The Thread



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.

Published 01/18/2019, Written by Jacob Howard

View the Editor’s Notes, Updated 01/18/2019

Witness Lee, the teacher of the Lord’s Recovery movement, taught that the Recovery movement had Christians that loved the Lord more than non-Recovery Christians. In one sentence, he warned members not to boast, and in the next sentence, he stated as fact that Recovery Christians were better than non-Recovery Christians:

We in the churches must not boast, and we must not be proud. To be either boastful or proud is foolish. Nevertheless, we must admit the fact that no Christians love the Lord more than those in the churches in the Lord’s recovery.

Witness Lee, Life-Study of Ephesians, Chapter 91, Section 3 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

This comparative teaching conditions members into elitism. For more details concerning what the Lord’s Recovery’s elitism entails, take a look at The Thread‘s explanation 5 and explanation 6. In short, Witness Lee taught that being a Christian in the Lord’s Recovery was the way to become an elite Christian:

Brothers and sisters, in conclusion I would like to say that if you would like to be a top Christian, you must be a Christian in the churches of the Lord’s recovery.

Witness Lee; One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man; Chapter 10; Section 3 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

God’s Word Versus the Recovery’s Word

There is a biblically sound way to be a “top Christian,” to become great amongst other Christians:

26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.

Matthew 20:26 (NET)

Jesus states that the “top Christians,” those who want to be great amongst other Christians, are just servants. The Word of God explains what being a great Christian looks like — a servant, a lowly person. The Word of God says that Christians should count other Christians as more significant:

3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.

Philippians 2:3 (NET)

The “be moved to treat” in Philippians 2:3 of the NET quoted above has a definite meaning in the Greek. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word’s specific use in that verse has the following definition:

…equivalent to to consider, deem, account, think

Strong’s G2233 – hēgeomai, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Definition 2

The Bible doesn’t permit the Christian to consider or think of himself or herself as more important or superior. The Bible teaches that being great requires being less. The Bible teaches that Christians should be humble and consider other Christians as more important than themselves.

The Lord’s Recovery, on the other hand, belittles non-Recovery Christianity throughout its teachings. But this kind of teaching doesn’t just happen one time. It’s the Recovery’s repetitiveness of this elitist teaching that conditions members how to perceive the Recovery versus non-Recovery Christianity.

This comparison-based conditioning in the Recovery has a very fundamental format:

  1. Talk down about non-Recovery Christianity
  2. Talk up about the Recovery by comparison

Because Witness Lee was a normal human being, limited by both time and space, it was impossible for him to know exactly what all non-Recovery Christians were doing, how they were meeting as the church. Yet he made such general statements, rating Christians and Christianity without true specificity or proof.

Declaring it’s a “fact that no Christians love the Lord more than those in the churches in the Lord’s recovery,” as Witness Lee did, doesn’t make it so. Witness Lee had no way to prove this, but he taught it anyways.

A Sampling of Some of the Countless Examples of Recovery/Non-Recovery Comparison-based Elitist Conditioning

The Lord’s Recovery’s belief system is synonymous with Witness Lee’s teachings. A Recovery member may believe that Witness Lee’s teachings are based on Scripture and say something along the lines of, “We just believe the Bible.” However, the Recovery teaches that Witness Lee’s teachings are solely based on the Bible, claiming that his teachings “unlock the Bible.”

The Recovery’s doctrinal stance is based on Witness Lee’s teachings. Recovery conferences, outings, and Sunday morning services are full of reading and teaching Witness Lee writings.

Members are indoctrinated with Witness Lee’s teachings and are conditioned by certain repetitious assertions. Here’s a small sampling of some of those assertions, which use an “us vs. them” format:

1. Non-Recovery Christians Lacking Spiritually vs. God Going on with Recovery Christians

Most of today’s Christians are lacking in spiritual experience. In His recovery, however, the Lord is going on. 

Witness Lee, Life-Study of Exodus, Chapter 159, Section 4

2. Implying Non-Recovery Christianity Not Preparing the Bride vs. the Recovery Preparing the Bride (And Rating Love for Jesus as Highest in the Recovery)

The Bible also tells us that the Bride must be prepared. Consider the situation of today’s Christianity, and ask yourself where the Bride is being prepared. Is the Bride being prepared in Catholicism? in the denominations? in the charismatic movement? in the independent groups? I sincerely believe that the Bride is being prepared in the Lord’s recovery. We admit that we are imperfect and rather weak, but it is nevertheless a fact that no other Christians love the Lord Jesus more than those in the local churches.

Witness Lee, Life-Study of Ephesians, Chapter 91, Section 3 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

3. Non-Recovery Christians Having Few Healthy Teachings vs. Recovery‘s Teachings Being Healthy

Many of today’s Christians have itching ears wanting to hear teachings, but few of these teachings are healthy…The teachings that the Lord has given to His recovery are healthy, full of nourishment.

