UBF Doctrine – Introduction

sWhat does ubf believe? What are their doctrines? The answers to these questions have been ellusive at best for over 50 years. Some people point to ubf’s Presbyterian roots. Some point to Samuel Lee’s lectures. Some claim ubf is just a “mainline evangelical church”. But none of these accurately describes what ubf officially believes. There is no official doctrine statement. There is no “core values” document. What we have is the “missinoary pledge”, but that doesn’t begin to explain what ubf officially teaches or believes. In some sense, ubf is a “one-legged stool”, focusing on orthopraxy while ignoring or marginalizing orthodoxy and orthopathy. The best we have (insiders or outsiders) is the ubf heritage list.

So I kick off a 12 part series today in which I will review each of the long-version heritage statements. They are short, so much is left up to interpretation. But my 24 years in ubf qualify me to share and evaluate these points.

Here is the long-version, 12 point ubf heritage:

1. Back to the Bible
2. World mission
3. Campus evangelism
4. Manger ministry
5. A spirit of giving
6. Spiritual order
7. Lay missionaries
8. House churches
9. One to one Bible study
10. Disciple-making ministry
11. Daily Bread
12. Testimony writing & sharing


  1. 1. Back to the Bible: stop asking questions.

    2. World mission: everyone in the world should be a part of our mission. If they aren’t, they don’t really matter.

    3. Campus evangelism: we couldn’t find anyone easier to dupe.

    4. Manger ministry: what should be considered strange is really how it should be done. Worship with 1 person and a teddy bear? Oh, that’s just manger ministry.

    5. A spirit of giving: I give to you and you remember it for the rest of your life.

    6. Spiritual order: “Oh, I didn’t see you there under my foot”

    7. Lay missionaries: untrained, unqualified, unaccountable ministers

    8. House churches: spiritualized word for parental neglect

    9. One to one Bible study: far easier to indoctrinate, interrogate, and instill fear when there’s no one else around. Also avoids any potential witnesses.

    10. Disciple-making ministry: making you a disciple of UBF. Being a disciple of Jesus is optional.

    11. Daily bread: sleep-deprived people are so much easier to manipulate.

    12. Testimony writing and sharing: Big Brother has telescreens, UBF has testimonies.

    There you go Brian, I saved you 12 whole blogs!

    • Indeed, joshua, I agree with your assessment. I know wherefrom thou speaketh :)

      However, my articles will not be snarky (hopefully) nor “bashing”. The Korean review of Korean missions inspired me to analyze the 12 point heritage. I don’t plan on making any sweeping generalizations or judgmental conclusions. I aim to honestly critique the heritage and how it has been used.

      I am an expert in the ubf heritage, fully qualified to share a review since I was a ubf sheep, shepherd, fellowship leader, missionary, director, pioneer and house church leader.

      I plan to use the “Ben Toh method” which I call “good, bad and ugly”. Good means keep it. Bad means modify it. Ugly means stop it.

      And to the ubf readers here: Surely the 12 point heritage is able to be critiqued? Or should we all just stand around and praise the heritage as God’s best ways as if nothing is wrong with them. Should we glorify the heritage as being some new secret, better than what 2,000 years of Christian history can teach us?

      Anyway, if the ubf heritage is from God, then surely I will not be able to expose any kind of flaw. And if it helps you sleep at night, just consider this yet another attack by Satan before the ISBC.

    • Mark Mederich

      unaccountable ministers is obviously a problem; in reality humanly untrained/unqualified may be a good thing: Holy Spirit help/guidance (‘training’) is much more valuable; problem with human training is tendency to make other ‘twice son of hell as self’…isn’t that really what we’re battling here? (natural human corruption vs supernatural guidance from God)

      here’s an idea: if hearing lies is tiring, then beat at own game by telling more lies more convincingly:) hey i’ve got a new pastime..

    • Mark Mederich

      there may end up being another series on religious tactics: like ‘divide & conquer’, when husband questions contact the wife; but guess what? those who live by sword die by sword; all those yrs of religious tactic may be catching up about now..

    • Joshua, I am thinking about printing your comment and hang it on the wall where a ubf calendar used to be.

    • @Vitaly: LOL!

