation is contrary to the truth concerning the oneness of the Body. Because each local church is part of the Body universally, no local church should be isolated from the others. This is especially true today with modern means of communication and transportation that permit the rapid spread of news and information around the world. Something of life may be released in Los Angeles today and be known in dozens of other places within hours. How wrong it is for a church to try to be independent! The Body is receiving a continual transfusion. If we isolate ourselves from the other churches, we cut ourselves off both from the transfusion and from the circulation of life in the Body. Such a thing violates the law of the Body. Although we must shun organization, we need to be built up universally as the one Body. ( Life-study of Ephesians , p. 739)
All the local churches are the one unique Body of Christ in the universe (Eph. 4:4). Every local church is a part of this universal Body, a local expression of this unique Body. This one universal church, the one Body, comprises all the local churches. There may be thousands of local churches, but together they constitute one universal church. The universal church is the unique Body of Christ, and all the local churches are simply the local expressions of this one Body.
We need to be impressed with the fact that the local churches are the local expressions of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 2:22). There is only one Body, but there are many expressions. Universally, all the churches are one Body, and locally, every local church is a local expression of that universal Body. Therefore, a local church is not the Body but only a part of the Body, an expression of the Body. ( The Conclusion of the New Testament, Messages 189-204 , p. 2156)
Further, it means that every church that wants to be in the reality of the Body of Christ should take care of the sense of the Body as represented in the feeling of all of the other local churches throughout the earth.
The Practical Way to Know the Feeling of the Body
It is in this sense that Minoru's word was spoken and should be understood. His point (which was also Brother Lee's) was that the practical way for a local church to know the feeling of the Body is to be in fellowship with and open to the feeling of all the other local churches. We need to ask: What other practical way do those in the local churches have to know the sense of the Body? Should we consult with the denominations? With the Roman Catholic Church? With the ecumenical councils? If Brother Nee, Brother Lee and Brother Minoru are wrong concerning the practical way to know the sense of the Body, what is the right way? The dissenting brothers do not say, because they have no interest in rendering any positive elucidation concerning the way to know the feeling of the Body. Their only interest is to disparage the co-workers. They propose no other practical way because there is no other practical way that takes care of the truth of the one universal Body and of the standing of the churches on the ground of locality as the practical expression of that one Body.
We recognize that we have many brothers and sisters who, though scattered in the sects of Christendom, are members of the one universal Body of Christ, and we receive them as co-members of the Body (Eph. 3:6). Nevertheless, we also declare that the Lord raised up His recovery to practice the Body life according to the pattern in the Scriptures of one church in each city for the manifestation and building up of this one unique Body. We therefore do not practice a local church life that is isolated from other churches and do not feel free to take our own way, but we conduct our local church life in the one organic Body of Christ. In practical terms, this means that as much as it depends on us, we maintain full fellowship with all genuine local churches on the whole earth and care for how the things we do affect them and are perceived by them.
Eph. 3:6 - That in Christ Jesus the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the Body and fellow partakers of the promise through the gospel.
Brother Nee saw this early in his ministry:
...We cannot act independently. If you know that the thing you are about to do in your locality will be considered inappropriate in other localities, you must not take care of the views of the few in your locality and do it anyway. If you do it, you are not discerning the Body of Christ. If what we do individually cannot represent the brothers in Shanghai, we should not do it.... ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 22 , p. 58)
...Last Saturday night we mentioned the Body life and the relationship between an assembly and other assemblies. God will never tell one assembly to do something and another assembly not to do the same thing. The way God leads one assembly is the way He leads other assemblies. We saw that the Gentile churches should imitate the churches in Judea. We also saw that, according to God's ordination, no church of God should act independently; rather it should pay attention to the move of the Body and seek for mutual harmony. ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 22 , p. 112)
Brother Lee re-emphasized the importance of a local church caring for its relationship with the other churches as the representatives of the universal Body of Christ in his fellowship addressing the problems that emerged in the 1980s:
I do not care what kind of burden you pick up to do in your locality. I am not concerned with whether what you are doing is right or wrong. My concern is that your kind of doing might be divisive. You may have the right to do things, but the Body would not swallow them. Rather, the Body would either spit out or vomit what you do. Then you will suffer. This is quite serious. We must realize that we are not doing a piece of Christian work. We are burdened to carry out the Lord's recovery for His unique Body to bear His unique testimony.
