Index to Articles Written in Response to Walter Martin

The articles listed on this page were written in the 1970s to respond to public criticisms made by Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and the original “Bible Answer Man.” CRI has since withdrawn those criticisms and reversed its earlier conclusions (see “A Brief History of the Relationship between the Local Churches and the Christian Research Institute“). These articles are published on this site for the historical record, for the important points of truth they address, and because CRI’s criticisms, although withdrawn, are still repeated by others.

Answers to the Bible Answer Man

On October 2, 1977, Walter Martin, who called himself “The Bible Answer Man,” attacked Witness Lee and the local churches in a lecture at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, California. Because of the public nature of that attack, members of the local churches wrote responses that were published as advertisements in The Register (now The Orange County Register). Some of the responses were later published in book form as Answers to the Bible Answer Man. The contents of that book are reproduced on the pages reached by the following links:

Subject Article Title
  Introduction to the 1994 Edition
Summary Comments from 1977 Introduction
Witness Lee Responds A Statement by Witness Lee
God in Trinity The Truth concerning the Trinity
A Protest concerning Historical Misrepresentation

   A.  Ignorance concerning Biblical Theology
   B.  Misrepresentation concerning the History of Modalism
The Use of the Word Mingle The Truth concerning the Mingling
The Church The Truth concerning the Church
The Truth concerning God Manifest in the Flesh
The Deviations of Christianity The Truth concerning the Historic Christian Church
The Truth concerning Babylon
The Truth concerning Denominations
The Nature of Man The Truth concerning the Nature of Man
Salvation The Truth concerning God Coming into Man
The Bible The Truth concerning the Study of the Bible
A Protest concerning Bible Research
A Protest concerning Bible Interpretation
Christian Practices The Truth concerning the Release of the Spirit
The Truth concerning Pray-reading
The Cult Accusation The Truth concerning the Local Church Not Being a Cult
A Personal Attack A Testimony concerning Witness Lee

Appendix to Answers to the Bible Answer Man

The following is the list of articles printed in The Orange County Register from October 8, 1977 through March 4, 1978, in response to Walter Martin, the so-called Bible Answer Man.
[Note: Articles printed beginning October 22, 1977 are not printed in the book, Answers to the Bible Answer Man, but have been reprinted here for your convenience.]

October 8, 1977 The Response of Witness Lee & Local Churches to a Recent Meeting Held at Melodyland
Controversial Broadcast Exposed concerning Witness Lee
October 15 A Further Response by Witness Lee & Local Churches to a Recent Meeting Held at Melodyland
October 22 Witness Lee & Local Churches Reply to the “Bible Answer Man”

  1. Concerning Theological Training
  2. Concerning Translation of the Bible
  3. Concerning Bible Interpretation and Idolatry
  4. Concerning the Scriptural Meaning of the Triune God
  5. Concerning “Divisions,”” “Proselytizing,”” and “Sheep Stealing”
October 29 A Response to False Teachings

  1. Christ Is Not in the Believer—What a False Teaching!
  2. The Believer Does Not Have the Divine Nature—What a False Teaching!
Our Testimony—A Glorious Enjoyment of Christ
November 5 Testimonies from the Churches

  1. Misquoting and Misrepresentation
  2. Concerning Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism
  3. Should a Believer Remain in Roman Catholicism?
  4. The Truth concerning the Mingling
  5. The Truth concerning the Experience of Christ
December 3 Are Soul and Spirit the Same?
December 10 A Challenge to the Bible Answer Man

  1. A Review of the Controversy
  2. A Theologian’s Judgment
  3. A Third Party’s Voice
December 24 The Bible Answer Man Says: The Believer Does Not Have the Divine Nature
The Educational Myth of the Bible Answer Man
December 31 The Bible Answer Man Says: Christ is Represented in the Believer
January 7, 1978 The Bible Answer Man Has Three Gods
January 14 The Bible Answer Man Says: Catholicism Does Not Teach Idolatry
January 21 The Bible Answer Man Says: “Back Again to Historic Christianity”
[Article 1] [Article 2]
January 22 What Does Christ Think of the Historic Church?
February 4 What is God’s Recovery?
February 11 False Teachings Exposed

