Corrections to Statements
Made by the Toronto Elders and Nigel Tomes
We had intended to write only three articles regarding the deviations of some of the Toronto elders from their realization of the practicality of the Body life in their correspondence with the leading ones in Vancouver in the early 1990s. However, because of the responses posted on the church in Toronto's Web site, we feel we must clarify a few points. On their Web site they have posted both brief announcements and more detailed responses written by Nigel Tomes. Since there is considerable overlap and both were posted as representing the Toronto elders (which is itself a falsehood 1 ), we will address the inaccuracies in both of them together.
- The title of Nigel's article-"Toronto's Discipline of 'Brother X' vs. LSM's Quarantine of Titus-A Response to LSM's Attempt to Discredit Toronto's Eldership"-is deceptive. Living Stream Ministry did not quarantine Titus Chu. The decision to quarantine him was the outcome of much fellowship and prayer over months and years among the co-workers who care for the work and the churches across the entire globe. In addition, the article posted on DCP's Web site was not written by LSM, nor does LSM sponsor www.afaithfulword.org, as Nigel alleges. Nigel has consistently made LSM a target of his attacks by grossly distorting its role.
- The statements representing the Toronto elders and Nigel Tomes' second article claim that the authors of the article in our site are anonymous. This is also false. The home page of www.afaithfulword.org plainly states, "Unless otherwise indicated, the articles on this site are co-authored by Bill Buntain with Dan Sady and staff." Nigel (who is one of the elders in Toronto) knows this, because he has referred to us as the authors of the articles on the site in at least seven articles of his own. Even though it is factually wrong, Nigel's position seems hypocritical since he has never expressed the slightest concern over the numerous anonymous articles posted on an anonymously operated Web site to which he has submitted his own dissenting articles for publication.
- The second article by Nigel Tomes faults us for basing our articles on "private correspondence
between the elders of the churches in Vancouver and Toronto," saying, "several of these letters were clearly
marked 'Confidential'." Actually, it was the leading ones in Metro Toronto who thrust this correspondence
into the public arena in 1993. In a letter to all of the churches in Canada dated
February 5, 1993, brothers representing the churches in Metro Toronto released the once "confidential"
Since the elders in Vancouver have deferred fellowshipping regarding these important outstanding matters which relate to the truth concerning our stand in the Lord's recovery, we believe it would be helpful to all the leading brothers in Canada, to have a copy of all the correspondence between Metro Toronto and Vancouver since April, 1992.
This was clearly pointed out in the introduction to this series of articles, where we said:
Most of the letters discussed in this article were assembled in a packet distributed by the Metro Toronto brothers to all the churches in Canada on February 5, 1993.
Further, we believe we have taken care of any confidentiality issues by hiding the names of Brother X and the others who were being disciplined by the church.
- Nigel Tomes says:
The LSM-writers [again a false designation] make the (unsubstantiated) claim that "the brothers most vocal in criticizing the actions of the former leading ones in Vancouver were...elders and workers in the churches in Metro Toronto." They base this on correspondence between the Toronto elders and Vancouver's leading brothers. However, the goal of that correspondence was not to criticize Vancouver, but to solve the "spill-over effects" of a Toronto brother's actions in that locality.
The facts on which this "unsubstantiated" claim is made are these: There are 21 pieces of correspondence which the leading brothers from the churches in Metro Toronto either sent or received. There is no evidence that any other church came close to that volume of correspondence with Vancouver in that time period. We agree that the "goal of the correspondence was not to criticize Vancouver," and we did not criticize the leading brothers in Toronto for what they wrote to the leading ones in Vancouver. But as the chain of correspondence shows, the brothers in Metro Toronto did become increasingly strong in criticizing the actions of the brothers in Vancouver in ignoring the Body's quarantine of divisive members.
- The Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article argue that the quarantine was improper
because it was announced in a statement by co-workers. They make the unbiblical claim that only the elders of a local
church can quarantine someone. In this they have plainly changed their position from what it was in the early 1990s. The
quarantine of Joseph Fung and three other brothers was first spoken by Brother Lee in a meeting with the elders following
the 1989 Winter Training
(The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion, p. 7). In that meeting Brother Lee followed Paul's example in the
New Testament to issue a warning. In his epistles, Paul exhorted the saints in Rome to quarantine certain division-makers
(Rom. 16:17), and he charged his fellow worker, Titus, to refuse factious men (Titus 3:10). Brother Lee's warning was
subsequently confirmed by letters from a number of churches.
In The Fermentation of the Present Rebellion, I mentioned only four names of ones who should be quarantined. The churches in California, West Malaysia, and Taiwan also sent out an open letter to quarantine these ones. In this matter we are touching a great truth, the truth of the Body. Do we honor the Body? The churches in California, West Malaysia, and Taiwan are parts of the Body. Should we not honor them and respect their feeling? But some were not clear and strong to keep the truth to maintain the feeling of the Body, which comprises all the churches. (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, pp. 18-19, from Witness Lee's speaking in a meeting with the elders of the churches in Canada on August 14, 1993)
When Brother Lee said that four brothers should be quarantined, he was speaking as a worker. He was not an elder in any church. His statement came out of his fellowship with many co-workers concerning the problems being caused by these four brothers among the churches. The confirming letters from the churches in California, West Malaysia, and Taiwan were written in the following months. Thus, in his later review of the history of this quarantine with the leadings ones from the churches in Canada, he said:
Both the ministry and many churches in the recovery made a decision to quarantine certain divisive ones. (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p.29)
The sequence in the quarantine of these four brothers exactly matches what was done in the quarantining of Titus Chu and others-it was first spoken as a warning and an exhortation by brothers representing the ministry and the work in the Lord's recovery and subsequently confirmed by the churches. The churches in Metro Toronto did not object to the quarantine of the divisive ones in the 1990s, but rather supported it. Thus, the stand of the elders in Toronto regarding who can exercise quarantine has clearly changed.
- Nigel's article consistently asserts the autonomy of local administration in the exercise of
quarantine. For example, he says:
It is the elders' jurisdiction to determine whether a brother should be quarantined in the local church they oversee.
As a genuine local church, the elders in Toronto reserve the right to arrive at their own judgment on this issues (with due consideration of other churches' views).
In their capacity as overseers, the elders decide which ministries are beneficial to the local church.
The clear position of the Toronto elders today is that a local church need not respect a quarantine of divisive members by other churches or by the leading co-workers, that quarantine is purely a local matter, and that each local church can receive whoever they choose without regard to the damage those ones have caused elsewhere. This is in stark contrast to the following statements in the letters written by the leading ones in Metro Toronto in the 1990s to the leadings ones in Vancouver:
Brothers, what is your view of the Body of Christ? Since we are one body, is not damage to other localities damage to you? (Letter from the Metro Toronto brothers to the leading ones in Vancouver-August 13, 1992)
It is based upon his [Brother Nee's] understanding of the scriptures and the established practice of the Lord's Recovery since the time of Brother Nee, that we wrote informing you of our decision to discipline a certain brother and requesting that this brother not be received into the fellowship of the local churches you oversee. (Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the elders of the churches-December 14, 1992)
...very clear fellowship from Brother Watchman Nee regarding the matter of dealing with division in a local church and the manner in which other local churches should cooperate with such a decision in the principle of the "One Body." (Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the leading ones in Vancouver-December 18, 1992)
Frankly, you three brothers [in Vancouver] have caused a serious offense against the Body! By your habit of receiving brothers, being disciplined by the Body, i.e. Brother X and Joseph Fung, you are offending the local churches and therefore damaging the oneness of the Body of Christ. (Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the leading ones in Vancouver-December 18, 1992)
Clearly the leading ones in Vancouver felt the ministry of the ones quarantined by Toronto and those quarantined through Brother Lee's fellowship and the affirmation of the churches in California, Malaysia, and Taiwan were beneficial to the church in Vancouver. Nevertheless, the brothers in Metro Toronto saw Vancouver's receiving of these brothers as a violation of the principle of the "One Body," an offense to the Body, and a damage to the oneness of the Body.
Furthermore, the position of the Toronto elders today is diametrically opposed to Brother Lee's fellowship in the elders' trainings in the 1980s:
If you exclude one from your local church, you exclude one from the Body. If you are not receiving one into your local church, you are not receiving one into the Body. This aspect is above the regions and also above the churches. It is a Body matter and not just a local church matter. (Elders' Training, Book 4: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, p. 32)
Brother Lee's fellowship with the leading ones in the churches in Canada in 1993, fellowship in which brother from Metro Toronto participated, confirmed this point. Following that fellowship all of the leading ones from Metro Toronto, including Nigel Tomes, joined the other churches in Canada to issue a joint statement in which they sharply criticized the leadings ones in Vancouver for rejecting the discipline exercised over divisive brothers by other churches.
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article accuse the rest of the Lord's recovery of adhering to a concept of "a centralized global company of workers with a co-ordinated administration ('global elders') over all the local churches." This false accusation was carefully answered in the article " Concerning Regions of the Work and Companies of Workers" on www.afaithfulword.org.
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article state that our article entitled " Has the Truth Changed or Have Some of the Metro Toronto Elders?-Part 1" attempted to apply the "one publication" principle retroactively to the 1990s. Actually, Brother Lee had presented the need to be restricted in one publication in 1986 (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, pp. 161-165), and this principle had long been practiced by those taking the lead in the ministry in the Lord's recovery. However, our intention was not to apply the "one publication principle" (as Nigel calls it) to the publication work of Brother X; it was to point out the inconsistency in the stance of the current Toronto elders. In 1992 they recognized that a separate publication work that was critical of the leadership and the ministry was damaging to the oneness of the local church. Nevertheless, today they defend a separate publication work that is critical of the leadership and the ministry in the Lord's recovery and which has damaged many saints and churches. Whether one accepts the "one publication principle" or not, the fact is that Titus Chu's publication work specifically and his work generally have produced contention and division among the churches in the Lord's recovery.
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article imply that the quarantine of Titus Chu was based solely on his refusal to be restricted in one publication. That is not true. Titus' insistence on carrying out a separate publication work to disseminate his own teachings was only one of the factors in the decision to quarantine him. It was only one symptom of his persistence in carrying out a divisive work without regard to the damage it was causing in and among the churches.
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's writings claim that the evidence presented at Whistler did not justify a "verdict" of quarantine and justifies their rejection of the co-workers' statement on that basis. This claim misrepresents the nature of the co-workers' fellowship in Whistler. It assumes that the goal of the Whistler was to present a "case" to the standard of a court of law. It was not. It was to inform the elders and the churches represented at Whistler of a decision reached through the co-workers' prayerful fellowship and to provide a general sketch of some of the factors on which that decision was based. The imposition of a court paradigm with a requisite standard of evidence is merely an artifice to allow Titus' partisans to reject the co-workers' fellowship.
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article claim that the church there performed
its own investigation into the facts behind the quarantine in the statement of warning. There are several problems with
this claim. The quarantine was based on numerous reports of problems that have been caused by Titus Chu's ministry
throughout the earth. Do the Toronto elders seriously mean that they investigated these reports? For example, did they
- The sixty-three co-workers and elders who signed the letter of warning, to clarify any of the issues behind the quarantining of Titus Chu?
- The co-workers in Taiwan who reported that Titus Chu's work there had resulted in divisions?
- Any of the co-workers who spoke about Titus Chu's divisive activities in mainland China?
- The leading brothers in the churches in Ghana who reported divisions caused by Titus Chu's work there?
