Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

Another summary of UBF’s errors

November 25, 2004

This by Ward Canfield, formerly of Chicago UBF:

Date Posted: 11:57:44 10/08/04 Fri
Author: Ward Canfield
Subject: Re: UBF Doctrine
In reply to: Tom F ‘s message, “UBF Doctrine” on 09:31:45 10/08/04 Fri


1. Fear and pressure tactics used to control peoples’ behavior within the system: direct threats, ostracism, disparaging public criticisms, vilifying rumors, fake institutional friendships; one’s spiritual gifts are often defined by senior members and their use also dictated by them (often many are supposed to have and express the same spiritual gift, for example, evangelism, when clearly they do not),

2. Dogmatic adherence to one man’s theology and personal opinions: little or no individual Biblical insights are encouraged—even in private fellowship—nor deviation from the manuscript’s language and main points; following one’s own conscience before God is often disparaged by core members,

3. Unaccountable leadership: no un-Christian behavior can ever be evaluated in leaders by the fellowship; outsiders’ criticism is dismissed out-of-hand; senior members are accountable directly to God only—thoughtful and sincere apologies to offended junior members are often regarded as unimportant (although the Bible teaches that it is important—“be reconciled one to another”); Budget, revenue, and expense summaries are never disclosed to core members in the fellowship

4. Hubris (exaggerated pride): Many core UBF members think themselves to be the sole remnant of God’s people in this generation, and to be better than any other group in spirituality and in being used by God in world evangelism; other Biblically fruitful Christian groups are often publicly disparaged—apparently for not being like UBF,

5. Ends-justify-the-means philosophy: UBF follows “higher” principles and laws than the world and is therefore not subject to worldly principles or laws if the spiritual ends are deemed more important—regardless of the possible bad influence; God’s blessings, when they occur, are interpreted as blanket approval of UBF.

In conclusion, I just want to make the appeal below to anyone in UBF who is uneasy about things he or she is starting to see in UBF.


1. Only One is infallible, and he is God; no single human being or group is infallible, no matter how earnest in trying to understand and apply the Bible,

2. No group or human being can be superior in spirituality or purity, no matter how devoted in trying to practice the Bible; everyone is accountable to each other when wrongs are committed—repentance with sincere apology is Biblical,

3. No group or human being can interpret the Bible completely and correctly, no matter how prayerful in trying to study it,

4. No group or human being is favored by God absolutely or automatically, no matter how diligent in trying to apply and teach the Bible.

5. Budget disclosure to core members is healthy to a fellowship, and not unwise and not a sign of lack-of-faith in leadership if you want to see the budget records.

6. God wants you to worship Him in a Biblical fellowship, and can be trusted to help you find one and do so when you leave UBF.

"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.

Another letter

March 30, 2004

Another letter sent prior to my personal story:

Dear Dr. []:

I appreciated the opportunity to talk with you over the phone on November 11. The following is written as a followup to what we talked about.

Though the [] may not necessarily be able to disqualify a group on charges of their being authoritarian and applying excessive control in the guise of discipleship, I am sure that the [] recognizes that authority and discipleship can be taken to a degree that is harmful and even destructive to individuals and to the gospel. Sadly, there have been several real-world examples of this failure in American ministries.

Since the late 1970s, UBF has developed a reputation among cult watchers in the United States because its authoritarianism and excessive control over members have run out of control. Groups do not develop a reputation as cultic because a small handful of people have been harmed or their feelings hurt. Groups develop a reputation as cultic because of the outcry of the great many people they have harmed. One of the main reasons for UBF’s reputation is that during UBF’s history in the USA, the parents of many UBF recruits have alerted cult watchers about UBF because UBF affected drastic negative personality changes in their children, changes that are NOT consistent with what evangelical Christians would consider to be regeneration through the Holy Spirit. Most alarming to these parents was an apparent devotion on the part of their children to a group and especially to its leader, a devotion expressed through near-absolute obedience to that leader. Even the non-Christians among these parents knew the difference between a healthy devotion to God and an unhealthy devotion to man.

If there is any vestige of the Holy Spirit and respect for the truth in a group that has gone bad through out-of-control authoritarianism, there may be hope for the recognition of error, repentance, renunciation of past practices and restoration. Happily, there have been some real-world examples of American ministries that recognized and repented of the error of excessive authoritarianism and control. The shepherding movement of the “Ft. Lauderdale Five” was one such movement that recognized its error fairly quickly. Another example might be the [], a current [] member. A very recent example might be the International Church of Christ (aka Boston Church of Christ), a relatively young group compared to UBF. But in UBF, I see a group that for well over 30 years since it started in Korea has not recognized its error, that sees no need for repentance or for the renunciation of past practices in spite of its continued negative reputation. A movement was begun in 2000-2001 to reform the ministry. UBF’s reaction was to cut off the would-be reformers, nearly half its total membership. Talk to the current leadership of UBF, and you will find that they do not recognize or acknowledge that the group has done anything really wrong to deserve its reputation. They stubbornly cling to a fatal error that other ministries have wisely renounced and rejected.

