The critics feel that the shepherding/discipleship paradigm in UBF is
fostering an abusive environment. They feel that church leaders ought
to be accountable to others for their conduct. But wait. Certainly
there ought to be discipline in the church. Certainly people in
authority should not bend to the opinion of men, but be accountable to
God and submitted to him. This needs some further explanation. Let me
explain how this works by using the parent-child relationship as a
In Christ, a church is a family (Mat 12:49-50). And within this
family, we have spiritual fathers and mothers, like pastors, elders
and various leaders (1Co 4:15; 1Jn 2:13). Paul even described his
disciples as sons (Phm 10; 1Ti 1:2, 18; 2Ti 1:2, 2:1; Php 2:22; Tit
1:4). He says words like, "To Timothy my true son in the faith..."
Now, a parent's job is not just to nurture children, but to also
discipline them (Pro 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15,17). As a
child grows up, he needs less nurturing and more discipline. The same
is true for spiritual children, those who have not yet reached
spiritual maturity. The discipline they need does not seem pleasant
(Heb 12:9-11). Allow me to illustrate my point using the mother eagle:
A mother eagle builds her nest by first using material that is not
soft, like thorns and branches. Then on top of it, she puts the softer
material such as wool and feathers. When her eaglets reach flying age,
she removes the soft top lining of the nest, exposing the sharp,
jagged material underneath. This helps her young eaglets to leave the
comfort of the nest and move on to independence.
In a similar way, a parent's love must switch from being soft and
nurturing to being tough and disciplining. This "switching" also
happens in UBF. Initially, a new UBF member is praised and encouraged
and may be put on a pedestal and put at the center of attention.
Later, a spiritual parent (the shepherd) will gradually give
correction, rebuke, and training to help the person repent of sin.
Critics think that this switching proves that the nurturing love was
insincere and that it was "love bombing". This is not so. It is with
Christ's love and with sincerity that a new member is loved. Critics
also allege that the discipline in UBF is spiritual abuse and abuse of
authority. This is not so. Godly love disciplines. And to withhold
this discipline is not love (Pro 13:24). Out of this love, a spiritual
parent gives rebuke and discipline and does so even at the risk of
To whom is a leader accountable? Well, first, what accountability
system do we see in the Bible circumscribing the authority of parents?
There is none! Of course, parents are forbidden from exasperating or
embittering their children (Col 3:21; Eph 6:4). Nevertheless, by the
fifth commandment, parents are to be honored by their children
unconditionally. Biblicly, parents answer to no man for their
parenting performance. Rather, their eye is to be on pleasing the Lord
Jesus and they are to be submitted to his lordship. The same is true
for spiritual parents. Heb 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit
to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an
account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for
that would be of no advantage to you." This states that leaders are
accountable to the Lord. It states that they are to be obeyed. No
conditions or limitations apply.
However, there is one limitation to the authority of physical and
spiritual parents. That limitation is alluded to in Mat 10:37, "Anyone
who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." This
makes it clear that, when there is a clear conflict between the
commands of parents and the commands of the Lord, children must choose
to obey the Lord (Acs 4:19). This flows also from the fact that the
fifth commandment regarding human parents has four greater
commandments preceding it regarding the Lord God.
But, on the other hand, this exception is not to be misused as a means
to rebel against the authority of physical or spiritual parents. In
Jesus' day, people were using the corban rule to get around the fifth
commandment. "Corban" means a gift or sacrificial offering. The corban
rule allowed anything to be dedicated to God by pronouncing it
"corban". In Mk 7:10-13, Jesus spoke against the Pharisees for
teaching people to exempt themselves from obeying the 5th commandment
through the Corban rule:
"For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,' and, `Anyone who
curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if
a man says to his father or mother: `Whatever help you might otherwise
have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God),
then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother." Thus
you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed
down. And you do many things like that."
