Is "One Publication" an Item of "Speciality" or "Generality"?
This misleading question, asked in "'Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery': Analysis & Response," is based on Brother Lee's fellowship in The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life . In that book Brother Lee defines these three terms as follows:
- The speciality of the church life is "the faith," meaning those essential truths that
constitute the basis of our Christian fellowship with one another. In this usage, "faith" does not mean the
action of believing (as in Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:1), but the object of our believing (as in Titus 1:4; Rev.
14:12; 2 Tim. 4:7).
Rom. 5:1 - Therefore having been justified out of faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph. 2:8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
Heb. 11:1 - Now faith is the substantiation of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Titus 1:4 - To Titus, genuine child according to the common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Rev. 14:12 - Here is the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
2 Tim. 4:7 - I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.
The speciality of the church life is the faith. In the New Testament the word faith is used with two different meanings. First, it means the action of believing (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:1). We have faith in the Lord Jesus, and this is the action of believing. This is the subjective meaning of the word faith. There is also the second meaning, that is, the objective meaning of the word faith. Faith used in this way refers to the things in which we believe, the object of our faith, our belief (Titus 1:4; Rev. 14:12; 2 Tim. 4:7). So when we say the speciality of the church life is the faith, we mean the faith which is the object of our believing. This is what we call our Christian faith. As Christians we have a unique faith.
...Thus, the faith is something unique, something specific, something special. Therefore, in the church life we have only one thing that is specific or special. That is the faith, our Christian faith, which is composed of the beliefs concerning the Bible, God, Christ, the work of Christ, salvation, and the church. ( The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life , pp. 7-8)
- Concerning many other matters, matters outside the saving faith, we should exercise the kind of
"generality" Paul speaks of in Romans 14-15, receiving other believers in fellowship who have different
understandings of items which are not an essential part of the basics of the Christian faith.
Rom. 14:1 - Now him who is weak in faith receive, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his 3considerations.
fn. 14:1 3 - I.e., doctrinal considerations. Except in the matters of idol worship (1 John 5:21; 1 Cor. 8:4-7), fornication, rapaciousness, reviling, and other such gross sins (1 Cor. 5:9-11; 6:9-10), division (16:17; Titus 3:10), and the denial of the incarnation of Christ (2 John 7-11), we must learn not to pass judgments on the doctrinal views of others. As long as one is a genuine Christian and has the fundamental faith of the New Testament, we should not exclude him, even though he may differ from us with respect to doctrine; rather, we should receive him in the same one Lord.
Rom. 14:3 - He who eats, let him 1not despise him who does not eat; and he who does not eat, let him 1not judge him who eats, for 2God has received him.
fn. 14:3 1 - Concerning the receiving of the believers, Paul used eating (vv. 2-3) and the keeping of days (vv. 5-6) as examples. God's receiving has nothing to do with what we eat or with our keeping of certain days. These are minor, secondary matters that have nothing to do with our salvation and basic faith. Therefore, we should not despise or judge others in these things.
fn. 14:3 2 - The basis on which we receive the believers is that God has received them. God receives people according to His Son. When a person receives God's Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as his Savior, God receives that person immediately and ushers him into the enjoyment of the Triune God and of all He has prepared and accomplished in Christ for us. We should receive people in the same way and should not be more narrow than God. Regardless of how much they differ from us in doctrinal concepts or religious practices, we must receive them. When we receive people according to God and not according to doctrine or practice, we demonstrate and maintain the oneness of the Body of Christ.
Rom. 15:7 - Therefore receive one another, as 1Christ also received you to the glory of God.
fn. 15:7 1 - Verse 3 of ch. 14 says that we should receive people according to God's receiving, but here we are told that we should receive people according to Christ's receiving. Christ's receiving is God's receiving. What Christ has received, God has received. Those whom God and Christ have received we must receive, regardless of how they differ from us in doctrine or practice. This will be to the glory of God.
All Christians are the same in the faith, but we may be very, very different in the doctrines. Do you believe that we all will be the same in the doctrines? When will that time be? I can hardly believe that any two of us could ever be absolutely the same in doctrine. Then what shall we emphasize? Shall we emphasize the doctrines? If so, we will become divisive and eventually will be divided. We should not emphasize the doctrines, but only our Christian faith. We can emphasize this because with the faith there is no argument. In the faith we have no problems. We are all the same....
We all have to realize ... that in a local church, as far as all the doctrines are concerned, we should not be so specific, but general. However, as far as our Christian faith is concerned, we must be specific. Concerning the faith, we must be definite. But as for doctrines such as immersion, sprinkling, head covering, foot-washing, eating, keeping days, marriage, and so many other things, we must be general. If we would not be general, we will surely be divisive. ( The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life , pp. 14, 30)
- Those things which are not part of the essential faith but are profitable for the growth in life
of the saints and the building up of the church comprise the "practicality" of the church life. As they are
not a part of "the faith," they are not a part of the speciality of the church and therefore not a condition
for receiving believers. However, they should be put into practice so that the saints and the churches can be strong
and healthy (Phil. 4:9; 1 Tim. 4:15). One item Brother Lee included in the practicality of the church life is
"healthy teaching" (pp. 57-58).
Phil. 4:9 - The things which you have also learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace will be with you.
1 Tim. 4:15 - Practice these things; be in them, that you progress may be manifest to all.
However, whether in teaching or practice, it is wise to use the things which are better.... So many things are not within the circle of the speciality, our Christian faith, but in the realm of the practicality, which is for practice....
A FINAL WORD
None of the points that we have covered in the last three chapters are aspects of our Christian faith. However, all of them should be put into practice; otherwise, a local church could never be strong and prevailing. If all of these points are put into practice, a local church will become strong and prevailing. These are not items of our Christian faith. But they must become part of the practicality of the church life. ( The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life , pp. 24, 70)
Significantly, the author of "Analysis & Response" makes no mention of this third category, "practicality." Yet having one publication work in the Lord's ministry to the churches and the saints is clearly a matter of "practicality." By the author's own admission, the co-workers wrote in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery: "...one publication is not a matter of the common faith..." Thus, they never presented the matter of being restricted to one publication work in the Lord's recovery as an essential to the faith, as an item of speciality. In fact, they said the opposite. The author of "Analysis & Response" implies that the co-workers' affirmation of Brother Lee's desire to be restricted in one publication work is therefore somehow improper. His reasoning is itself untenable. His dissenting opinion is based on a misuse of Brother Lee's fellowship in The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life in several crucial ways:
The standards of speciality and generality are misapplied.
The propriety of practicality as an item of the co-worker's fellowship
The nature of the co-workers' fellowship regarding publication work
- The biblical limits on practicing generality are overstepped.
We will look at each of these points in turn.
1. The Standards of Speciality and Generality Are Misapplied
Brother Lee's fellowship on speciality and generality concerns the basis of our receiving of believers into the fellowship of the church. The subject of Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery is not receiving believers into fellowship, but the practicality of carrying out the unique New Testament ministry without confusion. This is a critical distinction the co-workers themselves make.
Finally, all the churches and saints everywhere must understand that the matter of one publication is not a matter of the common faith but something related to the one ministry in the Lord's recovery. The ministry is the sounding of the trumpet among us in the Lord's recovery, and there should be no uncertain sounding of this trumpet, as Brother Lee has mentioned on a number of occasions. However, the one publication should not become the basis of our accepting or rejecting any persons in the communion of faith or in the fellowship of the churches; it should not be insisted on as an item of the faith. If any are not inclined to be restricted in one publication, these ones are still our brothers; they are still in the genuine local churches. ( Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery, p. 9)
The first half of Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery concludes with a similar quotation from Brother Lee's ministry, which begins:
THE MINISTRY AND THE CHURCHES
Whether or not a certain church takes the ministry does not decide whether that church is a genuine local church. The title of this message does not say "no uncertain sounding of the trumpet in the Lord's recovery" but "in the Lord's ministry." I am not talking about something in the Lord's recovery, but I am talking about the ministry. ( Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move , p. 80; quoted on page 9 of Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery)
What could be clearer? In receiving fellow believers and fellow local churches, the matter of how to carry out the publication work is not an item of the faith; that is, it is not a matter of speciality. Whether a brother or a church agrees or disagrees with it, practices or does not practice it, does not affect their standing as our brother or as a church.
