IV Press widens access to Spiritual Counterfeits’ critique.

After delaying about a year, InterVarsity Press (IVP) has released a book that criticizes a Los Angeles religious leader, Witness Lee, whose followers do not take criticism lightly. The book is entitled The God-Men: An Inquiry into Witness Lee and the Local Churches.

Lee was a disciple of Watchman Nee in China, and came to Los Angeles in 1962. There are about 70 congregations in the United States with some 7,000 followers, and about 35,000 followers elsewhere, organized into “local churches.”

Lee’s followers filed a sizable lawsuit against Thomas Nelson Publishers and author Jack Sparks last summer for a book entitled The Mindbenders: A Look at Current Cults, which criticized the group. They have also threatened legal action against Moody Monthly and Eternity magazines for publishing statements with which the local churches disagreed. Unable to afford a lawsuit, Eternity printed a testimony signed by 30 local church members, which denied some of what the magazine’s article contained.

The IVP book was written by Neil T. Duddy and the organization for which he works, the Spiritual Counterfeits Project.

The material appeared in a different form in Switzerland in 1979, and the local churches filed an unsuccessful libel suit against it in that country. Another suit filed in the U.S. against that version is still pending, according to IVP.

Upon release of its edition of the book last month, IVP editor James Sire said, “People need to know what this religious group is teaching and doing. Inter-Varsity decided to publish only after it was convinced that the book represented sound judgment based on careful research.”

InterVarsity Press hasn’t been sued—at least not yet—but the group is not happy with the book. Here is some of the material about Lee contained in The God-Men:

• “Lee’s theology is based on human sensation. The predominant source of authority for his teachings and policies is the experience of internal impressions.” Duddy calls this Lee’s “sensuous theology.”

• The local church publicly endorses the authority of Scripture, but actually, only Lee’s interpretation of Scripture is used, and he regards himself as having the authority of one of the 12 apostles.

• Lee believes “the words of Scripture arc deadened if studied with the mind … the Bible is not principally for man to understand, but for man to receive and enjoy.”

• The local churches substitute preaching and teaching with “pray-reading.” that is, repeating Scripture phrases aloud and punctuating them with cries such as “O Lord Jesus” and “Amen.” A characteristic of pray-reading is that it is “mindless, irrational and mystical.” The book quotes Lee as saying. “There is no need for us to close our eyes when we pray. It is better for us to close our mind.… Forget about reading, researching, understanding, and learning the word. You must pray-read the word. Then eventually you will really understand it.”

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• Lee’s ethics are based on the ability to “sense” the experience of God, and not on conformity to his written Word, and followers are obligated only to sense the leading of the Spirit within their own spirit.

• Lee and his followers believe theirs is the only true church. The book says Lee believes that “All Christians not in the local church [Lee’s church] arc in captivity, in the wilderness of Babylon, and without much regard from the Lord.” Lee further believes non-local church Christians will not recognize Christ’s Second Coming.

The book is plainly written and devoted more to Lee’s theology than to the characteristics of local church life. It says. “We take no delight in publishing this assessment. We would be glad if we could answer our inquirers with assurance that Witness Lee’s teachings do not differ from the teaching of God’s Word. But we are convinced otherwise and we believe that the dangers of his system should be made known.”

The local churches vigorously deny any contention that their doctrine is unorthodox. A statement issued last summer stated in part:

“We believe and have always taught that Jesus Christ is the perfect God and a complete man as well: that both his divine nature and human nature, each being complete, concur in his one person—without separation, without confusion, and without being changed into a third nature.”

This is contrary to what Duddy says in the book—that Lee teaches “modalism.” that is, the Son is really a mode of the Father. The book says, “Lee’s incarnate deity was neither quite God nor quite man: he was a third entity, a ‘mingled’ God-man.” and hence the title of the book.

The local church statement last summer contradicts that. Believers are “God-men” in the sense that “we have a human nature and also by regeneration partake of the life and nature of God.… But this does not mean that we are the same as Christ in his unique position as the God-man.… “The local church further professes that the three persons of the Trinity are all “distinctly three and uniquely one”: in other words, it says it has an orthodox conception of the Trinity.

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Estranged Churches Are Reconciled
An Encouraging Word Is Heard In Wichita

“We felt we needed to say a good word. The last word the public needed to hear had to be a good word.” said Phil Lineberger, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He was talking about something that started with more than a few bad words.

Wichita’s First Baptist Church was one of the city’s strongest in the early 1960s. It had 4.300 members and was regarded as one of the most important congregations in the American Baptist Convention—until 1962. Then, said the present First Baptist pastor, Roger Fredrikson, what happened was “one of those ugly, notorious Baptist fights.

The fight was precipitated by the ABC’s decision to support the National Council of Churches. There were court battles for the building, nationwide press coverage, and finally a First Baptist split, with a majority becoming Metropolitan Baptist.

The aftermath was hard feelings on both sides, with members in the two churches reluctant to associate. To some, the thought of worshiping together again was unthinkable.

Late in February, however, exactly that happened. More than 900 members of both churches crowded into First Baptist and had what they called a “service of reconciliation and praise.”

