Translation of a report published in the book “Sekten – Die neuen Heilsbringer”
(“Cults – the New Bringers of Salvation”), A Handbook,
by Heide-Marie Cammans, Düsseldorf 1998, p. 97-111
One thing I can comment on my work with sects and cults in any case – it never gets boring! The span between the extremes permanently broadens itself, the methods of the movements besides the well-tried methods constantly produce something new, as well as the individual cults know how to change their outfit when required like chameleons. The adviser actually never stops being astonished and studying. His work is therefore subject to the claim of greatest carefulness. So classifications have to be carried out only after an exact check respectively. If this doesn’t happen, the “University-Bible Fellowship” (German: “Universitäts-Bibel-Freundschaft,” abbreviated UBF) could be mistaken for the Unification Church of the Korean San Myung Mun at the first glance.
The reader might already have felt a little how variously the new salvation offerings are taken to market, though introducing some movements we have so far only chosen from the spectrum of the pseudo or quasi Christian movements as examples.
To paint the picture of the reality of the scene exactly, another facet has to be unfolded, which is very recommended for the attention. These are movements with a quite verifiably Christian teaching, however extreme fundamentalist stamp. Or formulated differently: No word needs to be wrong in the sermon of such movements, only theapplication of the word has to be analyzed. Consequently, the classification of such groupings is more difficult and is handled very differently.
An example for this is the among us generally still relatively unknown “University-Bible Fellowship,” also called “Universitäts-Bibel-Freundschaft” in Germany. It is assessed as an “evangelical” grouping on the one hand, with which one can enter into a fraternal relationship, on the other page it is classified with the so-called destructive cults. It depends on the location of the observer, which possibility to overlook a certain movement he has, and it is therefore absolutely recommended to look from all possible viewpoints to obtain a comprehensive picture.
Let us be helped:
Jutta is sitting in the consultation room with me. Her brother, a senior student, is a member of the UBF. The young woman asks for help: “My brother isn’t himself any more … He has changed completely, a wall is standing between us. We cannot have any sensible conversation any more. He has abandoned all hobbies, his friends don’t understand him any more either. He very seldom comes home and speaks constantly in verses from the Bible. He seems to be harassed, anxious and pained … ” Jutta asks, whether UBF is a cult. I am giving her information.
What is UBF?
The movement arose around 1961 in South Korea through (Samuel) Chang Woo lee and Sarah Barry, who belonged to the Southern Presbyterian Church (USA). Both recognized – as it is stated by the movement – of large student riots the spiritual need of particularly the student youth … and established Bible courses at the university. The thereby resulting organization grew quickly. After the times of the setup there have been differences between the UBF and various evangelical organizations. Many Korean Protestant churches look at UBF critically. The organization however was supported by the anti-ecumenical oriented International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC).
The headquarters of the UBF is located in Chicago/USA. From there Chang Woo Lee (born 1931) is leading the internationally active grouping. 55 chapters are said to exist worldwide. UBF is represented in almost all university towns in the Federal Republic of Germany. Allegedly 450 coworkers are busy in twenty countries and are devoting themselves to campus evangelization primarily. The European center of the UBF is in Cologne. Leader is Abraham Lee, born 6/15/1949 in Chung Nam, Korea. Lee studied at first studied biology in Seoul, completed a theological remote study course and has been ordained as Pastor by one of the many Presbyterian churches of Korea. A. Lee is leader of the UBF in Germany since 1978.
Teaching and practice
Regarding the theological concept, the community life and practice of faith, UBF has to be classed with the “shepherding/discipleship movement,” which applies a special method of leading people: The shepherd/sheep-principle. With regard to that, former followers say: “You must be a dumb sheep and follow blindly.” This method is running like a thread through all the community life and practice of faith of UBF. The subordination begins already with the fundamentalist stamped two person Bible study (“one to one” principle). It shows up in the weekly to do – covering all areas of life – compulsory exercise of the “Sogam” (= personal statement with repentance character; the individual person expresses what the text of the Bible indicates for him and confesses in which regard he has remained guilty in front of God) and is found again in the various demands of the missionaries on the shepherds, shepherd candidates or sheep.
