The Only-Begotten Daughter

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By Andrew Wilson

WilsonSometimes we need theology. In Christian church history, the time theology becomes important is when there are differences of opinion between various leaders or groups of the church, or sects — what in church history came to be known as “heresy.” But “heresy” simply means opinion. To identify truth and distinguish truth from heresy shouldn’t mean to condemn the heretic to the stake — although that often happened in church history. Rather, to distinguish truth from heresy is to properly understand what God is doing and correct misunderstandings. It is the job of the theologian to clarify truth, but not to condemn; it is to clarify what is the core of our salvation.

These days some question, “How can True Mother call herself God’s only begotten Daughter? Was she born sinless? How could she be, when only the Messiah is born sinless?” Nevertheless, True Mother confidently stated at the second anniversary of True Father’s Holy Ascension (Seong Hwa), “I am God’s only-begotten Daughter.”

In fact, this idea can be found in Father’s words. It is in the Cheon Seong Gyeong (both old and revised versions) from a June 1972 speech in which he said, “Where there is an only-begotten Son, there is also an only-begotten Daughter.”

It’s important to understand the meaning of this term to properly honor True Mother as the True Parent, now that True Father has ascended to the heavenly realms.

We are well aware of the common view that True Father, coming on the foundation of Jesus Christ, is sinless. He then takes a woman from the fallen world and raises her up to be the Bride, at which point they become True Parents. From that point of view, Mother up to that time was just an innocent girl living a protected life. All her merit, and everything she had, came from Father.

God’s Equal Love to Man and Woman in the Original Creation

But think about Adam and Eve when God created them. They were brother and sister, each created out of a portion of God’s divine essence. As God is the Heavenly Parent having dual characteristics, God must have poured all of His masculinity into Adam and all of Her femininity into Eve. God then would have raised them individually as His son and Her daughter.

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The Puritan Model of Success

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By Michael Mickler

Mickler full-sizeReverend Sun Myung Moon was a great admirer of the Puritan movement, especially the pilgrims who migrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.

In “God’s Hope for America” he stated, “The story of the Pilgrims is a classic in God’s history. It fits into the pattern of the righteous people of history.”

What is that pattern?

Rev. Moon highlighted three elements. First, he said, the pilgrims “longed for … [a] new world … [a] new heaven and new earth where they could find freedom to worship God.” Second, they gave up “their families, their relatives, their surroundings, and their country.” Third, they exemplified “total reliance on God.” As Rev. Moon put it, “Their only hope was in God. Every step they took they depended upon God … When they were sick and dying … they turned to God … their life from morning to night, from dusk to dawn, was centered upon the will of God. God was their only comfort, their only hope and their only security.”

These attributes comprised the “internal” aspect of the Puritan pattern or, in Unification terms, their “foundation of faith.”

Rev. Moon also spoke about the “external” aspect of the Puritan pattern. He stated, “the first thing they built was a church … I am sure that after their church they built a school. They wanted outstanding schools for their children, better than any schools existing in the Old World. And their homes came last.”

Mrs. Moon made the same point in a recent address. Referring to the “Pilgrim fathers,” she said, “Before they built homes for themselves, first they built a church; then, for the sake of the future generations, they built a school, and then finally they built their own homes. That’s the … course that humankind should follow.”

Church, school and family (represented by homes) comprised the “external” aspect of the Puritan pattern, their “foundation of substance.”

Taken together, the internal (attitudinal) and external (institutional) patterns constituted the Puritan model of success.

How does this relate to Unificationism?

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The Greatest of These Is Love

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The Apostle Paul,” by Rembrandt van Rijn

By Dan Fefferman

Dan FeffermanMany times I heard it said that in the early days of the Christian church, it was of one accord, sharing all things in common, united by the Holy Spirit. Certainly this is the view of the church we get from the Book of Acts, which emphasizes the theme of unity through the Holy Spirit:

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people.  (Acts 2:46-47; KJV)

But from Paul’s letters we get a different viewpoint, in which factions and sometimes angry discord can be seen.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he speaks of a public argument between himself and Peter over the question of whether Jewish Christians were allowed to eat at the same table with Gentile Christians. And in the letter to the Corinthians, he speaks of factions centered on different leaders.

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you. (I Cor. 1:10-11)

“What I mean,” Paul explains, “is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’”  We don’t know a lot about these factions, but we can deduce some things that may interesting.

Peter

Peter, of course, is traditionally known as the chief disciple of Jesus, the one whom Jesus appointed to be the head of the church. But as already mentioned, Peter and Paul fought about whether Jews and Gentiles could eat together.

