Article ID: JAF4326 | By: Elliot Miller
This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 32, number 06 (2009). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal please click here.
The next section of the Open Letter begins with the heading “On the Nature of Humanity” and reproduces the following quotations from Witness Lee:
“Christ is of two natures, the human and the divine, and we are the same: we are of the human nature, but covered with the divine. He is the God-man, and we are the God-men. He is the ark made of wood covered with gold, and we are the boards made of wood covered with gold. In number we are different, but in nature we are exactly the same.”
Witness Lee, The All-Inclusive Christ
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 5th ed., 1989), p. 103
“God can say to His believers, ‘I am divine and human,’ and His believers can reply, ‘Praise You, Lord. You are divine and human, and we are human and divine.’”
Witness Lee, The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), pp. 51–-52
“My burden is to show you clearly that God’s economy and plan is to make Himself man and to make us, His created beings, ‘God,’ so that He is ‘man-ized’ and we are ‘God-ized.’ In the end, He and we, we and He, all become God-men.”
Witness Lee, A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), p. 54
“We the believers are begotten of God. What is begotten of man is man, and what is begotten of God must be God. We are born of God; hence, in this sense, we are God.”
Ibid., p. 53
“Because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one with the Body of Christ, we may say that the Triune God is now the ‘four-in-one’ God. These four are the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the Body. The Three of the Divine Trinity cannot be confused or separated, and the four-in-one also cannot be separated or confused.”
Ibid., pp. 203–-204
As with the previous section, the present section of the Open Letter consists of nothing but a series of seemingly unorthodox quotations from Witness Lee, without providing any commentary or explanatory context for Lee’s teaching. I found it easier to sympathize with the drafters of the Open Letter in the previous section where, prior to doing thorough research, one could reasonably surmise that Lee was affirming modalism. This second round of quotations from Lee, however, does not unmistakably resemble any one false teaching and therefore is inadequate on the face of it to prove anything.
Such language could be used by New Age or Hindu gurus and then would be non-Christian and idolatrous. It could be used by Mormons or Armstrongists and then would be pseudo-Christian and heretical. It could be used by Word of Faith or Latter Rain teachers and then would be at best aberrant. But it could also be used by ancient Greek church fathers and Eastern Orthodox theologians and then would be accepted within the pale of orthodoxy. To publish these quotations as proof of unorthodoxy without providing context and definition of terms was therefore unscholarly, sensational, irresponsible, and indefensible, and this indictment holds irrespective of what the LC teaching on the nature of humanity actually is.
The drafters of the letter might reply that this document was merely an open letter to the LC and therefore did not call for any attempt to provide context to Lee’s statements. This would be valid, however, only if it were a private letter rather than an open letter. Not only was the latter the case, but the drafters announced its existence with a press release, put it up on the Web, aggressively circulated it among evangelicals, and clearly put it to use—and allowed others to put it to use—as a polemic piece against the LC.
Once we do make the effort to understand the LC teaching on human nature in context we find a situation strikingly parallel to what we encountered in the previous section, where we saw that their teachings on the nature of God have been both misunderstood and misrepresented. Once again, a key distinction between the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity that Lee made repeatedly when he taught on this subject is completely missed or ignored. Furthermore, it turns out that the LC’s teaching on human deification is similar to that of Eastern Orthodoxy but not remotely similar to any of the other examples cited above. Both of these factors, then — the ontological/economic distinction and the similarity to Eastern Orthodoxy — decisively place Lee’s affirmations far from the realm of heresy and firmly in the realm of orthodoxy, whether or not one agrees with them or thinks they are biblically correct.
The Essential-Economic Distinction—Missed Again!
Countercult/discernment ministry provides a vital service to the body of Christ, but those of us involved with this work have always had to contend with the charge of “heresy hunting” by Christians who fail to appreciate the importance of apologetics and discernment. However, countercult research truly becomes “heresy hunting” of the worst kind when the researchers make a practice of digging up seemingly heretical or scandalous statements by a teacher, without concern for context, in order to employ the shock value of such statements to turn the public against the teacher and his group. As much as I respect many of the people involved with the Open Letter and do not consider their past work “heresy hunting,” it is hard to defend them against this charge when it comes to how Lee’s teachings on deification were handled.
