This was originally posted in December 2000 on ubf2000 [an old UBF reform website] by the late Jimmy Rhee.
(From ubf2000.com, 12/2000)
First of all, I ask everyone who has been spiritually abused by UBF for their forgiveness. For I am one of those who contributed to the current state of UBF.
I suggest all the [current UBF] missionaries to do the same before we try to reform any, to bring God’s healing to those who have been spiritually abused as well as to all of us. We have to have a sincere repentance statement asking for forgiveness from the Lord and men. I failed to speak up against the unscriptural acts; I didn’t even diligently look into the word of God to find the answers; I didn’t seek the Lord for his answer. I obeyed man rather than my Lord. Our fear of man, our competing spirits were the good soils Dr. Samuel Lee took advantage of and even caused him to be corrupted. Aren’t we responsible for the fall of this man whom the Lord seemed once wanted to use? So let’s start with our repentance statement, not just on the Internet, but on the major papers as the 1950’s shepherd movement leaders of the USA Churches did. I ask this to every UBF missionary and staff all over the world, especially in South Korea, and USA.
As every cultic movement starts with some misinterpretations of the scriptures, so with UBF. Once I used Numbers 12:1-11 to defend Samuel Lee. At that time, I sincerely believed that spiritual leadership should be upheld by any means, and I understand why so many UBF people still blindly follow him even when his way is against the scriptures. I also understand Isaac Kim’s (LA) response. As it is, spiritual leadership should be respected, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be accountable, I mean not only to God, but also to men.
I have to check out Num. 12 first. What did the Lord say when He rebuked Miriam and Aaron? “With him (Moses) I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he (Moses) sees the form of the Lord” (8a NIV). Does Samuel Lee equal to Moses with whom the Lord spoke face to face? No! I know he is just a fallible man. Even the kings, including David, were allowed to be rebuked by the prophets. Whether kings accepted or not is another matter, and we see the best model was David who humbled himself when he was publicly rebuked by Nathan! The reason is clear. Men are corruptible without any checking mechanism. This is why the accountability is one of the deciding factors to discern a cultic organization. Be aware of any spiritual leaders, not only of UBF, but also of other ministries who do not want to have any accountability! Be aware of yourself if you are one of those, disliking to be challenged by others, especially by those who you may think spiritually less mature than you are!
Looking back to the UBF history, no one noticed its root problem sprouting, when Samuel Lee started criticizing other church leaders, and staying away from them. If you see the early UBF history, you may be surprised at the big list of the renowned pastors’ names who supported UBF. Within a few years, Samuel Lee cut his relation to most of them, and with other churches; he often said UBF is the bridge between the churches and the campus. It is only a lip-service as we all know. UBF has not raised up any church leaders as other campus ministries, except those who left UBF. What I mean is Dr. Lee does not want to have any relationship to the body of Christ, because he does not like to submit himself to anyone – no accountability, only with his board of directors who do not have any spiritual discernment let alone any prophetic courage to speak up for the Lord.
Whether UBF is a cult or not, I leave to your own sound judgment with some hints from Dr. Selwyn Stevens, chairman of Jubilee Ministries, whose purpose is to equip, inform and resource Christians so they can reach those ensnared in spiritual deceptions, including cults, secret societies, the occult, etc:
1) origin of cults – (i) as it grows, it breaks away from Christian body; (ii) revelation, truth become authoritative; (iii) allegiance is compulsive
2) common traits – (i) authoritarian leadership – no accountability; (ii) exclusive, not whole truth, such as unbalanced emphasis, or omission; (iii) adversary to the major social institution, such as families, work place, government, wider Christian church; (iv) isolate members from the realities of the outside world;
Dr. Stevens said: Remember that if something is true, it can stand being questioned; if it is not, it needs to be questioned! Unfortunately, as we go thru such life as in UBF, we bear its consequences, that is demonic bondages attached to our thought pattern, relationships, and even physical and emotional scars and wounds which need to be broken and be healed. Check out if there are such as pride, self-righteousness, idolatry (very subtle one-who are you obeying?), ungodly yokes, deliberate deceit, dishonesty (how many times did you call in sick without any qualm?), corruption, false concept of God (I recommend to read “Knowing God” by J. I. Packer or “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A. W. Tozer), secrecy (are you willing to open yourself, to be transparent?), swearing oaths, greed (what about unsanctified ambition or competitions which are used as a bait to hook us?), anger and violence, spiritual blindness, curses. These are all bondages and curses you have to bring to the cross where Jesus Christ became a curse to redeem us from such curses! (Gal. 3:13)
Most important thing we have to look at is how much spirit of religion we have got! For once we submitted to a man, not to the Lord and His Holy Spirit, because of fear, we have unconsciously gained the religious spirit, so easily judging others. Listen to the lecture on “Exposing the religious spirit” by Dr. Jack Deere, once a professor of Dallas Seminary or at least check out the check list of religious addiction and its treatment in the book of “Toxic Faith” by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton to realize the seriousness and depth of wounds gotten from the spiritual abuses in which we all hurt and are hurt.
So re-examine where you stand now. You will find in yourself many of the very things you want to change in UBF. I have gone through a lot of cleansing process to get rid of such things and it is still on-going. Praise the Lord, however, once cleansed and freed, you will find yourself much refined and closer to the Lord. Yes, UBF is a part of His plan for you and me: we can say this only after we feel the freeing and refining work of the Holy Spirit.
Anyone who needs healing from the spiritual abuses of UBF, or is not sure about the theological and practical wrongs of UBF, …. Take 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1; Remember if something is true, it can stand being questioned; if it is not, it needs to be questioned!