  2. In all honesty, I don’t see how this series of articles can produce anything less than a cynical bashing of everything that UBF stands for. It’s up to you Brian where this series goes (and to an extent the commentors), but personally I would like to see:

    1. What these UBF statements might possibly mean (potential reference: http://ubf.org/node/155)
    2. If any of these fit into long-standing historical norms or statements laid down by the catholic (that is, universal) church
    3. If a UBF heritage point does not fit into the history of the church or biblical doctrine, put forth a more adequate replacement

    Let me try my hand at the first point: ‘Back to the Bible’. I’ve never been given a good explanation of this. I’m sure if I ask ten different chapter directors for an interpretation, I’d get ten different answers. But what everyone knows is that UBF puts such a unique spin on the Bible that a statement like ‘back to the Bible’ becomes almost nonsensical.

    In my mind, what I’ve interpreted this to mean is that we should highly cherish and esteem the special revelation that is God’s word. My sentiment is perhaps akin to the stance of Sola Scriptura (note: NOT Solo Scriptura; I accept general revelation as truth as well). I’m not sure if this is what UBF meant at all with the statement ‘back to the Bible’.

    Note this: “The key implication of the principle is that interpretations and applications of the Scriptures do not have the same authority as the Scriptures themselves; hence, the ecclesiastical authority is viewed as subject to correction by the Scriptures, even by an individual member of the Church.” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura). If UBF is going to move forward, people have to regard the authority of Scripture as higher than the perceived authority of their chapter director’s interpretation of Scripture.

    And for the record, I did not gain my Sola Scriptura-esque attitude from UBF; I had to supplement heavily from many, many other non-UBF sources.

    • Thanks DavidW, I appreciate your concern. I too wonder how this could be anything but a ubf bashing exercise, since I am initiating it :)

      But I am convinced this is a prompting of the Spirit to do this project. I think it will take this whole community to end up with a helpful outcome.

      I like your line of thought, David. And your comment is exactly why I started with this introductory post. I welcome any and all advice as to how to do this. And I certainly will incorporate thoughts expressed here into my articles.

      I’m not aiming for a perfect review, just an honest one, true to what I experienced the heritage being used over the 24 years of my time in ubf. And I do plan to incorporate the material from a Christian pastor who taught me the bible after leaving ubf (and the one who baptized me :). I have his final seminary project material “The 8 Doctrines of the Christian Faith”. That will be my guide as well.

    • Mark Mederich

      who cares who gets bashed, trust me the minority always loses, in this case americans..

      someone said hispanic kids only got into northwestern u because of race, then i say others only got in by political favor of inordinate recommendation & collective moneys improperly used for significant advantage; but the Lord will soon Reveal it all! so hold onto your seats! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mark Mederich

      isn’t it great that powerless people with nothing but a voice, need nothing else:)
      (john the baptist, jeremiah, etc..)

      isn’t it exciting…someday voices of truth will win, especially when we realize there’s alot more of ‘us’ than ‘them’ (yes fear only controls us masses until we realize we are the majority so truth will prevail)

    • Yea, Mark, kind of like the ending scene of “Bug’s Life” :) Someone noticed this reality… There are three things that will always come out: the sun, the moon and the truth.

  3. btw, there is no commenting policy against submitting articles :)

    So if anyone volunteers to write one of the 12 points, I certainly welcome it! Perhaps someone out there has been a silent reader but feels strongly about one of the points in particular?

    There is good, bad and ugly in all twelve points, so I appreciate all input!

  4. Thanks Brian and David. I guess my sarcastic sense of humor got away from me! It seems funny to me because it makes light out of something that is very painful.

    And you can’t deny that despite my snarkiness, there’s a grain of truth behind my explanation of the 12 points, areas we need to be careful to avoid.

    • Yes you are correct Joshua, there is truth in your words. And I’ve learned that snarky humor is a normal reaction to a traumatic situation. Like Joe mentioned once here, expecting exubfers to be “gracious” is like cutting off someone’s arms and saying “Just be thankful and move on with your life.”

      We have a right to express our narrative as we really experienced it. You are free to be snarky here if it helps (and your comments here have helped me immensely so far!)

      I for one cannot just walk away from ubf and go do something else yet. I need to process what happened to me for my entire adult formative years from age 18 to 42.

