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The truth and Anamgol UBF 
17th-Jul-2006 11:49 pm
I found a Sunday message on the website of Anamgol UBF which is considered most elite UBF chapter in the UBF world. Anamgol UBF focuses on recruiting students in Korea University, one of the top five universities in Korea. Mark Yang used to be the director. I don’t know who the current director is and who wrote the message. I wanted to discuss problems of this message because it is based on John 8:31-32 and they happen to be my favorite key verses in the Bible. I want to discuss them in the comment section with the following topics:

I. Some comments on my English translation
II. Issues related to the author’s presentation of Kant and Critique of Pure Reason
III. Issues on the author’s interpretation of ‘truth’ in John 8:32
IV. Concluding remarks
Comments 
18th-Jul-2006 04:57 am (UTC) - Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
http://anam.ubf.or.kr/anamdata/technote/read.cgi?board=Lordday_Message&y_number=79&nnew=2

"...그러나 말씀에 거하는 삶을 사는 것의 축복은 여기에 국한되지 않습니다. 다같이 32절 말씀을 읽어보겠습니다. “ 진리를 알지니 진리가 너희를 자유케 하리라 ” 이 말씀은 ‘그러면 너희가 진리를 알게 될 것이다. 그리고 그 진리가 너희를 자유케 할 것이다.’는 뜻입니다.

많은 사람들이 진리를 구도의 문제로 생각합니다. 많은 사람들이 진리는 깊은 학문 속에 있는 것으로 생각합니다. 김진홍 목사님이 계명대학교 철학과 대학원에서 공부를 하시던 조교 시절의 일이었습니다. 교양 철학강의를 하는데 수업시간에 영문과 신입생이 물었습니다. ‘선생님 진리가 무엇입니까?’ 이 질문을 받고 김 진홍 목사님은 '진리라고 하는 것은 내 머리 속에 있는 책상과 지금 여기 앞에 있는 책상이 일치했을 때 그것이 진리이다'라고 대답했습니다. 이는 철학자 칸트가 ‘순수이성비판’ 이라는 책의 표현을 인용한 것입니다. 그러자 그 학생이 다시 묻는데 ‘그것이 진리인 것이 나와 무슨 상관이 있습니까? 책상과 내 머리 속에 있는 책상이 일치해서 그래서 뭐 어쨌다는 것입니까? 그런것 말고요 내가 정말로 목숨을 걸 수 있는, 이것 아니면 안됀다 하는 그런 진리가 무엇입니까’ 하는 것이었습니다. 그때 당시 김 진홍 조교도 진리를 찾고 있는 중이어서 솔직히 대답했습니다. ‘나도 지금 그것을 찾는 중일세’ 그러자 그 학생이 말했습니다. '선생님, 선생님이 첫시간에 철학은 진리를 추구하고 발견하는 학문이다라고 말씀을 하셨는데 그 진리를 선생님이 모르고 계시는데 어떻게 진리를 발견하겠습니까? 그만 수업 종강합시다' 이 말은 너무 충격적이었습니다. ‘ 종강하자’라는 말은 선생님에게 더 이상 배울 것이 없다는 뜻이요, ‘수업을 그만 하자’라고 말 하는 것은 선생님 편에서는 선생으로서 자신의 존재 이유가 없는 것이나 마찬가지입니다. 그래서 그 때 김 진홍 목사님은 학교를 그만두시고 방황의 생활을 하셨습니다. 쓰레기 줍는 넝마생활도 하고 아이스께끼 장사도 하고 온갖 세상일을 하게 되었습니다. 그러다가 다시 신학을 공부하게 되었습니다.