Of the three works cited by the Open Letter, two of them make only passing reference to deification and thus neither work is quoted more than once. However, the book A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing, quoted three times, presents the LC’s full-orbed teaching on the subject, as do several other publications the drafters could and should have consulted.
In the following quotation, which includes one of the three quotations the Open Letter reproduces from Deeper Study, please note that they stopped quoting Lee immediately before he made it clear that he was not teaching heresy. I am adding boldface to the part they chose to quote and italics to the part they chose to leave out:
We the believers are begotten of God. What is begotten of man is man, and what is begotten of God must be God. We are born of God; hence, in this sense, we are God. Nevertheless, we must know that we do not share God’s Person and cannot be worshiped by others. Only God Himself has the Person of God and can be worshiped by man.1
Unfortunately for evangelicals who have lent their names or support to the Open Letter, it gets worse. In the paragraph immediately preceding the paragraph the Open Letter quotes from, the following important qualifications (italics added) were ignored by the drafters:
The ultimate purpose of God is to work Himself into us that He may be our life and everything to us so that one day we may become Him. But this does not mean that we can become part of the Godhead and be the same as the unique God. We have to know that although we are born of God and have God’s life to become God’s children, His house, and His household, we do not have a share in His sovereignty or His Person and cannot be worshiped as God.2
If the drafters had proceeded to research the entire body of Lee’s teaching on human deification, they would have found the same kind of qualifications made again and again. Just a few further examples (italics added to Lee’s qualifications):
The early church fathers used the term deification to describe the believers’ participation in the divine life and nature of God, but not in the Godhead. We human beings need to be deified, to be made like God in life and in nature, but it is a great heresy to say that we are made like God in his Godhead. We are God not in His Godhead, but in His life, nature, element, essence, and image. (first emphasis in original)3
In our spiritual breathing by the exercise of our spirit, we enjoy, receive, and absorb the divine substance with the divine essence, the divine element, and the divine expression. This will cause us to be deified, that is to be constituted with the processed Triune God to be made God in life and in nature but not in the Godhead. In this sense we may speak of the deification of the believers, a process that will consummate in the New Jerusalem.4
On the one hand, the New Testament reveals that the Godhead is unique and that only God, who alone has the Godhead, should be worshipped. On the other hand, the New Testament reveals that we, the believers in Christ, have God’s life and nature and that we are becoming God in life and in nature but will never have His Godhead.5
On first blush a skeptic might legitimately ask, “How could believers not partake in the Godhead if they partake in God’s life and nature?” The answer, however, becomes clear when Lee is read in his own context and allowed to define his own terms. When Lee refers to the “processed God,” he is clearly speaking about the economic Trinity. It is this Trinity that becomes in a sense “four-in-one.” There is no change in the essential or ontological Trinity (what Lee is here calling the Godhead) with the deification of believers any more than there was a change in the ontological Trinity with the incarnation of Christ. According to the LC, in the outworking of God’s economy or plan of salvation, there is a process that includes progressive steps in which God the Father is embodied in the Son in incarnation, Christ is realized as the Spirit in resurrection, and ultimately the Triune God is expressed in the glorified church; but in His essential nature or Godhead, the Lord remains forever unchanged.
Not only does this logically follow from Lee’s teachings, but he explicitly states it in many places. For example: “The process through which the Triune God passed to become the life-giving Spirit is an economical, not essential, matter. Change with God can only be economical; it can never be essential. Essentially, our God cannot change. From eternity to eternity He remains the same in His essence. But in His economy the Triune God has changed in the sense of being processed.”6 It would be somewhat easier to understand if these clearly stated theological distinctions and qualifications were missed by the lay countercult apologists who signed the open letter than it would be if they were missed by the highly qualified theologians who also signed it, but presumably some of the latter group would have been involved in its drafting. Until the drafters are identified, therefore, these slanted citations leave a cloud over the entire group of scholars.
A Protestant Counterpart to Eastern Orthodox Deification
Ultimately, the LC doctrine of deification is merely a more mystical view of the sanctification and glorification of believers than evangelical Protestants are used to hearing, but it has much precedent in church history and has much more in common with mainstream evangelical beliefs on the subjects than the LC’s unconventional choice of terms might first suggest. It is certainly more “Protestant friendly” than the Eastern Orthodox view of deification.
