How Discipling/Shepherding Has Gone Awry in UBF

After reading a few old articles from ubfnet.com by an “anonymous USA missionary” (who is most probably Daniel Hong, based on the writing style) at escapeubf, I’m beginning to understand how discipling/shepherding has gone awry in UBF. Ask a UBF leader today why UBF puts such emphasis on obedience to a human shepherd. If they give you an honest answer (as the “anonymous USA missionary” did), they will say that UBF believes that obedience to one’s shepherd (and one’s shepherd’s shepherds) is the practical expression of one’s acceptance of Jesus’ lordship or the practical expression of “denying oneself.” You will sometimes hear from UBF leaders that “all we are doing is teaching students to have practical Christian faith.” That “practical” Christian faith by UBF standards is almost always measured by one’s obedience to one’s human shepherds, and probably the ultimate expression of “practical” faith in UBF is leaving one’s choice of marriage partner in the hands of one’s human shepherds.

So in UBF, one’s human shepherd is the proxy (I don’t know if that’s the right word) of Jesus’ lordship in one’s life. In UBF, the practical expression of Jesus’ lordship in one’s life is practically impossible (even unthinkable) without the interposing presence of one’s human shepherds (the so-called “servants of God”).

Getting back to the “anonymous USA missionary,” when he goes to the Bible to defend UBF’s understanding of Jesus’ lordship he begins with the example of Moses who, “practically” speaking, was to be obeyed as if he were God by the people and even by his older brother Aaron. So, the “anonymous USA missionary,” who I believe honestly expresses what’s in the “collective mind” of UBF, shows that he can’t understand Jesus’ lordship in a Christian’s life unless he thinks of Jesus’ lordship in terms of the requirement to obey a proxy lord, one’s human shepherd, one’s personal Moses.

If a UBF defender is honest, as the “anonymous USA missionary” was, they have to admit that UBF’s discipling/shepherding principles are very similar to those developed by the “Fort Lauderdale Five” and their “Shepherding Movement” of the 1970s-80s.

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