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Reconciliation without compromise 
4th-Jan-2006 04:28 pm
I'll post this as a response to the question posed here: Is reconciliation with UBF possible? Is it desirable? Though I'm borrowing other peoples' observations, I can hardly speak for everybody, so this is posted as my opinion.

My definition of reconciliation is this: "From my point of view, reconciliation might be being able to acknowledge at some point that UBF can be considered a legitimate Christian church, a part of the Body of Christ. That doesn't mean that even at that point I would consider joining UBF again; I don't see that happening ever again."

In light of that definition, I would have to say that reconciliation with UBF is not possible at this time because it would require me to compromise with grave sins within the UBF system. I do not consider biblical the concept of reconciliation that requires compromise with what are clearly grave sins, a concept of reconciliation in which I promise to be silent about these sins and stop caring about future victims of these sins.

The following are present-day sins in UBF (or major issues or significant problems) as I and others see them:

1. UBF will not acknowledge the sins of Samuel Lee, his clear abuses. In fact, they continue to publicly venerate him during "Founders Day", in sermons, in symposiums, in Korean newspaper articles, etc. This one man's theology and personal opinions are still dogmatically adhered to, forming the basis for most of UBF teaching.

2. They continue to coddle another known abuser, Peter Chang, of the Bonn UBF, whose abuses have been acknowledged even by other German UBF leaders and members.

3. They have made no sincere apology nor compensated for the damage that has been wrought in peoples' lives during their stay in UBF. Furthermore, in spite of their well-earned negative reputation, they have not made any public acknowledgment of any wrong-doing. UBF continues to point a finger of blame at those who leave UBF on bad terms. Leaving UBF on good terms continues to be a rarity. Leaving UBF continues to be a traumatic experience for many.

4. They continue the practice of "marriage by faith," denying that it amounts to leader-arranged marriage, while they continue to twist scripture to try to justify it. Among married couples, UBF continues to encourage a greater commitment to UBF and its work than a commitment to one's own spouse, resulting in painful to devastating consequences for the marriage when one partner in the marriage reduces his/her commitment to UBF or desires to leave UBF.

5. They continue a system of authoritarian shepherding, stressing strict obedience to human leaders in the areas of one's time, one's money, where one lives, one's relationships, what one does after graduation, one's marriage partner, etc. The specific, practical limits of what is allowed in UBF's "training" programs--i.e., how far a "shepherd" can intrude into a "sheep's" life--are still not mentioned, discussed or taught in UBF. As has been their decades-long habit, they continue to disparage any notion of human rights, rights which might restrict or moderate the totalist nature of UBF "training." The concerned relatives and friends of people who have been recruited into UBF continue to make themselves known because they notice negative personality changes in these UBF recruits, negative changes brought about largely because of UBF's strict authoritarian control over their loved ones' lives.

6. They continue in their patently false teaching of "spiritual order" which brought about leaders like Samuel Lee and Peter Chang, a teaching which rejects leadership accountability, does not permit any sort of dissent, and allows a leader to claim authority to do virtually anything, even going against the Bible's teaching, in the name of serving "world mission." The ends-justify-the-means philosophy is alive and well. The specific, practical limits of a leader's authority are still not mentioned, discussed or taught in UBF. There is apparently still no code of discipline for leaders who abuse their authority. UBF is still controlled by a core group of leaders who are not accountable to core members; there is no concept of democracy.

7. They continue to be a ministry and culture intensely focused on the glorification of man and the organization. UBF's language in reports, sermons and announcements continues to brim with pride and triumphalism, pride and triumphalism that not only run counter to the spirit of Christ but that also have little basis in reality, since to date, UBF has been largely a failure in its major "mission fields," North America and Europe. These continued failures do not result in self examination but more of the constant, ridiculous, dispiriting numeric goals that are UBF's trademark. It follows from their pride and elitism that they continue their exclusivism, internally expressing disdain for mainline churches and Christian groups and also discouraging the pursuit of systematic theological education.

8. They have given no account for what was done with past special offering collections for causes such as the purchase of "Bible houses." Like many aspects of life in UBF, offering and tithing continues to be compulsory. Yet finances continue to be opaque to most members. UBF continues to place a higher priority on using its fortunes to purchase land and properties than in helping the poor and needy.

9. Based on reports from concerned parents, relatives, friends and current members, UBF continues to exhibit the characteristics of a "high pressure group" or "destructive religious group" or "unhealthy group" which many universities and their campus ministries have warned their students about, characteristics including deceptive recruiting, "staged commitment" leading to ever-increasing pressure, isolation from family and friends, eventual control over a recruit's life and decisions, focus on guilt and shame, etc.

This list is not meant to be seen as complete but as the major unresolved issues that I see as standing in the way of reconciliation as I have defined it. The evidence of other aberrant and false teachings continues to be found in UBF sermons and "mission reports."

