A Sickening Cycle

The UBF pattern plows onward…

This new report from the Cologne UBF Fall Bible Conference reveals the sickening pattern of self-glorification that repeats over and over like a broken record. I’ve seen this pattern hundreds of times since 1987.

Two Agendas

The German Bible students want to build an altar of thanksgiving to God, which is good and pure. The UBF directors want to establish longterm UBF heritage loyalists, which is not so pure.

In preparation time, Eberhard Gross and Volker Keller were convinced that through this conference we should build an altar of thanksgiving to God. At the same time we wanted to raise two longtime Bible students as shepherds. But the messengers we first chose, were not ready. Some pioneering chapters had their own program and shepherds in Koeln were under pressure from studies and/or work. God used this to glorify himself among us through his word and his spirit.

Mystical Weather Observations

UBF directors continue to be mesmerized by weather patterns. They tend to see some specific blessing on UBF in the weather.

The environment was also beautiful: a house on a hilltop. And instead of streams of November rain, we had mostly dry weather with pleasant temperatures.

Isolation and Separation from The World

UBF directors continue to push the UBF lifestyle as “the best way”, prooftexting this hidden agenda with Bible verses and using guilt-tripping to push students into a life separated from friends and family. They usually draw on a source of pity as well, such as someone who “had no chance” up to now.

Pastor Abraham Lee had had no chance of preaching in a long time, but this time served the opening message on John 15:1-17. In this passage, Jesus taught his disciples their indispensable relationship with him, like the branches and the vine. This relationship needs active care. As the gardener cuts the branches, we, the disciples of Jesus, must separate ourselves sometimes from good and even better things in order to serve the best, i.e., doing what God wants us to do. Our lives will be meaningful, happy, and fruitful when we remain in Jesus.

Teaching Irresponsibility

UBF directors continue to teach that worldly vocation and study outside of UBF activity is bad. They teach that Jesus must be first always, and thus UBF activity must be first, instead of the Christian teaching that Jesus should be in the center of our lives.

Rene Richelshagen preached from all his heart. By the end of this month, he is supposed to turn in his bachelor paper. Still, he put priority on God’s word and both challenged and invited us through Jesus’ teaching.

Secret Sauce

I have become convinced that the “secret sauce” that makes UBF keep going year after year is the binding of UBF heritage to the Bible. The prized heritage activity is testimony writing based on a UBF message. In this way, the grace of God is exchanged for human work and human authority. To take the edge of strangeness off, testimony writing is always followed by some fun activity.

The message helped us to write our testimonies and to share them in our groups. In this way, the grace each one received was multiplied, and we can pray for each other from our hearts even after this conference. On the same afternoon, we also had much fun through games supporting team spirit.

Winners inside; Losers outside

UBF directors continue to teach that those outside UBF are “the lost”, binding UBF to Jesus and other religious people to the Pharisees. Yet the UBF directors refuse to see that they are the Pharisees who have no love for the lost. They continue to heap guilt onto Bible students, making them feel that they were “lost” before adopting the UBF lifestyle.

On Saturday night, Michael Pohl preached on John 10:1-18. Jesus taught about the Good Shepherd on the background of the Pharisees who had cast out of the synagogue a man born blind who had been healed by Jesus. The Good Shepherd does the very opposite: he gathers those who are lost. Jesus gathers the lost ones and makes them winners of life. He takes care of God‘s sheep because he loves them from his heart. And since he loves them selflessly, only for their own sake, he is even willing to lay down his own life for them. The lost ones – that doesn’t mean only losers, but also people who seem to lack nothing – just as Michael himself experienced.

Immoral Activity

UBF directors continue to allow immoral activity more boldly in order to “be relevant” or to “appease the second generation”. The sexual inneundos at UBF conferences are getting less and less subtle. A UBF lifestyle eventually leads to a numb conscience in which immoral or illegal activity is no longer shocking.

On the Sunday before, all the assembly of Koeln I had danced a “good shepherd style” (like “Gangnam Style”) right after worship service. God has truly given us many possibilities to express our joy of his calling and over the task entrusted to us.




2 thoughts on “A Sickening Cycle

  1. Hi Brian, what do you mean by these sentences: “UBF directors continue to allow immoral activity more boldly in order to “be relevant” or to “appease the second generation”. The sexual inneundos at UBF conferences are getting less and less subtle.”

    Are you referring to the provocative dance style? I recall feeling uncomfortable during some dances at various points, but I can’t attribute those to the leaders, who largely were not the ones choreographing the dances.

    As for illegal or immoral, I agree that the setup allows (or condones) practices if it is expedient to the mission. I recall one person bragging about how he brought a person to a conference by (deceptively) telling him they were going to an amusement park. Its okay if it furthers “the program.”

    • Hi Joshua, I’ll try to explain. First of all, my choice of words is perhaps rather harsh rhetoric that can’t be applied to every ubf chapter. They do apply, I think, to this specific instance of this German worship service that was followed by a modified Psy Gangnam style dance, by all the people there. Why would that dance be chosen? Pride in Korea perhaps? I can’t think of any good reason.

      While I am all for creativity and love some rather suspect music, I do not think such things are appropriate at a Christian worship service on any level. And why have a whole church do the Gangnam style after worshiping our Lord? I’m a liberal, but not that liberal.

      Mainly, I see this as a continuation of a pattern I’ve observed for 20+ years. The pattern has been subtle historically, sort of a “holy lust”.

      Here’s one example: I’m not sure about your part of ubf, but in my part of ubf, every Christmas program had a duet with a single brother and a single sister. It seems innocent enough but it was always an odd, uncomfortable, romantic dance to watch during Christmas time. I lived with one brother who had to do the dance, in hopes he would get married. He shared with me how he struggled immensely with lust during the dance, but felt utterly afraid to talk about such things with his shepherd or anyone else, for fear of never being allowed to get married.

      Another example from the last ubf conference I attended: One of the young sisters helped make the banner. She put a strange cornucopia-looking symbol on it, complete with stars. When I asked what it was, no one would talk about it and no one seemed to know how that related to Jesus’ love (which was the theme of the conference). Most agreed though when I mentioned it looked like a phallic symbol. Why was such a strange symbol allowed? The answer given to me was: To encourage that sister to participate in the conference.

      I mention the leaders here because we all know how much control a ubf leader has and because leaders are responsible for reviewing any program. In the case of the dance in Germany, if it was right after worship service, the director/leaders most certainly approved it or at least allowed it.

      I remember leaders being very upset over things that program choreographers wanted to do (choice of music, dance partners, etc.) But often they would give in at some point as long as the dance was related to ubf heritage somehow. Then they would take credit for being “progressive” and try to gain points with the younger students, even dancing themselves perhaps.

      Sorry for the rambling…not sure if I’m answering your questions or making this more confusing.

      The point is as you mention: “whatever is expedient to the mission of ubf” or “whatever advances loyalty to the ubf cause”.

      Such principles are dangerous guides that can lead to immorality and illegal activity, and have on both accounts.