What is your gospel?

pSomeone astutely pointed out here in the latest blitzkrieg of comments that one key issue between many of those who criticize ubf and many of those who promote ubf is the view of the gospel. Over the years, ubfriends has discussed the gospel quite a lot, and yet such articles about the gospel tend to generate very few comments. Should we not have a clear understanding of the gospel if we claim to be a Christian? I say yes.

Our ubfriends discussions about the gospel

Here are some excellent articles that we have discussed each year:

http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/12/17/gospel-no-condemnation-really/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/01/17/the-gospel-in-the-descendants/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/02/22/the-gospel-and-linsanity/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/09/22/what-is-the-gospel/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/07/18/the-gospel-of-christ-vs-the-gospel-of-mission/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/12/02/amazon-com-and-the-gospel/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/09/15/the-theology-of-gross-what-modern-psychology-can-teach-us-about-purity-disgust-love-and-the-gospel/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/09/26/my-gospel-story-of-gods-grace/

http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/11/10/glimpses-of-the-gospel/

Some explicit quotes

I’ve been reading many more books these days. One that stirred a lot of thoughts and interest in the gospel for me is Matt Chandler’s “The Explicit Gospel“. I recommend reading many sources to get a range of perspectives on this important subject. I don’t agree with some of what Chandler presents, but over all this is a solid starting point for a deeper grasp of the Christian message we should be embodying.

Here are some choice quotes I love:

“More often than not, we want him to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin’s Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.” (pg 29)

“Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it’s a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it.” (pg 49)

“If we confuse the gospel with response to the gospel, we will drift from what keeps the gospel on the ground, what makes it clear and personal, and the next thing you know, we will be doing a bunch of different things that actually obscure the gospel, not reveal it.” (pg 83)

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/20-quotes-from-the-explicit-gospel

Digging deeper: whose wrath?

One of my transformations lately is to know God who is love. God is capable of wrath, but God is not wrath. Instead of seeing the cross as God’s wrath I now see the cross as God’s response to human wrath.

So this is the main area of disagreement I have with Chandler. He writes:

“Once we remove the bloody atonement as satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, the wheels really come off. Where the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is preached and proclaimed, missions will not spin off to a liberal shell of a lifeless message but will stay true to what God has commanded the church to be in the Scriptures.” (pg 198)

His concern is valid: If we remove the wrath of God punishing sin, what restraint do we have? My answer is that we have three restraints: The Holy Spirit, our individual conscience and our communal justice structures.

Many gospels

As I discuss many issues online and in person, I always strive to bring the conversation back to some element of the gospel. By doing this, I have uncovered an array of gospels that are shaky and non-fulfilling at best. Most of the time people confuse our response to the gospel with the gospel message itself.

Here are some “gospels” I have heard preached and how they relate to the five explicit “gospel of” messages in Scripture.

  • Deathbed gospel – this message places primary importance on the day of death. The message says that the good news is that if on the day you die, you have repented of all grave or gross sins, you get into Heaven. This is based on the 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelations lists. I see this as a distortion of the gospel of salvation.
  • Hamster Wheel gospel – this message places primary importance on getting rid of sin in the present. The message says that the good news is that you have power through the cross to make your self and your life more and more sin-free. I see this as a distortion of the gospel of grace.
  • Prosperity gospel – this message places primary importance on blessing. The message says that the good news is that God will bless you, if you obey. This message is rooted in the Old Covenant way of blessing and curse for obedience and disobedience. I see this as a distortion of the gospel of peace.
  • Mission gospel – This message places primary importance on evangelization. The message says that the good news is that  you get to be a missionary. If you are not preaching or teaching someone then you are not a true or good Christian. I see this as a distortion of the gospel of the kingdom.
  • Glory gospel – This message places primary importance on self-gain. The message says that the more glory and honor and fame you seek, the more God is glorified. It says we should do big things for God and gather many possessions for the glory of God. This may be rooted in Abraham’s lifestyle or other figures in the Bible. I see this as a distortion of the gospel of God’s glory.

Tough challenge

Are you prepared to die for the gospel?

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35 ESV

Making it simple

The gospel is Jesus Himself. To know the truth of a person, we must dialogue. To know the gospel more and more, we must learn to listen to God’s voice more and more, and grow into the mystery that is Christ in us. In this sense we can know the gospel messages more and more deeply.

But that is often complex and nebulous. So to me, the simple gospel is this: love everyone. Learn how to love your enemy, “those people”, the “gross”, the “icky”, and everyone you encounter.

Love. That is my gospel. And I am willing to die for it. What is your gospel?

140 comments

  1. yellowblossom

    This an excellent article for thought. What is th gospel? A set of rules and regulations? A mission? An idea?

    No, it is Jesus! Jesus loved us to the pt of death. He loves us. We should love others. Period.

    What is love? In UBF services we kinda have this vague idea of love. But if you look closely , who is rally genuinely showing love among us? This is just an opinion and again I do not know…but based on what I can see…the love only extends as far as to “cowork” and to “shepherd sheep”. Is that all Jesus is? Shouldn’t we be molded in his image? Do we really spend time loving others and serving? I must have written hundreds of testimonies on how I will serve campus sheep. That’s all serving is. And serve them how? Without knowing them or caring for their pain and who they are as individuals I’m just going to say…here you go! Answer this question sheet for bible study and let’s study! Is that really all love is????

  2. The gospel is such a difficult thing to nail down in words. Seeing as how I’m going through yet another significant shift in how I view theology, I would start by talking about the gospel in apophatic terms, i.e. what it is not. The gospel is certainly not mission. This was my thinking for several years of my Christian life. Also, we severely limit the scope of the gospel when we distill it down to “Jesus died for my sins” or through his sacrifice we’ve gained entrance into heaven when we die. This is what I’m coming around to these days:

    The gospel or good news is God’s revelation that he is love. More specifically, from time immemorial, he existed as a community of loving beings in whose image mankind was made in and meant to emulate. The time has come to displace the primitive idea of a vengeful, furious and ultimately wrathful God, who is as such because his inherent holiness constantly and unapologetically provokes him to lash out at incorrigible human beings. This image must give way to that of an infinitely patient and caring God who deeply understands our humanity, because after all, he became one of us and even now, still retains his humanity. He was brave and loving enough to suffer with us. Thus he is tirelessly invested in guiding us to continually evolve, both emotionally and mentally. He will both love and advocate for us through both the great and ghastly parts of this journey.

    Armed with this idea of God’s good news, humanity is equipped with a kind of freedom in which we can strive to extend copious amounts of grace and understanding toward one another and to ultimately unite as one race which is set on reflecting an increasingly sharpened view of God as time progresses. As this image comes into sharper focus, heaven or shalom on earth will become more of a tangible, everyday part of our reality.

    That’s all I got for now.

    • “The gospel or good news is God’s revelation that he is love.”

      I really like that, David. Such beauty. Love is not only something God does, but love is who God is. God is love.

  3. bekamartin

    Thank you! Excellent insights!

  4. I feel like I can never tire of delving into the gospel. There are so many ways to articulate this all-surpassing truth; so many ways to look at this manifold divine wisdom. The gospel ocean is so refreshing to swim in.

    One essence of the gospel is hope. We have a real, living hope in the person of Jesus.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have hope for these five human problems?

    Death. What hope is there in death? The gospel of Jesus tells us there is the hope of an eternal life. Our journey of life is never-ending. That is our salvation.

    Sin. What hope is there in sin? We cannot possibly remove all sin from our lives. We sin because we are sinners. We intend to do right but end up doing wrong. The gospel of Jesus tells us there is hope even though we do wrong. Our confession of sin is always available. That is our grace.

    Restlessness. What hope is there in the restlessness and anxieties of life? We all get fearful. Something will make us anxious. The gospel of Jesus tells us there is hope in the midst of our fear and angst. The promises of God light our path. If God promised it, we can believe it. That is our peace.

    Curse. What hope is there when our work is cursed? Sometimes the universe just seems to be against us. Call it karma if you want. Our world crashes and burns. The gospel of Jesus tells us there is a power to break the curse. Christ in you. That is the mystery. That is our kingdom.

    Shame. What hope is there in our shame? We all have something we are ashamed of, something we wished we did not have or do or say. The gospel of Jesus says there is hope beyond our shame. We can see the beauty of our Messiah, our Lamb, our Lion. That is our glory.

    • yellowblossom

      It is for the gospel that I can now live and breathe. Fully. I am free

      I left one stage of my life, through the door God opened and I seek His truth. Thank you Brian and all of you on ubffriends.

      I now leave UBF with peace.

    • yellowblossom,

      It’s been a privilege to share in this last part of this phase of your journey. Your thoughts are clear and your words are edifying.

      Some things I learned along the way:

      – I find it healthier to keep ubf in my life narrative, rather than write that part out completely. Some of my friends won’t ever mention those three letters again. But I for one will not fail to mention ubf in my story.

      – I was surprised to find “trauma triggers” buried in my actions. For example, I started serving communion right away in our new church. But I became physically sick when I ran out of “Jesus’ blood” and had to stay away from church for awhile. I also had difficulty taking group photos for quite some time.

      – The decision to leave is important personally because it is likely the first real decision you’ve made on your own in a long time. But I always remember that to be “in” or “out” is not important at all. It’s not really as big of a deal as some will make it. You will certainly not be cursed for such a decision. If something bad happens after leaving, it is not God’s anger toward you for leaving.

  5. Thanks Brian for linking many of the articles I had written in my attempt to link life/my life to the gospel, including my love of movies. I re-read one of my favorite personal testimonies about God’s grace to me – http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/09/26/my-gospel-story-of-gods-grace/ If you get a chance give it a quick read and let me know your thoughts and reflections.

