The Good and the Bad of UBF

gbThe title is intentionally provocative, even if I genuinely mean it. It probably displeases “both sides.” (Sorry to say but there are “two sides,” as is often invariably and understandably the case.)

On “the UBF side,” there are countless reports over five decades of just how wonderful UBF is and how much UBF missionaries gave up their beloved homeland and family in order to suffer and sacrifice endlessly for world campus mission sparing no cost. But the UBF side does not mention anything bad or any wrongdoing. They also usually have much anger, displeasure and a defensive and offensive posture whenever anything bad is brought up regarding UBF.

On the other side–“the side hurt or abused by UBF”–there are detailed explanations as to just how bad, dishonest, abusive, elitist, and/or controlling UBF has been throughout the world. But understandably they have difficulty mentioning the good of UBF because of having been lorded over for decades, oppressed and subjugated by the foreign missionary culture, gossiped about, caricatured, and spoken ill of by some UBF leader who often denies wrongdoing or claims misunderstandng or miscommunication if ever directly confronted.

Sadly, but understandably, both sides have had much difficulty to genuinely listen to and empathize with “the other side,” since both sides are often deeply hurt and also deeply entrenched on their own side. The hurt seems to come primarily from feeling betrayed (the UBF side) or feeling taken advantage of–often for decades (the other side).

Brian, however, in announcing his upcoming new ventures and adventures, thanks UBF for three things in his last post:

  1. for 15,000+ hours of reading and sharing about the Bible,
  2. for his wife, and
  3. for UBF people being there for him when his dad passed away in 1989.

Bad. Those who have read UBFriends are likely familiar with “the bad of UBF” that has been written and commented on by numerous persons on numerous occasions from numerous countries and continents over the last four years. Notably the issues are primarily related to authoritarianism, spiritual abuse and control in the name of shepherding and “spiritual order,” lack of transparency, dishonesty (basically lying), unhealthy and oppressive dependent relationships, no accountability of leaders, “marriage by faith” used as a political tool to benefit one’s own ministry and to control and “train” singles (but not second gens of long-standing leaders and missionaries — according to some), etc.

Good. Yes, the bad is unpleasant to state and read, especially by the UBF side. What about the good of UBF? I have personally experienced them, which I know without a doubt is entirely the hand of God that choose to bless me through UBF, amid the bad.

My mystical conversion happened after I began 1:1 Bible study in 1980 with a missionary doctor in Chicago. I became a Christian after just 2 lessons of Genesis Bible study.

I married the best woman by being introduced to her by Samuel Lee 6 months after I began Bible study and joined UBF. I married her 4 months later. I know without a doubt that if not for UBF I would not be married.

A very happy UBF chapter. Though I never thought of being a preacher or starting a church, by God’s grace through a series of interesting events, God enabled me to be both a preacher and start a church in my fifth decade of life, which is quite unusual. I explained how West Loop UBF began in 2008. We became a very happy UBF church. This is a synopsis of our liberating West Loop experience from 2008 to 2014.

Oops. As I wrote this, I suddenly remembered that I had previously written something similar: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of UBF. Sorry for rehashing some similar points.

Is it hard to share both the good and bad of UBF? Is it easier to share either just the good or just the bad?

61 comments

  1. Hey Ben, thanks for your post! actually, i was also pondering about similar stuff regarding UBF. From time to time, i visit my Campus, my former Campus where i knew UBF in 1997. The first two years were sort of good, especially for ist focus on world Mission, which gave me as a Christian a new perspective. Personally i enjoyed the group bible study way more than 1:1 because the latter felt somehow manipulative, which i was not able to discern at that time

  2. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Why is genesis so prioritized?

  3. i think it is instrumentalized to make People feel Special “like Abraham, called to leave your old way” but actually to use it to call people to UBF way … that is the snare, in my view, distortion of the message comes right round the corner if you have secondary thoughts

    • That’s a prime example of scripture abuse, btw. Instead of showing how Abraham points to Christ our savior, the bible student is narcigeted (narcissistic + exegesis) into the text so that essentially the bible becomes about the student rather than God.

    • Mark Mederich

      nice new word: narcigeted; explains much of the problem- psyche damage-by being introjected into the text, one lives a fantasy of being great (like abraham) & expecting God to act now like he did then, if i just be good enough/work hard enough/give enough/etc..this presumed ‘faith’ is ‘magical thinking’which becomes destructive:

      leaders get messiah complex (leading to money/power abuse-“i’m great like abraham, am i not?!”)while unleaders get inferiority complex (leading to insecurity/depression-“what’s wrong with me, why do i fail to be like abraham?!” especially the young are affected by such.

      now the price of the fairy tale must be paid: mental/emotional decompression from mirage, relearning christ alone, recovery from costs of giving/living beyond means by ‘faith’, & for the young: counseling fees/recovery from brainwash escapism-survival tactics/etc; so now debts/recovery costs necessarily become first priority (bible say: ‘pay debts’; i say it’s hard give unless ye live/hallelujah!)

    • Precisely, Mark. It essentially leads to a system of works righteousness. Leaders often fail to think of how this will impact the psyche of young students in the long run. Let’s say that a young man or woman is deemed as an Abraham or Sarah of faith in their chapter. What if they end up leaving the ministry or like you said, somehow fail to live up to that calling? (Btw, I find that the burden is always upon the Bible student and almost never upon the shepherd in this situation.) They gave up the call or they couldn’t live it out by having absolute faith or what have you. And on the flip side, it will produce mountainous pride in the one who does live up to the calling. It’s all just preposterous to me and ultimately the work of Christ is overshadowed because of this kind of system.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Yes, to all the above. The teaching of Christ (and how the OT is talking about him) is absent, and the Genesis teachings mentioned are prime examples of scripture abuse in UBF. Promising greatness to Apeople like that of Abraham is manipulative. And so it continues to Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, etc. Genesis studies taught to “sacrifice *your* Isaac,” and “send away *your* Ishmael,” to “train people to repent like Joseph to his brothers,” and “struggle with God like Jacob.” When Jesus is absent in these teachings, they fail in the most horrible ways. How many people cut off family members or sacrificed or sent away loved ones in order to be like Abraham?

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      David, the burden you mentioned is indeed heavy. Guilt is placed on the student to be this great person according to UBF’s terms. And if the student fails, then it is the student’s fault. The shepherd of the student gets credit if the student does well, but the student is faulted if he fails. Yet who holds the shepherd accountable? No one.

