40. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (1)
It goes beyond the Bible, teaching that Christians are becoming God in life and nature but not in the godhead, even though none of Jesus’ own disciples even came to that conclusion.
Published 02/04/2021, Written by Jacob Howard
The Lord’s Recovery teaches that Christians are becoming God Himself and even are God Himself:
I especially point out that man becomes God without sharing the Godhead but having only God’s life and nature.WITNESS LEE, THE HIGH PEAK OF THE VISION AND THE REALITY OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, CHAPTER 3, SECTION 4 (EMBOLDENED EMPHASIS MY OWN)
In a sense, we have become Him in life and in nature but not in the Godhead.WITNESS LEE, ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT, AND ONE NEW MAN, CHAPTER 4, SECTION 5 (EMBOLDENED EMPHASIS MY OWN)
As shown in these two quotes, Witness Lee, the lead teacher of the Lord’s Recovery, clearly taught that Christians are becoming God and even have become Him. But his teaching denotes two specific qualifiers:
- Christians are becoming God in life and in nature.
- Christians are becoming God but not in the Godhead.
No matter which way the teaching is spun, Witness Lee taught that Christians are becoming God and even are God. But according to the Bible, Christians cannot be God. According to the Bible, Witness Lee’s teaching of man being God is heresy.
Addressing the Qualifiers: Not in the Godhead
The term “Godhead” occurs only one time in the Recovery Version Bible, in Colossians 2:9. Multiple English translations of the Bible use the term “Godhead” in Colossians 2:9, including ASV, NKJV, and KJV. In the ESV (the main translation this website uses) and NASB Bibles, the term is rendered deity, yet it refers to the same word — Godhead:
9 For in him the whole fullness of deity [or Godhead] dwells bodilyColossians 2:9 (ESV) (Emboldened Emphasis and Brackets My Own)
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the specific Greek word for Godhead in Colossians 2:9 is used only once in the Bible and has the following definition:
…deity i. e. the state of being God, GodheadSTRONG’S G2320 – theótēs, THAYER’S GREEK LEXICON
Based on this definition, the word for Godhead in the Bible means in its essence “the state of being God.” Yet according to Witness Lee’s teaching of being God, we can be Him…just not in the Godhead; Witness Lee is asserting we can be Him, but at the same time, we can’t be Him. It’s clearly a self-contradicting statement.
The term Godhead/deity in Colossians 2:9 directly denotes the state of being God Himself. Who can be Him but not be Him? Who can be God other than God Himself? Who can be God apart from God?
Simply put, a person not in the Godhead is not God. Only the Godhead is God, and only God is the Godhead. He is the I Am, not anyone else.
Addressing the Qualifiers: In Life and Nature
I especially point out that man becomes God without sharing the Godhead but having only God’s life and nature. Not one teacher in Christianity can oppose this. Once we believe in the Lord, we receive God’s life, and 2 Peter 1:4 says clearly that we can “become partakers of the divine nature.” No one can refute this.Witness Lee, The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, Section 4 (EMBOLDENED EMPHASIS MY OWN)
Witness Lee’s defense for Christians being God, specifically in His nature, is from 2 Peter 1:4, which says that Christians are partakers of His nature. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word for “partaker” in 2 Peter 1:4 is to be a partaker or sharer in any specific thing. So Christians share in, or are partakers of, the divine nature of God.
Why does Witness Lee bring up 2 Peter 1:4? Is it to make a case for Christians being partakers of the divine nature? No. The verse is used as evidence to make the case that Christians are God.
It’s the Bible that asserts and concludes that Christians are partakers of God’s divine nature. It’s the Bible that cannot be opposed. It’s Witness Lee’s extra-biblical conclusion based on this verse that should be held in contention.
This is not a mere mincing of words. Man becoming God and man having God’s divine nature are not the same thing.
Does 2 Peter 1:4 mean Christians are God or are becoming God? No. It means what it says. It means Christians are partakers (or sharers) of God’s divine nature. That’s it. If 2 Peter 1:4 actually said, “you may become partakers of the divine nature, becoming God,” that would be different. But it doesn’t say that. And it never will.