This union with God or deification is based on Christ’s judicial redemption. It involves justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and reception of the Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling Spirit, believers are infused with the life of God, by which they are organically united to Christ and to the members of His mystical body, the church. This organic union progresses through a “process involving regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification.”7
While the LC view of the outworking of salvation in Christ unto the ultimate glorification of believers may include elements or emphases that evangelicals are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with (much as would be the case with the Eastern Orthodox view), it also has much in common with standard theological works on the subject. In no respect is it incompatible with a soundly Christian theology (i.e., doctrine of God proper), Christology, pneumatology, soteriology, and eschatology.
In their paper prepared for Fuller the LC further explain both the nature and limits of human deification and put it into historical perspective:
Again, this respects the distinction in the Godhead between what He is immanently and what He does economically. He alone is God by virtue of His own being and existence; we are made God by virtue of our union with and participation in Him who is uniquely God. Because of God’s incommunicability, human beings will never take part in the Godhead; we will never be a fourth person in the Trinity; we will never be worshipped as God. Because human beings will never lose their attributes as creatures, we will never be the Creator. We will forever possess the human form and the human nature; thus, we will never be omnipresent. We will forever be endowed with limited mental faculties as given in our creation; hence, we will never be omniscient. God is God both outside of creation and within creation; we human beings can at best be joined to God and thereby become God within the confines of creation.…
Of course, this is the classical Christian notion of deification, which was generally accepted throughout the Christian church in its early centuries. It was most elegantly expressed by Athanasius (d. 373) in his famous aphorism: “For He was made man that we might be made God” (de Incarn. 54.3)….The notion of deification has generally been ignored in Western Christianity, and for this reason it is usually viewed with suspicion by Protestant Christians and only mildly acknowledged by Roman Catholics. Christians in the Eastern tradition, however, never abandoned the notion that deification is in fact the full significance and effect of God’s salvation. However, unlike the Eastern Orthodox, we in the local churches do not understand deification to be the issue of sacraments, liturgy, and other ritual. Rather, we believe that we become God through the operation of grace partaken of through our daily enjoyment of the Word of God, through prayer, and through fellowship with the believers in the many gatherings of the church. We are made God through our partaking of Christ and our living Christ by grace in our daily lives in the church. While some have voiced concern about our view of salvation as deification, most educated readers of our ministry realize that we hold to the altogether orthodox view of this precious truth, even if it is not currently in the mainstream of Protestant thought.…8
An Unrealistic and Unreasonable Call
What becomes clear on reading contemporary theological works published by the LC is that their current leadership is just as committed to the movement’s doctrinal distinctives as was Witness Lee. Therefore, the Open Letter’s “call on the leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the ‘local churches’ to disavow and cease to publish these and similar declarations” of Witness Lee is both unrealistic and unreasonable. They are not going to disavow doctrinal distinctives they firmly believe are not only biblical but also enriching to their own congregations and potentially enriching to the rest of the body of Christ. And why should they? As we’ve seen, there is nothing heretical about their teachings on the natures of God and man, and who is to say that they do not have contributions to make to the rest of the body of Christ in these very areas?
While I personally am uncomfortable with the use of terms such as deification and God-men for believers, it is evident to me that the LC has studied, thought, and prayed a lot more deeply on the nature of glorification and God’s ultimate plan for humanity than most Christian traditions. They have just as much right to believe that they have a deeper grasp on this aspect of God’s revelation as Baptists do about believer’s baptism, Presbyterians do about the place of covenant in the church today, Episcopalians do about apostolic succession, Pentecostals do about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Wesleyans do about the importance of holiness, dispensationalists do about a literal hermeneutic, house churches do about body life, and so on.
The Flagrant Use of a Double Standard
Can you imagine how arrogant and divisive it would seem if “more than 60 evangelical Christian scholars and ministry leaders from seven nations” signed an open letter calling on the administration and faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary to “disavow the unorthodox statements of their founder”? After all, some evangelicals believe that classical dispensationalism such as was taught by Lewis Sperry Chafer compromises orthodoxy just as seriously as other evangelicals believe the LC’s teachings on deification compromise orthodoxy. Or why not go after the Episcopalians for their doctrine of baptismal regeneration, or the Lutherans for their belief in the “real presence” of the body and blood of Christ “in, with, and under” the Eucharist, or the Nazarenes for their belief in a “Second Blessing”? If evangelicals generally are willing to tolerate doctrinal distinctives of groups such as these even if they believe that such distinctives are unbiblical and can negatively impact essential doctrine, then why is the LC not treated with the same consideration?
