The Unforgivable Sin

Unforgivable-sin-Have I committed the unforgivable sin? This coming Sunday I will preach on The Unforgivable Sin from Isaiah 22. One of my Bible students has asked me repeatedly over many years whether or not he has committed the unforgivable sin whenever he “falls into sin.” He asks this because he thinks that the unforgivable sin is to curse and swear at God out of his own frustration and anger. My response to him is always the same, “The fact that you ask and wonder about this tells me that you have not. Yes, you have sinned, as I have, but you have not committed the unforgivable sin. Those who do commit the unforgivable sin very likely don’t know and don’t care.”

Jumping to application, failure to explain current fulfillment and too many points. Though I am not able to make all of the corrective changes, I thank Gajanan and MJ for their insightful, useful and helpful critique on True Believers from Isaiah 19: I “jumped to practical application” before adequate hermeneutics and exegesis, and I did not explain how the prophecy regarding Egypt is being fulfilled. TBT, I did not because I do not know! MJ and her sister also pointed out that my preached sermon last Sunday had too many points, since I do not like to leave anything out. I want to seriously consider these critiques and be conscious of them, though, to be honest, I will likely continue to fail!

God’s people ignoring reality as though everything is fine. This is my paraphrase of what Isaiah says is the unforgivable sin. The day of God’s judgment is coming upon Jerusalem (Isa 22:5). God calls for them “to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth” (Isa 22:12). God desires that they seriously consider the error of their ways. But instead, “there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! ‘Let us eat and drink,’ you say, ‘for tomorrow we die!’” (Isa 22:13) As a result of their nonchalance, the Lord Almighty revealed to Isaiah, saying, “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for” (Isa 22:14). This is surely the worst statement that anyone can possibly hear from God. Interestingly, this was not declared to all the godless nations around Judah (Philistia to the west, Moab to the east, Syria to the north, Egypt to the south, or even to arrogant Babylon and Assyria), but to God’s very own chosen people in Jerusalem!

Seemingly not that hard to do. It was rather surprising to me to realize that it is not that difficult to commit the unatonable, unpardonable and unforgivable sin, even by God’s own chosen people: Just ignore the reality and live as though everything is fine!

Isn’t it too easy to just ignore or refuse to face reality? I used to think that only non-Christians commit the unforgivable sin. Thus, we Christians are “not that bad” and basically OK. But are we, really? Don’t we also have offensive and glaring blind spots? Aren’t we also self-righteous, proud and condescending toward others? Aren’t we also defensive and refuse to be accountable when our errors and sins are pointed out? Don’t we also ignore reality with blinders on as though everything is just fine?

59 comments

  1. This is a really good discussion starter, Ben.

    I think we need to consider some thoughts:

    – How does other Scripture shape our answer, like Deuteronomy 29:18-21, Luke 12:8-10?

    – How long is the sin unforgiveable? Does anything indicate it is eternally unforgiveable? Like much of Hebrew thoughts on Heaven, Hell, sin, etc, they are often speaking of this life on earth, not the eternal. I wonder if this is the case?

    – Things that are not the unpardonable sin: homosexuality, suicide, gluttony, tatoos, and many more.

    – It seems to me the one thing that cannot be forgiven is “going your own way”.

    I wrote several thoughts on this earlier:

    The Lord will never be willing to forgive him

    • Great comments and questions, Brian, thanks.

      I love your post on the unforgivable sin from 2012! I have to say that it is “better than mine.” Yeah, my UBFishness of comparing with others will never leave me, I guess. :) Vitaly’s comment on your post is also quite interesting.

  2. But Ben, you and I are overlooking THE unforgiveable sin. It is so easy and plain to see. M.Rhee will surely agree when I say the one and only sin that cannot be forgiven for now and all eternity, is running away from ubf.

    The current General Director of ubf tells us this plainly in his ESBC closing message:

    “What did Paul do in his situation? He welcomed all who came to him and studied the Word of God with them. He believed that the gospel is the power of God that would transform Rome (Ro 1:16). The soldiers who came to guard him were never run-away Bible students. By faith he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught them about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord worked with him. Many soldiers, officers and their families believed and through them even Caesar’s household came to Bible study with Paul. Paul’s one-to-one and small group Bible study ministry in a rented house seemed insignificant in the eyes of the world. But God did an amazing thing through faith and prayers of Paul and his coworkers. God changed the Roman Empire into a Christian nation 250 years later. Indeed God threw the mountain of Rome’s godlessness into the sea. The life of Apostle Paul and the early Christians testify that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Heb 11:1).”

    So you see, even the great Apostle Paul had to deal with run away sheep and his 1:1 bible study. But all you slacker shepherds need to REPENT because Paul had NO run away sheep! He was the perfect example of UBFism! Amen!!

  3. So we can learn some amazing truths from this amazing insight!

    The General Director of UBF, Abe T Kim, wrote: “Indeed God threw the mountain of Rome’s godlessness into the sea.”

    So apparently God forgot to remove the godly people and ALL of Rome fell into the sea… After you become a “priestly nation”, your empire will collapse. After your godlessness is thrown into the sea by God, you will also be thrown into the sea. When you adopt UBFism and have no “run-away sheep”, then your leadership is corrupt and your empire will fall…

    8 reasons why Rome fell

    • This is a really really good comment in that article I linked to:

      “Christianity and the loss of traditional values

      The decline of Rome dovetailed with the spread of Christianity, and some have argued that the rise of a new faith helped contribute to the empire’s fall. The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313, and it later became the state religion in 380. These decrees ended centuries of persecution, but they may have also eroded the traditional Roman values system. Christianity displaced the polytheistic Roman religion, which viewed the emperor as having a divine status, and also shifted focus away from the glory of the state and onto a sole deity. Meanwhile, popes and other church eladers took an increased role in political affairs, further complicating governance. The 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon was the most famous proponent of this theory, but his take has since been widely criticized. While the spread of Christianity may have played a small role in curbing Roman civic virtue, most scholars now argue that its influence paled in comparison to military, economic and administrative factors.”

      Actual Christianity is NOT about building a priestly nation. Christianity is OPPOSED to empire-building and nationalism. The teachings of Jesus, when obeyed, will thwart all those building pretty organizations with holy paint on the walls.

      Jesus stands diametrically opposed to UBFism.

  4. So UBFism says forgive anything–sexual abuse, financial misconduct, affairs, abortions, suicides, toxic leadership–forgive and forget and cover over a multitude of sins…

    BUT

    if you ever dare LEAVE UBF, THAT is the UNpardonable sin of all sins!

    What hogwash…

    • Well, Brian, I’m chuckling because only you can state it the way you state it! I’m also chuckling imagining the fuming red hot anger of some who read this, and then also others who might wonder whether or not this is serious or a joke! Could this be Poe’s law in play??

    • Poe’s Law is always in play when discussing a UBFism lecture, especially one like the General Director’s above where UBFism is inserted into the Bible narratives.

      If we can see past the lecture, and Poe’s law, my comments are real and serious. UBFism does teach that leaving UBF i.e. “running away” is the unforgivable sin.

    • Yet it will always be flatly denied. At best some might acknowledge that they are disappointed, heart-broken, feel betrayed that they sacrificed so much for the sheep “for nothing,” etc, but I can’t see anyone openly saying that running away is an unforgivable sin.

    • Correct. That is because so many ubf leaders are steeped in deception. I have heard this said many times in private. But of course, they will never say this publicly.

      And they will often not say this in private either. But it is “said” many times by their actions.

      What do their actions show? You can do anything you want as long as you are loyal to ubf. The moment you leave UBF, you are cut off and can only be in good graces if you return and/or show praise for UBF.

