Deja Vu, Self-Loathing, Resolve

dDéjà vu came over me when I saw this public post on Facebook by a UBF chapter director: “In 2013, I received a lot of grace from God in serving 1:1 and Sunday worship service (SWS). But I did not pray much. I did not get up early in the morning. I did not take care of my wife and two sons well. I did not pray for our church members deeply. I just enjoyed Bible study and my work. Through my son not getting an interview for medical school, my children’s struggles and church’s stagnancy were big blows to me and I realized that I was lazy and complacent. God is right. He is good. He loves his chosen people and disciplines them. I chose Dt 6:5 because my problem is that I didn’t love God wholeheartedly. As I prayed, I set a number “1-15-20-25” for our church. All our church members may read the whole Bible, serve 15 students weekly, pray for at least 20 minutes daily and 25 attendees for SWS. Personally I set my heart on praying to God every morning, 10 1:1, serving church members and loving my family.”

1998. It reminded me of the first 25 years of my Christian life in Chicago. My abridged version is “woe is me” followed by “1-12-120:” read the whole Bible in a year, feed 12 sheep a week and raise a 120 member fellowship. Here’s a real Ben Toh testimony from 1998 that was my past self. He needs a severe rebuke. Done! So I refrain from doing so again. Similar comments may be made to this noble man.

To charitably consider both sides, I believe he is a truly noble, sincere Christian.He states his inadequacy and (perceived) failure regarding his family and his church: “my children’s struggles and church’s stagnancy were big blows to me…I was lazy and complacent.” Then he set a specific goal of “1-15-20-25” in order to love God with his whole being (Dt 6:5).

Self-loathing and self-flagellation. He mentions receiving much grace and that God is good. Yet his sincere testimony is basically self-loathing. An apt quote by Richard Foster says, “Most of us have been exposed to such a mutilated form of biblical submission that either we have embraced the deformity or we have rejected the Discipline altogether. To do the former leads to self-hatred; to do the latter leads to self-glorification.” It reminds me of countless similar testimonies I have heard for decades and written myself thousands of times, as I did in 1998.

Arrogance in disguise. Because of anthropocentrity, the solution to our problems is deemed to be greater human effort and resolve. It sounds noble. But it is pride and arrogance in disguise. We should be responsible but fail. We think the solution is a firm resolve to “work harder, try harder, pray more, sacrifice more.” Such a testimony does not point to the finished work of Christ (Jn 19:30), nor to the gospel of God’s grace (Ac 20:24).

It’s up to you. The entire solution is the grace of Jesus (1 Cor 15:10), living by the Spirit (Gal 5:16), and a total dependency on God (Prov 3:5), which is sadly lacking when the focus is on self and human resolve. It communicates the thought that God loves us and is pleased with us when we perform well. Otherwise, you better shape up and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It is not dissimilar from the gospel of self-help.

God loves you even when you mess up. I know we Christians believe this. Do we dare to preach such a radical gospel?


  1. forestsfailyou

    This is something I have noticed a lot in the testimony meetings. People know they are sinful, but there are some sins that are “safe” and others that are “unsafe”. A common one seems to be that people are not being a fruitful enough and it is a sin. A missionary cries in the meeting nearly every time. It bothers me that nobody seems bothered by this. Other missionaries (and I cringe to say this)…smile at it. In testimony meeting people cannot tell sins that are *too* bad otherwise it becomes your “sin problem”. I think that one assigned to me has been “doubtfulness” (which I find to be quite humorous- I am extremely confident in my doubtfulness about UBF)

    I think that despair over “unfaithfulness” is a carry over from other philosophies and has no place in Christendom. Indeed Kirkaagard in Sickness unto Death says that despair is a grave sin. We are given too much to be happy for, namely the resurrection. This is not to say that we should not take sin seriously, but to use a metaphor, we must be like a runner who has fallen in a race and got up to keep running. We should not just stop running and look at how
    wounded we have become.

    It was interesting talking to some of the people from Philippines UBF. They have a uniquely positive attitude in regards to Christ that I have yet to see anywhere in UBF. They speak of Christ in all they do, even in despair. The few I have spoken to have shown me the correct response to despair. It should be of the form “I have done wrong, but Christ has redeemed me. I have nothing to fear. I will do better.”

    • “Other missionaries (and I cringe to say this) … smile at it.” This also sometimes perplexed and angered me until I understood that Korean (Japanese, Chinese) people sometimes smile when they are embarassed, not because they are amused or want to mock somebody.

  2. namuehling

    Love this Ben!

  3. Thanks, Forests, for your astute observations and comments. I need to repeatedly say that most of our missionaries are truly noble, sincere and good men, because it is true. That’s why I still love and respect them from my heart.

    I somewhat understand that they grew up in a strong shame/honor culture which seems to be their unspoken unquestioned and likely subconscious modus operandi. As a missionary being (perceived as) fruitful is honorable, while being (perceived as) unfruitful is shameful. Unfortunately, the predominant criteria is by the growth in numbers (which is important because the book of Numbers is in the Bible!).

    Though we are justified freely by the grace of Jesus (Rom 3:24), practically and functionally we are justified by Numbers. For years I was regarded as a success by raising 12 disciples. But then I was regarded as a failure by failing to raise a 120 member fellowship, or as a cop out for bailing on this prayer topic. This might still be the sentiment of some toward me.

    • The big problem is that they don’t understand that shame/honor culture is fundamentally opposed to the gospel. Instead they try to marry these incompatible things together, creating a monster.

  4. Chris, This is not an excuse or a justification but no one’s perfect. Some people’s imperfect/flawed theology affects others more than some other bad theologies, and some may be more damaging and “monstrous” than others.

    Can we love and extend grace to all, until the sovereign God corrects them (or not)? I’m not advocating passivity or inaction or indifference, but encouraging kindness, meekness, gentleness and patience even toward those who refuse to change.

    • Ben, I don’t fully understand what you want to say in your first sentence or how this contradicts what I said.

      Concerning your second sentence, my answer is clear. Kindness and gentleness and patience is inadequate towards spiritual abusive leaders who refuse to repent and change when their theology and practice clearly opposes the gospel and damages the lives of the people who they claim to shepherd. I cannot see where the Bible is propagating meekness and patience towards such people. Passages such as Mt 18:15-17 or 1Cor 5 show clearly that sin problems in the church (and spiritual abuse is a huge sin) need to be escalated and not tolerated over years. The prophets of the OT and the apostles like Paul and even Jesus never were gentle and meek with the spiritual leaders of their time who propagated wrong theology or were wolves in sheep’s clothing. To me, many of the UBF leaders are of such kind. That’s why we shoud not be hestistant to use clear and harsh words if they are adequate. The Bible also teaches that if such people really don’t want to change, it’s better to separate from them, and not have fellowship with them in the context of the church. It is not helpful and really spoils everybody. If you don’t show them clearly enough that they sin, you help them to maintain their state of unrepentance. Your being kind and meek speaks a loud and clear language to them, namely “it’s all not so serious”, and this language may well overtone the few critical words with which you confront them. One example for this problem can be found in 1 Sam 2:22-25 and 1 Sam 3:13-14 where Eli was too meek towards his sons. From the last verse, you see how serious God took the problem of Eli. Meekness is really not always spiritual, it can be quite the opposite. Again, the crucial thing here is that Eli’s sons were considered priests. If somebody is an ordained or self-acclaimed priest or other kind of spiritual leader, or somehow contaminates the church with his sin, then the reaction and reprehension must be strong and clear and demanding. Meekness and patience is not appropriate here.

