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For six years, I was a part of “the Lord’s Recovery” or “the Local Church” movement, a group of Christians who seem to truly love Jesus. But they teach heretical doctrines and are a cult movement. Here’s why I finally decided to leave (a thread):
Firstly, the Recovery is known for suing other Christians who write against them, at the least strong-arming or pressuring them to take their content down. I’m not looking to get into a law-battle with the Recovery, any of its specific churches, or any of its organizations. My only aim is to present my experience and give my opinion of that experience, detailing specific problems, and defending my opinions with biblical evidence.
A tactic of the Recovery is to tarnish the reputation of the negative writer, calling his or her work “poison” or his or her character “selfishly ambitious” or “worldly”. Before members consider my experience to be poisonous and decide to only listen to the elders, consider Acts 17:11 and how the Berean Jews were considered more fair-minded and noble for not blindly believing Paul’s word, but comparing Paul’s word to God’s. And consider Acts 15:2, when Paul and Barnabas handled a major disagreement by means of a major argument and debate.
I’m debating here, but I’m fallible. There’s nothing wrong with reading my refutation and checking it against the Scriptures.
This thread is straight forward. I am not trying to be mean or nice; I’m trying to tell it like it was for me, no defamation or ill-will. I warn you not to take things personally but to carefully consider the Recovery versus the Bible.
While claiming to be for the oneness of the church, within its own meetings, it frequently and openly belittles all other Christians as inferior, less than Recovery Christians.
The Recovery teaches that all of Christianity outside of itself is religious Babylon.
Its elitism becomes each member’s elitism. Members come to believe that all other Christians are lost and are missing out on being a real Christian overcomer.
8. THE RECOVERY CONDITIONS (2)
Members with outsider, genuinely Christian families become hopeful for their families to join the Recovery. They are considered to be amongst the lost and are still missing out on the best form of Christianity.
9. THE RECOVERY CONDITIONS (3)
It conditions its members into legalism. For example, a special elder called a “blended brother”, a speaker from the pulpit at a major national conference for the Recovery, says not to wear worldly clothing. That speaker is wearing a tie in a room that requires all men to wear a tie, obviously implying ties are somehow not worldly.
10. THE RECOVERY CONDITIONS (4)
It teaches members that leaving the Recovery is impossible because the Spirit and truth are restraining them. However, it’s really the authoritative and interpreted/speculative doctrines that manipulate members into staying.
11. THE RECOVERY CONDITIONS (5)
The movement follows one man, its teacher and prophet Witness Lee, who authoritatively proclaims that he has already unlocked the entirety of the Bible. He teaches members not to read any other Christian books and only to read the Recovery translation of the Bible.
12. THE RECOVERY IS IDOLATROUS (1)
It unscripturally teaches there’s a “unique minister in every age” (i.e., every generation), thus only promoting Witness Lee’s writings.
13. THE RECOVERY IS IDOLATROUS (2)
On numerous documented occasions, its leaders boast of their dedication to Witness Lee’s teachings, publicly and pettily ridiculing others who speak against him.
14. THE RECOVERY INDOCTRINATES (1)
It has its own school (“the Training”) that, on a rigorous schedule, teaches its students to learn Witness Lee’s view of the Bible, conditioning them to be a good person according to Lee’s convictions.
15. THE RECOVERY INDOCTRINATES (2)
Members who are younger than college-aged are mostly born into families who are a part of the movement. Middle school to high school students are sent to the “Summer School of Truth” over the summer. They grow up with the Bible, in the context of Witness Lee writings, being drilled into them.
16. THE RECOVERY INDOCTRINATES (3)
College-aged members have an opportunity to go to a Training, which has all of the legalistic rules of the post-college Training and teaches Witness Lee material.
17. THE RECOVERY INDOCTRINATES (4)
It hosts conferences throughout the holidays and throughout the year. At those conferences, speakers go over Witness Lee content and frequently dismiss the idea of getting into the Scriptures because there isn’t enough time.
18. THE RECOVERY ISOLATES (1)
It cuts itself off from all other Christians within the local community, marking other meetings as “missing the mark” of the “proper ground” of being a church (which is specifically based on how a church is named, rather than Spirit-based).