However, the ones who serve in the ministry of the Word bear a great responsibility for preserving the oneness among the saints. They should, therefore, adhere to a higher standard. Recognizing this, Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery urges all engaged in such work to be diligent to ensure they are not sowing confusion among the saints by publishing writings that produce questionings through different teachings (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-4). It warns that confusion and division will surely ensue if different teachings are propagated through different publication works. To neglect this fellowship is to ignore the lessons that can be gleaned from the New Testament, from Christian history, and from our own history concerning how to carry out the Lord's ministry.
1 Tim. 1:3-4 -  Even as I exhorted you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things  nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God's economy, which is in faith.
1 Tim. 6:3-4 -  If anyone teaches different things and does not consent to healthy words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to godliness,  he is blinded with pride, understanding nothing, but is diseased with questionings and contentions of words, out of which come envy, strife, slanders, evil suspicions.
In 1984 Brother Lee called an urgent elders' training because of a tendency toward division brought in by brothers carrying out their own work within the one work of the Lord's recovery. The messages released at that time are very instructive for our situation today. In the second message entitled "Lessons Concerning the Oneness of the Ministry" ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 26-27, 28-30, 33-34), Brother Lee drew on the scriptural example of Apollos to demonstrate the problem caused by carrying out a ministry that differs even slightly from the general ministry in the churches. From careful study and consideration of the New Testament, it is evident that Apollos' ministry was a factor in the divisive situation in the church in Corinth and in the degradation of the church in Ephesus, which eventually turned away from Paul. While it is true that Paul did not insist that Apollos follow his leadership in the ministry (1 Cor. 16:12), it is likewise true that Apollos' failure to adequately bring his ministry in line with the general ministry in the churches contributed to problems in the churches that received his ministry (Acts 18:24; 19:1; 20:17-18a, 30; 1 Cor. 1:10-12; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 1:15; Rev. 2:1a, 4-5).
1 Cor. 16:12 - And concerning our brother Apollos, I urged him many times to come to you with the brothers; yet it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.
Acts 18:24 - And a certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent man, arrived at Ephesus, and he was powerful in the Scriptures.
Acts 19:1 - Now while Apollos was in Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper districts, came down to Ephesus and found some disciples.
Acts 20:17-18a, 30 -  And from Miletus he sent word to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.  And when they came to him, he said to them...  And from among you yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverted things to draw away the disciples after them.
1 Cor. 1:10-12 -  Now I beseech you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be attuned in the same mind and in the same opinion.  For it has been made clear to me concerning you, my brothers, by those of the household of Chloe, that there are strifes among you.  Now I mean this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.
1 Tim. 1:3-4 -  Even as I exhorted you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things  nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God's economy, which is in faith.
2 Tim. 1:15 - This you know, that all who are in Asia turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
Rev. 2:1a, 4-5 -  To the messenger of the church in Ephesus write: ...  But I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore where you have fallen from and repent and do the first works; but if not, I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent.
It was necessary for Apollos to be merged in with Paul's ministry, the more the better. Although he may have been very much one with Paul, his case became a problem....