  1. On Division
  2. On God
  3. On the Spirit
February 18 More False Teachings Exposed

  1. On the Body
  2. On Practical Oneness
  3. On the Bible
  4. On the Flesh
  5. On the Church as the Manifestation of God
February 25 A Cheerful Defense concerning the Triune God

  1. Biblical Terminology and the Language of Experience
  2. The Historical Revelation of the Triune God
  3. The Relationship within the Triune God
March 4 The Oneness of the Triune God

  1. The Interpenetration Scriptures
  2. The Identification Scriptures
  3. The Interchangeable Scriptures

“Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions” (ECNR) – History


In December 1999 Harvest House Publishers published the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (ECNR) by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Ankerberg and Weldon were prolific authors whose books included several sensationalistic “exposés,” most of which were published by Harvest House. Weldon did most of the research and writing while Ankerberg, as a televangelist with his own syndicated talk show, had the more recognizable name. The two men had built a reputation as scholars based on questionable degrees granted through the Pacific College of Graduate Studies/Pacific College of Theology, a Christian degree mill run by a long-time associate of Weldon.1

John Weldon


John Ankerberg

Although ECNR made no reference to The God-Men, Weldon relied on that long-since discredited source more than any other. Weldon originally wrote the chapters in his encyclopedia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was closely associated with the Spiritual Counterfeits Project. The early drafts of his chapter on the local churches incorporated over one hundred references to The God-Men and followed its contours closely. It also included a long appendix excerpted verbatim from that book. The excerpted material contained many of the accusations later ruled to be “false, defamatory, and unprivileged and, therefore, libelous,” in The God-Men case. In early 1981 Weldon asked Neil Duddy, the primary author of the second edition of The God-Men, to read and comment on his manuscript.

Documents produced in the case show that Weldon did not understand Witness Lee’s teaching, which centered on the believers’ experience of Christ as life for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ. Weldon’s notes in the front of Witness Lee’s book The Economy of God show that Weldon could not understand how the believers could have the divine life and partake of the divine nature through their rebirth in Christ (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12; 2 Pet. 1:4). Weldon’s incomprehension of Witness Lee’s ministry was reflected in his draft chapters’ disjointed, patchwork treatment of their subject. Those drafts are also significant for their marginal and in-line notations. In an early manuscript Weldon wrote (and his editor crossed out), “In our own study we often found ourself uncertain as to his meanings and so did the best we could to discern the most probable meaning.” Another says, “LEE v Duddy says this is ALL wrong and Out of Context.” Such concerns did not deter Weldon, however.

Weldon claimed that his encyclopedia was originally an eight-thousand page manuscript.2 To trim that sprawling manuscript down to a publishable size, Weldon opted to have a mix of long and short chapters. As pressure mounted, Weldon gave his typist guidelines for cutting some of the chapters down to bare bones. Those instructions included directives to “take out the most damaging quote you can find and just put a colon and stick it in,” to find “the clearest most damning citation,” and to concentrate on “the founder or leader’s demonization, if that exists, and the follower’s demonization, if that exists.” In sum, he said, “Always use the most damaging material. We have to have the best stuff that’s really going to hit these guys hard.” One could hardly find a more textbook illustration of malice leading to reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of what was published.

Structure and Language of ECNR

ECNR was structured in three main sections—introductory material describing how to use the book and discussing cults generally, the body of the book consisting of fifty-seven chapters (fourteen of thirteen pages or more and forty-three of five pages or less) on various particularly significant “cults” selected by Weldon, and an appendix which addressed both doctrinal and non-doctrinal points. Both the introductory material and the appendix contained blanket statements applicable to all of the groups in the book. For example, concerning the labeling of the groups in the book as cults, the Introduction said that “the groups herein deserve the title, even if they disagree” (XXI). The appendix declared that “all groups discussed in this volume accept occult powers to some degree” (708) and “the cults universally promote idolatry” (721). As Dr. Edward Finegan, a University of Southern California linguist would later write:

The clear implication to the reader is that the front matter frames each chapter. An average reader would associate the front matter with every group mentioned… and would believe all of the groups mentioned are immeasurably damaging.

