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UBF Shepherds=Spiritual Fathers? 
18th-Jan-2006 05:20 am
This is a reposting of a private discussion thread with personal information removed for public view. For viewers, it shows how UBF twists scriptures re: shepherds as spiritual fathers and redefines real parents and family (=UBF) and how UBF uses this to control it's members and bind them to UBF.

UBF Shepherds = spiritual fathers?

Did anyone else get this kind of teaching? It has a very powerful, binding effect between sheep and shepherd, and is instrumental in leading the sheep to reject their own family."

(See comments)
Comments 
18th-Jan-2006 06:14 am (UTC) - Comments
From: freeinchrist

I came across many things in the New Testament that support the idea that God ALONE is the spiritual father of believers. To give brief examples, believers are spoken of as being “born of God” or “born of the Spirit”. John 3:5 - “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (As opposed to “born of the water and the UBF shepherd”.) Another crucial verse: But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ." (Matt. 23:8-10) Not only this, but even Jesus himself was never called a father by anyone, but consistently referred to believers as his brothers and to God as his Father. New Testament Christians also call each other brothers, even the leaders such as Peter and Paul. Okay, here is the issue I am wondering about: What about verses such as this: “To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." (Titus 1:4) And especially this: “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:15-17) Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue or similar experiences with UBF shepherds claiming to be the actual spiritual fathers of their sheep? And any thoughts on whether this is a legitimate idea, and if not, what to do with some of these verses? Thank you for your support in searching the Bible for the truth!

(see next comment)
18th-Jan-2006 06:18 am (UTC) - Comments continued
From: chungjoe
Date: January 12th, 2006 - 11:44 pm

And especially this: “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:15-17)

Interesting that Paul writes, "Therefore I urge you to imitate me." He sees his spiritual fatherhood as more of a role model to be imitated rather than an authoritative figure to be obeyed. It should also be noted that Paul had an unusual status in the Church that is not common today, that of Apostle.

From: chungjoe
Date: January 12th, 2006 - 11:49 pm

Re: UBF Shepherds = Spiritual Fathers? One UBF defender takes it all the way. An anti-anti-UBF web site popped up in March of 2004 and on it was a defense of UBF shepherding using the argument that UBF leaders are spiritual parents. I and others copied and commented on that essay. You can read the archived discussion. That anti-anti-UBF web site no longer exists.

From: pecowas
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 01:15 am

It is very easy for me to see how one could think that if someone is your spiritual father, of course he could have all kinds of authority over you. Did anyone else get this kind of teaching? It has a very powerful, binding effect between sheep and shepherd, and is instrumental in leading the sheep to reject their own family.

My shepherd in UBF is a Korean chapter director. He definately wanted me to think of him as my spiritual father and of his wife as my spiritual mother. One of the main goals of my director and his wife were to convince me that they were my spiritual parents.

I remember that my director called me after one Mothers Day and asked me why I did not give his wife a Mothers Day card. I answered that she was not my mother. My shepherd responded that "she prays for me." I again stated that she was not my mother. He again responded that "she prays for me." I could see that continuing the conversation was pointless, so I discontinued the discussion. I never gave the director's wife a Mothers Day card or gave her special acknowledgement on Mothers Day.

My last year in UBF was 2004. In July of 2004, my director asked me why I did not give him a Fathers Day card. I responded "you are not my father." My answer shocked my director. He looked visably hurt. Then his wife, who eavesdropped on our conversation, opened the door to the Bible study room and told me that my director was my spiritual father and should be given honor by me on Fathers Day. She said that I should "cut my pride" and give my director a Fathers Day card. She actually thought that not giving my chapter director a Fathers Day card was out of pride. I responded that I give gifts and cards to my parents on Mothers and Fathers Day and had no intention of honoring anyone else on holidays reserved for celebrate my parents.

UBF teaches that sheep should consider their shepherd as a spiritual parent. This teaching clearly elevates the UBF shepherd above the parents. Afterall, spiritual is greater than biological and thus the spiritual UBF parents would be more respected by sheep than biological parents. Once sheep become indoctrinated that the UBF shepherd is their spiritual parent than biological parents' criticisms of UBF can be dismissed as human thinking. UBF members than place the words of the spiritual UBF parent above the words of the biological parents. The UBF parent is held by the UBF member to be above their real parents. Indoctrinating UBF members to believe that their shepherds are spiritual parents is one of UBF's most important tactics to separate members from their parents.


18th-Jan-2006 06:20 am (UTC) - Comments continued
From: human12
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 04:59 am

“To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." (Titus 1:4) And especially this: “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:15-17)

I think it is biblically sound teaching that we can become one family in Jesus including father and son relationship. But please pay very careful attention to what Paul is saying: my true son in our common faith; I became your father through the gospel. The nature of father and son relationship that Paul had with Titus and others was "in our common faith" and "through the gospel". But the nature of father and son relationship taught in UBF is Confucius which emphasizes more on athortiy and absolute sumbission. UBF puts more weight on Samuel Lee's theology than any other things. Samuel Lee might have studied the Bible but his theology does not have the necessary degree of theological certainty so that it could be regarded biblically sound.

