christian research institute

Shortcomings of an Open Letter (4)

Continuing this video series, here is the fourth video from the Christian Research Institute regarding the shortcomings of the open letter addressed to Living Stream Ministry and the Local Churches.

Hank speaks 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.”

 

 

Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, says:

Now, going to the present issue at hand with respect to the Lord’s Recovery, or the Local Churches, I started out reading a statement that people oftentimes quote with respect to what the Local Churches say regarding this sense of ‘we are God.’ I just quoted that to you and what I wanted to follow is to say to you that what is neglected is the qualifying statements that are made within the context of the local churches. ‘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.’ Not only so, but as the author makes clear elsewhere, ‘it is a great heresy to say that we are made like God in His Godhead.’ That was the statement of Witness Lee, who is the primary proliferator of the Lord’s Recovery around the world. And he goes on to write, ‘From eternity to eternity He [God] remains the same in His essence. But in His economy the Triune God has changed in the sense of being processed. As such, believers are infused with the life of God and thus deified through a process involving regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification.’ And of course, apart from a double standard, Athanasius of Alexandria, widely regarded as the greatest theologian of his time would likewise be accused of heresy for suggesting that the Word was made man so that we might be made God. Not only so, but the apostle Peter would be suspect for stating that we are ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4).

Witness Lee’s Teaching on the Godhead – Shortcomings of an Open Letter (3)

This is the third video in the Christian Research Institute’s series concerning the shortcomings of an Open Letter addressed to Living Stream Ministry and the Local Churches regarding their their beliefs.

Elliot comments on Witness Lee’s teachings 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.

 

 

Elliott Miller, Editor in Chief of Christian Research Institute, says:

Let’s understand the context of what they’re teaching. When you get the context of what they’re teaching; for example, Witness Lee says, ‘On the one hand, the New Testament reveals that the Godhead is unique and that, only God who alone has the Godhead, should be worshiped. 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 nature, but will never have His Godhead.’ I lay out all of these different quotes in which he teaches that ‘we do not partake in the sovereignty of God, we are not to be worshiped, and furthermore we partake in the deity, not with respect to eternity or the godological nature of God, but with respect to God’s economy: His salvation plan here on the earth, which is a progressive manifestation of God. First through the creation, then through Christ, then through the work of the Holy Spirit, and then through the church. And ultimately, when the church is perfected, our lowly human natures will be conformed into the likeness of His glorious nature. He became man, that we might become like Him and might manifest God as perfectly as He does, that we might have an intimacy with the Triune God that is such that we perfectly represent Him. He prayed, ‘That they might be one even as we are one.’ Okay, this is the kind of thing that the Local Church is talking about. They’re talking about things that we ourselves believe in, they’re just not using the same words for it. They’re not talking about us becoming like God in His eternal nature, becoming objects of worship, having sovereignty, becoming omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient – no, those are incommunicable attributes of God. What they’re talking about is exactly what we believe. That as we are perfected in His image, we will take on His communicable attributes and we will experience an intimacy with Him that is perfect.

Shortcomings of an Open Letter (2)

Continuing the Apologetics line, I’d like to post more videos from Christian Research Institute.

In this video,¬†Elliot Miller (Editor in Chief at the Christian Research Institute) speaks about the local churches’ teaching on the Trinity. He said,

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.

 

 

Elliot Miller says:

People who say, I’ve seen the complaint up here, and that’s an understandable complaint, ‘well you at CRI tell us that you’ve researched it and it’s orthodox, but are we supposed to simply take your word for it when we’ve got these quotes staring us in the face that Witness Lee and the Local Church members have made?’ And that’s a good point, but now it’s no longer the case. Because the basis for our conclusions are all laid out, fully documented in this article and you can look at it for yourself. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that, in regards to the Trinity, they (the Local Churches) are bringing a corrective to a problem within Western Evangelicalism. And that is, that we have sometimes rather simplistic approaches to how we deal with the mystery of the Trinity. As if, we can codify the entire doctrine in four simple statements. And then it’s no longer a mystery, even though for two millenia the best minds in the Christian church have struggled with this doctrine. Now all of a sudden the counter-cult community in America has simply nailed it and, you know, it fits our little brief statement ‘One God and three Persons’ or ‘Three Persons in one nature’ and if you deviate from that, now you’re in the realm of heresy. Well, no it’s not that simple.

Hank Hanegraaff says:

Really, you’re addressing the Open Letter’s concerns on the nature of God. I’ll tell you one thing: reading that article alone, grappling with it would do every single person listening to my voice right now, a great deal of good. I benefitted immensely from it. In fact, I learned from it and so will you.