Whatever you do, please consider the situation in this way. What you do might be better than all the others' doings. Even so, you must consider how this would affect the Body. Would this be taken by the Body? We are not a political party nor are we anything earthly. We have no arms and we do not need to fight, but the Spirit of the Lord in His Body means a lot. Do not forget the example which I related to you in this chapter. The fruit was swallowed by the doers. We must regard the Body, honor the Body, and take care of the Lord's unique testimony. ( Elders' Training, Book 4: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery , p. 37)
Turmoil after turmoil has transpired because of our not knowing the Body. The only remedy that can cure us of this kind of illness is the seeing of the Body. When Brother Nee taught about the Body he said that with whatever we do, we have to consider how the churches would feel about it. When we do something, we must not forget that we are members of the Body, and the Body is not only a local church. The local church is not a "local body"; if it is, it becomes a local sect. The Body is the Body of Christ, constituted by the Triune God with all the believers on this earth, with all the local churches. ( The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life , pp. 28-29)
Titus Chu strongly endorsed this understanding in a 1989 letter to some brothers who had caused problems in the church in Anaheim:
Second, standing on the ground of the oneness of the Body entails a consciousness of the whole Body and not only of the church in our locality. Our oneness is not merely a matter related to the locality we are in, as your phrase "the ground of oneness in locality" would suggest, but is rather the oneness of the entire Body of Christ expressed by all the local churches on the earth. If we are truly conscious of the Body, we should not do anything locally that will be injurious to the Body universally. In other words, we should care for the sense of the Body and we should consider how our actions locally will affect the other churches. ("An Open Letter to the Speakers in the Meeting of the Church in Anaheim on August 28, 1988," signed by Francis Ball, Titus Chu, Les Cites, Eugene C. Gruhler, Joel W. Kennon, David Lutz, Benson Phillips, and James Reetzke, Sr. on April 10, 1989, pp. 3-4) [emphasis added]
The concluding word of that letter reads:
Please deal with this matter thoroughly, as befits those who serve the Lord, caring not only for your own feeling but also for the feeling of the Body. (pp. 30-31) [emphasis added]
"Going Beyond What Has Been Written" 1
The author of the dissenting Internet article does not merely twist Brother Lee's word; he brazenly changes it to fit his own purpose. Brother Lee said, "Without the backing of the Body, without the backing of the recovery, we have no way to practice the local churches." The dissenting brother claims that Minoru's interpretation of Brother Lee's speaking is based on an implicit assumption that the phrases "without the backing of the Body" and "without the backing of the recovery" are in apposition. The dissenter then states:
In our view, it is equally reasonable to assume the two phrases are not in apposition. In that case, Brother Lee's sentence consists of two distinct phrases: "Without  the backing of the Body, [and] without  the backing of the recovery, we have no way to practice the local churches." [emphasis added to show the word added by the dissenting brother]
There is no reason to assume anything. All that is needed is a faithful reading of what Brother Lee said. Technically, according to the narrow linguistic definition of "apposition", the phrases "without the backing of the Body" and "without the backing of the recovery" are not in apposition. Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "apposition" as:
A grammatical construction that consists of two nouns or noun equivalents referring to the same person or thing, standing in the same syntactical relation to the rest of the sentence without being joined to each other by a coordinating conjunction, and typically adjacent to each other. (p. 105)
Based on this definition "without the backing of the Body" and "without the backing of the recovery" cannot be in apposition because they are not nouns or noun equivalents. Rather, they are two prepositional phrases in parallel construction. Their meaning should be understood on that basis. In such a construction, the second prepositional phrase can sometimes be understood to be the identical to or the equivalent of the first. In such cases the parallel construction may be said to have a force equivalent to apposition because the two nouns occupy the same relative position and refer to the same thing. Another way to interpret the relationship between the two phrases is that the second phrase is an explication of the first, meaning that it has been added to provide further clarification of the meaning or application of the first. If Brother Lee's word is interpreted in that way, "without the backing of the recovery" becomes the practical application of "without the backing of the Body." However, there is no justification for what the dissenting brother does in adding the conjunction "and". Strikingly, he provides no grammatical justification, other than to say that it fits "our view" and that in his view it is "reasonable to assume."
