"My Intention ... Was to Encourage You to Write" —
What Did Witness Lee
A brother who has publicly opposed the co-workers' affirmation of Brother Lee's fellowship that the publication ministry should be carried out through one literature work bases his contention in part on half of one sentence from a message given by Brother Lee in 1986. His misrepresentation of Brother Lee's fellowship is a terrible and dishonest distortion. The dissenter writes:
If "we were restricted to one publication" why in the early 1980's did Brother Lee call a "Writers' Conference"? Brother Lee recalled later: "My intention in calling a writers' conference was to encourage you to write something..."
The dissenting brother takes this partial quote of a sentence from Brother Lee's fellowship as grounds for defending separate publication works that sound different trumpets in the ministry by publishing different teachings. This is deceptive to the uttermost.
The quote is found in a message entitled "Basic Principles in the Eldership and the Training of the Full-Timers" under the subheading "Being Restricted in One Publication." There Brother Lee made a strong plea for all of the leading ones among the co-workers and the elders in the churches to return to the practice of being restricted in one publication. Near the end of that section he said:
... Even though I wrote some books in China, I never dared to publish anything by myself. I do not like to have another sounding. Our sounding must be one, so we must be restricted in one publication. My intention in calling a writers' conference was to encourage you to write something, but not in the way that came out. This fellowship may preserve and protect us from doing things lawlessly. (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, p. 163) [emphasis added; the words in italics are those quoted by the dissenting brother]
Brother Lee's word was an adjustment to the leading ones in the churches to come back to the historic practice in the Lord's recovery of being restricted in one publication work. Yet this dissenting one chops out half a sentence of Brother Lee's word on being restricted in one publication in order to lead his readers to believe that Brother Lee was endorsing independent publishing. The entire burden of Brother Lee's fellowship in this portion of this message was just the opposite.
When Brother Lee says, "This fellowship may preserve us and protect us from doing things lawlessly," he is speaking of his fellowship to the brothers to be restricted in one publication. Brother Lee's mention of the writers' conference was not to encourage the brothers to carry out an independent publishing work, but to remind them of the problems that had arisen because some had taken the opportunity to put out their own teachings in a lawless fashion without fellowship and a proper regard for their effect on the oneness among the churches.
The writers' conference was called in May 1980 at the same time the churches were initiating the defamation actions against The Mindbenders and The God-Men. The burden of the writers' conference was that some would rise up to write polemics to defend and confirm the truths released through the ministry against those who distorted and opposed the teaching in the Lord's recovery. The thought was never to encourage brothers to carry out separate, independent publication works to advance their own expositions or interpretations of the biblical truths. A major part of that conference was an open and mutual fellowship concerning the various types of writings needed and the topics that should be addressed. It was never Brother Lee's intent that brothers would take the opportunity to promote their own ministries, but because of unchecked ambition on the part of some brothers, that is what came out. His word in 1986 was a corrective to those brothers. His burden is clearly evident in the following word which opened this section of his fellowship to the leading ones:
One thing that has caused the Lord's recovery trouble is the fact that we have different publications. If we mean business for the Lord's recovery, we must avoid any kind of involvement in problems. When we were on mainland China, only Brother Nee had a publication, and the Gospel Room belonged solely and uniquely to him. He asked me to help in the publication work. I did write some books, among which were a book on the genealogy of Christ, a translation of part of Pember's Earth's Earliest Ages, and some books on the kingdom of the heavens. I never published anything by myself. I always mailed my manuscript to the Gospel Room, which was under Brother Nee and his helper. It was up to their discernment whether my manuscript should be published or not. I liked to have my writings checked as to whether there might be some inaccuracy in the truth. It is not a small matter to write a book that expounds the kingdom of the heavens. I liked my material to pass through their checking. This helped and protected me. Brother Yu, the eye specialist, translated some of the mystical books, but he did not publish anything. We only had one publication. Everything was published through Brother Nee's Gospel Room because the publication is really the trumpeting. The sounding of our trumpet is not just in the verbal message but more in the publication. (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, pp. 161-162)
The following critical points in this word are reflected in the co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery:
- The historic practice in the Lord's recovery is to have only one publication work. In Brother Nee's time it was the Gospel Room and Brother Lee felt no liberty to carry out his own separate publication work.
- Brother Lee's practice, which we all acknowledge as a pattern for us, was to have any writing he did reviewed by those serving in Brother Nee's publishing work.
- Brother Nee's Gospel Room was the sole publishing work because the brothers recognized that different soundings of the trumpet in the Lord's ministry creates problems.
These points are based on a strong desire to avoid causing confusion and division among the saints in the Lord's recovery. They display a clear understanding of the uniqueness of the Lord's recovery and of the Lord's desire to maintain a testimony of the oneness of the Body of Christ.
Such a concern is not evident in the writings of the dissenting brother. Rather than present the explicitly expressed burden presented in Brother Lee's fellowship, this dissenting brother chose to distort Brother Lee's word through selective editing in order to support his own biased viewpoint. Brother Lee concluded his speaking on this topic by proposing the leading brothers "make some adjustment of the eldership" based on their prayer and consideration of his fellowship to be restricted in one publication (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, p. 164). Using one out of context sentence fragment to justify one's own agenda is not the act of a principled person. Anyone who twists the words of the brothers who take the lead in the ministry among us in this way cannot be trusted and should not be followed.