  5. Gajanan Nial
    Gajanan Nial

    The problem with UBF is its immature theology(I am not saying incorrect). The kind of testimony written by Ben maybe helpful for a beginner, but if leaders write that type of testimonies than he/she has already missed the whole point of the Christian life.

    The concept of ,b>God’s calling in UBF is heavily and primarily focused toward what one ought to do. So it is easy to list what one failed to do and boast about what was done in the testimonies, where writing testimony itself is considered something to be done.

    But what I have learned/understood about the calling of God is, it is not primarily about what we as Christians do, but what we as Christians become. To any UBFer and especially to leaders “doing” and “becoming” look almost identical. However, missing this point has cost the ministry very heavily. Especially as members and leaders become older, the cost becomes costlier.

    The ministry can continue to exist, can revive and can become a vibrant community, if only God’s calling of “becoming” is reexamined and understood correctly. For example, just to mention a few, Christians are called to be lovers of God and lovers of Jesus first (Mt 23:37-39), we are called to be godly (Mt 5:48), worshipers (Jn 4:23) and there are many more important teachings of Jesus/Bible about “becoming” that are never a priority because of the focus on doing rather than becoming. A ministry or individual is not called mature because of what it/he/she does, but because of what it/he/she becomes. A key question to be asked by every Christian on the way to maturity therefore is: “What is my calling?”, “What has Jesus called me to become?”
    Many leaders, including top ones, who have tried to reach out me after my leaving, came to remind me what I was supposed to be doing. Nobody talked about what I am supposed to become, so their arguments were never convincing to me. God bless if they read this and realize where the ministry is moving toward.

    • Gajanan, I agree with you, but I don’t understand why you shy away from saying the UBF theology is incorrect. It is definitely not correct in the sense that it is not in line with the Bible (which it purports to be based on), particularly regarding its striking feature of authoritarism. Why shouldn’t we say this loud and clear?

    • bekamartin

      I think this is my experience in UBF, and what I tried to explain to my then husband. I felt I was growing and desiring to become more like Jesus, as I felt the Bible was leading me and as radio ministries seemed to be teaching, but my ministry with my then husband consisted of trying to feed more sheep or spend more time on testimonies or getting my sheep and children to do these things. I eventually gave up testimony writing in favor of spending more time with my children (I was a fulltime working mom), and got such flack from my then husband (the chapter director). He insisted that I had given up my ministry but I felt my mothering and working and shepherding, as well as my personal Bible study, were my ministry. I felt that I was growing in my own faith, even without testimony writing.

  6. More missionaries are perhaps now posting their testimonies on Facebook. Here’s another (3/31/14) that is in a similar vein (what Gajanan appropriately refers to as “doing” rather than “becoming,” which after a while does get tired and tiring and tiresome):

    2014 Vision and Strategy

    We were tied to parenting in 2013. We met few new students. I pray we may put more energy into preaching and making disciples in 2014. I hope we will have reflection sharing meeting with faithful Bible students. And I hope we will be able to invite more students to Sunday worship.

    My key verse in 2013 was John 12:24. I should have put the truth of a kernel of wheat into practice. However, I didn’t devote myself fully to the Lord. I wasted a lot of time and energy on less important things. I was much concerned with worldly matters. Though I was busy doing many things, I grieved God. I often thought there are few students who desire to follow Jesus. But the real problem is in me. I must grow and change more. May God help me dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the Lord.

    My key verse in 2014 is the same as last year’s. I want to obey one verse and experience the truth. I also want to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit.

    Prayer Topics

    1. Sunday worship message
    2. 10 teams of 1:1
    3. To make one Bible teacher
    4. ____ and _____ may be healthy and strong in the Lord
    5. Permanent residency

    One word: “If it dies”

  7. forestsfailyou

    Such insane logic. “Tied to parenting”. I asked someone about the loathing that missionaries feel. He said that the holier one is the more they realize their sin. This might be true, but it seems to imply loathing is the correct response. At any rate the claim of holiness if correct cannot be disputed, to say someone has a view you cannot see or are not privileged enough to see it to end all conversation on it.

    I am reminded of The essay Learning in Wartime. Many people were critical of people who were going to college to become educated when war threatened. Going to war to fight against such an evil was seen as many to be a higher calling than education. This seems to be an analogous position, that mission is a higher calling than all other callings, even children. My bible teacher writes

    “It is for a very different reason that religion cannot occupy the whole of life in the sense of excluding all our natural activities. For of course in some sense, it must occupy the whole of life. There is no question of a compromise between the claims of God and the claims of culture, or politics, or anything else. God’s claim is infinite and inexorable. You can refuse it or you can try to grant it. There is no middle way…Our Lord attends a wedding and provides miraculous wine. The solution of the paradox is well known “Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

    Mission is a type of service to God, but it not the only kind, nor is the most important. If it is the road chosen for you then so be it. But we should keep in mind that other types of service to our Lord exists.

    • Fully agree. If someone thinks that he or she must devote her life to mission solely, then this is fine and laudable. However, 1) such people need to be serious about that, which means they should not marry and found a family because the children will inevitably suffer. The UBF obsession with mission and marriage at the same time, degrading spouses to “co-workers”, marriages to “house-churches” and neglecting the children for the sake of “feeding sheep”, is completely insane and not in line with the Bible. And 2) such people should not enforce this life style upon others. Again, UBF mixes two things that should be kept separated, namely evangelization and “raising disciples” (training missionaries). This way, the new converts cannot separate between their unconditional salvation and leading a life of mission, UBF style. It becomes one and the same for them. This again is a very wrong and unhealthy thing.

      By forcing others to live the same unhealthy life style as they do, proclaiming this is the only safe way to salvation, UBF creates an endless spiral of self-loathing from one generation to the next, without real growth and maturing of the group and its individual members. This vicious cycle must be broken.

  8. Chris, Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29), or “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (ESV). So are you saying that Jesus stopped being gentle and humble in heart when he confronted the religious leaders in Matthew 23?