      I literally could have created any kind of ministry I wanted, be it Islam, Jewish, athiest, whatever. As long as I would show up to UBF staff meetings and demonstrate loyalty to UBFims, they don’t care what you believe or what you do.

    • Joe Schafer

      They don’t call it “running away from UBF.” They call it “denying God’s grace upon your life.”

    • Ah yes, there are many colors of holy paint.

      When I witnessed a shepherd running-away for the first time, sometime back in the late 80’s, one woman Korean missionary told me: “We used to say those who ran away were going to hell. We don’t think that anymore. But they are losing their faith. If you want to serve God, you cannot run away from ubf. God’s calling is irrevocable.” (I’m paraphrasing from memory of course, but those words seared my conscience)

    • Joe Schafer

      Today’s DB page actually comes out and says it. If you give up your calling and stop preaching the gospel, Jesus is gonna come and remove your lampstand. You might be “totally ruined,” just as Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. What marvelous news!

      #######

      HOW MARVELOUS IT IS!

      Matthew 21:33-46

      Key verse:
      Matthew 21:42

      September 30, 2015

      First, the rebellious Jewish elders (33-41). As the time for him to be glorified drew near, Jesus’ exchanges with the Jewish elders became sharper and sharper. Their time was just about up, after which they would be judged severely. In 70 AD, Jerusalem was totally destroyed, including the temple. God was about to establish a new order.

      Second, how marvelous it is! (42-45) Like the stone that “became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Da 2:35), Jesus is both the corner and the capstone, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Whether by active opposition or passive apathy, those who reject him to the last will be totally ruined.

      Third, the kingdom given to others (43). When we lose our “first love”, the Lord disciplines us so that we are not lost with the world. But as with the Jewish elders and the nation of Israel, if we break faith, and fail to preach the Gospel, the Lord himself will remove our “lampstand”, just as happened in Ephesus (Rev 2:5).

      Prayer:
      Lord, grant that we may remain faithful throughout our lives, preaching the gospel fully, both with and without words. For Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen..

      One word: “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2Ti 2

    • Joe Schafer

      Don’t you just love those churches where, if you don’t keep doing what the leaders want you to do, you get threatened with eternal destruction?

    • These DB’s just have to be a joke, right? People are not seriously meditating and praying based on these DB’s and hoping to improve their relationship with God? No one is paying good money to buy the paperbacks of these?

      It is good evidence though of what UBFism teaches.

    • One thing for sure is that they are not interested in receiving constructive criticism. I emailed some of the writers about a questionable db interpretation and while surprisingly one (whom i personally know, which was most likely a significant factor) got back to me and sort of agreed, the author of the passage in question never responded. It goes without saying that they simply don’t give a hoot what others think. Just keep churnin’ out that good ol’ bread.

    • Don’t you remember that you have been taught for decades that to critique God’s word–Daily Bread or Sunday message–is a very dark and severe and terrible and ruinous sin! You obviously have some dark and serious hidden sin problem. Please REPENT and humbly ACCEPT God’s word! Otherwise, who knows what God will do with you!!

    • You know, this reminds me of a story of one young man who raised questions about the daily bread writings instead of faithfully meditating on them without fail. What’s more is that he enjoyed worldly pleasures, especially basketball. Well, one day he tore his Achilles tendon while playing and tragically has only one leg to stand on. This is God’s punishment for his refusal to submit to daily bread training. True story.

    • Joe Schafer

      hope his head is still alive

    • Interestingly, I was thinking of exactly the torn Achilles heel story! Very likely some might now be seriously spinning, speculating and sermonizing the story, since it is likely concluded as being so obvious that the person needs something far more severe done to him than just a minor torn Achilles heel before he learns his lesson!

    • Ben, as far as one young man knows (although he’s technically not that young anymore), he hasn’t heard anything in that vein, but perhaps something might become known to him through the grape vine. Though, I don’t think he cares too much. And this man’s head is very much alive indeed.