  4. Kevin Jesmer

    After going to a local church since the 2012 I can see some good things about UBF. First I am thankful for my wife and kids and for meeting Jesus through UBF 1:1 Ministry. Over the last 3 years I miss the conferences. I miss the textual, systematic Bible studies with questions sheets. I still do live on daily bread writing and meditation. I have been equipped to step up to participate in most missions (outside of UBF)that God has brought my way since 2012. I appreciate the 2X2 prayer. I like the fact that the leaders are still there, at the end of the phone and at a location, any time to converse with. I have been geared towards gospel mission for the rest of my days. I have been exposed to different options in mission, like 1:1 Bible study, self supporting mission and a “just do it by faith” and “give your five loaves and 2 fish” mentality. I like that people without official credentials can step up and lead and teach and preach. This is rare elsewhere. By God’s grace, through training in UBF, I can write about and even preach on the whole Bible. These are some things that I am happy about my 26 years in UBF.

    • Mark Mederich

      nice. makes me remember some of those good things too. too bad it’s been impossible to keep the good, scrap the garbage, & reform ubf into a less detrimental more effective ministry approach so to speak (many good elements surpass other movements, but many bad elements also surpass other movements..)

      history shows many other ministry movements with good/bad aspects-some more notable than others/some recent, but one should not have to search/change churches to find ‘christ alone’; the time has come to make a church what it should be (otherwise individual pursuit of spirituality becomes necessary)

      perhaps the most pernicious issue christian religion has battled over the ages is the tendency toward overelevation of self (leading to narcissism, hierarchy, ‘holier than thou mentality’, use of ministry for one’s own selfish ends & core group-at the expense of newer/lesser members-basically gainful benefit seeking of limited elite..

      oh Lord reform, oh Lord save, oh Lord redeem, lest many writhe into oblivion; Jesus’ parable of the tenants exactly describes the problem (Matthew 21:33.., Mark 12:1..)

  5. “Why is Genesis so prioritized?” I agree with Libby’s response. I would add that it is to emphasize UBF’s primary or predominant theological emphasis: Live a life of mission, drawing and extrapolating from texts such as Gen 1:28; 2:15; 6:14; 12:2; etc.

    Genesis study would be fine if we study it, not with a mission (over)emphasis, but based on what Jesus said the OT is about: Jn 5:39, 46; Lk 24:27, 44, and what the apostles said it is about: Ac 10:43; 18:28; etc.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      When I studied it the focus seemed to be on being a person of the covenent. Making a promise to God to follow him. I was first asked to give a testimony on Abraham’s calling. I was unsure what I could say about it that wasn’t obvious. So I read Kirkagaard’s Panegyric on Abraham. When I showed my reflection (which drew heavily on Kirkagaard’s position that Abraham’s faith was absurd, but that is the only thing that made him special) I was gently told that I should focus more on what he did, and not what he was. (It wasn’t said exactly like this) After some google searches I found a post by a UBF pastor and his reflection on the calling of Abraham. The post said that it was important not to push the idea that Abraham is the model of all people. So I thought about what it meant to be called. I felt as though I had become closer to God in the last few years so I talked about how God had renewed his hope and blessing for mankind though Abraham, and that he had recently been with me more and more.

  6. “…the focus seemed to be on being a person of the covenent. Making a promise to God to follow him” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/02/the-good-and-the-bad-of-ubf/#comment-16346

    Related to an (over)emphasis on mission, there is the related emphasis of commitment (and loyalty) unto death. Though UBF will deny it, but functionally the teaching of covenant with God = life-long commitment to UBF = feeding sheep, making disciples, etc.

    In my opinion, based on my own observations and what others have told me, any departure from this commitment/discipleship paradigm, puts you in a “bad light,” based on subjective, implicit UBF sentiments. Like many churches, as you and likely others have experienced, UBF is rather tribal and sectarian, which then artificially creates a “me against the world” and “martyr complex” mentality.

  7. Joe Schafer

    Ben, I don’t understand the motivation behind this article.

    No sensible person would say, “Everything that has ever happened in UBF is bad.” If it were 100% bad, then none of us would have ever participated in it.

    Perhaps your motivation is to show that this website isn’t so extreme, that those who comment here are fair and balanced, and therefore UBF leaders ought to take our comments seriously. If that’s what you are trying to accomplish, the chances of it working are extremely low. You, I, Brian, and just about everyone else who comments on this website have been written off by the major decisionmakers. We have stopped playing by their rules. We have stopped endlessly praising them, and have tried to treat them like adults, holding them accountable as leaders should be accountable. But they don’t want to be accountable; they want to be praised again and again whether or not the praise has any basis in reality. Because we no longer heap praise on them, they have decided that we are no longer worthy of their attention.

    Ben, you wrote:

    On “the UBF side,” there are countless reports over five decades of just how wonderful UBF is and how much UBF missionaries gave up their beloved homeland and family in order to suffer and sacrifice endlessly for world campus mission sparing no cost. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/02/the-good-and-the-bad-of-ubf/#comment-16347

    Precisely. For 50+ years, that self-aggrandizing story has been repeated ad nauseum. That is the story that has kept the enterprise going. With this article, I believe you are encouraging people to talk more about the good things that have happened in UBF. Thus you are just feeding the dragon. You are just giving them more of what they want but definitely do not need. It’s like handing a bottle of schnapps to an alcoholic.

    • Mark Mederich

      so let’s make a parallel church within or alongside or without, so that what’s really important happens: Christ alone is praised & lives are really directed for the better in Christ.

  8. “Ben, I don’t understand the motivation behind this article. Perhaps your motivation is to show that this website isn’t so extreme, that those who comment here are fair and balanced, and therefore UBF leaders ought to take our comments seriously.”
    – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/02/the-good-and-the-bad-of-ubf/#comment-16349

    I think that the last 4 years of UBFriends have shown (which we implicitly know) that the leaders who perhaps need most to change will not or at least have not in any significant way, and that they will not read nor take seriously what UBFriends or others say. But a positive sign–if we may call it that–is that they are somewhat listening to their own children, many of whom have left UBF.

    So, no, I am definitely not writing this for leaders, most of whom regard it as a total waste of their time to read this. I have no illusions of thinking that some leader will read this and cry many tears of repentance because of their sins!

    But I guess I am writing this for whoever would read it to help them understand what our ministry is like, which most UBFers will not likely know or be able to find out from their own chapters or leaders, who often fudge or are evasive on tough questions. Or they might just be convinced themselves that other than raising disciples, nothing else in all creation is of any consequence, especially not the “vegetables, cockroaches and rebels” on UBFriends. :-)

    I think what I wrote is reasonably fair, balanced and accurate. But, as always, I am open to all and any pushbacks and comments, good, bad and neutral.