  5. David Bychkov

    Thanks Brian. This articles may be helpful, if doing carefully, objectively and truthfully. sure there are always some level of subjectivity present, but we at least can try. As for me UBF is still pretty mysterious thing, and I think to undestand it may help to those who are in, to those who are out and to external folks as well. I know that those points are viewed as UBF heritage and as for me 2-12 are showing what UBF is pretty well. Ok, they at least could describe some core UBF beliefs, I think. I just hardly undestand what is meant by p.1 by UBFers, as David mentioned. In my undestanding this should mean something like UBF is going to reevaluate her practice always according to the Scripture, in spirit of “Ecclesia semper reformanda est”. But while in UBF I could hardly remember any serious attempt to reevaluate her beliefs and practices with Scripture. I don’t remember any question like this: does UBF or structures like UBF can really be found in the Bible, or does it have the solid biblical foundation? So when UBF always was about the Bible study, I could not say the Bible was given a chance to really influence UBF itself. Or may be just in some aspects, which was already in UBF.
    Ok. the other interesting obsevation here is this one: while UBF have problems with considering her as a church, and the term “church” is not mentioned in this list regarding UBF itself, she operates with term “house churches”. Not sure how to comment, but this is something interesting.

    • David Bychkov

      Well, I think I undestood what bothers me here with “church” term. I am afraid that even undestanding of this ideas, or even correcting of their misuses (if any) could not help UBF with it’s selfidentity. I think after analyzing each of them it would be helpful try to answer this question: could the organization with this general principles/beliefs be considered as a church or not? and this again lead me tho this church vs. parachurch problem. Well, that’s just thoughts.

    • Good thoughts, David.

      “I think after analyzing each of them it would be helpful try to answer this question: could the organization with this general principles/beliefs be considered as a church or not?”

      Yes, after examing each of the heritage points, I think we can start to draw some conclusions, identify disconnects and expose contradictions. Maybe this will help ubf, maybe not. But I believe this excercise will help me understand what happened…

  6. big bear

    Brian…I think it is great that you are attempting to go over the doctrines of UBF. My personal opinion and strong belief after being in UBF 29 years…5 years more than you..is that they have no doctrine at all. They like it this way so that all their members may live by faith (as they interpret it) and be only committed to them. They pride themselves in the fact that members must accept everything in their ministry by faith in their interpretation of the Bible (which changes according to the situation) and that they have no rituals or sacraments or no accountability but to God (as they believe). I think this is what makes UBF different to all other ministries that I have been apart of and there is good, bad and ugly in this. It is true that other ministries shun you when you leave them as well. I think because they don’t have accountability is why leaders who are abuse and many who are not qualified in a mainstream church are still around doing ministry work. I think also that UBF is wealthy because they don’t give much to the community or to help others outside its walls…this keeps them out of trouble as well. I will pray for your vision to bring change. I pray that UBF will live before God and not man or systems for they can’t save her.

    • @big bear, good point: “they have no doctrine at all.”

      Yes, ubf has no official affiliation with any historical doctrine or church. They view themselves as separate from the universal church. And they intentionally do not put doctrine into words.

      However, the 12 or 8 point heritage list is about as close as we get. Would you agree that the 12/8 point heritage express the ethos of ubf ministry? Is there somewhere else I should look to in order to identify the fabric of ubf doctrine?

      I was given the Westminster Catechism in 1987 by my bible teacher in ubf (Ed, who btw left the ministry some years later). He told me that is what ubf’s doctrine is. But I found that almost no one else looked to that Catechism, only him and a couple people. Really ubf needs to create their own catechism.

      But of course, ubf is “too busy” to stop and do such a thing…

    • And so in order to discover the ubf doctrines, we need to work backwards. The 12/8 point heritage is really a set of commands meant to instill the ubf idea of orthopraxy (correct behavior). In a real sense, this tells me that it doesn’t matter how I feel or what I believe, just go and do what the heritage says.