    • “hope his head is still alive”

      *Only* his head has been alive for the last ten years (to quote SL).

    • Joe Schafer

      Sorry, you’re right.

      After I stopped doing DB, I became useless, like a mental patient. I lost my joy of life and can no longer eat deliciously.

    • If one is to be more culturally contextualized in today’s day and age, one might say, “Since he abandoned God’s mission and stopped feeding sheep, he lost all of the joy of life and just ate and ate and ate endlessly until he became like Humpty Dumpty!” That might also probably already be culturally out of date.

    • “That might also probably already be culturally out of date. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19608

      Yes, it is.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      That the writing of the DB materials is a problem is surely known among UBF leadership. In late 2012, I had a conversation with MarkV about it during a staff meeting. He approached me with an invitation to join the writing staff which I quickly declined. He called the writing at times “raunchy”. But years later the problem has only gotten worse. Why? Politics and the obligations to honor certain people? As someone suggested, publishing the names of the authors of the particular sections, and their contact info, would be helpful. Or just shutting the whole thing down!

    • Joe Schafer

      My experiences with MarkV and other Americans in leadership are similar. At some level, they do realize that there are serious problems with the way things are done in UBF. They know all about the dark side of UBF because they were there and fully participated in it. But they can’t or won’t confront the problems. They hope that over time things might incrementally improve, that the bad practices will silently silently and gradually and painlessly die away, to be replaced by better practices, without any shame or admission of wrongdoing. They think that the leaders of UBF can still save face. In other words, they want renewal without repentance. But that is impossible. Until there is a palpable atmosphere of corporate repentance, the Daily Bread won’t get better, no matter how many Americans or second gens are working on it.

    • Mark Mederich

      it takes great courage to confront worse ways & develop better ways, but it is necessary/inevitable & brings joy

  5. I remember one of the last straws for me was a message on Genesis by a high ranking leader in which he clearly stated that those who lose their 1:1 mission will die in the desert like the Israelites who had failed “daily bread training”

    • The last straw for me was also a ubf lecture– on John 17. The Easter message was this: We should pray that God would glorify us and seek to be glorified.

      The massive contradiction between what John 17 says and what the ubf lecturer said was too much for me to take. Seeking your own glory is an anti-gospel.

    • Mark Mederich

      self-respect is good but self-glory is entangling waste of time; true 1:1 mission is striving to be sincerely helpful to whoever you are with wherever: those who do so have promised land experiences of spirit fruit (joy,peace,..)

  6. “…they would be judged severely. In 70 AD, Jerusalem was totally destroyed… those who reject him to the last will be totally ruined. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19596

    Don’t we just love to “judge severely,” “totally destroy” and “totally ruin” others by using (misusing/abusing) the name of God and Jesus?

  7. “But as with the Jewish elders and the nation of Israel, if we break faith, and fail to preach the Gospel, the Lord himself will remove our “lampstand”, just as happened in Ephesus (Rev 2:5). – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19598

    Well, get ready ubfers, the Spirit has taken away your lampstand. You have failed to preach the gospel.

    • aka, the Lord has sent an entire generations of people with real shepherd heart out of your ministry.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I have sent this to 3 missionaries. Their 3 responses are the three responses I have typically seen to this:

      Rejection-

      One missionary said he was at a loss for words.

      Downplayed rejection-
      One missionary said it was bad, but said that everyone has flaws

      Silence-
      One missionary never got back to me.

    • Did you send the Daily Bread to them? Did the 2nd missionary actually say that the DB was bad? And then justify the DB writer, saying everyone has flaws?

    • Joe Schafer

      “One missionary said he was at a loss for words.”

      What does that mean?

      Did the strangeness of the DB book render him speechless?

      Or was he in a state of shock because the quality of UBF Bible study materials was being challenged by an insubordinate American?