  9. Excellent!: “Let’s say that a young man or woman is deemed as an Abraham or Sarah of faith in their chapter. What if they end up leaving the ministry or like you said, somehow fail to live up to that calling? (Btw, I find that the burden is always upon the Bible student and almost never upon the shepherd in this situation.)” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/02/the-good-and-the-bad-of-ubf/#comment-16354

    Another horrible phrase I used to use is “leadership material.” This implies that someone is and someone isn’t “leadership material.” I never realized how much I was playing God by categorizing and discriminating between people.

    Yes, putting the onus of responsibility (or blame) on the Bible student while the leader (“shepherd”) is above the fray is rather unbiblical, for it denies any responsibility or accountability on the part of the shepherd or leader.

    • “This implies that someone is and someone isn’t “leadership material.””

      Even worse, it implies that a living person with a soul is “material.” Such language should not exist in a a church. It’s bad enough that in the corporate world, people are called “human ressources.”

      Words reveal a lot about your mindset. In UBF, I learned that people are only valuable (“precious”) as long as they play the role UBF wants them to play. But people (and marriage) did not have value in themselves, they only got value through their “missions” (or what UBF believed to be “missinon”).

      That’s also why the idea of human rights and human diginity was constantly ridiculed by the UBF founder and by my chapter leader who fully adopted his mindset. We also had to constantly pray against “ungodly individualism and humanism.”

  10. Ok, Ben. After being silent for quite some time, I bite again.

    Please grab a seat and a cup of coffee since this will be a longer reply. Don’t fear – I don’t intend to comment about this anymore in this length in the future. So bear with me.

    You ask: “Is it hard to share both the good and bad of UBF? Is it easier to share either just the good or just the bad?”

    I think this is the wrong question to start with. If we want to live as Christians, then we should not ask what is hard or what is easy, but we should ask what is right and what is wrong, what is healthy and what is unhealthy, what is Biblical and what is unbiblical. Anyway I assume that’s the question you really wanted to ask.

    So let’s start with the fact you mention that there are good things and bad things in UBF. There is not much to dispute here. I personally can also witness many things that I liked in UBF. It was a great experience to be closely together with Koreans and learn many good things from their culture. I enjoyed making music together, playing soccer or table tennis. Most of us enjoyed Korean food, Korean mood and hospitality. I can recall many positive memories from my time in UBF. To come to the spiritual things – in the beginning, the Bible study and the help in finding a personal relationship with God, and then praying together was good as well. Some of the group Bible studies and sermons and testimonies were also good.

    But now it already starts to become difficult. Yes, even when the Bible study and the personal relationship was good in the beginning, in the end it was poisonous because over time it became repetitive, coerced, single-sided, and we were slowly and imperceptibly indoctrinated with a false understanding of the Bible, a false image of God and a false understanding of sin and salvation and mission that made our whole live miserable, dependent and phony and lead us away from the love of God, of a real spiritual life. The focus became skewed and shifted – while in the beginning it was all about God’s love and the love of our shepherds, it then became more and more the fear of God, the fear of men, the fear of doing things wrong or doing not enough, the pressure to perform and the pressure to conform, the “hamster wheel” of endless sin and confession, the focus on obedience and loyalty instead of truthfulness and openness etc. It started well, but ended ugly. As one member of the ICC (a group similar to UBF) wrote: “First they save you, then they enslave you.”

    What I want to say: it is exactly the good things that turned into bad things. You can say “isn’t it a good side of UBF that you have so many friends there and everybody loves each other, like a big family?” Yes, while you’re in UBF you may tend to believe so. But as soon as you become critical or leave, you learn that your “friends” never were your friends in a real sense, that all the love and friendliness was hollow and shallow and served only one big goal, to keep you loyal and to manipulate and transform you, and stopped as soon as you were not of value to UBF anymore because you stopped being obedient and being a cog in their machine. Maybe it’s not so extreme today any more, but in my days in UBF it, it was virtually impossible to leave UBF without going through a major trauma and losing all your former “friends.” So it is with many of the “deeper” things I loved in UBF. They all were somehow tainted, they were not pure. The love turned into fear. The grace turned into law. I found myself in chains, even if the freedom of Christ had set me free in the beginning – I had allowed myself (through the subtle power of spiritual abuse) to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You can find both in UBF: The good, that people are set free, and the bad, that people are put into a yoke of slavery again. The problem is that this happens in a temporal sequence. First you have the good, but the good becomes then annihilated again by the bad. If you have got a poisoned apple like Snow White, I think your focus should not be sharing with everybody how nice the apple looked and how well it tasted, but rather on the end result of biting into that apple. Likewise, an addict who has become clean and wants to help others to not fall into the same trap and miss their lives should not emphasize how you feel while taking drugs, and how some of the drugs can sometimes have positive health effects. You should look at it as a total package and tell others about the impact it had on your life. I think Brian did this very well in his books. Even if in the end, things in our lives and marriages turned out lucky, we would not want anybody to go through the same things we did. Also, we know about the many cases where marriages and whole souls and persons were broken.

    So my point is here: It’s not so much about whether there are good things in UBF and bad things that can be cleanly separated. The dangerous thing is that there are good things that are abused or “perverted” to use a stronger word, so much that they stop being good and become bad instead. E.g. obedience in itself is a good value – but absolute unquestionable obedience is a bad value that made Nazi German possible. The bad things permeate the good things, even if the good things seem to be predominate, and even if everything seems to be done with good intentions.

    I’m pretty sure this is exactly what the Bible means when it warns that “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” The “little yeast” can be a few false teachers in a church full of people who try to live sincerely before God. The “little yeast” can also be their unbiblical practices or teachings, or obvious sin are tolerated, even if the conduct and teaching is all good otherwise, and even if the people around all nice. Paul wrote that “your boasting” (i.e. sharing all the good things and achievements) “is not good” in this situation. Let me repeat this: It is not good. But this is exactly what has been happening all the decades in UBF. All the conferences, all the “mission reports”, all the anniversary celebrating, the founder’s day celebrations, the UBF museum, the “UBF history” write-ups by Sarah Barry and so many others, the UBF newsletters etc. they are all full of that boasting that is not good. This boasting and sharing of good things had been done well enough ad nauseam. There is no need to add more praise to that heap of self-praise that has been accumulated over the decades and that should suffice to nourish the pride of UBF for at least the next 500 years.

