UBF Spiritual Heritage

Spiritual heritage. If you’ve been in UBF for any length of time, you know what this means. Today I want to clarify what these words mean for outsiders or newcomers to UBF.

+ Note as of 9/17/2017 - The web admin at ubf has modified their links so that the links either go to an endorsement page or to a "not found" page. Some of the old material is still to be found here: LA ubf history page and also here: http://history.ubfservice.com/

First of all, “spiritual heritage” is a trigger phrase. UBF people reading this already know what I’m talking about. Let’s identify what these words mean so the rest of the world can understand. UBF material mentions “spiritual heritage” a lot… for example:

“God did not call us to be ordinary people who does ordinary work. Among all peoples of all nations, God called us to be shepherds for students. Our mission does not end in gathering students. God called us to be disciple-makers who raise up spiritual leaders and shepherds. May God help us to keep this spiritual heritage of God’s specific calling to us as disciple-makers among college students to the end.” (reference link is no longer valid)

“They don’t like to be absolute because it requires struggle. Rather, they choose to be relativistic because it does not require any struggle. In place of struggle, compromise became a virtue; rationalization in place of repentance. As a result, they are perishing, not being able to overcome the temptations of sin and physical desires. In this generation, God gave us solider spirit and fighting spirit as our spiritual heritage. ”
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“On the first day of the conference, we are going to have a time of reviewing and appreciating the 50 years of UBF ministry and the spiritual heritage well presented during the missionary seminar from May 30-June 2 in Korea. I pray that God may raise young UBF leaders through the European YLC who can change this world.”(reference link is no longer valid)

“When I came to the States in 1995 after 10 years, I saw him wearing the suit with its button holes worn out. From his deep love and union with Christ came the giving and manger spirit, sacrifice and love for one soul which became the spiritual heritage of UBF. We must remember that we were created in Christ Jesus. We too should be filled with Christ through our love and submission to Christ and grow in His image by following His footsteps.”
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“I thank God for greatly blessing the 50th Korea UBF anniversary, the 2011 World Mission Report, and the missionary seminar. Most of all, I thank God for Dr. John Jun’s message that will direct the next 100 years of our UBF ministry.  …  First, we pray to raise the next generation leaders as professional Genesis Bible teachers. Using the late Dr. Samuel Lee’s Genesis lectures, we are going to intensively and thoroughly study all of Genesis in 6 days and 5 nights. Second, we are going to study topics covered at the missionary seminar in Korea again and give young leaders a chance to inherit UBF’s spiritual heritage and philosophy.”
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What is UBF Spiritual Heritage?

As you can see from the quotes above, UBF spiritual heritage is very important to UBF people. But rarely is it clearly defined and documented. Each member seems to define this heritage in their own terms, making it into something they can live with.

In my experience the past 25 years, UBF spiritual heritage is a collection of inspiring slogans proof-texted from the Bible. The heritage is a classic example of eisegesis Bible study. I have heard 5-point heritage, 7-point heritage, 8-point heritage and 12-point heritage mentioned as UBF leaders attempt to codify what they really mean by “spiritual heritage”.

God bless your soul if you start to question what these mean. And may your soul rest in peace if you criticize these points.

The 12-Point Heritage

Here is how UBF spiritual heritage was defined for me, in my part of the UBF world. We have a framed picture of this, which used to hang in our house.

“A kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

1. Back to the Bible
2. World mission
3. Campus evangelism
4. Manger ministry
5. A spirit of giving
6. Spiritual order
7. Lay missionaries
8. House churches
9. One to one Bible study
10. Disciple-making ministry
11. Daily Bread
12. Testimony writing & sharing

The 8-Point Heritage

This is how UBF USA defines the spiritual heritage.

1. Campus evangelism and leadership training
2. Bible-centered ministry
3. One-to-one ministry
4. Manger spirit
5. Giving spirit
6. Soldier spirit and fighting spirit
7. Absolute obedience to the world mission command
8. Earnest Prayer

UBF spiritual slogans - official page

10 thoughts on “UBF Spiritual Heritage

  1. Thanks, Brian. You know I laughed from my heart while reading the 12-point heritage and your “God bless your soul…”. There is a statement of faith in UBF, but it is not true. UBF’s true statement of faith is the 12-point heritage. It shows clearly how spiritually sick UBF is and has been.

    • Vitaly, sometimes all I can do is laugh! It keeps me from destroying something :)

      You make a very good point. If UBF leaders were honest, they would give every new Bible student a 50th Anniversary Book (the “blue book”). And they would not post a rubber-stamp “statement of faith”. They would post the 12 point heritage. That is what UBF is all about.

  2. Thanks for documenting this. As an aside, I had the impression that the term was coined by UBF after the death of Samuel Lee, and also understood to mean this person’s heritage, with “back to the Bible” being his famous last words. Or did UBF use the term already when Samuel Lee was still alive?

    • I never heard the term “spiritual heritage” until after the death of Lee. I heard all of the other terms a lot all 24 years.