  7. @DavidW:

    I find this really good advice:

    1. What these UBF statements might possibly mean (potential reference: http://ubf.org/node/155)

    2. If any of these fit into long-standing historical norms or statements laid down by the catholic (that is, universal) church

    3. If a UBF heritage point does not fit into the history of the church or biblical doctrine, put forth a more adequate replacement

    Thank you for pointing out that link to the ubf website. I am reading this in more detail now, and find it to be rather shocking. Look at this paragraph for example:

    “In this way God gave our ministry the specific mission of raising students as spiritual leaders. A broken shepherd heart and a burning love towards students became the spirit of our ministry. Because of this we had to see ourselves as permanent students. Those who graduated from college and got a job did not think of themselves as salary men but took pride in being shepherds of students. Whether others recognized us or not, we loved students more than the president or the chancellor or professors. We believed that we owned the campus. With this sense of mission and pride of being shepherds, we dedicated our youth and possessions to God. Especially, married women spent their time more on campus than at home, more in taking care of student sheep than their own children. Those who could not graduate from college came to our ministry and accepted campus mission. Though they were older than average students, they entered the college in order to shepherd college students. Moreover, even though the rent around the university was more expensive than other places, we wanted to live near the campus and feed student sheep with the word of God.”

    This idea of being a “permanent student” captures the ethos of ubf very well. If ubf had clearly documented this and spelled out the expectations as requirements, I could have made better decisions.

    The next paragraphs are revealing as well:

    “Maintaining the status of a permanent college student and campus shepherd is a peculiar way of life and required constant struggle. When old people kept on coming and going through the campus, they became the objects of suspicion and investigation. Some was accused of being a kind of criminal. To make matters worse, some missionaries were even put into prison, including Dr. Joseph Chung of Chicago UBF, who was imprisoned for a few days. In spite of all these hardships, we did not abandon campus mission because it was God who gave us the specific mission of campus evangelism, and this mission became our reason to live and the purpose of our lives

    God did not call us to be ordinary people who does ordinary work. Among all peoples of all nations, God called us to be shepherds for students. Our mission does not end in gathering students. God called us to be disciple-makers who raise up spiritual leaders and shepherds. May God help us to keep this spiritual heritage of God’s specific calling to us as disciple-makers among college students to the end.”

    • This is disturbing: “Especially, married women spent their time more on campus than at home, more in taking care of student sheep than their own children.” There is no amount of self-reflection in this statement, the writer just continues to go on as if this is acceptable because of the nobility engendered by such acts of heroism and staunch obedience.

      Also, “Our mission does not end in gathering students. God called us to be disciple-makers who raise up spiritual leaders and shepherds.” Neglecting your home and children and pouring all of your resources into campus mission all for the sake of raising more people who will perpetuate this type of dysfunctional behavior.

    • @David: I’m glad to see that you recognize that. I remember how you sent me the book “Love and Respect” after I left my Bible in your car. That book was very wonderful to help me wife and I relate to each other and understand how conflict develops. Thank you very much! Its people like you and your wife who are needed to bring the balance in UBF back towards a healthy integration of ministry and family. I’m happy that we can engage once again through UBFriends.

      BTW, how is your PhD? I recall it was in civil engineering at UIC?

    • big bear

      DAVID AND joshua…so glad you see it….my family became so dysfuctional that it led to divorce….this is what Ubf teaches its members….wives and husbands are doomed especially if you have large family….I am slowly restoring my children after the horor of Ubf….with healthy church and new wife……somebody must tell Ubf this should not be honored…it is abuse and neglect…children are hurting……I watch with horror as my daughter tried to take her life….a church that hurts families and marriage in the name of God is wrong..no love of God

    • @Joshua. Sorry, I had to take a hiatus for a while due to my crazy schedule. I’m really glad that you liked Love and Respect. We actually attended the author’s conference and saw him and his wife speak; very authentic and down to earth Christians. My wife and I are constantly trying to focus on the core family unit. We have a two year old son and a daughter on the way and we’re seriously contemplating homeschooling (yikes!). My wife recently gave a short presentation at BBF on homeschooling so she’s kind of stoked about it. We really want to spend time with our kids and invest in them well. Btw, I recommend The Legacy Path, if you haven’t already read it. Good book centering on instilling faith in your children (also anything by Tim Kimmel: Grace Based Parenting). Please let me know of any other resources you’ve gleaned from along these lines as well.

      I’m almost, almost done with my PhD. Applying for jobs in the Chicago area. I think our field is similar, computational mechanics, though I think you also do CFD as well. Anyway, hope all is going well on your end too. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    • Shameless plug: some time ago, I wrote a blog on the UBF (in)famous passage, Genesis 24. I cite the book Legacy Path here: http://encountertheword.blogspot.com/2012/01/day-10-genesis-24.html

    • I like shameless. It’s far more delectable than evasive. Thoughtful post.

