As I continue to read the 1976 Korean UBF reform letter, I can clearly see a pattern. In the past, before Samuel Lee died in 2002, the allegations were against Samuel Lee himself. UBF leaders today, in 2012, would like everyone to quietly sweep all UBF problems under the rug, and let the allegations die with Samuel Lee in his grave. In that way, the good things Samuel Lee did can be spun into a “guiding spirit” that can infiltrate the UBF population (that is a paraphrase of some statements in the UBF 50th Anniversary book).
As a former Director in UBF and member for 24 years (1987 to 2011), it is very easy for me to see how the claims against Lee can be levied against numerous current UBF leaders and in fact against the official teachings and practices of UBF as an organization. It is even more apparent to me that a core problem in UBF is doctrinal error. The teaching of UBF, and the methods used to perpetuate that teaching, are indeed non-Biblical. This is extremely ironic, given the inordinate amount of time dedicated to Bible study in UBF. But even that is not so ironic to me. It is very easy to see that “Bible study” in UBF is not critical thinking or exploritive learning, but is almost exclusively “Pavlovian response technique” and “Bible memorization”. UBF repeatedly trains people to ask certain questions based on certain Bible passages until they can respond in the UBF-ordained manner.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
1976 Allegation #4 – Non-Biblical Education Methods
CLAIM: The 1976 claim was that Samuel Lee ordered a missionary candidate to put red pepper in his eyes and bang his head on a wall to demonstrate his repentance. The letter also claims many more physical abuses, but does not name them.
FACTS: The forced repentance is well-known in UBF and well-documented. In the book “Churches that abuse“, a statement is recorded: “Preparation for Summer Conference [in UBF] usually reached fever pitch the three weeks prior to the event. It was during these times that extensive spiritual manipulation and indoctrination occurred. Lee would meet nightly with all the UBF staff, accusing some of “playing Satan,” and actually saying that he had prayed they would die if they did not repent.”
COMMENT: The 1976 Korean shepherds said it best: “Missionaries who experienced inhumane training have bitter and askew hearts. We can not bear it any longer. Isn’t repentance originated by the Holy Spirit?”
Forced testimony sharing
CLAIM: The 1976 letter acknowledges that testimony sharing can be used as a good educational method through which we can accept God’s word into our hearts. The claim is that Samuel Lee abuse this method, forcing shepherds to confess their sin so that he could give them some kind of suffering or penance, and so that he would know their weak points.
FACTS: UBF teaches a “shape up or ship out” attitude.
COMMENT: Coercion is a major contradiction of Jesus’ teaching methods. Such forcing of testimonies is a form of BITE control.
Personal (Lee) philosphy
CLAIM: The 1976 letter claims that the essence of Christianity is Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection, and that this essence was tainted by Lee’s overstressing of Genesis Bible study. The claim was that this resulted in Bible study methods that were not those of Apostle Paul or of Jesus. They further claim that Lee’s personal philosophy was infused into messages and Bible materials in a way that blocked free and creative thinking, and as such, hindered the faith of students.
FACTS: Nearly all the question sheets and messages used for UBF Bible study are heavily influenced directly (almost verbatim) from Samuel Lee’s material. Some recent effort has been made to create new material, but such effort is simply a rewording of Lee’s material at best.
COMMENT: 24 years of UBF study and UBF life clearly demonstrates to me that Lee’s philosophy is very much alive. If you don’t believe me, then read the UBF 50th Anniversary book. A precious few leaders in UBF in 2012 have begun to question the Genesis-based philosophy that permeates UBF.
CLAIM: The 1976 claim was that Samuel Lee was absorbed with all kinds of training, to the point of becoming proud, thinking himself to be the best trainer in the world. They claim that Lee’s training was spiritual, mental, emotional and physical abuse, using harsh language, beatings and torture. The claim was that this resulted in all UBF shepherds becoming nearly identical and also universally feeling horror, guilt, shame and self-accusation.
FACTS: The UBF motto is declared on their UBF history page: “We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. By correctly handling the word of God, we want to establish a Christian view of life. We are soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the sake of Bible Korea and World Mission, we participate in the sufferings of Christ voluntarily.” Such soldier mentality was not accidental. Thinking and living like “holy soldiers” gives rise to submitting to inhumane suffering as training.
UBF further admits to training shepherds in Korea to be “pillar-like”… “But from 1967 we trained students and raised them up as messengers. Through this training, student leaders grew to be independent Bible teachers. Even after graduation, they continued to study the Bible and struggled to live according to the word of God and later grew to be pillar-like shepherds in each UBF center.”
COMMENT: Again the 1976 Korean shepherds have the most appropriate comment: “You are proud that you are the best trainer in the world. We have been proud that we have wonderful trainer like you. What are the fruits of your training for the last 10 years? You were proud that you chose us from the best intellectuals. We tried our best to accept your training. But according to you, we turned out to be useless. Is there any problem in your training?”