A LAWSUIT CONTENDING FOR THE TRUTH
As a result, after much consideration, we felt that we had to imitate Paul. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul said that it is wrong for brother to go to court with brother, especially before unbelievers (v. 6). However, in Acts 20 and 21 we see a different situation. Paul had originally intended to sail directly to Jerusalem from Greece, but due to a plot made against him by the Jews, he resolved to change direction. Instead of returning directly to Jerusalem from Greece, he turned toward the north to Macedonia, and then passing through Macedonia he returned to Jerusalem. This was Paul’s wisdom through which he escaped the pursuit and ambush set by the Jews (20:1-3).
When Paul entered Jerusalem, however, those in Jerusalem who had compromised with Judaism, including James, the leading elder, persuaded him to take several men who had a vow on themselves to be purified with them. Paul went along with them and did accordingly. Toward the end of the seven days of purification, the Jews from Asia who had been in pursuit of Paul came to Jerusalem, and seeing him in the temple they began to shout and cry out, laying their hands on him. At that very time the news came to the commander of the cohort. The commander was a chiliarch in the Roman military who was in command of a thousand troops for the purpose of maintaining peace. In other words, he was the chief of the garrison in Jerusalem. When he heard the report, he felt that it was his responsibility to handle the situation and not allow the uproar to continue lest the matter get worse. Hence, he quickly brought soldiers and centurions to rescue Paul out of the hands of the Jews (21:18-40).
Paul was able then to escape from death, but the Jews continued to scheme to kill him. Then the commander arranged for Paul to be transferred to Caesarea, to Felix the governor. Later the Jews sought the favor of the newly appointed Roman governor Festus, entreating him to summon Paul to Jerusalem from Caesarea so that they could set an ambush to do away with Paul on the way. This new official, in order to please the Jews, inquired of Paul if he were willing to go up to Jerusalem to be judged there. Paul immediately answered that he would appeal to Caesar because only Caesar could judge him. This was absolutely in accordance with the Roman law because Paul was born a Roman citizen. Once he replied in this way, no one could lay a hand on him to kill him. The Roman officials had to keep him in safe custody while he waited to be sent up to Caesar (25:1-12). This is the case recorded in Acts. Our situation was similar to that of Paul; we had no other recourse. We saw the advertisements of the books before they were published and made telephone calls to the publishers, but they ignored us. After the publication of the books, we wrote hundreds of letters to them, but they still ignored us. We did not have any other way or method to reach them. We had been forced to the limit so that we had to learn of Paul to appeal to Caesar. This was not a matter of our trying to sue others. Rather, to use an illustration, we were like those who had robbers in our house. We pleaded with them to leave us, yet they would not; thus, we were forced to ask the police to come and handle the situation. This was the start of the lawsuit. Through some of the co-workers’ diligent labor, we searched meticulously and were able to find the initial and early drafts of the evil books, one of which attacked Brother Nee. It was obvious that our opponents had intended to damage the Lord’s recovery.
With regard to the first book, after both sides had undergone numerous depositions, the opposing party admitted that they had indeed violated the law, so to settle the matter they publicly apologized through the newspapers and also withdrew the book. With the second book, after undergoing four years of deposition, the opposing party was unable to agree among themselves; hence, the case finally went to court. Based upon the deposition material and testimonies of some expert witnesses, the judge ruled in our favor, condemning the other party of committing libel. The judgment summary was thirty-two pages long, listing more than ten important points that described how the opposite party had committed various violations. This was all based upon the depositions of both parties with proof of evidence, with both the judge and the court stenographer also verifying the record and the proceedings. As a result, the opposing party confessed and conceded defeat.
The internal problems and the external troubles caused much damage to the work of the Lord’s recovery, especially in limiting its spread and increase. Nevertheless, this opposition also undeniably issued in the shining forth of the truth of the Lord. For example, in the first case against the evil book The Mindbenders, the lawyer undertaking the case for the opposers was a very good one. One day at the end of the deposition while everyone was still present, the lawyer said that in order to handle the case, he had to keep 12,000 pages of our writings in his memory. For this reason, he had to buy a whole set of our books. Praise the Lord! Ultimately, the truth prevails.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)