    What is the gospel? The gospel is “done” not “do.” (Though repentance and faith is our response to the gospel, yet the gospel is not repentance nor faith nor mission, as Dave says.) The gospel is what God has done for us entirely by his grace through Jesus. The gospel is forgiveness, mercy, kindness and generosity we received out of the bountiful goodness, grace and glory of God to bless us and love us, despite our sins. The gospel is God saves sinners. The gospel is John 3:16.

    • I really like this though I tend to forget it: “The gospel is “done” not “do.” I think I mixed in some “do” in my articulations here.

      Looking back at your gospel story Ben, I see that you expressed three times in your journey when the gospel was revealed in greater clarity: your mystical conversion experience, your million dollar sin and your wife’s love. I think that is beautiful. Our journey with God began the moment we were born. God never left us.

  6. mrkim, HappyPinnky,

    Let’s do a reset. What is your gospel? What are your thoughts on any of these gospel ideas here or elsewhere?

    • mrkimmathclass

      Thank you for inviting me again.
      I think that David and Ben already explained about Gospel well. That is what I learned through Bible study also. Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from death and gave us the hope of resurrection as children of God. That hope gives us strength and power to overcome the world and live by faith, repenting of our sins as Ben said.

    • Joe Schafer

      Can you explain what you mean by “overcome the world”? It seems you view life as a war. What are you fighting against, and what are you fighting for?

    • mrkimmathclass

      1 John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

      We live as pilgrims in this world. We don’t follow the pattern of the world. But to do so, we need to overcome the world. We are distracted and tempted in this world. But, Jesus overcome the world. And we, as God’s children, can overcome the world when we follow Jesus. That is all I meant.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, MrKim, that’s what I suspected you meant. Thank you for clarifying.

      Here is a summary of the gospel that I picked up while in UBF.

      I was taught that I needed to overcome “the world.” That term “the world” included all people and all activities that were not directly related to my true mission, the actual purpose of my life, which was to study and teach the Bible and raise disciples who were willing to study teach the Bible and raise disciples. That narrow slice of humanity and human activity (the part that was consistent with the goals of UBF) was the part that was truly good, and everyone and everything else was something that I needed to overcome.

      My relationship to “the world” (covering the vast majority of people and activities that take place on this planet) was an adversarial relationship. All those people and all that stuff was an enemy that I needed to fight against and overcome. Those people and that stuff didn’t really matter anyway, because my true home was not this world, my true home was in heaven. All those people and all that stuff were the wicked things and the chaff that would be blown away according to Psalm 1.

      And I was taught that Jesus died and rose in order to defeat/overcome world. By myself, I did not have the power to defeat/overcome the world. By studying the Bible and by “just believing” in Jesus, I could gain spiritual power to defeat/overcome the world. In practice, however, I would still make many mistakes because I was not perfect. Most of my mistakes came from not studying the Bible enough, by not believing enough, because I loved this world too much, or because I was too proud and full of human thinking, or because I was lazy and didn’t want to carry out my mission. Those mistakes were bad, but in the end they didn’t matter because Jesus died for my sins and he would make up the difference, so I would still go to heaven and get some kind of reward anyway. I could increase my heavenly reward by feeding more sheep and making lots of disciples as Jesus commanded.

      My understanding of the gospel was summarized in this verse which I call JoeUBF 3:16.

      “For God was so disappointed in the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall come out of his sinful and meaningless life, into a glorious life of mission, teaching the Bible and raising disciples in obedience to the world mission command, putting aside everything else in this world in order to gain an eternal reward in heaven reserved for those who teach the Bible and raise disciples in obedience to the world mission command.”

      I was convinced that this was Jesus and the apostles taught and this is what the early Christians believed.

      And when I read the Bible, I was able to fit everything I saw into this framework. When I encountered parts of the Bible that I could not force into this theology (the vast majority of the Bible, actually), my eyes just skipped over those parts; I didn’t even see them.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Joe,
      I said what Jesus said.
      And do I have bad relationship with non christians? No. How can I introduce Jesus to them? I don’t understand your interpretation.

    • mrkimmathclass

      I think that you are preoccupied by too many negative thoughts. Even though I talk about what Jesus said, you say many thoughts which you already have in your mind as if I think that way. I think that is not good habit of discussion.

    • Joe Schafer

      MrKim, I read your words very carefully. Yes, you quoted from the Bible. That is good. Quoting from the Bible demonstrates that you know how to quote from the Bible.

      I shared a summary of the gospel that I picked up in UBF. This is genuinely what I was taught by UBF missionaries, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. My wife agrees that this is an accurate summary of what we were taught.

      You say that I am preoccupied with too many negative thoughts. Honestly, you really don’t know what occupies my thoughts. But thank you for your concern.

    • HappyPinnky

      For me 1Coeinthians 15 summarizes well my understanding of the gospel.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Joe,
      What you wrote is very different from my opinion and I explained it. But you say that no I am wrong I think as you said. I cannot accept it. There might be huge misunderstang. You are misleading readers.

    • mrkimmathclass

      I don’t know which ubf attended and who was your bible teacher. You were taught very wrong way or you didn’t understand your bible teacher’s teaching. And your wife too.

      Point is that what you said above is not my idea and don’t force it.

      I follow Jesus. I love people, Christians or non-Christians. I have good friendship with them. But I don’t follow their life style especially phylosophy. I follow the way of Jesus which is very different from the viewpoint of worldly people. I want them to do as I do. I want them to love Jesus and live the way of Jesus in stead of following their instinct or sinful nature.

      And I believe that there is nothing wrong in what I said.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Sorry about mentioning your wife. I hope I can take it out. I thought I read that your wife agreed —. But it was not. I am sorry for the wife matter. Don’t take it personally.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Happy,
      I think you gave us the best answer.
      That chapter tells us the gospel perfectly.
      There is nothing to add or subtract.

    • Joe Schafer

      MrKim, I attended UBF in several chapters and spent a great deal of time in your chapter. I attended Sunday worship in your chapter almost every week for about three years. I studied the messages of Samuel Lee and relied heavily on his manuscripts every week for many years. I was personally trained by him, though not as much as Ron Ward, Mark Vucekovich and others because I didn’t live in Chicago year round but only a few months per year. I listened to hundreds of hours of SLs announcements and thousands of testimonies (sogams) of people who based their sogams closely on the manuscripts of SL. I studied one-to-one with James H. Kim and with Sarah Barry. I received message training from Mark Vucekovich, Paul Hong, Jacob Lee, Mark Yang, John Jun and others. What I said about the gospel is consistent with what I heard from these people.

    • mrkimmathclass

      Joe,

      Still, your idea of our gospel is very different from my idea and Bible teachers who taught me. M. Mark Yang is one of them. He never taught that way.

      What I don’t understand you is this:
      I am the one who gave how I think of the gospel but you insist that I have different concept of gospel because of your former experience. How do you say about this? Stereotype? or Prejudice?

      Again, here, I gave my opinion as one individual not as the representative of some ubf people who gave you different impression of the Bible and gospel. And you mentioned the names above, I can say that if all the people have the same teaching with missionary Mark Yang, then, I have to disagree with you that they taught you that way.

    • Joe Schafer

      And whenever we studied 1 Corinthians 15 (almost every year) the messages always focused on penal substitutionary atonement (PSA). When Paul wrote, “I want to remind you of the gospel,” we were always taught that this meant we needed to go back and re-aacept PSA because that was the gospel. And everything that Paul said about the resurrection of the body, we interpreted as going to heaven after you die.

    • Joe Schafer

      Fortunately I didn’t have to work closely with Mark Yang. After I learned some of the things he and Anna Yang did in Korea and in Champaign-Urbana, and after I read his Ph.D. thesis. I’m glad I haven’t interacted with him that much.

    • Joe, was PSA actually explicitly mentioned ( actual name) in those Bible studies?

    • “I’m glad I haven’t interacted with him that much.”

      I am DOUBLE glad that I missed that “blessing” as well. The ubf echelon ought to be in jail. But of course they will just keep “preaching the gospel”.

    • Joe Schafer

      No, peter. PSA is a theological term that was unknown to me. No one in UBF called it PSA. But if you look at any of SL’s messages on 1 Corithians 15 (part 1) that is what he taught, and that is what we believed was “the gospel.” Those messages by SL became the model for what UBF messengers preached everywhere.

      Peter, have you seen this sermon that I delivered a couple of years ago? It summarizes a lot of what I believe about sin and the gospel.

      http://www.ubfriends.org/?s=sermon+wrath

    • Joe Schafer

      MrKim, what I wrote earlier was not what I believe the gospel to be. If you want a positive statement of what I actually believe about the gospel, take a look at this sermon. Please critique it if you like.

      http://www.ubfriends.org/?s=sermon+wrath

    • Joe Schafer

      MrKim, I was not offended at all by your mentioning of my wife. Her Bible teacher was Ben Toh. Perhaps Ben can chime in.

      Ben, if you allow for some sarcasm and hyperbole, do you think my description is accurate? Were these the kinds of teachings and attitudes about the gospel that one of your Bible students might have picked up in your fellowship and in Chicago UBF during the late 1980s?

  7. “Our confession of sin is always available. That is our grace. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18262

    I am still working out the tie between forgiveness and confession. More than any other aspect of the gospel, these two seem inseparable. We seem to not find the forgiveness of God without forgiving each other. Forgiving those who wronged me is the only way I could move on with my life.

    • yellowblossom

      Yes, forgiveness.

      I forgive and pray for forgiveness. God opened my mouth to speak and I left. Now I need to move .thats a small step in comparison to the fullness of God I seek. Yesterday I sat down with my shepherd and told her the truth…God leads me. I am leaving UBF. And I am thankful and hurt and bruised in my heart for what has been done, the great love among us, the great pain, the great changes that must come to this ministry. As I leave, I pray for them and for this ministry to be what God molds it…a blessing to others. I pray to be a blessing too one day and lift His name. I pray God may forgive me and them and us. And May Jesus name be lifted up.

