Posts Tagged ‘see no evil’

"If I had been in your shoes…"

June 21, 2004

On more than one occasion, someone in UBF has said something to the effect, “If I had been in your shoes, I would have left UBF, too” or “If those things had happened to me, I would have left UBF for sure, too.” Let me make something clear. I didn’t leave UBF primarily because of what had happened to me, because of abuses I had suffered. I had learned to “live with” the abuses almost like an abused wife; I had learned to just “cope.” I left primarily because of abuses that others had unjustly suffered for which there was zero acknowledgment or apologies from UBF.

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.