3. A WARNING TO MEMBERS
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.
Restricting Material from Members
Most of the time, if not always, the Lord’s Recovery/Local Church never explicitly requires its members to do or not do a certain thing. Recovery teachers implicitly manipulate members by stating “truths” and letting those truths do all the heavy lifting. The elders categorization of opposing views as poisonous manipulates members into disregarding all opposing views, never giving members a chance to think for themselves and to pray over different arguments.
The Recovery’s full-time teachers regularly taught our group that anything negatively written about the Recovery was considered poisonous to read, that reading that kind of material was defiling and was always unhelpful.
However, God’s Word reveals certain situations in which Christians have opposing or differing views, giving us clear examples.
Obviously my opinion regarding the Recovery, if it differs from the Bible, should definitely be dismissed, but only after considering it. Labeling and regarding even the consideration of my opposing view of the Recovery as automatically poisonous, especially when there’s the possibility that it has biblical merit, doesn’t allow anyone to grow; if you’re wrong, you’ll never learn. It restricts all parties involved from learning and growing.
Opposing Views: Apollos, Priscilla, and Aquila
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.
27 When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace,
28 for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.ACTS 18:24 – 28 (NET)
In Acts 18, in verse 24, Apollos is described as a Jew who was well-versed in the scriptures. He knew the Bible pretty well. In verse 25, he was even accurately teaching about Jesus, even though he only knew about the baptism of John!
In verse 26, Priscilla and Aquila, who heard him speaking out, took him aside to explain the way of God more accurately.
But what if Apollos’ opinion was that his way was already 100% right? What if he decided anyone who said his way wasn’t completely accurate was just poisonous and should be automatically disregarded? Then Apollos couldn’t have grown.
Without that encounter with Priscilla and Aquila, he wouldn’t have had the more accurate understanding of the way of God, at least not then. But because he didn’t categorize Priscilla and Aquila and their views as poisonous, with views that differed or even opposed his own (and who knows to what degree his understanding was lacking), he was able to grow from them and have the experience of verses 27 and 28. He could assist greatly those who believed and even refute the Jews in public debate, proving the Christ was Jesus.
Christians get things wrong. That’s why we have the Spirit, the Word, and each other. If someone’s opposition is biblically wrong, there’s a dialogue for that. But removing the dialogue entirely means nobody learns and nobody grows.
The Recovery, in its own eyes, doesn’t get things wrong, which is a major indicator of its cultism; it’s a system of men who follow Witness Lee, a man who has died and who isn’t Jesus. The Lord’s Recovery teachers telling its members to ignore “poison” removes members’ chance of growing from other Christians. It prevents members from thinking for themselves and having sweet, raw, and genuine contact with God about what He thinks.
Opposing Views: Peter and Paul
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong.
12 Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”Galatians 2:11-14 (NET)
In Galatians 2:11, Peter (Cephas), an Apostle of Jesus, was opposed by Paul to his face because he had clearly done wrong. In verse 14, Paul opposed Peter because Peter and several others were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel.
Out of the situation of Paul opposing and correcting Peter, God revealed the powerful truth of justification by faith, not by works of the law (Galatians 2:15-16); He explicitly denounced a foolish argument that Christ could possibly encourage sin (Galatians 2:17); He explained the law’s place and meaning in the life of the Christian (Galatians 2:18-19); and He revealed that the Christian life is directly related to Christ living inside of a person, that the Christian lives by grace (Galatians 2:20-21).
If Peter had regarded Paul’s opposition as poisonous, he would’ve been disregarding God’s Word. He would’ve been shelving truths simply because he refused to consider that he needed correction.
For the Christian to grow, he or she must be open to God’s correction in His Word, which often times comes through His people. If a Christian’s opinion is that all opposing views are poisonous (i.e., shouldn’t be considered, not even heard), how could that Christian ever be corrected? How could that Christian ever grow?
I have no doubt that it’s possible for some opposing arguments to be divisive, counter-productive, or toxic in nature, unhelpful to listen to or to converse about. But the Lord’s Recovery’s leadership deeming all opposition to its teachings as poisonous is simply a tactic to restrict members from deviating from the cult.