Has the Truth Changed
or Have Some of the Metro Toronto Elders?
|Since certain ones are trying to make divisions among us and trying to cause others to stumble, what shall we do? We should, according to the apostles' teaching, turn away from them and not tolerate them... (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p. 18, from Witness Lee's speaking in a meeting with the elders of the churches in Canada on August 14, 1993)
Quarantining a Brother for Divisive Activities
On July 24, 1992, elders in the churches in Metro Toronto sent a letter to Brother X 1 telling him that due to his divisive activities he would no longer be received in the fellowship of the Lord's recovery. The parallels between their reasons for quarantining Brother X and the reasons behind the co-workers' letter of warning concerning Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers are striking. The elders in Toronto gave three reasons for their action:
"(1) You have your own weekly meetings without any proper fellowship and coordination with the elders. You are using these meetings to carry out your divisive work. " If in 1992 the Toronto elders quarantined a brother for carrying out his own meetings in rivalry with the meetings of the church in Toronto, why do they now seek to justify the divisive activities of Titus Chu? He now conducts his own trainings, conferences, and other works in rivalry with those carried out by the co-workers in the Lord's recovery outside of "any proper fellowship and coordination" with them and, in fact, in defiance of their admonitions and contrary to his prior agreements with them.
"(2) You are involved in the writing and distribution of weekly publications which both openly and through innuendo attack the church, the Lord's recovery, the elders, and the ministry. These materials do not build up but rather undermine many of the truths and practices which we have followed for decades ." If in 1992 the Toronto elders quarantined a brother for carrying out his own publication work, why do they now condemn the co-workers' affirmation of Brother Lee's fellowship concerning being restricted in one publication work in carrying out the ministry in the Lord's recovery? Why do they now stand with those, including both Titus Chu and Nigel Tomes, who have "openly and through innuendo attacked" both this principle which has preserved the oneness of the churches in the Lord's recovery for decades and the co-workers who labor in the ministry in the Lord's recovery according to that principle? Why do they now defend the writings of Titus Chu and of those such as Nigel Tomes? Do they not acknowledge that these writings "undermine many of the truths and practices which we have followed for decades," including the ones articulated in their own correspondence with Vancouver?
"(3) Recently you had close contact with John So and also conducted a meeting where Joseph Fung spoke to some of the local saints. These two have been quarantined by many churches in the Lord's recovery because they caused divisions . The apostle Paul in Romans 16:17 exhorts us to mark those who make divisions and to turn away from them ." The fact that Brother X had contact with quarantined brothers gave the Metro Toronto brothers grave concern. Although the activities of Brother X were, for the most part, carried out in one small area, the brothers from the Metro Toronto churches saw him as "...making division in the Body of Christ." If in 1992 the Toronto elders disciplined a brother because of "his close contact and open involvement with ... brothers who have been quarantined by many churches in the Lord's recovery because they caused divisions," why do they now practice the same thing themselves? Furthermore, in the recent "Determination and Recommendation" of the church in Toronto, it was asserted that there was no scriptural basis for quarantining Titus Chu because he had not denied any essential item of the faith. However, here the Toronto elders themselves did not cite any essential of the faith that Brother X had denied; they only stated that his activities were divisive and therefore damaging to the church. 2
The elders in Toronto stated that this action was necessary because:
Within the past year, on many occasions, collectively and individually, we have brought to your attention our serious concerns regarding your divisive activities among us. Ever since October 1991 when you abruptly ceased to attend the regular weekly fellowship meetings of the elders and co-workers , we have been seeking continuously to have face to face fellowship with you in order to address our serious concerns so that the oneness of the Body of Christ could be maintained.
In their dealings with Titus Chu, the co-workers tried through face-to-face fellowship to address the problems caused by his ministry for years. When he and those who work with him stopped participating in the co-workers' times of prayer and fellowship and his defiant rejection of the co-workers' fellowship became apparent, the co-workers wrote to him expressing their serious concerns concerning his ministry on three occasions— June 4, 2005; August 25, 2005; and June 27, 2006. In each case, he continued to spurn their pleas that he adjust his course.