여기서 우리는 이 영문과 학생이 말 한데로 ‘그러면 그 진리가 나와 무슨 상관이 있습니까?’하는 질문이 중요합니다. 진리는 나와 관계가 있어야합니다. 나에게 참 가치고 내 인생의 보람이고 열매여야 합니다. 내 삶의 원동력이 되고 기쁨이고 목적이 되어야합니다. 정말 자기 목숨을 걸 수 있는 절대가치이어야 합니다. 키에르케고르의 진리에 대한 열망도 바로 자신의 목숨을 다 바쳐도 아깝지 않은 바로 그런 진리였습니다. 그러면 우리가 그런 진리를 어디서 알 수 있을까요? 예수님이 말씀하셨습니다. “너희가 내 말에 거하면 참 내 제자가 되고 진리를 알지니 진리가 너희를 자유케 하니라” 우리가 예수님의 말씀에 거하는 삶을 살 때 우리는 진리가 무엇인지 그때 깨닫게 됩니다. 진리는 구도의 문제가 아닙니다. 앞서 나온 데로 학문의 문제도 아닙니다. 그것은 예수님의 말씀 안에서 발견되어지는 것입니다. 예수님은 하나님이 보내신 하나님의 아들이십니다. ‘태초에 말씀이 계시니라 말씀이 하나님과 함께 있었고 그 말씀은 곧 하나님이시라’ 태초에 하나님과 함께 계셨던 말씀 하나님 곧 예수님은 진리가 되십니다. 예수님은 만물을 창조하시고 이 모든 것을 자기 뜻대로 섭리하시는 하나님이십니다. 예수님은 성육신하여 이 땅에 오신 진리이십니다. incarnation, 곧 성육신이라고 하는데 예수님은 이 땅에 오신 진리의 화신이십니다. 이 예수님은 나를 사랑하사 나를 위해 십자가가에 죽으시고 내 생명의 주가 되셨습니다. 이 예수님 안에서 내가 생명을 얻습니다. 이 예수님을 통해 우리가 하나님께로 갈 수 있습니다. 그래서 예수님이 말씀하셨습니다. ‘ 내가 곧 길이요 진리요 생명이나 나로 말미암지 않고는 아버지께로 올자가 없느니라 ’ 우리가 진리되신 예수님을 믿고 감사찬양 합니다..."
18th-Jul-2006 05:05 am (UTC) - English translation of the above excerpt
English translation of the above excerpt

"...However the blessing of ‘holding to’ Jesus’ teaching does not stop here. Let’s read verse 32 together. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It means that ‘then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”


Some people think that they can find truth by Zen meditation and practicing ascetic life style as Buddhist monks do. Others think that they can find truth by studying hard many different subjects. While Pastor Kim Jin Hong was studying philosophy at the graduate college of Geimyung University, he also taught introductory philosophy to students as a teaching assistant. One day during the lecture, a student whose major was English asked him “Teacher, what is truth?” He answered “When this object called a desk in front of me agrees with my understanding of the desk, then we call it truth.” Pastor Kim was quoting Immanuel Kant from his book “Critique of Pure Reason.” But the student asked him again. “Ok. Let’s say that the desk in front of me agrees with the desk in my understanding. So what? What does its being truth have to do with me? I am not asking about that kind of truth. I am asking about the truth that is second to none in all truths; that I can truly give my whole life for it.” But Pastor Kim at that time was also looking for the same kind of truth that the student was looking for. So he said to the student honestly, “My friend, actually I am looking for the same truth you are looking for.” Then the student said, “Teacher, you said in the first lecture that philosophy is a study of pursuing and discovering truth. But since you do not know truth, how can I discover truth? Why don’t we just end our study here?” The last remark by the student was a shocking blow to Pastor Kim. When the student said ‘why don’t we just end our study here?’, it meant that there was nothing he could learn from his teacher. It also meant that he did not have any meaning in his existence as a teacher. So Pastor Kim finally decided to quit his job as a teaching assistant and his graduate study. He left the school and began to wonder about the world. He tried many things in the world. Sometimes he picked up junks on streets to sell them. He also sold ice cream on a street. Finally he ended himself up in a seminary to study theology.


