Shelves: walk-of-faith , reads I think that this is a subject to many Christians ignore. We want to hear about why we can do what we want, not about who we should obey. Nee reminds us of what is important and who we are to serve. While the language of the books was a bit archaic, I easily read it.
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Many who have grown up with a Christian background will know the name Watchman Nee. His books on living the Christian life have been staples for millions of believers both in America and around the world. At his birth in he was named Nee Shu-Tsu.
Later in his life Nee adopted the name Watchman because he saw his life ministry to be one of sounding a warning. Nee established what are called House Churches in China before the Communists took control of the mainland in Nee objected strongly to the denominationalism he saw among the Western Christian groups working in China. He also thought that there should be only one church in a given locality, not multiple churches with competing loyalties. It seems to have borne fruit with reports of scores of millions of Christians meeting today in home-based churches away from government control or scrutiny.
Nee was imprisoned in and died in Hence, quoting Nee is frequently to quote a second-hand source. It is in this last title, Spiritual Authority that a serious error is taught. Nee was himself a mystic and pietist. This is a completely appropriate desire for every Christian.
However, if a Christian teacher is not subjecting his teaching to the scrutiny of other recognized and qualified Bible teachers he is running the risk of drifting off course. The mystical and pietistic teaching attracted him to the Keswick Movement and other deeper life teachers. Unfortunately some associations led to problems affecting the priesthood of the believer and biblical followership.
Possibly the greatest influence was the Chinese culture in which he grew up. To some extent we are all shaped by our culture. Ideally our Christian faith should shape us, and our culture, for the better.
We should always be alert to influences from our culture that may be at odds with the Bible and be ready to shed their sway upon our thinking. But a cultural influence can be so subtle that it is difficult to spot a conflict. In China Confucianism has strongly influenced the social milieu. The primary impact has been on education, relationships, and loyalty.
It is this last element of Confucian teaching that is perhaps the reason for a significant departure by Nee from biblical teaching on leadership and individual responsibility. Loyalty is of supreme importance to the Confucian social structure. Consistent with this ethic Nee advocated an authoritarian spiritual leadership in Christian relationships including an automatic submission to spiritual leaders, even when they are wrong. In this line of thinking, God will sort things out in His way.
Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since he has to be responsible directly to God. The obedient needs only to obey; the Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience, rather will He hold the delegated authority responsible for his erroneous act.
Insubordination, however, is rebellion, and for this the one under authority must answer to God. That audience was made up of people who sought a very deep and intimate relationship with Christ that empowered them to serve Him faithfully, which is good.
However, unchecked any one of us can slide into teaching that promotes error. Only the scriptures are infallible. Any other source must be questioned as the Bereans questioned Paul. Afterward, His example was modeled by the Apostles. That example is servant leadership. It is the form of leadership that is most appealing, and the most effective, to our human condition.
It is a form of leadership that guides the followers rather than ordering them. It is intended to meet the needs of the followers while also equipping them to succeed on their own. Command authority has its place in certain settings such as the military. But even history bears out that military commanders who sought to meet the needs of their troops won a level of loyalty that command alone could never achieve.
The New Testament contains a number of texts that give us a clear picture of what we should look for in leadership, and in those who follow. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
One is how they should not lead, and the other is how they should lead. His own example was to serve them. When He washed their feet He demonstrated a humility that captures the human heart. But when He denounced the Pharisees He was also denouncing authority that had grown corrupt because it had left behind any real care for the weak and poor and concerned itself with its own position. This is one of the inherent dangers of authority that is based solely upon position, or hierarchy.
We can think like the world does that we deserve services and privileges because of our position of responsibility. So, where do we see that in Jesus model? But, both the Pharisees and Christian church history is replete with examples of leaders who fell into such traps. One example is in 3 John Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
This concept maintains that as long as the disciple is submissive and obedient to his discipler God will not allow attacks from Satan. This is a very attractive promise to those who have bought in to the delegated, or hierarchical, structure concept.
It was primarily a cultural custom implying submission. In Israel and the surrounding pagan cultures women were to be veiled, or covered, so as to not bring shame on their husbands. A woman whose head was uncovered in public was implying she was a prostitute. It is the same kind of cultural custom as a man taking off his hat when he enters a building.
Such customs are signs, but are not protective in and of themselves. I Corinthians speaks of this covering but the passage does not speak of protection from temptation or evil. However, what seems to be is completely false. Destructive cults operate on the command structure, either overtly or covertly, and leave broken lives trailing behind.
We should be persuaded to follow a godly leader because he models Christ. In the context here, either a human leader will be our master, or God will be. It cannot be both. When we learn to submit to men in the way we should submit to God we will never submit to God. A brief listing follows: The International Churches of Christ — Also known as the Crossroads Movement this cult offshoot of the Church of Christ practices a very strict hierarchical control of everyone in the movement. Serious abuses and failures of this system have in recent years led to a backlash that is advocating reform.
Ron and Vicki Burks book Damaged Disciples tells their personal story of disillusionment and recovery. Later the founders of the movement recognized the abuses, repented, and apologized. There are innumerable other groups that employ the delegated authority concept. It is better to know the Biblical truth of spiritual leadership and discipleship than to remember a list of groups teaching the error.
It is not the way Jesus would have his people be led. He said His yoke was easy, not hard. He said He would give us life abundant. He said His strength would be ours for service. When the fruit of a ministry is bad then the root of it must be inspected. When our energy for Christian service is being depleted we must be burning the wrong fuel. Humanly speaking an imposed command structure can be an efficient way to make things happen outwardly.
However, the Church is all about relationships, persuasion, and modeling. What we see in Jesus is encouragement, selfless giving, and equipping the individual to be obedient to the Spirit within him. He gave the perfect example for leaders; servant leadership. A command structure is diametrically opposed to the method of leadership Christ prescribed for relationships in the church. By David Henke.
Having already borne two daughters, she prayed that if God should give her a son, she would give him back to God. As the boy grew up, he showed every sign of promise except he had no interest in things spiritual. It was not till he was seventeen years of age that he was met by the Lord. He knew at that time that he must accept Christ Jesus as his Savior, yet he struggled over the necessity of surrendering his life to the Lord.
Watchman Nee and “Spiritual Authority”
Many who have grown up with a Christian background will know the name Watchman Nee. His books on living the Christian life have been staples for millions of believers both in America and around the world. At his birth in he was named Nee Shu-Tsu. Later in his life Nee adopted the name Watchman because he saw his life ministry to be one of sounding a warning. Nee established what are called House Churches in China before the Communists took control of the mainland in Nee objected strongly to the denominationalism he saw among the Western Christian groups working in China. He also thought that there should be only one church in a given locality, not multiple churches with competing loyalties.
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