Posts Tagged ‘ungrace’

Blogging plan for this year

January 14, 2005

Here’s a blogging plan for this year:

* More on moral relativism and moral apathy in UBF; how UBF tries to “rise above” the moral struggle just as it tries to “transcend” the need to help the poor; how “preaching the gospel” in UBF becomes an excuse to stop “wasting time” to think about morals and ethics; “that’s not our main ministry.”

* How the leader veneration culture and authoritarian structure of UBF is a natural extension of the works-righteousness belief system of UBF; the two go hand-in-hand.

* The crushing of healthy individuality in UBF; “message” and orchestra “training.”
** “message training”
*** spiritual abuse as “serving” or “helping”
*** CUBF’s “short-term missionaries” sent to oversea conferences mainly to make the “messages” more CUBF-compliant.

* The “cultural differences” rationalization and the assumption that cultures are equally good or equally valid.

* Recent traumatic departures (Patrick Chan and Sola Fide) and what this shows about UBF’s depictions of God and salvation.

* The “Cursed woman’s desire” crucial false teaching.

* “We must not love God less by not neglecting our children”; “giving up our Isaac”; “don’t make children your idols”; thoughts on biblical parenting.

* The sapping of Christian joy in UBF and why people burn out and leave.
** numbers obsession, performance preoccupation and resulting tendency to
settle for mediocrity, just do enough to survive another week.

* How it all comes down to the attitude of “I don’t care, I don’t care.”

* Exclusivism; Barry’s ignorance of Harvest BC and local Presb. church; UBF being “uber-Christianity”.

* UBF and Yong-Gi Cho.

* Signs of the UBF apocalypse: A World Buffet bash for Harriet, a 2ndgen is sent to seminary or Christian college.

* “The Perils of Obedience,” the Milgram Experiment.

* Paulus Eun on UBF and the facts.

* The ministry of numbers and the doctored Wharton Center photo.

* W. Jun, numbers enforcer.

* Stupid UBF defense trick #1: Everything is about subjective feelings; you FELT “hurt” or “offended.”

* Stupid UBF defense trick #2: Jesus did it that way, too.

* All “fruit” is external and of one kind in UBF.

* What’s So Amazing About Grace.

* What feeds abusive behavior? Performance preoccupation (ignorance of grace, numbers obsession), exclusivism (“God bless OUR ministry”, keep and hold and control a recruit at all cost, ties in with perf. preocc.)

* “Africa first needs the Ten Commandments” and

* and more.

Drowning out the gospel

October 9, 2004

I grew up in Chicago UBF, but it was in the local Baptist church (Edgewater Baptist (*) on Chicago’s north side) where I first heard and believed the gospel as a teenager. If UBF did teach me the gospel, I don’t remember it. Maybe it was drowned out by the gospel of mission, where I first have to become “a normal human being,” get all “A’s”, “have great vision” for my country and for myself, “win the victory over many adverse situations”, and “do many great things” for God. In the Baptist church I heard the gospel of God’s grace; in UBF I heard the gospel of man’s mission. When my parents saw that I loved the Baptist church, they gave me an ultimatum and tore me away from genuine Christian fellowship that was based on the gospel, and they told me to have “gospel faith” without even knowing what the gospel was. Even at UBF Easter conferences I did not hear the gospel. The automaton conference messengers would say many dramatic words about the blood and the cross, and sometimes they would pretend to cry or even genuinely cry, but they did not dare to mention the finished work of Christ on the cross. The gospel they were preaching was meant to “motivate” me to “finish” the work that was already completed.

(*) Erwin Lutzer, now pastor at the Moody Church, was the pastor at Edgewater from 1971-1977.

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.

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.

Superficial lip service to grace

August 18, 2004

Some solid analysis of UBF from a spiritual point of view today by a poster named heart4jc:

Date Posted: 13:21:50 08/17/04 Tue

Author: heart4jc

Subject: Re: To Mitch and J

In reply to: Mitch ‘s message, “Re: To Mitch and J” on 22:20:52 08/16/04 Mon

Like you said, you may be very confused because they seem to be so sincere. I believe that some of them are sincerely misled and others are masters of deceiving. To some degree, they may genuinely want to serve God, but they certainly lack the knowledge of God. With partial truth, they try to control the lives of their members and eventually lead to the way of destruction all together.

Roman 10:2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

The most horrifying thing in the truth is seeking the partial truth as John McArther said.

Date Posted: 13:46:40 08/17/04 Tue

Author: former

Subject: Re: To Mitch and J

In reply to: heart4jc ‘s message, “Re: To Mitch and J” on 13:21:50 08/17/04 Tue

Yes, I think most UBF people are very sincere. However, their leaders are very cynical. The leaders can preach a message about leadership, sin, accountability, confession and repentance like this one hear: and at the same time completely and absolutely totally ignore the implications of such a passage in UBF.

Most people are sincere and misled, most of the top leaders should know better.