    And let’s face it – UBF is not looking at a “little yeast” it is looking at a huge lump of yeast with all their bad teachings and practices and accumulated sin over decades. And the yeast is not just threatening to work through the whole dough, it has already worked through the whole dough. That’s the situation UBF is in. It’s much more serious than the condition Paul had in mind when he wrote that warning to the church at Corinth, because it’s already going on much longer, and has been tolerated much longer.

    And now I come to another aspect of the question whether we should also mention the “good things.” There is a huge spiritual problem – the problem of unrepented obvious and horrible sin of the church and its leaders in their function as church leaders. This sin includes forced abortions, forced divorces, badly arranged marriages, suicides caused by inadequate and loveless dealing with depressive or “problematic” people in UBF, beatings, humiliations, torture-like “training,” nontransparent handling of money, misappropriating of money, non-legal actions, many horrible cases of documented spiritual abuse, and ignorance of any reports about these things from within. The observance of extreme shepherding/discipling teachings and practices – which are well known to be unbiblical and harmful and are known to inevitably lead to spiritual abuse – is a fact that never has been addressed by UBF, only by us dropouts. Even after so many decades, there is still no corporate repentance, not even rudimentary. Maybe there are some changes, but this is totally different from repentance, proper processing of the past, and rehabilitation of all those who tried to reform UBF in the past and have been expelled, slandered, and branded “rebels” and people “working for Satan.”

    If you’re an Evangelical Christian, or want to rate UBF in their own frame of thinking, according to their own pretense to only follow the Bible, then the problem of unrepented corporate sin is the one thing that is of importance. It overshadows everything else and ends every other discussion. As long as this problem exists, there is no sense in mentioning any good sides of UBF.

    Unrepented sin is an illness – in the view of the Bible, in fact a terminal illness. Sin itself is not the problem, it can be forgiven. But unrepented sin is a problem that has no solution. You cannot whitewash it by mentioning all the good things that would outweigh that sin. You may say – and I guess this is really what’s in your mind – you make it easier for people to deal with their sin and admit it if you are nice to them and if you mention all their good sides and achievements and help them keep their face instead of speaking about their sins. Well, for some kinds of sinners and situations this may certainly be true. But it is certainly not true for those who call themselves spiritual leaders, who were reading the Bible all week, who should know better, for people who know the spiritual truth and also the truth about what really happened (e.g. the forced abortions). You don’t help them by pointing out all the good things they have done. If a person has a terminal illness, the person must be confronted with that, must deal with that, instead of being reminded about all the body functions that are still in order.

    You may want to evade by saying “corporate repentance” is not necessary, this was only a problem of the UBF founder who died already, so stop beating a dead horse, etc. But this is not true. His example have been copied and are still copied by many UBF leaders, his example is still praised in the official UBF. Anyway there is not only the issue of personal sin, but also corporate sin. If you create such a strong “corporate identity,” as UBF is doing, even starting to equate your group with God’s “Kingdom of priests” and “holy nation,” such a group must be held accountable and must be measured according to their own pretensions. You can find it in the OT when e.g. the prophets deal with Israel as a whole, as a nation, or in the NT, when e.g. the sins of the seven churches in Asia were addressed as “entities.” Israel had to repent. The churches in Asia had to repent. And UBF has to repent.

    There is no other solution to deal with it. No whitewashing, not appeasement, not nice talk will help. When Isaiah spoke with Israel, he painted their sin in dark color, he did not differentiate and say that there were some good people and some good things among them: “Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.” Do you think Isaiah did it wrong, he should have mentioned all the good things in Israel as well? Or do you think UBF is in a better condition before God than Israel? Remember UBF has the gospel, while Israel had not. If you like, read the rest of Isiah 1. Could you imagine that this whole chapter is talking to a group like UBF? I can!

    So this is my one big point: Since the whole Bible is about repentance; what meaning has it for UBF to exist, to continue worshipping God and trying to lead others to repentance, it they as a whole are completely unwilling and unable to repent? How does it make sense to talk about good things in UBF if they miss the obvious, the only thing that is necessary; the one thing that is needed. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If you really take the Bible seriously, then you can only conclude that the truth is not in UBF, since UBF refused over all the years to admit their obvious sin, even though it had been revealed already, starting with the open letter of 1976. In fact all I heard in 2001 when I left UBF was that anybody who was on the side of reform and who talked about the sins of the past was a liar and a tool of Satan.

    Now, if UBF would be only a kind of sports club or music club, everything would be fine. You don’t expect to find the truth in your sports club. However, UBF claims and promises you can find the truth there, you can find the meaning of life there, while in reality the truth is not in them. That’s why I strongly warn of UBF and will continue to do so, until there are clear signs of repentance and admission of guilt. So long I will not bother to talk about anything good I experienced in UBF. It is not “hard” for me to do so, but it doesn’t make sense to me, and it doesn’t feel right to me.

    Ben, I think what you are constantly are appealing to is the so called “argument to moderation.” This is also known as the “fallacy of the middle ground.” You maybe believe that when on the one hand UBF’s websites only contain self-praise and glorification of UBF, and no positive aspects, and on the other hand, testimonies of dropouts only concentrate on the negative aspects, then UBFriends should somehow try to find a “middle ground” between these extremes, and maybe hope to find the truth or “golden mean” in that middle ground. The fallacy in here that sometimes, a middle ground is not acceptable. A group that claims to be an Evangelical church, but behaves like a cult and fails to repent for even its most obvious sins that have been revealed already since decades, simply stops being an Evangelical church. As the Wikipedia entry about the middle ground fallacy explains, the issue is that “sometimes only X or Y is acceptable, with no middle ground possible.” This is particularly true for groups like UBF which are not just “campus groups” where you could list positive and negative aspects, but which are groups who claim to have the “absolute truth.” For such groups, no “middle ground is possible.” Instead, a church must be perfect, must be radiant, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. You think it is not possible? You’re right, without repentance this is not possible. There is no middle ground between repentance and unrepentance. If you want to be accepted as a church that follows the gospel, then you must deal with sin with openness and repentance, not with cover-up, denial or diversion. To me, broad discussions about your good aspects are a way of doing that, of refusing to repent and of fogging the giant elephant in the room.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      +1

    • Joe Schafer

      And excellent comment by Chris. Interestingly, I ran across this article by a Muslim religious leader who is horrified by the violence of ISIS and other Muslim extremists. He identifies the problem in very similar terms to what Chris has just said. What Chris calls “brazenness,” this author calls “salvational cause amorality.”

