Why I Am Not a Christian

d1As the Lent season approaches this week, one question has surfaced in my mind: What does it mean to be a Christian? This is one of the thoughts I plan on considering more deeply during this year’s Lent. I will be removing the distraction of blogging during this time, so you will not see me posting here on ubfriends.

Reason #1 – I was trained by a Korean bible cult

I hate saying this, but it is true. Whatever good things are happening in ubf today, I am not part of such things. I was trained by ubf leaders to believe a Christianized version of Confucianism, and to formulate a belief system based on the 12 point ubf heritage. That is simply not orthodox Christianity. Often I find I am reacting against the ubf heritage instead of discovering Christianity. So I now face the fact that I am not trained in orthodox Christianity.

Reason #2 – I live among American Christians

As I explore American Christianity in its current divided state, I find that I am glad I did not learn American Christianity as espoused by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in the Protestant world. I find that after leaving ubf behind, I am highly grateful for my Roman Catholic roots. I find these Catholic roots and the current Pope Francis to be my connection to orthodox Christianity. I cannot see Christ in most of the Christian writing and teaching currently in America. Instead, I see bigotry, hatred, division, strife, anger and injustice, toward women, toward gays, toward Democrats, toward liberals and toward just about anything that I might call “my values”.

Reason #3 – The term Christian is just a label

It is sobering to realize that Peter and the others were not Christians. Well at least for most of their life and for many years while they followed Jesus. The disciples of Jesus were just fine without the label of “Christian”. It was in Antioch that the label of “Christian” was applied, as in Acts 11:25-27. And why did other people start calling followers of Jesus as Christians? Because they saw the forgiveness toward the apostle Paul, a man who once tried to kill Christ-followers. Instead of hating the one they didn’t understand, the followers of Jesus made the man a teacher! Such love and forgiveness is Christ-like. I don’t see such a thing in me nor in most who claim the label Christian. Who am I to claim to be Christ-like?

I am a disciple of Jesus, following Jesus

So for now I am a disciple of Jesus. I join with the worldwide church of people who confess that they too follow Jesus. Matthew 16:13-20 is the famous “you are the Christ” passage. But what does that passage end with? That passage ends with a stern warning from Jesus. Jesus strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Is this just a warning for that specific context? Or was Jesus teaching us all something deeper here? I see something deeper. And so this is my attitude right now. I tell no one that I am a Christian.

Instead, I am focusing on learning how to listen to Jesus’ voice through the Holy Spirit, depending on the Holy Father to navigate the Holy Scriptures. For now, Christ who lives in me has called me to go ouside the gates as in Hebrews 13:10-13, to go outside the camp to bear the reproach Jesus himself endured. I will stand with my gay brothers and sisters. I will stand up for justice. I will befriend anyone and engage in dialogue with unconditional love, even anyone in ubf and anyone among the Christendom world, as much as they are willing to talk to me without the label of Christian. And above all else, I will continue to learn how to be a husband and father, making up for lost time.


  1. Mark Mederich


  2. Thanks, Brian, for sharing. Though I may not agree with everything that you have written, I love you dearly as my friend and my brother. Like you, “I will stand up for justice. I will befriend anyone and engage in dialogue with unconditional love…”

    My predominant thought is that if UBFers and UBF lovers and UBF defenders (as though God needs anyone to defend Him or His church) reads your #1 and dislikes (hates) you or becomes incensed at you, then they should seriously REPENT, because Jesus’ love for you and for everyone and anyone else does not ever change (Heb 13:8).

  3. Thanks Ben, the sentiment is mutual. You have been nothing but a good friend and source of God’s blessing to me through all this.

    I was going to entitle this article as “Why I am leaving Christianity”. But that goes beyond being provocative and enters into the fallacy arena. It’s just not true. I’m not leaving Christianity, which isn’t really possible anyway now that Christ is living inside me :)

    I also thought, what if Jesus himself asked me “Are you a Christian?” My answer immediately becomes a resounding No. Jesus is the Christ, I am not. And I believe this cuts to the heart of the meaning of the infamous prayer in Luke 18:9-14.

