Before you read this article please watch this clip. This is one of my favorite clips of all time: Tank Man Raw Footage
If you do not know who this man is, he is known as the tank man and the event is the protest of Tiananmen Square June 5, 1989 (the year I was born, an auspicious year!)
Hey ubfriends community, how’s about we form a good ol’ book club on this site? After seeing some of the theology-related comments and perusing some of the old articles, I realize that this could be a great place to hold discussions on a book. The first step would be to agree on a book to read and choose a start and finish date. Then, we could each take turns writing an article on a given chapter of the book and have the whole community dialogue in the discussion section. We could even do a final video chat to close out the discussion. These are just my ideas, but if you’re interested, let’s work out the details in the comment section below.
As promised, here is my third installment in my three part article series. I am well aware of the provocative title in this third article. This is intentional because as a non-Korean UBF shepherd for over 20 years, I found only two ways to share my perspectives with Korean missionaries at UBF and to raise issues and pains of conscience with them. Those two ways are to 1) use the cult label and 2) leave, or threaten to leave, UBF. Here is my attempt to comprehensively and concisely share my thoughts on this subject.
I suspect most of our readers here already know quite a bit about using logic and discerning truth from lies. If so, then I would love to learn more! As the holiday season kicks off with Advent, I feel it is important to point out some expressions of logic that helped me navigate the ubf quagmire. One of the Sunday Advent readings was Mark 13:33-37, where Jesus says “Be watchful! Be alert!” Should we not use our minds to be alert with reason as well as faith? For many years I was stuck on the question, should I stay or should I leave? None of what I’m about to share helped me in making that decision; I did that one by faith :) But these expressions of logic have helped immensely after leaving to make sense of the world around me, as well as the world of ubf I had left behind.
This is the 11th week of Seminary. The academic challenge I am getting here is very restorative to my faith. There are two classes in particular that are changing the way I view life: Introduction to Theological Research and Hermeneutics (interpretation of the Bible). These are the two first classes for any seminary student.
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One of the problems that comes with teaching is knowing what was previously taught to your students. If you assume they know too much then you will expect too much, if you assume they know too little you will waste your time reteaching things. It is important as a teacher to determine the level of the student upon becoming his teacher.
One unspoken rule I have noticed in traditional UBF chapters is there is this idea that life decisions and choices must be approved by a pastor or shepherd before being undertaken. When directly asked this a shepherd will reply “You are free. Everything is permissible.” But then under his breath he adds “But not beneficial unless I say so.” I have not reacted well to this idea, because it seems insane to me. Recently I heard of a young man who broke his chapter leader’s directive and later when the young man protested this idea that things must be approved, he was told it was not a rule, but rather it was “common sense”.
This week I finished reading Steve Hassan’s latest book, published in 2012, entitled “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs“. I found this book to be highly relevant and surprisingly comforting. Steve presents so many ideas and thoughts that describe what I’ve been going through before, during and after my commitment to University Bible Fellowship. I find solace in the fact that a cult expert who joined and exited a Korean-based religious group confirms that my recovery is real and on track. Steve writes in the opening pages: “In the Moonies, where Koreans are considered the master race, we sang Korean folk songs, ate kimchi [Korean pickled cabbage], and bowed or removed our shoes before entering a group center.” (pg. 28) “In the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I know a woman who was excommunicated because she sent a birthday card to a nonmember.” (pg 29) “In a legitimate church, if your mother is sick or injured, you go to the minister or pastor and say, “My mother is ill. I’m going to visit her in the hospital. Please say a prayer for her.” In a Bible cult, you are expected to humbly approach the leader or sub-leader and ask, “May I have permission to visit my mother?” (In the Moonies, when leaders didn’t want members to get emotionally involved with their families, we were told to “leave the dead to bury the dead.” All outsiders were considered spiritually dead. (pg.30)
Critical thinking. Can a Korean do it? Could a Korean display the healthy attributes of a critic? After spending tens of thousands of hours with Koreans in ubf ministry for over two decades, my conclusion was, “no way”. But once again, I am proved wrong! Koreans can and do think critically. Here is one good example. In 1998, a Korean man named Yo Sup Lee wrote a seminary paper that reviewed the discipleship methods of Korean parachurch groups. One of the groups he studied was ubf. I find his analysis remarkably accurate.
A friend of mine brought the following list to my attention this week. I feel compelled to share this as an informative article in hopes that people might recognize how manipulation and control can be instituted in a systematic manner. Such control does not require violence or guns or force to instill. How is Christianity different from a system of control? How are the sins of such a control system different from the sins of individual people? How should Christ-followers react to such a system?