    • The likes and dislikes may change, but at this point, it is “Like3 Dislike3.” Perhaps my question hit a soft spot smack down the middle!

    • “So are you saying that Jesus stopped being gentle and humble in heart when he confronted the religious leaders in Matthew 23?”

      What a strange question, Ben. The expression “in heart” obviously means “in character” or “in principle”, not “in every situation”. Jesus did not change his character or did not change the principle to be friendly and peaceful where possible (Rom 12:28). But there are situations where it’s not possible and adequate. Clearly, Jesus did not act in a friendly and meek way towards the religous leaders. There are situations where even people who are “gentle and humble in heart” are forced to speak like Jesus did in Mt 23:33.

      Second, you took Mt 11:29 out of context. It was spoken to those “who are weary and burdened”, who have no rest because their conscience and awareness of sin is torturing them. It was not spoken to the spiritual leaders who believed they are spiritually healthy and need to doctor. Yes, we should be meek and friendly and humble to those who are aware that they are sick. But that does not apply to the unrepentent UBF leaders who believe they are healthy God’s servants and celebrate themselves and their man-made ministry every year, continuing the same kind of abuse, teaching the same wrong theology.

      Third, if someone brings up a valid argument, based on Bible verses (as I believe I did in my comment), and you want to challenge that argument, then please respond to the argument itself, or show how the argument is not logical or the verses do not apply, instead of completely ignoring the argument and trying to refute it by quoting a different Bible verse from a different context that seems to contradict the others verses. That’s not a real discussion, that’s more like bombarding each other with Bible verses.

    • I wanted to write “It was not spoken to the spiritual leaders who believed they are spiritually healthy and need no doctor.”

    • Another correction: I meant Rom 12:18, not 12:28.

  9. Gajanan Nial
    Gajanan Nial

    Chris wrote: Gajanan, … why you shy away from saying the UBF theology is incorrect… It is definitely not correct … particularly regarding its striking feature of authoritarism. Why shouldn’t we say this loud and clear? – See more at:

    Christ, as you know, I am an easterner and love to keep things cloudy, and follow the both-hand system rather than the black and white either-or system of the West. :) That apart, I was commenting in the context of Ben-98’s boring work oriented testimony and how that leads to Ichabod (departing of God’s glory and presence.)

    I am of the opinion that God loves immature Christians though He does not enjoy our immaturity. Just like I love my immature kids but I do not enjoy their immaturity and get concerned especially when expected growth in their speech, behavior and intellectual development are not happening in line with their age. I still love them though I do not enjoy the immaturity and am concerned. This is exactly how I feel when I try to peek into God’s heart toward many UBF leaders. God loves them dearly as His children but He certainly does not enjoy their shortcomings.

    The shortcomings are primarily due to immature view of God and of calling and mission, which I had tried to address in my previous comment. Authoritarianism is not the cause but an effect of the poor theology, albeit a serious issue in churches like UBF.

    UBF has the truth. But truth can be at various level, from shallow to deeper and deepest. The truth that is proclaimed and practiced at UBF is undoubtedly at a shallow level. However because there is truth people like me could hear it and started the journey of salvation. Same way, even if those we call “leaders” in UBF are only pilgrims of this journey. We are yet to be saved in our spirit, mind and body fully and completely, but God will do it. I still love those in UBF as my brothers and sisters and pray for them to study and teach the Bible at a deeper level, then they can have better and clearer (mature?) view of God and people and mission.
    Not sure if I am making sense. But Chris, thanks for calling me out! :) It helps me to reexamine why I say what I say, and I am sure my view of God and people and mission is definitely screwed too.

    • Gajanan, Your comment fully resonates with me, especially this insightful statement which likely also applies to me, an easterner: “…as you know, I am an easterner and love to keep things cloudy, and follow the both-and system rather than the black and white either-or system of the West. :)”

      And Yes, God loves immature Christians too, and likely even Christians with immature or even incorrect theology!

    • Yes, I always forget you and Ben are “easterners”.

      But still, when Ben says “God loves immature Christians” it is a statement that is meaningless for me in the context of the issues we’re discussing, because God simply loves all people. The fact that God loves immature Christians is just a corollary of that. But this does not mean that God does not call out certain people, call them to repent, in different ways. With those who really do not know, he is friendly and meek, with those who should know, and claim authority, he is certainly much less forgiving. These are all well-known Biblical principles.

      The claim that UBF leaders are “immature” is in my view a cheap excuse, because it’s not an immaturity caused by being young or having little experience or having too little Bible knowledge. The matter of fact is that these people (the top UBF leaders) are old and studied the Bible every week for decades. They sure came across passages such as Mt 23 many times in doing so. But they chose to ignore these passages, holding their own theology in higher value than the simple principles Jesus commands. They deliberately chose to deafen their ears for these principles and the complaints of the people they abused. If it’s immaturity, then it’s certaily a “self-inflicted immaturity”, and it’s no excuse for abusing people and not repenting for the obvious and clearly documented abuse the past.

  10. Thanks, Chris. As I have said many many times already, I do not disagree with your comments, especially about some older UBF leaders.

    But however bad, wrong, immature, proud, acting sure of themselves, refusing to apologize or to be vulnerable, not being transparent or honest, condescending, abusive, etc, they may be, they will still only change through grace, mercy and forgiveness by the work of the Holy Spirit.

    To repeatedly apply Matthew 23 to them, is like UBF repeatedly applying Jn 21:15-17, Mt 28:19, Gen 12:2 to everyone in UBF. After a while it stops working, and in fact works in reverse.

    Also, as many have commented, the initial years in UBF is generally a positive experience (I’m sure there are exceptions). People do study the Bible, accept Christ, become Christians, and are often genuine and sincere in the faith.

    So to repeatedly bash the older UBF leaders does little good. They won’t listen anyway. Also, broad denouncements of UBF discourages many in UBF who are really good genuine sincere growing Christians.

    All I am suggesting is to be more charitable with your comments, because the people who should hear it will not, and the people who may read UBFriends are often younger genuine Christians who are just turned off by you blasting unrepentant older UBF leaders, who will never read UBFriends anyway. Oops I already said that.

    • “After a while it stops working, and in fact works in reverse.”

      So, you’re suggesting to rewrite Mt 18:15 to:

      “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, then stop mentioning the problem, because it will become boring to everybody and they won’t listen anyway. Instead, say something good about them and continue to have fellowship with them. Maybe then, after some more decades, they will change. If not, then the problem will be solved anyway because it has been forgotten after so much time and those who originally raised the issue have all gone.

      Isn’t this exactly what you’re recommending?

      “Also, as many have commented, the initial years in UBF is generally a positive experience”

      That makes things only worse, because in end effect it makes UBF like a flytrap smeared with honey. It tastes good in the beginning, but then you’re stuck for the rest of your life.