I do not believe that Apollos conducted himself in a way to be one with Paul to the uttermost in God's New Testament economy (see 1 Cor. 16:12). ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 26, 27)
I believe that we can learn from Apollos's case that there is the possibility of having different flavors, different atmospheres, and different colors, although we may move together, minister together, work together, and all be together in the Lord's recovery. Apollos was not dissenting with Paul, but his ministry bore a different color and flavor than Paul's ministry. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 29-30)
The seed that Apollos sowed in Ephesus eventually became the basic factor for the decline of the church. The reason that the church in Ephesus degraded was that it had taken the lead to depart from the teaching of the apostles. To depart from the apostles' teaching is to depart from the apostles' vision. With the departure of the apostles' teaching came the teaching of Balaam (Rev. 2:14), the teaching of the Nicolaitans (vv. 6, 15), and the teaching of Jezebel (v. 20). These three teachings represent the heresies in Christianity. ( The Vision of the Age , p. 46)
We can detect through various hints that the cause of Ephesus's decline was its failure to rid itself of Apollos's seed. From the standpoint of the New Testament, that teaching was a different teaching; it was a different doctrine. ( The Vision of the Age , p. 75)
Brother Lee repeatedly stressed that every ministry produces its own "fellowship" and that all of the divisions in Christianity can be traced back to different ministries, that is, ministries other than the unique New Testament ministry.
I am burdened to stress this point of the oneness of the ministry because of all the divisions and confusions that have taken place in the past centuries among the Christians. The most damaging thing among the Christians is the divisions and the confusions. Moreover, all the divisions and confusions came out of one source, and that source is the different ministries. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , p. 12)
DIVISIONS COMING OUT OF DIFFERENT MINISTRIES
Why is it that there were divisions even from the time while the apostles, including Paul and John, were still here on this earth? Divisions began to take place from the last part of the first century and have continued to take place until the present century. There have been divisions after divisions, which have caused all kinds of confusion. What is the reason for all these divisions? They all came about simply because of different so-called ministries.
As those in the Lord's recovery, we must ask ourselves what our realization is of the Lord's ministry to carry out His economy. What is our view concerning the damages that have been brought in through the so-called different ministries? Today every denomination has its own ministry. To be a preacher in a certain denomination, it is necessary for you to be limited to a certain kind of ministry, limited in your teaching, in your preaching, in your doctrine, and even in your behavior. In every denomination, you need to be limited to the ministry of that particular denomination.
We need to be very clear that the foundation of all the denominations and the factor that produces each denomination are their different ministries. If all the Christians today would be willing for the Lord to take away their different ministries, they would all be one. The basic factor of all the divisions, their very root, is different ministries. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 14-15)
We need to see this principle throughout the entire Christian era. All the troubles, divisions, and confusions came from the one source of the tolerance of different ministries. Many Christian teachers have known the peril of different ministries; nevertheless, they have tolerated them. There has been a tolerance of different ministries. In the Lord's recovery, for the long run, we should not believe that this kind of creeping in of the different ministries would never take place. Rather, we must be on the alert. Such a peril is ahead of us. If we are not watchful, if we are careless, in one way or another the enemy would creepingly use some means, some ways, to bring in different ministries. Such a thing would end the Lord's recovery...
All of us today need to be on the alert. We need to realize that Satan could use any one of us to bring in some other kind of teaching that may be scriptural... We need to be very careful because Satan is subtle. All of us need to be alert not only to watch over others but to watch over ourselves. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 16-17)
THE PROBLEM OF MINISTRY
Thus far, I believe we have all been deeply impressed with the need of a vision of God's New Testament ministry. This training is a training on the ministry. Throughout the twenty centuries of church history, the divisions, confusions, and problems which have taken place among all the Christians were all due to a ministry. Whatever you minister produces something. If you minister the heavens, something heavenly will be produced. If you minister earthly things, surely the issue, the coming out, will be earthly. The many divisions and confusions among the Christians today all come from one source-a ministry. The Presbyterian denomination or division came out of the ministry of the presbytery. The Baptist division came out of the ministry of baptism by immersion. All the different kinds of Christian groups come out of different ministries. A ministry is mainly a teaching. We must realize that the teaching which a Christian teaches ministers something. It may minister something right, something wrong, something high, or something low. A teaching always issues in something. Based upon the issue of your teaching, your teaching may be considered as a ministry. Ministry in the biblical usage means to serve people with something, just as a waiter in a restaurant serves people with the courses of food. To serve others with something is to minister. To minister is not to preach, teach, or speak without serving anyone with anything. We may say that a certain minister who speaks for an hour ministers nothing to people. This means that according to Christ he ministered nothing, but according to the facts that minister did minister something. He ministered something wrong, something bad, or something low to people. I hope we can see that ministry produces problems, ministry produces division, and ministry produces confusion.
