Has the Truth Changed
or Have Some of the Metro Toronto Elders?
|Should we listen to the churches or take care of our own personal observation of the situation? If we put the notification of so many churches aside and go to investigate the situation for ourselves, this is an offending to the Body. Do we respect the Body or do we respect ourselves? (The Problems Causing the Turmoils in the Church Life, p. 32, from Witness Lee's speaking in a meeting with the elders of the churches in Canada on August 14, 1993)
Addressing a Church's Refusal to Honor Their Quarantine
Some of the elders and directors of the church in Toronto have falsely accused the co-workers of applying pressure to the church there to go along with the quarantine of Titus Chu. They challenge the authority of the co-workers in issuing their warning. If we turn back the clock to 1992 we find the Metro Toronto brothers being far more assertive in calling upon all of the churches in Canada to honor their quarantine of Brother X than the blending co-workers have been thus far concerning the quarantine of Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers. The Metro Toronto brothers wrote multiple letters on this subject when the church in Vancouver refused to go along with the Metro Toronto brothers' quarantine of Brother X.
On August 13, 1992 the leading brothers in Vancouver responded to the quarantine letter from Toronto, stating that they had "...received the other side of the picture from different sources." They declared further that until they had a clearer picture, they could not and would not heed the request of the brothers in Metro Toronto. The essence of their refusal to heed the demand of the Metro Toronto brothers was their contention that a brother quarantined in one locality was not necessarily quarantined in all localities. Their response caused the brothers in Metro Toronto to respond on September 4, 1992 with a four-page letter to the brothers in Vancouver. In this letter they recapped their time of fellowship with a dissenting leading one from Vancouver. They expressed their disappointment that the issues raised were not fully addressed and explained that they wrote to air their concerns and make their stand clear. The Metro Toronto brothers reminded the brothers from Vancouver that:
In Romans chapter 14, Paul exhorted us to receive those brothers who differ from us in practice and doctrine. However, in the same book, Paul also charges us to turn away from division makers. Brothers, while we endeavor to practice the receiving of the believers, should we not also practice Paul's word here in chapter 16? The goal of both charges is to preserve the oneness of the Body of Christ.
They quoted the stand of the brothers in Vancouver, "So long as a brother has not caused trouble (division) here in Vancouver, we will receive him (regardless of the trouble he has caused in other local churches)." The brothers from Metro Toronto responded as follows:
If our understanding is correct, your policy is radically different from the established practice of the local churches.
Near the end of this letter the Metro Toronto brothers criticized the Vancouver brothers for continuing to receive and welcome this divisive brother "regardless of the damages he has wrought in other churches." They then ask:
Brothers, what is your view of the Body of Christ? Since we are one body, is not damage to other localities damage to you? Brothers, where do you stand in relation to the oneness of the Body of Christ?
If these questions were asked of the dissenting elders in Toronto today, what would their response be? In rejecting the quarantine of Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers, they are rejecting the testimonies of elders and co-workers from Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Ghana, and the United States. Do they assert that they have certain knowledge that these reports from the churches and the co-workers throughout the earth are false? On what basis do they set themselves up as authorities above the testimonies of so many churches and the warning of the co-workers? Has the truth changed, or have they?
Appealing to the Ministry of Brother Nee
On December 14, 1992 the brothers in Metro Toronto sent a five-page letter to the elders in the churches in Canada that consisted of excerpts from the ministry of Watchman Nee arranged by topic. According to the Metro Toronto brothers, "These writings clarify the stand of the Lord's Recovery and the practice of the local churches these many years." They pointed out from Brother Nee's ministry that no church should act independently of the other churches in deciding whether to receive a brother and that a brother disciplined in one locality should be considered under discipline of all of the churches. They then expounded on Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10 concerning turning away from one who causes divisions and refusing a factious person. They concluded by stating that in regard to their decision to quarantine the divisive brother:
It is based upon his [Brother Nee's] understanding of the scriptures and the established practice of the Lord's Recovery since the time of Brother Nee, that we wrote informing you of our decision to discipline a certain brother and requesting that this brother not be received into the fellowship of the local churches you oversee.
"Strongly Offended" by Any Church Not Cooperating with Their Quarantine
On December 18, 1992 the brothers from Metro Toronto sent an 11-page letter to the brothers in Vancouver that listed seven points in which the leading brothers from Vancouver had "strongly offended the churches in Metro Toronto."
The Metro Toronto brothers reminded the brothers in Vancouver of the
...very clear fellowship from Brother Watchman Nee regarding the matter of dealing with division in a local church and the manner in which other local churches should cooperate with such a decision in the principle of the "One Body."
They further reminded the brothers from Vancouver that there should not be any contention in the churches (1 Cor. 11:16), but that "...what one church does [in disciplining a brother], all the churches should do..." Today a number of the Toronto elders and others have exercised their own preference and feeling in rejecting the decision to quarantining Titus Chu. They have rejected "the principle of the 'One Body'," which they formerly espoused, and now no longer propose that "what one church does, all the churches should do."
The next paragraph in the letter contains a very telling quote, especially taken in light of today's situation. The Metro Toronto brothers said that both Brother Nee and Brother Lee had expounded Romans 16:17-20 and Titus 3:9-11 clearly. They stated that the brothers from Vancouver evidently had an interpretation that was different from both Brother Nee and Brother Lee. In regard to the teaching of both Brother Nee and Brother Lee the Metro Toronto brothers said, "Their practical teaching preserves the health and oneness of the Body of Christ. Why do you refuse to accept their fellowship regarding these scriptures?" The same question could be asked today of the brothers who reject the quarantine of Titus Chu. What has changed to cause the brothers from Toronto to abandon their previous burden to maintain and preserve the health and oneness of the Body of Christ?
