Sometimes 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.
True Parents come as the complete fulfillment and re-creation of the original Adam and Eve. Just as True Father coming as Adam should have the experience growing up from childhood feeling God’s special love and care, and knowing God’s special relationship with him as God’s only-begotten Son, so too True Mother should know God’s special love in a similar way.
Again, how can True Father and True Mother marry and have a life of true love if their fundamental essences are so different from one another? In that case, no matter how good or fine Mother might be as Father’s wife, her foundation would be shaky due to a lack of divine love in her childhood. In any marriage, the way the partners were raised as children and the attributes which come from their early life cannot but have an impact on their marriage.
God’s Special Relationship to True Mother as a Child
While editing the English translation of Cheon Bumo Gyeong, I have been studying about Mother’s early life and the foundation that her mother, Hong Soon-ae (Daemonim), and her grandmother, Jo Won-mo, gave her. They were regularly attending certain Christian spiritual churches in the 1920s and ‘30s when Korea was under Japanese occupation. These churches, beginning with the New Jesus Church, then the Holy Lord Church led by Kim Seong-do, and finally the Inside Womb Church led by Heo Ho-bin, received revelations that the Lord of the Second Advent was coming to Korea. They also were given some key points of the Principle, including that the Fall was illicit sex and that Jesus did not come to die. Those churches were persecuted by the Japanese and then by the North Korean communists. Mother grew up amid that life of faith. At four years old, she was doing bowing conditions at Daemonim’s side to prepare to welcome the coming Lord.
Mother testifies in the Cheon Bumo Gyeong that throughout her early life, she was living a life of faith, in which she felt God’s special love. Although she was in school along with friends and classmates, she was reserved and often kept to herself, because she had the sense that God had a special destiny for her. When she was six, Heo Ho-bin’s mother took her aside and gave her a special blessing, saying, “You are Heaven’s bride.” Also, when True Mother was born, her mother, Daemonim, had a dream in which Kim Seong-do came to her and told her to raise her with special care because she was not her own but God’s daughter. Already from a very early age, Mother knew she had been born with a special destiny and identity. She knew that God loved her with a special love that stood out from the way other people knew God’s love.
True Mother in middle school uniform with her grandmother, Jo Won-mo (l.); and her mother, Hong Soon-ae (Daemonim).
One has to sympathize with Mother, going through the process of grieving for Father after his passing, that she might very well find strength in going back to her childhood and recalling her early life, the special destiny she was given, and all the trials her family went through to protect her for that future destiny. Those experiences made Mother who she was, long before she met Father. Hence, when Father first met Mother, he could say, “Heavenly Parent, I’m so grateful that You could present to me such a precious daughter.” He could see in that young girl of 13 she was destined to be his bride. He could recognize that she already had a special relationship with God.
Mother went through such a course of preparation, not unlike other believers who were keeping pure and waiting for the Messiah to save them. Not only that; the Inside Womb Church was teaching about the providence of restoration and what the Lord was going to do upon his return, in many of the same terms as Divine Principle. Upon hearing this, Mother determined before she even met Father that she wanted to be the one who would complete the providence of restoration. She had already made that determination in her heart when she was a young girl. This means that from a young age Mother’s heart was entirely in alignment with God’s heart. Hence it was quite natural that Mother, reflecting upon her early years, would adopt the term “only-begotten Daughter” as a fitting description of whom she felt she was, to express her identity.
How Can True Mother Be Born Sinless?
One can quibble whether Mother was born sinless, or even whether Father was born sinless — and what word “sinless” even means. Theologians parse these kinds of concepts and come up with rationales to thread any particular needle. In the old days of the church, it had to do with such issues as how Christ was fully God and fully man. Those intellectual gymnastics revolved around such terms as homoousios — Jesus is of the same substance as God — and homoiousious, of like substance as God.
Here, then, are some theological points to consider: First, the expressions “only begotten Son” and “only begotten Daughter” have a different meaning in Unification theology than in traditional Christianity because Unification teaching on Original Sin centers on the concept of lineage. Fundamentally, the term “True Parents” means the original ancestors of God’s lineage, to which fallen human beings are engrafted through the rebirth process of change of blood lineage and the Blessing. From the perspective of lineage, Father and Mother are at the head. They do not have human parents; God is their Parent. Therefore, they can rightfully be called God’s only-begotten Son and only-begotten Daughter.