19. THE RECOVERY ISOLATES (2)
Members end up spending most of their free time in the daily meetings. No one is forced to attend; members are simply manipulated into believing that all of their free time should be devoted to the Recovery. The majority of members have no real contact with outsiders beyond their jobs or when attempting to make Recovery converts out of college students.
20. THE RECOVERY IS HYPOCRITICAL (1)
It mocks seminaries (in the Training) yet has the Training.
21. THE RECOVERY IS HYPOCRITICAL (2)
It considers outside church groups’ population increases to be meaningless and even worldly, but when its own population increases, the Recovery claims it is because of God.
22. THE RECOVERY IS HYPOCRITICAL (3)
It teaches members to drop their favorite practices for the sake of oneness, but it only promotes Witness Lee’s interpretation of proper practices.
23. THE RECOVERY IS HYPOCRITICAL (4)
It claims to care about oneness of the Spirit, but its oneness makes it excluded from all other Christianity.
24. THE RECOVERY IS HYPOCRITICAL (5)
It says non-Recovery churches are divided because their oneness isn’t based on Christ alone, yet the Recovery churches are only unified in their belief in Witness Lee, who is not Christ.
25. THE RECOVERY IS CULTURALLY STRANGE (1)
It has practices that are melodically, robotically repetitive in speech, all requiring an odd inflection of the voice. These are, at the very least, culturally disconnected.
26. THE RECOVERY IS CULTURALLY STRANGE (2)
It only permits music to the Lord that is in its hymnal, which appeals to one style of music with songs that were approved or written by Witness Lee.
27. THE RECOVERY IS CULTURALLY STRANGE (3)
Since Witness Lee’s death, new songs are simply Witness Lee’s own words in musically unrhythmic form.
28. THE RECOVERY IS CULTURALLY STRANGE (4)
While claiming to not be legalistic, it addresses the wrongfulness of celebrating most holidays, which is largely Witness Lee’s convictions.
29. THE RECOVERY IS CULTURALLY STRANGE (5)
It improperly/oddly uses English, speaking with insider jargon that was coined by Witness Lee: “new ones”, “economy”, “god-men” (referencing Christians who are becoming God), “constitution”, “issue”, etc.
30. THE RECOVERY’s MINISTRY IS CONDITIONAL (1)
If a member attempts to teach and shepherd an outsider, but the outsider doesn’t appreciate Witness Lee’s teachings (even while still loving the Bible), the member will give up on ministering to the outsider because he or she was taught to do so, considering the outsider a non-seeker and thus a waste of time.
31. THE RECOVERY IS CHRISTIAN-LITIGIOUS (1)
Although the Bible teaches Christians not to sue each other, the Recovery has repetitively sued or strong-armed Christians who write against it.
32. THE RECOVERY IS FULL OF LEGALISM (1)
It says, “Christians live by grace.” But the Training teaches students to “learn grace” through contractual religious laws, which are solely according to Witness Lee’s personal convictions on character, practices, and biblical doctrine.
It claims to only care about the Bible, but Witness Lee’s writings (i.e., the interpreted Bible) are read, spoken, and re-taught with biblical authority; these writings are always justifiable and are considered infallible by members.
34. THE RECOVERY IS DECEPTIVE (1)
In its defense of its biblically questionable teachings or practices, the Recovery teaches something contextually irrelevant yet biblically sound, seemingly giving the Recovery biblical orthodoxy, but then avoids a truly biblical defense of the topic at hand (i.e., deflection).
35. THE RECOVERY IS DECEPTIVE (2)
It teaches that local churches are only under the authority of Christ. In reality, all of its content and direction comes from its headquartered organization, which gets its content and direction from the writings and past direction of Witness Lee.
36. THE RECOVERY IS DECEPTIVE (3)
It teaches and boasts that the Recovery is the same everywhere because of Christ. It is obviously the same everywhere because members uplift/deify Witness Lee and teach his material.
37. THE RECOVERY IS SELF-SERVING (1)
Members who love their notably, culturally stranger Recovery-practices ignore guests’ noticeable uncomfortableness in many of their meetings, caring only to continue in what they consider to be “living” (i.e., practicing how LR has taught them to practice, what they’re used to).