    • yellowblossom

      “Forgiving ..is the only way I could move on”- Brian, me too.

      Our Father loves and leads.

  8. Joe Schafer

    For those who think they know what the gospel is, here is an extended quotation worth pondering. It comes from the first chapter of Simply Good News by N.T. Wright.

    #######

    Good Advice, Wrong News

    In many churches, the good news has subtly changed into good advice: Here’s how to live, they say. Here’s how to pray. Here are techniques for helping you become a better Christian, a better person, a better wife or husband. And in particular, here’s how to make sure you’re on the right track for what happens after death. Take this advice: say this prayer and you’ll be saved. You won’t go to hell; you’ll go to heaven. Here’s how to do it.

    This is advice, not news.

    The whole point of advice is to make you do something to get a desired result. Now, there’s nothing wrong with good advice. We all need it. But it isn’t the same thing as news. News is an announcement that something significant has happened. And good news is what Jesus and his first followers were all about.

    At this point someone will object, “My church hasn’t forgotten the good news! We know that Jesus died for our sins! He took our punishment so that we could go to heaven! Isn’t that good news? If you thought you were destined for hell and suddenly someone told you God had done something about it, wouldn’t that be good news?”

    Well, yes, it would. But— and this is the shocking and difficult thing for many people— that isn’t exactly the good news Jesus and the early church were talking about.

    In other words, while some Christian teachers have exchanged good news for good advice, others have preserved the gospel as news, but they are telling a different story from what the New Testament authors meant by good news.

    Yes, the good news is indeed about Jesus, and about his death and resurrection in particular. Yes, this good news does indeed open up a vision of an ultimate future beyond death, so that we live in hope and joy meanwhile. But the usual heaven-and-hell scheme, however popular, distorts the Bible’s good news. Over many centuries, Western churches have got the story wrong. They have forgotten what the backstory is (the larger story that gives meaning and context to the good news). As a result, the news that bursts in upon it means something significantly different, and the long-range vista opened up by this news means something different again.

    This affects everything: how we understand our relationship to God, our future, our responsibilities as a church and as disciples, and much more.

    My main point, then, is that the Christian message is about good news, not good advice. And one of the reasons we need to sort this out is that many people have lived with a distorted version of the good news.

    Wright, N. T. (2015-01-06). Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good (pp. 4-5). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    • Joe Schafer

      And one more quote:

      ###

      The problem with explaining the gospel this way is that Jesus himself didn’t actually say much about heaven in the sense we normally mean it. When he spoke of heaven’s kingdom, he wasn’t talking about a place called heaven to which people might or might not go after they die. He was talking about something that would become a reality “as in heaven, so on earth” (Matt. 6: 10). So instead of suggesting that we could escape the earth to go to heaven, Jesus’s good news was about heaven coming to earth. And there are many people inside and outside the church who have never heard this news. It isn’t only the atheists who have got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

      Wright, N. T. (2015-01-06). Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good (pp. 6-7). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    • Joe, Wright’s words sting: Am I giving good advice or good news? I want to keep this in mind and re-process many things.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, Wright’s words are hard to take. We are all processing this together.

  9. I am trying to figure out what it means to live in freedom as a result of the gospel. I also sometimes think about just exactly what Christ’s death means for me. I find just saying that He died for my sins to be a bit vague because sin is not properly defined by people.

    And also, the consideration of the law on our lives is a big topic in the gospel. In Romans 5 and 7, the idea seems to be presented that when Christ died for you, you have been released from the law, meaning that lawkeeping is no longer your slave-master because you have actually in a real sense, died. And someone who has died is thus no longer bound by law. When did you actually die? You were crucified with Christ. His death is your death. Thus Christ’s death was sovereign over your forgiveness and also your freedom.

    One of the practical areas of thinking about the gospel, I think then, is how you process law keeping in your life.

    • Joe Schafer

      “I find just saying that He died for my sins to be a bit vague because sin is not properly defined by people. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18276

      peter, I strongly agree. What is your understanding of sin?

    • It’s hard to define sin and I don’t have a comprehensive definition. But I don’t think it is limited or even defined to the outward actions, like smoking, drinking, etc. It is what causes the whole creation to groan in the pains of childbirth in Rom 8, and what causes us to groan inwardly. I have a hard time finding the right words to make this more clear.

      One thing that stuck with me for a while now is how Dr. Piper described sin and its wages in a sermon on Rom 6: sin is work. THe process of sinning is work, very hard work if you think about it, and the wages of this life of work is death. To this I would add that repentance is to turn away from a life of working towards God and to accept the free gift from God. This free gift is directly the opposite of a life of work which is living for sin – it is the calling to stop all of your working (law-keeping in a sense), and the wages of this work is death. If anyone disagrees, please feel free to comment.

    • Joe Schafer

      I used to listen to John Piper and I liked his messages for a short time. But I concluded that his view of God is not classically Trinitarian. Yes, he believes in the doctrine of the trinity. But the way he talks about God is driven by Puritan theology (Jonathan Edwards) more than the ancient creeds and the Great Tradition.

    • Yellow,

      From reading your comment I can see the missionaries experienced a lot pain, and I am sorry human beings had to experience this. Yes they were sincere and just tried to do what they believed was God’s calling. I hope the Holy Spirit comforts you at this time, and even so the sincere missionaries.

  10. Yes, Joe, the gospel means “good news” (evangelion). The gospel is thus not good advice, but good news. The gospel is NOT repent, believe, obey, be thankful, live a life of mission, or even overcome the world. These may all be good advice, but they are NOT good news; they are not the gospel.

    Christians often think that if they tell others to do the right thing according to the Bible, they have then done their job and preached the gospel. Telling someone to be thankful (which is great advice) is not the gospel. Telling someone or even telling yourself to overcome your problem is also not the gospel.

    This week I heard a short and simple quote from John Milton: “Commands are not constraints.” I think that if Christians understood this, they will be a lot wiser and more influential and more “gospel centered.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, the gospel is good news. But the good news comes only after you accept the bad news. So listen up.

      The bad news is that you are living a sinful, empty and meaningless life. You picked up this empty way of life from your ancestors, which I can prove by quoting 1 Peter 1:18. What? You don’t believe that everything you have done in your life until now is empty and worthless? I am just telling you plainly what the Bible says, and if you disagree it is because your hart has been hardened. And you see all those people living out there in the world? Some of them look like good people. But their goodness is just an illusion. Unless they are doing what they are doing in the name of Jesus and carrying out God’s mission it is just meaningless and empty.

      The good news is that, if you take my advice and just believe in Jesus and just study the Bible and just commit your life to Jesus and just come to lots of meetings and just marry by faith and just … then you will have a happy, beautiful and meaningful life with abundant joy and blessing!!! And if you don’t experience that, then it’s because you didn’t believe enough and you didn’t try hard enough. So it’s better to just say that your life is full of abundant blessing no matter what, because if you say anything negative you will be unthankful and preoccupied with negative thoughts which is bad for you and if you become difficult you will be a bad influence on everyone around you.

      And the greatest news of all is that, if you remain faithful to the end, you will eventually become a world-class Bible teacher and shepherd like us, and you will receive a great reward in heaven. Praise God!

      (Sorry, Ben, I couldn’t resist. Was that too naughty?)

    • HappyPinnky

      Hi Joe

      Regarding to your questions what is sin? I was reminded of a talk that Ravi Zachariah gave at one conference.

      He was taking about John Wesleys Struggle to understand the concept of sin in his teen years. So he asked his mother. This is what his mother said (Not exact words)
      ” Whatever in this world takes your passion and love away from God from God, that is a sin”

      Of course often we hear evangelicals saying that sin is missing a mark.

      I really liked the answers that Zacharias gave. I’m coming to conclusion, that lukewarmness in my life is most horrible sin. It is worse than porn or anger at times.

      Basically for me Christianity is relationship. Likewise, we would all probably agree that lukewarm and nominal relationship is the ultimate sin, and that not even quarrels, clashes, nor watching things we shouldn’t watch is worse than nominal relationship.

    • Joe Schafer

      HP, I think you are right. Sin is relational. We won’t understand what sin is until we understand the positive side, which is the kinds of relationships that God wants us to have with him, with other people, and with the created world.

    • Joe, it was naughty but also fun. It’s like you spelled out how I communicated Christianity for the first 25+ years of my ubf life until probably about half a dozen years ago.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, just to be clear: You are agreeing that these are the kinds of messages about the gospel that were spread by some people and picked up by some people in UBF.

      I would like to clarify this for the benefit of MrKim. When I described the gospel I learned in UBF, he became upset with me. He implied that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I hadn’t really learned from my teachers, or that I was lying or spinning the truth. I did not claim that this was his experience. I said it was my experience. He did not believe that it was possible for me to learn those things in UBF.

    • Yes, that’s unfortunate. Here’s a Tim Keller quote I posted five years ago on Facebook that might go over the head of many Christians who are quite sincere, pious and “religious”: “The gospel is more threatening to religious people than irreligious people (for it) insists that their best deeds are useless before God.”

    • Another of my Facebook quotes from five years ago: “The greatest enemies of the evangelical faith today are not unbelievers, but the church, the establishment, the hierarchy.” John Stott.

    • Not for stirring the pot, but just to concur, what Joe described above is what I essentially heard for many years (and when I look at the content of the current messages there exists a strong underlying implication of these teachings). It sounds comical and absurdist in the description, but if I were to distill it down, that’s the message in a nutshell.

      But I believe that there are quite a few who want to transition out of this way of thinking, but perhaps they are still in the minority.

    • yellowblossom

      Gospel is love of Jesus
      When my shepherd asked me for my reason of leaving, that is my reason. I want to seek love of Christ and the gospel. It will be difficult because I was taught exactly the way Joe explained the UBF way that was taught to him. It was taught that way to me too.
      Yesterday , one by one the missionaries whom by the way I love as my own family, tried to convince me to stay. They testified one by one the struggles and the sacrifices in UBF they had to make and overcome. They said that once I pass this stage, I will be happy. I kist need to pray.
      They gave their lives for this mission! That too is very important to understand. That ,many of these people are doing this out of sincere pure heart, out of what they believe is God’s calling. It is this that breaks my heart much more than simply telling them I will leave in two weeks from common life . From today I attend another church services while still living with the UBF ppl. This tears my heart to the point of constantly reminding myself by reading hundreds of comments here and testimonies and remembering what happened…the reasons why I leave now and that there is no turning back.

      I too thought this was my mission. I was ready to go to another country as a missionary, to leave everyone I loved. My parents especially . Who moved here when I was a little girl, to America from a communist country to give us all a better life. And yet, I was about to leave them out of a calling that I received, not from Gid but from UBF members and their prayers. Specifically my shepherd, who I know meant well for me and loved me. Today is mother s day. Every mother s day I gave her a gift, a card, and a hug. I won’t ever be able to do that from today! It is heartbreaking after all she has done for me and all the heart she put into me. It hurts. But again, I know that if I do not leave, I am not serving the gospel…the real gospel. There is no sincere love among us, but many many rules and regulations that keep people in check. There are broken people here who love Jesus, but cannot stand each other. There are others who simply do not understand why so many growing bible students like me have left. One missionary , to whom I was as close as my own aunt, she asked me sincerely with tears in her eyes;”why is his happening? Tell me the truth! What is wrong in our ministry that people like you leave? ” she was heartbroken. I tried to explain all we said here on this site. But she couldn’t understand. And left. I kept sitting at the table with an unfinished coffee in my hands, deep sadness in my heart, but peace …overwhelming peace …because I knew for the first time I had a real honest conversation, not with a missionary, but with a human being who was sincerely asking me “why? What is wrong?”

      One word: May God open all of our eyes to the truth

    • Yellowblossom, thank you for your willingness to continue to share your story as things are happening. Although, I am still in UBF, I will re-tell some things maybe stated before.

      I left my home chapter in 2009 spring after many years there. The chapter director’s wife called me aside one day as she knew I was leaving. She shared her experiences and sacrifices (She was among the first woman missionaries in Canada.) My heart was moved and I was full of emotion. But, I just stood my ground and coldly walked out. After a couple of weeks in another city with my family, my mom and others encouraged me to give the local chapter a try…I did and the rest is history. That being said, I am still tossing the coin after all that has happened, when in fact I return to my country or not. I am rather in UBF at this point on an understanding to my wife, because our chapter in Korea is actually not terrible, but does have elements of what we are all talking about.

      Anyway, keep pushing forward and don’t look back. It is a hard, emotional decision to make, but try not to get drawn in to the emotional posturing of the missionaries and their sacrifices.

  11. HappyPinnky,

    Yes 1 Corinthians 15 summarizes the facts of the gospel quite well. What message do these facts tell? What was God announcing to the world through those facts? We can assemble those gospel facts into many kinds of messages. I’m seeking to learn what message we are sending and how to clarify that message. Any thoughts?

  12. mrkim,

    Those are the facts of the gospel, yes. But what message are we supposed to send with that gospel? You mentioned one message: hope. I agree. Is our gospel hope only for the future in Heaven? Is there any gospel hope for this life?

    “Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from death and gave us the hope of resurrection as children of God.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18293

  13. Oh for crying out loud James mrkim!

    “I have to disagree with you that they taught you that way. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18302

    You have no right to dictate other people’s reality. If Joe says that is how he was taught, that’s how he was taught. In fact, that is essentially how I was taught. Everyone at ubf was taught nearly the same way.

    Yes we all know 1 Corinthians 15. It was DRILLED into us by memorization every freaking Easter. Just memorize the gospel facts huh? That’s all there is to the gospel message?

    Your words continue to demonstrate classic cult manipulation mrkim. You cannot dictate your reality onto everyone else.

  14. I was pleased to see Mr. Kim come back and state his view of the gospel. In my opinion, the response to his view has not been so kind. It’s almost as if he’s being treated as a scapegoat, as if he is a representative of some of the worst elements of UBF and thus has become the focus of some kind of retributive excoriation. Can’t we just take his words at face value and leave it at that? Or, if there is any criticism, to state this in a more charitable manner? The gospel is a complex matter, so why not be more gracious toward one another as we parse this out?

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, David, I wasn’t gentle with him. I did treat him as a representative of UBF because his words triggered memories of lots of things that I heard missionaries say over the years, things that I believe were damaging to my faith. In my last comment, I tried to engage him in a more positive way.

    • Thanks, Joe.

    • No I can’t do that David. Sorry. I’m out. I will have to excuse myself from this conversation.

      mrkim and HP are displaying too many cult manipulation techniques (which they probably are not even away of). They were conditioned just as I was. Their words are not new–that is how all the Korean ubf missionaries and other shepherds spoke to me. The goal is to get people to agree that they are right. And to convince me that they have the right to dictate my feelings, my thinking and my life.

      No I cannot treat them in any nicer way. I’ll check back later but yet again neither of them have made no effort to respond to my honest questions.

    • I understand, Brian and thanks for initiating this topic. I hope that we can all continue this discussion at some point because it was shaping up to be a really good one.

    • It would be nice to see more open dialogue, but I believe it is not time at the moment. I never liked the silences, but now I can see that the interaction between Mr. Kim and HP has been improving.

      I suppose for many who have had enough of UBF the trinity could be re-arranged to fit SL-SB-Personal Shepherd or something like that. While the community of ubfriends could appear to UBFers like Ben-Joe-Brian – whatever any of that means…

      In any case, I hope we can overcome misunderstandings.

  15. Found a good article critiquing PSA and the common notion of sin (sorry in advance for the long quote, but it’s good stuff):

    Tim Keller, when explaining the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement to Oxford students, put it like this (I’m paraphrasing): if you break my lamp, I can either demand that you make restitution, or I can decide to forgive and forget–but even if I decide to forgive and forget, I will have to pay a cost. Either I do without the lamp, or I have to buy a new lamp. I bear a cost.

    By the same token, even if God wants to forgive sin, he has to pay some cost.

    To which I can only answer: um, excuse me, but who made up that rule and told God he had to follow it? Why does he have to follow it?

    Of course, you can say that it’s not a rule that God has to follow, it’s a necessity that follows from his attribute of goodness or justice. Except that it follows from a notion of justice that is, it seems to me, simplistic, and, well, un-Christian and un-Biblical. Just like the Cross is not some exception to God’s power and sovereignty, but rather God showing us what his power actually IS like, and challenging our human notions of power, God’s mercy, God’s abundant and supererogatory desire, amply attested to in Scripture, to forgive all sins, is not an exception to justice, or something that is to be held in tension with justice, but rather God’s true definition of justice, revealed by God in Christ, which smashes our human definitions of justice like a potter’s vessel.
    At the risk of being accused of caricature, it does seem to me to be premised on the idea of some great cosmic balance sheet that must be balanced somehow. Because we were bankrupt, Jesus injected cash to keep us a going concern. Penal substitutionary atonement, if driven by the very laudable pastoral concern to get rid of sin accounting at the level of the individual, only does so by reestablishing sin accounting at a cosmic level, and making it the binding rule of God’s justice.

    It seems to me that, in turn, the root of this problem is a misguided understanding of sin. The classical Christian doctrine of sin always refers to a relational reality. Sin is not any actual thing, it is, rather, so to speak, an aspect or quality of my relationship with God. I did not break God’s lamp. But I did insult him. If you insult me, I can, actually, sovereignly decide to forgive you, at no cost to either of us. You are then free to refuse the offer of forgiveness, and live with the consequences of that, but that is a different matter.

    This is something on which Thomas Aquinas is very helpful, and absolutely clear: God did not need the Cross in order to forgive sin. God’s forgiveness of sin is simply the product of his merciful and sovereign desire to forgive sin. Period.http://www.patheos.com/blogs/inebriateme/2014/11/thoughts-against-penal-substitutionary-atonement/

    • Joe Schafer

      David, this is very helpful. If this is what someone were to preach as penal substitution, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. I have never heard things like this preached in UBF though. (Except by younger people at The Well and other places where they are informed by Tim Keller and other great teachers.)

    • I understand what you mean about the damaging elements of UBF teaching on this. I feel as though I greatly benefited from the teaching of PSA in the beginning. But year after year, there was no nuance added to it and furthermore it was used as a sort of panacea. And in some cases it was used to ignore relational issues or cover up certain behavior. In that sense, it became abusive. But I think if taught rightly and with some depth, it can be very helpful. I still think that there are problems with it, which is why I find this critique intriguing.

      I’m busy with some work today, so I’m reading through the article in bits and pieces. But I like how the author points out that PSA may arise more from a notion of our sense of justice rather than out of a realization of who God is and how he regards sin as a relational matter as opposed to an objective one.

  16. The main reason why UBF focuses on 1 Cor 15 is the last verse of the chapter which is used by UBF as a conclusion and summary of everything: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.” Of course, UBF people equate “the work of the Lord” with “UBF” and the believe “stand firm, let nothing move you” means “no reform, let no reasonable argument or fact change the preconceived UBF understanding of the Bible and your loyalty to UBF.” This is the gospel of UBF.

    By the way, in my 10 years of UBF we studied 1Cor15 every year, but we never studied any other chapter of 1Cor or 2Cor with many wonderful chapters which contain many things that contradict the UBF gospel. We also never studied Galatians, for the same reason. But every year we heard “stand firm” and “give yourself fully to the work of the Lord aka UBF”. And no, there was no misunderstanding involved. UBF was always the same as the work of the Lord and the work of the Lord was always the same as UBF.

    If I need to summarize the gospel with one simple verse then it’s “God is love”. This is from 1 John 4 – another of those epistles we never studied in my 10 years of UBF. But maybe that would not even have helped, because words like “love” had been loaded and redefined in UBF, and we never thought about the deeper meaning of such words.

    • A few years back we studied through 1 & 2 Cor as well as Galatians. Galatians was particularly refreshing and eye-opening; it was the first time that I began to understand the nuances of the gospel, like how even licentiousness can be a form of legalism. I think it’s a letter that needs to be hammered over and over into the psyche of UBF, as Luther might say.

      I don’t deny that UBF has co-opted the end of 1 Cor 15 to promote it’s unique work. I think that it upholds that soldier mentality that was indicative of the ministry for so long. Anyway, our study of 1 & 2 Cor was a bit underwhelming. That’s a book that really forces you to face the relational issues in your ministry, which as we all know is problematic for UBF.

    • “By the way, in my 10 years of UBF we studied 1Cor15 every year, but we never studied any other chapter of 1Cor or 2Cor with many wonderful chapters which contain many things that contradict the UBF gospel.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18319

      This is true, but it also very easy to use these letters to promote other agendas as well. For instance, 1 Cor 1 can be used to promote anti-intellectualism, because ya know Paul didn’t bother himself with using eloquent arguments or fancy words (never mind Acts 17, just pretend that chapter doesn’t exist). He just preached Jesus and the cross! A lot of what’s written in those letters can be misconstrued if not placed in their proper context.

      And consider how these verses can be used:

      “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” – 1 Cor 4:15-16

    • Good points, David. Sure, there are many verses written by Paul taht are problematic and can be abused. I saw a church in which women had to wear headscarfs based on 1 Cor 11. I saw another church in which women were essentially deprived of all rights, they had to obey the men “in everything” based on Eph 5:24, and where women were forced to have many children based on 1 TIm 2:15.

      The verse you mentioned 1 Cor 4:15 is also very problematic, in which Paul wrote about himself as “father”. It is not problematic because I don’t like it, but because it directly contradicts what Jesus said in Mt 23:9 *and* also everything that Paul wrote in the chapter before, 1 Cor 3, if you interpret it superficially. By the way, several people reported that the UBF director in Bonn expected people to thank him in their testimonies by writing about the “birth-giving pains of the servant of God missionary Dr. P. C.” – in which he obviously used Gal 4:19 in a similar manner. That way they were conditioned to be eternally thankful to him. Isolated verses from the epistles were indeed sometimes (ab)used that way in UBF.

  17. Again, late and cannot really add anything. I agree with Brian – Love. God covers us with grace and love despite our condition as sinners. It is fantastic and marvelous. Even greater is how we can embrace one another despite failings and obstacles. In Christ we are equipped to love each other. Jesus forgives us and we must accept him, but we must also have a right relationship in love with others and in turn with Christ. All of these and more comprise love – keeping it short and also still meditative.

  18. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Today I heard a message from matthew 8. I don’t quite believe that the entirety of Jesus’ message is that since are saved from sin go make disciples.

    At any rate, I find it hard to fathom that in ubf god works are always bible study and fishing. This, as far as I have seen is a unique view. In every other church I’ve been in its thitheing or alms giving.

    For what it’s worth I once volunteered at a medical mission to send hospital supplies to the third world. i was gone all day. I say this, because when I mentioned to people in my chapter it barely registered.

    I few months earlier I had been fishing. This was talked about for weeks.

    I don’t get it.

    • I read this either in a book or a blog. There is a school teacher with 40 students in his class. This Christian teacher also leads a small group of 5-10 similar students in church on Sat. The church does not ever pray for him being with his 40 students for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, but only prays for him serving 5-10 students in church for an hour on Sat.

  19. “One missionary , to whom I was as close as my own aunt, she asked me sincerely with tears in her eyes;”why is his happening? Tell me the truth! What is wrong in our ministry that people like you leave? ” she was heartbroken. I tried to explain all we said here on this site. But she couldn’t understand. And left.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18331

    Thanks for sharing, Yellowblossom. This ubf missionary, I believe, is genuine and sincere. It is just sad that not only this missionary but likely countless other missionaries do not understand why countless genuine Christians like yourself finally decide to leave countless ubf chapters for another church.

    The key important question is “Why don’t so many UBF missionaries understand why genuine Christians are leaving UBF after many years of being fully committed to UBF?” What might be even more baffling is “why don’t they understand even if you tell them the reason why you are leaving?” I have my answers but I’m wondering what your answers are.

  20. Joe Schafer

    yellowblossom, thank you for sharing your story. It is incredibly sad. But I am glad that you were able to process what was happening and make this difficult decision. Those ten years of your life that you gave to UBF were not lost. UBF may have squandered those years, but God has not (2Tim 1:12).

    “Tell me the truth! What is wrong in our ministry that people like you leave? ” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18334

    Yes, that is the million dollar question.

    Now that yellowblossom is leaving, the leaders in her chapter are probably coming up with their own answers to that question and spreading them to try to minimize the damage. I have seen this too many times to count. How much better and healthier it would be for them to just listen to her words with an open mind and accept that yellowblossom’s version of the story reflects her actual experience in UBF.

    When yellowblossom says, “I know that if I do not leave, I am not serving the gospel…the real gospel” this should lead them to question whether they really do know what it means to serve the gospel, istead of just assuming that they already know and quoting a few Bible verses to prove they are correct.

    When yellowblossom says, “There is no sincere love among us, but many many rules and regulations that keep people in check,” this should lead them to question whether their community life is fueled by grace, love, and the work of the Holy Spirit, or whether it is driven by law, coercion, guilt-tripping and other forms of social manipulation.

    When yellowblossom says, “There are broken people here who love Jesus, but cannot stand each other,” they should realize that this is the actual testimony of someone who lived among them for ten years and who really does know what she is talking about.

    yellowblossom, if and when you hear people from your chapter coming up with their own versions of why you are leaving, it will be very painful. I hope and pray they won’t do this, but experience shows that they probably will. They may try very hard to rewrite the story of yellowblossom. But they cannot rewrite your story, because that story belongs to you.

    Perhaps you have heard this quote by Anne Lamott:

    ““You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    • Mark Mederich

      “many rules and regulations that keep people in check”: imprisoned in ole testament thinking..need Holy Spirit freedom

  21. Thanks again for sharing, yellowblossom.

    I hope and pray your chapter is more mature than my old chapter. I hope they do not whisper about your spiritual condition, wondering if you are demon-possessed. I hope they don’t suddenly speak of you in the third person, past-tense, as if you are dead. I hope they don’t send you a weak apology letter 3 years from now.

    Pastor Bryan asked me a shocking question the first time we had lunch. He asked, “Did they throw you a party?” I laughed out loud. I said, “Not exactly…”

    But Pastor Bryan was not joking. He was serious. He said that a Christian church celebrates the service of leaders. A Christian church listens to what long-time leaders and members have to say. He reminded me that I owe ubf nothing. If anything, they should celebrate the 24 years of voluntary service and the thousands of dollars of offering we made.

  22. HappyPinnky

    Yeah, it is sad reality in many chapters of how people who leave are spoken ill of and to certain extent demonized.

    I also heard many times of people who left, are spoken ill of.

    But I do remember that when several leaders left our ministry we actually did have special service dedicated to them and elders in our church blessed them with their consent.

    With many of them who left, we remained in good terms and even until this day they visit us or even ask for ubf bible materials for their own churches.

    Brian, I really did begin enjoying discussions here. I am sorry for being too blunt sometimes and saying things out of emotions. I already did that in the former blog.

    I do hope that we can indeed engage in good discussions.

    I think this was an excellent article that I still think about quite often.

    • Mark Mederich

      like a modern song: ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’:)

  23. HappyPinnky

    I’m still aware that I need to respond to your questions of what 1 Corinthians means to me. I’ll respond after more reading.

  24. HappyPinnky

    Today, I did my devotions on 1 Corinthians 15 and asked my self. I f I were given 1 minute to testify what gospel is, what would I say. This is what gospel means to me practically.it may sound too simplistic, and I’m sure that gospel is much deeper.

    1. I was in my sins and therefore separated from God. I was not able to rescue myself spiritually from condemnation to hell, and in this this life, I was bereft of enduring meaning and I was unable to overcome sins that devoured me on my own.

    2. Because of Christs resurrection, I’m who I am today. I am at peace with God since I have accepted Christ’s sacrifice and testified that I am unable to make it on my own. Now I have guarantee of eternal life if I persist in believing in the gospel, which would entail living up to my faith because every living faith is followed by evidence of good works. Thus I beleive that I am saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone. It is accompanied by evidence of good works. This is Norman Geisler in his book Catholics and Evangelicals Together. This is considered to be the standard reformation stance of faith vs works.

    3. Christs resurrection brings not only spiritual salvation. But it brings salvation and resurection to all spheres of my life. In my fight against the sins of this world. In my relationships with others. In my thinking. In my academic and career life. In my character.
    Not that gospel will make me rich and healthy, but that in everything and in all my difficult situations that I gave up in my former life, now, I have hope and I see the evidence that Holy Spirit is the one doing mighty transformations in all of them.

  25. HappyPinnky

    4. Thus my duty now is to preach the abide in Gods word and maintain passion for him over legalistic principles like devotions, sogams, etc.

    Thus I set into this world with a mission, a mission that does not merely extend to students and bible studies, which is one of the components but not the only one.