      “This is what one might call salvational cause amorality – the tendency by some to believe that regardless of their misconduct and misdeeds, their cause is sufficient to entitle them to absolution and ultimate salvation.”

      The article is here:

      http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2015/02/04/4174094.htm

      This is a good example of how a Christian can learn something useful from a Muslim. This guy says many things about salvation and repentance that are worth pondering.

    • Mark Mederich

      +1: absolute immediate repentance must be expected, even demanded due to enormity of spiritual effect atrocities to human psyche/emotion/even physical life (this applies to any church/religious movement that has seriously transgressed, but evidently especially at this time to the UBF)
      otherwise only increasing rightness within or without can be espoused/accomplished

    • Good find, Joe. Yes, this is similar to what I wanted to say, from a Muslim perspective. Maybe “religious unashamedness” is another fitting expression.

    • Joe Schafer

      The word “hubris” captures it pretty well.

  11. Two more comments:

    “Sadly, but understandably, both sides have had much difficulty to genuinely listen to and empathize with “the other side,” since both sides are often deeply hurt and also deeply entrenched on their own side.”

    I have difficulties with such statements. They imply that we need to listen to UBF leaders more to “understand” them. Come on! I have been about a decade in UBF and listened to them all the time. In fact, I have been one of them, I too was deeply indoctrinated with UBFism. I know what it is. I know how they think. I know their teachnigs, their world view, their methods, their lame excuses. I even know how their methods work because I read books on cults and mind control. And I know UBF not only from my own perspective, but from the perspective of many fellow dropouts with whom I have talked after I left or whose testimonies I have read. Brian and Joe and others were in UBF even longer, and they were leaders, too. He doesn’t need to listen more either. In fact the problem is that we all listened for far too long, and never talked.

    You say that we have difficulties to “empathize” with them. Really? There is nothing to empathize with an authoritarian leadership that is obsessed with the Bible and claims to know it, but still refuses to admit and repent and apologize for their obvious sins pointed out in the 3 reform movements, and their handling of these movements.

    The only thing that would move me to listen would be signs of real brokenness and admittance of guilt.

    Also, in practice there is nothing to listen to anyway. All we hear from UBF leaders is a deafining silence. The reason is that there is nothing they could tell us, they can’t defend what is not defendable.

    “The hurt seems to come primarily from feeling betrayed (the UBF side) or feeling taken advantage of–often for decades (the other side).”

    For me, not being on the UBF side any more, the hurt comes from feeling betrayed and deveived. They promised and pretended to be a community of people who follow the Bible and who love and care for each other. This turned out to not be true. Not only did I find all the cases where they did not follow the Bible and did unethical things, but even when I pointed this out, their stance was that their traditions were more important than the Bible. Also, their love and care immediately ended when I or anybody else pointed these things out. Call me naïve, but only after ten years I found that their ultimate guide is not the Bible, but their tradition and whatever glorifies their own organization. Of course I felt also betrayed when I found out that documents like the open letter of 1976 and the events mentioned there had been hidden from me all the time and when I saw history repeating itself in 2001 and they were still not willing to admit any problems or change anything and just called everything slander and work of Satan.

    • Mark Mederich

      Chris+: ‘In fact the problem is that we all listened for far too long, and never talked. You say that we have difficulties to “empathize” with them. Really? There is nothing to empathize with an authoritarian leadership that is obsessed with the Bible and claims to know it, but still refuses to admit and repent and apologize for their obvious sins pointed out in the 3 reform movements, and their handling of these movements. The only thing that would move me to listen would be signs of real brokenness and admittance of guilt. Also, in practice there is nothing to listen to anyway. All we hear from UBF leaders is a deafining silence. The reason is that there is nothing they could tell us, they can’t defend what is not defendable.’
      silence equals maintaining the status quo, avoiding loss, hoping to continue same tactics, even more..forever<:{

    • Mark Mederich

      Chris+: “For me, not being on the UBF side any more, the hurt comes from feeling betrayed and decieved. They promised and pretended to be a community of people who follow the Bible and who love and care for each other. This turned out to not be true. Not only did I find all the cases where they did not follow the Bible and did unethical things, but even when I pointed this out, their stance was that their traditions were more important than the Bible. Also, their love and care immediately ended when I or anybody else pointed these things out. Call me naïve, but only after ten years I found that their ultimate guide is not the Bible, but their tradition and whatever glorifies their own organization. Of course I felt also betrayed when I found out that documents like the open letter of 1976 and the events mentioned there had been hidden from me all the time and when I saw history repeating itself in 2001 and they were still not willing to admit any problems or change anything and just called everything slander and work of Satan.”
      YES THE REAL ATROCITY IS THAT HIDDEN TRUTH LED TO CONTINUED/INCREASED TRAUMA & DAMAGE OVER DECADES. NO MORE: FROM NOW ON IT SHALL BE SHOUTED FROM HOUSETOPS UNTIL HUMANS DO RIGHT & GOD REALLY REIGNS, hallelujah!

  12. Excellent discussion and welcome back Chris! I love this word David: “narcigeted”. Yes that is/was me. And this word reminds me of a chapter in my second book:

    “Why did I stay 24 years at UBF if the spiritual abuse was rampant? The best answer may be that I was seeking glory and fame. The cocoon I wove around myself (with the help of UBF shepherds weaving it for me at times) could be called a cocoon of self-glorification. I wanted to be famous. I wanted attention. I wanted to be noticed. I believed the promises that convinced me to join UBF in the first place: your name will be great! You will be a world-class leader! My vision is large and my appetite for self-glory is huge. Yes there was no perceived way out of UBF, but as my grandmother pointed out, I did not want a way out. I wanted glory.

    Ironically, I would eventually meet the fate of all self-glory seekers: infamy. I am now the infamous detractor and vocal critic of UBF ministry. Realizing all these things has brought much goodness and peace to my mind. At least I am starting to understand what happened.” –pg 73

    Goodness Found: The Butterfly Narratives”

    • Mark Mederich

      we are survivors of entrapment who shall now surpass such inglorious endeavors

  13. These discussions are vital for the health of all of us, and we need more published books telling our stories. Why? Well because there are some who want to write a glorious history of UBF, with the stamp of approval of higher education such as this:

    The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America

    The story of UBF simply cannot be told without mentioning the 4 reform/crisis events, the stories of abuse of many kinds and the stories of former members whose lives have been shredded.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I was going to read that book but I didnt want to spend money on it. Can you give a synopsis?

