As we examine the Sunday lectures from various ubf chapters, we can begin to see the various layers of bondage found in UBFism. In my review of a 2016 New Jersey UBF lecture, you can see that they are stuck in the UBF behavioral layer–very concerned about upholding the UBF ministry. In my review of the 2016 new year lecture from Toledo UBF, you can see they are stuck in Bible/cultural layers. Both lectures stem from the foundational UBFism layers of focusing on your own problems and learning the UBFism ideology. Today I present my review of a recent Chicago UBF lecture. We get to see a different kind of bondage. The Chicago lecture still springs from the foundational concepts of focusing on your own problems and constraining your thoughts to the the ideology of UBFism. The difference from New Jersey and Toledo is that Chicago is stuck in the Evangelical/Bible layers of bondage. All three lectures are bound to UBFism with the intention of capturing your mind and soul to become loyal and friendly toward UBF. Here is my review. I present these in the hopes that many more may begin questioning and examining these things, and see the chains that bind, and so that many more may begin a new segment in their journey.
Title of lecture: The Secrets Of The Kingdom Of God
Date of lecture: 2/7/2016
Chapter: Chicago UBF (given by Ron Ward https://vimeo.com/154646033)
Bible Text: Luke 8:1-21
Starting with Dictation
This lecture jumps right into telling us exactly what is going on. With no uncertain terms, we know exactly what we are supposed to learn. This is meant to be a guide so that when the members meet in small groups after this Sunday lecture, they all know what to say they learned from today’s lecture:
“The main theme of Luke’s gospel is that Jesus is the Savior King who came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus is not only our Savior, but also the Eternal King of God’s kingdom. In today’s passage Jesus proclaims the good news of the kingdom of God.”
Raising the Stakes
The lecturer wants us to know how VERY important and life altering this lecture is. Right from the start we are told this is a life and death matter, which places extreme weight on what follows:
“This is not a light matter; it is a matter of life and death. Let’s consider carefully how we listen to Jesus’ words so that we may have the secrets of the kingdom of God as our very own. Let’s also learn how we can grow to maturity.”
Preaching the Kingdom as a Utopia driven by Work
The banner over the gate of the German Auschwitz killing camp has the slogan: “Work makes you free”. I get the sense that the ubf lecturers would agree. The kingdom of God is presented as a utopia where “Satan can no longer rule over” you. The way to gain such utopia is by working hard, very very very hard. Those who are weak or lazy do not get the privilege of such a utopian kingdom. The common UBF binary thinking of “absolute good” and “absolute bad” is behind the thinking here:
“From the beginning of his ministry to the end Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God through teaching the word of God. Some people accepted the message, began to practice it, and committed themselves to Jesus and his ministry. In this way a community of kingdom workers began to form.”
“As we know, the world overflows with bad news. The worst news is that everyone is destined to die once and face God’s judgment (Heb 9:27). It is because of our sins, through which the power of death and Satan rule over us. Jesus came to save us from our sins, give us life, and bring us into the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (Jn 5:24). Satan can no longer rule over and torment us. Now Jesus reigns over us with love, peace and joy. We can experience the kingdom of God by faith, no matter who we are.”
Preaching a gospel of self-loathing
One of the tenets of the ubf gospel is the idea of self-loathing. You learn to hate yourself as you study the Bible at ubf. I find this idea somewhat common among American Evangelicals. This matches the theme of ubf life testimonies well. Before ubf, you were so bad and miserable. After ubf, you are so good and joyful and yet you hate yourself in order to be “humble”.
“We can see glimpses of the kingdom of God in the community which began to surround Jesus. Luke mentions the Twelve and some women. To human eyes, the Twelve were an unlikely bunch. They were not well educated or special; they were ordinary people from the despised region of Galilee.”
“At one time these women had been miserable, but now they were beautiful daughters of God. They helped to support Jesus and his ministry out of their own means. They served voluntarily; they were devoted and sacrificial.”