Still, people raise the question: were they were sinless at birth? In the Divine Principle, sin is a condition for a give and take relationship with Satan, and the Original Sin refers to our connection to Satan through lineage. Jesus was free of original sin, not because of a supernatural impregnation of the Virgin Mary, but because of certain conditions carried out by Mary and other women which purified Jesus’ lineage. They restored the Fall by reversing the three positions of Adam, Eve and archangel: a woman in the position of Eve had to leave her husband in the position of archangel and go to Adam. The example of Tamar is often given. In Mary’s case, she was betrothed to Joseph in the position of archangel but goes to Zechariah in the Adam position. These women went difficult and painful courses, impossible to explain to others because they were totally contrary to the norms of family and society, risking at the very least shame and in the worst case, death. It is those conditions in Jesus’ lineage that enabled Jesus to be born free of sin. That is, they enabled God to rightly assert there was no condition for Satan to claim Jesus with respect to lineage.
Yet by all accounts, Father’s lineage did not have women who went through such a course, and neither did Mother’s lineage. Father was born in a family with a distinguished lineage, but in this respect it was an ordinary family. How, then, could he be born sinless? The reason usually given is Father inherited from Jesus the condition that Jesus’ family fulfilled. When Father accepted the mission to complete what Jesus had begun, Jesus’ sinless foundation was imputed to Father. Then, whatever conditional position of grace Father had at his birth could sealed; there was enough condition in his lineage for God to hold Satan’s accusation in abeyance until Father sealed the deal when he met Jesus and accepted his calling. At that sealing, God declared to Father, “You are My only-begotten Son.” Moreover, that status extended backward to the past and justified God’s relationship with Father from his birth or before his birth.
The cover photo from the new book, True Mother: From the Heart of American Members.
If that was how Father could be born free of Original Sin, shouldn’t it apply to Mother as well? There is abundant evidence of God’s grace to her from the time of her birth, as mentioned above. Daemonim and her grandmother had protected her well. When she accepted her position as the Bride of the Messiah, then the condition of sinlessness that Jesus carried could be imputed to Mother, just as it was imputed to Father. When Mother received Father’s recognition that she had passed all the tests and could stand as perfected True Mother, her position as the sinless only-begotten Daughter was sealed as well.
A Higher Bar for Mother — Because She Is a Woman?
Theologically, we can explain that True Mother is free of original sin. The question is, do we believe her when she says she is the only-begotten Daughter? Nobody in the Unification Church has any trouble believing that True Father is the only-begotten Son. They readily accept Father is sinless because they believe he is the Second Coming of Christ. Christ is sinless; ergo Father is sinless. Yet could the reason some doubt whether Mother has the same status as only-begotten Daughter be because she is a woman? Does Father get a pass because Jesus was a man?
Mother has no victorious representative of womankind as her feminine forbearer. In fact, she alone carries the burden of all the pain of womankind through history, going back to Eve. Mother has to deal with the fact that after the Fall there was no respect for Eve whatsoever. People have a better feeling about Adam; he was somehow redeemed by Jesus as the victorious Second Adam. But not so Eve. She was always associated with fallenness, sluttiness, etc.
To investigate why it is that way, look back in Genesis. In Gen. 2:19-20, Adam gave names to all the animals, and in Gen. 2:23, we read that of the female who was created from his rib, Adam named her “woman.” All the naming was done by Adam. Is that true to life? In any family, does only the man give all the names and not the woman? Not at all! A lot of men don’t know what women put into soup. Most likely all of the herbs that go into soup were first named by women. Men may have named the deer and elk that they hunted, but meanwhile women were gathering vegetables and herbs. Women were just as involved in giving names to the creation as men were.
We have to admit the Bible has a certain bias, because it was written mainly by men, in a patriarchal culture where the men were important and gave all the significant names to things. Hence, in the consciousness of religious people throughout history, starting with Judaism and continuing with Christianity — and still today in some quarters of the Unification Church — it is men who define reality. It is Father who defines reality, not Mother.
It was Adam who defined reality for Eve at the time of the Fall. Was it not Adam who blamed Eve for the Fall? “The woman whom you gave me, she made me eat the fruit” (Gen. 3:12). The suffering that came about as a result of that first sexual transgression was magnified by Adam’s attitude towards Eve afterwards.