Date Posted: 14:11:32 08/17/04 Tue

Author: heart4jc

Subject: Re: To Mitch and J

In reply to: former ‘s message, “Re: To Mitch and J” on 13:46:40 08/17/04 Tue

I read the message, again. It’s so superficial. Having a unworthy attitude…well, the attitude should be rooted in the sense of being unworthy sinners. Just having such attitude itself doesn’t mean anything. We have to have a deep sense of being such an unworthy wretch, helpless and corrupted sinner, which UBF teaching and leaders lack. Based on profound sense of being a sinner, such attitude will be exhibited natually. Not changing your inside, they try to change the outside, like hypocrites.

They don’t teach such dynamics because they don’t know and they didn’t experience it.

When you are in an environment such as UBF where you are told that you must constantly “do something, do something, do something,” and at the same time where your ego is being constantly stroked, and where your leaders are supposed to be seen as beings on a higher plane, grace loses its meaning. UBF, which makes much of “gospel faith,” does not and cannot really understand the gospel of Jesus.

John Engler resignation letter

August 6, 2004

The following are parts of a recent resignation letter written by a sometime defender of the International Church of Christ (ICC) and maintainer of the excellent Barnabas Ministry site. I include it here because of its relevance to current UBF problems:

Performance-Oriented Theology my perspective, the DCC has long practiced a performance-oriented theology, driven by its historic reactions against the “traditional” churches of Christ and centered around what I consider to be a well-intentioned but distorted concept of discipleship.

In this theology, man’s purpose in life is to please God with his works. Discipleship is the price of salvation. Yet, there are always more works to do, and man is never, ever good enough. The DCC would not explicitly teach that man is saved by works because the concept is patently absurd, but this is pretty much what is practiced. For example, conversion (as taught in First Principles) focuses almost exclusively on human performance with scant mention of the notion of grace or salvation. The ministry focuses on what we are “supposed to do,” as though that were the essence of the Christian experience. In our preaching, Jesus is rarely presented as a Divine Savior; far more frequently he is presented as a “perfect disciple.” The idea is advanced that if we just tried hard enough, we too could be perfect just like Jesus. Righteousness is something that is attained by trying harder, not the result of salvation. In my opinion, such a philosophy is at odds with passages such as 1 John 1:8 and Romans 7:21-25.

Performance-oriented theology brings a host of unhealthy side effects, most notably the pride and boasting in what one does, especially in favorite areas of religious performance. It makes certain works better than others, certain people better than others. It creates a false sense of entitlement and spiritual security for those who play the game well, and a corresponding false sense of guilt for those who don’t play the game quite so well.

Performance-oriented theology produces nice results for a short time, but it robs the cross of its power and meaning. In the end, it leaves people destroyed spiritually. (Not surprisingly, we then turn around and blame them for being destroyed. That’s like murdering someone and then blaming them for being dead.) I am persuaded that people don’t need to be told how they constantly fall short of perfection and God’s standards; they face this every day. What they need to know is that God wants a relationship with them and that he can work through their imperfections by his Spirit to accomplish his works in their lives anyway.

In my opinion, this performance-orientation issue permeates the DCC culture like toxic waste oozing from beneath the surface. It is everywhere, and it is insidious. Getting rid of it will not be easy for those who have lived under it and perpetuated it for many years. How much harder it will be for those who do not see its shortcomings or are enthralled with its short-term results.

Leader-Centric Ministry Approach

In my perspective, the DCC ministry model is fundamentally leader-centric. Things revolve around a leader, especially region-leader evangelists. I believe the testify more to a Jesus-centered and body-centered (or sheep-centered) model.

In a leader-centered model, things are seen from a leadership point of view, and the leader must make things happen. Along with this come the undesirable side effects of control, favoritism, reliance upon personality and hype to extend the abilities and limits of leadership. Under such a model, the members never really mature but remain spiritual children to the leadership. In the end, the sheep end up serving the leaders. Then the leaders are expected to live up to the position they’re in, and resent it when people expect them to be perfect.

A sheep-centered model looks at things from the point of view of the sheep and how to develop and mobilize church resources for the benefit of the sheep. The ministry serves the sheep, for their benefit—just like Jesus who came for our benefit, not for his. A Jesus-centered model looks to him to make things happforceden. It is willing to accept his agenda, his timing, his working, and not the arbitrary goals of leaders who are eager to make a name for themselves or prove themselves worthy of greater roles in the church. A great example of this sort of a ministry is Paul’s summary of his ministry in Colossians 1:24-2:3.

We’ve seen the failings of a leader-centric approach first-hand, yet the DCC still seems entrenched in a leader-centric ministry approach. Leaders are important, but we would do well to remember that they are usually referred to in Scripture as “servants.” Does the name itself not suggest the model that should be used?

"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.

The New Covenant That UBFism Forgot

December 14, 2003

“Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory!

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:5-18 (NRSV)