I submit that the answer is twofold:
- The LC are perceived as having a history of litigiousness and contentiousness in response to evangelicals who have labeled them a cult or cultic and this has created a general animus among many evangelicals toward the LC that leads them to treat the LC differently (more critically, less charitably, and less carefully) than they would other Christian groups.
- Even more fundamentally, the LC are treated differently because they are different.
Watchman Nee and Witness Lee did not, and many of the contemporary leaders of the LC do not, share the Western heritage that has dominated church history and has strongly influenced the approach not only of Westerners but of those whom they’ve converted and discipled to all things Christian today. English was and is not the first language of such leaders. In China they suffered and continue to suffer severe persecutions and have had limited exposure to Christian literature and training. When LC members brushed up against Western Christianity after many of them relocated here, neither side was fully prepared for the encounter. For Westerners, the LC’s distinctively Chinese approach to Christianity, even when represented by Western followers, was so unfamiliar as to suggest cultism, whether or not it existed. For the LC, any suggestion that they were a cult and their venerable teacher was a cult leader was profoundly offensive. They fought back to defend their own legitimate Christian standing and the distinctive contributions they believed they could make to the larger body of Christ.
In attempts at dialogue, the language and cultural differences often impeded progress. Witness Lee and other Chinese leaders, as well as their many Western converts who lacked an evangelical background, may not have understood the effect the use of certain words and phrasing would have on cult-literate Western evangelicals, who were not about to affirm the legitimacy of terminology that had previously encountered only in cultic contexts. The LC, meanwhile, were not about to back away from teachings they believed were given to them by God. They refused to change any of their terminology and usually did not go out of their way to provide the balancing context of their teachings. This recalcitrance was wrongly taken by evangelical apologists as a refusal to embrace orthodoxy. Hence, the LC at times almost seemed to go out of their way to appear cultic and, with countercult researchers failing to be thorough and evenhanded in their approach to the LC, a general feeling of bad will developed on both sides and the situation deteriorated to what it is today.
The Other Side to the LC
There is another side to the LC, however, that many Western Christians don’t see. After responding affirmatively to their overture for dialogue, Hank Hanegraaff, Gretchen Passantino (director of Answers in Action and one of CRI’s past researchers and authors on the LC), and I have had the privilege of seeing that more favorable side close-up both in the West and in the East, including many cities and provinces in China.
After one devotes sufficient time to studying LC materials in context, dialoguing with its leaders and members, and observing them as they live out their individual Christian lives and collective church life, an irresistible conclusion is reached: this group is not only Christian but it is in many ways an exemplary group of Christians. They are a fellowship of believers with a level of commitment to Christ and discipleship that puts to shame most Western Christian groups. They have been tested by the fires of persecution, have persevered, and, as a result, have been forged into the image of Christ to an inspiring degree. Their love for Jesus is compelling. Their sacrificial living is convicting.
In a nine-day excursion up and down China’s east coast in October 2008, Hank and I were deeply moved by the spirits and testimonies of radiant saints who spoke of how the Lord sustained them through years (in one case, twenty-four years) of imprisonment for such offenses as confessing the name of Jesus, preaching the gospel, or holding meetings. Even while we were there more than four hundred people, including college students and adult workers holding a youth outreach in Beijing and church members attending a Lord’s Day gathering in Hangzhou, were arrested and interrogated. The students were soon released but some church leaders in Hangzhou were sent to labor camps for one to one-and-a-half years of “reeducation.”
In addition to the unwavering commitment to Christ in word and deed that is common among LC congregations, they typically are very much concerned about sound doctrine, are aware of the cults, and seek to counter them in their own way. This is why it especially grieved them to be called a cult.
In my considered opinion, after thirty-seven years of evaluating such things (thirty-three of those years in full-time ministry), the LC are authentically Christian and are pursuing the will of God in a critical region of the world where they represent one of the largest Christian fellowships (roughly one million members in China; perhaps two million worldwide, mostly in other Asian countries).
