Suing for Man’s Approval
The saints rejoice when persecuted by the religious on account of their faith in Christ. But not Witness Lee and his “Local Church.” They take you to court just if critiqued. They will not be denied their place at man’s table, so they deny the Lord and are refused a place at His.
A man Victor spoke with at the farmer’s market sent him the following information about his religious group founded by Witness Lee:
it’s nice talking with you.
See the following links pls.
Hank HanneGranff, CRT
Victor wrote back:
What do you and Jacob have to say about this, from http://watch.pair.com/scp-duddy.html:
Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP), NEWSLETTER July-August 1983 Vol. 9, No. 3
The Changing Face of SCP: An Update
The Legal Case [Lee vs Duddy; Neil T. Duddy was an SCP researcher who wrote The God-Men and was named with SCP (and the Swiss publisher) as a defendant in the law suit.]
~ emphasis added
As most of you know, in December of 1980 we were sued by Witness Lee, leader of a group known as the Local Church. The object of the lawsuit is a book about Witness Lee published in the German language and distributed in Switzerland. The Local Church first sued us in Switzerland, but lost the case when the Swiss court ruled that the proper plaintiff (Witness Lee) had not brought the action in the matter.
Witness Lee then filed suit against SCP in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. After 21/2 years we are still in discovery phase of the legal proceedings, where each side gathers information about the other. Interrogatories (written questions) are being answered and depositions (live interviews) are being taken of witnesses.
Litigation between Christians is the subject of scriptural rebuke and warning (see Matthew 18:15-17 and I Corinthians 6:1-11). Despite these biblical admonitions, Witness Lee has personally filed lawsuits against authors and publishers who have dared to review his teachings and the practices of the local Church in books made generally available to the public. Because of Lee’s action, we have been given no choice but to defend ourselves.
This lawsuit has great legal significance for Christians in America and worldwide because it places tort law doctrine against constitutionally protected religious speech. (“Tort” is defined in law as any wrong, injury, or damage not involving breech of contract.) The suit puts in issue the rights of an author to offer the opinion that a minister’s teaching is heretical. SCP is taking the steadfast position that its statements are within the Fair Comment Doctrine and thus are constitutionally protected speech.
The lawsuit filed by Witness Lee against Jack Sparks and Nelson Publishers regarding the book, The Mindbenders, was recently settled out of court. Reports and best estimates indicate that total expenses for both sides may have exceeded one million dollars! That would be big money for an SCP-sized budget!
We need the prayers of all of you that God will provide the funds we need and will give us prudent legal strategy so as to keep expenditures and loss of valuable work time at the lowest possible level. Pray too that Witness Lee will choose to settle his dispute with us out of court, as the Scriptures teach, so that all can avoid unnecessary expenses and waste of resources.
Matheson sent a statement from his church about their “clean bill of health”:
Pls see the following statement, and talk with any of them: Benson Phillips, Dan Towle, Andrew Yu or Chris Wilde
Over the years the local churches have welcomed dialogue with scholars who were willing to conduct honest and thorough research in order to understand our beliefs and practices. We have been privileged over the past five years to have engaged in dialogue and Christian fellowship with a number of such researchers and scholars. The content of this book reflects some of the progress that has been made both in dispelling misconceptions concerning the teachings and practices of the local churches and Living Stream Ministry (LSM) and in raising an awareness of the riches of the ministry we have inherited. LSM publishes the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee (see www.lsm.org and www.ministrybooks.org)
In 2003 Hank Hanegraaff, the President of CRI; Elliot Miller, the editor-in-chief of CRI’s flagship publication Christian Research Journal; Bob and Gretchen Passantino, the founders and Directors of Answers in Action (AIA); and representatives of the local churches and LSM desired to meet together. In the first meeting representatives of the local churches and LSM testified of their belief in the essentials of the Christian faith concerning the Bible, the Triune God, the person and work of Christ, salvation, and the church. As a result of that meeting, CRI and AIA launched a re-evaluation of the teachings and practices of the local churches. Now that the local churches have been in the United States for many years, there are many resources regarding our teachings and practices that were not as available in the years when the initial evaluation was made. Although others continue to rely on old criticisms, CRI and AIA have made use of that complete information. Their evaluation has been far more extensive than the initial review decades before, and this new study has arrived at far different conclusions.