  14. The things mentioned above are consistent with what the Apologetics Resource Center found about ubf:

    “Following closely on the heels of the elitism are subtle practices of manipulation. Most of the time, this is accomplished by limiting options. An easy way to understand this concept is to picture a rat in a maze. Though no one physically touches the rat to move it in a particular direction, the choices the rat is given are so limited that its course is essentially predetermined. Similarly, alternatives are presented to the member in such a way that only one choice is really possible. For instance, “Do you want to be wholehearted for Jesus or continue to love the world and run track?”. Obviously no one wants to be thought of as loving the world. But the thought is never allowed that the member might be able to glorify God by using God-given athletic abilities. By presenting the alternatives in this way, the leader of the group is able to conform the behavior of the members into his/her ideal. At the same time, the member feels like he/she is the one who made the decision. Thus it is not uncommon for members to protest that they are not being coerced. “I chose to quit track. No one made me do it.” Technically, they are right. However, the pressure applied made conformity inevitable, especially if one has already bought the message that this is the only true church.”

    ARC: Marks of abusive religious groups

    • Mark Mederich

      “Most of the time, this is accomplished by limiting options. An easy way to understand this concept is to picture a rat in a maze. Though no one physically touches the rat to move it in a particular direction, the choices the rat is given are so limited that its course is essentially predetermined. Similarly, alternatives are presented to the member in such a way that only one choice is really possible. For instance, “Do you want to be wholehearted for Jesus or continue to love the world and run track?” THOSE WHO HAVE TREATED AS RATS SHALL BE TREATED AS RATS:) ONLY CHICKEN PEOPLE AFRAID TO ADMIT THEIR TACTICS, USE SUCH “HIDE IN THE SHADOWS” METHODOLOGIES. MAY THE BRAVE WHO OPENLY DO RIGHT, TRIUMPH!!! HALLELUJAH!

    • Good point about the limiting of options. Another example in this context: “Do you want to marry by faith?” You have the choice to say “no,” but that would mean you marry without faith (marry by unbelief).

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Interesting that this line is in the first few pages of the book

      “Those entangled paternalistic relations in turn played a large part in the major argument of this book: South Korean missionaries who came to the United States from the 1970s to proselytize and “bring back the gospel” to Americans, particularly white Americans, evangelized Americans as hyper- Korean**(this word is italicized) evangelicals. Their mission efforts in the United States, however also exhibit enduring influences of American imperialism, and its dominate white racial hierarchy, which I refer to in this book as American global Christianity.”

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Rebecca Y. Kim the author of the spirit moves west doesnt appear to be in UBF.

    • Joe Schafer

      She’s the daughter of IK, the longtime director of Los Angeles UBF (now Downey). She grew up in UBF and married a UBF shepherd from Korea, but they both decided to leave. She’s a tenured professor of sociology at Pepperdine. I look forward to reading the book. Sociologists are trained to acknowledge their own sources of bias, and I hope she attempts to do this. After reading it, I will probably post a review on Amazon.

    • Forests, I might submit an article summarizing the book. It has way too many trauma-trigger/PTCD words and thoughts however…

      This person does not appear to be a missionary in ubf, and from what I can tell, never was (in spite of the 10,000 Rebecca Kims at ubf… :)

      I have been watching for her work. She wrote an article a few years ago: Acts of Sacrifice

      She seems to understand some of the cultural problems with ubf, but seems to ignore the 4 reform movements or any serious problem seen at ubf. I suspect she is a friend of someone in the ubf echelon.

    • Yes you’re correct Joe, this is actually an older second gen. Most ubfers will feel she criticizes too much even though she barely addresses the real issues.

      This is too much of the same old “ubf second gen apologetics” for my taste. She shares how she tried to be objective and respectful of her parents. Such a viewpoint is nothing new to me; I heard the 2nd gen apologetics all 24 years at ubf.

  15. Mark Mederich

    ‘Most of the time, this is accomplished by limiting options. An easy way to understand this concept is to picture a rat in a maze. Though no one physically touches the rat to move it in a particular direction, the choices the rat is given are so limited that its course is essentially predetermined. Similarly, alternatives are presented to the member in such a way that only one choice is really possible. For instance, “Do you want to be wholehearted for Jesus or continue to love the world and run track?”‘
    ONLY THE CHICKEN HEARTED DO SUCH THINGS, THE BRAVE OPENLY DO RIGHT..HALLELUJAH!

  16. Google books has a significant overview. We all know the names of peopel involved in her research. She based her findings on LA ubf and Chicago ubf. Google book preview

    • By the way I feel REALLY DUPED after reading that preview. Anyone remember that survey a while ago? The preview shows the survey. I took that survey while still a director at ubf in Detroit. NOBODY said it was for this book…arrgh x]

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      I don’t have an interest to read the book because I think it’ll be upsetting, but I am a little curious as to how much the “native” perspective is given consideration. Since I left LA UBF in Octobee of last year, was i one of those observed for this study? As much as I know, no American leaders were interviewed or directly informed of research being done or of being observed for a study. I can’t imagine how that side and its frustrations etc could be properly represented.

    • Good points Charles. How many ubf members knew they were being studied like this for several years? And is this illegal? My wife (a PhD) says any kind of study with such questionnaires must clearly indicate to each person interviewed that the result may be shared in a book/published. And you are supposed to provide the end result with those who were interviewed.

      What is MOST infuriating is the COWARDLY ubf leaders who KNEW this was going on and just pretended they wanted to do this work survey themselves.

      ONE WORD: Korean missionaries at ubf are DECEPTIVE, do not trust what they say.

    • Sounds like a report should be made to the ubf ethics and accountability committee…. OH WAIT doing that will just send this to a black hole of nothingness… (STILL not a single reply from the official committee on my submission to them, this is the committee who was assured to me to get back to me “right away”…)

    • Joe Schafer

      The governing body that regulates and approves the human subjects data collection would be Pepperdine’s IRB (Institutional Review Board). If proper protocols weren’t followed, they would have jurisdiction.

    • Ok after some offline discussion, the surveys probably were legit. My survey doesn’t seem to be however, and the fact that this was never publicly announced in my part of ubf-land is yet another example of the deceptive (at worst) and disorganized (at best) ubf leadership.