The book’s Introduction included a list of “characteristics of cults.” These characteristics included such things as financial fraud, authoritarianism, and abuse of members. The term characteristic is defined as “a feature that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait.”3 In other words, a characteristic is what makes something identifiable as what it is. This is clearly what Weldon had in mind when he introduced his list of characteristics with the statement, “The characteristics of the cults illustrates the applicability of the term” (XXIII). Hence, the use of the term characteristics sets up a predisposition in a reader’s mind that what is described is pertinent to those who are identified as particularly significant examples of the applicability of the term. This is especially true because of the extremely minimalist approach to the short chapters in the book, including the chapter on the local churches.

Letters of Protest Appealing for Christian Fellowship

Starting from January 19, 2001, representatives of Living Stream Ministry, the local churches, and the co-workers of Witness Lee began writing letters of protest to Harvest House President Bob Hawkins, Jr. and the two authors. These letters pointed to material concerning The God-Men case and included offers to travel to meet the recipients at their convenience for face-to-face Christian fellowship to clear up misunderstandings. That offer was never accepted. Instead, Harvest House passed the first letter on to an attorney for a response and then, in conjunction with its authors, asked for documentation in writing of specific objections which they promised to thoroughly evaluate with an open mind.

In a final attempt to seek reconciliation, a letter was sent to both the authors and the publisher with extensive documentation of the book’s errors and distortions as well as copies of the judge’s decision in Lee v. Duddy, The Experts Speak, and J. Gordon Melton’s Open Letter. Hawkins said they would not have time until after the first of the year to review that material. Barry Langberg, a libel attorney retained to represent Living Stream Ministry and some local churches, agreed but asked in return for a tolling agreement to extend the statute of limitations so that his clients would not forfeit their legal rights should Harvest House delay its response. Harvest House’s reaction was twofold. First, Harvest House demanded that Weldon produce a revised chapter for a new printing of ECNR so that it could fill an outstanding order. Second, on December 14, 2001, Harvest House filed suit in Oregon against The Church in Fullerton, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment that ECNR was not libelous. Faced with such intransigence and the possibility that the statute of limitations would expire, the Local Church (an unincorporated association recognized under Texas law), Living Stream Ministry, and over ninety individual local churches filed suit against Harvest House in Texas District Court on the last day of 2001.


In the course of discovery, it was learned that neither Hawkins nor anyone at Harvest House who worked on ECNR had any knowledge of the local churches prior to publication, even though they were publishing a book accusing the churches of being a cult and associating that label with odious behaviors.3 Moreover, Weldon admitted to a fellow countercultist, “This chapter was one of 65 I wrote 15-20 years ago at a rate of (researching & writing) 100-200 pages per month, so it’s possible I made a mistake.”4 None of the three had read the judge’s decision in The God-Men case, even though a complete copy was given to each of them. All responsibility for reviewing the churches’ complaints had been delegated to Weldon, who dismissed The Experts Speak with juvenile marginal comments such as “HA” and “lies.”

The evidence also showed that Harvest House had seriously failed in its obligations in publishing a book with accusations of immoral, criminal, and anti-social conduct. No one had fact-checked or vetted the book. In fact, no one at Harvest House, other than proofreaders looking for small technical mistakes, had even read the book.5

Seeking Summary Judgment

Three times the defendants submitted motions for summary judgment to the district court. All three motions were denied. After the third rejection, the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal, which is an appeal of the district court’s decision prior to going to trial. Faced with the insurmountable task of justifying such conduct, the defendants resorted to redefining the issues in the case. They sought to recast the case as a dispute over theological issues, which it was not. They claimed that the book was a theological critique in nature, which from a jurisprudence perspective should have been irrelevant, given that the complaint was over accusations of criminal, immoral, and anti-social behavior. They represented their use of the term cult to be purely theological by quoting only part of its definition. Harvest House, Ankerberg, and Weldon told the court:

The authors explain in the Introduction that the term “cult,” as used in the Encyclopedia, is “used as a religious term,” and they define a cult as “a separate religious group generally claiming compatibility with Christianity but that adheres to select teachings that are theologically incompatible with teachings of the Bible” 3rd Sup. CR 72. (Brief of Appellants: 2)

However, that is not the language the authors used in the book itself. In ECNR they wrote:

For our purposes, and from a Christian perspective, a cult may be briefly defined as “a separate religious group generally claiming compatibility with Christianity but whose doctrines contradict those of historic Christianity and whose practices and ethical standards violate those of biblical Christianity” (XXII) [emphasis added]

Harvest House, Ankerberg,and Weldon then argued that the only way to know which characteristics applied to a particular group was to read the individual chapters. This argument also should have failed for three reasons: (1) the definition of characteristics did not support it; (2) there were many groups in the book (including the local churches) for which no examples were given of how their “practices and ethical standards violate those of biblical Christianity,” yet by this part of the book’s operative definition they should not have been included if there were not such violations; and (3) there were “characteristics” listed which were associated with so few of the groups (as few as zero) that calling them a characteristic was insupportable unless one assumed a broader applicability.

In their filings, the defendants sought to prejudice the judges with unsubstantiated accusations of litigiousness and out-of-context quotations criticizing the deviations of organized Christendom from biblical standards of truth and practice. After a hearing limited to fifteen minutes, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s ruling, accepting the defendants’ flawed arguments that the book was theological in nature, that its definition of cult was theological, and that the characteristics of cults listed in the Introduction could not possibly be understood as applying to the individual groups in the book. Subsequent attempts to get the Texas Supreme Court and U. S. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision were unsuccessful.

Dangers of the Appeals Court’s Decision

Friends of Ankerberg, Weldon, and Harvest House portrayed the court’s decision as a full vindication of the book. It was not. The court made no determination that any of the contents of the book were true. It merely said, based on an overly narrow interpretation of libel law, that a reasonable reader would not conclude that the book’s accusations of heinous behavior applied to the local churches. The court’s ruling reflected the defendants’ misrepresentation of the book’s operative definition of the term cult, their claim that as a book addressing issues of belief they were insulated from complaints about accusations of aberrant behaviors, and their insistence on a favorable grammatical parsing over the common standard of determining defamatory meaning based on the effect of a work as a whole. Some of the defects in the court’s ruling are discussed in an article by Elliot Miller in a special issue of the Christian Research Journal with the words “We Were Wrong” on the cover.

While the Harvest House case was on appeal, a group identifying themselves as “Christian scholars and ministry leaders” published an open letter on the internet calling on the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the local churches to “discontinue their practice of using litigation and threatened litigation to answer criticisms or settle disputes.” Many of the letter’s signers had ties to Ankerberg and/or Harvest House, and the letter itself was strikingly similar to postings that had appeared on the corporate website of Harvest House Publishers, which had repeatedly tried to recast the lawsuit as a dispute over theological issues and themselves and their authors as defenders of the faith. Responses to the open letter and subsequent developments are part of the Responses portion of this website.

A Surprising Development

One surprising side effect of the Harvest House litigation was the opening of doors for dialogue with the apologetics ministries Christian Research Institute and Answers in Action. This development is discussed in the Dialogues portion of this website.


1 Douglas Cowan, Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), 202-204.

2 Ankerberg and Weldon, Can You Trust Your Doctor? The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1991), xvii, 431, 445; Ankerberg and Weldon, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mormonism (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992), 4.

3 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2002), 376.

4 John Weldon, email to Jim Moran, November 30, 2001.

5 Deposition of Elizabeth Fletcher, March 25, 2003: 84-85; Carolyn McCready, March 26, 2003: 85-86, 111-112; Deposition of Mary Cooper, August 20, 2003: 115-116; Deposition of Robert Hawkins, September 24 and 25, 2003: 36, 187, 191-192. The only person other than Weldon involved in working on “The Local Church” chapter who had any knowledge of the local churches was the outside copy editor, Charles Strohmer, and his knowledge was admitted limited and vague (Deposition of Charles Strohmer, January 28, 2003: 47-48).

“The Mindbenders” – History

In 1980 various local churches and church members filed separate libel suits in California, Georgia, Ohio, and Texas against Thomas Nelson Publishers, Jack Sparks, Jon Braun, Richard (Dick) Ballew, Peter Gillquist, et al over the publication of The Mindbenders: A Look at Current Cults by Jack Sparks. These suits were consolidated for discovery purposes. All four cases were resolved in one action when all of the defendants signed an agreement to withdraw the book and pay for damages and for Thomas Nelson Publishers to publish a retraction of and apology for The Mindbenders in major newspapers and Christian periodicals throughout the United States.