      “People do study the Bible, accept Christ, become Christians, and are often genuine and sincere in the faith.”

      Sorry, I cannot agree. People who beleive it doesn’t matter if their church is based on authoritarianism and there is no need for corporate repentance and who do not hold their spiritual leaders accountable are not genuine or sincere.

      “So to repeatedly bash the older UBF leaders does little good. They won’t listen anyway.”

      It does a lot of good, because it educates the younger members about the state of their group. It helps them see that their spiritual leaders are people who are unwilling to listen and unwilling to repent, and draw the necessary consequences.

  11. My hope is that younger people who do read UBFriends will have a positive, inspiring, experience and be encouraged by what we write. Bashing a few top UBF leaders who could care less about what is written here doesn’t do much good, in my opinion.

    When Jesus confronted and rebuked the religious leaders in Matthew 23, he did several things we do not do, or are unable to do.

    (1) He met them and spoke to them face to face.
    (2) He is like the father of the prodigal son who pleaded with his angry older son to come into the feast.
    (3) He died for them because he truly loved them too.

    Since on this website, we certainly can’t do (1) and (3), perhaps we should temper what we say with some charity, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, understanding, compassion, etc.

    • “When Jesus confronted and rebuked the religious leaders in Matthew 23, he did several things we do not do, or are unable to do.”

      From your three things,

      (1) is simply not true. I have talked with my UBF director for many weeks face to face, but he didn’t listen to me. The same is true for most of the criticis who are writing here. Joe documented this process very well, and you know it. If we look at the process described in Mt 18:15 We are not in the stage “talking with the brother who sins”, but we are in the stage “telling it to the church“.

      (2) and (3) boil down to “your are not Jesus”. According to that logic, only Jesus would be allowed to rebuke and hold people accountable, or only people who are without sin would be allowed to confront others about their sin. Such people do not exist. So Mt 18:15 would make no sense then.

  12. Also, when we just unilaterally bash a few top older UBF leaders, are we not doing the same thing as them when they unilaterally bash and criticize UBFriends as being bad, evil, negative, discouraging and the work of Satan?

  13. I have to agree with Chris even though I have lost the drive to address these matters in UBF myself via ubfriends. On one positive note the grip and fear of any old/senior leaders has not resulted in removing anything as of yet. The archive is online and naked for anyone to see.

    Ben, I guess you are not the “l’enfant terrible” as you may have thought so in the past. Sorry to say, but it is quite revealing that you maintain the front of caution to Chris again and again now. Meanwhile, you poke and prod in your own way, but not actually saying as plainly or as directly as Chris keeps doing. It just leaves me with an overall unsatisfactory feeling when you primarily position yourself as the one to talk about the elephant in the room, but now that relationships are beginning to sour you are quickly moderating everything said. (I have acknowledged and respect your situation in reality, but I am commenting because you are attempting to prohibit Chris from expressing himself.)

    It is not enough for me to say that things are not good or are not perfect in one of the chapters where I had come from. Is that vague enough? What can we do? Consult a committee I suppose and see what resolution may come from it. Well, looks like I am screwed because I am younger than the leader. Hmm….wow, the committee is filled with the director’s friends – hell, is that his old roommate in common life? Now, will there be any point?

    I am making a kind of parody, but actually, what chance do many young people have when they raise an issue. UBFers are almost always on the defensive that when an issue gets raised it is fairly well deflated in one way or another. Is the young person contented by any of this? NO. Has the shepherd who answered that young person been satisfied? In some sense, because they are still holding firm to Jesus’ commands and it is the young person who is weak in faith, has no faith, struggling or maybe just has a poisonous heart – WOW, I found Satan!

    If top leaders are not reading ubfriends what does it matter at this point? We know that people attempt to confront the top brass directly, but fail. Joe has already posted many matters, not least of which that he won’t sit in on any more meetings until things take a healthier direction.

    If the readers are young – Fantastic, Wonderful, Marvellous…..
    I will agree that sometimes negative comments can be a little exaggerated, but, there is no smoke without fire. So, for the young readers I just emphasize to be on your guard from Satan, who indeed speaks sweetly, and maybe even buys you gifts or food or even acts as your personal chauffeur from time to time. If it is a bad situation stop the love bombing by running.

    No matter how many positive things I can say, and yes, I can speak positively, I am adding this to emphasize that the greatest power anyone can have in UBF is the freedom to choose. If the general leadership wants the status quo to be maintained than there is a very simple answer – anyone who finds themselves at a crossroads or an impasse in any particular ministry should just leave. Abandon ship, let the titanic sink into an abyss. Get on with your life and go to a church who can provide Bible study and also a place that embraces you unconditionally as Jesus does. Is UBF conditional? VERY…in short, you must prohibit social activity, make future academic/professional plans according to the regiment of UBF, plan everyday of the year and your life according to a UBF lifestyle, live with UBfers, talk like UBFers…never forget testimony, it is how you bond with other members……Failure to carry out these things leaves you shamed and on the fringe of being a member. You want to be a member don’t you? To be accepted? To be just what Jesus wants? Who knows when you die one day, maybe the door to salvation will be shut by your chapter director! You missed a testimony meeting or something like that…

    And on the note that maybe my comment is not needed on this article I would contest that because you were speaking about a confession that reveals all of one’s failures to live up to the UBF lifestyle. Can we find Jesus in the lifestyle? From time to time. However, we can surely find the religious leaders and teachers of the law!

    • forestsfailyou

      As a “young reader” I noticed a few peculiar things prior to finding this website. But after I read of the things here I began looking for them and finding them. Although issues are not terrible here, it took maybe a month before I had my director command me to do something that he had absolutely no reason to command me to do. Shortly after he gossiped about a sin problem I had. The person who informed me about this information quickly said that he “must have misunderstood” the director. I then began to see all kinds of odd responses to me. When confronted with articles or things deviating from the status quo, the director would just ignore them. He might say “Oh I will read this.” and never read it. Other warning flags have been raised. I do not include them here for fear that I may cause issues for certain members. To me it seems that many of the commenters here have been in much more terrible situations than I have. I can see where the factual statements end and their interpretations begin.

  14. big bear

    I agree with Chris and GC on their posts. Ben, I understand where you come from and you are in a tough position because you are in UBF. But something must be done to save families,save students and heal the abuses. I pray the abuse may stop and their will be genuine love for people in UBF and the whole nody of Christ. Still dont see it.

  15. Ben, I feel compelled to take a step back and clarify a few things:

    I really appreciate most of what you have written on this blog, and I respect you very much. Particularly, I’m impressed by how openly you confessed personal sins and shortcomings many times in the last years. Your original posting also shows this attitude. So when I read the comments of bear, forest and gc today, I started to feel uneasy, because I wondered whether I had side-tracked the topic of this tread and created an unnecessary division among us indefatigable couch-potato-fighters for the truth on ubfriends.

