Witness Lee Responds
The material on this page was written in the 1970s to respond to the criticisms of 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 CRI has since withdrawn those criticisms and reversed its earlier conclusions (see “A Brief History of the Relationship between the Local Churches and the Christian Research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”). The text of this article is published here for the historical record, for the important points of truth it addresses, and because CRI’s criticisms, although withdrawn, are still repeated by others.
From: Answers to the Bible Answer Man (Vol. 1)
3. A STATEMENT BY WITNESS LEE
It is very sad and shameful that Christian brothers have been continually fighting one against another through the centuries. It is mainly because their understanding of the Bible differs; they have different views and are on different levels. The reasons for this are three.
1. The Bible, being the revelation of God, is extremely profound. On its surface are the plain doctrines, but in its depth are the deep and vital truths. It is easy to know the doctrines of the Bible, but more grace is required to realize the deeper truths revealed in the Bible concerning God’s eternal purpose. For example, John 1:29 tells us that the Lord Jesus died on the cross as the Lamb of God to bear our sins that we may be redeemed. All real Christians know this. But the same Gospel, chapter twelve, verse 24, reveals that the Lord died also as a grain of wheat, falling into the ground to release His life, that He might be multiplied into many grains for the formation of His Body, which is the church. It seems that the speaker at Melodyland has not seen this truth, because he has accused us of being heretical concerning this matter. Actually, it is not that we are heretical, but that he has not seen this deep thing of God (1 Cor. 2:10).
Another example: First Timothy 3:15 says that the church is the house of the living God and the pillar and ground of the truth. But the very next verse, verse 16, reveals that the church is also the mystery of godliness, that is, God was manifest in the flesh. The church is not only the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth, but also the manifestation of God in the flesh. The context of this verse confirms this. This is also a deep truth, for which we are condemned by the speaker. Again, it seems that he is short of sight in this matter.
2. The truths in the Bible are often of two aspects, the objective and the subjective. The subjective aspect is mainly for our experience. For example, on one hand Christ today is in the heavens, but on the other hand Christ today is also in us, and His being in us is that we may experience Him as life and the life supply. Since He is the very embodiment of God, and since we have Him within us as our life, we partake of the divine nature of God. This subjective truth was also objected to by the speaker, because he simply did not see it.
Another example: The Holy Trinity not only has the side of three, but also the side of one. On one hand our Triune God is three, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, but on the other hand He is one, the unique God. This is clearly and fully revealed in the Holy Word. But sorry to say, the speaker, standing unbalanced on the side of three, fights against the side of one. Although he says that God is one, the oneness in his concept is a corporate oneness, not the individual oneness of our unique God, because he does not believe the pure word in Isaiah 9:6 and 1 Corinthians 15:45.
3. The divine revelation was fully completed when the book of Revelation was written to the churches. But not long after that, the church began to lose sight of God’s open revelation and deviate from the central line of His perfect Word. Thus, the Bible became a veiled book until the time of reformation, when Martin Luther was raised up by the Lord to begin the recovery of the lost truths. Luther, by returning to the Bible from the deviated historic church, discovered the truth of justification by faith among the lost truths. However, that was just the beginning of the Lord’s recovery. Thence, through the past five centuries, the Lord has continually carried on His recovery through many different channels. How we thank the Lord for those channels! But there has always been a sad story accompanying each step of the Lord’s recovery. Nearly every time a lost truth was recovered by some new channels, the old channels fought against the newly discovered truth, and even fought against the channels used by the Lord to recover that truth. In principle, it is the same today.
I was born, raised up, and educated in Christianity. From my youth I have been taught with Bible stories and many teachings of the Bible. After I was saved, I sat at the feet of the great Brethren teachers, listening to hundreds of their messages concerning the Bible. Later I was helped by reading the inner-life books, such as the books by Madame Guyon, Andrew Murray, and Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis. After that, I was also involved in the Pentecostal movement. Then the Lord showed us from His Word a number of lost truths, such as the multiplication, the enlargement, of the unlimited Christ, the corporate Christ, the church being the manifestation of God in the flesh, the proper unity of the Body of Christ, the practical expression of the church, and other items.
Because these truths are new to some dear Christian brothers, they consider them as heresies, as teachings which are not according to the Bible. Then they fight against these newly recovered truths under the excuse of contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. Sometimes these Christian brothers have gone so far that they have even fought their battle by building up false accusations according to their erroneous or inadequate understanding of the Bible. Actually, these newly recovered truths are absolutely scriptural. To see these truths requires that the veil of traditional concepts held by the so-called historic church be taken away, and that the Lord’s people come back to the pure Word of God in His Holy Writings. We, in the Lord’s recovery, following the footsteps of Martin Luther, only care for the pure Word, not for any traditional concept of the historic church. These three reasons are just brief principles.
Lastly, I would like to say a word from my heart. We Christian brothers may hold different opinions concerning certain truths and may argue over them one with another. But let us do it in a spirit and on a level that are worthy of a saint in Christ. The truths of the Bible are holy. We do not believe that any mocking, ridiculing, or despising is the way for a saint to contend for the holy truths of our Holy God. It is a solemn thing to deal with the Word of God. We may edify others; we may also destroy others. We must always remind ourselves that whatever we say and do will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ when He comes back. May the Lord’s grace be with us all!
Copyright © 1994 Living Stream, Anaheim, CA, USA. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.