Archive for September, 2004

Spurgeon on the graceless pastor

September 27, 2004

Something I wrote in March about another nominally Christian, “mission-minded” monster named Feroze Golwalla, whose small but incredibly abusive “missionary-training” cult included students from Wheaton College (of all places!):

Date Posted: 12:27:33 03/22/04 Mon
Author: Joe
Subject: The characteristics of a young Samuel Lee
In reply to: Joe ‘s message, “Re: UBF is not the only cult where Wheaton failed…” on 12:06:32 03/22/04 Mon

As I read more about this Golwalla at, I get a picture of what Samuel Lee might have been like in his youth, already a liar, a deceiver, a monster. A Moody [Moody Bible Institute] professor recounts at that Golwalla’s personal conversion account seemed to be devoid of Christ, an observation that many have made about Samuel Lee’s own personal conversion account.

When Feroze returned to campus for the Fall semester, my wife and I invited him over to our home for dinner. At this point I asked him to tell me about his conversion to Christianity. In the thirty minutes that he took to relate his conversion, he never mentioned Jesus Christ nor his atoning death on the cross. In fact, he stated that prior to his conversion he was intimate with God. (If so, then why would Christ be necessary for our being reconciled to God?) I got the impression that he was an unregenerate religious man with a thin, superficial Christian veneer.

The Golwalla described by this professor is the Sam Lee that I observed.

Spurgeon saw (foresaw?) the disaster that a graceless, unregenerate pastor brings [from “The Minister’s Self-Watch”]:

How horrible to be a preacher of the gospel and yet to be unconverted! Let each man here whisper to his own inmost soul, “What a dreadful thing it will be for me if I should be ignorant of the power of the truth which I am preparing to proclaim!” Unconverted ministry involves the most unnatural relationships. A graceless pastor is a blind man elected to a professorship of optics, philosophizing upon sight and vision, discoursing upon and distinguishing to others the nice shades and delicate bleedings of the prismatic colours, while he himself is absolutely in the dark! He is a dumb man elevated to the chair of music; a deaf man fluent upon symphonies and harmonies! He is a mole professing to educate eaglets; a limpet elected to preside over angels. To such a relationship one might apply the most absurd and grotesque metaphors, except that the subject is too solemn. It is a dreadful position for a man to stand in, for he has undertaken work for which he is totally, wholly, and altogether unqualified, but from the responsibilities of which this unfitness will not screen him, because he willfully incurred them. Whatever his natural gifts, whatever his mental powers may be, he is utterly out of court for spiritual work if he has no spiritual life; and it is his duty to cease the ministerial office till he had received this first and simplest of qualifications for it.

"Church Displays Members’ Individual Tithe Amounts…"

September 22, 2004

This “story” at The Holy Observer–the Christian equivalent of The Onion–is a funny fabrication of course:

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Have you ever seen your church’s income figures and casually estimated how much each attendee would have to tithe to reach the total? Have you ever looked around during a Sunday morning service and wondered who specifically is giving how much? Well in a time when privacy is regarded as highly as autonomy, Pastor Regan Miller of First Baptist Church in New Braunfels decided it is time to urge his congregation into a deeper level of financial accountability. For six weeks now, First Baptist’s pre-service PowerPoint announcements include a chart with each member’s tithe amount from the prior week.

This story from my personal story is too true, unfortunately:

As far back as I can remember, Chicago UBF has maintained a publicly viewable offering chart on a wall of the Chicago UBF church building. On this chart are written the names of all Chicago UBF members who offer a monthly tithe, the so-called “World Mission Offering,” which is compulsory for all “committed” members of the group. This chart tracks each person’s tithing month-by-month. Therefore, if someone fails to tithe for a given month, no matter what the reason, a blank space is there on the chart for all to see. If someone offers less than their normal amount for a month, no matter what the reason, a partially blank space is there on the chart for all to see. [Not only is it reflected on the chart, but the person who offers less than their usual amount will be pressured and guilted and sometimes publically berated for it.]

At least the fictional church in San Antone has the fictional integrity to disclose to its fictional members how much money they take in.

Common elements in personality cults

September 21, 2004

I recommend reading this recent article (unfortunately no longer available) about the N. Korean personality cult.