Here, Jesus says that, under the fifth commandment, parents are to be
obeyed. To disobey them in the name of obeying God is to nullify the
word of God. Thus, it is rebellion against God.
How does all this apply to you, dear reader, in your relationship with
your spiritual parents in the Lord? Paul writes in Col 3:20,
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the
Lord." Here, "in everything" means in everything. The aim is pleasing
the Lord, not men.
If your spiritual leader seems to make a mistake and tells you to do
something that is not fitting, must you still obey? Perhaps the better
question to ask yourself first, is why you cannot trust your leader.
Surely parents understand more than children. They usually know what
is best. But perhaps you feel that this is not a trust issue. If so,
then you must first seriously evaluate your relationship with the
Lord. When your relationship with the Lord is distant, he may seem
like an oppressive dictator who wants to rob you of freedom. What
pleases him displeases you. Then, everyone who speaks from God's point
of view seems the same way, making you feel sensitive and burdened. If
your parents make you feel this way, it is maybe a warning sign about
your spiritual status. Please repent your sins. Seek the Lord's
counsel by having regular daily devotional time. But, above all, do
not stuff your feelings down. The critics are full of anger and
bitterness, claiming they were repeatedly abused by "authoritarian
leaders" in UBF. There is no excuse for this as Christians. These
emotions are spiritually deadly. We must deal with such feelings in
the Lord. We must put them to death!
Each person in the church is a part of a family with a duty to "love
one another" (Jn 13:34, 15:12,17). Along with this, comes the
responsibility to bear the sins of your fathers and mothers in the
Lord. Yes, UBF leaders are not always right. They can make critical
mistakes, especially when it comes to delicate matters like helping
people to repent. (But I deny the allegations made my UBF critics.)
Your duty is to honor your spiritual parents by trying as much as
possible to trust their integrity and to put the best construction on
even the wrongs they have done -- yes, to even cover over their
mistakes and sins (1Pe 4:8; Jn 13:14). As Shep. Gideon Klijian has
pointed out, Canaan dishonored his father by broadcasting his father's
shameful naked condition to his brothers (Gen 9:22). This is what
critics of UBF have done on their websites. They say all kinds of
negative, sick things about UBF leadership in the hopes of poisoning
your mind. You, in Jesus, have the power not to do what they do, but
rather overcome hurt feelings and forgive and love and honor your
leaders, remembering the good things they have done for you. Shouldn't
children be thankful for their parents? Yes, children certainly owe a
great debt of love and thanks (Ro 13:8) to their parents for all they
have done. They owe even loyalty.
It is probably obvious to everyone but you on this *ex-cult* group
that this is a defense of a form of hyper-authoritarianism, an
authoritarianism that even UBF leaders and spokesmen have admitted
exists in the group. It's only now that UBF defenders like yourself
have tried to express the twisted basis of UBF's system of authority;
it has previously been an unspoken and hidden aspect of UBF's system,
a system that has led to the abuses that are described on pages like
talkaboutsupport? What are you talking about? This is Usenet.
Let me just post some links here to some analyses of jc30ad3pm's
rather "unique" defense of authoritarianism in UBF:
So could we now focus on the content of the other pages on my website? How
Viewers of this thread will perhaps prefer that you focus, not on one or
two items, but on each item mentioned on these pages.
And viewers would probably really like Donna Adams to come and explain how
she feels about the items mentioned on this page:
Yes, I am challenging you. I am challenging you and your critic friends
not to focus on just one page of my website, but to discuss it all. All
Sorry, I'm not going to be providing free links to your cult defense
web site on a newsgroup that exists to support former cult members. I
quoted your original *unaltered* defense of UBF authoritarianism here
because I believe it expresses your true, unedited thoughts on the
subject, and your thoughts are quite representative of UBF even if you
claim not to be an official spokesperson. You are, after all, a
long-time member of UBF as you claim.
