The Thread

1. INTRODUCTION

Back

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 jacobhobsonhoward@gmail.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:

  1. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, addressing division, chaotic meetings, and even sexual immorality.
  2. Paul also wrote to the Galatians, who were leaving grace and going back to the law.
  3. 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.

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MaryMax SpringerJo ParzygnatJacob Howard (Site Owner) Recent comment authors
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Mary
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Mary

Dear Brother Jacob,
I met with the Lord’s Recovery in the Bay Area (Northern California) starting September 2018. I was preached the “high gospel” as they call it and was saved and baptized. The question I have is, “Was I preached the true gospel or the gospel of Witness Lee?” Am I saved? Do I need someone to re-preach the gospel to me and get baptized again? Any insights you can provide would be much appreciated.
May our Lord’s Spirit be with your spirit,
Mary

Jacob Howard (Site Owner)
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Hi there, Mary! Thanks for the question! The problem with the high gospel is that it overlooks redemption, God bringing mankind back to Himself by forgiving them of their sins by means of Him being the perfect sacrifice, the spotless Lamb who took away our sin on the cross! There are versions of Recovery gospel I would agree align with Scripture and are good; the Recovery preaching the true gospel does not surprise me. Sadly, because of rampant heresy and misplaced loyalty for the man Witness Lee and his teachings, the Recovery preaching a false gospel does not surprise me… Read more »

Mary
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Mary

Dear Brother Jacob, Thank you so much for your response and clarification! Although I had covered the topic of the “Assurance of Salvation” while I was in the Lord’s Recovery, I had doubts because when I went to another church/assembly briefly, they believed that I wasn’t saved because I wasn’t manifesting the fruits of the Spirit. To that, I would say that they misdiagnosed my condition. I was suffering from PTSD because of what I had experienced in the Lord’s Recovery. I was bullied multiple times by four sisters. Each time, nothing was done. The last time, I brought it… Read more »

Max Springer
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Max Springer

Hi Mary, First of all, I’m so sorry and saddened to hear of what you experienced in the local church, and I hope you’ve been able to get some help in healing and recovering from your very real PTSD. I’m also not surprised at all to hear what you experienced. You said the situation was bizarre, and in any normal environment it IS bizarre, but in the local church it is absolutely par for the course. It is how the ministry in the local churches has trained the leaders to respond to sin and unrighteousness. It’s terrible. Secondly, what you… Read more »

Max Springer
Guest
Max Springer

One more quick thing too – you mentioned that when you first joined the LR, you “bore fruit immediately” and say that you got people saved, etc. I’d just like to note that believers are not “fruit” in the Bible. This is another doctrine that Witness Lee got wrong that continues to be propagated in the LR. Jesus is very clear that believers are branches, not fruit. The fruits borne in a believers life are things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, grace, mercy, self-control, righteousness, etc….. That is what scripture is referring to when it speaks of… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Dear Brother Max, Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful response! Believe it or not, today, during Bible reading, I lifted up a prayer to the Lord to send me ex-Local Church members to help me with my healing process. Brother Jacob’s and your response are the beginning of my healing from the PTSD. What I have been doing is research to help me understand what happened to me. I felt like I was going crazy. I am watching videos from Brother Cal’s YouTube channel titled, “Examining the Lord’s Recovery.” I finished reading Brother John C. Myer’s book,… Read more »

Max Springer
Guest
Max Springer

Dear Mary, I’m encouraged you are doing research – learning and gathering information is a critical part of understanding what on earth happened! Cal’s videos are great, John Myer’s book is great, and Diane Langberg is also excellent. I haven’t listened to her much yet (will check out FOCL) but what I have heard from her clearly has noticeable depth of quality. I have her book “Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores” on my list of books to get when I am able. I have come across some other highly recommended suggestions on another… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Dear Brother Max, Thank you so much for the resources. I will definitely look into them. Yes, I agree. Forcing myself to forgive before I am ready to do so adds further burden to the hurt I am already feeling. I need to be careful what I reveal here because the saints from the Lord’s Recovery have set tracking cookies on my computer. I have tried to erase them before I log off, but somehow, I sense there are still hidden bugs. Today’s Bible reading was on Matthew 23 and it really hit me hard. “But woe to you, scribes… Read more »

Max Springer
Guest
Max Springer

Hi Mary, Sorry, my weekend and the beginning of the week got away from me, and sorry my last post was a little repetitive towards the end there…I couldn’t edit it to make it less wordy after I posted it! Matthew 23 is particularly relevant to the local church co-workers and elders, I totally agree. One of the translations renders the verse something like “…you travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you do, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Does that sound like the local church campus… Read more »

Mary
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Mary

Dear Brother Max, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I am sorry that it takes a while for me to reply. My mother had a stroke last year and I am her caregiver. She has a lot of home care visits and she keeps me busy because she can’t walk right now. Firstly, I must confess that I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit while reading your post. Spending a short period of time with the saints in the Lord’s Recovery had a way of inciting my own spiritual pride, snobbery, and judgmental attitude. I have a lot… Read more »

Max Springer
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Max Springer

Dear Mary, I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s stroke; please, take as much time as you need to respond. On one hand, it is true that some people who join groups like the Lord’s Recovery do so because of their own pre-existing desires to be special, better than others, part of an elite uniquely chosen group. For any of those shortcomings, where we harbored a desire to be elevated above others, yes, I agree we would need to repent. And our God is rich in mercy when we are honest with Him in acknowledging our sins and failures. On… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Dear Brother Max, I feel truly blessed by your fellowship. On top of this COVID-19 pandemic and shelter in place, I am caring for my mother, so it makes it impossible for me to seek fellowship when I currently don’t have a home church. The other day, I was reading in Exodus where Jethro, Moses’ father in law gives him sound advice on how to be a judge and organizing the people in groups and setting up authority figures over them so that Moses wouldn’t have to overwork as a judge. I thought to myself, “Everyone needs a “Jethro” in… Read more »

Jo Parzygnat
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Jo Parzygnat

Hi Jacob, Im a believer & Christ Jesus is my Lord & Savior . My brother has been in The Recovery for a long time . I know he is saved though the Blood of Christ from years ago when he was young then older started going to a good baptist church . Every time i talk with him he is constantly making me feel like I’m not saved because I don’t expressed Christ the way he does and I can’t get fully saved until I do he also said something that question is salvation thinking that he didn’t know… Read more »

Max Springer
Guest
Max Springer

Hi Joann, Pardon me for butting in, but I just wanted to say something about one part you wrote, where you said: “Every time I talk with [my brother] he is constantly making me feel like I’m not saved because I don’t express Christ the way he does and I can’t get fully saved until I do.” 1 Corinthians 12 comes to mind here. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Dear Brother Max,

I’ve been saved for over two years and I still don’t know what my gifts and talents are. When I was in the Lord’s Recovery, I thought I had the gift of prophesying, but now I realize that I wasn’t really prophesying. I was just being a parrot and repeating Witness Lee’s ministry.

How can I find out what my gift is? I’ve been praying and I am still completely clueless.

May our Lord’s Spirit be with your spirit,
Your sister in Christ
Mary