Witness Lee; The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life; Chapter 6; Section 3

4. Implying Non-Recovery Teachings Are “Ordinary/Shallow” vs. the Recovery’s Teachings Being the Opposite

Because the teachings in the Lord’s recovery are not ordinary shallow Christian teachings, we need to pay our full attention to them in order to fully understand and experience them.

Witness Lee, Crucial Elements of God’s Economy, Chapter 6, Section 1 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

5. The Lord Not Building His Local Church with Non-Recovery Christians vs. the Lord Building His Church with a Small Number, a Minority, the Recovery

There are many thousands of Christians in Los Angeles today, but they are all scattered in the denominations. How can the Lord build up His church in Los Angeles? It cannot be with all the Christians coming together to be built up, but by the recovery with a small number, a minority, coming together to stand on the proper ground of the church to be built up together as the church in the proper way.

Witness Lee, The Greatest Prophecy in the Bible and Its Fulfillment, Chapter 2, Section 1 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

6. The non-Recovery Christians of the Philippines Being Altogether Ignorant of What God Is About vs. the Recovery’s Preaching Being the Purest, Highest, and Most Complete Gospel

The gospel that we preach in the Lord’s recovery is the purest, highest, and most complete gospel…There may be almost fifty million Christians in the Philippines, but they are all in an unclear state—they are in a cloud. People know there is a God and have heard a bit of the gospel, but the sky over them is not clear but cloudy. They seem to know God, but in reality they do not know God. They are altogether ignorant of what God is all about, what He is doing, and what He wants to gain today. Therefore, we must receive the burden to preach to them the divine truths in the Lord’s recovery.

Witness Lee; Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel—The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery; Chapter 2; Section 3 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

7. Non-Recovery Christianity Having Very Little of the Lord Himself vs. the Recovery Caring Only for the Pure, Living Word

We are in the Lord’s recovery. Because we are in His recovery, we must know what the word recovery means. To be recovered is to be brought back by the Lord to the beginning. At the beginning, there was the Lord Himself and the pure, living word. Christianity, however, has deviated both from the Lord and from the living word and has become a religion of doctrine. In Christianity there is very little of the Lord Himself. Most Christians have the Lord Jesus only as their Redeemer and Savior; they do not have Christ as their everything.

Witness Lee, The Kernel of the Bible, Chapter 12, Section 1 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

8. Non-Recovery Christians Having No Experience of the Triune God vs. the Recovery Wanting That Experience

Many Christians have no interest in the church life because they have merely a mental doctrine of the three persons of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Although they hold to their doctrine, they have no experience of the Triune GodWe, on the contrary, want to have a Father whom we can experience, a Son who is our life supply and daily enjoyment, and a Spirit who transforms us and changes our entire being.

Witness Lee, The Kernel of the Bible, Chapter 12, Section 1 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

9. A Powerful Church Not Existing in Non-Recovery Christianity vs. the Recovery Being Much Better Than Anything in non-Recovery Christianity

Thus, the power of Satan cannot prevail against the builded church.

Certainly you have never seen such a church in Christianity. But what about the church in the Lord’s recovery today? We need to be fair in answering this question. Although the church life in the Lord’s recovery is much better than anything in Christianity, it is still not that high.

Witness Lee, The Kernel of the Bible, Chapter 14, Section 2 (Emboldened Emphasis My Own)

10. Non-Recovery Christianity Being Divisive vs. the Recovery Not Being a Division

The thing that most distinguishes us from Christianity is the unique oneness.

Witness Lee, The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 1, Section 7

The Lord’s recovery is not a division.

Witness Lee, The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 19, Section 4

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A one-time friend of a LC
A one-time friend of a LC

And all this they deliberately conceal to anyone they are drawing in to themselves. This dishonesty, pretending to respect a person’s spiritual life when really they hold it in contempt, is particularly foul.

Thomas Goodwin
Thomas Goodwin

Another example of a gross elitism or us vs. them mentality is a blog coming from

“The Lord’s recovery is different from today’s Christianity, and it is impossible for there to be reconciliation between the Lord’s recovery of the church and Christianity. This may sound like a strong statement – and it really is a strong statement, but this is the absolute truth.”


The elitism and WL’s speaking in absolutes are what bothered me the most about the LC’s…from day one. So thankful my eyes have been opened and we’re out!


How ironic that the best way to warn christians away from their teachings is to simply share them openly. This is kept hidden from new ones until the ‘outsiders’ become the ‘insiders’.

Steve Nelson

Your opening line could equally apply to someone in relationship with a Narcissist: “Its elitism becomes each member’s elitism”. The more time that a victim of narcissistic abuse spends under the influence of an abusive self-centered & controlling person, the more likely it is that those same characteristics will be unconsciously passed on to the victim. A prime example of this kind of “imparted elitism” (but I am in no way classifying him as a victim) would be Benson Phillips’ 2005 public declaration “I am god!”