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A couple of years ago, in October 2006, we noted that Hank Hanegraaff (President of the Christian Research Institute) and Gretchen Passantino (Director of Answers in Action) had come out in support of the Church of Recovery (referred to by it's followers as "Lord's Recovery" and popularly known as the "Local Church").
At the time, Hanegraaff and Passantino had filed a Friend of the Court briefs supporting the Local Church in its six year, $136 million legal battle against the authors and publishers of the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions.
Many Christians were bewildered and upset to see Hanegraaff and Passantino defend the Local Church, since most theologians, Christian apologists and countercult professionals consider the movement to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity.
During the course of the legal challenge, Harvest House -- publishers of the Encyclopedia -- in a corporate statement explained why authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon had included a brief entry on the Local Church in their book.
Their statement read, in part:
A primary purpose of the Encyclopedia is to identify religious groups that claim compatibility with Christianity, yet adhere to teachings that stray seriously from the Bible. Our encouragement to interested readers is to carefully evaluate the writings of Witness Lee and the publications produced by Living Stream Ministry and compare their teachings to the light of God’s Word, and arrive at their own conclusion about whether or not serious discrepancies exist. We especially emphasize the need to review The Local Church’s current written materials (including their books, newsletters, The New Testament Recovery Version, etc.), because many of their websites generally seem orthodox while their theology as a whole contains numerous unorthodox teachings. A few examples of some of their unorthodox teachings are cited here, and full documentation for each quote is provided so readers can examine them in their original context, if they wish. Our purpose here is merely to make readers aware of what The Local Church teaches.
- Source: Why did the authors include The Local Church in the Encyclopedia? Questions and Answers about The Local Church’s Lawsuit Against Harvest House Publishers and Authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Harvest House Corporate Statement, Mar. 12, 2004. See the statement for footnotes.
Meanwhile, Hank Hanegraaff and Gretchen Passantino continue their incongruous defense of the Local Church.
In light of their attempts to make the Local Church movement appear theologically compatible with orthodox Christianity, it will be instructive to study an analysis of Local Church quotes regarding the Godhead, as performed by Dr. Alan W. Gomes.
Dr. Gomes teaches historical theology at Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California. He is also the series editor for the Zondervan Guide to cults and religious movements, of which he authored several volumes -- including Unmasking The Cults in which he defines the characteristics of a "cult of Christianity" and why such a group subverts the search for spiritual truth.
Download or read online: analysis of Local Church quotes
Note: © Copyright 2002, Alan W. Gomes -- All Rights Reserved. Published at Apologetics Index by permission. Do not republish without permission from Dr. Gomes.
Five Christian apologists evaluate the teachings of Witness Lee and The Local Church
Leading Evangelical Scholars Call On Local Churches/Living Stream Ministry to Renounce Doctrines, Legal Attacks
More Apologetics Index entries on the Local Church
Essential doctrines of the Christian faith (and why doctrines matter)
Research resources on the doctrine of the Trinity
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