The Bible studies are performed weekly by “one to one” (shepherd/sheep) lessons. Bible passages are processed with predefined questions using a questionnaire. The individual lessons last for one and a half hours respectively and have to be prepared and reworked. Bible evenings take place several times a week.
The members have to read the bible daily using the auxiliary devotional “Daily Bread.” “Daily Bread” is issued every three months and is conceived in a way that the 66 books of the Bible can be studied in four years. In Easter and Whit time, in summer and Christmas time so called Bible vacations (conferences) and furthermore special Bible weeks are carried out.
The evangelization of a university starts with the “pioneering.” For this shepherds and missionaries are often sent out solitary. The object is to become an “ancestor of faith” for the respective University or mission country. The financing is carried out by the contributions of members and offerings. –
S. has been visited and evangelized by a missionary in his room in the student dormitory. He became a member of the movement. However, after years of the membership he managed to exit, supported by his relatives. His mother contributes after his leaving the cult the following “protocol of sorrow” as she calls it:
“Although I as a mother of a person affected, collecting my thoughts for this report, clearly feel, how everything touches and burdens me very much even in retrospect, I still would like to contribute to bring light into the ‘dark.’ For it was this ‘dark’ that has made it possible that our son got into the hands of UBF at all.
Perhaps some thoughts beforehand:
Our son is a highly sensitive, intelligent boy, equipped with all advantages, which parents can be proud of, always wanting the best and trying to make this come true with staying power and engagement and who is perhaps disposed of an excess of readiness to suffer and sacrifice, with a high moral and ethical basic aspiration level, always searching for trueness and genuineness.
This introduction isn’t meant to praise our son but to draw the attention to possible parallels!
He also transfers his aspiration level to himself to others, for instance when searching for friends. Therefore it is naturally that he cannot find these in droves. Because of his strongly introverted way it also isn’t easy for him to approach other people by himself; in school time, however, he has already strictly sorted with instinct among those who came toward him from themselves.
Perhaps this in addition:
We are and originate from a family, which – as I believe – lives faiths, hardly making words about this, we feel in a divine security, find this a rock on which we stand, as a shield and as a signpost in times of decisions. We have trusting loving relations to each other and can talk with each other quite well. Everyone is helping the other. Caused by frequent moves in always different towns we have never could feel homelike in any ‘church.’ But this was not the only reason: Searching for ‘contents,’ for refreshment and reinforcement, we have ‘expected’ of us the most different sermons again and again – these were without exception disappointments again and again, so that one can become sad. Only a pale taste, a hollow feeling, remained. This can be safely considered a reproach against our churches.
Such a young person then starts with his university studies in a foreign town, being there without contact persons, everything is new. Living in the dormitory can make it even more clear that you are alone: Although there are many contacts and you talk much, you don’t really speak with each other, most of all you smoke and drink much, consideration for others is a foreign word for many. Your disappointment about our ‘elite’ increases, which is not – as some perhaps might think – is stacked one above the other floor wise here. So in this situation my son was looking for ‘his people.’ His way led him through the official Protestant and Roman Catholic student church, through the most different free Protestant churches of the town; he sniffed into split-offs of the church, yes, he even did not miss informative evenings of student fraternities – always openly to everything –, encouraged by in addition, to not give up the search for suitable people. Added to that the finding the way in the studies, driven by the ambition not to waste time unnecessarily: Difficult times for every freshman, certainly accompanied by spiritual depressions.
What would be better fitting as if in this atmosphere a ‘senior student’ knocks at the room door, smiling friendly (this friendly smile later turned out to be a stereotyped permanent grin), offering help and inspiring confidence, imperceptibly checking the ‘situation’ with respect to faith and Bible. The kind invitation for supper then acts as an additional warm rain on the soul. On this the offer to make one-to-one Bible study follows. You feel amazed by this engagement and flattered at the same time, being taken seriously and importantly by this. Who suspects at this time already that this isn’t the duty of a Christian human being, but the first step of a strategy relentlessly pursued which is used everywhere where UBF appears, actually aiming on nothing else than the glorification and practice of human power, a fundamentalist basic idea.
My son told about that at home, without at first mentioning a name of the organization, which would have meant nothing to me anyway. He reported of this ‘international student church,’ and that it is part of the ‘Evangelical Alliance.’ And here the point sets in where I almost start to be ashamed! For the world ‘international’ fitted in our open-minded conception anyway, and hearing ‘Evangelical Alliance’ I calmly thought of ‘harmless’ and ‘being well taken care of,’ more hearing ‘evangelical’ than ‘alliance.’ I so to speak leant back inwardly, calmed down, though again and again a little bit startled about the colossal engagement of these people who mainly consisted of Koreans as I learned only in the course of the time. But being a tolerant person, not even the slightest ‘alert-light’ flashed up in me. On the contrary, I heard of the kindness of these people again and again. The meetings then very quickly got regular, mostly in the already existing family of the ‘shepherd,’ which has the task of searching new ‘sheep’ – and most of all make them stick to it. For the course of every relevant action is strictly supervised by Mr. Abraham K. Lee, the head of this organization in Germany. Granted, up to here you might still say: ‘So what?’
The meetings were on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m., always being a time problem and a being torn between family, friends and these new obligations on the weekends, for a student living away from home. Yes, for a reliable person, these were obligations! However, this was only the beginning of a terrible inner turmoil. Because the meetings became more and more frequent, slowly of course, but in the end daily, then several times daily, the first early in the morning at 6 a.m.!! Excuses because of exam, study, family or illness weren’t valid, interpreted in a so tremendously skillful way as no proper faith, and that Satan was at work, so that you had become engrossed in everything even more. It was tried to ‘test’ the family, whether it can be made suitable sheep: However, our two year younger daughter came back from such an event, where several groups met from different towns – I even asked her to go along from a complete ignorance, actually to please her brother as well –, completely disturbed and swore to me with tears to never again being wanted to be confronted with that. This was in the very early stage so that I dismissed this with the anyway different structure of our children.
Many of all these things which our son told made me feel somehow reluctant. Much of it seemed to me exaggerated, one-sided, so much taken out of context without seeing the whole. I just had a bad feeling in the belly without really being able to put it in concrete terms. I have always let him know, always said, what I feel and think about this. However, I wanted to break nothing, seeing how seriously he was doing all these things, so I did it in a restrained, yet clear way. What worried me the most, was to see that he couldn’t laugh any more, didn’t fell joy any more, was without emotions? For me the concept of being a Christian has always been connected with a kind of calmness leading to inner joy and cheerfulness, freeing people of guilt and giving strength to tackle the things of life, so to speak as a shield against human threats. But this idea doesn’t match the idea of expanding the power of UBF! I shortly met the Korean missionary, later also his wife. There you even more run the risk of putting aside much of that, what you don’t understand, explaining it with the strange Asian way and also the language problems, which are considerable. One is inclined of getting impressed of the demonstrated ‘selflessness.’ Yes, even a feeling arises of wanting to help them. On the other hand I felt such strong inner resistance at this meeting, everything is struggling in me even today. Particularly I remember the meeting with the wife of the missionary as an event never experienced until then: Afterwards I felt as if somebody had tried to subdue me with a negative suggestion, a feeling of threat, like having been put under a spell. I had to do more than three weeks intensive inner work to escape from it. However, I had the chance to relativize everything, because I wasn’t exposed to her permanent influence every day. I also reported to my son about this externally not visible event and that it was difficult for me to handle with it and that I only had the urgent wish to shut myself off thoroughly from these people and to refuse every influence. He knew these feelings from himself and through our dialog taking place anyway time to time he has been confirmed and gained clarity about inner feelings and own ability to criticize.