If you are so eager to claim credit for that essay you wrote, be my
guest. And just for everyone who might happen to read that essay, the
first post in this thread, those are the thoughts of a veteran of UBF
who is steeped in the UBF mindset. Avoid this Bible- and
people-abusing group called University Bible Fellowship and warn
people away from them. They were recently expelled from the National
Association of Evangelicals. See
How gutsy of you, jc30whatever, to actually reply directly to a
criticism, since you leave no means whatsoever on your cult defense
web site to get in touch with you or comment on the contents. Perhaps
you'd like to take the rest of this discussion to email. My email
address is clearly displayed in the headers and it is real.
...where your denials amount to: "I don't actually mean those things
that I write." Anyway, thanks again for actually expressing to the
whole world something that UBF's own leaders wouldn't dare to reveal:
the twisted basis of UBF's system of authority, in which leaders are
your parents and you are their children. That should ring a bell with
the former cult members here, especially former Moonies.
> So could we now focus on the content of the other pages on my website? How
> about these:
I think this should also ring a bell with the former cult members
here. The cult or abusive church produces angry and bitter former
members. The cult's advice to these angry and bitter victims: "Stop
being so angry and bitter." The cult's advice to its remaining
members: "Don't listen to those angry and bitter fall-aways.
Everything they say is lies, lies, lies." How original!
Another bell ringer for former cult members: Former members of the
cult or abusive church level a charge against a cult leader. The cult
leader or his designated spokesman denies the charge. Therefore, the
cult concludes, regardless of evidence to the contrary, "Everything
that former members say about us is lies, lies, lies--with a few
grains of truth--but still lies, lies, lies." Again, how original; the
NAE thought so, too.
Right, it's unethical to post the contents of minutes from UBF staff
meetings, minutes which are supposed to be available to all members of
UBF. And it's unethical to post the selling price of a UBF leader's
house when the price is clearly visible when the house is on the
market. Uh, huh.
> And viewers would probably really like Donna Adams to come and explain how
> she feels about the items mentioned on this page:
You mean the Donna Adams mentioned at
http://wellspringretreat.org/d_adams.html ? I believe she's already
asked you to either email her or respond to her at
http://voy.com/60734/6706.html over a week ago. Looks to me like she's
willing to have a discussion.
> Yes, I am challenging you. I am challenging you and your critic friends
> not to focus on just one page of my website, but to discuss it all. All
> the items.
My "critic friends" and I have already done that at
http://voy.com/60734/6697.html and at http://voy.com/60734/6706.html,
which you already know. You don't expect us to duplicate everything
we've written there, do you? You want to have a discussion about UBF?
Do it in the appropriate venue, http://voy.com/60734/, where posts
don't have a 3 to 9 hour lag before actually getting posted.
Some more things about UBF that might resonate with former members of
the Unification Church:
Arranged marriages: Virtually all UBF marriages are arranged. Some
estimate that 95% to 99% of married UBF members (including me) were
arranged to be married within UBF.
Korean origin: UBF was founded by a Korean, Samuel Chang-Woo Lee, who
either chose both the marriage partners in virtually all UBF marriages
or was given final approval of both marriage partners in virtually all
UBF marriages. While not claiming to be God or the Son of God, Mr. Lee
claimed and was given special status as the "Servant of God." He had
this much-abused near-absolute authority and status in UBF for over 30
years until his death in 2002. In the nineties, it became common for
Lee to hold 5 or more weddings, which he arranged of course, on his
birthday in October.
At a UBF conference held at a Midwestern university campus in the
nineties, I happened to see a sign posted by the university welcoming
its UBF guests. It read "Welcome Unification Bible Fellowship".
I thought that I would leave a few thoughts on your defense of discipling
and shepherding. Your argument is weak to say the least. It is very
similiar to the late Daniel Hong of Lehigh UBF who defended spiritual
Here is my thoughts on UBF's false teaching of spiritual authority.
Notice, how everything is documented.