    Maybe we should use this opportunity to have a meta-reflection about the root cause of our dispute, and why this discussion got side tracked. I see two typical patterns:

    First, you really do a good job in pointing out certain bad practices and beliefs typical for UBFers. But then you fail to explain how these practices and beliefs are all part of the “UBF heritage” and how we have been manipulated to believe these things, and trained to practice these things. You fail to show how these were actually not your own ideas, but those of Samuel Lee who invented not only these ideas, but also the psychological methods to make us members of an army of clone troopers. Instead, you still praise Samuel Lee for being a good friend and mentor. Something does not fit together here. If he was such a good mentor, then why did you learn all these bad things from him and started to recover and see more clearly only when you were not mentored by him anymore? That’s why I always chime in at this point, not in order to cast a bad light on the person Samuel Lee, but in order to make the root causes and mechanisms of the whole issue more clear. Also, you downplay the role of “the few top leaders”. In a hierarchical, authoritarian system like UBF, the top leaders are always only “a few”. But still, they shape what the whole group believes and practices.

    Second, you claim that we should always be meek and gentle and patient, even when the top spiritual leadership errs in important matters and refuse to change for decades. In this discussion, you again started to talk about this necessity, and that’s actually the point where it got side-tracked because I felt compelled to chime in. I tried to show you why this is wrong and not in line with the Bible, but you did not respond to my arguments or showed how my logic was wrong or I how my application of Biblical principles is wrong.

    Ben, please let me sharpen this second point, so that we can clarify our positions. Could you, Ben, as an “easterner”, imagine a situation in a church, where the spiritual abuse is so extreme that people should stop being meek and gentle and patient, but speak angrily to express their discontent and the seriousness of the issues? Or are you claiming that this principle of meekness is an absolute, i.e. no matter how evil the abuse and the leadership is, and how long they stay unrepentant and refuse to apologize, address or change things, the church members always need to talk about the issues in a meek and gentle and patient way? Is there a point where even you, Ben, would stop speaking that way, because it would dilute the seriousness of the point you want to make?

  16. Thanks for all your comments!

    GC, I am not trying to prohibit Chris from expressing himself. My request was and is to tone down the rhetoric, and perhaps not repeatedly always use Mt 23 and Mt 18 against them, and every possible verse in the Bible that bashes them as evil and beyond redemption.

    Forests, I respect you greatly for beginning to speak up to your director. I wish many more younger UBFers would begin to do so, and do so respectfully, prayerfully and humbly.

    BigBear, I acknowledge that you and likely many others have not seen “genuine love” in UBF. But truth be told, I have seen “genuine love,” albeit mixed with unhealthy elements that have been expressed all throughout the posts and comments on UBFriends.

    Chris, My response to your many specific comments is to repeatedly say that I generally agree with almost every statement and argument that you make, including your most recent one.

    I am reading several excellent books by James Danaher, initially recommended by John Armstrong: Eyes That See, Ears That Hear; The Second Truth; Jesus After Modernity; Contemplative Prayer. I am hoping to blog on them at some point.

    Danaher’s point, which I tend to agree with, is that the ultimate expression of who God is is the Cross. Jesus dying on the cross is the ultimate expression of who God is. Thus, Jesus died on the cross in love and forgiveness for all his enemies, which certainly includes everybody with no exception.

    This weakest symbol of a helpless, pitiful, pathetic, vulnerable, weak man bleeding and dying on the cross is the only hope for anyone ever changing, be it a humble repentant profligate, or the top leaders of UBF who might think that they are right and do not need to bow down to anyone, least of which to the subtle but ongoing pressure put on them by UBFriends.

    So my short answer to you, Chris, is yes, the need for being meek, gentle and humble is always applicable with no exceptions, because it is the ultimate expression of who Jesus is and who God is as expressed on the cross.

    This does not mean being silent, or indifferent, or cowardly, or fearful, but meekly, gently and humbly and boldly speaking out against all the evil and injustice of the world, including the evil and injustice in UBF that countless people have experienced.

    • “not repeatedly always use Mt 23 and Mt 18”

      What’s exactly wrong with this if it’s a core problem? UBF’s statement of faith says that “the Bible is inspired by God; that it is the truth; that it is the final authority in faith and practice.” If you take this seriously, then you should allow UBF and yourself to be confronted with these passages.

      “bashes them as evil and beyond redemption.”

      There’s a difference between calling people evil and calling their methods or theology evil. Please don’t confuse this. Also, nobody was said to be beyond redemption. What we’re continually asking to see from UBF leaders and the corporation as a whole is repentance. Why should we ask for repentance when we think they are beyond redemption? We know there is redemption for all who repent, and we know it’s the only way to redemption.

      “So my short answer to you, Chris, is yes, the need for being meek, gentle and humble is always applicable with no exceptions”

      Thanks for giving an answer, though you changed the question a little bit. I asked about being “meek, gentle and patient“, but you answered about being “meek, gentle and humble“. When you phrased it first, you talked about “kindness, meekness, gentleness and patience.” So my question was about how long our kindness with people who openly sin, but call themselves brothers/sisters or even shepherds, should last? Should there be a point in time or a severeness of sin where we must stop to speak kindly?

      When Jesus spoke unkindly (Mt 23:33), looked angrily (Mk 3:5) or behaved unfriendly (Mt 21:12), how do you explain this? Obviously, being “gentle and humble in heart” does not contradict behaving angrily and unfriendly in certain situations, at least not for Jesus. Do you really believe this is different for ordinary Christians because they are not Jesus, so that they must never be unfriendly? How can then Jesus command us to be unfriendly and stop being patient in certain situations (Mt 18:17)? Sorry for quoting Mt 18 again – you can also apply 1Cor 5:13 or 2Jo 1:10 here if you like. What about all of the prophets and apostles who certainly not always spoke very kindly and gently and patiently?

      “boldly speaking out against all the evil and injustice”

      One person thinks he does so, and then the other person dismisses it as “bashing” or “rhetorics” that needs to be “toned down”.

  17. Ben, although my motivation/perception of things cannot speak on behalf of Chris I will reinforce that your cautioning was on the way to prohibiting him. Along with Joe and Brian you moderate ubfriends. Ubfriends may be a reflection upon you at times as a result of the content, contributers and so on….Managing this site is like managing anything. When you are responsible for something the atmosphere or goings on do reflect on those in charge.

    In terms of Mt 18 and Mt 23 I don’t see any problem with it. If it is meaningless to keep raising these verses because the people won’t listen then as I already said young people should just leave. I believe Chris is simply applying these verses as a Christian – no more, no less.

