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Watchman Nee

Discussion in 'House Churches & Cell Groups' started by phydaux, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. phydaux

    phydaux Newbie

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    For some reason I feel like I'm gonna get a TON of flack over this, but here goes:

    Can anyone recommend a good book by Watchman Nee? Sort of as a starting point for his writings?
     
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  2. 1watchman

    1watchman Overseer Supporter

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    He wrote a book called: The Normal Christian Life; however, one should know his history to see he also subscribed to some pretty severe conditions and control over followers, who failed to bow to the anointed elite rulers of this gathering (called the "local church"). I have a history on this man and his religion, also including Witness Lee --his disciple. Watchman Nee died in a Chinese prison in about 1952, I think, under the Communist rule; then Witness Lee took over the reigns.
     
  3. phydaux

    phydaux Newbie

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    Mainstream Christianity, Walter Martin and the cult hunters of the late 70s/early 80s, were all highly critical of Watchman Nee/Witness Lee and the Local Church movement. Now, 30 or so years later, may of those same people and groups are coming forward and saying that perhaps they were overly critical at the time.
     
  4. Job8

    Job8 Senior Member

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    For anyone to lump Watchman Nee with cults would indicate that they had a preconceived bias against him or really did not know his beliefs. He was a fundamentalist Christian, but he also had some thoughts about the Gospel and prayer which would not fit into the mold of North American thinking. I have his book The Ministry of God's Word. Nothing in it would be contrary to Scripture, but he does express certain thoughts which are not "mainstream" and are unusual. Perhaps it's his Chinese culture.
     
  5. ezeric

    ezeric HE loves me too.

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    Flack not from me.

    I think more writers and house church saints should always 'challenge their own thinking' and let the SPIRIT lead them.

    -eric
     
  6. parsley

    parsley .

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    When I went to look up the title I had in mind, I couldn't believe how many books Nee had written.

    Then again, his teachings reflected a highly disciplined life, and knowledge of scriptures. I gained a lot from The Spiritual Man series.

    His writings grew out of an eastern culture, more ascetic and communal than we are accustomed to in the west. There was much self-conviction and introspection in his words, which we could use these days.

    Teachers are not meant to be end-alls. Each has a specialty and a message on their hearts, and we draw gems from one teacher after another to support our growth.
     
  7. dayhiker

    dayhiker Mature veteran

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    I got a lot from Watchman Nee's books when I read a few in the 70's I always wanted to read his book The Spiritual Man, but when I was ready to read them they were no longer in the book stores. Maybe now I'll find time to read them.
     
  8. parsley

    parsley .

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    Aw sorry, I'd bought the last copy then.

    Somehow I think I might have less endurance to get through them now than when I was younger. They were intense!
     
  9. paul1149

    paul1149 that your faith might rest in the power of God Supporter

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    The only book I read that I don't recommend is Spiritual Authority, which I think is way off base. That is the inexplicable exception. Everything else I've read is superb. The Spiritual Man is astonishing in its depth of perception. He wrote it on what everyone thought was his death bed (he was miraculously raised from it later). It's a heavy book, but if you want the same content in shorter form read his book Release of the Spirit. Nee, IME, is at or near the top of history's greatest explicators.
     
  10. GQ Chris

    GQ Chris ooey gooey is for brownies, not Bible teachers

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    Watching Out For Watchman Nee

    excerpt:

    Space allows a listing of only a few of the problems in Nee's teachings:

    By all appearances, Nee saw himself not as a servant but as a guru

    • Nee outlines no method of Bible study and interpretation and appears to deny evangelical hermeneutics. In his book Spiritual Authority, he sets himself and his elders up as the unquestionable authorities. By all appearances, Nee saw himself not as a servant but as a guru.
    • One gets the impression from Nee that the Bible was not nearly as important as Christians generally consider it. In his book The Ministry of God's Word, Nee says, "Words alone cannot be considered God's Word." In this book, Nee becomes very philosophical, mystical and incoherent.
      He says that only as we deliver the Word in terms of the "reality behind it," using what he calls "Holy Spirit memory" and "presenting the pictures as well as speaking the words" will the words be correct; otherwise they are not real.
    • Nee overemphasizes emotions. In The Ministry of God's Word, he claims that the effectiveness of a preacher's delivery is a product of his emotions. If a preacher does not feel emotionally charged in delivery, "the Spirit is stuck" and the "Spirit is inevitably arrested," Nee says. He continues, "The Spirit flows through the channel of emotion."
      Then he arrives at a strange conclusion: "Nose in the Scripture stands for feeling. Smelling is a most delicate act, man's feeling is most delicate." Therefore, Nee says, a preacher in speaking needs to "mix feelings with the words spoken, else his words are dead. If our feeling lags behind, our words are stripped of the spirit." To say as Nee does, on page 210, that the Holy Spirit only rides on feeling is dangerous.
    • Nee uses terms imprecisely. One example is his writing about a minister's receiving "revelations" in his "Holy Spirit memory" and those revelations being remembered in us by the Holy Spirit. This sort of metaphysical mumbo jumbo is impossible to understand, since there is no direct scriptural reference to a "Holy Spirit memory."