For a general background of the events leading up to the writing of The Mindbenders, see “Prelude to Conflict: Christian World Liberation Front (CWLF), the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO), the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP), and the Local Churches.”

An Odd Blend

In 1973, after four years at the helm of CWLF, Jack Sparks began meeting with some of his old colleagues who had also left Campus Crusade, including Jon Braun, Dick Ballew, and Peter Gillquist. Together the men began to chart a new course. They concocted an odd blend that incorporated elements of evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the authoritarian extremes of the Shepherding movement. When Sparks sought to assert his authority as an “apostle” over CWLF members and convert CWLF into a church along these three lines, the group fractured, and Sparks left.1 That fall Sparks and six former Crusade leaders formed the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO).2 The NCAO leaders claimed both apostolic succession and authority.

The Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC)

In February 1979 the NCAO formed its associated congregations into the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC). Not surprisingly the NCAO’s leaders ordained one another as its bishops. That spring the EOC came under sharp criticism from, among others, Bill Counts, a former Campus Crusade member who had joined author Hal Lindsey at J. C. Light & Power House in Los Angeles. In a paper published by Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP), Counts criticized the NCAO leaders for exercising excessive control over the personal lives of its members.3

Front Row (L to R): Jack Norman Sparks, Jon E. Braun, Peter E. Gillquist, Kenneth A. Berven, J. Richard Ballew, Gordon Thomas Walker. Back Row: C. William Blythe, Weldon M. Hardenbrook, C. Ronald Roberson, Kenneth G. Jensen, Frederick C. Rogers, Timothy McCoy, Melvin E. Gimmaka, Jerold R. Gliege, Joseph W. Copeland, Dale S. Autrey, E. Wayne Wilson, Harold Dunaway, Robert H. Guin.

The EOC called for a return of the church to the teaching of the church fathers and the historic Christian creeds, that came to include a return to icons4, the use of incense5, and the veneration of Mary6. Timothy Weber, who at the time was Dean of the Seminary and Professor of Church History at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, commented:

The search for the original church had led these unsuspecting American evangelicals into a world of strange sights, sounds, and smells: clouds of incense, elaborate vestments, prayers to the saints and for the dead, and veneration of the Mother of God and the holy icons, some of which even wept occasionally.7

Weber added that the EOC leaders increasingly veered from the evangelical view that “salvation is a gift of God’s grace that comes to sinners through their faith in Christ.”8 Thus, they became evangelical in name only.


The NCAO leaders realized that Witness Lee and the local churches with their emphasis on the Bible as the unique measure of Christian life and practice were a major obstacle to their ambitions. Having earlier seen young people leave groups of which they had been leaders to meet with the local churches, Sparks and the other “apostles” made a collective decision to “declare war” on the local churches and the ministry of Witness Lee. When Peter Gillquist, NCAO’s presiding apostle, got a job with Thomas Nelson Publishing as its new books editor, the first book Gillquist commissioned was The Mindbenders. According to Sparks, the local churches were included in the book at Gillquist’s insistence. Jon Braun wrote the chapter on the local churches out of bitterness over his treatment by Gene Edwards, who had left the local churches to fulfill his own ambitions.9 Braun’s source materials included a monograph written by Alan Wallerstedt, a follower of Jack Sparks. Wallerstedt, in turn, had written his piece based on a 1972 tape recording made by Braun and talks given by Sparks in 1973 to CWLF members.10

The Mindbenders claimed to refute the “most dangerous cults.” It falsely accused the local churches of practicing brainwashing and said “the brainwashing, or mindbending, of the Local Church is, I believe, the most powerful and lasting of any cult on the contemporary scene” (p. 226). It claimed the local churches used fear to keep members and called Witness Lee “the autonomous dictator of this world-wide religious cult” (p. 221). It said the local churches suppress individuality, making group identity and acceptance all-important, and that many who had been involved with the local churches had been emotionally devastated and that their minds no longer functioned normally. Interestingly, many of these same charges were made against the EOC in the SCP/Bill Counts article previously mentioned, and one of the false accusations made in Sparks’ book—that the local churches intended to steal members from other Christian groups—was actually a reflection of EOC′s own stated intentions.