I’m not going to say that Sam Lee and Sarah Barry were deified in UBF [of course, the N. Koreans would also deny that they deify the Kims], but the personality cult was definitely in evidence. How many homes in UBF do not have at least one picture of Sam Lee and Sarah Barry framed prominently somewhere, especially that blown-up black and white photo of Barry as a “southern belle” or “Mississippi princess” from the 50s? At least in the home I grew up in, their pictures were framed and placed very prominently. It’s as if they were part of my extended family.

"Americans hate the CYA mentality…"

September 21, 2004

Someone’s comment on the whole shameful CBS-Dan Rather memogate affair:

I would have thought that anyone at CBS with any sense of how to run a business would have taken the approach of how the Tylenol poisoning disaster was handled. To this day Tylenol remains an industry leader. They did it by being honest and forthright with the public. Americans hate the cover your *ss mentality of egotistical individuals and organizations. They can accept mistakes and errors if they are owned-up to, responsibility taken and honesty shown. CBS may have been stupid in publishing the memos in the first place but they are dumb beyond belief in perpetuating the lie.

I don’t believe UBF leaders have learned anything about America in the ~30 years that they’ve been here.

Jesus in UBFism

September 3, 2004

Some posts regarding what I’ve called “UBFism“:

Author: Joe

Subject: Re: Jesus not so important in UBF

In reply to: former ‘s message, “Jesus Not Important in Toledo UBF” on 07:10:34 06/28/04 Mon

>The Toledo director does it again! Another Jesusless message!

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Moonies, even Muslims, mention Jesus in their sermons. UBF defense and “UBF critics exposed!” web sites have phrases like “May Jesus be gloried” or “May all glory go to Jesus”. Jesus is on everybody’s lips.

What matters is how UBF understands Jesus, represents Jesus and interprets and carries out his commands, and on those counts UBF is incomplete or unbalanced at best, cultic and dangerous at worst. From claiming that Jesus “didn’t mind violating the Samaritan woman’s rights” to the emphasis on works over grace for salvation, UBF gets Jesus and his gospel all wrong, IMHO.

And it’s clear from all of our UBF experiences that Jesus and his gospel are not the true pillars of UBF. Nor are the written statement of Christian faith (hastily copied from others) or bylaws the true pillars of UBF. The true pillars of UBF are “spiritual order”, obedience to human leaders, tithing to the “Central,” etc.

Author: Joe

Subject: Re: Jesus Not Important in Toledo UBF

In reply to: former ‘s message, “Jesus Not Important in Toledo UBF” on 07:10:34 06/28/04 Mon

>The Toledo director does it again! Another Jesusless message!

It is strange to walk into a nominally Christian church on Sunday and not hear the name of Jesus mentioned or even alluded to in a sermon. But then the UBF statement of purpose goes something like this:

The University Bible Fellowship is an international evangelical student organization with emphasis on world mission … to teach students the Bible and to help them live according to its teachings.

No mention of Jesus there.

Then you go to a site like the University of Chicago “Bible Club” homepage which just recently added a UBF affiliation statement after a few years without one, and instead of even a passing mention of Jesus, you get something like, “Because you can only gain from knowing more about the Bible.”

You get the impression that UBF doesn’t know what kind of church or organization it wants to be. Instead of taking the name of Jesus with them wherever they go, they take the name of UBF, and their “world mission” seems to be about self-propagation, rather than propagating Jesus’ name.

Author: Joe

Subject: Re: Jesus Not Important in Toledo UBF

In reply to: Joe ‘s message, “Re: Jesus Not Important in Toledo UBF” on 12:03:21 07/08/04 Thu

>You get the impression that UBF doesn’t know what kind
>of church or organization it wants to be. Instead of
>taking the name of Jesus with them wherever they go,
>they take the name of UBF, and their “world mission”
>seems to be about self-propagation, rather than
>propogating Jesus’ name.

In fact, UBF has always wanted to be “more than christianity”, “better than christianity”, “beyond christianity”, “super christianity”, a “christian minority “(*), a “remnant”. They have always derided “old Christians.”

Sam Lee clearly expressed UBF’s vision of “super-christianity” this way, “Believing in Jesus is not enough. Believing in Jesus is not enough. you must have a vision for yourself and your nation.” Genesis 12:2 (yourself as blessing) is studied first and emphasized much more than John 3:16 (Christ as blessing).

(*) There is irony in the fact that UBF members want to be considered “fellow christians” but consider themselves to be a “minority” in Christianity.