Since our family was ‘unsuitable’ as a subject for mission from now on, the separation was preprogrammed. UBF only overlooked that their ‘sheep’ (which in the meantime had even become a ‘shepherd’) could not be completely dispelled of a rest of doubt, partially also due to the continuing dialog with the family at home, which UBF would have liked to completely turn off best of all. Nevertheless my son had already come to the point, that he adopted the typical monotonous UBF mode of expression and more and more hardly expressed in sentences of his own, but answered mainly with verses from the Bible.
The UBF time schedule was put up so tightly, that fellowshipping with other people or in other circles was impossible. Besides, something almost like a guarding was carried out, the reduced physical strengths came added to that. All of this was replied as described above, counteracted with enormous feelings of guilt. Our son came home more and more rarely, what I of course – suspecting nothing dangerous – attributed to a normal development and the engagement in the studies getting stronger. I hardly noticed how the time passed by, all the more since I was working. Our son, who always had been a healthy ‘Hercules,’ became more and more pale and slim, looked almost sickly, was completely overtired and ate, exhausted, without appetite. He poked at the most beautiful favorite food, unenthusiastically. The censorships once jutting out gradually got worse – no wonder! It surprises me at the most that he still came through everywhere smoothly. That UBF people hardly graduate, because they are called for something higher, namely evangelizing in all the world, I know this only today.
I am grateful to another mother from the deepest soul, who added the ‘tittle’ to my diffuse belly feeling and woke me up from my dozing sleep. She is the mother of a friend of my son. Because of other personal difficulties she discovered a representation of UBF, this Korean organization. Reading ‘Korean,’ she remembered stories of a student group and my son. I have to add, that my son as well as I had tried to obtain documents somewhere about cults and the content of their teachings, UBF denying obstinately that it is a cult. After some hesitation, one day the woman called me, asking me whether she shall send this information to me. She did it. I hardly express with words, with which thunderclap my diffuse feelings suddenly took a real shape, how this until then inconceivable now was confirmed. With which clarity I suddenly saw the gruesome personality change of my son and asked God to free him from this bond, this mistake.
I was only rarely seeing my son, then always rotating between cooking pot and washing machine, since the time was restricted to the utmost. I plumbed the actual state on the telephone in order not to destroy anything clumsily, because it was crystal-clear with what kind of balancing act I got mixed up, having such a plan. It was just as crystal-clear for me that I would do my utmost to help my son. I suddenly felt like a beast of predacious animal mother defending her young ones against attack from the outside and releases all energies available to her doing that. I collected information as much as I could about the whole area of cults, read for weeks and night after night, traveled to the student pastor of my son’s university, to come clear about possible alternatives. To take the sharpness away from everything a little bit, I imagined that I am the seeker, tried to see it also as a chance for me. In all these efforts it was confirmed clearer and clearer to me, what had to be done. This manipulation with the means of fear and guilt makes in the long run an available instrument out of every human being.