Does the Bible Say We Are Becoming God?
Neither does the Bible say Christians are becoming God, nor does it say Christians are God. It’s not there.
The only way Christians can possibly conclude they are God is if they make that conclusion apart from the origination of Scripture.
The Bible Tells Us What We Are
1. Peter, a Man
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”Acts 10:25 – 26 (ESV)
Peter (the same Peter who, being divinely inspired by the Spirit to write the Words of God, wrote that Christians are partakers of God’s divine nature) had every opportunity in Acts 10:26 to say, “Stand up; I’m God, but only in life and nature, not in the Godhead; therefore, you shouldn’t worship me.” Instead, Peter declared that he was a man, just like Cornelius.
Peter never concluded he was God, but he definitively concluded that he was a man.
2. Sons of God
26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.Galatians 3:26 (ESV)
Christians are sons of God. Being a son of someone and being someone are not the same thing. It is incorrect to conflate sonship of God with being God Himself.
One of Witness Lee’s arguments for Christians being God is actually based on this erroneous conflation:
In this way He began to make us God; that is, He begot us as children of God. Since we were born of God the Father in Christ, and since our Father God is God, how can we, the children begotten of Him, not be God? Since our Father is God, we who are born of Him surely also are God.Witness Lee, The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, Chapter 4, Section 2 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)
The conclusion that Witness Lee came to in the above quote lacks 1) origin in Scripture and 2) origin in self-evident experience.
Concerning origin in Scripture, the Bible does not conflate sonship of God with sameness of God, so neither should Christians.
Concerning self-evident reality, consider the following fairly self-evident example: let’s take a child, a boy. Obviously, that boy would be the son of his mother. However, that boy is not his mother. This should be self-evident, meaning proving it is a waste of time because the evidence speaks for itself; the reality that the boy is not his mother is plain and deserves no elaboration. Obviously his mother birthed him and is his family member, his parent, but if the boy claimed to be his mother and tried to make a case for it, he’d be incorrect. In this example, no matter which way someone tries to phrase it, the boy is not his mother. He is her son.
Witness Lee said, “Since our Father is God, we who are born of Him surely also are God” in 1994 in The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ. But in 1977, he argued the opposite:
Every child has the life and the nature of his father, but this does not mean that the child eventually will become his father.Witness Lee; One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man; Chapter 4; Section 5)
1977’s Witness Lee argued that children cannot become their father. Yet 1994’s Witness Lee argued that since Christians’ Father is God, Christians are therefore God (but not the Father, per 1977?). This is the tangled web of contradictions and confusing esoteric insights that Witness Lee provides, all so he could defend his teaching of Christians being God.
3. Unknown, Yet Like Him
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.1 John 3:2 (ESV) (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)
What will Christians be? According to 1 John 3:2 (ESV), it hasn’t appeared. But there is some window of understanding, thanks to the Bible. Christians will be like Him!
Christians are not Him now. Nor will they be Him later. But God’s very Speaking reveals that Christians will be LIKE Him. It is incorrect to conflate likeness with sameness. And once again, because the Bible never says that mankind is or is becoming God, Witness Lee makes an assertion based on this erroneous conflation:
Therefore, it is through regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification that we may become God. When we reach this point, 1 John 3:2 says that when “He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is.”The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, Chapter 2, Section 5
Being like God and being God Himself are not even remotely the same. Once again, the conclusion that Witness Lee came to in this quote lacks 1) origin in Scripture and 2) origin in self-evident experience.
Concerning origin in Scripture, the Bible does not conflate likeness of God with sameness of God (or being God), so neither should Christians.
Concerning self-evident experience, the example is straightforward: if a man is like his best friend, he is not his best friend; he is only like him.
Conclusion: “Being God” is Heresy
The Bible is not covert on what Christians are. Christians are children of God, humans, a saved people that will one day be like God. Witness Lee’s “being God” teaching is propped up by fairly overt Bible verses, which are obviously inherently biblical; however, Lee ignores the conclusions of these Bible verses in his own conclusions, making assertions that extend and reinterpret the Bible beyond their meaning.