In late 2004 a separate dialogue was initiated between Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and representatives of the local churches and LSM. A group of three distinguished members of the Seminary—President Richard Mouw, Dean of Theology Howard Loewen, and Professor of Systematic Theology Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen—performed an extensive and careful review and evaluation of our teachings and practices. Of their meetings with the representatives of the local churches and LSM they said, “Our times together were characterized by sincere, open, transparent, and unrestricted dialog.” As a result of their review, they issued a statement (also reproduced in this book) in which they concluded “that the teachings and practices of the local churches and its members represent the genuine, historical, biblical Christian faith in every essential aspect.” They also reported finding “a great disparity between the perceptions that have been generated in some circles concerning the teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and the actual teachings found in their writings.”
We are grateful for the dialogue we have had with members of CRI, AIA, and Fuller Theological Seminary, dialogue which has been both frank and full of sweet Christian fellowship. We are deeply moved by the faithfulness of our brothers and our sister in Christ in adhering to the essentials of the Christian faith and receiving all those who hold “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) without regard to personal consequences…
Benson Phillips Dan Towle Andrew Yu Chris Wilde
Hi Matheson, Jacob, and company,
Will you answer these questions or will you continue to evade me?
As per the document I sent you, did Witness Lee file a lawsuit against others, such as Duddy, SCP, the Swiss publishers, Jack Sparks, and Nelson Publishers for speaking and publishing against him and the “Local Church,” or did he not?
“The Local Church first sued us in Switzerland, but lost the case when the Swiss court ruled that the proper plaintiff (Witness Lee) had not brought the action in the matter.
Witness Lee then filed suit against SCP in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California.”
You speak of your Christian virtues and the praises of others concerning you:
“As a result of their review, they issued a statement (also reproduced in this book) in which they concluded ‘that the teachings and practices of the local churches and its members represent the genuine, historical, biblical Christian faith in every essential aspect.’”
Is it customary and right in God’s sight for His true church to be suing anyone, whether the defendants were right or wrong?
Finally, are you, Jacob Blatz, Edith, Henry, and the gathering in Lethbridge and Nobleford aware of this suit information? Do you know whether or not the suit occurred? If it occurred, is this the fruit of the True Congregation/Assembly/Church of God?
Are you, Matheson and Jacob, as well as Benson, Dan, Andrew, and Chris, in agreement and approval of Lee’s lawsuit, if this information is indeed true?
About a month later, we sent another email:
Matheson and Jacob,
You most certainly aren’t giving anyone a good impression of yourselves and your faith by avoiding the simple questions I’ve asked you about Witness Lee’s lawsuits against people for libel and slander. What do you have to say for yourselves and your leadership in this matter?
Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen
Matheson replied this time, only to continue avoiding the subject:
You should read our statement carefully first. Secondary I really don’t have so much time with you if you are only a fighter and doesn’t want to grow up with your spirit life.
If you want to read recovery bible with us that is okay, but if you only want to argue with people, please don’t interrupt me anymore.
Thank you for your attention.
Our final letter:
We have carefully red the statement you’ve provided. It appears you haven’t red Victor’s questions carefully, because the statement doesn’t contain any answers to his questions.
Pointing this out to you isn’t arguing – your stubborn refusal to acknowledge the lack of answers is arguing.
We ask, but you evade, argue, and now threaten to bow out if we ask again, letting yourself off the hook.
You need to know your argument has no merit whatsoever. What you’re saying by the statement you’ve sent is that because other “Christian” sects approve of your sect, therefore everything you’re doing must be right, including suing other professors of Christ if they don’t agree with you. That doesn’t make sense by any rational or spiritual thinking. Just because men agree with you doesn’t make you right. The issue is whether you’re walking in the truth and God agrees with you.
“But let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
And we know for a fact that those you appeal to, such as Hank Hanegraaff and CRI, don’t agree with God. For example, have you red the following about Hank and his organization?
Here’s what the Lord Jesus Christ says about the kind of thinking and self-justification you present in your statement:
“And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15 MKJV).
So one last time: Will you answer the questions, or is what we’ve just described here your final answer? No reply confirms the latter.
Paul and Victor
We heard nothing further from Matheson or his organization.