From what Hank and I saw, God is using the LC mightily in a revival that is currently sweeping China. For example, at a Sunday morning service we attended that lasted from 9:00 A.M. until after 2:00 P.M., the church in Nanjing (located in Jiangsu Province, which allows the LC exceptional freedom to meet and worship) was filled to capacity on two floors. After the main service college-age young people, mostly from the local university, filled up the second floor, divided into several groups. Hank sat in on one of these groups with a translator and I another. By a show of hands it became clear that nobody in my group had been a Christian for longer than six years and some of them had not yet converted but they were drawn by the spiritual vitality and purpose they could sense in the LC Christians they had encountered in one-on-one contacts. (Evangelistic meetings outside of the church building’s walls are still forbidden even in Jiangsu Province.) These young adults spoke of the spiritual void they experienced living under Communism and the pressure they felt as only children with two parents and four grandparents pinning all their hopes on them—especially since the percentage of students who actually find jobs after graduating is around forty percent. By the end of the day’s meeting over forty of these students were in line to be baptized, including one who was not a Christian prior to Hank’s witnessing to him.
Hank and I are both convinced that virtually anyone of good will — no matter how skeptical of the LC at the outset—who has comparable exposure to them as we have had will come away convinced of their authentic and orthodox Christian faith. The LC simply pursues Christianity from a decidedly different background than many do in the West, and this can make them appear idiosyncratic and suspicious to us.
No culture is originally Christian. Christianity origin ally flourished in pagan Greco-Roman culture and this resulted in both advantages and disadvantages for the development of Christian thought and tradition. Because of common grace, Greco-Roman civilization offered intellectual tools for doing theology that have greatly benefited the church, but there must also be blind spots that developed in the church’s perspective because of the effects of human sin on those preexisting cultures. China too for millennia has had a highly sophisticated culture and civilization, but it is about as far from a Western world view and influences as any advanced civilization that could be imagined. It too has elements of common grace but also bears the effects of sin.
It is my observation after having read histories on China and the advance of the gospel there, as well as having read many years ago the works of Watchman Nee, and now after having actually been there and interacted with dozens of Chinese Christians, that the Chinese display an exceptional earnestness and hunger for truth and spiritual reality. In other words, even as it was a “true testimony,” according to the apostle Paul, that ancient Crete produced “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” and therefore the Cretan Christians needed to be reproved severely (Titus 1:12–13), so it seems legitimate to say that China produces more than its share of serious, devout, and fully dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ.
The LC movement is a prime example of this. As limited as the LC in China may be in advanced theological training, their hunger to discern what it is to be the New Testament church and then live that out is palpable and has sustained them through severe persecutions over a period of many decades.
The Role of Western Countercult Literature in the Suppression of Religious Sects
The movement was persecuted severely from the beginning of the Communist Revolution and even more severely during the Cultural Revolution, but in more recent decades much of the continuing persecution they have suffered has been fueled by criticisms published in Western evangelical countercult literature. This is not just a claim made by the LC but it has been verified to CRI by high-ranking Chinese authorities who met with us on our visits there.
The Chinese government is not ignorant of Western evangelical literature. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of events in China knows the Communist government has grave concerns about social instability and the role cults can play in fomenting it. (Hence, the severe crackdowns on members of Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhists after they staged unsanctioned public demonstrations.) While in some Chinese provinces registered religions, which include some Christian groups, enjoy greater freedom of expression than they have known in six decades, unregistered religions, especially those perceived as cults, continue to be treated harshly. As long as the authorities view the LC movement as a cult, its people will continue to suffer.
The Chinese government is not opposed to religion per se and in fact is increasingly recognizing that religion, including Christianity, can play a constructive role in society. The government is concerned, however, about any religious group that originated and continues to be directed from outside of China. It stipulates that any sanctioned expression of a religion must be wholly indigenous.
Perhaps no better example of a successful indigenous Chinese Christian movement can be cited than the LC. As we’ve seen, it was founded in China by Watchman Nee and carried on by Chinese workers, most notably Witness Lee. They developed an approach to theology and church life that, while orthodox, is distinctively Chinese9 and unlike anything found in the West. As we’ve seen and will see further below, their model of ecclesiology is intensely local and it therefore rejects any ecclesiastical control from outside the local church’s city, let alone the country. Furthermore, the LC are apolitical—they have no revolutionary or seditious ambitions. They teach their members to obey governmental authority and to be exemplary and productive citizens.10 In other words, it seems that, almost to a tee, the LC fits the criteria of what the Chinese government would hope to see in a Christian group.