Your comments and additions are welcome.
5th-Jan-2006 09:51 am (UTC)
Joe, I fully agree with you on that. Thank you for compiling the list. Some points I think are not formulated broad enough and do only cover certain aspects but not the full breadth of the problems. So I would add the following which you could also merge in somehow.

Addition to 1: They continue to use and even publish Lee's "sermons", even those with more or less open doctrinal aberrations and extreme cultish teachings such as people will experience accidents, illness, poverty or death if they do not obey the leader or leave UBF (see "horror stories").

Addition to 3: They have never issued an adequate statement of both repentance and apology. They have not rehabilitated all those who have tried to correct and point out sins in the past: as movements in 1976, 1989 and 2000, and the numerous members who tried to do so individually at other times, and who all were called "rebels" and expelled. They have not apologized to any of them and did never rehabilitate them.

Addition to 4,5,6: They have never issued a statement about how they want to guarantee that the systemic sins of the past will not be repeated. There are no public guidelines, bye-laws, ordinance, statutes etc. covering these things including former practices such as arranged marriage. They have not written down their complete understanding and practice of shepherding/discipling and the UBF specific additions to this teaching (1:1, sogam writing, one-sided exclusively passage based teaching on selective chapters only, using titles, number-focused prayer, various kinds of "training", arranged marriage etc.) so that others can rate UBF according to what they really believe and practice. These things are still not layed open to recruits, guest speakers, Evangelical Alliance etc. Deception is used, or they are even publically denied ("we do not arrange marriage; we are an ordinary church" etc.).

Addition to 8: They have not made public how much money was found in the "central account" after the death of Samuel Lee. They have not acknowledged that money was handled wrongly in the past and they continue to handle money wrongly. No financial openness and accountability exists. Salary paiments to staff, retirement pays and compensations are completely arbitrary, secret and are given only to loyal members or top level leadership. Use of regular offerings, special offerings, conference offerings is more or less arbitrary and obscure, and no verification possible.

Another addition: They have not given answer to any of the questions raised e.g. in our letter with 16 questions to Sarah Barry and the other allegations made in the past, neither with a public and clear denial/disclaimer nor with an apology. These allegations were very serious, and though some of them may be old, they are still not invalid simply because a lot of time passed. They continue to solve problems by simply ignoring them and waiting until nobody remembers any more. They continue to teach and practice that leaders do not need to reply and be accountable.
5th-Jan-2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
I would just like to comment that I also fully agree with Joe and thank him for compiling the list. I also fully agree with you, Chris, on your additions and the need for them to be merged in the list. Thank you.
5th-Jan-2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
I think we should supplement and improve that list and publish it permanently on the rsqubf site. For every point in the list, there should be also a link to a page that gives evidence and concrete proof for the things claimed. This should not be included in the list itself because it would become too long, but if we don't give the concrete proof, the list is dismissed too easily.

For instance, if we claim 'The evidence of other aberrant and false teachings continues to be found in UBF sermons and "mission reports"', then we have to provide a list of currently writen or republished sermons and mission reports and point out the passages with aberrant teachings for anybody to verify (we have done so regularly here and on the old forum, but it should be compiled into one page).

Or, if we claim '"They continue the practice of "marriage by faith"' we should give concrete examples we are aware of, or recent UBF documents which show they still follow this teaching and practice.

This should be done for every point on the list. I know this will be a lot of work and I currently cannot do this because lack of time, but I'll put it on my todo list and if nobody jumps in I will do it some day.
5th-Jan-2006 07:02 pm (UTC) - Publish List with links to evidence
"I think we should supplement and improve that list and publish it permanently on the rsqubf site. For every point in the list, there should be also a link to a page that gives evidence and concrete proof for the things claimed"

Excellent. I agree. I know you and Joe have already done alot of work and it would take alot of time to find the related links to every point (as Joe has done on some already), but I agree with you it should be done, regardless of who does it and when. Thanks for all the work both of you have done already.
5th-Jan-2006 11:09 pm (UTC) - Re: Publish List with links to evidence
As for related links, the one for "shepherding" was great. I also thought UBFSoul summed it up in a nutshell:

"I see now that it’s not just a problem of corrupt leaders and members. The problem is a system that inevitably corrupts leaders and abuses members."
6th-Jan-2006 10:55 am (UTC) - Re: Publish List with links to evidence
"I see now that it’s not just a problem of corrupt leaders and members. The problem is a system that inevitably corrupts leaders and abuses members."

Yes, that's the real problem in a nutshell. Though it sounds a little bit that ordinary members are not corrupted, but only abused. No, even ordinary members are corrupted. Their honest search for God and the truth will become spoiled to the point where the truth does not interest them anymore. Unfortunately, I have seen this far too often.
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