Nigel Tomes first wrote to the co-workers raising concerns about the publication of the co-workers' affirmation of Brother Lee's fellowship concerning being restricted in one publication work. He received multiple responses, which he himself called "helpful". Nevertheless, when Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery was released, he launched a public attack on the principle it articulated and eventually on many of the co-workers themselves. His rhetoric has been consistently strident and divisive. He has tried through twisting both the co-workers' statements and those of Brother Nee and Brother Lee to heap scorn on those seeking to continue in the same line of ministry established by Brother Nee and Brother Lee. He likewise has refused all correction and been unrepentant.
"Repent and Stop Divisive Activities"
The elders in Toronto concluded their letter to Brother X as follows:
Therefore, for the sake of keeping the genuine oneness of the Body, you force us to make the decision that until you repent of and stop your involvement in these divisive activities, we can no longer receive you in the fellowship of the Lord's recovery . As such a brother, you are no longer allowed to attend any church meetings. This decision will be made known to the saints in the three churches in Metro Toronto.
On June 27, 2006, the co-workers wrote a private letter to Titus, calling on him to repent. His response was to publicly post a broad attack on the co-workers on the Internet that was full of self-vindication and boastful pride concerning his work. In his response Titus twisted many of the co-workers' statements and assailed many understandings of the truth that have preserved the Lord's recovery in oneness for decades. If the Toronto elders were justified in quarantining a brother who refused to "repent of and stop" his involvement in divisive activities that were limited to the Metro Toronto area, how much more are the co-workers and the churches justified in quarantining brothers who have publicly posted attacks on the leading ones in the ministry in the Lord's recovery for worldwide dissemination.
A World-Wide Quarantine
It is also significant to note that the elders in Toronto did not quarantine Brother X merely from the fellowship of the church in Toronto or the churches in the Metro Toronto area, but from "the fellowship of the Lord's recovery," meaning all of the churches in the Lord's recovery over the entire earth. In their view at that time a quarantine exercised toward a brother in one church was a quarantine of that brother in all of the churches.
Explaining to the Churches the Reasons for Quarantining a Brother
In a letter dated August 5, 1992, the elders and co-workers in the Metro Toronto churches informed the elders in all of the churches in Canada of their quarantine of Brother X. Their letter listed the same three reasons for quarantining him:
- "Organizing his own weekly meetings ... outside of any proper fellowship and coordination with the local elders, in order to carry out his divisive work."
- "His involvement in the writing and distribution of weekly publications which both openly and through innuendo attack the church, the Lord's recovery, the local elders and the ministry."
- "His close contact and open involvement with ... brothers who have been quarantined by many churches in the Lord's recovery because they caused divisions."
The Metro Toronto brothers stated that they "fellowshipped with [Brother X] in private with the demand that he stop his working and learn to be a brother among us." But Brother X did not heed the demand. Instead he "...continued his involvement in the divisive meetings and publications." Similarly, the co-workers exhorted Titus Chu to abandon his independent work and bring it into the blending fellowship of all of the co-workers. Titus rejected that fellowship. In the opening of their letter to the churches in Canada, the Metro Toronto brothers stated:
Over the last few years, there have been indications of [Brother X]'s intention to set up his own work and by that lead the saints into division. We, as the elders tolerated many of his activities, hoping that through fellowship and time our brother could repent and be restored to the practical oneness which we enjoy in the Lord's recovery. The churches here have been going through a great turmoil, especially over the past two years, mainly due to [Brother X]'s working among the saints.
By all appearances, the elders in Toronto took the proper approach in trying to rescue this brother. They endured Brother X's activities for a period of time, hoping that the brother could be rescued through shepherding. Only when the brother's unwillingness to repent became openly manifest and the turmoil in the church caused by his divisive activities rose to the level that it demanded action did the elders act to discipline him. This matches the steps taken by the co-workers in their attempt to rescue Titus Chu from becoming a factor of division in the Lord's recovery. For many years they tried to shepherd him both one-on-one and through the blending fellowship of the co-workers. Because of the confusion caused in the recovery by his dissemination of his own publications and by their content, the co-workers were compelled to clarify their standing concerning publication work in Publication Work in the Lord's Recovery. Only after the opposition of Titus Chu and those who aggressively supported him became very public and after the divisive effect of his work among the churches became increasingly manifest did the co-workers take the serious step of issuing the warning statement concerning him.