I recognize that the [] is not an accountability body. But I believe there is little hope for any substantive change in UBF unless the Body of Christ begins to somehow hold UBF accountable. There are now some positive signs that this is already happening. In late 2001, the Korean Campus Evangelical Network (KCEN,, whose membership includes the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ, sent a message to UBF that their continued membership in the KCEN would be contingent upon UBF’s changing its conduct and unbiblical practices. Sadly, UBF’s response was to withdraw from the KCEN. I hope and pray that the [] in its deliberations on this issue can send a much needed message to UBF’s leaders that legitimacy in the evangelical community carries with it the need for accountability.

I have also attached to this letter a summary of some of the biblical/doctrinal errors that I saw as a member of UBF.

"Simple Thoughts During Trying Times"

December 23, 2003

An excellent bit of reading from the Barnabas Ministry that promotes balance among those who have taken up the fight against spiritually abusive systems, especially ones they were personally involved in:

Simple Thoughts During Trying Times

As we move into a period of discussion and change within the International Churches of Christ, I would like to offer some guiding principles to keep in mind along the way, in no particular order.

  • Trust is earned. No leader can command anyone to trust them.
  • Repentance is proven by deeds, not by talk. Repentance may be observed (2 Cor 7)
  • God entrusts leaders to bring about His justice. God cares about justice a lot.
  • Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15)
  • Forgive; if Jesus can forgive from the cross, we can forgive whomever. But remember, forgiveness does not mean lack of accountability, lack of consequences, or implicit future trust.
  • Leaders, like all people, need to take responsibility for what they have done. Beware of anyone who says “move forward” in the interest of progress or peace when it keeps them from having to take responsibility for their actions in the past.
  • Patience, patience, patience— people come to see the truth at their own pace. If you have healthy boundaries, it’s easier to have patience.
  • The enemy is Satan and sin, not the people who “don’t get it yet” (Eph 6).
  • Do not turn issues into an “us/them” deal. It obfuscates the real issues.
  • Truth is the weapon– not force, ad populum arguments, threats, etc.
  • Be willing to question yourself. Truth will still be truth, no matter how many times it is questioned.
  • In any human conflict, there is usually right and wrong on both parts. Don’t get blinded and fail to see the good in others and the bad in yourself.

If we have healthy boundaries, it helps us put change in the proper perspective. If we have unhealthy boundaries, we will be tempted to push for more change more quickly, for only then will we feel free to live within our consciences. But a healthy boundary allows us to be free to live as we see fit today, without “needing” to see an organization make changes in order to be free or content.

Another good essay at that appeals to me is “A Sober Look at Unity”.

"Unconditional love" for a price

December 16, 2003

The following is from and comes very close to capturing my experience and current view of UBF even though it was applied to the International Church of Christ.

I make the following charges against the principle participants in the formal leadership heirarchy of the International Church of Christ Movement. I want to stress that several of these are realities of which many of the “rank and file” members of the Movement would have no conscious awareness, though their participation in this system, no matter how unwitting, serves to support. However, I do charge the formal leaders with the responsibility for the “intentionality” and perpetuation of these offenses.

I charge the top leaders of the ICC Movement with:

* Mishandling and distorting (“twisting”) the Scriptures and their meanings, with great consistency and persistence, to reinforce their biased doctrines.

* Systematically and deliberately misrepresenting themselves and many of their ends (i.e., goals and purposes) to both grassroots members and outsiders.

* Offering what is called “unconditional love” for a price (i.e., thorough compliance of the would-be “convert”), amounting, in net effect, to spiritual “prostitution.”

* As a result of the practice of marketing this conditional “love,” painting and promoting a practical picture of God as a “Cosmic Pimp.” (This is strong language, but they have done all they have done, including much abusive behavior, with the bold assertion that God has sent them out to do it. How would you express that in an “unvarnished” way?)

* Distorting many facts of their history to dishonestly inflate and embellish their all-important image (another name for this is revisionism, and most tyrants and scoundrels in history have practiced it).

* Damaging, or even destroying, the relationships of family, marriage, and friendship with shocking regularity.

* Maliciously attacking the character and reputation of any “critics” who dare to take persistent stands even to question them, not to mention oppose them.

* Maliciously denying the legitimacy and reality of other devoted Christians and churches.

* Generally exploiting and manipulating people in these ways on a consistent, worldwide basis. (In other words, they may not all be the same in degree, but they are in kind.) And finally,

* Refusing almost all repeated, sincere attempts, for many years, to establish reasonable dialogue re. “mistakes” that have supposedly been made (and continue to be made) by ICC leaders.