  8. So as I prepare an outline or roadmap for these 12 articles (maybe 8?), I find that this is problematic for two big reasons: 1) How do I define the ubf heritage points that can be argued to mean just about anything? and 2) how do I avoid the doctrinal arguments that have divided Christianity?

    One answer is to just tell my story, the story of how I learned, taught and practiced these 12/8 points. I do find that the 12 points collapse nicely into the 8 points, so perhaps 8 articles is better. Plus that fits nicely with the 8 doctrines of Christianity that I recently learned, which are themselves a collapsing of about 11 or 12 doctrines (which I find highly intriguing…)

    So here is an outline of the “ologies” I plan to use as a guide. I do not plan to explain these fully as an ordained pastor might do. The basics of these doctrines can be understood well enough to use a guide, I think.

    So I plan to begin with questions (not answers) and reflect on those questions from a ubf point of view and from a basic Christian point of view. I don’t think anyone has ever exhausted the answers to these questions. And I find that asking the questions is better than dictating my small answers.

    What is Scripture? bibliology

    Who is God? theology

    Who is Jesus? What will happen when Jesus returns? Christology and eschatology

    Who is the Holy Spirit? pneumatology

    How do we connect with the seen and unseen universe? cosmology, angelology and anthropology

    What is the church? ecclesiology

    What is sin? hamartiology

    What is salvation? soteriology

    Source: My pastor friend’s Be Armed! bible study.

  9. big bear

    Brian..UBF does have a cath..I had one in my hand about 20 years ago..but very few people got one and I lost mine..it was a small booklet but they stopped printing them…It does not matter…what is in the 12/8 points they don’t follow anyway or any moral or ethical code of behavior or conduct…they are just words on a paper..the abusive practices, the families and the children meanwhile suffer and are unloved due to the excuse of doing mission…I was there and so were you…these are the things they see as their badges of honor this is why they are not accountable or make restitution to us who have suffered under such a system…like the communist….it is expected to do these things and more…but your endeavor is a noble one…

  10. As I think about what ubf taught me, I find many things missing in myself. For example, I find that my conscience was numb, my love for family was lost, my ability to rest was replaced with busybodiness, and my emotional expression is stunted. I hope to discover why these things are missing from me. I think it must have a lot to do with the system itself, stemming from the heritage at the root. Instead of the “statement of faith” ubf probably should display the “8 point heritage”.

  11. big bear

    Brian..I agree…experience the same things…my new wife has helped me so much to return to love and love of family…marrying someone outside of UBF helped me so much because my ex was so programmed by UBF that it would have taken years to recover…(not saying this to break up your marriage)but God knew I needed a new start and a new mindset. Yes, we pray for our ex, UBF, all our children, and we are not ashamed to love each other and our children more than ministry work or to hold hands or even kiss in church…my road to recovery is a bit different than yours…thank God you saved your wife and family and you are still together…yes I am learning to let my children to make their own decisions in God and not to force them to go to church but show them love and acceptance no matter what…this is lacking in UBF

  12. big bear

    UBF does not like traditional churches and prides itself in being different than worldly Christians…looks down on all Christians that don’t belong to their small little group..think that everyone in the world should live like them…and they operate in the end justifies the means..this is wrong…love should always be the way..not breaking in homes, abortions, asking people to get divorce, shipping children around as pawns, force to go to all the meetings and worships..it is a ministry of force…this is not love…children will rebel and many leaders will eventually leave when they explore the truth more closely or something goes wrong and there is no one to help them…

  13. big bear

    The longer you are in UBF…the harder it is to leave because you are so brainwashed in their system of the Bible that you lose all conscience of love and loving your neighbors and the church as a hole…by God’s grace we both got out…God has a reason…

    • @big bear: “The longer you are in UBF…the harder it is to leave”

      Absolutely! Even though it was just 10-12 years, as my family was contemplating leaving, we instantly thought, “If I leave, God will surely punish me.” We were terrified. We had no strength to extricate ourselves. I literally trembled sometimes. In the end, I didn’t have enough strength to make up my mind. I just prayed, “Lord, if you want us to leave, you need to be the one to bring us out, because I am too weak to do so.” I believe that God accepted my helpless prayer of distress. He orchestrated everything so that we were basically escorted out by the Holy Spirit and into a local church that understood us well and excellently met our needs in such a vulnerable and painful time.

