Has the Truth Changed
or Have Some of the Metro Toronto Elders?
|...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? (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)|
Standing with the Churches' Quarantine of Divisive Ones
On February 1, 1993, the elders of the churches in Metro Toronto wrote to the leading ones in Vancouver criticizing their receiving of brothers who had been quarantined by other churches. The Metro Toronto brothers' letter cited the reasons that four brothers had been quarantined by the churches. They said:
These four brothers:
1) have denied the standing of the churches in the Lord's recovery;
2) have produced divisive meetings;
3) have attempted to draw saints away from the local churches to follow after themselves; and
4) have made unfounded and malicious attacks upon some leading brothers in the recovery and especially upon Brother Lee and his ministry.
Today, Titus Chu and those divisive workers standing with him have likewise denied the standing of all of those local churches who acknowledge the leadership of the co-workers in the ministry, calling them "ministry churches". This was the same accusation made by the divisive ones quarantined in the 1980s toward those churches that acknowledged Brother Lee's leadership in the ministry (see The Practice of the Church Life according to the God-ordained Way, pp. 15-16 and pp. 28-29; and The Ministry of the New Testament and the Teaching and Fellowship of the Apostles, pp. 13-14). The divisive nature of Titus Chu's work is being increasingly manifested as elders appointed by him have taken action to cut their churches off from the fellowship of the Body and to consolidate their control, in some cases through mass ex-communication of longstanding members of the churches in their localities. Furthermore, no one can deny the malicious tone of the unfounded attacks by Titus Chu and Nigel Tomes on the leading co-workers in the Lord's recovery who are laboring to continue in the line of the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.
The elders in the Metro Toronto churches declared:
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? We earnestly plead with you to reconsider your position in this matter for the sake of the Lord's recovery and the oneness of the Body of Christ. Why should we not quarantine those who have spiritually torn down many dear saints and have brought in confusion and serious harm to many churches? Isn't this a grave offence to the Lord and a tremendous damage to His Body and His churches?
With respect to Joseph Fung and [Brother X], you have clearly violated the teaching of the scriptures in Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10. These verses are crucial for the Body of Christ to protect itself from the germs spread by division makers. However, in order to justify your position, you have taught differently from the New Testament and both brother Watchman Nee and brother Witness Lee regarding the meaning and use of these verses.
Here the elders in the Metro Toronto churches equated the stand of the churches in California with the stand of the Body of Christ. They recognized that to not stand with the quarantine of ones who had been quarantined by a group of churches because they "have spiritually torn down many dear saints and have brought in confusion and serious harm to many churches" was "a grave offence to the Lord and a tremendous damage to His Body and His churches." It seems the elders in Metro Toronto who oppose the quarantining of Titus Chu today have completely lost such a realization of the Body.
The Churches' Serious Concern Regarding the Elders' Standing
On February 5, 1993, three brothers wrote on behalf of the elders in Metro Toronto to all of the churches in Canada about their mutual concern regarding the standing of the leading ones in Vancouver: "... we, like you, are very concerned regarding the standing of the elders of the church in Vancouver." With their letter they included copies of all of the correspondence between themselves and the leading ones in Vancouver since April 1992 (see " List of Letters Between the Metro Toronto and Vancouver Brothers, 1992-1993" 1 ). In their letter the Metro Toronto brothers said that the leadings ones in Vancouver:
...have, based upon rumour, drawn improper conclusions regarding the situation in Metro Toronto and have participated in activities which have undermined the oneness of the Body of Christ. We do not state this lightly.
By effectively separating the churches receiving his ministry from full and open fellowship with all of the other local churches, Titus Chu and those working with him have created an environment in which the saints in those churches do not really know the situation of the Lord's recovery as a whole. In this isolated condition, even the elders can easily draw improper conclusions based on rumors and false reports spread by Titus Chu, Nigel Tomes, and others. As in 1993, those who spread rumors and false reports have led many to participate "in activities which have undermined the oneness of the Body of Christ." As then, this should not be taken lightly.
Brother Lee's Fellowship with the Leading Ones from Canada
In the summer of 1993 some brothers from Canada asked for a time of fellowship with Brother Lee to review what had transpired in Vancouver and to seek a way for the churches in Canada to go on in one accord. On August 13-15 about 30 brothers from across Canada, including brothers from Metro Toronto, met with Brother Lee in his home. Brother Lee's fellowship from that time became The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life. We encourage all of the saints to read this book in its entirety as it is very applicable to the present situation in the Lord's recovery. Here are a few excerpts (emphasis added):
The fifth problem is that we do not care for the discipline. The discipline is to turn away from the troublemakers. Besides the opposition outside of us, there has been turmoil within. Since certain ones are trying to make divisions among us and trying to cause others to stumble, what shall we do? We should, according to the apostles' teaching, turn away from them and not tolerate them ... (p. 18)
...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. (pp. 18-19)
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.
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. How we behave ourselves depends upon the degree of our seeing of the Body. (pp. 28-29)
...[R]eceiving a person who has made trouble in the recovery and who is still making trouble involves the Body very much. If we behave ourselves properly, we are okay in the Body. But if we commit something that is condemned by the New Testament, the Body has the right to say something. The Body surely will check with a local church if there is a division-maker among them whom they have not disciplined. If they do not discipline such a one, they are wrong and are offending the Body. (p. 31)
Regardless of how much help we have received from a certain one in the past, if he does something that offends the Body, we must practice the truth. We must know the Body and trust in the Body. The churches in California wrote an open letter because they felt burdened and were held responsible to let the churches on this globe know the damage certain ones did in California and the loss which they had suffered. In this open letter they said that they had made the decision to quarantine these ones. Should we listen to the churches or take care of our own personal observation of the situation? 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? (p. 32)
Sadly, some of the brothers in Metro Toronto have departed from Brother Lee's fellowship and from such a proper realization of the Body. Through their rejection of the co-workers' warning letter quarantining Titus Chu and certain of his workers and of the affirmations of that action by so many churches, they are offending the Body, just as the leading ones in Vancouver did when they rejected Toronto's quarantine of Brother X and the churches' quarantine of Joseph Fung.
"Their Stand Is Our Stand!"
After meeting with Brother Lee, the elders representing the churches in Canada, including the elders and workers in Metro Toronto, wrote an open letter to the ones causing divisions in Vancouver and in Toronto on August 23, 1993. (On August 30, 1993, they attached this letter to an open letter to all of the churches in the Lord's recovery.) In it they said:
This letter is to make known our objection to your sectarianism. You have separated yourselves from the fellowship of the universal body of Christ and specifically from the fellowship of the local churches, the expression of the one body! As brothers representing the churches in Canada, we declare that we cannot sanction your way of divisiveness.
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!
It is impossible to reconcile these statements with the current standing of those in the church in Toronto who publicly reject "the discipline by so many churches." In a recent article posted on the Internet, Nigel Tomes dismisses the churches' letters of affirmation of the co-workers' action in quarantining Titus Chu by saying, "Federations of local churches through their leaders are pledging allegiance to the 'blended co-workers.'" Such a twisting of the churches' letters cannot be reconciled with the joint statement of the churches in Canada which Nigel himself signed standing in oneness with the decision of the other churches on the earth. It appears that Nigel's standard of truth is that such affirmations are proper when they support his position and improper when they do not.
After a careful reading of this article and all the letters on which it is based, it is evident that a number of the leading ones in Toronto today have abandoned their previous standing for the practice of the oneness of the Body of Christ in the Lord's recovery. These brothers both continue to receive and defend Titus Chu and Nigel Tomes. In doing so, they are acting contrary to Brother Lee's personal fellowship with the elders in Canada in 1993, in which he warned them that not being faithful to deal with "a division-maker among them" is an offense against and a damage to the Body (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p. 31). They are also acting contrary to their own stand of just 14 years ago.
Sadly, the dissenting ones in Toronto can no longer declare, "We stand in oneness with the decision of the other churches on the earth!" No longer is the stand of the churches their stand. Their current stand is actually the same as the one they criticized the leading ones in Vancouver for taking in those days. They have separated themselves "from the fellowship of the universal body of Christ and specifically from the fellowship of the local churches, the expression of the one body!" The truth does not change; the brothers in Toronto have. What a tragic loss to them and to the saints in Toronto who would follow them!
|Return to Part 2||Continue to Correspondence List|
Letters Referenced in This Article
- 02/01/1993 - Letter from the elders of the churches in Metro Toronto to the leadings ones in Vancouver
- 02/05/1993 - Letter from brothers representing the churches in North York, Scarborough, and Toronto to the churches in Canada
- 08/23/1993 - An open letter from the churches in Canada to divisive brothers in Vancouver and Toronto
- 08/30/1993 - An open letter from the churches in Canada to all of the churches in the Lord's recovery
1Most of the letters on this site from the controversy between Toronto and Vancouver are from this packet.