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      The second missionary said “I agree with what you said.” After I said “This is inexcusable nonsense passed off as Christianity.” The other missionary said “I have no words.” I suspect this is because of his disagreement with the content. This missionary is atyipical, but he has got upset with me before when I told him some things felt scripted at the conference. The silent missionary got back to me. He said that the author should not “use his own idea and application”.

    • Joe Schafer

      “He said that the author should not “use his own idea and application”. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19624

      Ah, yes. The ultimate UBF insult.

      When Samuel Lee wanted to rebuke you, he would poke you in the chest with his finger and say, “That is your OWN thinking!” or “That is your OWN idea!” That line has been used countless times to put people in their place and tell them that they are wrong, with no other logic or rational basis needed. It is the classic technique for stifling dissent and shutting people up. It’s an exercise of raw power by a senior person over a junior person.

      If you ever want to drive a UBF leader absolutely nuts, then — no matter what he says to you — just poke him in the chest and say with an authoritative voice, “That is your OWN idea!” Then say, “That is just your HUMAN THINKING!” Then stand back and watch his head explode.

      The fact that this would be the ultimate put-down says pretty much everything you need to know about UBF values and culture. The unpardonable sin in UBF: to be a well differentiated human being with independent thoughts and decisions.

    • Joe, what makes this insult so harmful is not only that it denies your potential to have spiritual ideas, but the indirect conclusion that people are supposed to derive from such a statement: That there are “Godly” ideas and “human” ideas, and that the leaders are those who always have the “Godly” ideas and can discern between these types of ideas. Once you buy into this line of thinking, you are doomed. With that conviction, your only sure way to obey God in is then to obey and follow the leaders in everything they say. That’s also why they are called “servants of God”, because they are the ones who claim to know the will of God. Note I’m not against the usage of the term “servant of God” in general, but the way it was used in UBF, namely as a title reserved for the chapter director. When people spoke about “*the* servant of God” in my chapter, everybody knew that they meant the director, and it cemented the conviction that all the other members were *not* really servants of God, or they were only *indirect* servants of God, when they obeyed the directed.

    • Mark Mederich

      “spiritual” bullying is the worst kind, most detrimental; but those who overcome become most able/balanced/unstoppable..

  8. “Or was he in a state of shock because the quality of UBF Bible study materials was being challenged by an insubordinate American?” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19618

    I have not verified or confirmed this recently, but if I remember correctly from what I was told some years ago, it is interesting that many/most if not all the DB writers may now be Americans, with no more missionaries or foreigners writing or contributing to the DB.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to know who penned the various DB passages?

  9. As a defense of UBF and to give credit where credit is due, I would have to say that UBF, as a whole, generally desires to honor the word of God as the word of God. I learned this from UBF 35 years ago when I joined UBF, and to this day I have benefited from and been influenced to highly honor and regard Scripture as God’s word.

    But every thing in life that is good is like a double-edged sword. For instance, a godly wife is a wondrous gift from heaven. But she can all too easily become an idol that replaces God as the center of affection.

    Similarly, honoring God’s word as God’s word can also turn to something ugly, perhaps somewhat akin to the ugly debates and disagreements and contentious arguments regarding the so-called inerrancy of Scripture.

    In my opinion, UBF has sadly turned the wonderful honoring of Scripture to something else. It is to regard the preacher or messenger of God’s word, or the writers and authors of DB as though they are Scripture, or God’s Word itself, which they are obviously not. The preacher/messenger becomes practically untouchable. It is as though they should be regarded as above and beyond reproach, almost to be revered like God.

    In my opinion, any preacher, messenger or author of DB who refuses to answer for what they wrote is communicating that they are like God.

    The sadder thing is when people do not realize this or refuse to discuss it. Such people invariably regard anyone who questions the sermon or DB as someone who does not honor or accept Scripture as God’s word. What is worse is that they are regarded as some insubordinate, immature, rebellious sinner who obviously has some deep secret hidden inner sin problem!

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Ben, what you wrote is in part why UBF is filled with harmful teachings and practices. The “word,” that is, the text, has itself become an idol that is to be “honored.” I think this false worship is complicated in two ways: 1) lack of understanding of how God has spoken through history (by prophets, apostles, animals, etc.) and how it should be received; 2) no distinction between what is called God’s word (the text) and the living Word of God, which Scripture declares, is a person named Jesus. Maybe, it is point 2 that has complicated matters. but “honoring the word of God” sounds nice and right, but has become something of a monster and an idol in UBF. UBF closing itself off to orthodoxy teaching and apostolic tradition, except when it is used to affirm UBFisms, if that is even possible, hasn’t helped at all, obviously.

  10. “As a defense of UBF and to give credit where credit is due, I would have to say that UBF, as a whole, generally desires to honor the word of God as the word of God.”

    I beg to differ. I would write, “generally desires to honor the UBF hermeneutic/exegesis of the word of God as the word of God.”

    God never said anywhere in the Bible that leaving UBF is a sin, unless there’s some miscreant translation out there, that I am not aware of.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I tend to agree with Ben. They might not realize ( or willfully disbelieve) that they are not equating UBF with God. But I fail to believe on experience and reason that anyone really wants to worship ubf and not God.

    • Samuel Lee ordered divorces (including one in my chapter) solely because one spouse wanted to leave UBF (just UBF, not Christianity), and nobody in UBF complained about that.

      How is this possible? It is something that the Bible clearly and explicitly disapproves of. Even if one would become an unbeliever, the other one should not divorce, the Bible says. So this clearly shows that UBF does not care about the Bible at all, they care only about UBF itself.

      Another example: The Bible clearly says e.g. in Mt 23 that we should not use titles in the church. Still, UBF is using titles exzessively (both secular titles such as “Dr.” and spiritual titles such as “Missionary”, “Shepherd”, “Mother”).

      When a friend of mine in UBF brought that up, the answer he got was “then you can leave UBF if you don’t like that”. So clearly UBF honors their traditions more than what the Bible says.

      I could give many more examples where UBF leaders disregarded the word of God and promoted lying, neglecting parents and children, even abortions instead. You could say, well, these were only the leaders. The problem with the members is that they did not protest. Well, some protested (the reformers) but they were kicked out and so they are not UBF any more. Over time UBF expelled all those who really tried to take the word of God seriously, and only the corrupt leaders and those who are more loyal to them and their system than to the Bible remained.

      Totally agree with MJ, UBF does not honor the word of God as the word of God, but they honor the caricature they made out of the word of God, which is UBFism.

    • Also, I don’t accept forest’s apology “they might not realize”. Who of all people brags about “studying” the Bible day and night and so should know what the Bible really says? Also, enough books and Internet articles have been written about the problems of UBFism, so they cannot take their ignorance as excuse.

      When even the heathens according to Rom 1:20 have no excuse no for not knowing God, how can UBFers have an excuse for not knowing God?

  11. There’s a lot of good intentions, but that’s not enough. Those who teach have a great responsibility.

  12. Joe Schafer

    Ben wrote: “As a defense of UBF and to give credit where credit is due, I would have to say that UBF, as a whole, generally desires to honor the word of God as the word of God. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/29/the-unforgivable-sin/#comment-19628

    I will also push back against this comment. Yes, one could say that the leaders try to honor the word of God some or even most of the time. But at crucial times, I have seen them willfully and deliberately turn the other way. I told the story of one such incident here. http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/02/28/telling-it-to-the-church-part-3/

    They have an ideology (what Brian calls UBFism) through which they try to interpret everything, including the Bible. When reality and Scripture contradicts that ideology, they ignore what they see and keep the ideology. The consequences of those choices have been huge. And the lives of many people have been irreparably damaged by their bad choices.

    In general, Tullian Tchividjian seeks to honor God and Scripture. But at one key point (faithfulness to his marriage vows) he willfully decided to turn the other way, with dire consequences for his family and ministry. He is still a sincere Christian as far as I can tell. But his willful wrong choices at key moments disqualified him from ministry and he had to step down. By that standard, there are many who hold key leadership positions in UBF who disqualified themselves and should have stepped down a long time ago.

  13. Thanks so much, guys. I love reading your comments on this thread that began with the unforgivable sin, most of which I generally agree with, but also with some degree of push back, perhaps as you had with my comments.

    I can think that many leaders would simply think that stepping down is not even a consideration because most of them did not commit adultery. Yes, some/a few did, but that was the minority, and usually not by the chapter director or lead pastor, such as Tchividjian.

    As with tradition/ideology (UBFism) trumping Scripture, yes I agree that this unfortunately happens, and surely not just with UBF. Throughout 2,000 years of church history, some favored tradition and ideology has led to serious debates, disagreements and even war.

    To some traditional conservative Christians who strongly oppose gay marriages, they could similarly be accused of their tradition and conservative ideology trumping countless Scripture verses regarding unconditional love of sinners regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual identity. Similarly, with Complimentarians and Egalitarians, Calvinists and Armenians, Pre-, vs. A- vs. Post-millennial positions of eschatology, some staunch Catholics vs. some staunch Protestants, etc.

    I believe all of you know that I’m in no way excusing or justifying UBF for pushing their agenda or ideology or tradition at the expense of Scripture. As we all agree, no one ever gets it 100% right.

    Perhaps we can stretch out some olive branch of compassion and understanding, while continuing to press on the hard and painful issues at hand.

    Also, there are so many or too many battles to pick on, and sometimes we need to pick one or two battles, rather than attack all or many of them at once.

    Also as much as UBF was pushing their UBFism onto me for over three decades and counting, God had mercy on me to draw me to Himself through his Word–both the Word, his Son, and the word of Scripture, as I believe that God is doing in many of you and surely in countless others as well, in spite of UBF and UBFism. Again, I am not excusing or justifying UBF, but I’m just saying…

    Sorry for throwing in too many things in one comment (which I implied we should not do!), many of which are broad sweeping generalities.

    • Joe Schafer

      Yes, as far as I know, most of them did not commit adultery.

      Perhaps a better analogy than Tullian Tchividjian is Mark Driscoll. He did not commit adultery either as far as I know. But he has serious character issues that were never addressed, which translated into patterns of behavior and leadership style that caused his church to fall apart. And like UBF leaders, he doesn’t seem to have a clue that he is unfit to lead until he deals with the inner garbage that causes him to act that way. Mark Driscoll is a sincere Christian who should not be leading a church. Many UBF leaders fall into that category. They can and will spin it as a difference of opinion. But if you want to be in a healthy Christian environment, do not look to those people to provide it, because they can’t.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, I don’t believe that my differences with UBF are comparable to Calvinism versus Arminianism or many of the other theological differences that divide the church. The problem is relational. They do not know what relationships in a healthy Christian community look like, because UBF is not and never has been a healthy Christian community.

      Speaking for myself, I believe that I (and the rest of my family) would be in a much better place emotionally and spiritually if we had not spent so many years in such an unhealthy environment.

      Yes, there are too many battles to fight. For me the fight is over. They may do as they wish. If they want to go to SL’s grave today and engage in thinly veiled ancestor worship, I will not try to stop them. But I will speak truth and warn others about them.

    • Ben, you need to measure the different churches according to their own pretensions. Differently to the mainstream churches, UBF claiming that 1) you need to take the Bible literally, 2) there is only one simple interpretation of the Bible and you can find it if you study hard enough UBF style 3) UBF leaders have found that one interpretation, are living according to it, and train others to do so as well. I’m measuring UBF according to their own fundamentalist presupposition. This is not about “not getting things right”. This is about claiming “we just follow the Bible” and forcing others to do so “absolutely” and then overstepping such simple commands as not to use titles or not to divorce.