In the following paragraph the Metro Toronto brothers stated that the leading brothers in Vancouver were "taking a different direction" and "straying from the path" because they refused to follow Toronto in the matter of quarantining Brother X and Brother Joseph Fung. What the Metro Toronto brothers are doing in rejecting the quarantine of Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers is exactly the same in principle as what they so strongly accused the brothers in Vancouver of doing. To use their own words, these dissenting elders are "taking a different direction" and "straying from the path," that is, they are deviating from the practice in the Lord's recovery built up through the ministry of Brother Nee and Brother Lee, a practice they championed fourteen years ago.
The Metro Toronto brothers concluded this portion of their letter with the following:
Frankly, you three brothers [in Vancouver] have caused a serious offense against the Body! By your habit of receiving brothers, being disciplined by the Body, i.e. Brother X and Joseph Fung, you are offending the local churches and therefore damaging the oneness of the Body of Christ.
How we wish all the Metro Toronto brothers would heed these words today!
Near the end of the letter the Metro Toronto brothers tell the Vancouver brothers:
You brothers have believed the "few" dissenting saints without confirming the facts with the elders here and then you have acted presumptuously on unconfirmed facts by sympathizing with them...
The same is true today of the decision of some to reject the quarantine of Titus Chu and certain of his co-workers. The dissenting elders made no attempt to confirm the facts that were presented in the meeting in Whistler in which the co-workers' letter of warning was presented. How could they then have the assurance to reject that warning?
In their conclusion to this letter the Metro Toronto brothers again brought the topic back to maintaining the practical oneness in the Lord's Body:
However, when it comes to the practical oneness of the Lord's Body it would be irresponsible for us to ignore Romans 16. We testify that, it was because of the vision of the One Body, that the Lord Jesus led us out of the denominations, Brethrenism and the free groups! To now tolerate the things we experienced in Babylon annuls our treasured vision and glorious experience these many years.
It seems many of these same brothers no longer treasure this vision today. When they wrote this letter, their vision was of the practical oneness of the Body of Christ, and at that time they refused to tolerate anything that would annul this vision. The vision has not changed; they have.
Protesting Damage to the Oneness of the Body
In a letter dated January 25, 1993 1 the Metro Toronto brothers wrote again to the leading ones in Vancouver. The letter was yet another attempt to persuade the leading ones in Vancouver to clear up their offense. Again the Metro Toronto brothers asked the brothers in Vancouver what their views of the truth and the one Body were:
While you stress that the saints should follow the teachings of Watchman Nee, it seems you have ignored one of the most crucial commitments of his ministry-the oneness of the Body of Christ. You have given the saints under your care the feeling that you are one with the churches in the Lord's Recovery. Yet, at the same time it seems that you have ignored the fact that some brothers are divisive. Their activities are damaging the oneness of the Body. Dear brothers, according to our observation, your receiving brothers is according to your own taste and preference, rather than upholding the principles of the one Body.
Near the end of the same letter the brothers from the Metro Toronto churches gave their own testimony regarding openness to all the brothers in the Lord's Recovery:
We in the churches in Metro Toronto are happy that we have received help from, are still being supplied by, and remain open to brothers in the Lord's Recovery outside of our localities. This is how we are in fellowship with all the other churches in the Lord's Recovery.
Today, some of the leading brothers in the church in Toronto seem to be cutting themselves off from the fellowship of all of the churches. This will surely be a great loss to the church under their care.
In 1992-93 the brothers from the Metro Toronto churches were very strong in their expectation that all the other churches in the Lord's recovery should follow them in their quarantine of Brother X. They demonstrated an understanding of the requirement in Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10 to deal with division-makers and factious persons. They appealed to Brother Nee's ministry to show that the discipline exercised by one local church should be respected and applied by all local churches. They stated that by refusing to honor the quarantine exercised by the churches in the Metro Toronto area, the leading ones in Vancouver had "strongly offended the churches in Metro Toronto" and were not upholding the principle of the one Body.
Today some of the elders in Toronto claim that those who uphold the quarantine of Titus Chu are somehow interfering with the "local administration" of the church in Toronto. Such a sectarian position cannot be reconciled with their earlier strong rebuke of the church in Vancouver and their subsequent correspondence with all of the churches in Canada. That case involved damage on a much smaller scale to the Lord's Body than is occurring today through the divisive activities of certain brothers.
|Return to Part 1
|Continue to Part 3
Letters Referenced in This Article
- 08/13/1992 - Letter from the leading ones in Vancouver to the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough
- 08/16/1992 - Letter on behalf of the elders and co-workers in Metro Toronto to T.K. Chia
- 09/04/1992 - Letter from the Metro Toronto brothers to the leading ones in Vancouver
- 12/14/1992 - Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the elders of the churches
- 12/18/1992 - Letter from the elders and co-workers in North York, Toronto, and Scarborough to the leading ones in Vancouver
- 01/25/1993 - Letter from brothers representing the churches in North York, Scarborough, and Toronto to the leading ones in Vancouver
1This letter is dated January 25, 1992, but in the opening paragraph the authors say they are responding to a January 9, 1993 letter from the brothers in Vancouver; an obvious mistake was made in dating the letter. It should have been dated January 25, 1993.