Thursday, August 18, 2016

Presenting CWWN v07 - The Christian (5)

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Volume 7 of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee is subtitled The Christian (5). This final volume of the 1925-1927 issues of The Christian contains all the smaller items needed to round out the contents of a magazine.

The first section, of one chapter, is titled "Stories"; the anecdotes are either instructive items or short gospel stories suitable to be reprinted as tracts. The third of these, titled "The Body of Christ", is a brief recounting of the story of miss M.E. Barber (shown here with her younger coworker ML Ballord), a spiritual mentor to Watchman Nee in his younger years. Its message powerfully illustrates the need for, and value of, fully trusting the Lord Jesus to properly care for His own body (the believers).

The second section, titled "The Signs of the Times", contains in ten chapters the column he wrote titled "Current Events in the Light of the Scriptures". Looking back, some items may seem over-enthusiastic, but they are rather subdued compared to the excited and even extreme predictions made by those today who seem prone to twist every major event into a sign of the end and many a world figure into a the Beast of Revelation (typically, and wrongly, titled "The Antichrist"). Nee was indeed enthusiastic for the return of Christ, but measured and thoughtful in his analysis. Of course, now that some ninety years have passed, we wonder if any of the "signs" bore fruit. He frequently reported on developments among the Jews of Europe and America, and their work toward attaining a homeland in Palestine: It is now nearly seventy years since the nation of Israel was restored, and almost fifty years since they regained control of Jerusalem. Times that seem long to us are short to God.

Ten of the issues contained "The Question and Answer Box", which forms the third section. Here he answered, sometimes very briefly and sometimes more at length, questions sent in by subscribers. The last names of most questioners, and their location, are included, and thus I recognized three or four questions sent in by his future co-worker (and my mentor) Witness Lee. I found it interesting that one of the longest answers concerns the "Two Swords" mentioned in Luke 22:36-38. Nee's answer takes up four pages, whereas most items take up half a page or less. To make his brief exposition even more brief: Nee points out that literal swords were meant, by comparison with other items the apostles ought to purchase; these were not for fighting, but along with the purse and bag, were ordinary needs for travel along robber-infested highways; in their earlier travels Jesus had told them to take nothing extra and this is because they were protected by His authority, but this authority would vanish upon his arrest (He starts the passage with the words, "But now"); Jesus elsewhere said that "those who take up the sword will perish by the sword," so he was not condoning the idea of "Christ-soldiers"; He said, "It is enough" to indicate he was done talking because they weren't understanding Him…as usual.

I have long had four little volumes titled "Twelve Baskets Full", published in the early 1970's in English. The fourth section of this book has about one-third of those items (the rest were gathered from later works of his), that made up a column he wrote for five issues of The Christian.

Four issues contained a column, "Notes from My Bible", brief insights he received from specific passages. These are the fifth section.

The sixth section, of one chapter titled "Fillers", contains small items, usually a sentence or two, that were inserted between other material in seven of the issues.

Fourteen of the twenty-four issues contained "Editorials" and "Announcements", and they make up the seventh section.

Six issues contained one or more "Book Reviews". Whenever he could, Nee would bring out the value of a book, but he didn't hesitate to pan, in a specific way, significant errors or to rebuke heretical works. These comprise section eight.

The last part of the volume is "A List of the Table of Contents for The Christian". This is useful for determining how each item in the five volumes fits in among the rest.

The Christian was revived in later years, and those portions written by brother Nee are included in later volumes of CWWN.

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