38. THE RECOVERY IS SELF-SERVING (2)
Its goal in speech is to spread and express Christ. Its goal in reality is to spread Witness Lee’s writings, doctrines, practices, and convictions.
39. IN ITS CURRENT CONDITION, THE RECOVERY CANNOT GROW SPIRITUALLY (1)
It believes Witness Lee to be mainly infallible. To loyal members, everything about the Recovery, no matter how clearly biblically wrong, is always defensible. If Witness Lee got something wrong, it was only because a truth was not “recovered” yet.
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.
41. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (2)
In its meetings, members have shouted “We are God!” without any public reproof; this statement has even been given “Amens!” without any rebuttal.
42. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (3)
The Bible says we don’t yet know what we will be when Jesus comes back, that we will be like God. Witness Lee says we will be the same as him, God and man, just not in the godhead.
43. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (4)
It goes beyond the Bible, teaching that there is a singular, unique minister in every age (generation), claiming Witness Lee is the last unique minister before Jesus comes back.
44. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (5)
It goes beyond the Bible, loosely teaching interesting yet speculative theory as divine fact (e.g., it teaches that the “7 Spirits” in Revelation should absolutely be interpreted as the seven-fold intensification of the Spirit).
45. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (6)
It declares “one city equals one church” an essential item of the Christian faith when the Bible doesn’t discuss names; it merely gives us examples of meeting locations (e.g., cities, a port in a city, and houses). I.e., the Bible doesn’t say, “Do you not know there is one church in one city?”
46. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (7)
The legality of the “one church in one city” is so strict, the Recovery teaches its members they should not even take the bread and the wine with outsiders.
47. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (8)
It only cares if Witness Lee says it. Although he made loose biblical connections throughout his teachings, members consider Lee’s teachings with biblical authority. That authority makes Lee’s writings sacred to members, which obviously goes beyond the Bible.
48. THE RECOVERY IS HERETICAL (9)
It teaches that we should all “speak the same thing”. Although this is a biblical phrase, the Recovery uses it to reference speaking only Witness Lee’s teachings, even doing so in the same, odd, robotic tone.
49. IN SUMMARY (1)
The Recovery is a mess of things that have nothing to do with Christ. And I know that I didn’t discuss all of its problems here. It claims to be biblical, but in reality, it is a cult, having misplaced, idolatrous loyalty for Witness Lee, believing and teaching his many heretical doctrines.
50. IN SUMMARY (2)
I have no doubt the Recovery is full of real believers, but they have a divisive, relentless, unapologetic dedication to Witness Lee and his teachings; the authority his teachings have should be reserved for Jesus Christ and His speaking alone.
51. IN HINDSIGHT (1)
I’m very glad the Lord is on the throne. I’ve learned a lot about my Lord Jesus through my time in the Recovery; God was sovereign and faithful in our relationship together I grew as a Christian.
My growth does not automatically indicate the Recovery is justified in heresy. What Satan meant for evil, I believe God meant for good.
52. IN HINDSIGHT (2)
I actually learned a lot from Witness Lee and his followers, but I mainly learned how to discern biblical truth from speculative and weak interpretations. I learned the truth, but I also learned the lie.
53. MY ADVICE (1)
If you’re in it, pray about leaving. It can be hard at first, but it’s okay with God to meet with other Christians somewhere else. God isn’t dead religion. He’s living and active. And He’s not building His church with the dead, heretical, and divisive Recovery religion. He’s building it with Christ. Oneness is for all believers, not just Recovery members.
54. FINAL WARNINGS (1)
The Recovery will be slick, trained, and cunning in how it addresses any what I argue to be heresies. If you bring problems up with its leaders, expect nothing but redirected defenses that don’t actually address these definite experiences and problems.
Don’t automatically trust LR member responses. Take a breath and ask yourself, “Did this member actually answer my question?” Consider Acts 17:11 and go read the Scriptures to see for yourself!
55. LAST THOUGHTS (1)
I love many of the people I’m leaving in the Recovery. I hope every one of them will find a way to leave and build up the church in a normal, non-exclusive way of oneness, through Christ Jesus our Lord!
Remember, Christ plus nothing equals everything!