    Why can UBF use any verse they want to rebuke a student? What’s wrong with anyone using Mt 18/23 to point out the situation in UBF?

    Oh, I forgot, if you were a Christian before entering UBF it really means you were never a Christian at all. If you leave UBF then it is equal to leaving Jesus. I get it now UBF=Jesus. Knowing Jesus only comes from being a member in UBF and struggling to carry out one’s Christian mission can only be done in UBF. Not using Mt 18/23 does not legitamize UBF in the broader Christian context. If a chapter has cult like behaviour than it is a cult. But I know from personal experience that there are healthy UBF chapters out there. You just have to find them.

  18. Hi Chris,

    I am quite (or even very) unhappy and angry about the way some things are in UBF and about some leaders being unChrist-like and (seemingly) unrepentant, evasive, refusing to seriously and persistently engage in difficult, painful and embarrassing issues, sins, authoritarianism, untouchability, unaccountability, etc. I might be even more upset about these things than you are, since I am much closer to the action than you are.

    But I do not believe that repeatedly pointing out all of their demerits, sins, evils, shortcomings, unrepentance, etc, is the solution to the problem.

    To some/many UBFers I have already “crossed the line” of ever being able to be trusted or even regarded as a UBFer. This does not bother me in the least. Regardless of how I am perceived, God willing, I will continue to press the issues that are mentioned on UBFriends. I simply wish to do it in a kinder, gentler, humbler, more patient way compared to how I may have done so in the past.

    Shoving someone hard against the wall does not necessarily get them to do the right biblical Christian thing. Prov 25:15 says, “a gentle tongue can break a bone.” Or “a soft tongue will break a bone” (ESV). When my wife is upset with me and is a little harsh with me I always quote her this verse, and she will stick her tongue out at me. She is cute.

    Believe it or not, gentleness works better than badgering and bashing. Paul said, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Phil 4:5). The HCSB says, “Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” The most gentle and gracious expression of God toward all of us sinners is in the dying form of One who gave up his life for us on the cross.

    • “Gentleness works better” is UBF mindset. It doesn’t matter what works better, it only matters what is the right and Biblical thing to do. Mt 18:15ff clearly explains what’s the right approach for handling serious sin in the church, but you don’t want to hear and follow these clear instructions, instead creating your own dogma according to which sin must be met with unlimited patience and not addressed too much if people don’t listen.

      By the way, I’m not sure whether gentleness and patience actually work better. If it was like that, then all the UBF leaders would have long repented, since the members were so patient and humble. But as I said, it doesn’t even matter.

      “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

  19. GC,

    Joe, Brian and I will not censor any comment, as long as it does not violate our commenting policy.

    Of course, UBF leadership wants UBFriends shut down entirely. But they know that they cannot, which infuriates some of them. That’s why some continue to say how horrible, evil and satanic UBFriends is, even if they may have never read it.

    I’ve already told some leaders that UBFriends will shut down on its own if all UBFers are freely able to have such queries brought up and questions answered in their own respective UBF chapters.

    I’ve also told them that as long as UBF wants to control her members, UBFriends will continue because there is no place else for them to bring up their agonies and issues.

  20. big bear

    Ben…I agree that we should be gentle and loving as we confront the issues but people are being misled in UBF…yes there are many faithful believers in all churches and yes I have seen love but it is often conditional based on UBF system….I believe the basic problem with UBF is not the Bible study but the love for the whole body of Christ…the love for families and the pharisee like mentality that runs deep in many of the leaders….yes God alone can bring change and you are making steps in love to address issues…chris and GC are speaking in love….Ubfriends at least gives us people who have been abused in the system a voice..but why mot just stop the abuse

    • “why not just stop the abuse”

      Exactly, bear! And let me clarify what this means, namely clearly naming and framing the abuse that happened in the past, starting to talk about these things, processing them, admitting them, apologizing, changing the practices and teachings that lead to this abuse. Unless this happens, there is not guarantee that the abuse really stopped, even if individual chapters behave better. Any chapter could start the abuse any time again, claiming they want to go “back to the Bible” and repeat the “success story” of Samuel Lee and his leadership methods. That’s why I say UBF must officially distance from Samuel Lee and his methods, and admit the evil things he did in his leadership, and how it was a failure, instead of celebrating “founders’ day” every year.

  21. Hi Chris, “creating your own dogma according to which sin must be met with unlimited patience and not addressed too much if people don’t listen.” – See more at:

    I love this phrase because this is my perception of how God dealt with me and how God continues to deal with me: unlimited immense patience (1 Tim 1:16), forbearance (Rom 3:25), kindness (Gal 3:22), gentleness (Gal 3:22), forgiveness (Lk 23:34), mercy (Tit 3:5), grace [the major theme of the whole Bible! in my opinion], etc.

    Do you agree that the image of Jesus dying on the cross is likely the ultimate and most profound image of who God is? Is that not the image of limitless and unlimited patience, kindness, love, mercy and forgiveness extended to all mankind?

    Or is the cross ONLY extended to those who repent, but not to the unrepentant religious leaders? And to those who do not repent, do we simply, repeatedly and continually use Bible verses against them?

    I asked you this question before, “Are u not doing the same thing (using certain specific favorite Bible verses against them) that some UBF leaders use on their members?” Are u not simply giving them and dishing out to them what their sins deserve? What if God were to do the same thing to you? Would u really pass the test?

    • Ben, I’m glad I asked some fundamental questions and you answered like this, because it reveals an even deeper difference between our understanding of the Bible and Christianity than I had anticipated.

      You answer with the rhetorical question: “Or is the cross ONLY extended to those who repent, but not to the unrepentant religious leaders?” The answer to this question is obviously: YES, the cross is only extended to those who repent. This is absolutely clear from the Bible, and I don’t know any Christian (Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox) denomination that would teach differently. Of course, the cross also preaches to those who do not repent. Jesus stretches his arms, he knocks on the door. But if people do not repent and instead reject him, the cross cannot help them. This applies particularly to the religious leaders who claim to know Jesus. For them refusing to repent actually means rejecting what Jesus did on the cross.

      Jesus’ first message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. If repentance was not necessary, and people could enter the kingdom of heaven anyway, why should he preach that way? Peter wrote: “God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” You are completely right that God is patient with us, but that patience has only one goal: repentance. Furthermore, I don’t believe that we should be as patient as God who knows the life of every person. We however don’t know if our leaders maybe die tomorrow and today is their last chance to repent. So it’s our task to warn people seriously and urgently and repeatedly when we see they are sinning and not repenting (and I’m not making this up, Mt 18:15, 1Cor5 and other passages teach this unmistakably). Remember that Jesus was crucified with two sinners. Only the one who repented and admitted his sins was promised to see the paradise. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” According to the Bible, there are certainly people to whom the cross of Jesus does not extend, in fact Jesus will tell them “I never knew you”, even those people claimed to believe in Jesus. 1John 1 says: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”

      By asking such questions as “Is repentance really necessary for religious leaders?” you are clearly leaving the common ground and consensus of Christianity. I wonder why you are then still a member of a ministry that purports to be an evangelical church, even one that takes the Bible as its only guide? This all doesn’t make any sense to me.