- The leading brothers in the church in Kampala, Uganda, or the workers who raised up the church there and who subsequently withdrew from the work because of misrepresentations made to them and because the divisive activities of workers sent there by Titus Chu (see " An Account of Events in Kampala by Tim Knoppe)"?
- The leading brothers in the church in Milwaukee, a church that was split by the divisive activities of workers sent by Titus Chu (see " A Letter from the Church in Milwaukee")?
- The leading brothers in the churches in Maryland and northern Virginia, where a divisive split was initiated by a brother associated with Titus Chu?
These are just a few of the many instances that informed the co-workers' decision before the Lord to take the serious step of quarantining Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers. Nigel quotes the following passage to defend the Toronto elders' decision not to honor the quarantine carried out by the co-workers and so many churches:
If a brother who has been disciplined in Nanking moves to Soochow, and there proves himself to be innocent of the charge brought against him, then Soochow has full authority to receive him, despite the judgment of Nanking. Soochow is responsible for its actions to God, not to Nanking. Soochow is an independent church, and has therefore full authority to act as it thinks best. But because there is a spiritual relationship with Nanking, it is well for the brother in question not to be received before Nanking's mistake in judgment is pointed out to Nanking. (The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 30, pp. 64-65)
We would ask: In what way has Titus proved "himself to be innocent of the charge brought against him" as it relates to his divisive activities in the Far East, in Africa, in the U.S., and elsewhere? Rather it seems that the elders in Toronto have fallen into the same trap they warned the brothers in Vancouver of in 1993:
Yet, at the same time it seems that you have ignored the fact that some brothers are divisive. Their activities are damaging the oneness of the Body. Dear brothers, according to our observation, your receiving brothers is according to your own taste and preference, rather than upholding the principles of the one Body. (Letter from brothers representing the churches in North York, Scarborough, and Toronto to the leading ones in Vancouver-January 25, 1993)
What was carried out by certain ones in the church in Toronto was unmistakably an attempt to vindicate Titus Chu and not a "thorough investigation" into the facts behind the co-workers' letter of warning. Furthermore, we would ask these elders in Toronto: When Brother Lee spoke of the need to quarantine certain ones, did the elders in Toronto perform their own investigation? From their own words in writing to the church in Vancouver it does not appear so:
You all have demonstrated your separation from the fellowship by rejecting the discipline by so many churches, of Joseph Fung and brothers like him, and have carelessly ignored the damage which these brothers caused to the Body of Christ. As the churches in Canada, we stand in oneness with the decision of the other churches on the earth! Their stand is our stand! (An open letter from the churches in Canada to divisive brothers in Vancouver and Toronto-August 23, 1993; subsequently attached to a letter sent to all of the churches in the Lord's recovery on August 30, 1993)
This letter (as are some of the others mentioned in these articles) was signed by Nigel Tomes. Can he really say he has not changed, that he has not abandoned his former commitment to the practicality of the oneness of the Body of Christ?
- The very fact that the elders in Toronto performed their own "investigation" is contrary
to the fellowship Brother Lee had in 1993 with the leading ones in the churches in Canada following the incident in
Vancouver. Witness Lee's fellowship vindicated the stand taken 14 years ago and reproves their stand taken today:
If we put the notification of so many churches aside and go to investigate the situation for ourselves, this is an offending to the Body. Do we respect the Body or do we respect ourselves? (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p. 32)
Both the ministry and many churches in the recovery made a decision to quarantine certain divisive ones. Some did not accept this decision and have even joined these divisive ones. They have disregarded the feeling of the Body. (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p. 29)
- Both the Toronto elders' statement and Nigel's article ridicule the idea that the warning
statement of the co-workers and the affirmation of so many churches is an expression of the feeling of the Body. The
Toronto elders' statement says:
The AFW article makes the false claim that "Titus Chu has been quarantined by the Body". The article is wrong in assuming that 63 "blended brothers" are "the "Body" [sic] or that the affirming churches are "the "Body" [sic]. At most, they are only a very tiny fraction of the Body. Thousands of local churches (in S. America, Africa, Europe & mainland China) have remained silent on this matter, not to mention the hundreds of millions of other believers in the Body who were unaware they were involved in such an action of 'quarantine'.