It didn’t have to go that way. Adam could have said to Eve, “My sister, I realize you are hurting because you were mistreated — even raped — by the angel. I know it’s not your fault; he overpowered you. I want to help you.” Perhaps he even had such a brotherly attitude towards Eve, but the way it is written in the Bible, he just accuses her. Throughout history women have been downgraded, mistreated and accused of everything under the sun based upon certain attitudes that come from Scripture, and especially these stories in Genesis. They have made things worse than they needed to be. Certainly, in this era after Foundation Day, we don’t have to put up with this sort of demeaning attitude towards women.
True Mother’s Foundation Is Her Own
Divine Principle says that after Eve fell, had Adam remained whole and intact, her restoration would have been through him. That is certainly true. But does it mean that her relationship to God would have been entirely through Adam? After all, Adam could have encouraged her to heal her own relationship to God as her own Heavenly Mother, so that she could have once again felt a level of self-confidence and value as God’s daughter.
I don’t think Adam and Eve’s marriage would have been a happy one if Eve had felt so wounded and hurt that she would have to depend on her husband for everything. For Adam and Eve’s true love relationship to be ideal, it would have to be one in which Adam rejoiced as Eve recovered and grew in her own relationship with God. Adam would have refrained from having conjugal relations with her until she had recovered her value as God’s daughter.
Eve’s recovery would have been her own accomplishment. Yet when we read in Divine Principle that Eve could have been restored through perfected Adam, without much thought many jump to the conclusion that Adam would take Eve under his wing in some kind of dependent and unequal relationship.
Christianity named Eve a sinner, and said that the only way womankind can find value is to unite with the male Messiah, who came to save us and shed his blood on the cross for our sins. Therefore, the fundamental relationship for a woman and Christ is as a bride of Christ. This overlooks the fact that she cannot fully be a bride of Christ, because she is a sinner and Christ is perfect. Despite the language of “bride,” her position is lower than a bride.
Again the problem is that Genesis portrays Adam as exclusively naming things, including naming woman. Ever since, women’s identity has been predicated on what men call them. It is a fallen tradition. To end it in Cheon Il Guk, we children need to respect the way Mother defines herself. As original Eve, it is her right to do so.
We need to recognize where certain unstated assumptions, deeply rooted in Christian history, have been thrown into the Principle. The ideal of the Principle, as the Cheon Seong Gyeong says, is the ideal of love between man and woman. Father says, “The Messiah comes to enable us to fulfill our hope for ideal love.” Ideal love comes when you have a man totally at home in his skin as a son of God and a woman totally at home in her skin as a daughter of God. When those two people, a fully realized son and daughter of God, come together as husband and wife, their love can be ideal love. We wouldn’t want it any other way, and God wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Purpose of True Parents and Its Fulfillment in Cheon Il Guk
What is at stake in the controversy over True Mother claiming to be God’s only begotten Daughter is ultimately the whole purpose of True Parents’ ministry. What is so upsetting about those who question it, is that it is tantamount to denying the fundamental mission of True Parents. That mission is not just to be another male Messiah and do what Jesus did — except seven times better because True Father went through seven deaths and resurrections. That’s not the point.
True Father came on this earth as the Lord of the Second Advent with the mission to establish the True Parents. He started his mission in 1945 as the Lord of the Second Advent, but he fulfilled his mission by establishing True Parents — Father and Mother together — who as God’s true Son and true Daughter undertook the task to establish the True Family, and thereby bring the ideal of God’s love to this world.
Now our task is to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. It means we should make our families ideal families. We can do that now because True Parents planted that flag in the creation, because the unity of masculinity and femininity in God is fully mirrored and fully resonates with the masculinity and femininity of True Parents.
No one can jeopardize that unity, no matter what they think about Mother’s position, that “she’s equal but doesn’t have equal authority” or whatever they are saying about her. They cannot change the fact of True Parents’ accomplishment. But what is the value of misunderstanding it and going back to an outmoded Christian notion of salvation by following a male Messiah? What is the benefit of that when True Parents labored and strove to move to the next level? They established that next level successfully on Foundation Day, and I don’t wish to go back to a life of faith that doesn’t acknowledge that accomplishment.
That’s why what is going on now in the wider Unification movement is worthy of theological critique and warrants a Unificationist theologian like myself standing up for what I believe is the real Principle.