NOT TO TEACH DIFFERENTLY
This is why Paul wrote 1 Timothy in the midst of a confusing environment and after many years of his work with his co-workers. This Epistle is altogether an inoculation. Poison after poison was injected into the Christian church while the church was going on. At the conclusion of his writing ministry, Paul wrote 1 Timothy to inoculate the church against all these poisons. In the opening word of this Epistle, however, Paul did not write in a way that we would think to be so serious: "Even as I urged you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach differently (1:3)." This phrase "not to teach differently" seems so simple. If you merely read this phrase, you will not sense the seriousness of different teaching. We may not think that this is serious, but actually it is more than serious. It kills people to teach differently. To teach differently tears down God's building and annuls God's entire economy. We all must realize that even a small amount of teaching in a different way destroys the recovery. There is a proverb which says, "One sentence can build up the nation and one sentence can destroy the entire nation." You do not need to give an entire message. Just by speaking one sentence which conveys your kind of concept tears down everything. We must realize that ministry is "terrible." Your speaking can build up or destroy. It is possible that your speaking destroys, kills, and annuls. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , pp. 41-43)
Our own history also has been marred by brothers carrying out their own work without proper care for the Body as a whole. Many gifted brothers became casualties of their own ambition to carry out their own ministry. We take no joy in saying this. These are our dear brothers, and we grieve that they cut themselves off from the fellowship of the churches. Their stumbling is a loss to the Lord's recovery.
2. The Propriety of Practicality As an Item of the Co-worker's Fellowship Is Ignored
"Analysis & Response" argues that since the matter of one publication work is not an essential item of the faith, the co-workers should not have presented their feeling concerning it. The implication is that if something is not part of the speciality of the church, that if it is not an item of the common faith, the co-workers should not touch it. That is absurd. The New Testament is full of the apostles' fellowship concerning how the churches and the saints should go on in a healthy way. Their fellowship touches many items that cannot be considered items of speciality. These items are part of what Paul calls "healthy teaching" and the "healthy words" (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:8).
1 Tim. 1:10 - For fornicators, homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever other thing that is opposed to the 1healthy teaching.
fn. 1:10 1 - Healthy implies the matter of life. The sound teaching of the apostles, which is according to the gospel of the glory of God, ministers the healthy teaching as the supply of life to people, either nourishing them or healing them; in contrast, the different teachings of the dissenting ones (v. 3) sow the seeds of death and poison into others. Any teaching that distracts people from the center and goal of God's New Testament economy is not healthy.
1 Tim. 6:3 - If anyone teaches different things and does not consent to healthy words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to godliness.
