A Critique from an Ex-Local Church Participant

To whom it may concern,

I admired the scholarly manner of your web page on Witness Lee. I think his organization has caused a lot of psychological damage to his followers, and especially to their children. It is not just a new group with weird ideas, but a harmful, totalist organization.

I just wanted to say that your page on the Local Church/Lee Cult doesn't seem to go nearly far enough in describing the LC as it is. The main problem seems to be accepting what it says about itself at face value. With an organization that has faced such extreme allegations of abuse this is surprising.

I was in my adolescence an unfortunate participant in the organization. You cite much of your information as coming from E. Gordon Melton. I have read his Encyclopedia, which is the one resource that the other resources I have read cite. I was dismayed when reading the Encyclopedia, that he did not cite his source. Nonetheless, having been very active in the past in the organization, I quickly recognized the source -- a press release provided by the Living Stream Ministry in the 1980's and probably beyond.

The question is, if you question an organization, why attack it with information it provides?

Having written that, I may add then, that from my quick reading of your page, much of the information is inaccurate. The press release I referred to, and the Beliefs and Practices of the Local Churches, only vaguely resemble what really goes on. For this reason, I thought it good that the writer of the page had attended a few meetings. Even so, It might take a year or two of full time participation in the five or so weekly meetings, conferences and two annual intensive "trainings" to get an accurate picture. Things are said there verbally which are not transcribed, and which are edited out of audio and video tapes.

You made a reference to purgatorial values. A bad Lee devotee will face suffering in a kind of purgatory for various reasons. However, every other member of humanity is considered almost certainly unsaved: those from fundamentalist churches will be cast for a thousand years of outer darkness. Everyone else, roman Catholics included, is going to Hell for all eternity. in fact according to Lee's doctrines, it's worse to be in a non-LC denomination than never to heard the Gospel. All other denominations are Babylon the Great and ruled by Satan. This is one of those utterly essential doctrines which are preached in private, but never in public.

Another comment, I wish to make, is designating the movement as known as the "Recovery Movement." It wasn't clear if you were simply quoting that as one of the names the LC has given itself. Actually, the organization is not a movement in the sense that there is any spontaneous feeling arising from Christians in a non-structured way. On the contrary, the "local churches," as the Living Stream Ministry wishes its church arm be called, are tightly organized and closely supervised by the hierarchy of the Living Stream Ministry in Anaheim, California. I can elaborate on this further, if you ask.

Some other points I think are important. First, Watchman Nee is Lee's claim to legitimacy. Lee can sound superficially like Nee, until your read Nee himself. But beware of reading material sold in a Living Stream Ministry outlet at a "local church" purported to be written by Nee. A few of the books under his name cannot be found at a Christian bookstore, and when I read them, I found the style and intellectual level wholly unlike Nee's other writings, but very like transcripts of Lee's sermons published as books. Perhaps a priest with a background in textual analysis can shed more light in this.

Second, resemblance to Brethren denominations is probably superficial. Congregants are not allowed to speak freely in meetings. If they did, they would be told to sit down and shut up. Lee devotees are reminded to restrict their words to material published by the Living Stream Ministry (ie, the word of Lee) and are specifically prohibited from ever giving their own thoughts or opinions. People are encouraged to make their "testimony" sound genuine with examples from their daily lives. They are also encouraged to give public, detailed, and lurid confessions of sin. That's it.

The word of Lee is not only given much more time in meetings than the approved translation of the Bible, Lee's words are repeated over and over in a devotional mental state as if the word's were Divinity itself. They call it "pray-reading." Would "Lee-worshipping" be more apt?

Well, if anyone has read this, I thank him for allowing me to put in my two cents.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015