    I have mission to live a life full of love and compassion towards others. Mission to be good steward of family, secular job, church and etc. Mission to proclaim the gospel to others. Mission to alight my mouth with my life. Mission to love all Christians and to foster unification of Christians of different churches, and denominations because Christ will was for us to be one. And lastly, imitate Christ in al things. These are my missions.

    Our church strives for such unity among different Christians by having fellowship with different churches, going to their retreats, inviting them to enlighten us and etc.

  26. Joe Schafer

    HappyPinnky, thank you for returning and engaging in this discussion once again. I value your contributions very much, and I look forward to more comments from you.

    Your last comment is thoughtful and well spoken. It represents the best of what has been proclaimed in UBF. And it is a good summary of what is proclaimed in the western evangelical tradition. I do not want to denigrate anything that you said. I believe that what you said is a good and necessary part of a robust gospel faith. And it is something like what I might have said a few years ago, on one of my better days.

    One thing I noticed in your description is a heavy emphasis on your own salvation, your own life, your own character. I do not interpret those words to mean that you are self-centered or selfish. I take them to mean that your view of the gospel is rooted in a vision of personal salvation of individuals. The gospel certainly includes the message of personal salvation and a call to personal faith. But could you expand your statement to say something about what the gospel means for communities, societies, and the world (kosmos, as in John 3:16)? What role does the church play in your understanding of the gospel? Is the church just an environment to make individual disciples, or is it something more?

    • Joe Schafer

      OK, your last comment mentions some of this.

      Your last point about unity of the church is very important to me. It has been the key factor in my faith in recent years.

  27. HappyPinnky

    Hi Joe

    I think today we see two extremes.

    On one hand we see a church that is devoid of deoctrine and concrete commission. Rather such church is all about social work and etc. I think this is one extreme.

    On the other hand, we see a church that is so obsessed with mere Disicpleship, number and etc. To the point where everything else is ignored.

    I think a sound church has a clear identity based on principle of bible such as Timothy’s and Titus.

    A healthy church I think is one that produces Christians who practice their faith in all aspects of life in a balanced manner. Thus to me a Christians who merely spend time studying bible but ignoring his family and neglecting them is not a good standard.

    I think as a chruch, the greatest blessing that we can give to this world is the gospel. Yet we also need to be light in all other ways such as charity and etc.

    So far I see this in my church in terms of how we try to be light to the world and Christians,

    1. We preach the gospel. Group bible studies, one to ones, occasionally, etc.
    2. We provide social activities regardless of faith or motive in the name of Christ.
    3. We set monthly contributions to the help of destitute and victims.
    4. We strive to share our knowledge to other churches and learn from them also.
    5. We pray and support for number of partner churches and ministries outside of ubf.
    6. We strive to engage people with questions of life, where all people can come and have discussions on topics of life.
    7. We support missionaries.
    8. We work with local public schools and provide extracurricular activities such as showing a Christian movies and cartoons.
    9. Seldomly, we used to visit elderly houses and invite buns for dinners.
    10. We strive at least vision to become a community where each one is truly a brother and sister. I have noticed that I may know someone for long time yet I don’t really know him. So my goal and hopefully the goal of members is to truly know one another and spend time getting to know each other.

    Again this list not meant to brag or justify, just mere observations and of course we have many flaws to work on that that I might reveal soon.

    • I think this list is excellent and great! But if I am going to hazard a guess, it will very likely not please some older UBF statesmen, since your list does not coincide with our so-called “UBF core values.” It also does not “focus on campus mission.”

    • mrkimmathclass

      Ben Toh,
      Here what I find is this:
      Whatever we say, you try to toxicate it with your made up ubf old statement or whatever. What is your intention?
      What is ubf core value?
      In my experience of almost 30 years in ubf, our core value is Love God with all our hearts and Love your neighbors as your selves. We put more emphasis on campus mission as Muller did for orphans. Don’t we do other works? We do as Happy mentioned. And you should’t judge people by their works. Some people can do many different kinds of work while others cannot. Some people in ubf do campus mission very actively while many cannot. But we don’t judge either of them.
      Gospel is gospel and mission is mission.

      Many people are here confused with gospel and mission.

    • Ben is pointing out that the majority of ubf chapter directors (and higher) would likely not agree with HP’s chapter. And Ben is correct.

      JJ and his CME training is a worldwide effort to enforce the ubf core values, otherwise know as “spiritual legacy” and “spiritual heritage”.

      They created a website to guard the ubf core values: http://history.ubfservice.com/heritage/heritage.htm

      I just call it the 12 ubf cult manipulation and control slogans.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      mrkim, it seems that you continue to make out that your experience is the one true face of UBF and you refuse to accept the experiences of those here that contradict it. I’m curious as to why you continue to do this.

      For example, when I continued to speak about obvious wrongs done by UBF people according to UBF teachings and expectations, the director of my old chapter asked me, “But do you agree with our core values?” He didn’t define them, but was trying to divert the discussion away from the wrongs to the supposed good intentions of campus mission and shepherding. Campus mission and the UBF shepherding model is not just an emphasis of UBF, but it is tightly bound with the practice, identity and values of UBF to the core–in my experience.

      Social works were highly discouraged in my old chapter, at least if the participants were the college aged and older people. They should be out fishing, etc. You said, “But we don’t judge either of them.” In my old chapter there was a lot of judgment going around to those who weren’t so active for campus mission. They were accused of being “dream chasers” who wanted a large bank account and a big house (and these accusations came from those in fact had large bank accounts and big houses themselves).

    • mrkimmathclass

      I see two parallel lines which never meet each other.
      As long as you have negative judgemental attitude, you will never be able to see good works done by God. You will even criticize the good works too.

    • mrkim,

      Are you suggesting we become Buddhists? Should we learn a mantra to get rid of negative energy and create good kharma?

      Your words sound exactly like most words of advice and training I got from Korean ubf missionaries. You may have some good ideas, but they are not Christian ideas. I cannot accept such advice.

      The Christian way is not to remove all negative energy and thoughts, but to face the facts of our situation and learn the way of reconciliation. This is painful and messy and includes facing negativity. It is a narrow way to be sure. But it is the way to life.

    • Mr. Kim, the real issue here is not the “negativity” of others, rather it is your unwillingness to accept the fact that people have widely different experiences in UBF; no two chapters are the same. You want to believe that what you have experienced in your chapter is the norm, so anyone who deviates from your experience is simply wrong, in your eyes. So you either bash others who have different opinions/experiences or you tirelessly defend UBF. I don’t understand why you can’t simply listen to what others have to say without resorting to personal attacks or outright dismissing their claims.

    • mrkimmathclass

      David,
      Thank you for your comment.
      But, I am not the one who takls one sidely.
      Many people here also say very one-sided talks which is very biased ass if their experience is from the entire ubf.
      They mostly focus on how to find more negatives from ubf instead of trying to comfort those who are so called abused and hurt.

    • Mr. Kim, you said:

      “I see two parallel lines which never meet each other.”

      Just because two people’s opinions on something don’t agree doesn’t mean that one is true and the other is false or that never the twain shall meet. A real view of the ministry incorporates an intersection of both the good and bad elements of it. After all, isn’t the real world like this? I would also say that I’m not sure that you, personally, want to meet someone halfway or what have you, rather you want everyone to see things as you see them. This is in contrast to what Jesus did in his earthly ministry. In order to redeem true spirituality, he affirmed the good in Judaism (for he himself lived as an observant Jew) and he also critiqued the harmful aspects of it. Shouldn’t we do the same for UBF in order to make it healthier?

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Where else can we process and understand those “negative” things we experienced while in UBF? I know that I was not allowed to do so in my old chapter and was pushed out for it. But if you’re asking me to just excuse it because of good intentions or whatnot, then I have to reject that.

      I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 7:14, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”

    • mrkimmathclass

      David,
      What you said is right.
      But many people do that not healthy way but very harmful way.
      I never said that ubf have no problem or issues. But my impression here is not that you said. It seems that most of people here try to work hard how to hurt ubf and persuade people to leave ubf instead of giving healthy rebuke or criticism. I think at least you can see it.

    • “But my impression here is not that you said. It seems that most of people here try to work hard how to hurt ubf and persuade people to leave ubf instead of giving healthy rebuke or criticism.”

      There has been a plethora of healthy rebuke and criticism on this website. If you would follow your own advice to see the good things, you would clearly see it.

      If you don’t want people to recommend leaving UBF, you should help UBF to make steps towards accountability. Accountability means admitting wrongdoings, listening to people who complain, and responding properly. We have not seen this, unfortunately.

    • Mr. Kim, I don’t know if you’ve seen the book club thread yet, but it’d be great if you could participate. We’ll try to keep discussions about UBF at a minimum. Please consider joining.

    • yellowblossom

      Wow! This is a great list . U r blessed with such a chapter in UBF. In my chapter ,the list is quite shorter:

      1. One to one bible study
      2. Music ministry and benefit concert
      3. Group bible study ( mothers of prayer, and campus student groups, men coworkers)
      4. Fishing
      5. Conferences 4 times a year
      6. Message training, leader training

  28. Here is the ubf list of spiritual legacy statements

    We discussed this here on ubfriends a while back. Just look for my “12 Things ubf taught me” series.

    I would advise everyone to get the 50th Anniversary Blue Book and see if you agree with the direction ubf leaders are taking the organization.

    • A big part of my resignation was not related to how I was personally treated (I was treated very well for 24 years). I resigned and closed our ubf chapter primarily due to the fact that we do not agree with where the ubf leaders are taking the organization. And even more importantly–we were shunned and shamed for even asking the questions.

      In fact, one might ask if the ubf leaders even know where they are taking the organization. Corporately speaking, ubf has been in shambles for quite some time. All they know is to keep “loving God with all your heart” by doing the ubf heritage and seeking out new recruits. We rejected that lifestyle for our family in the end.