    • Mark Mederich

      perhaps should write off much as disorganized, nah-probably deceptive..! oopsadoobadujah

  17. Since you got me interested in a new book about UBF, these are some interesting NOTES at the end of the book, The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America. (http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Moves-West-Missionaries-America/dp/0199942129/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1423313847#reader_0199942129) Even after being in UBF for almost 35 years, I didn’t know some of this.
    Introduction
    115. Based on the 2006 figure from the Korea Research Institute for Missions, 10% of Korean missionaries are from UBF. Of 14,905 Korean missionaries counted from various mission agencies, 1,463 were from UBF.
    Chapter 1
    99. Korean Protestant churches’ Sunday worship services tend to be practical and “low church,” sans elaborate liturgy, sacraments, and ceremony.
    127. Responses to my survey question “What percent of the couples that you know that married in UBF are still married (i.e., not divorced)?” suggest that the majority are not divorced.
    130. Like most other parachurch campus evangelical organizations, UBF originally focused on Bible studies and encouraged their members to attend worship services at their own home church on Sundays. Later on however, UBF expanded its role and started holding its own Sunday worship services.
    Chapter 3
    1. “Green Beret” was the term some of the Korean missionaries in UBF, particularly in the early years of ministry, used to describe themselves, to convey that they were an elite spiritual force.
    19. “Soldier training” is no doubt bolstered by a Confucian culture stressing obedience and submission within a hierarchical relationship structure.
    21. Intense soldier training of the “dead-dog” kind was only given to a select group of male disciples whom the leaders reasoned could handle tough training. Thus, for example, such training was not given to medical school students, who tend to have a heavy study load, or to students who were physically unhealthy. This is similar to Korea’s military conscription policy. Men who pass the medical school exam or the bar are assigned to separate and lighter military service, and men who are not healthy can avoid military service altogether.
    Chapter 4
    18. In the case of the UBF Korean missionaries, they worked hard and sacrificed for the benefit of their “spiritual” children.
    Chapter 6
    3. The UBF’s sect-like characteristics also fuel negative reactions. The UBF is also organizationally schizophrenic in that it operates both as a campus ministry and as a church.
    5. Americans disapproved of the way the pioneer Korean missionaries prioritized mission over taking care of their own children. Americans also took note that many of the children of the sacrificial missionaries were bitter and have left the ministry.
    6. The missionaries expected that if they sacrificed for mission, God would naturally take care of their children. They relied on a commonly quoted verse in UBF: Matthew 6:33. If they focused on God’s “kingdom work,” they believed, then all other things, including their children, would be taken care of as well.
    7. Korean missionaries have similar complaints. The most common response to the question why Korean missionaries leave the ministry in America is that the mission work is too difficult and the ministry too demanding. Missionaries may ask 100 students to Bible study every week for twenty years but fail to “raise” a single American disciple.
    10. Past and present American members also recall being annoyed with Korean missionaries’ nationalism and sense of cultural superiority. They share that Korean missionaries negatively characterize American culture and uplift Koreans and Korean Christianity as superior. Americans are characterized as “lazy and undisciplined,” while Koreans are characterized as “hard working and well-trained.”
    52. The culturally and ethnically homogenous nature of Korean society is also used to explain Koreans’ cultural insensitivity in their interactions with other nationals.
    Chapter 7
    5. Before “Media Missions,” most of what could be found online about UBF was posted by its critics and was negative. Now, however, UBF regularly posts its own material and therefore has more control over the kind of content that is available online about the ministry.
    6. After Lee’s departure to the U.S. in the late 1970s, Korea UBF officially became part of a small Presbyterian denomination, the Bible Presbyterian denomination. Thus, although UBF still presents itself as a nondenominational campus ministry, it is officially a “church” and is affiliated with a Presbyterian denomination, like the majority of Protestant congregations in South Korea. Korea UBF staff and directors are also financially supported by UBF, and many of them are getting seminary training in Korean or Western evangelical seminaries.
    12. When UBF was first founded in 1961 in Kwangju, South Korea, Samuel (Chang-woo) Lee was a local Presbyterian pastor, and Sarah Barry was a Presbyterian missionary who had been working in Korea since 1955. Before UBF began holding its own Sunday worship services, students were encouraged to go to their respective Protestant churches.

    • “Intense soldier training of the “dead-dog” kind was only given to a select group of male disciples”

      Such statements infuriate me. A witness from Bonn UBF told me how a female Korean missionary got that training in Bonn. They shouted at her for hours and she wasn’t allowed to defend herself, then they threw her out of the center in the middle of the night.

    • Mark Mederich

      wow, ghoulish psyche/emoto gangup, maybe we should do in reverse:) abbadabbadujah!

  18. Joe, Maybe you already know, but Rebecca quoted you in her book:

    “Lee came from a society in which it was quite normal for the patriarch of a family or organization to exercise a great deal of personal control over corporate affairs. Even by that standard, Lee went further.” Schaffer et el. 2009:135; Chung 2003.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, that article by Schafer, Yoon and Moreau is one of the very few peer reviewed articles on UBF, and the only one whose authors include non-Koreans.

    • Joe Schafer

      I found two more places in the book where I am referenced.

      In chapter 5, Kindle location 2361: “A white American explained how the Christianity the missionaries brought differed from what he saw in American churches…” There she quotes something that I wrote about a decade ago about what attracted me to UBF.

      And in chapter 5, Kindle location 2616: “In a blog started by a white American leader of UBF during my participant observations , it was suggested that white Americans might have sacrificed even more than the Korean missionaries…” I believe this is a reference to my UBFriends article from 2010:

      http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/10/14/shepherds-or-sheep-who-sacrifices-more/

      As Brian pointed out, this book is based on data collected during the period 2008 to 2011. From my perspective, a great deal has happened since then.

  19. More interesting things from The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America:

    As of 2008, 42.15% of UBF’s 1,414 Korean missionaries were working in the U.S. There are over 700 Korean missionaries in 105 UBF chapters in Canada and the U.S. (There are) approximately 100 “native,” mostly white Americans who are active leaders in the ministry…

    I argue that although Korean evangelicalism is heavily influenced by American Christianity, it is also very much a Korean evangelicalism. It is distinctive in its theological conservatism and fundamentalism, intense devotional practices, and Confucian-influenced hierarchical organization. I argue that UBF and its missionaries are hyperreflective of this Korean evangelicalism.

    Ten of the eleven largest megacongregations of the world are housed in Seoul. The largest Presbyterian, Methodist, and Pentecostal congregations in the world and the second-largest Baptist congregation in the world are in Korea, along with the largest theological colleges. Some of the largest evangelistic and Christian gatherings in history have been recorded in Korea.

    According to the survey results…77% of the South Koreans who identified themselves as Christian responded that they attended church at least once a week. …about a third (36%) shared their faith at least several times a year with nonbelievers, and another third shared their faith with nonbelievers at least once a week.