2 Tim. 1:13 - Hold a pattern of the healthy words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
2 Tim. 4:3 - For the time will come when they will not tolerate the healthy teaching; but according to their own lusts they will heap up to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
Titus 1:9 - 1Holding to the faithful word, which is according to the 3teaching of the apostles, that he may be able both to exhort by the healthy teaching and to convict those who oppose.
fn. 1:9 1 - The elders are appointed to administrate God's government in a local church that good order may be maintained in the church. To accomplish this, the elders need to hold to the faithful word, which is according to the apostles' teaching, that they may be able to stop troublesome talkers and calm a tumultuous situation (vv. 9-14).
fn. 1:9 3 - The teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42) eventually became the New Testament. This indicates that (1) the churches were established according to the apostles' teaching and followed their teaching, and (2) the order of the churches was maintained by the faithful word, which was given according to the apostles' teaching. The disorder in the church was due mainly to deviation from the apostles' teaching. To counter this, we must hold to the faithful word taught in the churches according to the apostles' teaching. In a darkened and confused situation, we must cleave to the enlightening and ordering word in the New Testament - the apostles' teaching. To maintain order in the church, the apostles' word according to God's revelation is needed in addition to the eldership.
Titus 1:13 - This testimony is true; for which cause reprove them severely that they may be 3healthy in the faith.
fn. 1:13 3 - The gainsayers (v. 9) and vain talkers (v. 10) were infected with doctrinal diseases and became unhealthy in the faith. They needed the inoculation of the healthy teaching and the healthy word (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3, and notes), which the elders should provide (v. 9) for their healing.
Titus 2:8 - Healthy speech that cannot be condemned, that he who opposes may be put to shame, having 3nothing evil to say about us.
fn. 2:8 3 - The healthy teaching with the healthy speech composed of healthy words is the most effective antidote to the opposer's slanderous speaking. Such light-shedding and life-imparting teaching of the word of the truth always stops the mouth of doctrinal opinion instigated by the old serpent.
It is striking that "Analysis & Response" completely ignores the third section of Brother Lee's fellowship in the The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life . The practicality of the church life refers to those things which, while not items of the faith, will, if practiced, cause the churches to be healthy and to grow and increase. In the Lord's recovery we rightly treasure the oneness and the one accord. They are the base for the Lord's blessing of life (Psa. 133:1, 3b) and increase (Acts 2:46-47). The goal of the co-workers in publishing Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery is to maintain and strengthen the health in life of the churches and the saints through a diet of healthy words. Such healthy teaching is vitality related to the practicality of the church life.
Psa. 133:1, 3b -  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity! ...[3b] For there Jehovah commanded the blessing: Life forever.
Acts 2:46-47 -  And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they partook of their food with exultation and simplicity of heart,  praising God and having grace with all the people. And the Lord added together day by day those who were being saved.
The co-workers' fellowship is consistent with Brother Lee's practice of leading the churches by emphasizing items related to the practicality of the church life. It is also consistent with Brother Lee's closing word on page 70 of The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life .
A FINAL WORD
None of the points that we have covered in the last three chapters [concerning the practicality of the church life] are aspects of our Christian faith. However, all of them should be put into practice; otherwise, a local church could never be strong and prevailing. If all of these points are put into practice, a local church will become strong and prevailing. These are not items of our Christian faith. But they must become part of the practicality of the church life.
As the co-workers expressed in their statement, the practice of being restricted in one publication is essential to the preservation of the integrity of the Lord's ministry among us, which is crucial to the practical oneness among the local churches.
3. The Nature of the Co-workers' Fellowship Regarding Publication Work Is Misrepresented
"Analysis & Response" mischaracterizes Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery as an official policy insisted upon by the blended co-workers and mandated upon the saints and the churches. "Analysis & Response" uses the word "policy" 33 times and forms of the words "mandate" and "insist" 6 times each. Yet none of these words—"insist," "mandate," or "policy" (or any words of similar force)—are used in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery, except in the one paragraph above where the booklet explicitly states that the matter of one publication work "should not be insisted on as an item of the faith" [emphasis added]. Thus, the very words of Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery are contrary to the mischaracterization of it in "Analysis & Response."