It should be obvious to any thoughtful reader that such a statement makes the practice of the Body life, particularly in dealing with divisive members, a practical impossibility. The elders in Toronto seem to be asserting that no action can be considered something "by the Body" or representing the feeling of the Body unless it is endorsed by every local church and by every believer on the earth. This also is a deviation from their former realization, as their letters to the leadings ones in Vancouver testify:
The open letter from the churches is not only indicative of the stand of those churches, but also of the stand of the Body of Christ, which includes the churches in Canada, and the stand of many saints in the Church in Vancouver. Why brothers, would you oppose the stand that is for the maintaining of the oneness of the Body and the furtherance of the Lord's Recovery? (Letter from the elders of the churches in Metro Toronto to the leadings ones in Vancouver-February 1, 1993)
Furthermore, Nigel's absurd assertion that this demonstrates that we "do not consider all believers to be members of the Body" has already been fully answered in our article on this site entitled, " Practically Speaking, for Us the Body Today is Just the Lord's Recovery"-Did Minoru Chen 'Go Beyond What Has Been Written'?"
- Nigel's second article asserts that we are wrong in saying the Toronto brothers "seem to be
cutting themselves off from the fellowship of all of the churches." Perhaps we should have said they seem to be
cutting themselves off from the
common fellowship of all of the churches. They consider visiting saints, elders, and co-workers as a hostile
"attacking" the church! One elder even demanded that a brother who used to live in Toronto get permission
before visiting with family members still in the church there. The common fellowship of the churches is the fellowship of
the one Body of Christ that includes all of the local churches. Notably all of the visiting workers are brothers with
long associations with Titus Chu and all of the churches mentioned have had strong historical ties with Titus Chu's
work. The point is that the church in Toronto and some of the other churches that have cut off fellowship with the
churches and brothers that are not under Titus Chu's work are in danger of being local sects because they no longer
participate in the common fellowship among all of the churches. Rather, fellowship with them is contingent upon accepting
the ministry of Titus Chu, and those who receive the ministry of the co-workers are threatened with the elders'
If only the group of churches in your district are blended together, that is not the unique blending. That is a "sect blending." (The Ten Great Critical "Ones" for the Building Up of the Body of Christ, p. 60)
The local churches should fellowship with all the genuine local churches on the whole earth to keep the universal fellowship of the Body of Christ. Any local church that does not keep this universal fellowship of the Body of Christ is divisive and becomes a local sect. (A Brief Presentation of the Lord's Recovery, p. 44)
- The Toronto elders' statement says, "We are appalled at the ferocity of this attack."
We believe the articles we wrote are fair (if frank), accurate, and thoroughly documented. Our articles merely challenge
the Toronto elders to live according to the standard they set for others based on their former realization of the oneness
of the Body of Christ.
We would further ask: Why are these brothers not appalled at the ferocity of the attack upon Living Stream Ministry and the co-workers in the Lord's recovery carried out by Titus Chu in his open letter of July 22, 2006, or by Nigel Tomes in many articles spread out over the past year and a half? Do the brothers feel that Nigel is justified in attacking Benson Phillips, Ron Kangas, Ed Marks, James Lee, Minoru Chen, Andrew Yu, Living Stream Ministry, the Taiwan Gospel Book Room, the church in Hong Kong, and all of the churches he accuses of "knee-jerk" reactions in affirming the co-workers' letter of warning? Do they justify the accusation by Titus, Nigel, and others that the co-workers were lying about LSM's involvement in the attempt to take Recovery Versions of the New Testament into mainland China, even though LSM's version has been fully affirmed by the testimony of the brother who was at the center of this incident (see " An Introduction to the Open Letter of Kwong Keung Lai" and " An Open Letter of Clarification Concerning an Inaccurate Account of Events Concerning Me in Titus Chu's Public Response in a Letter to the Blending Co-workers")? Do they feel that Titus Chu, Nigel Tomes, and those who agree with them are due a "free pass" to malign the reputations of the co-workers and that no one is allowed to call them to righteous account?
The Toronto elders recently decided to have an early business meeting to ask for a mandate that would cement their control over the church's affairs. Yet they accuse LSM of seeking to control the church in Toronto. Actually, it is the Toronto elders who have exercised unseemly control in Toronto. It is the Toronto elders who branded 77 of their own members as "LSM-aligned" because they wrote the elders expressing concern over the direction the church was taking. It is the Toronto elders who set up a video camera in one of the meeting halls to monitor what the saints are speaking. It is the Toronto elders who have tried to intimidate members who participate in certain home meetings.
Nigel Tomes' writings exhibit a disturbing theme. When he is caught in a lie or distortion, he makes no attempt to correct it. 2 When his unfounded assertions are carefully answered, he simply repeats his imaginations without acknowledging that the answers have already been given. As we have noted, his entire line of argument on a "global company of workers" and his claim that we do not consider other Christians as members of the Body of Christ have been carefully and thoroughly answered already. Rather than deal with those answers in a straightforward manner, Nigel merely repeats his accusations as if no answer had been given. This is not the work of one who is concerned for truth; rather, it follows a well-known principle of propaganda-if you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it.
The saints should all understand that Nigel Tomes himself was specifically mentioned in the co-workers' fellowship at Whistler as one of the divisive co-workers of Titus Chu from whom, according to the co-workers' warning statement and based on Romans 16:17, we should turn away. It is a shame that the elders controlling the church in Toronto have not only failed to deal with Nigel Tomes as a divisive brother, but they have given him a platform to carry on his divisive activities with the approval of and even representing the leadership of the church.
1As the elders in Toronto know very well, not all of the elders there agree with the actions being taken in the name of the church and of the eldership. At least two of the elders have been marginalized and excluded from many decisions recently because they do not agree with the direction the other elders are taking.
2There are many examples of this. For example:
- Nigel's accusation that James Lee said "one publication" should be added to the seven ones in Ephesus 4 was false (see " Adding 'One Publication' to the Seven 'Ones' in Ephesians 4 -What Did James Lee Really Say?").
- Nigel's misrepresentation of Brother Lee's speaking by quoting half of one sentence to argue that Brother Lee wanted multiple publication works when in fact the context of his speaking was the need to be restricted in one publication work (see " 'My Intention ... Was to Encourage You to Write'-What Did Witness Lee Really Say?").
- Nigel's claim that the Hong Kong Book Room was a separate publisher, ignoring Brother Lee's clear testimony of Brother Nee's arrangement of the publication work (see " Was the Hong Kong Book Room a Separate Publisher?-What Did Watchman Nee Really Say?").
Although neither Titus nor Nigel have ever retracted falsehoods published on the Internet or in print, the issues on which Nigel's lies had been exposed were dropped from Titus' letter of July 22, 2006. Only those points that we had not yet answered were included. Will they now withdraw their false accusations against LSM and the co-workers regarding the arrest of Brother Kwong Keung Lai (Li Guangqiang) in mainland China in light of Brother Lai's own statement that their allegations were false (see " An Introduction to the Open Letter of Kwong Keung Lai" and " An Open Letter of Clarification 'Concerning an Inaccurate Account of Events Concerning Me in Titus Chu's Public Response in a Letter to the Blending Co-workers")? Will they now renounce the twisting of Brother Benson Phillips' speaking regarding the need for fellowship among the churches (see " Receive All the Churches and Then All the Believers-What Did Benson Phillips Really Say?"). These are just a few examples among many that could be cited showing the lack of commitment to even the lowest standard of the truth.