"...That We Might Be Made God"??

by Paul Kerr

March 1, 1998

Mr. Kerry S. Robichaux
Living Stream Ministry
1853 West Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

RE: Article titled: "...That We Might Be Made God" appearing in Affirmation & Critique Vol. 1, Number 3, published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, California

Dear Kerry,

While perusing the Internet I unfortunately stumbled upon your above mentioned article. That you chose for your title a partial sentence from Athanasius' De Incartione, speaks volumes. I only wonder why you waited for the last third of your piece, to finally admit that indeed the Bible does not teach that "man becomes God"?

The methodology you employ in structuring your "doctrinal" thesis is not entirely new but does offer a rather unusual variation. Most who use this method present their pet doctrine and then frantically scramble to find a few passages of Scripture to support it. You have brought this ad hoc approach to new heights! Not being deterred by lack of Biblical basis for your "man becomes God" notion, you simply resort to the extrascriptual non-canonical writings of the church "fathers", combing through them in a desperate attempt to find legitimization, all the while suggesting that Protestant theologians are somehow amiss for not doing so, and furthermore infer that these "church writings" are on the same level as Scripture.

Perhaps you are unaware that this approach to defining doctrine is justifiably discounted by most reputable non-Roman Catholic and non-Eastern Orthodox theologians of the evangelical Protestant sort, who recognize canonical Scripture as the standard authoritative measuring rod and only legitimate starting point of reference. Allow me to quote renowned theologian J.I. Packer who, I happily might add, is indeed Protestant, "Historic Protestantism...finds truth in the teaching of the canonical Scriptures as such. It receives these Scriptures as inspired, inerrant, sufficient (i.e., telling us ALL that God wills to tell us and all we need to know for salvation and eternal life), and clear (i.e. STRAIGHTFORWARD AND SELF-INTERPRETING ON ALL MATTERS OF IMPORTANCE). The first two positions (Catholicism and modernists) treat human judgements on the Bible as decisive for truth and wisdom; the third (referring to Protestantism) . . . systematically submits all human thoughts to Scripture which it takes seriously as canon." The method you use of presenting your pet doctrine of man becoming God, and providing fallible tradition as your authoritative basis, for obvious reasons is viewed with overt suspicion, especially on matters so non-essential yet controversial as man becoming God.

Furthermore, as implied by Packer, the Bible is instructive in what it does include AND what it does not include. Your admittance that the Bible does not teach that man becomes God leaves one to wonder why you do? Your rabid insistence on introducing this extrascriptual man becoming God "doctrine" into Christian circles and actually insinuating it is a crucial item of the faith is rather perplexing, as it serves no definable purpose and some would reasonably argue is grossly heretical. (An argument which you cleverly attempt to preempt by anticipating it the context of your article).

Since the notion of man becoming God is a proverbial Pandora's box, instead of criticizing Protestant theologians and so called "modern believers", you might do well to follow their wise example in keeping it closed. It is a minefield waiting to explode in the face of its proponents. I offer only two of the mines in a vast field of many:

1] You claim that your definition of man becoming God is not God as an object of worship or in certain aspects such as omnipresence, etc. Since man becoming God is not taught in the Bible who then is qualified to determine which aspects of God man becomes, and which aspects he is excluded from? You? The church "fathers"? Witness Lee? Your man becoming God "doctrine" implies the commodization of God and subsequent dissection of God into various parts. Some parts man becomes and some remain God alone. The God who indwells the believers is indeed omnipresent, or He could not indwell more than one believer at once. As this is the case, what happens to this part of God once I become Him?

2] In application, this man-becomes-God "doctrine" is especially insidious, as it provides the foundation for all manner of deviant teachings and practices to proliferate. This is especially evident in the so called "local churches" a.ka. "Lord's recovery", where this doctrine has been allowed to fester and evolve unchecked for the past few decades, quite naturally resulting in the following perfidious teachings being taught from the pulpit:

  • "There is no need to pray about what to do; just follow the ministry."
  • "We don't need to think, we just do what we are told."
  • "Follow Witness Lee blindly. Even if he's wrong he's right."
  • "Our burden is to pick up Brother Lee's teaching and way to make us all Witness Lees, like a Witness Lee duplication center."

and more recently in a letter by the full-timers at the conclusion of their training in Anaheim,

  • "...we would also like to follow the trainers as the extensions of Brother Lee."

Of course, this perversion of the gospel is not too surprising as it merely represents the logical outcome and manifestation of the man-becoming-God doctrine - for if man becomes God, Witness Lee and his "extension" becomes God! It is a tiny baby step from here, over your imaginary line into the realm of blatant idolatrous man worship.

Furthermore, this man-becoming-God notion reeks of eastern mysticism. [As an aside, I find it interesting that two of your favorite "man becomes God" theorists, Athanasius and Clement, both hailed from Alexandria - a steamy hotbed of Oriental and Greek philosophies, along with every other strange teaching to appear over the horizon in ancient times.] In an era when New Age teachings are infiltrating every level of our Judeo-Christian society; when secular humanists are attacking the Church on a daily basis; with Buddhism and Hinduism gaining influence and large followings in the West; you have the brazen temerity to shamelessly disseminate this "man becomes God" concept dressed up in a Christian cloak of apparent respectability! That the apostles, by the Lord's wisdom and inspiration, did not teach that man becomes God, is not at all surprising, considering the dangerous perils and consequences associated with this matter. Since for good reason the authors of Scripture were notably cautious, one wonders why you acknowledge yet ignore this prudence and find it necessary to gleefully and with apparent abandonment join the recklessness of the church fathers by dogmatically promoting this non-canonical, extrascriptual, tradition based teaching. Considering it is a main tenet of Leeism, I suppose it is understandable that his zealous coworkers, a.k.a. his "extension", would attempt to mainstream the issue at any cost, even if it means using tradition and not Scripture as their authoritative basis.

Athanasius' usefulness during the first Council of Nice is well known - after all, they were not gathered to discuss man becoming God. However, regarding the writings of the church "fathers", I think Andrew Miller articulated it best in his Short Papers on Church History, "They may interest and instruct us but they cannot command our faith. This can only stand on the solid ground of the word of God, never on the infirm ground of tradition. 'Scripture stands alone,' as one has said, 'in majestic isolation, preeminent in instruction, and separated by unapproachable excellence from everything written by the church fathers ' . . . The definite and absolute statements of scriptures coming direct from God to the soul, are widely different from the writing of Ignatius and of all the church fathers. Our only sure and safe guide is the word of God. How seasonable then is the word in the First Epistle of John, 'Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning' . . . Nothing has direct divine authority for the believer, but that which was from 'the beginning'."


Paul Kerr


  • Dr. J.I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College
  • Dr. R.C. Sproul, Professor of Theology, Reformed Theology Seminary
  • Dr. Charles Swindoll, President , Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Dr. George E. Meisinger, Dean, Chafer Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Daniel L. Akin, Dean, School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, President, Moody Bible Institute
  • Dr. Duane Litfin, President, Wheaton College
  • Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, Professor of Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Professor of Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
  • Harold Myra, President & Chief Editor, Christianity Today Magazine

Editor's notes:

This was an open letter sent to a representative of Living Stream Ministry in March, 1998. It was cc'd to a number of respected theologians. The editor is unaware of any followup that may have occurred.

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