The chapter on the local churches in The Mindbenders was a case study in the abusive practice of using quotes out of context. The following is one classic example:

They cease being able to relate normally either amongst themselves or those outside their “church” in the everyday relationships of life, such as husband-wife, parent-child, and employer-employee. Indeed, Lee encourages abnormality in such relationships:

Have you seen God, Christ, the Church, and the Churches? The sisters must forget about their husbands, and the brothers must forget about their wives. We must forget about our preoccupations and see God, Christ, the Church, and the churches. Hallelujah!

(The Mindbenders, p. 238)

Read in its full context Witness Lee’s statement has nothing to do with neglecting human relationships. The point he was making was that although the Bible addresses many subjects, as a whole it reveals that God intends to have the church as the Body of Christ expressed in many churches. Thus, the main figures in the Bible are God, Christ, the church, and the churches. However, when we as Christians read the Bible, we may be preoccupied with personal interests, such as our relationships with our spouses, so we tend to focus on the verses that tell us to love our wives or submit to our husbands. In doing so, we may miss the central message of the Bible. For that reason, he urged his listeners to forget about their own preoccupations when they come to God’s Word and to seek to see what God reveals there of His ultimate goal and purpose.11

Some of the Nelson staff and their outside reviewers who read The Mindbenders before its release recommended that it be dropped due to its obvious bias and lack of substantive supporting research. One staff member, Craig Lampe (later International Director of the World Bible Society), was familiar with the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and strongly protested the book’s inaccuracies. He also testified that The Mindbenders was fraught with false accusations against the local churches. Members of the local churches wrote nearly 300 letters to the publisher and author, protesting their inclusion in the book and its distortion of their beliefs and practices. All appeals were ignored. After the Jonestown tragedy in 1978, a second edition of The Mindbenders was printed with a chapter on Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple immediately following the chapter on “The Local Church of Witness Lee.”

Letters written by members of the local churches to the author and publisher protesting the books

The Lawsuit and Its Result

In the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition and losses, libel litigation was initiated against Thomas Nelson and the EOC bishops most directly involved in the production of The Mindbenders. This action was taken only after representatives of the churches made numerous attempts to seek corrective action and gave thorough consideration to the propriety of filing a lawsuit against fellow believers.12 The lawsuit over The Mindbenders lasted from May 1980 to April 1983, at which time Thomas Nelson, Jack Sparks, Jon Braun, Dick Ballew, and Peter Gillquist signed a settlement agreement that included the publication of a retraction and apology in major newspapers and Christian periodicals across the country.

Copy of the retraction issued by Thomas Nelson and the EOC


The NCAO/EOC’s attempt to blend evangelicalism, Eastern orthodoxy, and Shepherding movement principles left them in a spiritual no man’s land. The National Association of Evangelicals tabled their application for membership, partly over concerns about authoritarianism.13 The Eastern Orthodox tradition only recognizes groups that can claim historical apostolic succession, which the NCAO could not do. The EOC sought admission to recognized orthodoxy first through the Orthodox Church of America, which had its own concerns about the EOC’s authoritarian practices. The EOC leaders then sought audience with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but were turned away. Eventually, the NCAO leaders and most of the EOC churches were chrismated into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.14

As for the local churches, the settlement of The Mindbenders case demonstrated the truth of the local churches’ claims that the book’s portrayal of them was false and defamatory. The end of The Mindbenders litigation also freed up resources to press forward with the libel case over The God-Men.


1 Edward E. Plowman, “Whatever Happened To the Jesus Movement,” Christianity Today 20:2, October 24, 1975:46-48.

2 Ruth Stiling, “An Examination of the Evangelical Orthodox Church” (M.A. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980), 19.

3 Bill Counts, “The Evangelical Orthodox Church and the New Covenant Apostolic Order,” Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Spring 1979; others who have pointed out this tendency include Lloyd R. Thompson, “A Critical Analysis of the Evangelic Orthodox Church (New Covenant Apostolic Order),” (Ph.D. diss., Yale Divinity School, 1979), 35; Stiling, 22; Steve Barth, “Local Church a ‘Potentially Dangerous Situation’: Sources Say EOC has Total Authority Over Members” Daily Nexus, November 12, 1979: 1; Bruce Wollenburg, “The Evangelical Orthodox Church: A Preliminary Appraisal,” The Christian Century 97:23, July 2, 1980: 700.