There is therefore great and tragic irony in this: the LC’s distinctively Chinese approach to the universal truths of Christianity has contributed significantly to their being misunderstood and mislabeled a cult in the West. Yet, instead of supporting this indigenous Chinese expression of Christianity in the face of a prejudicial reaction to them in the West, many Chinese officials have instead reacted to the inflammatory word “cult” used in Western literature and continued to clamp down on the group at a time when they might otherwise have relaxed restrictions.
The Role of the Deification Doctrine in Ongoing Oppression of the LC
It would be inaccurate to imply that only Westerners have influenced Chinese authorities against the LC. The LC has experienced a mixed reaction from other Chinese Christians and some have strongly opposed them, including certain individuals who have influence with the government. I was informed by a high-ranking Chinese official who is an expert on the LC that probably the most controversial issue for these Christians is this very doctrine of deification.
It is past time that non-LC Christians come to terms with the LC’s doctrine of deification for what it is, rather than persistently assigning features to it that actually characterize non-Christian doctrines of deification. Just because the hot button words are there does not mean that heresy or idolatry are.
As we’ve seen, the union with God that the LC speaks of essentially involves becoming one with God in His communicable attributes (e.g., moral nature) and intimately “mingled” with Him through His indwelling. It involves a closer union with God than most Protestants are taught to anticipate, but not one that violates the biblical distinctions between Creator and creation.
Any Christian who thinks deeply and biblically about what the future holds for believers will have to conclude that our future conformity to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) will be greater than anything of which we currently can conceive (1 John 3:2). It is also quite evident biblically that Christ humbled Himself by becoming man and a servant of men so that ultimately He could exalt us and make us partakers in His own glorified human nature (Phil. 3:20–21; cf. Eph. 1:18–19; Heb. 2:10–12). It can even be stated that Scripture foresees a unity between the Father, Son, Spirit, and church that will be as intimate as possible without blurring the ontological distinctions between Creator and creation (or, as Lee and the LC put it, without our partaking in the Godhead) (John 17:11, 20–23; Eph. 5:31–32). It is hard ultimately to identify any substantial differences between the LC’s and general evangelicalism’s soteriology and eschatology.
The only real difference I can isolate is the LC’s emphasis on believers partaking in the life of God. This seems to be a similar concept to Eastern Orthodoxy’s doctrine that believers become deified by partaking in the “energies” of God. These are more mystical concepts than evangelicals are generally used to (although Nee and Lee learned them from Western Protestant inner life teachers11), but in both Eastern Orthodoxy and the LC such teaching does not mean partaking in God’s essential nature or becoming an object of worship. In the final analysis, then, the LC’s deification doctrine is fully compatible with orthodoxy.
- Witness Lee, A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), 53.
- Witness Lee, The Christian Life (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1994), 134.
- Witness Lee, Life-study of Job (Anaheim: Livings Stream Ministry, 1993), 122.
- Witness Lee, Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1994), 167.
- Witness Lee, The Conclusion of the New Testament, Messages 79–98 (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1997), 914. See also Lee, Divine Dispensing, 50; Witness Lee, The Spirit and the Body (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1976), 83–84.
- The Editors, “The Crystallization: Union with the Triune God,” Affirmation and Critique 1, 3 (July 1996): 64.
- A Statement concerning the Teachings of Living Stream Ministry Prepared for Fuller Theological Seminary, January 20, 2007, 25–26. (This document is posted at http://www.lctestimony.org/StatementOfTeachings.pdf.)
- It is their goal to transcend cultural divides such as East-West in order to embody the New Testament church and the “new man” spoken of in Ephesians 2:15. To a remarkable degree they succeed, but even this quest for transcendent spiritual reality is distinctively, if not uniquely, Chinese.
- See “The Beliefs and Practices of the Local Churches,” Contending for the Faith, http://www.contendingforthefaith.com/responses/booklets/beliefs.html.
- These influences included earlier editions of the following books: Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1996); Ruth Paxson, Life on the Highest Plane (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996); Mary E. McDonough, God’s Plan of Redemption (Anaheim: Living Stream Books, 1999); and T. Austin-Sparks, What Is Man? (Cloverdale, IN: Ministry of Life, 1939).