Article Summary:

Correspondence from Thomas Nelson Publishing staff members and an outside reader recommending that the company not publish The Mindbenders by Jack Sparks.

Recommendations to Drop “The Mindbenders”

Prior to publication, some of those who reviewed The Mindbenders advised Thomas Nelson not to publish it.

Craig Lampe, who worked in the sales division of Royal Publishers, a subsidiary of Thomas Nelson, was familiar with the teachings of both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. He had previously been a founding faculty member and Dean of Administration at Lynchburg Baptist College, which subsequently became Liberty University. Jerry Falwell, its founder, appreciated Watchman Nee’s book The Normal Christian Life that he arranged to print and distribute 150,000 copies free of charge. Lampe had also personally heard Witness Lee speak while he was superintendent and a faculty member at a school associated with Berean Baptist Church in Orange, California. According to Lampe, he had pleaded with Thomas Nelson’s executives to dialogue with Witness Lee and with the local churches before publishing The Mindbenders:

“I offered them the books. I offered them Witness Lee’s book on this matter. I said, ‘I’ve got the man’s own writings on this very subject.’ I said, ‘Read it and tell me where you disagree.’ No one would do that. No one would take the literature and read it. It was amazing to me.”

“I said, ‘Sam [Moore], there are in the local church former Baptists, Methodists, I mean, solid denomination-line people that have simply found a closer walk with Jesus Christ and a new power in worshiping Him than the typical mainline denominations have been able to perpetuate.'”

To Larry Stone: “‘Before you publish this,'” I said, ‘call Witness Lee and ask him categorically what you are accusing him of concerning the deity of Christ.’ I said, ‘Just ask him point blank.'”

On September 21, 1981, Lampe filed an affidavit with the court testifying, among other things, that:

“Prior to publication of THE MINDBENDERS by Thomas Nelson, I personally reviewed the chapter on the ‘local church’ with Sam Moore. At that time I pointed out to Sam Moore several inaccuracies. I informed him that the authors, Jack Sparks and other leaders of the New Covenant Apostolic Order had a personal vendetta against Witness Lee and the local churches and the book was written to injure and damage the ‘local churches’ and their members. I informed Sam Moore that the whole book was just being done in disguise to injure and damage the ‘local churches’ and Witness Lee.”

Larry Stone, Thomas Nelson’s advertising manager, wrote a letter to Thomas Nelson’s President Sam Moore. In it he said, among other things:

“The problem here is much more than whether to include The Local Church of Witness Lee or not! Rather it has to do with the whole idea and approach of the book.”

“This is shown clearly in Spark’s [sic] treatment of The Local Church of Witness Lee. There is very little that Sparks says about the group that would make it unscriptural—although he gives the impression that it is…”

“Sparks says, ‘Sure, there are Christians in The Local Church.’ I have difficulty, then, with the mud-slinging of calling it ‘a seditious sub-Christian cult.’ Thomas Nelson should not publish this book.”

Note: Stone’s characterization of “the church’s chanting and ‘pray-reading’” as weird are based on Sparks’ distorted presentation of the practices of calling on the name of the Lord and praying with the words of the Bible, and cannot therefore be taken at face value. For a description of these beneficial practices as they relate to Christian growth, see the Topical Index in the Responses section of this site.

Jim Powell, Nelson’s marketing manager for special projects also sent a memo to Sam Moore. In it he concluded, “I believe the book should be dropped.”

Spencer Thornton was an outside reader who was asked for his opinion of The Mindbenders. In an evaluation which he apparently dictated, he said:

“I would recommend a rewrite of the entire first 15 or 16 pages and a thinning out of the entire book from unsubstantiated charges and summary conclusions which are found throughout.”

“…as a difinitive [sic] work on cults, it is sadly lacking in documentation and authority.”

“The book is weakened throughout by countless, unsubstantiated charges presented with such venom that the reader tends to find himself in a defensive position knowing ahead of time what the author is going to say.”

“In pointing out errors of witnessly [Witness Lee] and others, the author fails to show what their wrong beliefs are and how these wrong beliefs differ from any other strong christian movement.”

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