Fredrikson said the impetus for the reconciliation began with the Leighton Ford evangelistic campaign in Wichita last September. A long-time friend of Ford, Fredrikson was chairman of local organizers and thus met an influential Metropolitan Baptist layman, Preston Huston.

Working together, they became friends. Fredrikson, who is said to have “the pastoral gift of reconciliation” wanted to see the old feud buried. Huston and Lineberger agreed. In December, the two curch boards considered formal reconciliation.

Then Huston, chairman of the board of deacons at Metropolitan Baptist, attended a morning service at First Baptist and accepted for his church the invitation to worship together on February 22. The congregations were uncertain as to what would happen or how many persons would attend.

“So many came,” Fredrikson said, “that we ran out of almost everything—name tags, worship bulletins, and even song books. Our faith had been too small.” Some of the churchgoers had not seen each other for years. When they greeted one another, “It was kind of like a party, kind of like Pentecost,” Fredrikson said.

The service included hymns (“Blest Be the Tie that Binds” being particularly appropriate), a sermon by Lineberger, and prayers. Many who were members of First Baptist before the split (First Baptist now has about 700 members, Metropolitan Baptist, 2,400) prayed together.

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The second half of the affirmation of reconcilation occurred March 8 at Metropolitan Baptist, with Fredrikson occupying the pulpit. A formal merger is not planned, since the churches have separate buildings and Metropolitan is in the Southern Baptist Convention. But both pastors believe the reconciliation was helpful. Neither Lineberger nor Fredrikson were at the two Wichita churches when the split occurred, but both were made aware of the problems when they arrived.

Fredrikson noted that on his pastoral rounds he often sensed remaining acrimony. “My emphasis was that we pray about it, give it to the Lord, and stop dwelling on the past,” he said. Lineberger believed the lingering negative feelings “sort of gave a negative spirit” to his church. He said a comment he often heard on neighborhood visits was, “Metropolitan Baptist—isn’t that the church born of the split with First Baptist?” He thus felt it important to heal the rift publicly.

Now, said Lineberger, “All suspicion is removed.” Although the churches currently plan no cooperative ministries, he added, the avenue for such ventures is now open. For laymen like Preston Houston, who was embroiled in the long dispute from the beginning, the reconciliation was especially meaningful. “He said,” reported Lineberger, “that God allowed him to live this long to see a reconciliation take place.”


The Mark of the Beast
The Faithful Fall For Another Far-Fetched Fable

A news story that has jarring significance for Bible prophecy is being reprinted in small newspapers and denominational publications, mostly in the South.

According to the news item, the Internal Revenue Service sent out a number of social security checks last July and August, with highly unusual check cashing instructions on the back. Banks were not to cash the checks unless the bearer had the proper identification, which was a “mark in the right hand or forehead.”

When banks contacted the IRS, officials said the checks should not have been circulated because that requirement was not to go into effect until 1984. Clearly, the Mark of the Beast is coming soon, and this news item no doubt is being used in prophetic sermons in many pulpits.

The only problem is, it isn’t true; at least the IRS denies knowing anything about it. “The whole thing is totally ridiculous.” said a spokesman in the IRS public information office in Washington D.C. “Someone is obviously trying to put the IRS in a bad light.”

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Besides that, the IRS doesn’t have anything to do with issuing social security checks. That’s done by a separate branch of the treasury department, the disbursing office. The IRS administers the nation’s tax laws.


Canadian Reginald Teows will become the Mennonite Central Committee’s executive secretary in January 1982. Teows is now associate executive secretary for the committee’s administration and resources. He will also serve as interim executive secretary.

Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame University, has announced he will retire in 1982. By then Hesburgh will have served 30 years—the longest term of any current president of a major U.S. university.

Roy D. Bell, a well-known Canadian pastor and vice-president of the Baptist World Alliance, has been appointed principal of Carey Hall, following its recent affiliation with Regent College. Both schools are located at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. The affiliation agreement, completed last spring, introduces a clergy education element into Regent’s program, which has become widely known for its graduate lay emphasis. Carey Hall has existed as a Baptist Union of Western Canada men’s residence at UBC for 25 years.

Bailey Smith, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wants to slow fragmentation in his denomination. He said he will seek to do so by appointing a “cross section of Southern Baptists” to important committees. Although his election was attributed to the influence of inerrancy advocates, Smith said “my whole desire is that the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole love one another.” Smith is scheduled to make committee appointments by April.

Patriarch Maximos V Hakim escaped an assassination attempt last month in Lebanon. Gunmen opened fire on the car of the head of the Greek Catholic-Melkite Church as he passed through a Lebanese town en-route to Damascus. Although Maximos has remained aloof from communal strife, he has been criticized by militants in Lebanon’s majority Maronite Catholic community for his “good relations” with Syrians and Palestinians.


Everett L. Cattell, 75, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and Malone College (Canton, Ohio), missionary to India, teacher at China Evangelical Theological Seminary, and author; March 2, in Columbus, Ohio, of heart failure.

Russell DeLong, 79, former president of Northwest Nazarene College and dean of the Nazarene Theological Seminary, author of several books, evangelistic speaker, and broadcaster; January 29 in Saint Petersburg, Florida, of cirrhosis of the liver.

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