    There were approximately 93 Korean missionaries in foreign countries in 1979 and over 20,000 in 2010.

    The austere moral code of Confucianism complements the strict moral teachings of conservative evangelicalism. For eg., Confucius considered five relationships to be vital for a harmonious society: the relationships of the ruler to the ruled, father to son, husband to wife, elder brother to younger brother, and friend to friend. With the exception of the friend-to-friend relationship, for of these are hierarchical. The former (ruler, father, husband, elder brother) are to treat the latter (ruled, son, wife, younger brother) benevolently, while the latter are to respect the former. These hierarchical principles of social relations are similar to the teachings in the Bible that encourage children to honor and obey their parents and wives to respect and submit to their husbands. The Bible’s basic teachings in the Ten Commandments also did not contradict much that Koreans already embraced in terms of moral ethics.

    Theologian Sebastian Kim notes that Korean Protestant Christians traditionally employed the Confucian method of learning the biblical text. Koreans accepted the literal meaning of the sacred text and tried to put in into practice in daily life. This strong commitment to applying the scriptures continues to this day.

    Confucian-Influenced Hierarchical Organization: Korean society is hierarchically organized, and the Korean Protestant church is no exception. The culture and structure of Korean Protestant churches reflect the Confucian ideals of a harmonious society based on hierarchical relationships. Korean Protestant churches are not egalitarian fellowships of brothers and sisters. They adhere to strict heirarchical gender relations. Korean Protestant churches are also hierarchically structured, with a heavily pastor-centered and authoritarian leadership culture.

    Korean Protestant churches are patriarchal and unmistakably male-dominated. Although women are often some of the most devoted members of the church, they are subordinated and treated as secondary vis-a-vis men. This is not unique to Korean Protestant churches. The subordination of women in Korean churches, however, can be more entrenched and pervasive, because patriarchal Confucian teachings of the superiority of men over women can be combined with conservative interpretations of the Bible that relegate women to a submissive and secondary status.

    Korean Protestant churches are more distinctively “Korean” in their overly pastor-centered and authoritarian leadership. In most Western Protestant churches, the pastor is treated more or less equally with any other member of the church. In Korean churches, however, the pastor exercises excessive power and authority. This is again attributable to the hierarchical principles of Confucian social relations. Evangelism scholar Joon-Sik Park writes of this tendency: “A bitter fruit of Confucianism in Korean Christianity has been the development of clericalism, with clergy exercising excessive power in both the faith and the polity of the church. Korean-Prostestant pastors, particularly those who have founded their churches, are seen as highly respected spiritual leaders; they have “absolute authority.” …due to this Confucian influence, pastors of Korean Protestant churches have authority and power associated with someone akin to a “family patriarch” in the paternalistic and family-like milieu of many Korean churches. Positioned as the “family patriarch,” the pastor exchanges his paternalistic care and fulfillment of his duties toward the flock, or “family,” for his flock’s respect and obedience.

    Conclusion: While no doubt influenced by Western Christianity, particularly American evangelicalism, Korean evangelical Protestantism is a Korean religion. It is conservative and fundamentalist, intensely devotional, and hierarchically organized, reflecting influences from Confucianism. These characteristics are even more evident in UBF. … the UBF Korean missionaries in my study are hyper-Korean evangelicals–Korean evangelicals on steroids. They are more theologically conservative, intensively devotional, enthusiastic about evangelism, and hierarchically organized than most of all the other already conservative, devoted, and hierarchically organized Korean evangelicals.

    As hyper-Korean evangelicals, UBF Korean missionaries defined “Christians” as people like themselves. Real Christians believed in the absolute truth of the gospel, believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, and were intensely devoted. They diligently studied the Bible, prayed, evangelized, and were enthusiastic about world missions. They are strict on matters of personal morality and had respect for spiritual authority. On each of these points, however, these missionaries found young adult Americans, including those from Christian backgrounds, to be wholly wanting.

    • I like her descriptions of what I call Christianized Confucianism. I’ve been saying that for several years now :)

      It is highly noteworthy to point out her research covers 2008 to 2011.. “As of 2008….”

      This is the period of decline at ubf when there was a 27% drop in offering, a 59% increase in administrative costs, a 105% drop in net assets, a $42K deficit in 2012 and a 17% drop in ISBC attendants.

      It was a time leading up to the 4th reform/crisis movement at ubf since 1961 when ubf started. It was a time when we say a 50% exodus of longtime leaders in Toledo UBF, then the 3rd largest ubf chapter in America.

      I appreciate Rebecca’s desire to be objective, however she fails to be a good sociologist who sees a comprehensive picture of ubf. Yes she points out criticisms but are we just critics only? Is not the “ex-ubf” movement also a movement of the Spirit?

    • Also, she seems to only consider the OT when she talks about the hierarchial structures, not the NT: “Koreans accepted the literal meaning of the sacred text and tried to put in into practice in daily life. This strong commitment to applying the scriptures continues to this day.” It seems she doesn’t consider Matthew 23 as “sacred text”. If she would consider it as part of scripture (an important part even, that supersedes the OT teachings) then she would not claim that Korean authoritarianism puts what Jesus said into practice, but rather that it denies and ingores in practice everything that Jesus tought regarding hiearchical structures.

    • Mark Mederich

      spiritual authority is lie from pit of hell:
      respect for spiritual person who tries to seek/follow God’s right ways/good character & help others do so is fine, but anyone elevating self like God (or even presuming to be much closer to God than others) is deluded in mind & must be counseled back to reality,,scooby-dooby-doo-yah

    • Mark Mederich

      people have a choice, do right/absorb losses & end up better off, or continue to do wrong/avoid loss but end up worse off

  20. “This is the period of decline at ubf when…” Hi Brian, from your UBF — A Declining Ministry link that shows the “spreadsheet capturing the 2008 to 2012 numbers: UBF-FinancialNumbers” link no longer works.

    I guess the 2014 numbers should be available soon: http://www.ecfa.org/ComparativeFinancialData.aspx?ID=20401&Type=Member

    • Thanks for pointing that out Ben. I had re-worked my priestlynation.com website last year, and made the article naming convention (for URL’s) be more search friendly. I’ve tried to fix all the links but that is a large task.

      In regard to the 2014 numbers, don’t hold your breath. ubf tends to wait many months before reporting the numbers to the ECFA. I contacted the ECFA a while back and the non-profits are allowed to report late, up to June or July I think.