    • yellowblossom

      I have this blue book yu speak of. I was there at the 50th anniversary conferee in Korea. Overall, even back then , 2011, it was painful to hear some of the messages. This is what always struck me…we all prayed for campus students to come to Jesus. But in reality, not many of us were really caring towards the students on campus. It was some kind of attempt to be sure…but I never felt we truly cared for people …enough to reach out on our own. Everything felt that it had to be calculated and reported. Not only did I feel like a number, I also felt my own dear bible students were mere numbers to all of them. Here is what I am reflecting on now…does it matter if s person leaves an organization or decides to seek God in one s own way? We are still one in Jesus. I for one, came to the painful decision of leaving because I couldn’t thrive spiritually in a calculated hierarchical environment. My heart began to burn for something much more.
      True, I am thankful for all the years…the bible study made me feel whole. Cause I learned jesus. But to find Jesus in UBF doesn’t mean God calls me to remain in UBF. They did try to persuade me to stay. I did cry. And my pain is so deep because my own shepherd is like my mom…I actually became closer to her than my own mother. But even this…I realized that to preach the gospel to someone , I do not need to be heir “shepherd”. Being a friend is enough. Seeing their joys and pain and giving practical support is enough. How many of us really reach out to one another in love ? How many of us really come to each other s house in sincerity and not because of a scheduled meeting? Does everything need to be reported ? Do we really need stars and stickers on a chart to know how many bible studies we had?

      Now that reflect back on 50th anniversary, I do not even remember the messages. I just remember all the praise everyone received for all the gospel work they do. But what about the tearing down of lives in the name of mission? What about marriage by faith in the name of training? Is this Jesus? Really ?

    • Joe Schafer

      yellowblossom, thank you for sharing that.

      I was supposed to go to Korea for the 50th celebration, but for a many reasons I knew that I couldn’t. I’m glad that I didn’t go, because my conscience would have probably led me to walk out. Were you there when everyone stood up and pledged to carry out the UBF heritage and mission for the next 50 years? That pledge — which was called “UBF Mission Statement for the Next 50 years” — did not even include the name of Jesus. When I read it today, it looks like pure UBF-olotry. It completely ignores the fact that I am a postmodern North American Christian, and it declares that my true identity and life purpose is to bear the UBF legacy and impose UBF values on people for the next 50 years. No way! That pledge seems to have disappeared from the UBF website, but we have a copy here.

      Later, I heard that there some young leaders in Korea (where “young” means under 60 years old) who were prepared to talk about how UBF could change and improve. But the top leaders removed those presentations so that the program would be an unending hymn of praise to the glories of UBF.

      One of the earliest posts on this website was a guest article by John Armstrong. John was just getting to know UBF at that time. Near the end of his article, he warned UBF to stop obsessing over its own uniqueness.

      The “holy nation” is to be a blessing to others. We are not to become a cul-de-sac where we talk to one another, learn from each other and stay close to each other without the input of the stranger and those who are part of God’s family from many corners of his kingdom. We must continue to humble ourselves before God and be reminded that we too can fall and fail. We must seek the mighty hand and heart of God for his renewing grace for each year, each month, even each day. A movement like UBF could well be a blessing to the nations for decades to come. Or it might well turn inward and promote its own distinctive insights over the good news of God’s grace for all, believing all the time that it was doing precisely what the Lord required.

      If I have learned anything in six-plus decades of life and ministry, in many corners of the earth, I have learned that God desires us to never isolate ourselves from his people in order to faithfully follow him. He wants us to take what he has given to us, his love for our neighbors, to both our non-Christian neighbors and our neighbors who are brothers and sisters throughout the world. This begins in our own family, in our own community and in our own city. Who do you know and love that is really very different from you? Who do you associate with who stretches you beyond your comfort zone? Who do you share the vision of Christ’s kingdom with that is not exactly like you in the small things that we are all prone to turn into the big things because they are “our” unique contributions? UBF has a great future if it loves in this way. It has a limited future if it closes its borders to the whole people of God and promotes certain distinctive understandings of truth over the one who is Truth!

      – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/08/01/a-new-community-living-as-gods-people/#sthash.usvYfakA.dpuf

    • Joe, you are becoming a Jr. dark weblord! I like seeing these threads tied together. After resigning from ubf, they sent me the DVD of the 50th Celebration, along with the blue book. Somehow it went to Canada and someone there sent it to me. I was so surprised to see all my concerns about ubf teaching actually documented (much of it was not explained very well, but it was documented). The last lecture called “Terrible Times” confirmed my fears about what the Korean missionaries actually believe.

      After receiving that package, it was clear that I would never be able to return to ubf.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, that Terrible Times lecture was the most terrible lecture I ever read.

      As long as ubf has a critical mass of leaders who think like DTTK (David Terrible Times Kim), it will be very difficult for the organization to reform itself, because reform will mean apologizing for the very things that DTTK et al. seem to love most.

    • As a Steelers fan since 1978 I have to say NO. Don’t desecrate the Terrible Towel :)

  29. HappyPinnky

    Part of the reason why in our chapter, we are no so all about campus mission, although we have teams dedicated to doing so is multiple reason.

    Our demographics have changed in years. Before it was mostly all students, but now they are just a quarter and majortity who come are young or middle aged professionals.
    We also had cases where parents of members of their friends joined in.

    I think where we are heading is that we campus ministry and bible study remains the main focus of our church, yet we are very open to how and in what ways it is done. Some people never go fishing but instead use alternative sources such as opening up an IT course to meet people,others design seminars on science and religion, since majors of our members are science background.

    Yet others are fully engaged with children and children’s ministry.

    I think what we are learning is that church has to eventually become diverse.

    I partly envision that perhaps college ministry will be sort of a para church movement within our church which will attracted certain members and students.

    But I firmly beleive that at the core of church should be bible study and practical application of it.

    • Great thoughts, HappyPinnky. I hope your chapter can continue such good work, for what you describe is indeed Christian work.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      +1. It’s great to hear these kinds of things about your church, HP. Also, I’m sorry that you feel the need (for yourself and the chapter) to remain anonymous. I think it would be good to more open about what is going on there.

    • yellowblossom

      Wow, I am amazed. Ur chapter sounds healthy and what I envision Christianity to be

  30. HappyPinnky

    Regarding the spiritual legacies, I have nothing personally against them. True they can be misused and cause harm.

    But as long as we understand that spiritual legacies is not equals to bible or being a christian there is nothing wrong.

    Also as long as we don’t absolutist the statements and exclude any other ideas, it’s fine.

    I think for example that one to one is a great things, but specific theologically informed guidelines on what it means to mentor must be established. Also I think that everyone who become a mentor must undergo specific course and be eligible to do so.

    I currently don’t think I’m eligible to mentor one to one, so when I meet people I try to connect them to mature mentors or shepherds or ask them to join group bible study.

    • My only point, and I think this is Ben’s too maybe, is that what you describe is in direct conflict with what the 50th Anniversary book and new ubf 50 year mission statement says. Your thoughts, HP, are good but contradict what JJ is doing with CME and what Europe is doing with EMPNG. (those are not my acronyms but come directly from ubf)

  31. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    My reflections on and understanding of the gospel have also been largely influenced by N.T. Wright. Wright’s lectures on the kingdom Jesus preached was extremely helpful in understanding the context of the kingdom and Jesus being the king in view of the gospel I had learned. He said something to the effect of, “The gospel is the good news that Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, is Lord.”

    The context of Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom and good news is that of the Jewish Messiah. Interestingly, Jesus didn’t have to define clearly what the good news was that he preached. There seems to be a common understanding among the people of his time. Peter also hints at this when speaking in Acts 2 to the crowd. The focus on both are the Jewish king, as promised in David’s time, who was crucified and risen.

    For one, learning more of the context of a promised Jewish king has been extremely helpful in reading through and understanding the Old Testament, unlocking the text more along the lines of Jesus’ words in John 5:39, 46, and Luke 24:45-47, that the scriptures are talking about Jesus (and not as parables and moral guides about me).

    Secondly, it has helped in my reading of Scripture and understanding the gospel because I am not a Jew. The Law was not written for me. What then is my connection to the scriptures and law of the ancient Jewish people and to their promised king?

    The second point has bothered me because I find it common that churches teach the Old Testament to Gentiles as if it were written fro them in the recent past, as if it came to them together with Jesus and the gospel when they believed. This kind of teaching sounds good for it espouses good living and morals and “pleasing God,” but it disconnects from other passages on the gospel and the Holy Spirit, such as 2 Corinthians 3:4-6. And so studying the Bible and treating it like a moral guide has, in my opinion, become an idol in the church and usurped the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Now, the gospel being that Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, is Lord, brings very different implications for a relationship with God and Christian living, so to speak, for the Jew and Gentile. So far, my understanding is what most have talked about here, which is to love one another. It’s not just an aim to love God, but to love each other as he has loved. The context of the Jewish king brings this obligation (?) to a/the community which goes beyond the standard “personal relationship/salvation” that is preached in evangelical churches today. It is as much as people as it is about God so that the two cannot be separated.

    • “What then is my connection to the scriptures and law of the ancient Jewish people and to their promised king? – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18371

      This is a very eye-opening question! As far as I know, all of us here are GENTILES. Should we not read what Scripture says to Gentiles? I found I always assumed I was an Israelite, God’s chosen people. But I am not. I am grafted in only by the mercy of God!

  32. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Brian, what you wrote about wrath is also very thought-provoking. I find that Jesus sets up his crucifixion in a way similar to what you wrote: the son of man will suffer at the hands of sinful men to whom he was given (such as in Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:12, and Matthew 17:22). Peter also speaks of the people killing Jesus, not God, in Acts 2. Creating such a God of wrath contradicts what we would like to preach about him in other areas so that people end up saying, “I love [insert sinner-type here], BUT…” There is always a catch and we make God out to be bipolar or someone who doesn’t understand his own gospel or character.

