The operation of God through the work and ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee is abundantly manifest (for a brief sketch of their life and work see “An Introduction to Watchman Nee and Witness Lee“). However, as with every move of the Lord, there have been those who oppose (Matt. 5:11; 23:34; John 15:20; Acts 7:51-52; 13:50; 19:9; 1 Cor. 16:9; Phil. 1:28; 2 Tim. 3:12). Thus, the primary purpose of this Web site is to correct misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and the practice of the local churches.
The ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee found hearty reception among seeking Christians in America in the 1960s and 70s. Their ministry produced local churches throughout the United States based on the New Testament pattern articulated by Watchman Nee in The Normal Christian Church Life, an English translation of which was published in America in 1962. In the mid-1970s a small group of critics rejected what most appreciated in this ministry and began a very aggressive effort to vilify the ministry of Witness Lee and the practice of the local churches. The leadership of the ministry and the churches, including Witness Lee, publicly rebutted the mischaracterization of their teaching and practice by that small group of critics and confirmed the biblical truths upon which those teachings were based. Thus a controversy arose. That story and its subsequent development is a main focus of this Web site.
The Responses section of this site presents scriptural responses to our critics on important matters of biblical truth. These answers are thorough, balanced, and biblical. They demonstrate our adherence to the common faith that all genuine Christians uphold, and they present the deeper truths from the Word. Sadly, most critics have chosen not to respond to our answers, but instead have either ignored them or rejected them out of hand. Rather, they engage in a well-known principle of propaganda—that a falsehood repeated frequently and vehemently enough is often believed, regardless of the facts.
The Dialogues section documents the results of substantive dialogues with reputable Christians by representatives of the local churches and Living Stream Ministry. Those who have spent the time to thoroughly examine our teachings and to dialogue with us have consistently come to recognize us as (in the words of a faculty panel at Fuller Theological Seminary) “genuine believers and fellow-members of the Body of Christ.” Those who have publicly recognized our orthodoxy include:
Fuller Theological Seminary;
Christian Research Institute;
Answers in Action;
Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA); and
Many other prominent Christians (see an-open-letter.org).
Unfortunately, a few of our critics have gone far beyond doctrinal disputes. They recklessly labeled the local churches as a cult and falsely ascribed immoral and illegal activities to them. Their obstinate refusal to correct these false and defamatory accusations in three instances led to litigation. These legal actions are dealt with in the Defense Against Libel section of this site. It is not true, as some have alleged, that these lawsuits were over doctrine or theology. Rightfully, no court should insert itself into such matters; the U. S. court system is not the forum for theological issues. However, the courts are the appropriate forum of last resort to address the kinds of false allegations concerning immoral, criminal, and socially aberrant behavior made in these cases. These three cases resulted, respectively, in a financial settlement with a retraction and apology from the publisher; a court judgment that thoroughly discredited the libelous source; and the authors’ and publisher’s admission under oath that they had no evidence of such behavior.
Today the rich ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee is available in many Christian bookstores, directly from Living Stream Ministry (LSM), and electronically via the LSM Web site www.ministrybooks.org. The Life-study of the Bible with Witness Lee radio program expounds the Bible book-by-book from the perspective of the experience of Christ as our life. This program features excerpts of Witness Lee’s spoken messages and commentary from many of Witness Lee’s close co-workers. Further, contact information for many local churches is available through the Internet. These easily accessible resources should enable fair-minded people to properly assess the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.
With all that is available, it is indeed sad that a few individuals continue to spread unfounded rumors and unwarranted accusations that were refuted long ago. They either rely on old and discredited “research” or brandish a few quotes from the copious ministry of Witness Lee that have been carefully excised from their proper contexts. In so doing they create a biased perception of the ministry of Witness Lee without care for truth or fairness. It is our hope that the information on this Web site will equip the Lord’s lovers and seekers in the truths of His Word and will help them to appreciate and understand the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and the practice of the local churches.