      You also asked: “Are u not doing the same thing (using certain specific favorite Bible verses against them) that some UBF leaders use on their members?”

      My answer is: No, I’m not doing the same. First of all, I don’t claim to be their shepherd, I don’t claim to have any spiritual authority. That’s a fundamental difference. I’m also not primarily addressing these leaders (because I know they have long stopped to listen), but mainly those who still follow these leaders and their teachings, so that they see the problem and firmly demand change (demand, not patiently wait for). Second, these are not my “favorite Bible verses”, they are simply the verses that apply to the given situation. Third, I’m not using these verse against them, but for them, in order to help them and UBF. If you really love your neighbor, you will rebuke him frankly if necessary (Lev 19:17-18).

      The problem really is not that UBF leaders uses verses against members that show their sins. The problem is that they guilt-trip them for things that are in fact not sinful, like “living a family-centered life”, force people to undergo trainings and regulate all of their life, arrange and cancel marriages (even order abortions), and lord over them in ways which are clearly not written in the Bible.

      “What if God were to do the same thing to you?” I.e. keep reminding me of verses that clearly reveal what I’m doing wrong? My answer is: I would appreciate that. What’s the problem? If it saves my life, helps me to please God and not hurt other people and do bad things, then this is a very good thing. I would not like God to go silent about my sin, since this would mean he had given me up.

    • Sorry for the duplicate, can you delete my first comment?

  22. Although I agree with Ben in actuality about being patient, humble, merciful etc…To simplify it, there is one outstanding dilemma for young students. Older Christians (older people) may be able to reach dialogue by means of patient prayer, but young people might not have such an opportunity.

    We have many discussions and articles about the discipling/shepherding movement etc…In UBF we have already pointed out that shepherd/sheep relationships are not in fact 1:1, but rather 1>1. So, how can the young sheep have unlimited patience when they are in fact under the yolk of a shepherd?

    I remember by your closing questions, Ben, that yes you have in fact asked Chris of that behaviour several times, but only now do you caution to reduce or end using Mt 18/23.

    The outsider of the UBF system can only but pray with unlimited patience unless they desire to become an activist and protest absolutely everything until whatever action occurs. Observant seniors or leaders who recoginze issues can raise them from time to time and maybe even have some influence (as you are doing Ben). It is an interest of patience and prayer indeed.

    However, the young or new students with no real status are stuck. Even recently appointed leaders are still at the mercy of older abusive leaders. It is difficult to maintain that unlimited patience only found in Jesus who died for all of us. What do you suggest for the young person who can only suffer in silence or come here to silently read about this nonsense? At least on the public space here young and old can realize that they are not necessarily alone in their situations.

    From personal example, I used to be more reactionary in situations and would address them as I felt necessary. But, as I almost left UBF and then made a decision to stay I actually humbled myself and patiently observed (or endured) situations and did not make a noise through my own time or imagination. All of this good tempering of myself was to result in the situation I described through my first article online. When my wife and I were separated I tried to follow “spiritual order” and await the direction as given by the chapter director. I sought in prayer to realize patience in everything despite the ridiculous actions in my chapter from the director and others. I silently came and went, sharing prayer topics or receiving “direction/advise/counsel.”

    I was not a young student, nor was I new to UBF and the system, but I had made a decision to be patient with the ongoing sins that were having a much greater impact on me as they also included my spouse and an unborn baby. One day I betrayed trust of everyone in my chapter by breaking “spiritual order” and contacted Chicago directly to see that my situation was addressed with the compassion that was only Christ like. It was not Christ like to use our circumstances to force a separation for an unknown quantity of time. Even if it was God’s training for our family, Jesus’ rationale and justification would not have been to keep business as usual in the congregation. (That is maintaining activities and advancing the student numbers etc….)

    I can testify that not all senior leaders have questionable outlooks or expectations upon the church members. Not all manage their chapters like a cult leader. But, for those that do, how does the powerless congregant deal with this?

    When I read Chris’ reminder and rebuke of Mt 18/23 I am not so much focusing on Chris’ own personal sins or who he is before God. I am however, keeping in mind and acknowledging that he had been a member of UBF and experienced/witnessed abuses done in the name of Jesus and the gospel.

    For my own motivation and interest to coming here last year and even presently it all stands for young people and new comers to UBF. I am a nobody in UBF and I am proud of it. I never compromised myself even though there has been a cost to my self image over the years. I have made many friends in Christ while in UBF, but I cannot stand by silently praying all of the time when the heritage of abuse is still a reality in many UBFs around the world.

    Getting back to the topic of the article I could turn around and spin my family struggle as a result of my failure to apply the UBF purpose and calling 100% into my life. I could also address the historical importance of numerous testimonies of abuse surrounding that chapter altogether. Maybe even I could just simply say that all of this was God’s plan for our family in the first place. – Who knows!? – One thing is clear, that despite all of the difficulties, God is merciful and has not taken his grace away from my family. It is not for the work that I have done, but only for my faith in Jesus on the cross for my sins. Never give up hope or prayer!

  23. gc, like you, Chris and many others, this is virtually my exact sentiment: “I cannot stand by silently praying all of the time when the heritage of abuse is still a reality in many UBFs around the world.” – See more at:

    I will add that “I cannot and will not stand by silently.” I believe that on this point, we are all on the same page.

    If you are interested watch this 1 hour plus report about the horrifying corruption of the Vatican, and the resolve of Pope Francis to begin to tackle it’s seemingly insurmountable problems:

  24. forestsfailyou

    It seems that many times when I try to initiate dialog with my pastor I get the following response
    “I do not know all the details. So I don’t know.”

    • One great attribute of Pope Francis is that no question is off limits. In responding to questions, he is earnest, rarely evasive or indifferent, nor does he act or feign ignorance. I think church leaders of all stripes can learn much from him.

  25. Ben, I just wondered whether you would extend your dogma (of always staying kind, talking softly, not repeatedly mentioning problems, waiting patiently until people change on their own) to the „real world“?

    E.g. when raising children, is it good to always speak kindly and softly to them, never raising the voice, never setting hard limits, patiently waiting how they misbehave until they stop on their own?

