The Thread



The Recovery teaches that all of Christianity outside of itself is religious Babylon.

Published 12/17/2019, Written by Jacob Howard

View the Editor’s Notes, Updated 12/18/2019

For the Lord’s Recovery, the term “denominations” is simply doublespeak for “non-Recovery” churches. When Witness Lee, the leader and teacher of the Lord’s Recovery, talked about “denominations,” he was always referring to non-denomational/interdenominational churches as well; he was referring to all of Christianity outside of the Recovery:

Some call themselves non-denominational churches. These are like those in 1 Corinthian 1:12 who said that they were of Christ. They still separate themselves from all other believers. They are “free groups’’ not standing on the genuine ground of oneness.

Witness Lee, Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 15, Section 5 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

Witness Lee could call all non-Recovery Christianity (in his jargon, the “denominations”) Babylon largely because of at least one key separating factor — the Recovery’s heretical doctrine of the genuine ground of oneness.

A Brief Look at the Lord’s Recovery’s “Genuine Ground of Oneness” Logical Fallacy

What did Witness Lee mean by his Recovery-coined phrase and teaching “the genuine ground of oneness?” The Lord’s Recovery holds an interpreted, legal, and non-essential viewpoint of how God wants His Christians to name the churches: one church should just be one city. And the name of that church should only be “the church in [insert city here] city.”

Witness Lee makes his stance on the “one city, one church” doctrine an item of the faith. Through Witness Lee’s teaching, the line between “one city, one church” being essential to the faith versus non-essential to the faith is at the very least blurry.

Firstly, Witness Lee defines what he means by the “Christian faith” in his book the Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life:

So when we say that the speciality of the church life is the faith, we mean the faith that is the object of our believing. This is what we call our Christian faith. As Christians we have a unique faith…which is composed of the beliefs concerning the Bible, God, Christ, the work of Christ, salvation, and the church.

Witness Lee, The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 1, Section 1 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

In this book, Witness Lee goes on to discuss the several articles of the Christian faith, which he listed in chapter 1, section 1. When it comes time to talk about the church, he makes the following statement:

The church, composed of all the genuine believers in Christ, as the Body of Christ (1:22-23; Col. 1:24), is universally one (Eph. 4:4), and a local church as the expression of the Body of Christ is locally one—one city, one church (Rev. 1:11).

Witness Lee, The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 1, Section 2 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

He goes on to obscure what the “faith” is and isn’t. Although Witness Lee’s already defined the faith as “the unique faith,” in the next section of the Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, he says that “some may disagree with the point concerning one city, one church,” but that those who disagree aren’t salvation-lacking, just church lacking. So what is the faith? With Witness Lee the answer to that question is inconsistent, illogical, and mysteriously nuanced.

“One city, one church” is an interesting yet unwarranted and illogical interpretation of the Bible (that the Thread discusses in more detail later on). This divisive idea goes against the biblical principle of oneness being God-based rather than church-name-based (Ephesians 4:4-6).

The Bible doesn’t discuss either (1) the problem of church names or (2) the need of church names. It simply identifies churches by where they are, whether in a city, town, house, or home (e.g., 1 Corinthians 16:19 identifies a church as “the church that meets in their house”). One church equalling one city doesn’t hold up biblically. It’s not there prescriptively (e.g., God explicitly saying, “You shall name your churches in this way”). And it’s not even there implicitly.

The Bible is thoroughly logical. It’s God’s Word. God’s Word never fails and is logically sound because God is logically sound. Witness Lee’s interpretation outside of the bounds of the Bible led to a biblically strange teaching on church-name-based oneness. Paul describing churches by where they’re located isn’t some prescriptive teaching (i.e., God explicitly commanding/requiring something). It’s not an item of the unique Christian faith. To say it is, nuanced or not, is heretical.

And the product of “one city, one church” is ultimately and ironically division. As a result of this doctrine, the Lord’s Recovery is isolated and divided from most Christians today.

Recovery Churches Being the Only Non-Babylonian Churches

Witness Lee taught that the denominations (which includes non-denominations) were Babylonian, represented by Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18:

All the divisions and denominations will consummate in the great Babylon.