Portraying ubf into the Bible text
This lecture uses a common technique found in nearly all ubf lectures. He binds the ubf community to exactly what is happening in the Bible text. No one questions if that is really what the text is saying or if that is really what is going on at ubf in Chicago.
“Because of such women, Jesus’ ministry advanced. The same is true in our own community. There are so many devoted and sacrificial women that I cannot list them all. If I tried, I could not finish this message on time. The point is that the kingdom of God is good news to everyone, no matter who they are. The question is, how can we be part of God’s kingdom?”
Preaching the Kingdom as a Private Club
One of the greatest traps of American Evangelicals is the idea that the kingdom of God is some sort of private club. Each denomination seems to have their own idea of how to get in. Since ubf is a private club, they have no problem preaching that the kingdom of God must also be a private club. They really want to know what they must do to earn entry into God’s kingdom. Like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, however, this ubf lecturer fails to see the way. Instead, he presents a secret organization with secret keys to gain entry:
“The question is, how can we be part of God’s kingdom?”
“The word “secrets” implies that they are hidden and very valuable. To keep our nation safe, secrets about national security are marked “Top Secret.” Only qualified people can access them by permission of the government. Jesus compared the secrets of the kingdom to a treasure hidden in a field (Mt 13:44). It is worth any investment: time, energy, money, and even our lives.”
“Then what does it mean to know the secrets of the kingdom of God? It begins with knowing Jesus, who is the Savior King of the world…In Jesus we find all the most priceless treasures, such as God’s love, the forgiveness of sins, true peace and joy, eternal life, real meaning and purpose, our holy mission, living hope in the kingdom of God, and more.”
“The question is, how can we come to know these secrets? Secrets must be revealed. It is like getting an access code to a high security facility. The access code to the kingdom of God is given by God to those who earnestly and humbly seek him.”
Confusing with Contradictory Logic
A key element in all cultic teachings is confusion. It seems up to now that this lecture implies we can gain the kingdom of God by doing some hard work to study the Bible. But then the lecture says the entry is some sort of secret. And now the lecturer says we are not even in the kingdom yet! The kingdom now becomes the destination of our journey. The lecturer is confused about the nature of the kingdom of God.
“Those who receive the secrets of the kingdom of God enter a new world. It is the beginning of a spiritual journey of transformation that culminate in God’s kingdom.
Regurgitating SLee’s Lectures
Now comes a looong boring part where the lecturer re-phrases some of SLee’s lecture text. If you examine the internet link (url) for this message, you will find the years “2013” and “2015” embedded in the filename. Now we are in 2016. This is a common practice I used to do, as a ubf lecturer myself. We would just re-phrase our old lectures. In this way we could whip up a lecture in about 10 minutes, and pretend to “work really hard” in a room by ourself. For me, that “meditation time” was a time of relief, a time away from the drudgery of the ubf lifestyle. Everyone else thought I was “preparing message” so hard. In reality I was just browsing the internet or sleeping.
“In verses 11-15 Jesus explained the meaning of the parable to teach us how we can grow. The seed is the word of God, which has power within itself to give life (11b; Heb 4:12). This is the source of spiritual growth: the living word of God working by the power of the Holy Spirit. But there are things that can hinder the growth of the seed. The birds refer to the devil, who takes away the word from those who do not accept it (12). The devil is not lazy or negligent. He is diligent to capture stubborn and proud people (1Pe 5:8). Those who harden their hearts to God’s words will become the prey of the devil (1Pe 5:8). The consequence is serious: they are not saved. Rocky soil represents people who do not let the word of God take deep root in them (13). They may be very emotional for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. Testing comes to everyone, and only those who take root in the word of God by persevering will produce fruit. Jesus said, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7). Paul says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col 2:6-7).
