Article Summary:

Elliot Miller, Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal, and Hank Hanegraaff, President of Christian Research Institute talk about deficiencies in the scholarship and biblical understanding of Christian leaders who signed a 2007 open letter criticizing the ministry of Witness Lee and the local churches.

Criticism of the Open Letter

Excerpts from Bible Answer Man Radio Broadcasts Concerning the Teaching and Practice of Witness Lee and the Local Churches

In early 2007, a group of scholars and ministry leaders published “An Open Letter to the Leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the ‘Local Churches'” on the Internet. In it they included a series of short, out-of-context excerpts from the ministry of Witness Lee. Their presentation was a gross misrepresentation of Witness Lee’s teachings. The open letter addressed four issues—the Trinity, deification, the standing of the local church, and litigation. Representatives of Living Stream Ministry and the local churches have since produced three responses to the “Open Letter.” 1. To date, none of the signers of the “Open Letter” have made any substantive answer to these responses.

On January 5, Hank Hanegraaff and Elliot Miller discussed the open letter and how seventy Christian scholars and ministry leaders could be wrong. Elliot described the early research done by CRI and commented, “That they [the open letter signers] would be wrong only follows since they’re building their conclusions on our original work, and we were wrong.”

In the same broadcast, Elliot Miller spoke about the local churches’ teaching on the Trinity. He said that Western Christianity tends to oversimplify the Trinity while the teaching of Witness Lee and the local churches “actually are bringing a correction to a problem within Western evangelicalism.”

On the same program, Elliot commented on the local churches’ teaching on deification. He said, “Witness Lee says, on the one hand, the New Testament reveals that the Godhead is unique and that only God alone who has the Godhead should be worshipped. On the other hand, the New Testament reveals that we believers in Christ have God’s life and nature, that we are becoming God in life and nature but will never have His Godhead.” Elliot then discusses some of the implications of this statement and concludes, “They’re talking about things that we ourselves believe in.”

On June 10, 2010, Hank spoke about the local churches’ affirmation of a famous axiom of Athanasius, an early church father sometimes called “the father of orthodoxy,” that “God became man to make man God,” saying that it is a double standard to accuse Witness Lee of heresy when Athanasius affirms the same thing. Furthermore, Hank says, “The Apostle Peter would be suspect for stating that we are partakers of the divine nature.”

On January 6, 2010, Elliot Miller explained the teaching of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee concerning the proper standing of a local church.

In the same broadcast, Elliot and Hank discussed the litigation over the book The God-Men produced by Neil Duddy and the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP) and the actual damages caused by being falsely accused of being a cult.


The three responses are:

All audio clips are © Christian Research Institute and used by permission.

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