  14. big bear

    Brian..I welcome you or anyone to call me if you like to talk or just need encouragement mutually..anybody in UBF..you can call me as well..I will be happy to engage in loving conversation with you..859-394-8953..the best way is to text me first,,,let me know you are calling and if I am available love to hear from you…

    • Yes, it will be good to talk sometime and/or meet. Ditto and Amen to all your comments here big bear!

      Also, it would be a welcome relief to have an additional person to call for exubf member support… I’ve been doing that for the last couple years. People from all over have emailed me or called me to discuss their issues in recovering from the ubf system. Often I am just echoing their thoughts when I blog here.

  15. big bear

    JOSHUA…i do understand the fear…you are so brainwashed to believe that if you leave you are cursed by God….this is farthest from the truth….be ware of absolute and closed door ministries..my children see how much I have changed for the good since leaving ubf….many people prayed for me…..my ex threw me out or I would still be there…she saved me and my new wife helped with healing and a healthy church and this site

  16. big bear


  17. Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Mt 7:16) By this statement, I think Jesus is saying that clear fruit of God’s work in a Christian’s life and relationships is more important than a bullet list of beliefs that they have. The opposite is true: if there is a strong adherence to a 12- or 8-point list of beliefs, but no clear evidence of the Spirit’s fruit in their lives, family, and relationships, that is a testimony that something is problematic.

    I guess I’m saying that we can learn a lot from studying the heritage points of UBF. But we can also learn a lot by examining how UBF leaders interact with each other, with other believers, with their families, and within their communities. Will the two stories be in agreement?

    This clip of Francis Chan is relevant:

  18. big bear

    JOSHUA…you are so right…the families in Ubf are hurting…the children and the spouses….this is not good fruit….I saw it with my own eyes….the problem lies in how this is considered a badge of honor…bad fruit……the excuse is they are this way because of life of mission…..this is bullshit…….good healthy families and marriages produce good fruit in Christ and a balanced life….this is why the refuse to be accountable because the abuse is a badge of honor….I was deceived for29 years….God has restored my love for families and the whole body of Christ….amazing grace…I will never step foot in the clutches of a cult again..God revealed to me this about ubf

  19. bigbear, joshua,

    I agree with the essence of what you are saying. This is a good point joshua, especially:

    “I guess I’m saying that we can learn a lot from studying the heritage points of UBF. But we can also learn a lot by examining how UBF leaders interact with each other, with other believers, with their families, and within their communities. Will the two stories be in agreement?”

    I can see there is a huge descrepency between the surface claims of the ubf system and how certain people act. And there is a difference between behavior in group settings vs. those personal, behind closed doors meetings.

    I am seeking to answer this question: How could a high-IQ person like me be persuaded to give 24 years of my youth to this system? How could good, faithful, intelligent people like each of us give so much to such a flawed system?

    Yes there are disconnects and contradictions all over the ubf system. Yet I believe we can connect the dots and begin to understand the contradictions. I’m not satisfied with all the short, simple answers. And I cannot just “move on”. I want detailed, explicit answers.

    I believe such answers and connections can begin to be uncovered by examining the 8/12 heritage points. I believe also we must find answers in order to warn new naive students who will come to ubf and see the wonderful things we saw. Remember when ubf looked so attractive? Remember when we didn’t see any problems? But as someone wise once noted, a story that is entirely positive may in fact be filled with hidden falsehood.

  20. big bear

    Brian…we see what we want to see…satan masquades as an angel of light…they are good at hiding the bad and ugly of Ubf under false piety…they are great sales people…we were sold….it is like buying a house…the owner does not want you see the bad and ugly of the house….later you find out once you move in…..Ubf hides the bad fruit of its work……as long as you are in the group you are pressured to conform daily but once you are out they disown you….they have no control over you….you are then labeled a devil…they are so shallow…I bought into it because I was so vulnerable….God saved me dispite them…..but the glory goes to God not Ubf…Ubf is a failed and bad fruit system…families need to be restored

  21. Thanks, Brian, for the starting the series of articles on the heritage of ubf. I’ve just come back from the Crimea where I spent much time in reading the Bible, prayer and meditation (and, of course, swimming in the sea!)). I just wanted to share that the Spirit also put it into my heart there in the wilderness without internet that ubf practicies should be carefully discussed, one at a time. This would make the discussion here more systematic (though it is rather difficult to be systematic about the system which has nothing systematic in it at all). I remember how I prayed and God gave me concerns about ISBCs, and there at once Ben’s article appeared! So I believe the Spirit of God is leading this site and is blessing His many people through it.