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“Still Alice”: Holding on to Who We Are

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by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2When we were younger and just beginning to study Principle concepts concerning the purpose of life and about the nature of our lives as children of God, many of us tended to think in simple, basic terms.

In terms of our life journey, we often taught that we were conceived and nurtured for nine months in our mother’s womb as our first stage of existence. Our life continued as we burst on the scene and embarked on a journey through this earthly existence for our second stage of life, hopefully looking forward to a long and healthy life. Ultimately, we would pass into our eternal home to live with God and rejoin our loved ones who had gone on before us. We learned in those early days that in the grand scheme of things, our physical life would be but a passing moment, as it were, when compared to our eternal life. Yet how we lived in this second stage of life, how well we loved and how well we lived according to God’s life-giving words were of prime importance. Most of the content though was fairly theological and did not deal with the practical dimension of our daily life.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I did not give much thought to the numerous physical challenges that might make our life on earth difficult. I was too busy going about the work of God to think too long or hard about such things other than to perhaps feel that somehow we might be shielded from some of these challenges because of the importance of the work we were doing.

However, I was reminded of this overly simple view of life while watching the sobering and powerful film “Still Alice.” Julianne Moore, in an Oscar-winning performance, masterfully portrays Alice Howland, a linguistics professor at Columbia University and sought after guest lecturer, who, just after celebrating her 50th birthday, is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that manifests at an early age. An intelligent and active woman, and mother of three adult children, this diagnosis cuts to the quick. Here is a woman whose life is defined by words, language and a life of the mind now rapidly being deprived of her thoughts and ideas as well as her memories.

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Rev. Moon’s Unrecognized Influences on Christian Theology

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By Andrew Wilson

WilsonAlthough members and friends of the Unification Church recognize the awesome significance of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, what about his importance for those who do not believe –specifically to conventionally-minded Christians? While some enlightened Christians have learned to love and appreciate his church as a new and uniquely Asian manifestation of the Christian faith, or his works on behalf of interreligious unity or anticommunism, for the most part Christians have been dismissive of him.

Yet in fact, Rev. Moon has been influencing Christianity quietly and unbeknownst to them through some of the new teachings he shared with the world in the Divine Principle. I say “indirectly” because often the causality is not determined. Perhaps Rev. Moon was an early proponent of certain teachings that were already in the zeitgeist of the late 20th century. Or perhaps God, in seeking to plough the field for Rev. Moon, moved to open Christianity’s theological horizons so it would be receptive to his proclamation. After all, God is the Source of truth, even the truths revealed by Rev. Moon. Suffice it to say that the theological landscape of Christianity in the early 21st century is quite different from what it was in the early 20th century, and many of those differences are congruent with Rev. Moon’s teachings.

Let me share five such instances:

1. The suffering of God

Dr. Chang Shik Yang observed, Rev. Moon “plainly teaches about God’s sorrowful situation… after His children’s fall and their expulsion from Eden, God the Father became the God of sorrow and grief, who every day sheds countless tears and emits mournful sighs.”

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A Medal for Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tony Robinson

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by Jim Dougherty

Jim DoughertyCould the military doctrine and experience of “friendly fire“ be used to help the country heal, reform and move forward from the recent police-involved deaths of unarmed African-American men, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Tony Robinson in Madison, Wisconsin? Can we “restore” a wrong that legal and political institutions do not seem to be able to come to grips with?

Many investigations, reviews, legal cases and reform efforts will and must follow in the wake of such tragedies, and they are essential in advancing justice and improving the police and related political structures that govern our lives and protect our rights, lives and property.

And, efforts aimed at reconciliation must not be used to deflect criticism or blame where it is due.  In addition to assessing any criminal responsibility, police procedures, training and technology must be reviewed, in Ferguson, New York City, and elsewhere, to do everything possible to minimize the risk of this happening again — while still allowing, and hopefully improving, the ability of the police to do their job in protecting the public.  The U.S. Department of Justice in its just-released report, while clearing the officer involved in Ferguson of any wrongdoing, nevertheless found a persistent pattern of racism in the Ferguson police department that may require remedies up to and including closing the department entirely.

Even if nothing different could have happened given the circumstances, still, unarmed men were killed by police officers — tragic losses that call out for some kind of action.  The protesters know this, that whatever explanations are given or investigations find, still, something profoundly wrong and unjust has occurred in the deaths of these men. Something that cannot be completely made-up for by criminal penalties, procedural reforms and civil damage awards. Most of our political and civil culture in such situations revolves around finding out what went wrong, who to blame and how to fix it.

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The True Value of a College Education

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The following is adapted from the book From Rogers Park to Hanover Park, the adventures of a Jewish boy growing up in the neighborhoods of Chicago and his 40 years in Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, published by Rev. Bruce Sutchar.

By Bruce Sutchar

bruce_sutcharWhen you grow up in a Jewish home with grandparents who were both doctors and parents who were both college graduates, the only question is which college, not whether you are going to college.  And when you go to a college basketball game and one of the colleges you are considering makes an incredible comeback to win, you have answered the second question of where.

There is a famous ad campaign for the United Negro College Fund that says: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  But is it really better to go to college? In my case, God liberated me from my university’s cultural influence to rekindle the values I had fully believed in before going off to school.

I have a friend who went to college for one semester and flunked out.  He then got a job at the Post Office and 30 years later he retired with a million dollars and no college loans.  My cousin is proud of the fact that he feels he is the only Jewish boy in Skokie who did not go to college.  After high school he visited and fell in love with Israel.  He returned home for a time, so his parents could digest the idea of him not going to college.  Eventually he emigrated, married a darling French artist and is now living on the richest kibbutz in Israel, near the Red Sea.

But I digress — I went to high school during the Vietnam War era.  My father had been a navigator in Italy in World War II and I’m so old that I remember when the words “under God” were put into the Pledge of Allegiance. In fact, my fifth grade school teacher used to begin each day by selecting someone to lead our reading of the 23rd Psalm in our public school.  Years later she is still my favorite teacher and her class was the only time I ever got straight A’s.

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“American Sniper” and Moral Injury

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By Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2Clint Eastwood’s powerful film, “American Sniper,” dares to bring to public consciousness the hidden side of war. This hidden side is the tremendous toll war takes on the moral and psychological dimension — the soul — of the men and women who serve on the front lines. The film is based on Navy Seal Chris Kyle’s autobiography by the same title and follows his experiences as one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills.

Posted in Iraq, Kyle, brilliantly played in the film by Bradley Cooper, served four tours of duty before being honorably discharged in 2009. On coming home, like many returning veterans, Kyle had the difficult task of adjusting to civilian life in Texas as a husband and father to his two children. In 2013, he and fellow veteran, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed by another veteran, Eddie Ray Routh, while at a practice range. Routh, who had been recently discharged from a mental health facility and been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), had arranged to meet with Kyle, who was trying to help him with his depression. The poignancy of the film was heightened when Routh’s trial began as “American Sniper” was being shown across the country. Routh was convicted of the murders two days after the February 22nd Oscars telecast, and immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The film brilliantly and poignantly presents the personal turmoil that a soldier faces when holding a life in the crosshairs of his or her rifle. One particularly heart-wrenching scene shows a moment of decision when Kyle has a small Iraqi boy and a woman, who we assume is his mother, in his gun sights. The young boy is given an anti-tank grenade by the hijab-clad woman and begins to walk toward the column of approaching American soldiers. Kyle is praying for the child to stop or at least indicate he means no harm. But the boy doesn’t, and Kyle must do what he is trained to do  —  shoot him. When the mother then rushes to her child, picks up the grenade and runs toward the soldiers, Kyle must shoot her as well.

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“March Madness” and a Real Spiritual Life

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by John Redmond

JohnRedmond2We are big basketball fans at my house. Every March we fill our brackets and root for our team to go all the way. I usually pick the underdogs and end up enduring a lot of “trash-talking” when they lose.

For the people who are focused on things like jobs, politics and careers and missed the text message, “March Madness” refers to the NCAA Division I national men’s and women’s tournaments of the top 68 teams (64 for women) in college basketball, “win or go home” contests with no consolation prizes. For most of these athletes, this represents the biggest stage they will ever perform on. Very few will continue on to pro basketball after college, and most of those that do will have unremarkable careers. This is their big moment!

What makes this tournament so special is the unscripted drama of ten young men or women and countless coaches, parents, students, and alumni locked in a battle that will never be replayed. Players have prepared their whole lives for this moment: morning practices, evening games, endless drills, miles of laps around the gym, that lead to a nationally televised championship game in front of a full field house of screaming fans.

Professional sports often seem like a soulless battle of technically excellent players with no feeling required. College students do not have the cynical detachment of the pros; they believe, and pour themselves into their game with raw emotion.  Victories often hang on a lucky, last second shot, the momentum swings back and forth, the fans sometimes seem to boost their team over the opponent in spite of impossible odds. This tournament sees all of these moments.

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