Gene Edwards: An Objective Critique

For well over a decade, various leaders in the house church and organic church movements have approached Gene Edwards by letter, phone, and even in person, sharing various concerns with him and urging him to repent. Unfortunately, he has ignored all of their pleas and warnings.

For this reason we have crafted this document which is a revised edition of a former article that was a last restort in urging Edwards to repent. We feel the issues are so serious that the body of Christ must be warned.

Here are the specific areas that we talked to Edwards about, areas which plague his ministry till this day:

·           Elitism. Edwards has indicated repeatedly that only he and the churches he is involved with are legitimate and genuine. He is condescending to all other church planters and all other churches even if they are organic. If they a church or servant of God is not under his ministry, they are sub-par. This comes through in his speaking. Everyone we have talked to that used to be in an “Edwards” church has said the same things. People who get involved with Edwards or one of his churches become infected by this elitist spirit. Many of them have confessed this and repented of it.

·           Dishonesty. One of the things that we have observed is Edwards’ constant tendency to bear false witness. He has rewritten history in putting other people in a bad light, especially when they do not conform to his own ideology. Because of this many who have come to know him do not trust him. His resume and conference brochures say he has planted over ten churches that still operate today. The truth is only five exist. The rest have disbanded or broken away from Edwards.

·           Egomania. Edwards appears to be fixed on his own importance. He claims to be “the dean of the house church movement.” Embarrassingly, Edwards himself is the originator of this slogan; no one else regards him as “the dean” of the movement except for possibly his followers. In one of his spoken talks, he made the statement, “No one is doing what I am doing today” in reference to planting genuine churches. Statements such as “no one has ever saw this before in church history” abound in his talks and promotional materials. In every case, others have written or spoken on the same themes before he came along, but he never names his sources; therefore, the unlearned believe his over-the top, self-promoting statements.

·           Bombast. Edwards has claimed publicly to be the only man who has read every English book on the history of the early church, and to be the first person on earth in modern times to truly understand the history of the New Testament. He has also claimed to be the only man ever to understand the book of Galatians. At one House Church Conference years ago, Edwards told the crowd that he was the only speaker of the weekend who had ministered Christ, and that every other speaker was an example of warmed over Plymouth Brethrenism. It is unclear how Edwards knew this since he arrived late, and attended very few, if any, of the sessions. What made his statement even more embarrassing was that it was given just a few hours after another speaker, with Edwards absent, gave an excellent talk on knowing Christ and focusing on Him as the only reason for doing home church. At that same conference, Edwards dismissed every single book on the book table as essentially worthless.

·           Devastation to Christians. At one time, Edwards had over 20 churches in his network. Today, we can count only five and most of them are extremely small. Each of the former groups have their own sad story of disintegration, but the pattern is the same. Edwards is said to be the source of the dissolution in every case. People felt betrayed, lied to, manipulated, controlled, used, and even pitted against one another by Edwards.

·           Influence from Witness Lee. If you read the history of “the local church" network founded by Witness Lee, you will find striking (almost scary) parallels between Lee and Edwards in rhetoric, mindset, and overall fruit. The main difference is that Lee’s movement is much larger and more influential. This shouldn’t be surprising since Edwards spent years being mentored by Witness Lee in the 1960s. The testimonials from people who have been hurt in “the local church," and those who have been hurt by Edwards's ministry are almost identical.

As we see it, the root problem is that Edwards has never allowed himself to have peers. For the last thirty years, he has and continues to work independently; therefore, his character defects have never been dealt with or corrected. Most of the churches he has had any direct influence on have been destroyed. The men who once worked with Edwards have all stopped associating with him. The bleeding still continues. It is time for such spiritual carnage to stop.

We would still be happy to meet with Gene Edwards in person as we would like to see nothing more than for him to repent and apologize to the many people he has wounded.

Edwards talks a great deal about knowing God. But repentance is an irrefutable proof of knowing God. We hope someday this happens in his life.