It is wonderful that True Mother is declaring herself God’s only begotten Daughter. It means she is emerging from Father’s shadow, where admittedly she seemed to be living during most of her life. It is a victory for all womankind. It is a step on the road to establishing Cheon Il Guk, where man and woman can unite into one, reflecting fully the glory of God’s masculinity and God’s femininity in their own persons. That is what Cheon Il Guk is supposed to be all about.♦
Dr. Andrew Wilson is Professor of Scriptural Studies at Unification Theological Seminary. He edited World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. This article is adapted from a sermon he gave at the Mid-Hudson Valley Family Church on March 29, 2015.
Photo at top: True Mother speaks at the second anniversary of the Cheon Il Guk Foundation Day, March 3, 2015.
Dr. Wilson makes a strong argument on his chosen topic with the information that is now seemingly available. I would ask him if the role and position of the Messiah becomes outmoded with the establishment of the True Family (or True Couple) and, if so, why was TF always in charge of the UM throughout his entire married life? Wouldn’t that have become more of a shared responsibility between TF and TM, according to what Dr. Wilson now describes, since both TF and TM would have brought the same gravitas and same potential for accomplishment to the table?
Next, I would ask Dr. Wilson where in Judeo-Christian history does he find a precedent for an only-begotten daughter, since that entire 4,000-year history is but preparation to receive the Messiah and his establishment of the True Family by finding a bride. Finally, on a practical level, why wasn’t the concept of an “only begotten daughter” taught in DP workshops at the same time we learned about, say, the Mission of the Messiah or the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? It seems really basic and this can’t be something new since, by definition, the term “only begotten” implies a very long providential history in and of itself.
Stephen, you make some very important points, and I will start with the second. It is precisely the lack of precedent in Judeo-Christian history to consider a female Messiah (aside from some marginal cases like Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers) that makes Father’s mission to establish the True Parents so revolutionary. And I would argue that it is because many people have not sufficiently gone beyond the past that they cannot abide Mother taking her current messianic role. In the old patriarchal traditions of Korea, when the king dies, the queen stands aside for the new prince. In the old patriarchal traditions of Christianity, women are not fit to be priests. So this is new and liberating for women, and for the female half of God, and that is why it is so significant.
Also, since it was new, True Mother did not start with the same gravitas as True Father. The entire spirit world of Christianity was looking towards the Lord of the Second Advent, not the Lord and Lady of the Second Advent. During the period of the providence of restoration, Father had to raise up Mother, especially when there was still a big strong male archangel to subjugate. Remember that DP was written during the era of restoration, and the DP workshops that so moved our hearts were also from that time.
Still, Father signalled in recent years that the providence of restoration was over, that indemnity was finished, and so on. He called for OSDP as an update of DP, and you recall that most of OSDP was about the Principle of Creation. Yet those lectures were not updated sufficiently, and a textbook was never published. I think the intention was there to create a new expression of the Principle that was centered on the Principle of Creation rather than restoration, but it was not fully developed.
Father also held several ceremonies proclaiming that True Mother had attained a perfection co-equal to his own; this matched the creation theology of God’s dual characteristics so that at the Coronation of God’s Kingship in 2001, there were two thrones side-by-side. I could see that the movement was moving towards a Creation-centered theology. It just was not fully implemented. Now, with the recent sermons by a former international president, we seem to be going backwards.
So one can ask why in recent years in the run-up to Foundation Day was Mother not given more responsibility? I think as Father looks down from heaven at this mess, he may feel some regrets.
What you are saying about women is so true, though we think of racial and cultural bias as crimes. What about misogyny? This is the oldest practice that has been perpetrated against half the human race for eons, and is so under the radar. Right now we think that if we get rid of radical Islam we will solve this problem. Unfortunately, all societies still have it. We see it everyday in the unharmonious relationships between men and women, where men usually get the upper hand. Does one think that knowing their place in a subject and object position (where women must predominantly be object — or helper in the Bible) is going to solve this? My son actually brought up the thought that when looking at the pair system in creation there is no disharmony. It’s only human men against women in the system that is conflicted.
You mentioned the OSDP and while I did receive the workshop, I can only question if we really are beyond restoration. And if not, how do we get there?