    I am anticipating a meaningful Lent!

  4. forestsfailyou

    I am wondering what I ought to give up for lent. Does anyone have any ideas?

  5. I have never had any concept or thought of Lent in my entire life, both pre-Christian (25 years) and post-Christian (34 years). [Oops, I just disclosed my age!]

    I embrace and am encouraged by all who practice Lent. But my conscious daily desire is to dwell in the constant presence of God, albeit failing constantly! Personally, I find this the most positive and happy way to live each and every day of my life.

    If there are any who would teach and share their positive experiences of Lent, I would welcome it.

  6. Lent is generally a deeper experience than merely giving up something. In fact, I don’t think Lent is ever about giving up something we like. I’ve never thought of Lent that way. Lent is about giving up the things that are distracting us from a deeper meditation about God and our life journey.

    Here are some great thoughts:

    “The first is that Lent is not meant to be primarily an individual journey of self-discipline, sacrifice, and personal prayer. It is an ecclesial pilgrimage. “We are not alone in this spiritual itinerary,” Pope Benedict clarified, “because the Church accompanies and sustains us from the start with the Word of God, which encloses a program of spiritual life and penitential commitment, and with the grace of the sacraments.” Lent is not a solitary hike from a dark valley up a high spiritual mountain, but a journey together with the whole Church in which God’s word and very life in the sacraments guide, strengthen and sustain us all. The Pope is calling us all to rediscover this communal dimension of Lent — in families, parishes, dioceses and beyond.

    Second, the conversion asked of us in Lent is not something small, but radical and total. Commenting on Jesus’ words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” which constitute one of the two formulae used for the imposition of ashes, the Holy Father said that they call us to “conversion, a word that must be taken in its extraordinary seriousness.” In many places, he said, conversion is not treated with sufficient gravity, being viewed as something minor rather than major. “The call to conversion, in fact, uncovers and denounces the easy superficiality that very often characterizes our way of living.”

    The True Meaning of Lent

  7. My family practiced Lent every year. So for the first 18 years I participated with the church around the world. I lost that for many years though, always knowing Lent was going on but feeling a sense of being outside Christendom. I am ashamed that I despised such things that formed the foundation of my faith.

  8. Here are some related, interesting thoughts, especially that “Christian” was a derogatory name for those who followed Jesus.

    “Go ahead and ask yourself how many times you think the Bible mentions Christians. What is your guess? 100, 500, even 1,000? Nope. The answer is Dale Earnhardt (I live in North Carolina) also known as Number 3. Three times in the entire Bible are the people who follow Jesus called Christians. They are much more commonly called Disciples (294 times in the Bible)”

    “In Greek it literally meant “Little Christ” as in “there is that Christian, look at the little Christ over there.” (someone trying to imitate Jesus). This was basically a derogatory term or a put down and it came over 3 years after Jesus’ death on the cross. Hmmm, that is interesting isn’t it? So let’s think about that for a minute. If a Disciple (or follower of Jesus) is really the only person that would be called a “little Christ” or Christian, is that something that I would be in danger of being called based on that definition?”

    What is the difference between Christian and Disciple?

  9. I just joined this site in preparation of a message and stumbled upon this article from Google search. I would like to raise a warning for the contributions of this BK member to this website. The spirit of truth is not present in this article! The administrators of this website please be aware of this false doctrine.

    In Christ Always,
    To Jesus be the Glory.

  10. Thanks JM for joining our conversation. Welcome. Would you mind explaining or elaborating on your comment that “the spirit of truth is not present in this article!” Thanks for commenting.

  11. Because they saw the forgiveness toward the apostle Paul, a man who once tried to kill Christ-followers.

    Is this just a warning for that specific context? Or was Jesus teaching us all something deeper here? I see something deeper. And so this is my attitude right now. I tell no one that I am a Christian.

    I will stand with my gay brothers and sisters.