Even more significantly, the dissenting brother completely ignores a clear case of apposition a few sentences later in Minoru's reading from Brother Lee's ministry:
...If we are going to do something, we have to consider how the Body, the recovery, will react.... ( The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life , p. 35) [emphasis added]
In this sentence the words "the Body, the recovery" fit every aspect of the definition of apposition. On what basis did the dissenting writer leave this example out of his "analysis"? Was it because its use of "the Body" and "the recovery" in apposition is too clear?
Nor is the passage Minoru quoted the only place in Brother Lee's ministry where he referred to the churches in the Lord's recovery in apposition to the Body.
Remember that you are not the only local church on this earth. The distance between the churches means nothing, especially due to the fact that we are living in an age of modern means of communication. Any church on the earth can be reached in a matter of seconds by means of a telephone call. Whatever you do in your locality is a part of the Lord's recovery. We must take care of the churches, the Body. We must ask ourselves, "Could the Body take this? Could the Body say Amen to us?" ( Elders' Training, Book 4: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery , p. 35) [emphasis added]
Here the words "the churches, the Body" are another case that fits every aspect of the definition of apposition. Again the unmistakable context is that the practical way to know the sense of the Body is through the fellowship among the local churches and caring for the feeling of the other churches.
In this matter, the dissenting brother displays either a startling ignorance of "both the Scriptures and Brother Nee and Brother Lee's teaching concerning the Body and the Lord's recovery" or a willful deviation from it. Based on the New Testament, both Brother Nee and Brother Lee taught that the local churches are the practical expression of the Body:
There is no difference in content between the universal church and the local church, except that the local church is a miniature of the universal church. Paul said that the Corinthian believers were the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). This means that the local church represents the Body of Christ. The local church should represent the universal church.... ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 43 , p. 572)
The universal church as the Body of Christ needs to have its expression. If we talk about the church without having the expression of the church, our talk is entirely theoretical; it is not practical. For the church to be real and practical, there is the need of the local churches. If you do not have the local churches, you do not have the church. If you do not have the local church, you cannot have the universal church, for the universal church is composed of all the local churches. ( The Conclusion of the New Testament, Messages 189-204 , p. 2150)
Brother Lee explicitly equated the local churches with the Body of Christ many times. The following is just one example:
...You may have the thought that your local church has nothing to do with other churches and should not be in any connection with other churches. This thought isolates your local church, making it no longer a part of the Body of Christ. The Body is unique in the whole universe. There may be thousands of local churches, but there is still just one Body. All the local churches are the one, unique universal church, the one Body of Christ. ( Further Consideration of the Eldership, the Region of Work, and the Care for the Body of Christ , pp. 14-15)
In a message from The Conclusion of the New Testament which he introduces as addressing "the very crucial matter of the fellowship among the churches," Brother Lee begins his fellowship by saying:
As we consider the fellowship among the churches, we need to realize that the churches are the Body of Christ. There are many churches, yet one Body. ( The Conclusion of the New Testament, Messages 189-204 , p. 2177)
Brother Lee also pointed out that to be one with the Body in practice means being one with all the other churches in the Body.
...The local churches, however, should not be independently autonomous because they are all the unique, one organism of the processed and dispensing Triune God. If the church in Anaheim declared that it was a local church, standing independent from and not caring for the other churches, the church in Anaheim would immediately become a local sect. A local church must be one with all the other churches in the Body. ( The Practice of the Church Life according to the God-ordained Way , p. 45)
In speaking of the churches in the Lord's recovery as the practicality of the Body, the basic point in both Brother Lee and Minoru's speaking is that all of the churches in the Lord's recovery should care for the feeling of the Body by caring for the feeling of all of the other churches in the Lord's recovery. Such an understanding is consistent with the teaching and practice in the Lord's recovery for over eighty years. It is appalling that this dissenting brother would feel the liberty to change Brother Lee's speaking to match his own concept and to attack the co-workers.