    Or in politics, it is right to tolerate a country like North Korea forever, speaking kindly and friendly to them, and wait until they change on their own, all the while they keep killing and torturing people in concentration camps and develop atomic bombs, or is it better to speak angrily and clearly to express our discontent, and demand change, even if their leaders get furious? Should we stop mentioning the concentration camps, because we already mentioned them so often? Should we stop mentioning our “favorite” demand of “human rights” because we “bashed” them with that demand already too much?

    Living by your dogma just doesn’t work in real life. It would not be fair to the children. A completely antiauthoritarian education could be just as harmful to children as a too authoritarian education. And being indefinitely tolerant and patient with dictators is not fair to those whom they oppress. Why should we be more tolerant with religious leaders who should know the truth and be role models for Christians, than we are with real people in real life? I’m deliberately trying to not quote any Bible verses in this argument, to make you see this is not only wrong from a Biblical point of view, but unlimited patience is also just wrong using common sense.

    Just to be clear: I’m not saying that patience is bad, and we should not have patience. I’m just saying that there are certain situations where patience is not appropriate. These situations exist in “real life” and they exist in spiritual communities.

  26. forestsfailyou

    Our arguments should be like a sword, people should feel the point and see it.

  27. Chris, As Garjanan has expressed I am adopting a Both/And approach, while perhaps you are embracing an Either/Or position.

    I’ve already said dozens of times that I agree with you, and that I cannot and will will not remain silent, which I have not. I’ve also expressed clearly, I think, that patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, DOES NOT MEAN passivity, indifference, cowardice, inactivity or minimizing the urgency and severity of the issues. Yet, you seem dissatisfied that I do not embrace and endorse your position 100%.

    Even if I am gentle, patient, kind and humble (which of course, I fail to be as I should), some UBFers are clearly very upset, angry even, that I have dared to speak up in the past and present (they clearly feel my sword, as Forests said), while you might seem dissatisfied that I do not judge them with stronger frontal blows or categorically condemn them.

    In my opinion, I will still maintain that there is good, even among the “worst” ones, most of whom I have met and know to some degree. (Many of them no longer like me or trust me today!) But you seem to be repeatedly saying that there is hardly anything in them worth redeeming. I may be wrong, but you seem to categorize them as pure unrepentant evil. If you do, I disagree.

    They are clearly NOT like Kim Jong-on (or Kim Jong-il) or Hitler or Saddam or Osama! If you watched the video link I posted above, I can also say that they are not duplicitous, hypocritical, lecherous, pedophiles, or “messed up,” as some courtiers might be in the Vatican. It so disturbed my wife that after watching the video, she could not sleep last night, since it brought up memories of her Catholic upbringing.

    If you do not mind, please watch it ( Of course, there are some similarities: the need to control (people, money, reputation, honor), careerism, hiding the past, using intimidation tactics, etc. But those are perhaps just the “mild” sins.

    • “I am adopting a Both/And approach, while perhaps you are embracing an Either/Or position.”

      Ben, when it comes to kindness+patience vs. anger+action, I’m actually the one who has the “both/and” approach. My approach is to be kind+patient as long as it is possible and appropriate and only speak with angrily when it is really necessary and kindness would not be appropriate. Normally, you would hardly ever see me behaving like that in real life, and I never did so in any other church. However, in my view, UBF is not a normal church. It is a dysfunctional church that provides no way to address and solve problems in a Biblical way and hold leaders accountable. All these problems (even the most sever ones) would have been long resolved and forgotten if UBF was an ordinary church that helds leaders accountable, and there would be no need to repeat the issues on platforms like this one.

      So my approach in this regard is “both/and”, just like Jesus who was also a human being and showed the full spectrum of emotions. Usually he was kind, but sometimes also angrily. We should not wear masks and have a plastic smile when inwardly we’re exploding because we cannot stand it any longer. You are the one who takes the more exclusive position that anger is never applicable and kindness must be limitless.

      But you’re right, when it comes to sin in the church, I’m really not embracing a “both/and” approach and I don’t understand why you think differently, because while it may be “Eastern style”, it is simply not Biblical. You can only either choose Jesus, the light, or sin, the darkness. There is no “both/and” path here. 2 Cor 6 says “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Rev 3 says “So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God wants us to be either hot or cold, but not something in the middle ground, like claiming to be “God’s servants,” yet refusing to admit and repent for even the most obvious and outrageous sins that happened in the history of our church. It’s much easier for an unbeliever to repent than for a church leader who believes he has done so much for God that he does not need to repent for anything anymore.

      “you might seem dissatisfied that I do not judge them with stronger frontal blows or categorically condemn them.”

      Again and again I repeat, I don’t want you to condemn any person, and much less I want to condmemn anybody “categorically”. Certain practices and teachings and behaviors must be condemned, certain things that happened in the history of the church must be clearly named and admitted, and the mechanisms through which they were instilled into people must be exposed. Also, this conflict did not arise because I was dissatified about you, but becuase you were dissatisfied with me, telling me I must show more kindness and patience.

  28. big bear

    Imagine you daughter got raped or abused at school or your son had to stand in front of the class and the teacher put pepper and onions in his eyes. Imagine seeing a teacher beat up a student right in front of your eyes. HOW WOULD YOU REACT TO SUCH ABUSES? As a parent or Christian would you do nothing? These are some of the abuses I personally witnessed in UBF. I have forgiven but will not have anything to do with such practices and nobody has repented but swept these things under the rug. Such a teacher would be in prison and especially not living as a missionary and being honored in an organization. The judgment of God must begin with the people of God. We can’t use relgious piety to cover up evil.

    • That’s what I meant when asking, how severe must the abuse be and how long must it last for him to stop responding kindly and patiently. With other words, I asked “where is your ‘red line'”? I anticipated that our red lines where different and wanted to find how different they are. But I did not anticipate that Ben essentially said he had no such red line at all, his patience was limitless. I hope Bear’s answer shows that this is not acceptable. Evil things happen in real life, and evil things happen in churches. Sometimes very evil things. Just think of “Colonia Dignidad”, “Branch Davidians” or “Peoples Temple” – all of these groups started as Evangelical churches with charismatic leaders who claimed to follow the Bible. So the church must have an instrument to hold leaders accountable. This is know as church discipline. And no, church discipline does not mean always talking kindly and waiting patiently until people repent on their own. Church discipline is always based on the pattern explained in Mt 18:15ff. All legitimate churches have it. UBF is the only church I know that claims it is not necessary.

  29. big bear

    REPENTANCE is necessary but we must protect those in the church if we know these things are happening. We must take dangerous and abusive people out of leadership. Leaders should be good role models for families and love the body of Christ. We must not hide behind religion. False humility and religious pride is harmful to the church. We must cherish families and love people and protect children. We must speak out in love and repentance.

  30. big bear

    Chris..well said…they dont want to be accountable…..the idea is to just ignore the abuse or blame the one who was abused and label them evil…as a church we must stop the bleeding….this is love