    Ben, “the spirit of truth is not present” in these words. I agree with JM. The same way he is not present when you try to say that the cult leader Lee influenced your life as a Christian. It is just a pity that a cult leader became the most influential Christian for you. In this sense I would agree with Brian and wouldn’t tell anyone that I am a “Christian”. I reread the 1976 letter and see that Lee was not a Christian and influenced so many ubf directors to be “Christians” like him. I knew such “Christians” personally for 17 years. Among other things the 1976 letter warned Lee that he would burn in a fire one day. And it happened so. But our chapter missionaries interpreted it as “he was taken to heaven like a beautiful burnt offerning before God”. Some people have eyes but are not able to see. They just follow their “Christian” teacher.

    I wonder if your words to MJ are sincere. Do you fully agree with the Brian’s article and see “the spirit of truth” in the article?

  12. Thanks, Vitaly, I’m wondering who MJ is and what I said to her that may not be sincere?

    In response to your question regarding Brian’s article, see my comment above: “Though I may not agree with everything that you (Brian) have written, I love you dearly as my friend and my brother. Like you, “I will stand up for justice. I will befriend anyone and engage in dialogue with unconditional love…” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/03/02/why-i-am-not-a-christian/#comment-12796

  13. Hey everyone, just want to point out that we had our first troll here :) I contacted JM privately a while ago, but he/she refused to discuss anything. He/she just wants us all to know how bad our articles and comments are, especially that BK guy. I’ll warn the admins about that BK dude.

    • Side note, “JM” is NOT “MJ”. MJ is not a troll and is a good virtual friend. I hope MJ’s family is safe with all the Ukraine/Russia tensions.

  14. bekamartin

    Excellent! Thank you!

  15. bekamartin

    What is the 1976 letter mentioned by Vitaly?

  16. bekamartin

    Thank you, BrianK. I have so much to learn!!

    • Here’s something I learned that overlooked when I was a ubf shepherd. The 1976 letter was written by Koreans in ubf.

      One of the common defenses of ubf is “We are just dealing with Korean cultural issues. Westerners just don’t like Eastern ways.” Well the 1976 letter blows this out of the water. Korean culture is one layer of problems but the root of ubf’s problems have almost nothing to do with Korean culture.

      And it is true that Koreans in ubf have almost universally failed to adopt to their host countries and instead have enforced their own culture on each country they go to. But I’ve observed the root of ubf’s problems is a flawed understanding of the gospel and a refusal to surrender to the Holy Spirit.

      Those are some of the things I learned from the Koreans ubfers who wrote the 1976 letter.

  17. bekamartin

    Very sickening to learn all this many many years later!!!

    • Indeed. And that is precisely why my #1 goal is to connect ubf teachings and ubf people to the public world. Some don’t understand what I’m doing. Others claim that I am aimlessly criticizing ubf. But I am following a very specific agenda, obeying the Spirit each step as the Lord reveals His plan each day.

      Every adult in college deserves to know all about ubf up front so they can make their own decision. Even long time members don’t know really what goes on at their own ministry, so they deserve to know as well.

      The 50th Anniversary book talks about ubf in terms of experimentation. They claim that the ubf heritage is God’s best ways and that the leaders keep searching for better ways, and will change, but so far they have not found any better ways for 50 years.

      This is what all ubf people need to wake up to. Human beings are not to be treated as lab rats in an experiment! ubf Koreans cannot just keep saying “Oh sorry, lost generation, our shepherding experiments failed on you, but we are tweaking our methods and will try again”.

      Why do ubf Koreans keep saying “let’s just go back to the bible” or more recently “let’s just go back to the gospel”? Why do they keep saying those things every time the ministry faces a crisis?

      It is because they want to restart the grand shepherding experiment, learning from the failures of former members and starting all over with the bible, trying to convince new adults in college that the ubf shepherding ways are the best ways, they just need some tweaking.

      I say b——t. Stop. Put the bible down. Re-examine the entire ministry! Students need to know all about arranged marriage, submission to authority and chair-sitting training.