Even if one accepts the dissenter's errant premise that the conjunction "and" should be added to Brother Lee's speaking, the fact remains that Brother Lee clearly taught that every local church must conduct itself as part of the one Body and that it should only do things which could have the "backing of the recovery." There is no basis in Brother Lee's ministry to say the local churches should seek the backing of the divisions of Christianity and there is no basis in his ministry to justify the independent activity of any local church. On the contrary, his clear word, here as elsewhere, is that every local church must care for the feeling of the Body by caring for the feeling of the other churches in the recovery.
Why are Titus Chu and the author of this Internet article exerting so much effort to undermine such a safeguard to all of the churches? The saints should not be deceived into thinking that it is out of a genuine concern for the truth. These dissenters simply seek to deny the clear meaning of Brother Lee's word so that they can avoid its import. They do this knowing that the churches in their area have been influenced by the speaking of some, including these two themselves, to practice a number of things with which the churches as a whole and the co-workers throughout the earth do not agree. Thus they seek to avoid Brother Lee's charge to care for the feeling of the other churches, which was also the clear subject of Brother Minoru's speaking.
The Internet article accuses Minoru of being elitist when Minoru said, "the Body equals the recovery," ignoring Minoru's explicit word that "the mystical Body of Christ includes all of the believers, all of the redeemed ones in time and in space" and that he was speaking in terms of practicality in knowing the feeling of the Body. Actually, it is elitist and exclusive to say a local church does not need to respect the feeling of the Body expressed through the other local churches or through those who represent the Lord as the leading ones in the Lord's ministry. It is also contrary to the teaching of the apostles in the New Testament as shown to us through the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.
The "Sleight of Men"
The kind of dishonesty exhibited by the writer of the dissenting Internet article in handling Brother Lee's ministry is exactly what Paul meant when he spoke of the "sleight of men" in Ephesians 4:14.
Eph. 4:14 - That we may be no longer little children tossed by 2waves and carried about by every 3wind of teaching in the 4sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a 5system of error.
fn. 4:14 2 - The waves stirred up by the winds of different teachings (1 Tim. 1:3-4), doctrines, concepts, and opinions are sent by Satan to entice the believers in order to carry them away from Christ and the church. It is difficult for the infants in Christ to discern these. The only way to escape from the waves that are stirred up by the winds is to grow in life, and the safe way to grow in life is to stay in the proper church life with Christ and the church as the safeguard.
fn. 4:14 3 - Any teaching, even a scriptural one, that distracts believers from Christ and the church is a wind that carries believers away from God's central purpose.
fn. 4:14 4 - The Greek word for sleight refers to the cheating of dice players. The word for craftiness denotes the trickery employed by gamblers. The teachings that become winds, carrying believers away from the central lane of Christ and the church, are deceptions instigated by Satan in his subtlety, with the sleight of men, in order to frustrate God's eternal purpose, which is to build up the Body of Christ.
fn. 4:14 5 - The dividing teachings are organized and systematized by Satan to cause serious error and thus damage the practical oneness of the Body life. The sleight is of men, but the system of error is of Satan and is related to the deceitful teachings that are designed by the evil one to distract the saints from Christ and the church life.
There is a consistent pattern to the behavior of the author of the dissenting article. He seeks points in the ministering brothers' messages to wrench from context so that he can distort their meaning and then quibbles with the straw man he erects in order to distract his readers from the weightier substance of the brothers' fellowship and thereby undermine the Lord's burden expressed through the ministry. That Titus Chu would endorse this kind of distortion should alarm the saints in the Lord's recovery. Our hope is that the saints in the Lord's recovery would not be carried about by such winds of teaching emanating in craftiness from the sleight of men, but would cleave to the church life on the local ground in full fellowship with and care for all of the other churches that are the practical expressions of the Body of Christ on the earth today.
1The phrase "going beyond what has been written" is from 1 Corinthians 4:6; it actually applies to Paul's words to the Corinthian believers in the preceding chapters. We do not mean to imply that our brothers' words are equivalent to Scripture. We merely follow the example of this dissenting writer in applying this expression to his twisting of Witness Lee's ministry to come up with an extra-biblical teaching.