As the lecturer explains this parable in mind-numbing fashion, he of course concludes that there are “good soil” people who always obey and always produce fruit. The audience is filled with guilt:
“Good soil refers to those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (15). These people study the word of God with a humble heart and really hear what it says. They hold on to it, reflect on it and meditate on it until it becomes their own. When times of hardship come, they hold all the more firmly to the word they received. As they do, they are purified by the words of God, become more and more like Jesus, and grow in hope in the kingdom of God. This is what it means to produce a crop: it is to bear the likeness of Jesus and be a blessing to the world.”
Appealing to American Evangelical history
Way back in 1987, ubf people like to appeal to American Evangelical history. They told me ubf is part of the Presbyterian church, and handed me a copy of the shorter Westminster catechism. But this is a lie. ubf has no ties to the Presbyterian church whatsoever. And they do not follow the Westminister catechism in any formal manner. This lecturer uses a similar tactic, and presents one of the Evengelical heroes, Charles Simeon. The lecture pulls references from the Desiring God website.
“Charles Simeon (1759-1837) was the son of a rich attorney. He went to a privileged boarding school and then to Cambridge. By force he had to attend the Lord’s Supper and this terrified him. While preparing, he read that Christ died for our sins. Amazed, he accepted Jesus and experienced new birth into eternal life. He was transformed. He gave up his extravagant lifestyle devoted himself simply to Christ.”
The lecturer seems infatuated with Charles. He seems like such the perfect ubf shepherd!
“Later he became the senior pastor of Trinity Church, which ministered to Cambridge students and the London community. Cambridge was destitute spiritually. Simeon was by nature a harsh and self-assertive person. He was slow to change and made many mistakes. Church members were hostile to him. Those who had the rights to church pews locked them so no one would be able to sit in them during the Sunday morning service. Since the congregation had the right to choose the Sunday afternoon speaker, they chose his associate pastor every week for five years. After that man left the church, they chose someone else for another seven years, before finally asking Simeon to preach in the afternoon. During this entire time, Simeon devoted himself to deep Bible study and sharing messages that were faithful to the Bible text.”
The lecturer emphasized the loyalty of Charles. 54 years!
“He remained in that church for 54 years and endured many more hardships and trials. In the course of time, many young men of God were raised and sent throughout England. One of Simeon’s spiritual sons was Henry Martyn, the great missionary to the Muslim world. According to the historian Thomas Macaulay, Simeon’s “authority and influence… extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners of England, …his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.” Charles Simeon shows us a good example of persevering and bearing abundant fruit.
Preaching a gospel of Self-help
Another tenet of the ubf gospel is that age old non-Biblical saying “God helps those who help themselves”.
“Here we find Jesus’ principle in revealing secrets of the kingdom: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. While this may be economically undesirable, it is spiritual reality. The more we have a spiritual desire to know Jesus through the words of God, the more insight and understanding we gain and the more we grow in depth of Christian character. But if we do not meet Jesus through his words, we become more and more dry and weary, and life becomes really miserable.”
“Here we learn that Jesus’ kingdom is God’s household (1Ti 3:15). The bond is not based on our DNA, but obedience to the word of God. This obedience is not always easy, but it brings us the great privilege of becoming children of God and members of his family.”
2 Stars – Robot
This lecture gets a 2 star rating on the Karcher Sermon Scale – a predictable robot preaching the typical Evangelical Bible bondage concepts with the purpose of committing to UBFism.
High – The Trashcan Fire
The lecture gets a rating of Trashcan Fire on the Karcher Sermon Danger scale – a small fire that can be put out rather easily. However, given the nature of the organization, people will just let the trashcan burn or worse, the can may get tipped over, starting other fires.
1. Definition: some details are explained about the problem
2. Purpose: the purpose is explained briefly and requires individual repentance
3. Scope: the problem is found in some of us.
4. Research: the viewpoints of other people are examined
5. Strategy: viable solutions are presented that go beyond status quo
6. Results: the picture of how we will be better is clearly painted