Only after all consequences had become completely clear to me, I opened myself with all knowledge and all feelings connected with that to my son whose rescue was his rest of doubt. He so urgently needed this jerk from the outside! He already had often been inwardly before the jump, as he said, but UBF would have made it actually impossible. Regarding this, the question imposes again in what way this is biblical and Christian. He then very soon underwent the corresponding conversation there and came loose of UBF. He took a long think for himself about the right diplomacy to keep the evil as low as possible for everyone. Afterwards he again and again was visited, invited confronted again and again, despite of his absolute clarification of the things. Even the gift tactics was continued for a while, as if they would have heard nothing. Cooked meal in the refrigerator as a surprise, when you are coming home, was a popular stitch. Being a decent guy you don’t want to offend such ‘nice’ people, you don’t want to hurt them. One almost has to exhibit a dose of impudence to escape the net stretched again and again newly, and people are urgently needed who help doing this. This support was given to us the cult information in Essen. I can say in conclusion today that our son has overcome this time without damage and that he has found a good alternative practicable in life in a quite normal Protestant church which doesn’t manipulate and doesn’t put under coercion. I still could say so much about this, however I think that sufficient informative material on UBF is available in the meantime. I hereby primarily wanted to make clear how it is possible at all to be caught in such talons and that the best prevention is good information. With good information, a signal can be interpreted faster and better than with bad belly feelings. And if it once has ‘happened,’ I hereby would like to encourage insistently to use all strength to break loose of UBF and to help doing so. It is worthwhile to be a free person again with free decision and own conscience. It is unbiblical and surely not wanted by God, that people have power over us. What else is going on in UBF?”
In the meantime, Thomas, the brother of Jutta (see above), has dissociated himself from UBF, too. He writes:
“I have experienced many beautiful things, but also terrible things, which induced me to leave the UBF.
My studies slowly but for certain came close to the end and I had to prepare for the final examinations. In this time I was faced with many changes: My best friend, with whom I could discuss almost everything confidentially, had moved to another town a while ago so that our contact was restricted to the writing of letters. I myself lived in new surroundings only for a short time, in which I had to find connection to the others at first. At this time I was missing sound social contacts and so I was open for something new in my life. In this situation one day two UBF members, a Korean man and a German woman, paid me a visit. Both were very friendly towards me and invited me cordially and also very firmly to study the Bible together with them. I was impressed by the obstinacy with which particularly the Korean invited me because of my initial restraint. So I made an appointment for the Bible study together with him. I began to study John’s gospel. For this purpose a predefined questionnaire had to be worked through in writing every time. I initially answered only the questions in writing and didn’t write the so-called personal statements [‘sogams’] yet. Because my ‘Bible teacher’ (or ‘shepherd’) particularly asked me to write these statements again and again, I began to write these as well. Besides the weekly Bible study, I now visited the UBF Sunday services, too, and in addition took part in a conference. Through this I got the opportunity to hear many ‘personal statements,’ and learned to write these statements myself better and better. I was impressed by the preaching of the word of God and of the faith of many students with whom I became acquainted there. I felt the desire to get to know God better and to become a disciple and follower of Jesus. I have had this wish already since around my sixteenth year of life, but until then I hadn’t got any concrete instructions regarding a life of faith. I received these instructions now to a strong extent, through which my life changed completely. I noticed how God dragged me to himself and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. At the same time I very strongly became depending on the security and the recognition of the others in the UBF. I was ready to correspond to the demands for self denial and obedience, and broke off my old, still existing contacts more and more. The relationship with my family got more and more strained since I now started to divide the world into a ‘black’ (not redeemed) and a ‘white’ (redeemed) region. I tried to keep away from the black one if possible. About one year after I had started with the Bible study, I was ‘raised as a coworker,’ i.e., I became a ‘shepherd’ and was addressed as such as well. In UBF you are ‘raised as a coworker,’ which means that you don’t actively decide to co work yourself, but that one meets an expectation of the group, permanently expressed in loud spoken ‘prayers.’ The group decides when a Bible student has the spiritual maturity to become a ‘Bible teacher’ and ‘shepherd’ himself.