This may seem like a crazy idea, but because crimes against women have been terrible throughout history, do you think it may take more conditions to unravel and indemnify all of this? And so comes the only begotten Daughter, could this be a test from God, asking us to follow a woman, even if she may seem to be heretical (changing things from Father)? If this is so, then does it become our 5% responsibility to indemnify the han of women by following the female messiah?
I can only leave this alone to ponder further and give others food for thought. In any case, I thank UTS for this Blog. It really makes one think about their faith, and I too hope that our theologians will continue to find answers to the many questions that understanding our God and True Parents must entail. God bless the only begotten daughter.
Dr. Wilson, you say that TF may now “feel some regrets” that he didn’t give TM more responsibility in the run-up to Foundation Day. Is this because TF made a big mistake, or is it possible that to him it was never an issue anyway since he was then training his youngest son to be his successor? Which seems like the more reasonable answer to you? Would TF really turn over running the Providence to TM without himself overseeing the process a bit? In fact, during those final days, the youngest son not only ran the worldwide church, but also with his wife conducted Blessings at TF’s request.
Also Dr. Wilson, you say that TF’s previous marriage was “for naught,” as if the spiritual requirements to be the bride of the Messiah somehow only applied to TM. DP teaches that everyone has a 5% portion of responsibility, meaning that the Providence is not predestined. Therefore, one could fairly argue that if this previous wife had not “failed,” she would have become the first and “only begotten daughter of God,” and as you know, those lineages don’t happen overnight. They take thousands of years, like the one that spawned Jesus. The point of all this being that if one accepts the concept of “only begotten daughter of God,” then you automatically have a big problem: There must have been at least two “only begotten daughters of God,” which by definition is a logical impossibility.
Stephen, I explained my view about the issue of TF’s previous marriage in my comment to Tom Froehlich. Humankind can only have one “only begotten daughter,” because only one woman becomes Eve, the ancestor of the human family. That’s Mother, and her preparation was an essential part of her preparation for that role. Whatever preparation TF’s previous wife had, we don’t know about it; however it is theologically irrelevant because she failed her portion of responsibility.
One factual correction. The OSDP textbook was published in Korean on April 5, 2012. It is 843 pages long and the Principle of Creation starts on page 70 and ends on page 304. I have read the book and it sits on my bookshelf. Thus I know for a fact that such a book was published.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson, for your theological exposition on the “only begotten daughter” of God. Since I am not theologically trained I’d prefer to focus more on the meaning and practical implications of titles such as “True Father, True Mother and True Parents.” I think this will avoid the danger that TP are more and more removed from people’s daily lives as some unattainable holy figures as happened with Jesus.
So what does it mean practically for God, the Messianic couple and for humankind for someone to be the True Father or/and the True Mother of humankind? The vast majority of people will more easily relate to this type of a real person, as we can see from examples such as Mother Teresa and others.
Johann, I am well aware that True Mother is somewhat removed from our daily reality, and her nature is more reserved than Father’s was. But theology has practical implications for everyone, because True Parents are the model. So the advent of a woman as co-Messiah can be seen as a seed that has already borne fruit in the liberation of all women to reach their full potential, even as leaders of nations and corporations. The year 1960 was not only the time of True Parents’ Holy Wedding; it was also the start of movements around the world to liberate women; and these movements continue today, changing attitudes — for example about rape. The concepts that even at the highest level of divinity woman is of equal value to man, and woman is in the image of God, too filters down to society as old views that told women to shut up and swallow things such as rape or her husband’s philandering are being overturned. Have you ever thought about the concept of God as a rape victim? It is a powerful concept, particularly for counseling.
I really appreciate Dr. Wilson’s analysis based on scripture and theology. I just wonder how the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (Mary, mother of Jesus, being born sinless by virtue of the eventual merits of her son) features in this discussion?
A good and proper question! As a catholic theologian with a love of all things Unificationist, let me shout out my hearty amen! to Dr. Wilson’s article and respond to your question at the same time. The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady is a classic Christian spiritual foreshadowing of the physical salvation that Unificationists claim to have been perfected in the True Parents. Take everything you know — and more — about the BVM and applying it appropriately to Mother Moon, and you’ll be making Unification theological progress! Blessings.
What about the prior wives? In any case, I am taken aback by the seemingly endless and revisionist evolution of conjectures, no matter whom they try to favor.
