Brother Watchman Nee is the first recognized Chinese theologian in the west. His books were read by many western brothers and sisters. Yet in Chinese Christian circles, he is a disputed person. For those like him, he is a hero that no others can exceed. For those do not like him because of the controversies caused by his successor Mr. Witness Lee. Most of the Chinese Christians do not want to get involved into this minor issue. They regard Nee as a great theologian and Martyrdom, but do not read his books. At the same time, a big part of the orthodox churches reckon Lee as extreme and doubt his teachings even his salvation in Christ.
I am one of those majority Chinese Christians. However, I got a chance to read Watchman Nee’s “The Release of the Spirit”. To be frank, I read in the original Chinese version, instead of the English version.
The main topic Nee discussed is the sanctification of Christians and workers. He used special terms to distinguish himself from the western theology (Maybe it’s because the western theology was not developed and transported into China by then). I would like to discuss several topics according to the categories defined by traditional theology.
Anthropology: Obviously, Nee believes the Trichotomy theory. In this book, he used the word “The outer man” to describe the mind, which induces feelings, rationales, thinking. At the same time, he defined the spirit as “The inner man”. I tend to agree with the Trichotomy, although I don 't necessarily agree with his definitions.
Just as St. Augustin’s view, Nee believes the mind is totally corrupted and is a hindrance for the Spirit’s work. Meanwhile, he said God’s Spirit does not separate with human spirit. Non-believers have sp...
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God works only through the church? Nee emphasized the importance of the church. He said just like God only did work through the man Jesus Christ, He does not work unless through the church. The church can limit the work and release of God. I doubt God can be limited by anything. He does value church very much, because the church is bride of Jesus Christ. However, He can do whatever He wills according to His will. God can use dreams and visions to save Muslims where there is no church around. He can sustain the world without any help from the church.
In general, Watchman Nee is a beloved brother in Jesus Christ. He is also a human being with his limitations. His book is beneficial to Christians. But we cannot regard his teachings as infallible. Most of all, he is a martyrdom for Christ witnessed his Lord Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection.
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