After I had been included in the circle of the coworkers, my appointment filled with UBF events more and more: Early prayer, invitation hour, 1:1 Bible study, meetings, group Bible study, Sunday service, staff meeting, choir rehearsal, conferences, Bible academies and much more. Of course all other things had to come short. I noticed some unusual features of the UBF: Though claiming to obey the word of God in all things, still e.g. no Holy Communion was celebrated. The concept of marriage also seemed a little strange to me. Everyone assumed that one must have his partner shown by the head of the group. This would mean, that people in all other churches don’t marry according to Christian standards or the partners would not have found each other in the way of God. I also thought by myself, if UBF were really such an exemplary group, you should be able to read something positive about UBF sometime. However, I had to state that almost only negative things were written about the group, of course called slanderous representations in UBF circles. The demands of my ‘shepherd’ towards me got harder and harder and many a decision taken by me independently wasn’t accepted. Sometimes I felt like in a prison and experienced a tremendously heavy psychic pressure. Again and again, I then tried to seek the fault with me and blamed e.g. lacking obedience or missing self denial of my part for it. I got stronger and stronger doubts whether it really was the calling of God to remain in this group despite all appearing difficulties. I got clear that I had to take a decision in accordance with my conscience in front of God. So I announced my decision that I wouldn’t co work in UBF any longer, although I knew to fall into a great emptiness now. After I had made my decision, some UBF coworkers tried to win me back for the group. My decision not to remain longer in the UBF was equated with a loss of the right faith in God.
I consider the intensive Bible study in UBF as meaningful, seen retrospectively. The writing of personal statements also be helpful as well as long as it is done with the right motive and voluntary. I consider raising this to a legalistic demand unfounded and extremely questionable regarding spiritual welfare. It has to be stated that the same books of the Bible are treated again and again and this is done in a very one-sided way. I consider the UBF an eccentric Christian fellowship applying practices which aren’t compatible with the good tidings of Jesus Christ.”
I have got exactly this same impression – as the reports by the mother of S. as well as by Thomas show –when I visited the Sunday service of the UBF in Cologne. Although the passages were quoted verbatim from the Bible, the interpretation and application seemed to be very controlled to me, i.e. suited to make anxious and obsequious believers.
Thomas hits the nail on the head by saying that the methods of the UBF aren’t compatible with the Gospel. The young people in the service seemed to me to be very adapted, they made a well-behaved impression, sometimes showing very childlike reactions, their facial expression, their posture were similar, their clothes really conservatively, giving a standardized impression. I have learned to assess the quality of a movement by also observing, whether the individuality of the persons is developed. In UBF the development of the personality of the members seemed restricted to me, if not even declining.
The two listed examples speak a clear language in this respects.
I myself clearly perceived the authority of the German leader, Mr. Lee. Although I behaved completely adequately to the situation of a Sunday service, simply sitting there and attentively watching the event, trying to join in the singing where possible, very modestly participating in the following Bible conversation in smaller groups, much more wanting to hear and to feel instead of saying something, and not at all something critical, he separated me after the official service and made me unmistakably understand that I am not welcome here. The reason given by Mr. Lee: I would have behaved improperly since you don’t have to ask any questions at the first visit in a movement. He dismissed my motive of wanting to form my own opinion on the movement by the visit, as being false. He didn’t enter into any conversation with me and refused the desired information (verbal and written type) about UBF.
Dangers of UBF (summary)
- Persuasive – partially psychologically aggressive – recruiting;
- through one-to-one Bible study (“shepherd/sheep”-relationship) sheep can develop a dependency from UBF very easily;
- the object of UBF to involve members radically regarding religion, time and social relations, causes a high pressure. Thereby, under compulsion, the study is neglected, the contacts to the former social environment, parents, friends are cut off or strongly reduced;
- the determination of marriage partners by UBF;
- the expectance of complete readiness to be used by UBF in other countries and towns;
- hindrance of the development of personality;
- persons willing to leave have to reckon with being hindered to do so by psychic pressure.
The “University Bible Fellowship” is described as a fundamentalist movement.