Tom, I too would like to know more about Father’s first wife. I wonder what her lineage was like, and the ways in which she too had been specially prepared, so that if she had persevered and received the Blessing, she could now say she was “God’s only begotten daughter.” But as she didn’t fulfill, her predestination, such that it was, was for naught. As it says in the Divine Principle’s discussion of Romans 8:29-30, not everyone who is predestined is called, and not all who are called are justified and glorified (pp. 159-60).
I don’t know how revisionist this is as I believe that this is the first time it happened in history. I think because there was a precedent of a perfected man in the form of Jesus, we’ve been conditioned to understand the male messiah but not the female. Furthermore, by thinking of a female messiah we are not remaking but discovering new teachings, just as Rev. Sun Myung Moon did when he introduced the Principle.
How many parts of the Principle do Christians accept when it deviates from their scripture? We explain that we are teaching them something new; new skins for new wine, so is it not probable that Mother is doing the same? Yes, though there were two other brides, only Hak Ja Han gained the title True Mother and after 30 years was acknowledged by Father as one who stands shoulder to shoulder with him. Just like the new understanding of the male messiah that came with the Principle, I think in this age of Cheon Il Guk we also need new truth about his female counterpart.
While I think it is good to question, we also need to come to some decision because it does hinge on faith. I think Dr. Wilson gave us as good an explanation as a theologian could, but can we believe this apology for “the only begotten daughter” and if we don’t, then it behooves us to find another explanation for this title. For if we think to call this bogus, then we need to look at True Mother and wonder who gave her this title? I have to believe it is God or else then I would have to question the validity of True Parents, and I just don’t feel in my heart that this is necessary.
Also I have great hope in following True Mother because the things that she is asking us to do are very good. To perfect our families and to witness so we can save lives. She speaks about protecting the environment and denounces war that we are seeing so much o. She spends her time extending her husband’s legacy.
I look at her actions and cannot see anything wrong. I believe that her title came from God who has been with her since her early childhood. And after 50 years of following Father, I find it hard to believe that someone less than a perfected man or God would con her to lie about this.
The history of Christian thought — beginning with Paul and the Gospels — is a history of “seemingly endless and revisionist evolution of conjectures” about Jesus Christ, his nature and work. It’s what we do! Blessings.
Dr. Wilson noted: “That’s why what is going on now in the wider Unification movement is worthy of theological critique and warrants a Unificationist theologian like myself standing up for what I believe is the real Principle.”
A good read; thank you for adding further detail to your view of the Unificationist theological view on women as well as what CIG, again, in your view, “is supposed to be all about.”
Perhaps a layman’s or (supra-post-denominational) Unification Church/movement is a pipedream or fantasy? This is, after all, a very formalistic and substance-embued, era. It is natural, considering. And rebellions as well as rebel alliances are to be expected; occasionally, welcomed, even.
However, the center must hold.
Ultimately, shining most brightly.
Let us all pray for a new “miracle of the mother” as has truly served (and saved) so many throughout humankind’s brief history.
Dr. Wilson makes some great points from a theological point of view. Not having that background, I still want to express my humble opinion. Sinless or not – what is of importance also is God’s obvious investment in both clans: the Moons and the Hans that may have well been going on over several generations. God knew like no others what strength of spirit, character and personality it would take to carry out such kind of a mission once again, 2,000 years later — especially after the experience of sustaining Jesus against all odds as he tried to succeed and survive in such a satanic environment.
It would be nice to get some clarification of the dates of Mrs. Kim Seong-do. Most sources say she died in 1944, which means that for her to be in the spirit world when Mrs. Moon was born, Mrs. Moon must have been born in 1945, not 1943 as usually claimed. Thus, Mrs. Moon would have been 15 years and two months old at the time of her wedding to Sun Myung Moon.
Yes, this sort of historical research is helpful. However, Mother’s age is well attested by numerous speeches. It is more likely, given the imprecision of the Korean materials we have to work with, that the date of Daemonim’s dream was not at the time of Mother’s birth but shortly after Mother’s birth.
Thinking this over, I expect that the 1943 date for Mrs. Moon is correct and that Kim Seong-Do actually died in 1942, as stated by her grandson, and not 1944. After all, Rev. Moon proclaimed his wife’s 34th birthday in his speech on Feb. 23, 1977.