A lot of problems with Korean Christianity is due to the fact that many Christians in Korea study the Bible but practice Confucius teaching in their real life. It is very similar to the situation of the early Jewish Christians. They believed in Christianity but practiced Judaism in reality. Paul knew this and had to risk his life to keep the gospel from being tainted by Judaism. Paul fought against it all his life. Finally he was able to drive out any taint of Judaism from Christianity as he said in Romans 1:17, "The righteous will live by faith."

The problem of "spiritual order" in UBF has the same dimension. UBF "spiritual order" fits more of Confucius teaching than the Bible. Confucius seems to put authority more in the framework of power and obedience. But the Bible seems to put authority more in the framework of love and service to others. We should not just consider outward form of relationship but the nature of any relationship through sound biblical teaching. But UBF does not teach this.

18th-Jan-2006 06:23 am (UTC) - Comments continued
From: hdchris
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 02:20 pm

UBF of course loves this this passage in 1Cor 4 where Paul says he is the father of the Corinthians. The passage even continues "Shall I come to you with a whip, ...". I remember reading that one cult leader (I think it was David Berg) really loved the passage with the whip.

Obviously Paul is simply speaking here with a twinkle in one's eye. He is just not thumping his authority, but trying to convince them that he loves them. The Bible cannot contradict itself, so Paul cannot have meant that they should consider him as an authority like a father. He is not speaking about the authoritarian relationship, but of their special human and spiritual relationship. He is not saying "obey" me but rather "imitate me."

As we know UBF is very good in taking one verse and forgetting everything else the Bible says about that issue.

There are other verses UBF leaders like, where Jesus seems to say we should not care about our parents. Most strikingly the passage where Jesus told somebody not to bury his father. This is often used by UBF when members do not want to attend a Sunday service or conference because of a marriage of burial case in their family.

Actually, what Jesus wanted to say is that we only have one "real" father, namely God. He did surely not want to undermine the fatherhood of our physical father just in order to reestablish another fatherhood by a man, a church leader. No, he wanted that we have the direct relationship to God the father.

Matthew Henry explains what Paul wanted to say here: "Follow me as far as I follow Christ. Come up as close as you can to my example in those instances wherein I endeavour to copy after his pattern. Be my disciples, as far as I manifest myself to be a faithful minister and disciple of Christ, and no further. I would not have you be my disciples, but his. But I hope I have approved myself a faithful steward of the mysteries of Christ, and a faithful servant of my master Christ; so far follow me, and tread in my steps." Note, Ministers should so live that their people may take pattern from them, and live after their copy. They should guide them by their lives as well as their lips, go before them in the way to heaven, and not content themselves with pointing it out. Note, As ministers are to set a pattern, others must take it. They should follow them as far as they are satisfied that they follow Christ in faith and practice."

I found a very good investigation of all this questions here:
WHO SHOULD BE CALLED FATHER?

It is a PDF document, a bit lengthy, but worthwile reading. It contains a good explanation of this passage in 1Cor 4 and of the passage with the burial of the father which is abused in UBF.


From: nick__t
Date: January 12th, 2006 - 08:40 pm

both father and mother!

Hi,

I was arranged-marriage to a ubf shepherdess who had very written very strong words in the line of what you are saying. At the time of Samuel Lee death, she wrote that SL became her "real father". The basis for this was SL gave her advice, bore with her, really understood her, and babysat her tho she was fully grown. She had previously written that Sara Barry was her "real mother", but can't recall what the basis was. Probably the same thing.

That arranged-marriage was dissolved late last year in Chicago. ubf arranged-marriage is unstable and unbiblical. Avoid it at all costs.

From: hdchris
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 01:08 am

she wrote that SL became her "real father"

That's what I wanted to say, Nick. The UBF parents are the "spiritual", i.e. "real" or "true" parents. Reminds me of the Moon cult. They also call Moon and his wife the "true parents."


18th-Jan-2006 05:19 pm (UTC) - Re: Comments continued
Unfortunately, due to the re-posting, formatting and links have been lost.

Here is one of these important "missing links":

Scott S. Bartchy, "WHO SHOULD BE CALLED FATHER?" (January 23, 2003). Center for the Study of Religion. Paper CSR-03-01.
http://repositories.cdlib.org/religion/CSR-03-01

If you have some time, read it. It is really worthwile and enlightening.
18th-Jan-2006 06:26 am (UTC) - Comments Continued
From: hdchris
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 12:56 am

This is an important issue, freeinchrist. UBF does not use the word as often as "shepherd" but you're right, between the lines the UBF shepherding relationship are also considered as "fathering" relationships. This is common in all hierarchical shepherding/discipling type movements. You can see it again in the G12 and cell church movement, today's variant of shepherding/discipling. See for instance here. Isn't it similar to UBF? (They have the slogan "every believer a leader" which is obviously unbiblical - UBF had a similar slogan "everyone a teacher".)