[Remark by a former UBF member: The author tries to explain in the following what a fundamentalis movement is and gives the impression that Bible fundamentalism is the core of the problems of UBF. This might appear to be so at first. But if you analyze the problems a little more deeply and from a Christian view, you will come to the conclusion, that the Bible is not used at all in UBF as an absolute standard and foundation, instead Confucianism garnished with Christianity is the real basis, the Bible study being only used as a means to consolidate the UBF philosophy instead of checking it with the Bible critically. The Bible is only in so far of interest in UBF as it can be used as a means for the end and as a legitimation. The following explanations are nevertheless interesting for a Christian, because he must get clear about the areas in which he has to be a fundamentalist surely and in how far dangers of a wrong understanding of fundamentalism exist as well.]
What means “fundamentalist”?
Since some years the term “fundamentalism” is appearing in the discussion more frequently. You hear or talks about the Protestant fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Jewish orthodox fundamentalism, was well as political fundamentalism. For instance we are thinking of the Iranian Ayatollahs, perhaps of the Roman Catholic “Opus Dei” or the Roman Catholic traditionalist bishop Lefebvre, of American TV preachers or the “fundamentalists” among the “Greens.”
Now what can be common to these completely different approaches so that they come into our mind associated with the term fundamentalism? Which corresponding marks could be existing?
The word “fundamentalism” appears in the USA for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century. By fundamentalists originally Protestant Christians were understood, who opposed the modern historical Bible criticism and the scientific evolution theory. It came to a “fight for the Bible.” Date from the twenties is a famous list of “five fundamentals,” fundamental religious truths, which indicates the real, “historical” fundamentalist to this day:
- The verbal inspiration of the Bible texts through the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures;
- the divinity of Jesus Christ (and particularly his virgin birth);
- the substitutive expiatory sacrifice of Christ;
- his physical resurrection and
- his soon return (mostly connected with very concrete ideas about the course of the final events).
What we call fundamentalist today is an attitude which has been found for some time in all social areas. Despite all differences the following common characteristics can be found:
- Emphasis on the absolute claiming of the truth. The fundamentalist inflexibly and uncompromisingly defends his truth, his faith. The opinion of the others are simply turned down. People with other beliefs are unbelievers, unfamiliar opinions are regarded as immoral. Distinctions aren’t carried out;
- rejection of modern principles like tolerance, relativism and secularism;
- protest against any kind of liberalism (that is against autonomy, responsibility and free unfolding of the personality);
- closed conception of the world;
- authoritative marks;
- simplified responses to the complex social structures.
In the area of the religious fundamentalism today are characteristic:
- Return to the allegedly central biblical truths;
- disapproval and rejection of the conclusions of natural and historical sciences, connected with a mischievous reply;
- change, inculturation and modernization is departing from faith;
- inerrancy of the Bible;
- rigid sexual morals;
- demonizing of the world.
Which possible risks might arise by that?
The development of foe images (the dissenter means a danger, is instrument of the evil, consequently is to be avoided or to be attacked) usually results in an isolation from the “remaining world.” One sees themselves as the chosen ones, the elite, the only ones which remain when the near end of the world comes. Again and again a decided militant intolerance can be met. A fundamentalist movement usually groups around a strong leader who claims to be legitimized by God Himself. Therefore often personality cult and dependency arise. Since distinction and psychological discussion are forbidden, there is usually a distinctive “black-and-white thinking,” only the good or the bad exists. The dark sides of one’s own are shifted to the outside, put at the expense of the Satan so to speak. An analysis of one self and thus the development of a personality gets severely hindered by this. Thinking of our own and questioning religious search are frowned on: The truth exists, is certain once and for all and can’t be analyzed. A fundamentalist view leads to legalistic thinking and to a moral narrowness and e.g. from a Christian point of view hasn’t anything to do with the message of the Gospel which sets people free.
Not only in the case of the UBF, where we can speak of a distinctive fundamentalism, but also regarding a number of other organizations, e.g. in the classic cult area (New Apostolic church, Jehova’s Witnesses) as well as in the large churches we find fundamentalist trends and movements (e.g. the “Opus Dei” of the Roman Catholic church) which are more or less alarming.