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):
View the Editor’s Notes, Updated 11/23/2019
What is the Lord’s Recovery/Local Church Movement?
A Chinese Christian minister named Witness Lee claimed to follow another Chinese Christian minister, Watchman Nee, absolutely. Eventually, Witness Lee moved to America to head up and spread the Lord’s Recovery, where he gained a following.
Lee died in 1997, but not before leaving behind a slew of books, including a study on every book of the Bible, called the “Life Studies” series. After Lee’s death, the Lord’s Recovery leadership lived on in a group of Christians who refer to themselves as the “blended brothers” and other Recovery elders.
Who Published This Site?
That’d be me, Jacob Howard. In college, I met with what started as a simple church in Conway, Arkansas, seemingly a non-Recovery church gathering.
Its name did not change. But in deed, practice, and reality, it’s my opinion that it eventually became the Recovery church in Conway.
What’s the Purpose of This Site?
There are a lot of positive things about the Recovery that I could discuss. But that’s not the point of this site. I’m not here making things up to hurt someone. I’m here attempting to truthfully call out the heretical system of the Recovery, providing biblical evidence to support each problem.
Even though the Recovery is a relatively small cult, you might find your kids (especially college-aged), relatives, friends, or even yourself interacting with them and wondering what they’re all about.
Some churches in the sect are cunning; they avoid discussing Witness Lee and his special writings and come off as everyday Christians (minus the strange cultural oddities); they wait until you’re already deeply involved before breaking the news that they follow a specific man’s leadership, a man who is no longer alive yet lives on through his writings.
This site is here to expose what the Recovery is in every way possible. It took me six years before I was able to walk away. Prayerfully, this site can help redeem the time for others.
What is Heresy in Christianity?
To be heretical is to go against what is orthodox (what is accepted as proper teaching) and to do so persistently and willfully.
Christians will, at one point or another, probably get things biblically wrong. I make mistakes or just don’t know what I’m talking about all the time. But I’m learning all the time. If I find I’m wrong (i.e., the Bible disagrees with me), I should recant and repent, as I’m sure I’ll do on this site more than once. Maintaining what’s biblically wrong on very essential items of Christian doctrine (i.e., what the Bible clearly says) is heresy in Christianity.
Heresies, both big and small, are everywhere in Christianity. All Christians need to be corrected and perfected by God’s Word.
We’re all just learning how to follow Jesus in His Word. But teachers will be held accountable more so than others in the church (James 3:1). I have experienced the Recovery only caring about what Lee said in his lifetime and even teaching his content alone. Maintaining Lee’s unorthodoxy is heretical. The Recovery teaches Lee’s doctrines as indisputable fact, infallible. That’s idolatrous, which is obviously in itself heretical. However, the Lord’s Recovery/Local Church movement maintains its position of Lee, maintaining its heresy rather than learning from it.
What is a Christian Cult?
A cult in Christianity persistently and willfully deviates from the Bible, the Christian’s true creed; a cult is heretical. Several dictionaries and Christian apologists are clear that cults stem from misplaced loyalty to one person. Jesus should be the Christian’s only person of reverence and worship.
How do you spot a cult? I appreciate Billy Graham’s thoughts:
“Although cults differ, they share several characteristics. For example, cults often do not accept the Bible alone as God’s Word, and may even say that other books (usually written by the group’s founder) are also God’s Word and of more value. Cults also commonly claim that they alone correctly interpret the truth and that Christian denominations and churches are wrong in their teaching.”BILLYGRAHAM.ORG
I can appreciate that Billy Graham was just a brother in Christ, and he is not the source of Christian truth; I’m not here to idolize him as my cult leader. However, I agree with the red flags he brings up, and I believe his red flags pointed out above are biblical warning flags, given that the Christian’s devotion should be to Christ alone.
Throughout the site, each criticism of the Recovery will have a Biblical Defense, available when I have the time. I’m praying that God will give me the strength to be diligent in seeking Him in His Word before I post anything. But as I make mistakes (because I’m actually fallible), I’ll make those known as audibly on this site as I can.
This site is not set in stone; as I have more to say or get feedback from other Christians who have encountered the Recovery, I’ll update this site accordingly with that information. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with your feedback.
Handling Disagreements About Proper Teachings (Orthodoxy)
1 Now some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2 When Paul and Barnabas had a major argument and debate with them, the church appointed Paul and Barnabas and some others from among them to go up to meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this point of disagreement.ACTS 15:1-2 (NET)
Paul and Barnabas were appointed by the church to deal with this heresy after an argument was made by them. They had a major argument and debate to resolve the problem.
I have a point of disagreement with the Recovery. I’m purposefully here to have a major argument and debate against it.
I can appreciate that Paul and Barnabas were two people arguing together; this is a great pattern that aligns with the New Testament, which is full of twos. This thread currently (as of August 2018) comes from just me and my wife with no other endorsements, but I’m certainly not the only one who’s made a number of these arguments. Eventually, I’ll post links to other arguments on this site.
Why Discuss Church Problems?
E.g., 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Revelation, etc…
The Bible is full of letters to the churches on things that were wrong. Some examples:
- Paul wrote to the Corinthians, addressing division, chaotic meetings, and even sexual immorality.
- Paul also wrote to the Galatians, who were leaving grace and going back to the law.
- John wrote to several churches in Asia about all kinds of problems, including leaving their first love and following teachings the Lord hates.
In all of these cases, the church (which in Greek, the language of the New Testament, means “the assembly of the called-out people”) was still the church, and some problems were of more concern than others. I’m not trying to say someone is or isn’t a part of the church. If you’re a saved person, in reality, you’re a part of God’s church. If you’re born into God’s family, you’re my brother in Christ. I’m questioning no one’s salvation. You can be saved and in a cult movement at the same time, a point at which some might disagree with me. You can have a relationship with or an understanding of Jesus and be in a system of error that He frowns upon.
In any case, we need to be the church; we don’t need to be in cult movements, full of clear deviations from the Bible and estranged devotion to anyone other than Christ. Christ is our Head. No one else can be the church’s king, the head of Christ’s body. The Lord’s Recovery/Local Church/Witness Lee movement is a cult that, in word, claims Christ is the Head; but in practice, heretical doctrines, publications, and certain people assume the headship.
These things need to be argued. These things need to be exposed and dealt with.