Mother Teresa and "Mother" Barry

September 3, 2004

Were you there one Sunday when Sam Lee compared Sarah Barry to Mother Teresa?

Author: Joe
Subject: Mother Teresa and “Mother” Barry
In reply to: Truth seeker ‘s message, “Happy are those who abandon little children!For” on 16:31:44 07/10/04 Sat

>What did Mother teresa do on the contrary? She
>picked up abandoned children of calcutta slums
>and treated them like gifts from God,
>irrespective of whether they were born to hindus
>or moslims.

To top it all off, I was there in 2001 when Sam Lee, during his rambling Sunday announcements, stated that “Mother” Barry was better than Mother Teresa. Why? Because “Mother Teresa only served one nation but ‘Mother’ Barry is the mother of many nations.” It’s amazing how overtly Moon-like Lee became toward the end of his life.

BTW, Mother Teresa gave much of herself to the poor and set an example of giving. By contrast, “Mother” Barry’s message is “keep on giving to UBF without fail.”

"We’ve changed, not that we needed to change."

September 1, 2004

My response to UBF’s “we’ve changed” argument (again, an argument that is sometimes made privately, never publicly by UBF leaders):

Date Posted: 12:54:18 08/03/04 Tue
Author: Joe
Subject: “We’ve changed, not that we needed to change.”
In reply to: Bong-Jin Kang ‘s message, “Re: “Things have changed” article?” on 19:46:27 07/29/04 Thu

>As I said on 8th,July’s post, the Korean UBF top [John Jun]
>leader insisted many changes has occured since SL’s
>He requested any present problems in ubf and any
>problems of SB if I want to argue with him further.

John Jun (and other UBF leaders) insist that unspecified things have changed and insist that people talk about the current state of UBF. Does this imply an admission on their part that there were serious problems in past? Of course not. Their trick is to say that “they’ve changed” without ever acknowledging–and at the same time actively minimizing–past wrongdoing. They want their cake and eat it, too. See John Jun’s recent responses to “past” UBF problems.

The same John Jun appears to have recently been “elected” to be the new “General Director” of UBF.

Personal views become more "prayerful" in UBF

September 1, 2004

It is my experience that “prayerful” can be a loaded word in UBF. If you have been in the group long enough, and a view that you express in a sogam is not in line with the view of someone above you [most likely your view could be construed as slightly critical of a UBF leader], you are likely to be told to revise your view to make it more “prayerful”. The following is a post about my observation of such an evolution in one UBF man’s public thoughts on the Internet (at

Date Posted: 13:29:43 08/03/04 Tue
Author: Joe
Subject: Personal views become more “prayerful” in UBF
In reply to: Chris ‘s message, “”breakdown in communications”” on 09:11:20 07/28/04 Wed

>Why can we only read Brian’s view (which is not
>representative for UBF, as he claims himself), and
>never UBF’s official view?

The thing is that no one in UBF who holds any sort of position in the hierarchy, the ‘spiritual order’, really has the freedom to express their personal views non-anonymously. He writes that he has recently obtained a more “prayerful” understanding of opposing views about UBF. I know that UBF code word, “prayerful.” It means, “more in line with what my leader(s) dictate.”

He has written recently, “I know that the reason for terminating the [NAE] membership was due to a breakdown in communications, not due to allegations being true.” Yet in the past, on the same site, he had written to the effect that “he had no doubt that all or most of what former members alleged actually happened” (with the large caveat that the incidents were probably just due to “cultural differences”); that statement is no longer evident on his site. I guess this means that he has somehow obtained a more “prayerful” view.

He used to have something on the site to the effect that “some have been hurt in UBF and have left.” There is no such statement on the site anymore that I can find.

He used to have something on the site to the effect that “many of the past problems in UBF could be attributed to the actions of one man [we know who that one man is].” There is no such statement on the site anymore that I can find.

His site has seemingly drifted further and further toward the official UBF party line, or as he puts it, it’s become more “prayerful”. Whether someone told him to make it more “prayerful” or it was a decision he made on his own, this is the fate of independent thinking in all those who commit themselves to UBF. I’ve come to know that the Samuel Lee praiseology delivered by my mother at the last “UBF Founder’s Day” was not as grandiose of a praiseology until the arch-Lee-devotee, Ban Toh, got in the position of editing it.