  3. Hi Brian, thanks for your continuous reporting. The second quote is a fine example of why most college people are not into UBF. There’s much ignorance, presumptuous claims, and arrogance just from those few sentences.
    I can’t see how any critically thinking college student would agree with that paragraph.

    It also said, “God called us to be disciple-makers..”, and more specifically, to be disciple-makers of college students.

    Brian, do you believe that God called you to be a “disciple-maker”? Specifically, to college students?

    Personally, I don’t feel I have that calling. And I shouldn’t feel like I am called to be unless God actually tells me in a recognizable way, not just because someone in UBF told me that God called me to be one.

    What do you think about this? Do people in UBF have the authority to say these things? They are essentially “speaking on behalf of God”. Obviously this puts them in a position of great influence and power. I think what history has taught us is that absolute power corrupts absolutely, or however the saying goes. At least for humans.

    Interested to hear your thoughts,


    • Yeah, but when you are yoing and pure and you are told 10 thousand times that you are called to be a disciple maker, it is difficult to not believe. As someone said – no matter how great lie is if it is told many times with power initialy everyone will believe

    • Jae, I’m glad to hear your questions. You asked: “do you believe that God called you to be a ‘disciple-maker’? Specifically, to college students?” As David mentioned above, I used to think this way because I was told 20 thousand times that such a statement was true (David is more holy than me… I think in Ukraine they only need to be told 10,000 times, we Americans need 20,000 times :)

      Seriously though, I do need to answer your question two times. I am so intrigued by this, I made this today’s post.

    • Jae, Brian: I don’t think UBF members just do what UBF proclaims just because their UBF superiors tell them in such a coercive and repetitive way. They have deeper reasons, they really believe it is the right thing to do.

      For instance, the reason why most UBF members believe they must be disciple-makers for students is that they believe they were born again through the disciple-making “service” of UBF, and UBF does its best to make people believe it is only through UBF that they have been saved and born again. For most it is actually the only “mechanism” to be born again they know and experienced. They also consider it to be a sign of unthankfulness or selfishness to not pass on what they received as students in UBF to other students. And they believe the only way to pass it on is to make disciples in the same way as they have been made disciples themselves. In UBF, conversion and new birth is automatically coupled to your calling. To not accept that calling would mean to question the seriousness of your conversion. I think that’s one of the crucial issues with UBF.

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for your post. In HK, we have the 8-point Heritage version. Each house church has a framed picture of Samuel Lee and the 8-point Heritage, which used to hang in our house.

    Actually, UBF has created lots of so-called “spiritual terms” (of course, they say that these are teachings of Bible). In our experience, UBF spiritual heritage is just some sort of so-called “spiritual terms”. In deed, these spiritual heritage are the old rules of the Founder. I think there are some contradictions with the following statements they quoted in the “50th Anniversary Book”

    “However, the spirit that worked in the UBF ministry for the past 50 years didn’t come from the ideas of Dr. Samuel Lee or Mother Barry.”

    These spiritual heritage (or spiritual terms) are just slogan indeed. For example, the Korean Director always emphasize “Mainland China Mission” during the past. However, you may guess how many Mainland China missionary was sent from HKUBF? The answer is: No one was sent from HKUBF during the past 26 years.

    There are lots of “spiritual terms” used in UBF. They are using their own languages. You seem to be a freshman who is learning a language in a class. There should be 100 or even more spiritual terms that the UBF leaders always emphasize. These so-called spiritual terms are rarely clearly defined and documented. However, the UBF leaders redefine these terms and use them if they need at any time, sometimes different leaders will have different interpretations. I promise that you will laugh from your heart if you could find that there are so many “spirits” and so many “XXX-ism” (e.g. Humanism, Hedonism) in the UBF’s so-called “spiritual terms”.

    So what are these so-called “spiritual terms” used for? According to Steven Hassan, a cult or a cult-like organization use to adopt “loaded” language (characterized by “thought-terminating clichés”). for thought control. These “special” words constrict rather than expand understanding. (source:http://www.freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php) They like to use its own language and terms, and quote them if “necessary” (to control the others).

    In my opinion, the first lesson the UBF leaders that they should learn is to abandon using such sort of terms and abandon controlling the brothers and sisters Yet are they willing to admit that they are controlling the others indeed and adopt them? Since they must keep the “old rules” of the Founder, that explains why is it so hard to change and why have they reformed many many times during the past 50 years, but fail indeed.

    • The 8-point Heritage in HKUBF is as follows:

      1. 歸向聖經 (Go Back to the Bible)
      2. 通過平信徒宣教士遵行世界宣教使命 (World mission through lay missionaries)
      3. 通過1:1查經成就校園福音化 (Campus evangelism through one-to-one Bible study)
      4. 通過家庭教會持守馬糟事工 (Manger ministry through house churches)
      5. 興起門徒事工 (Disciple-making ministry)
      6. 天糧與所感撰寫 (Daily bread and testimony writing)
      7. “五餅二魚”的施與精神 (Giving spirit-“five loaves and two fish”)
      8. 為了成為祭司的國度和聖潔的國民而禱告 (Pray to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation)