UBF Persuasion

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Persuasion plays a major role in any community. Scholars have historically identified three aspects of persuasion: Ethos, Pathos and Logos (http://pathosethoslogos.com/)

The ethos of UBF

We are God’s servants doing God’s mission!

What is the ethical appeal of the group? What means do they use to convince an audience of their credibility and character? Typically, the ubf group appeals to God as their supreme justifier. They are allowed and commanded to go to college campuses (and not other places usually) to recruit college students because God told them to do this. They proof-text this ethos with Bible verses about God’s anointed people. In the last decade, the group sought out recommendation letters from some American Christian authors and pastors. They invited these people to special meetings where they put on their best show to gain their recommendation. The group also joined several organizations, over 20 in fact, to gain credentials in America, such as the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Rarely will ubf people tell the whole story though. They joined the NAE in 1998, were expelled in 2004, and rejoined in 2008. Those who expose them or criticize them are said to be starting Korah’s rebellion against God’s servants.

The pathos of UBF

We gave up so much! You should too!

What is the emotional appeal of the group? What means do they use to appeal to student’s emotions? The group evokes sympathy with stories of leaving Korea. They love to tell students about how much the missionaries gave up to come to America. They claim they had such a good life with high-paying jobs in Korea, and gave all that up to live so poorly in America. The fact is many ubf leaders live very well off behind the scenes. They put on a “poor face” but are in reality very well off in America. The emotional appeal of ubf is the call to sacrifice. The implication is that the group is on a noble cause, and any sacrifice is worthy of that cause.

The logos of UBF

Incurvatus in se

What is the appeal to logic used by the group? What means do they use to convince an audience by use of logic or reason? The group often turns the tables on members, causing them to look inward and to see themselves as the source of their problems. This seems logical because humans are often our own worst enemy. This self-deprecating, self-fulfilling logic is seen as something to be praised by the group, to the point that those most inwardly focused are called most holy. This logos stands in stark contrast to the Christian tradition. Such inward obsession is called “incurvatus in se” and labelled as harmful by both Augustine and Luther. The logos of ubf might also be called a religious form of self-flagellation due to their obsession with self-discipline. The leadership of the group suffers from this logos. The group promotes leaders only from within, encourages the clever spinning of events to conform to the group’s internal ideology and often uses abstract and theoretical language to retell narratives that place burden on each individual member.