Furthermore, prior to publication of the co-workers' statement, the author of "Analysis & Response" received an extended reply from Brother Kerry Robichaux (among others) concerning his objections to the document on these very points. In that response Kerry unambiguously stated that the matter of one publication is not a matter of the faith, but is related to the ministry in the Lord's recovery; that it is not to be insisted upon as a basis for receiving fellow believers or churches; but that it represents the co-workers' feeling concerning the best way for the churches to be kept in a healthy condition.
The matter of one publication is not a matter of the common faith at all but something related to the one ministry in the Lord's recovery. There is no reason to confuse the two, nor to apply the standards of the one to the other. We feel that the ministry is the sounding of the trumpet among us in the Lord's recovery and that there should be no uncertain sounding of this trumpet, as Brother Lee has mentioned on a number of occasions. The one publication is not the basis of our accepting or rejecting any persons in the communion of faith; thus, it should not be insisted on as an item of the faith. However, while the common faith is general and inclusive, there must be more discipline and speciality among the ministers of the Word to maintain the one voice in the ministry of the truth.
Kerry also compared the co-workers' fellowship in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery with Brother Lee's fellowship concerning the God-ordained way.
Further, I do not think that it is accurate to equate the circulation of this statement with an insistence on it. I believe that what the co-workers are doing is akin to what Brother Lee did when he issued the call to the saints everywhere to pick up the God-ordained way. You will recall, I am sure, that he did not insist on this new way, but he certainly promoted it as the best way to bring all the saints into their organic functions as members of the Body of Christ. The new way was to be a matter of choice for the saints and the churches, not something insisted upon. Likewise, being restricted in one publication is a matter of choice for the churches. No one is insisting that the churches everywhere be restricted in one publication. But at the same time, the co-workers can and should help the saints to see the value of one publication in the Lord's recovery, and they should encourage the saints everywhere to exercise this restriction for the sake of the one testimony among us. I understand that some do not wish to see this matter promoted or even spoken, but as co-workers trained by Brother Lee we do well to follow his example and admonition ourselves and to bring the saints whom we care for into the same practice.
This comparison is very instructive. The God-ordained way is not a matter of the faith; it is not a matter of the speciality of the church. It is, therefore, not a basis for receiving or not receiving believers into fellowship. It is, however, a critical part of Brother Lee's fellowship related to the practicality of the church life; it is his leading concerning the way the churches and the saints should practice in order to be healthy in life and increase in numbers for the accomplishment of God's economy.
Brother Lee did not expect that all of the churches would immediately follow his lead to pick up the practice of the God-ordained way, but that did not deter him from strongly emphasizing it. He did, however, warn the churches and the saints against opposing the Lord's move to bring in the God-ordained way.
A WORD OF LOVE, ADVICE, AND WARNING
I am prepared to meet a situation in which some in the Lord's recovery will not go this way. This will not surprise me. You and I should not consider these ones as strangers and should not cut them off from the recovery. We should still love them, respect them, and not despise them a bit. Do not consider them as another kind of people. Although they have not joined the army, they are still proper citizens.