4 See “No Graven Image,” by Fr. Jack N. Sparks, Ph.D.

5 See “The Evangelical Orthodox Church: Questions & Answers”. Many other Web sites can be found using the search term “incense” with “Evangelical Orthodox Church” or “Gillquist.”

6Our Blessed Mother and Blessed Bread,” published on the Web site of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church, a former EOC congregation in Isla Vista, CA, gives the following account of a practice derived from a fabricated extrabiblical account of what the apostles supposedly witnessed at the burial of Mary, the mother of Jesus:

…Raising their eyes, they beheld, standing in the air, the Theotokos, who was accompanied by a multitude of angels. She said to the Apostles, “Rejoice, for I am with you all the days of your lives!” Upon seeing her, they were filled with joy and cried aloud, “Most Holy Mother of God, save us!”

It is from this event that the Church derives a custom of offering up bread at the remembrance of “our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary” during the Divine Liturgy. While the hymn to the Theotokos is chanted, the priest receives the baskets of bread, saying, “Great is the name of the Holy Trinity!” He then elevates the baskets, making with them the sign of the Cross and saying, “Most Holy Theotokos, save us!”…

See also “Facing Up to Mary,” by Fr. Peter E. Gillquist.

7 Timothy P. Weber, “Looking for Home: Evangelical Orthodoxy and the Search for the Original Church,” Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, Daniel B. Clendenin, ed., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 264.

8 Ibid., 268.

9 Deposition of Gordon Walker, February 3, 1981: 45; Interview with Ray Nethery, August 1, 1980.

10 Deposition of Jack Sparks, November 16, 1981, 318-319; Deposition of Jon Edward Braun, December 19, 1981, 610; Deposition of Alan Wallerstedt in Lee et al v. Duddy et al, April 6, 1983; 607-612.

11 Witness Lee, “God’s Revelation and God’s Recovery,” The Stream VII:4, November 1, 1969: 11.

12 For a discussion of this issue, see “Is Our Appeal to the Courts in Accordance with Scripture?

13 Billy A. Melvin, letter to Peter Gillquist, April 10, 1985, National Association of Evangelicals Papers (SC-113), Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, IL.

14 Peter Gillquist gives a detailed but hardly unbiased account in his book Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Faith (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1989). More balanced accounts appear in D. Oliver Herbel, Turning to Tradition: Converts and the Making of an American Orthodox Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Joseph H. Fester, “The Evangelical Orthodox Church and Its Dialogue with the Orthodox Church in America” (M.Div. thesis, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, 1982); Timothy P. Weber, op. cit., 249-272. Of Gillquist’s rendition Herbel, an OCA priest, comments:

Although it could be debated whether one ought to consider the NCAO-ECO an authoritarian “cult,” an overly sanitized narrative, which one encounters from Gillquist and the other former EOC members who have published their conversion narratives, certainly fails to discuss the group’s clear sectarian and cultish tendencies. (114)


June 10, 2014

DCP letter with an announcement published in World Journal

Available in PDF:


June 6, 2014

DCP letter correcting misinformation related to recent events in China

Available in PDF:


April 29, 2014

Statement by Congressman Joseph R. Pitts, “Watchman Nee and Witness Lee,” entered into the Congressional Record

Available in PDF:

December 21, 2012

Living Stream Ministry statement on aberrant religious groups in China

Available in PDF:


Media Updates

Christian Research Institute videos and PDFs discussing the local churches and the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.