It is very important for us to ask “what does truth have to do with me?” as the English major student did in the episode of Pastor Kim’s life. Truth must have something to do with my life. It must be truly worthwhile to me, satisfying to me and true fruit to me. It must become the motivation for my life, joy and purpose. It must hold the absolute value that is truly worth my life. Kierkegaard’s earnest desire for truth was the desire to know the truth for which he could give up his life with no hesitation. Then where can we find such truth? Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” When we live the life of holding to Jesus’ teaching, we finally learn what truth is. Truth cannot be discovered through practicing Zen meditation. It is not a matter of pursuing academic discipline. Truth is discovered in Jesus’ word. Jesus is the Son of God send by God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word that was with God in the beginning is Jesus and Jesus is truth. Jesus created every thing in the world and he is God who rules everything according to his will. Jesus is truth who came to this world in human form. This is called incarnation. Jesus came to this world as truth incarnate. Jesus loved so much that he died on the cross for me and became the Lord of my life. I receive life in Jesus. We can come to God through Jesus. That is why Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We put our faith in Jesus who is truth. We thank him and we praise him..."
18th-Jul-2006 10:06 am (UTC) - Re: Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
Thanks for your thoughts on this.

I think what can be seen here is UBF's trying to downplay the meaning of factual truth. Just as they say "because God is above morals, we are also above morals and need not behave ethically", they say "because God is the ultimate truth, factual truth has become irrelevant for us, so we can create our own truth."

UBF has extreme problems with the concept of truth. One prominent example is how Samuel Lee faked the picture of the MSU conference and added a 3rd balcony to it. But his written letters and lectures are full of that spirit. He always told his own version of UBF history and world history, not being worried about the problem that it is not the truth, but only what he wants others to believe. Another example: Andreas once told me how he asked Peter Chang about one example in his Sunday message, pointing out that this was not true at all. Chang answered: "It does not matter whether the example was true. All that matters is that it was *effective*." I think the one thing that baffled us ex UBFers the most is experiencing that the UBF members and leaders are not interested in the truth at all.

UBF is blurring the meaning of all important words such as love, truth, morals, so people cannot think straightforward any more.

18th-Jul-2006 01:26 pm (UTC) - Re: Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
Another interesting UBF twist on the word "truth" was how Mark Yang tried to explain to one UBF member that "worship in spirit and truth" means that we should wear your best clothes (which in turn always means suit and tie in UBF) for the Sunday worship service. Just the opposite from what the verse really wants to say.
19th-Jul-2006 12:11 am (UTC) - Re: Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
Mark Yang tried to explain to one UBF member that "worship in spirit and truth" means that we should wear your best clothes (which in turn always means suit and tie in UBF) for the Sunday worship service

So Mark Yang's understanding of "worship in spirit and truth" is "worship in suit and tie"?? Where do they get all these weird ideas? I think they all come from UBF subjectivity.
19th-Jul-2006 03:38 pm (UTC) - Re: Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
It is a typical example how they redefine words so that the Bible looses its meaning or means something different. Jesus wanted to explain that outwardness and formality has not much meaning, but the inner attitude and your love for the truth is important. But UBF's interpretation is the opposite, that outward things such as clothing is important.

It's completely illogical. Both of their claims, namely 1) clothing matters and 2) suit+tie is the best clothing. Can you imagine Jesus wearing suit+tie? Or Peter? Or John the Baptist? UBF is so silly.
18th-Jul-2006 10:39 pm (UTC) - III. Issues on the author’s interpretation of ‘truth’ in John 8:32
III. Issues on the author’s interpretation of truth in John 8:32

The Anamgol UBF author seems to sympathize with the position that the English major student took about the meaning of truth in his message. The Anamgol UBF author says in his message, “Truth must have something to do with my life. It must be truly worthwhile to me, satisfying to me and true fruit to me. It must become the motivation for my life, joy and purpose. It must hold the absolute value that is truly worth my life.” Then he finally says that when we live the life of holding to Jesus’ teaching, we finally learn what truth is.

I am sure that we can find such truth in Jesus. In fact the Anamgol author can find anything he wants in Jesus. If he tries, he can find anything good that he can and connect everything somehow with Jesus because after all Jesus is God. Jesus is truth; Jesus is happiness; Jesus is a husband; Jesus is a father; Jesus is a friend; Jesus is good health; Jesus is honor; Jesus is victory; Jesus is whatever good thing you can come up with. The Anamgol author can make a Sunday message out of anything by connecting any Bible verse and Jesus to it. So if things go like this, we don’t even have to study the Bible at all! Well, Jesus is God and he is SO GOOD!