As you read this August 5, 1992 letter please consider what you have read and heard from the dissenting elders in Toronto and others who have rejected the quarantine of Titus Chu. It is ironic that the three things carried out locally by a brother fourteen years ago caused the Metro Toronto brothers to say, "... we can no longer receive him as a brother" while today they defend Titus Chu for doing the same things on a far more global scale.
Expecting the Churches to Heed Their Quarantine
Near the end of this letter they asked the elders to whom they were writing to "refuse this brother in fellowship in the church where you bear responsibility and to watchfully oversee and advise your local saints who may have contact with [Brother X]." They did not ask the church there to establish a "Review Committee" or to issue a "Determination and Recommendation" concerning whether or not the quarantine exercised by the Metro Toronto churches was justified. They bluntly said "refuse this brother."
The Scriptural Basis for Quarantine
In their letter to the other churches, the Metro Toronto brothers offered no scriptural basis for their quarantine of Brother X. This may have been because they knew that it was understood among those who bear responsibility in the churches that divisiveness is a scriptural ground for quarantine. Today, some cite an alleged lack of scriptural basis as a reason that the church in Toronto and other churches would not honor the blending co-workers' letter of warning regarding Titus Chu. Some have argued that since, in their view, Titus has not deviated into heresy regarding any essential item of the faith, there is no grounds to quarantine him. Yet, the Metro Toronto brothers cited no essential items of the faith that Brother X had repudiated; they only cited his divisiveness as sufficient ground for quarantine. They demonstrated a clear understanding of both Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10 that is sorely lacking in the dissenters' writings now.
In 1992-93 the brothers from the Metro Toronto quarantined a brother for participating in divisive activities. That quarantine was based on three factors concerning the brother's actions:
- Carrying out his own meetings,
- Producing and disseminating his own divisive publications and
- Associating with brothers who had been quarantined by the Body.
Today many of the same brothers in Metro Toronto defend and maintain fellowship with a brother, Titus Chu, who has been quarantined by the Body for divisive activities. This brother has his own publication work and carries out his own trainings, conferences, and other work outside of fellowship in the Body and in rivalry with the general ministry in the Lord's recovery. Titus Chu and Nigel Tomes attack the co-workers and the churches in the Lord's recovery both directly and through innuendo. Just as in 1992, the result has been division.
In the conclusion of "Determination and Recommendation," a number of brothers in Toronto, all but one of whom signed the 1992-93 letters, state that the quarantine of Titus Chu is improper because he has not denied the essentials of the faith. We ask these brothers in Toronto, Did Brother X deny the essentials of the faith? If divisiveness in the local situation in the Metro Toronto churches was ground to quarantine this brother from fellowship with all of the churches in the Body, is it not more justifiable to quarantine a brother whose work has caused turmoil and division among the churches around the globe?
|Continue to Part 2
Letters Referenced in this Article
- 07/24/1992 - Letter from the elders in Toronto to Brother X
08/05/1992 - Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the Elders of the
Churches in Canada
- 06/04/2005 - Letter from 21 co-workers to Titus Chu
- 08/25/2005 - Letter from 21 co-workers to Titus Chu
- 06/27/2006 - Letter from 21 co-workers to Titus Chu
1The identity of Brother X and of other brothers participating in his divisive activities are protected in this article and in the correspondence reproduced on this site.
2The co-workers' warning letter includes references to 15 portions of Scripture, as compared to only one in this letter. When the Metro Toronto brothers wrote to all of the churches in Canada on December 14, 1992, explaining their quarantine of Brother X, the two verses they cited as justification were Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10, both of which deal with a divisive or sectarian person and both of which were quoted at the very beginning of the co-workers' warning statement concerning Titus Chu and those who promote and disseminate his divisive teachings, publications, practices, and views. Thus, the claim by some brothers in the Metro Toronto churches that there is no scriptural basis for quarantining Titus Chu for his divisive activities is absolutely without merit by their own standard.