    • @Vitaly, I am so encouraged to learn that the Spirit is speaking the same message to several of us around the world. Yes, I am plodding through each of the 12 heritage points taught to me for over 2 decades. There is no doctrinal statement from ubf and no core values document or even a constitution. We have just the 12 points (or 8 condensed pionts) and the ubf corporation by-laws (which are just organizational points). So I am reviewing each point, in ubf-style (one by one!), without analyzing each point. My aim is not to give ubf a doctrine statement, but to bluntly share how the heritage was taugth to me.

      I seek to understand why I gave 24 years to the heritage, why I defended it so passionately online, and why I ultimately rejected the ubf heritage absolutely.

      [Note: if somene thinks this is a boring exercise, just tune back in for my summary articles after the series where I connect the dots, tie up loose ends and share some analysis of the 12 points.]

  22. big bear

    I AGREE…Brian your labor is not in vain. keep fighting the good fight of faith. You are a true soldier for Christ my friend.

  23. Alec Sitalo

    I’ve got a question on the Doctrine of UBF. In one message I found that they are sheltered in God’s election, which makes them independent of their sins.

    What will they answer when asked: “Do you as a member of UBF consider yourself pre-elected?” If yes then what happens if a person leaves UBF?

    • If you ask 10 ubf people any theological question, you’ll get 11 answers.

      Most will likely say yes, they are pre-elected, but specifically and only referring to ubf ministry. Those “called” to ubf claim that such calling is irrevocable.

      Those who leave go through a shunning process and are considered to be poisonous if they are vocal, and to have “lost their mission”. Those who leave are typically considered as less than animals and destined to hell. At best, they are just forgotten about.

    • As Brian said, it is next to impossible to assess the orthodoxy of UBF based on their official doctrine, since they don’t have any written doctrine and have no strong position on any doctrinal issues except their “spiritual heritage” of doing mission. Concerning salvation, one day they may say we are saved by grace through faith, and the next day they say you must do campus mission anyway and you must obey or you will become unspiritual and loose your calling and salvation. So it becomes salvation by obedience and works. On the surface, UBF’s doctrine is pretty much fundamentalist Evangelical (and I guess many Orthodox Christians in Russia think that this is already enough to be considered a cult). But the real reason why many consider UBF a cult is because of the hidden and unspoken doctrines and practices which manifest in they way they behave, manipulating and training people with mind control methods which are typical for cults. UBF leaders generally avoid talking about doctrine, considering them needless and fruitless discussions. All they care about is that people follow the UBF heritage, i.e. take part in the weekly program of sharing testimonies, attend Sunday services and conferences, make Bible study with their shepherd and their sheep, pay offering money and obey leaders absolutely. What they really believe about God is secondary.

    • Alec Sitalo

      Thank you, Chris.

  24. Alec Sitalo

    I mean asking:
    “Do you beleive you are all pre-elected?”

    Yes – > “Weren’t there apostates?”
    No – > “How are you sure you personally aren’t unelected?”

  25. Alec Sitalo


  26. A plug for #12 (testimony writing and sharing) from a quote by Flannery O’Connor:

    “I write to discover what I know.” “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

    This is surely the indisputable good of testimony writing that many have likely experienced.

    • @Ben: Except in a UBF context, the quote would more accurately be:

      “I write to discover what [my shepherd thinks I should have said]. I write because I don’t know what [rebuke I will receive or direction for the future I will be given] until I read what I say [to my shepherd].”

    • I only shared the good. Thanks, Joshua, for sparing me to share the bad and the ugly! :-)

  27. I published my visualization summary of the 12 heritage points.

    The first 7 points:

    The wonderful bible became a binding chain.
    The mission for the world became a black burden.
    The beautiful campus became a dark lonely place.
    The humble manger caught on fire and choked me.
    The spirit of giving bled me dry.
    The self-support/layman ministry made me crawl like a zombie.
    The spiritual order ruled my life like a massive demon of authority.