The reason we study the Bible is that we want to know what the Bible says! So if we are studying John’s Gospel, we want to know what John’s Gospel says about truth. If we happen to study John chapter 8, we want to know what John chapter 8 teaches us about truth. After we learn what John chapter 8 teaches us about truth, then we want to examine what I or others think about truth so that I can orient myself toward what the Bible teaches about it. Is this what we see in the Anamgol UBF message? NO! He seems to be too much engrossed in flattering himself with Kant and Kierkegaard!

The Anamgol UBF author talks only about what he thinks about truth. He doesn’t carefully study what John chapter 8 teaches us about truth. Does what the Anamgol UBF author talks about truth in John 8:32 agree with what Jesus had in mind about truth when he said “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”? I don’t think so. To consider this and to understand what John 8:32 teaches us about truth, I suggest that we should focus our attention more on the immediate context of John chapter 8 with, of course, effort to understand it in the whole context of the Bible.

In verse 12, Jesus declared “I am the light of the world.” Jesus was telling the truth when he said this. But the Pharisees challenged him in verse 13, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” Then Jesus explains to them about his testimony very logically until he comes to verse 43 where he says “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.”

So it seems that the meaning of ‘truth’ in this chapter is related to understanding the “validity” of Jesus’ testimony. Jesus worked very hard to prove the “validity” of his testimony but the Pharisees didn’t believe him and his testimony. But there were some Pharisees who believed Jesus. To these Pharisees Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It seems that some Pharisees were somehow compelled to believe that what Jesus said had to be true but were not fully convinced of the “truth” of it of the “validity” of it. So Jesus said to them “If you hold to my teaching…Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

For example, Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” So even though some Pharisees decided to believe in Jesus, they probably still had the question: “How do I know whether or not it is true?” Jesus’ assuring answer to them was “If you hold to my teaching…Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The validity of Jesus’ testimony has been already proved. So all we have to do is just holding onto them. Then we will know that it is true that Jesus is the light of the world. So the meaning of truth in this chapter should be interpreted as the truth or the validity of Jesus’ testimony. But the Anamgol author talks only about his truth but not Jesus' truth.
19th-Jul-2006 12:05 am (UTC) - Re: Excerpt from the Anamgol UBF Sunday message
UBF has extreme problems with the concept of truth. One prominent example is how Samuel Lee faked the picture of the MSU conference and added a 3rd balcony to it. But his written letters and lectures are full of that spirit. He always told his own version of UBF history and world history, not being worried about the problem that it is not the truth, but only what he wants others to believe.

UBF version of truth seems to be very subjective. Just take a look at what the Anamgol UBF author says about truth:

It is very important for us to ask “what does truth have to do with me?” as the English major student did in the episode of Pastor Kim’s life. Truth must have something to do with my life. It must be truly worthwhile to me, satisfying to me and true fruit to me. It must become the motivation for my life, joy and purpose. It must hold the absolute value that is truly worth my life.

He says that it must be truly worthwhile to me, satisfying to me and true fruit to me. So what if it doesn't? Then it is not truth? He also says that it must become the motivation for my life, joy and purpose; it must hold the absolute value that is truly worth my life. So what if it doesn't? It is not truth? I was having hard time to follow his logic when translating his message. I still don't understand what kind of truth he has in mind.

I guess Samuel Lee doctored the picture maybe because it was truly worthwhile to him, satisfying to him and true fruit to him. Maybe he did it because it was the motivation for his life, joy and purpose. I think it didn't matter to him whether the auditorium was two story or three story building. All that mattered to him was that it was worthwhile to him, satisfying to him and true fruit to him when he turned the two story auditorium into three story building by doctoring the picture. And we see the same reasoning in the Anamgol message. So what is truth in UBF? Maybe whatever is good for UBF business, which seems to be the absolute value in UBF.
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