July 30, 2009

Statement by Congressman Christopher Smith, “In Recognition of Watchman Nee,” entered into the Congressional Record

Available in PDF:


Responses to Harvest House Publishers’ Public Accusations

The following is a list of postings on this site written in response to Harvest House Publishers’ further public accusations against Living Stream Ministry and the local churches:

February 13, 2007 A new Web site entitled “The Testimony of the Local Churches and Living Stream Ministry” was launched to answer an open letter published on the Internet. This open letter, while not directly related to the Harvest House litigation, is clearly an outgrowth of it. It is signed by six people identified by John Ankerberg as “consulting experts” and contains many of the same out of context quotes previously posted in Harvest House’s earlier corporate statements.
October 23, 2006 A Response to Further Public Misrepresentations by John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Robert Hawkins, Jr.
Harvest House Publishers, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon Campaign to Paint the Local Churches as Anti-Christian: Against Christians and Against the Faith
Harvest House Books Echo Our Criticism of Today’s Christianity
Harvest House’s Hypocrisy Concerning Our Criticism of Christianity
Misrepresentation in ECNR—False Allegations That We “Reject” Christians and the Christian Faith
Misrepresentations on the Harvest House Corporate Web Site
A Response to the Accusation of Harvest House Publishers, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon That the Local Churches Are Litigious
Harvest House, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon Misrepresent the Nature of Our Lawsuit and of Our Objections to ECNR
Harvest House President Bob Hawkins’ Distortion of History
Harvest House Misrepresents Their Own Definition of “Cult”
April 20, 2004 Harvest House Persists in Libel of Living Stream Ministry and the Local churches
Irrefutable Facts #’s 1-10 Concerning the Dispute over the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions (ECNR)
“Professional Editorial Practices”?
“Acceptable Editorial Standards”? Harvest House’s Appeal to The Chicago Manual of Style”
March 19, 2004 Living Stream Ministry and Local Churches Respond to Harvest House Corporate Statement on Recent Court Ruling

Retraction of Larson’s Book of Cults

From: WATCH & PRAY – February 1986

The Church around the World

Witness Lee Successful in Lawsuit

A California court has ruled that Witness Lee and The Local Church were libeled by a book from Spiritual Counterfeits Project entitled The God-Men. Following that decision and based upon correspondence with The Local Church, Tyndale House Publishers announced that it has withdrawn the chapter concerning The Local Church from its publication, Larson’s Book of Cults, with regrets for any damages that may have been caused.

Judge’s Comments at the Conclusion of The God-Men Trial

Spoken by Judge Leon Seyranian of the Superior Court of the State of California at the conclusion of the trial concerning The God-Men:

Download PDF of the transcript of Judge Seyranian's comments

Mr. Morgan, I’d like to just make one brief comment:

Obviously my decision will be rendered in a written form. However, I would like to commend Mr. Morgan and his staff for having presented what I feel to be competent and reliable evidence. I was quite impressed with the stature of witnesses as presented. They certainly appeared to me to be the kind of people that would be beyond reproach, and it was interesting to hear their testimony in the matter. I feel that in many of these cases the quality of the witnesses that have testified gives import as to what they have to say.

I would also like to state that this is the type of a case where the law affords an opportunity for all sides to be present, for all sides to present whatever testimony that they may have in order that there could be a judicial determination. That’s a system of law that has been afforded in this case. At the time this case was called, all sides, with the exception of the one side that had filed a bankruptcy motion, affording them a stay as to this action. As to the other parties the plaintiffs are proceeding against, (they) had an adequate and opportune time to be present in court and present whatever evidence or refute whatever evidence that had been presented. The fact that they have not seen fit to do this causes me not to conclude or go to conjecture as to what they would have presented, rather, to decide this case on the evidence that was presented to me.

I feel that there was enough evidence here to decide this case irrespective of any cross examination of these witnesses. It would have been helpful, but in view of the fact that the defendants have seen fit not to be present in this trial, in my opinion, it does not alter or affect the final conclusion and decision that will be made, based solely upon the fact that there has been in my opinion substantial, independent, expert testimony with regard to this case.

I feel that had this case simply (and it could have) been submitted in very brief fashion, just enough to justify an award, and I commend the plaintiffs for the fact that they’ve seen fit to present the entire story. And I have been afforded, I feel, a complete opportunity to question and cross examine, as I see fit, these witnesses in order to try to ascertain the truth. And I believe there was nothing that I wished to see, or wanted to see, or that I wanted to ask that I was prevented from doing so, because all the material was made and afforded and made available to me.

So I do hope that at the conclusion and when the opinion is finally written and filed, that it will put an end to this long and protracted litigation. And I hope that the parties will feel that justice has finally been done. Thank you.