Witness Lee, Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 34, Section 6

This teaching debases all non-Recovery Christians. While Witness Lee claimed he wasn’t talking about salvation, he was at least talking about elitism; he directly defined Recovery Christians as being better Christians than everyone else. Everyone else is likened to Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18, which is a literally damning accusation.

To Witness Lee, the Lord’s Recovery is represented by Abraham, who was called out of Babel, which represents the church outside of the Recovery:

Concerning denominational Christianity, we are today’s Abraham who has been called out of Babel.

Witness Lee, Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 34, Section 6

Witness Lee taught that the denominations were divided because they were not taking what he called the genuine ground of oneness, one city being one church in name. He taught that this was an item of the faith on the one hand but not salvation-affecting on the other. And he taught that the Lord’s Recovery had been called out of Babel, equating non-Recovery Christianity to Babel and the Lord’s Recovery to Abraham.

Why the Lord’s Recovery Believes It’s Right

The “genuine ground of oneness” is based on how you name your church. According to the Lord’s Recovery, if you name your church in the wrong way, you’re a part of the denominations, a part of Babylon.

Witness Lee taught that it’s impossible to build up God’s church without the Recovery’s teaching of the genuine ground of oneness:

The Biblical principle is one church in one city. It is not many churches in one city or one church over many cities. Denominational, interdenominational, and non-denominational churches are not built on the genuine ground of oneness. The genuine ground of oneness is in the Triune God, accepting all believers, and having one church in one city, yet fellowshipping with the apostles and the other local churches. Without such a genuine ground of oneness, it is impossible to build up the church.

Witness Lee, Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 15, Section 5 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

Impossible. According to Witness Lee, it is impossible to build up the church of God if you’re denominational, interdenominational, or non-denominational. If you’re not in the Recovery, you’re not a part of building up God’s church, being a part of God’s plan for His people.

Witness Lee is not and was not God. Witness Lee could not know whether or not it’s impossible for non-Recovery churches to build up the church because he couldn’t and can’t be everywhere at once, knowing all people’s hearts and what God has smiled and frowned upon in each church. Witness Lee’s mortality and time and space restricted him from ever knowing what was going on in each church. Yet he had the audacity to say that it is impossible for non-Recovery Christianity to be a part of building up God’s Bride.

Scriptural Babylon

Witness Lee’s reference to the Great Babylon in his book Life-Study of Genesis is a direct reference to the book of Revelation. Babylon the Great is a part of the name of the woman in Revelation 17:

5 On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes and of the detestable things of the earth.”

Revelation 17:5 (NET)

Babylon the Great is also called “Mother of Prostitutes” and “of the detestable things of the earth.”

And although that name is already remarkably dismal and descriptive in its connotation, 17:6, one verse after naming the Babylon the Great, describes her deeds:

6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.

Revelation 17:6 (NET)

Witness Lee taught that the denominations will ultimately become the Great Babylon. Remember, Witness Lee’s definition of denominations is clearly anyone not following the genuine ground of oneness teaching, anyone not in the Recovery.

The Lord’s Recovery teaches that all non-Recovery Christianity will result in the Great Babylon, who is to be drunk with the blood of God’s people and with the blood of His martyrs. To say that all of Christianity outside of one elite group is actually going to be drunk with the blood of God’s people and His martyrs is unwarranted and detestably prideful, repent-worthy.

For a few Scripture references opposing pride and promoting serving one another, take a look at the references mentioned in the explanation on “5. THE RECOVERY IS ELITIST (1).”

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3 years ago

Very interesting read, I’m going to go back and read again.

Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson
3 years ago

Maybe this is a little weird, but after reading your post, I wonder if there may be some kind of spiritual linkage between those flock-consuming irresponsible shepherds fingered by God in Ezekiel chapter 34 (the ones that seem to fit the current TLR leadership profile), and then this bloodthirsty sheep-hungry Woman who shows up LARGE in Revelation 17:6? Are these two possibly one and the same organism, separated only by time, growth and maturity?