Covenant Life Church Update: P.J. Smyth’s Visa Petition is Granted

Brief post to notify people that P.J. Smyth’s visa petition to the United States has been granted. Its likely that P.J. will move to the Washington, D.C. area in the December time frame to lead Covenant Life Church as its Senior Pastor.

” A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.”

Tony Blair

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.

Lyndon B Johnson

 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 13:29 NLT

Recently an update on the Covenant Life Church blog was posted by Mark Mitchell. As you may know Mark Mitchell at The Wondering Eagle is affectionately referred to as the “Church Lady” of Covenant Life Church. Why you ask? You can read about that in this post here. Meanwhile I would be willing to buy Mark a drink if I could hear him say, “Coooooooooooooooooooooould it be Satan?” Okay with that said let me get into the news. On September 11, 2016 Covenant Life Church updated their blog to state that the visa petition for P.J. Smyth has been approved. The final step is for P.J. and his wife and family to be interviewed by the Consulate in Johannesburg to receive their visas. Mark Mitchell anticipates that will happen in mid-October. The earliest the Smyth family will likely arrive here in the United States is in December. With that said I look forward to watching this story at Covenant Life develop. I would recommend you read the following articles that I have written about P.J. here at The Wondering Eagle.  “From CJ Mahaney to PJ Smyth at Covenant Life Church? Some Thoughts from an Outsider” ,”What is PJ Smyth’s Advance Movement? An Overview of its Doctrine, Hubs, Mission, Leadership and Finances; Also its Global Presence”  and “An Open Letter to P.J. Smyth (Senior Pastor Covenant Life Church)”  As always I love you guys!

8 thoughts on “Covenant Life Church Update: P.J. Smyth’s Visa Petition is Granted

  1. Eagle, I just came across your post on Smyth and the Advance Movement (“What is PJ Smyth’s Advance Movement?”, Sept. 27, 2015.)

    Reading through the comments on that post, until I read down to M’s explanation of Watchman Nee, I just wanted to “scream” at you guys. I’ve read Watchman Nee’s “Spiritual Authority”. I had to take frequent breaks so that I would not vomit multiple times. Or rip the book to shreds, or throw it across the room. I still dang near had shouting matches with the book, and I would STILL love to burn my copy, and post pictures online!!!! (Well, except that then, I couldn’t use it to quote from to warn other people, and I don’t really want to give the publishers more of my money, so it sits on my shelf, awaiting the day that word will get out sufficiently, so that I can feel ok about burning the copy…)

    I HATE that book! I especially hate how Watchman Nee’s teachings have been used to harm some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    I found the book to have an incredibly twisted view of the Scriptures. I just thank God that Nee was wrong on many points. The Bible points out where, although it can take a firm understanding of the Scriptures to really be able to unlearn the twisted junk Nee taught. The reason is because that Nee USED the Scriptures — and in a relatively convincing manner many times — to enslave many people. That’s why I hate that book so much! (It isn’t Nee that I hate, but his false teaching.)

    I have a couple of books on Watchman Nee’s background that I haven’t finished reading yet; but what I have read so far, would seem to point to a combination of factors — Confucian filial piety, legalism, charismata and possibly Eastern meditation traditions — leading him to develop a distorted view of the Scriptures. My guess is that the primary driving factor behind his views was actually Confucianism, not actually Scripture. What I mean is that I suspect that he probably read the Scriptures through the lens of Confucianism, which would explain his denial of recognition of multiple passages on standing up against false teaching; supporting the full priesthood of believers; obeying God, rather than man; and not lording it over others — all the while promoting unquestioning obedience to human leaders. Honestly, Nee essentially believed in a “Mandate of Heaven” / “Divine Right of Kings” sort-of view, with regards to ALL authority figures: secular government authorities (nevermind his disobedience that led to his arrest under the Chinese Communist government), and especially ALL church leaders, down to the lowest level. No use of discernment allowed, because “reason”, speaking up and “rebellion” were basically satanic, according to Nee.

    Eagle, the Shepherding Movement and her current reinventions — the Discipleship Movement and many current church-planting movements — can ultimately all trace a fair chunk of their toxic teachings and practices to the Scripture twisting of the late Watchman Nee.

    It is in my personal opinion that Watchman Nee was a brother who was in error, and that because he was given a speaking platform in the Chinese house church movement in his day, that he became a false teacher — and one who, through means of which I do not yet know, become immensely popular and influential in the American Shepherding Movement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you I appreciate the comment. There is so much Lynda that I do not know. That’s part of the reason why I do this. I have heard Watchmen Nee over the years but I don’t know much about him or who he is. One of these days I should look into it more. I appreciate you sharing what you know. Thanks so much!