In UBF, we often called our shepherds our "spiritual parents" and the shepherds of our shepherds our "spiritual grandparents." Of course, Samuel Lee was considered the Über-father of all, and Ms. Barry the Über-Mother. "Mother" is even her official title in UBF. Mr. Lee liked the title "General Director" more, but he was also considered as the father of all UBFers. He had this position already in 1976. Literal quote from the 1976 letter of the reform shepherds: "We believed that you were our spiritual father". I think most of the Korean UBF members had this belief. When Lee died, they kind of lost their father. Literal quote again from Kaleb Hong's report in 2002: "We could overcome the sorrow of losing our father...". Maybe that's why Barry became the new leader - if they had lost their father, they still had a mother. Kaleb Hong told one member (after the death of Lee) that he "now has handed over his soul to Sarah Barry." That's no joke. He considers Sarah Barry his spiritual "covering" in terms of the unbiblical covering doctrine.

UBF leaders place themselves in the position of parents, because
1) parents have authority over their children, they require obedience
2) children must be always thankful and respectful to parents
Actually, UBF leaders even place themselves above the position of parents, they claim to be "spiritual" parents whom you must be even more thankful and whom you must obey even more than "ordinary" parents.

Joe has already also written two good postings on this issue here and here.

I think Jesus knew very well why he explicitly prohibited to call fellow believers as "fathers". You already mentioned this. I think it is a very important point. It is a typical hallmark of cultish and unhealthy developments. It is not so amazing that the Catholic church does not obey this command of Jesus because they don't even claim that the Bible is their highest measurestick, they believe tradition can be higher. But it is surely amazing that UBF disobeys this teaching so easily. It's amazing how they simply ignore and resist this clear teaching of Jesus. Maybe they excuse themselves because technically speaking they do not "call" Samuel Lee a father (as a title) and because they call Ms. Barry a "mother" only. Reminds me of the Pharisean interpretation of the law.

From: hdchris
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 01:05 am

By the way, in his Christmas letter 2000, Samuel Lee paraphrazed the reformers' letter from 1976 like that:

The seven rebels wrote me a letter. “We are like Absalom. We acknowledge that you are our spiritual father. But when we look at you, we see that you are getting younger and younger and we are getting older and older. As long as we are under you, we will never have a chance until we die to shine or to be a top leader. So, what can we do? Please show us the example of your own teaching and go out as a missionary. Or just disappear.”

In reality they had not written anything of this except the fact that they considered him as a spiritual father. In this paraphrase, Samuel Lee tries to make them look preposterous and rebellious - rebellious against their own father. He did not rebuke them for calling him "father" - he rebuked them for criticizing and disrespecting their father.

18th-Jan-2006 06:40 am (UTC) - Comments Continued
From: sisterinjesus
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 08:47 am

'I’m not sure exactly how he got this idea, but since I did not really hear it discussed in Chicago UBF as a whole in sermons or testimonies...,'

In regards to shepherds=spiritual fathers, I believe all the above comments and links have shown how UBF twists the bible and indoctrinates members with this kind of mindset...

... here is an excerpt of a message from 1 Tim 5 entitled "Christian Community is Like A Family", which twists the scriptures in regards to the Christian family.

"Third, Christians are one family (8). Look at verse 8. 'If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.' This verse sounds as if a Christian man must be very faithful to his own family, even if it is an ungodly family. But family in God is different from worldly family. Jesus said in Mark 3:35, 'Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother'. On the basis of Jesus' saying, our family is founded on the word of God. Our family is founded on the precious promises of God. From Paul's point of view, a family means the church. We are all brothers and sisters who are baptized by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ro. 6:5). I Cor. 12:12-13 says, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." Christians are one body in spite of their nationality, race, position, and gender. We are one universal family of God thorough the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Of course, there is still the physical bond of family. They think that father and mother and their children are one family. And their grandfather who is in nursing home is part of their family. But in a spiritual sense human bonds are temporal and each person must go in their own way until they arrive in the heavenly kingdom. Each person must stand before the judgement seat of God to know where his or her final destination is (2Co. 5:10) Soon after we will see that our beloved ones are there. Soon after we will see some of our beloved ones are not there because they had no promise of God in their hearts.

Christian family members cannot be indifferent to one another. They must carefully observe other members' needs, especially spiritual needs, and feed them both physically and spiritually. This is the Christian family. This is the house church. This is the earthly tent for the holy pilgrims and those family members have one Father in heaven. If we neglect other members' needs, we are worse than non-Christians."

The bible is very clear about taking care of your immediate family (verse 8). But UBF redefines immediate family to mean only "family in God" (=UBF). "From Paul's point of view, a family means the church.... They think that father and mother and their children are one family. And their grandfather who is in nursing home is part of their family. But in a spiritual sense human bonds are temporal and each person must go in their own way... "This is the Christian family. This is the house church."

From: hdchris
Date: January 13th, 2006 - 01:36 pm

Wow, this is a very serious Bible twisting. The Bible says we should honor our parents, but UBF explains this does not mean parents, but "spiritual parents", i.e. UBF leaders.

Reminds me of this: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God),then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

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