Abraham (UBF Interpretation)

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Abram would wrestle with God all the way until he was established as a man of God. Based on Abram’s faith, God blessed him. God would form the nation of Israel through him, and he would bring blessings to all nations on earth through the offspring Jesus, the messiah. – UBF Study Materials

Abraham is one of the three patriarchs of the Hebrew Scriptures, and is one of the central figures of the Old Testament. The UBF interpretation of Abraham, his character and the significance of his life generally revolves around what the organization calls “inductive study”, which heavily features projection and proof-texting of the biblical passages. The teleology of UBF’s use of Abraham involves superimposing UBF doctrine and practice into the text in order to legitimize shepherding authority and the call for absolute submission.

God Called Abram

UBF Bible studies often stress the importance of "calling", always referring to the calling to become a UBF shepherd. Thus, the UBF view of Abraham begins by discussing the significance of his calling and its applications.

God’s calling was not based on Abram’s merit but based on God’s grace upon Abram. If God had not chosen him, he would have lived a very fatalistic life and then would have died without leaving any trace. But because God chose him and called him, his life changed completely. When we think about this for ourselves it’s really true. It’s not because we have some potential that God uses us, but it’s because of His grace. - UBF Study Materials on Genesis 12:1-3

On the surface, UBF's interpretation bears marked similarities to orthodox Christian doctrine. For instance, the phrasing of the first sentence: "...not based on Abram's merit but based on God's grace...." This reminds a young initiate of the traditional Protestant doctrines detailing the sufficiency of God's grace. However, this interpretation does not claim that salvation is purely God's grace. Rather, it makes the point that "God's calling"--that is, the UBF lifestyle--is the gift one receives from God. Salvation then depends on whether one "accepts God's grace" by committing to that lifestyle. This passage, then, is used as a way to make initiates feel indebted to their UBF shepherd.

God’s calling consists of two parts, His command and his promises. ... In this passage we see two commands that God issued to Abram: leave and go. ... The second part of God’s calling is His promises. God said “I will make you into a great nation. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” ... God’s calling comes to us as His covenant with His commands and promises. - UBF Study Materials

A major emphasis of UBF doctrine is that a true relationship with God comes through obeying UBFism. The argument is that "God’s calling is essential in our life of faith because He establishes His relationship with us through His covenant." This teaching serves a dual purpose. Primarily, it underlines the need for the initiate to accept this "calling". Secondarily, it instills feelings of guilt or lack in a new recruit. Passages like this are used to bash regular Christians by suggesting that they have no "clear purpose", no "changed life", and therefore no "real relationship with God". Of course, this ignores both the doctrine of vocation and the spiritual gifts, but the UBF session takes this into consideration: "His calling is not only for some special people, like pastors or missionaries, but for all believers." In other words, if you think you have a different calling or that not all Christians are meant to be UBF shepherds, you are only trying to excuse your unwillingness to accept God's missions.

Abram had to leave three things: his country, his people and his father’s household. - UBF Study Materials