      • All I remember about him is that he was this Chinese Christian who got snuffed by the new government after Mao won the Chinese Civil War in 1949, and apparently his writings were real big in the Seventies out here. To the point they competed with Late Great Planet Earth for the title of “de facto SCRIPTURE(TM)”.

        If Lynda is accurate, he came in from a traditional Chinese cultural background and it showed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • For the record, Watchman Nee was a really big hero on the Christianese AM airwaves in the Seventies. Cited and mentioned all the time. I first heard of him there, and secondarily in the Shepherding Group/End of the World Cult I was associated with at the time. Eventually I figured he was the latest 67th Book of the Bible, right up there with Hal Lindsay (who was also peaking at the time).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, now my thoughts on the present post:

    1) Any church leader who is more interested in promoting leadership, rather than being content in faithfully shepherding the flock entrusted to them, should in my opinion be removed from leadership and certainly should not be granted a position of authority in a congregation. They are demonstrating a conceited (“puffed up” or “prideful”) nature, and Christ taught us that leaders should be servants. As far as I’m concerned, leadership taking center stage is NOT a biblical concept.

    Yeah, it is right to show respect to those in charge. That much I do get. But church leaders must take good care of the flock.

    In the New Testament, true, Paul told folks to follow his example as he followed Christ; but I think the idea was to follow his example only to the extent that he followed Christ.

    In the New Testament, the ones who tended to emphasize leadership and authority were actually the false teachers: the “super-apostles” in the Corinthian church, the circumcision group (Galatians), the Gnostics / angel worshippers (Colossians 2), Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10) and the like. They had to rely on authority, influence, etc. Otherwise, more early believers would have likely called them on and dismissed their false teaching.

    2) I no longer take all that seriously any church leader who has an elitist attitude, believing that it is up to his (or her) own congregation or denomination to save the world, rather than God operating collectively through the entire body of Christ. In a number of cases, these type of elitist groups are called cults — not churches — and for good reason.

    3) I no longer take seriously any church leader who cannot trust God to fulfill the Great Commission. What I mean is this: a fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience. Another is self-control. Still others are gentleness and kindness. (See Galatians 5:22-23.) Many times with these “the Gospel is super-urgent” types, they end up with an imbalanced view of the Scriptures. In attempting to fulfill the Great Commission in their own flesh, they tend to lose sight of the truth of the Gospel. One of the first concepts that gets thrown out the window in many cases is a scriptural understanding of grace. Because folks will be doing missions for God in their own strength (by being directed / controlled / influenced by leadership), they end up spreading not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a pseudo-gospel of legalism — with impatience and a lack of self-control (and a lack of gentleness and kindness) at the root. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ still ends up being heard by some, through God’s mercy; but it is not the message actually being proclaimed by these groups at their core. These groups and their leaders will be well-intentioned; but they will tend nonetheless to veer off into legalism by and by, due to the sense of urgency, rather than walking patiently by faith, trusting God and His timing.

    3) I am concerned for our brothers and sisters at CLC. I pray that God help them heal.

    4) Thanks for the heads’ up on yet another international church-planting movement to avoid. But then, I’ve already been learning to stick to Mainline Protestant congregations, anyway — and warn them against these types of groups, when they try to take over. ; )

    5) I don’t know if you or your readers are familiar with Mike Breen and 3 Dimension Ministries (3DM) / The Order of Mission (TOM). All related, and leader-driven. I also came across a similar attitude in Dr. Robert Coleman’s “Master Plan of Evangelism”, which is often considered the teaching at the root of the discipleship leadership structure of the Boston Movement / International Churches of Christ (ICOC). And I came from the Waco, TX-based Antioch International Movement of Churches (aka Antioch Movement). All these groups have a reputation for being missional and leader-driven, some of them church-planting. All of them have been known for controversy at best, and control / abuse at worst. And all have had similarities to — if they haven’t been at least indirectly influenced by — the Shepherding Movement.

    I am glad I knew Christ and what relatively healthy Christianity can look like before I encountered a strongly leadership-focused variant. I do not recommend the leadership-focused variant. Anytime I have found leadership to take center stage, I have found God’s people to suffer. In my experience, the “servant leaders” generally aren’t servants. They’re administrators enforcing policy — usually that of men. I would rather that God’s people be free to follow Him, without the encumbrances of added human teachings.

    So, this is why I am concerned about Smyth coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynda CLC is not a healthy organization. When your church has a long and established history of allegedly covering up child sex abuse, you get called on it and your Executive Pastor states that “Satan is attacking the church” it begs questioning For example in the Neo-Calvinistic/Reformed culture view of things did the Lord ordain CLC would allegedly cover up child sex crimes? Did the Lord ordain Mark Mitchell’s corruption? If you are going to be into Reformed Theology then I would say that yes, Mark Mitchell’s corruption was ordained.


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