      When a Christian begins to see Nee as a guide in determining the value of other Christian writers, or sees Nee's writings as a key to spirituality, that person is headed for trouble.
    Nee's presuppositions are suspect in light of the Word of God. His books provide grist for cult groups such as The Way, The Alamo Foundation, the Children of God and other groups. The astute believer should watch out for Watchman Nee.
     
  11. phydaux

    phydaux Newbie

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    In all fairness groups like CRI are currently backing off their longstanding criticism of Nee & Lee.
     
  12. actionsub

    actionsub Mike, he's just this guy, you know?

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    It would likely surprise you, then, that the late Jerry Falwell found Nee's writings very influential.
     
  13. dayhiker

    dayhiker Mature veteran

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    When I was reading Watchman Nee's material and heard some were critical of it it seemed to me that it was because other people took his and Witness Lee's material and worked to implement it in a rather legalistic way that in some cases did harm to some believers. I don't know the extent.

    The thing we have to remember in all teaching in my mind is that God is a living being and the church is the living body of Christ. If we try to impost a static teaching on believers it wouldn't work because the needs people have can't be meet by the letter of the law. Indeed, what worked for one person years ago will probably stifle someone today.
     
  14. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ Devoted to Truth Supporter

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    I can't recommend any one book but here you can find a complete list that can be read online.

    Books by Watchman Nee from Living Stream Ministry
     
  15. Ubuntu

    Ubuntu wayfaring stranger

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    I see that this thread is a bit old, but I'd like to voice my opinion since I've been blessed by the writings of Watchman Nee.

    "The Normal Christian Life" is his most famous book, and it's also the one that I'd recommend if someone were to read only one of his books. It's a brilliant and immensely deep book that has been a great help to me personally. It's one of the few modern Christian books that can be called a “classic”.

    Another book of his that perhaps is a bit underrated, is “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. It's an original and fresh take on the story of the patriarchs. Highly recommended!

    I agree with what paul1149 wrote earlier in this thread; the only book that I probably would steer away from is “Spiritual Authority” and he definitively goes too far in that book! However, I think the accusations of “cultism” are very unfair! As has been mentioned before in this thread, Watchman Nee was a Chinese believer born back in 1903, so it's no big surprise that traditional Asian ideals coloured some of his views on authority. My feelings is that this is first and foremost a cultural issue, and to accuse him of cultism is to demonstrate a complete lack of understanding about how Christianity manifests itself across different cultures. Even today you'll find that believers in Asia often have very different views on authority than we do here in the west. It's probably true that some people have used this book to justify a Church order that is overly authoritative, but that's no valid reason to dismiss him as a thinker. An example: We're all indebted to Martin Luther, but do we necessarily agree with every single line Luther put on paper?

    Watchman Nee was persecuted and languished for a long time in prison, and it's even possible that he became a martyr in a literal way. When he died his body was cremated before his family could see him, and in his departing note he wrote that he died because of his faith in Jesus...
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  16. parsley

    parsley .

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    The connection to cult mentality seems to be the total sacrifice of the self, for the good of mankind, God, or a higher agenda. There is no clear limit defined, between what is good and what is dangerous -- we just need to stay on our toes.

    I found that some of us reading the books veered into a cult-like situation shortly after; but that seemed to be our desire to prove we were better, more righteous. Competing to be sacrificial and sold-out for the Lord. There is no measure, no report card for God's work in us. It continues, according to what we need.

    Differing from a cult, there was no obligation to a person or set of practices-- it was self-imposed. Extra fasting and prayer, denying self, scrutinizing motives...those were internalized.

    I definitely thing it's time to dust off the Nee books, to balance out the "God will give me" trend.




     
  17. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ Devoted to Truth Supporter

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    Good to see some of the books are being accessed :) even better that Watchman's Nee's humble attitude is being emulated by a few.
     
  18. AGTG

    AGTG Well-Known Member

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    I read in a review somewhere that said the books aren't actually written directly by him, but were put together by his followers from his teachings. I'm not sure if that's true or not, though.
     
  19. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ Devoted to Truth Supporter

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    I've been to some meetings that are directly associated with Living Streams ministry, a ministry founded by the person that Watchman Nee put in charge of his printing press and all other matters. Post #14 has a list of Nee's books from that ministry. At those meetings they followed the Chinese custom of writing word for word the words from the meeting. Mostly the women were the ones doing that and were extremely diligent. His books (with the exception of The Spiritual Man and perhaps a few others) were put together from the notes after his imprisonment. Nee was imprisoned for 20 yrs before dying in the 1950's and afaik all of the books were written before his death. But because he was in a remote communist prison camp there was no way for him to endorse the books as being authentic to his teachings.
    Nee had a newspaper out also called "The Christian" that many of the books were also based on his writings from that.
     
  20. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have an online pdf copy in my website you can read: http://www.freethechurch.org/?page_id=2913
     
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