To those who would not take this way, I would give a word of love, advice, and warning. Do not criticize, do not attack, and do not oppose. If you do, you will suffer the loss. This would mean that you would betray the recovery. You would become a betrayer, a traitor. Some may feel that they are not betrayers or traitors but protectors. According to their concept, they do not want to see that I am the unique leader to control the entire recovery. This is a very good cloak for them to put on. I have been with the recovery for fifty-five years, since 1932. In all these years I have not controlled anyone. I do not have the intention to control anybody or to exercise any control. But we need a proper leadership. ( Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move , pp. 126-127)
We realize that if the Lord is to go on to make His recovery prevailing, there is no other way but this present move. However, if a church meeting properly would not take this present new way, then we still respect them as a proper church. We would still keep the fellowship with them, even though they do not feel the need of the new way. Even if they would oppose, we would not reject them. When they say that they are no longer a church in the recovery, then that is their cutting off the fellowship, not us. Do not cut off any church who would not be agreeable to the present new move. If a church opposes a little and yet still recognizes all the other churches on this globe for the fellowship in the Body, we would not only recognize but also respect and regard them as a genuine church among the many local churches. We not only like to, but we also will try our best to maintain proper fellowship with them. Do not be sectarian. ( Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move , p. 150)
The churches in Canada and the United States were opened to the Lord's recovery through this ministry, but I have suffered. I saw Brother Nee suffer the same kinds of things. In February 1986 I called an urgent elders' training in which I stressed the one accord, and I made my teaching very clear (see Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move ). I said that being in the army is different from being a citizen. Not everyone in a country is in the army. Gideon eventually had only three hundred who became his army (Judg. 7:7). I went to Taipei in 1984 because I was burdened for an army to be raised up who would practice the God-ordained way. But I do not have the intention or the expectation for all the saints in the recovery to be the same. I pointed out in the 1986 elders' training that if some decide not to take the way of the ministry, they are still members of the church in the recovery. But I also asked these ones not to criticize or oppose, because this would cause trouble and division. ( The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, pp. 11-12)
The blended co-workers' expression of their intention to carry out only one publication work to supply all of the churches is an entirely appropriate form of fellowship within the scope of the practicality of the church life. On the other hand, it is misleading on the part of the author of "Analysis & Response" to imply that the co-workers failed to consider or address his concerns.
4. The Biblical Limits on Practicing Generality Are Overstepped
By sowing suspicion and discord among the brothers and the churches, "Analysis & Response" contravenes Brother Lee's fellowship in The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life regarding limits to generality. On page 34, in a section subtitled, "The Balance to the Generality," Brother Lee says:
At the beginning of this chapter I listed all the verses in the New Testament regarding the persons who could not and should not be received into the church life. Do not think the church has to practice the generality to the degree that it has to take all kinds of persons. No, not at all. Yes, we should be general, but still there are certain persons with whom we cannot be general, nor with whom we should be general.
Among those listed as ones the church cannot and should not receive are:
- One who neglects to hear the church (Matt. 18:15-17).
Matt. 18:15-17 -  Moreoever if your brother sins against you, go, reprove him between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not heard you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be to 3you just like the Gentile and the tax collector.
fn. 18:17 3 - If any believer refuses to hear the church, he will lose the fellowship of the church and will be like the Gentile (the heathen) and the tax collector (the sinner), who are outside the fellowship of the church.
- Those who cause division (Rom. 16:17; 2 Thes. 3:6, 14).
Rom. 16:17 - Now I exhort you, brothers, to mark those who make divisions and causes of 1stumbling contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and 2turn away from them.
fn. 16:17 1 - Referring to being stumbled and leaving the church life. This must be the result of different opinions and teachings.
fn. 16:17 2 - In ch. 14 Paul was liberal and gracious regarding the receiving of those who differ in doctrine or practice. Here, however, he is unyielding and resolute in saying that we must turn away from those who are dissenting, who make divisions, and who make causes of stumbling. The purpose in both cases is the preserving of the oneness of the Body of Christ that we may have the normal church life.
2 Thes. 3:6, 14 -  Now we charge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the things which were handed down to you and which you received from us...  And if anyone does not obey our word through this letter, mark this one so as not to mingle with him, in order that he may be ashamed.
- One who is sectarian (Titus 3:10).
Titus 3:10 - A factious man, after a first and second admonition, 2refuse.
fn. 3:10 2 - In order to maintain good order in the church, a factious, divisive person should be refused, rejected, after a first and second admonition. This is done to stop intercourse with a contagiously divisive person for the church's profit.
These three categories of persons all do damage to the oneness of the Body of Christ. The propagation of different teachings (1 Tim. 1:3-4) through different publications has already caused damage to the Lord's Body. The opposition to the co-workers' fellowship concerning the way to carry out publication work greatly compounds this damage. We are fearful as to where the dissenting ones' opposition will lead them and those influenced by them.