    • I was hoping someone would pick up on that… what I said is massive heresy in some parts of Christendom. I would love to learn more about this thinking. For now, I believe exactly as I wrote above, until someone convinces me differently. So far, I was easily convinced by René Girard’s work. Here is one blog post that more or less summarizes my thinking about God’s wrath and the cross:

      Did God kill Jesus?

    • If anyone wants to begin understanding me and my relationship with ubf, read up on Gerard and what Tony Jones calls the “mirror model”. My life is a mirror of ubf training and core values.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Yes, that post speaks about it well. Thanks.

  33. Excellent thoughts HP! On this, I agree fully:

    “A healthy church I think is one that produces Christians who practice their faith in all aspects of life in a balanced manner. Thus to me a Christians who merely spend time studying bible but ignoring his family and neglecting them is not a good standard.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18359

    • yellowblossom

      Sums up exactly why I am leaving. Cause that balance u speak of….well, it’s just not there in my chapter

  34. Mr. Kim, I believe you are a very good man and a very noble and sincere UBF missionary who loves Jesus. But as many people have already pointed out, you seem to repeatedly insist that your perspective and experience is correct, and that anyone who has a different experience about UBF are all either incorrect, wrong, bitter, a pig, or you even accuse people of lying.

    I’m sure that you are a very much better and bigger man than calling and accusing others who are simply sharing their stories and their experiences.

    Have you even read anything yellowblossom has been writing and saying??

    • “Have you even read anything yellowblossom has been writing and saying??”

      A BIG opportunity just slipped through the fingers of ubf. For the past many days, someone from ubf might have given yellowblossom at least SOME shred of hope to stay. Instead, they proved every word we every wrote here in our 17,000+ comments.

  35. HappyPinnky

    I also wish Yellowblossom all the best in his journey with Christ.

    We all and especially those in his chruch must see a bigger picture. That perhaps God is calling him for a greater mission and purpose.

    As long as we don’t idolize ubf, we really should not have ill feeling towards those who choose to participate in different ministry and serve God in way he has called them.

    We are not called to be a bucket but water that waters lawns.

  36. HappyPinnky

    My only point, and I think this is Ben’s too maybe, is that what you describe is in direct conflict with what the 50th Anniversary book and new ubf 50 year mission statement says. Your thoughts, HP, are good but contradict what JJ is doing with CME and what Europe is doing with EMPNG. (those are not my acronyms but come directly from ubf) – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#sthash.tO6m1s2C.dpuf

    I think that is a true point Brian.

    I think especially with chapters in Korea. I can not fully say about that in USA, cause I don’t really know chapters that well. But I’ve met quite open minded leaders in Europe and CIS.

    What I really hope is that our church does not merely follow dictates from above in ubf organization, which some have tried, but first of all seeks the council of Holy Spirit, who never disappoints and uses its cultural context to implement pertinent methods. So far, our chapter is led by commitee of native elders, and they seem good at that.

    That is one if things, I loved while being with. Intervarsity Europe. All chapters are united in their study if Bible, evangelical doctrine, and students ministry, yet how they do it all depends on chapters. I hope that can be the case in ubf as well.

    Among certain leaders of ubf I met, I met quite a diversity. I even was present when some senior leaders were attacking traditional issues of marriage, one to ones, and etc. And other defending them. So from what I understand, there seems to be somewhat I diversity even among senior leaders like for example Abraham Kim vs John Jun.
    Even the Bible study with Abraham Kim was so different than of classical bible study we used to have.

    As for me, I’m ready to serve God anywhere else, if he calls me. I never thought I would come back and serve in ubf, but somehow it happened. Well she what happens next and where a God leads me.

  37. HappyPinnky

    Brian asked, How do you interact with people who have authority over you and teach the opposite, that we are called to be a barrel of water? – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18380

    To be honest, I haven’t really interacted much with such, maybe because I’m no in those high positions and somewhat a recent convert. But I’ll let you know how it goes in future :)

    • I hope and pray you never get such a “blessing”! Thanks for sharing, btw. I understand your situation quite a bit better now.

  38. If anyone is interested, I think we should review and assess these publicly posted teaching documents from various ubf chapters. If someone does not like what I say about ubf teachings, they probably should take a look at what these ubf documents. These slides did not exist when I was at ubf, but they summarize exactly the kind of ubf I survived:

    UBF Director Teaching – Fishing and Outreach

    UBF Document collection on priestlynation.com

    • The “Fishing and Outreach” presentation tells you all you need to know about why I say the ubf system (not every chapter) is a cult and not a church.

      HappyPinnky described the valid Christian ministry going on at his chapter. That is not cult thinking. But the things taught on these slides from 2010 and still taught in many ubf chapters in 2015, is cult thinking.

      Check out slide 20 for the “profound” teaching that you should fall in love with your sheep.

      Check out slide 7 for the minimum barrel teaching that ubf should be a bucket of water.

  39. HappyPinnky

    Thanks Brian. It’s been a pleasure to interact and I’m definitely gonna come back and I’m thinking about posting articles.

    • Yes please do. I know we disagree but my respect for you went up about 10 times today. God bless.

  40. “I have this blue book yu speak of. I was there at the 50th anniversary conferee in Korea. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18437

    Yellowblossom, I would love to hear your thoughts on that trip. I know that Americans were historically paraded around Korea as “prized catches”. I too went to Korea and was paraded around.

    My experience was not so good. I was severely rebuked in Korea for not eating Korean food. Sorry, but I just cannot stomach such stuff. I was also taken to a romantic river by an older Korean couple. The Korean man tried to convince me that I should marry someone from Korea “by faith” one day. I sternly told him, reminding him that I was ALREADY married and ALREADY had TWO KIDS.

    (Note: there are a mountain of messed up stories about Americans going to Korea. Never send your kids there to get “re-charged”…)

    • yellowblossom

      The 50 yr anniversary was a blur to me. I do remember making a pledge to be s short term missionary…but to be honest, I just followed along with what was stated to me without questioning. Now that I think back, yes I was ” paraded” around like u say, and even introduced to Sarah berry as a marriage candidate. that specifically stands out in my mind. That was the way I was introduced,,,a candidate. I didn’t specifically even know much about marriage by faith at the time…

      Anyway, yes I attended many messages, most in Korean and had to listen to it with translations. I don’t remember much …just know it all sounded so grand, like the most amazing things are happening in UBF. Now that I look back, whatever was so amazing did not quite register with my memory,

    • This is important to think through:

      “Anyway, yes I attended many messages, most in Korean and had to listen to it with translations. I don’t remember much …just know it all sounded so grand, like the most amazing things are happening in UBF. Now that I look back, whatever was so amazing did not quite register with my memory, – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/05/08/what-is-your-gospel/#comment-18455

      The most dangerous thing ubf missionaries do (knowingly or unknowingly) is to ignore the genuine life narratives and self identity of people (i.e. what I call “identity snatching”). Because they even manipulate self narratives about events, a groupthink/memory manipulation phenomena occurs.

      For example, I went through ubf message training. Often the personal application was dictated or coached to me. My life events were explained to me–how I felt, how I thought, etc. It seemed like harmless “help” at the time. But it is so very dangerous.

      There is quite a bit of psychology research demonstrating that our human memories can be manipulated, and it is surprisingly easy to do. That is why Christian pastors go out of their way to respect personal narratives.

      The conferences at ubf, especially that 50th Anniversary one, are almost always devoid of reality. They are a parade of group-glorification. Like you said, yellowblossom, something seemed to glorious, but you cannot identify what exactly. That is not your fault–the conference was designed to do implant those good memories so that whatever happens, you will remember “good things” about ubf.

      If the 50th anniversary planners had listened to some leaders and included reality checks, such as admitting some of the real failures of ubf missionaries and shortcomings in their KOPAHN ideology, the experience would have been more genuine. And you would know exactly what was good and what was bad.

      In the absence of knowing what is bad, we cannot get a genuine sense of what is good. That is the reality we live with in our human world.

      Here are some very good references that everyone at ubf really must read and become familiar with.

      “The researchers show that positive and negative false memories about a childhood experience can be indeed implanted and that, once implanted, they may have very real consequences in changing our behavior, and the way we think and feel about the experience. This is why the whole concept of recovering “forgotten” memories of your childhood is so fraught with danger. Memory is not like a video recorder, recording every moment of our lives in accurate detail. It is a murky, complex system that can be manipulated, as this research shows.”

      How easily is your memory manipulated?

      Manipulation techniques

      Implanting false memories with the Lost in the Mall tecnique

      Each of these links above describe the ubf culture I experienced. I can see it so very clearly now the farther away I am. Every chapter at ubf is of course a mixed bag. But all 30+ chapters I visited over the last nearly 30 years display almost all of these techniques. It is uncanny how different and yet how very similar all ubfland has come to be.

    • * Sidenote: As always, the Westloop chapter of ubf is different. Whenever I mention ubf in a generalization, please know that I am excluding any redeemed chapter. I can only confirm 2 such chapters personally (Waterloo and Westloop). It pains me to speak in generalizations about ubf because it may seem that I am including my friends there, especially Ben. But I hope they know I consider them differently than the rest of ubf.

  41. I found this blog article which I enjoyed. The whole blog is very good. The article is not “explicitly” about the gospel, although it is in a certain sense.

    https://thedougout24.wordpress.com/2007/03/25/1-keep-refusing-to-the-see-the-face-of-jesus-in-everyone-that-we-meet/

    • Thanks for sharing peter. I like this quote: “Until we see the King (the face of Jesus) in others…they will not see the King in us. If that is not happening, our message (Jesus Christ) is not happening.”