Dr. Wilson, thanks for your article. Yet it would be nice that in the future it would be considered the establishment of HP’s Day. Why? As you know, the first God’s Day was celebrated on January 1, 1968. The condition to start this holiday was True Mother’s victorious seven years from 1960 to 1967. On December 31, 1967, the period in which Cham Abonim treated Cham Omonim as a servant, as a child, and as a younger sister, was completed. Through all these trials she had totally sacrificed herself. She has been obedient without complaint. Can we remember this seven-year course sometimes? Above all, I think this is the main victory of TP, the establishment of God’s Day. Do you agree?
I agree, but True Mother’s thorny course did not end in 1968. She, like True Father, had to expand that foundation; and I know she went through a lot more in order to pass through the levels of family, clan, tribe, nation, and world. Do you remember the years when she had to restore Jacob’s family by taking the Rachel position and subordinate herself to Mrs. Won Pok Choi? That lasted until 1974.
I can’t wait to read the Cham Bumo Gyeong, which I am sure will have many interesting facts about their lives.
Thanks for your input, Dr. Wilson. I enjoyed reading it. I had several problems though. One is the word “impute.” God imputed sinlessness into Sun Myung Moon? How exactly is sinlessness imputed?
You also paraphrased Sun Myung Moon’s prayer on seeing his future bride as “Heavenly Parent…” Surely he did not pray Heavenly Parent. He prayed “Heavenly Father,” as he always did. Changing the words to match the current theology doesn’t ring true to me.
It is my understanding that things happen and folks do things. Later theologians create theology to explain or justify what happened. Therefore, actual facts, when available, trump theology everytime. It is a mistake to confuse facts with theology.
Michael, you are certainly correct about my paraphrase.
However, in thinking about your comment, consider that theology has a certain dominion over time and the facts of a certain time, because later theological reflection can make plain God’s purposes that were hidden earlier. The most obvious example of this is messianic prophecies in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 9, which when it was uttered was understood to be entirely about King Hezekiah; yet later generations of Jews and Christians recognized that within those words was a prophecy about the advent of the Messiah. So while the fact of history may be that Isaiah was prophesying about an earthly king, 1,000 years later the theological reality accepted all over the world was that he was pointing to Christ. Both are true, as I argue in my Old Testament class. But to take a purely historicist position and accept only facts — which would be to deny that Isaiah 9 ever had anything to do with Christ — would be to impoverish faith.
And I don’t think it’s fair to impugn the motives of Christians who recognized Isaiah 9 as pointing to the Messiah as to “justify” anything; I rather see it as God working in them to recognize formerly hidden truth. It also may have been the work of God to tie the OT and NT together in a single Bible, at a time when some Christians thought they could jettison the OT entirely as the product of an outdated dispensation (i.e., Marcion).
In my view, the concept of Heavenly Parent, which by the way, True Father often spoke about with terms like “vertical Parent,” represents a view of the Godhead that is more in line with the Principle of Creation. I personally think it is more correct to the nature of God — though I know some who would disagree. If my theology has legs, then lots of things Father said will one day be seen through the lens of understanding that he related to God as Heavenly Father for personal reasons (he is a man, after all) and historical reasons (he came out of the Christian tradition where God is always called Our Father and he lived mainly during a period of restoration through indemnity when God’s fatherly nature was paramount), but even so, the God he called Father is at the same time the Heavenly Parent. In the unfolding ideal that manifests the Principle of Creation through generations to come, the view of God as Heavenly Parent should prevail as a higher understanding, in my opinion.
You ask about “impute.” It’s a tricky word in theology. God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us for salvation; that is to say (putting it somewhat irreverently so as to make my point as clear as possible), God says that we are righteous when, in fact, we are not. If we are “in Christ,” we become “sinless” even when we sin. (Read 1 John and let me know if you can figure out what he meant by “sin” and “without sin!”) God imputed sinlessness to the BVM in the Immaculate Conception. God imputed sinlessness to SMM despite all those trial wives before he met Hak-ja Han. When God imputes (it’s a legal term), it means that by his omnipotent power as the Judge of all, he proclaims us “not guilty.” If it were on any other basis, we could boast of our forgiveness. Instead, we thank God for His pure grace. Blessings.
Warren, thank you for bringing up the issue of imputing sinlessness. It is certainly a Christian position that God imputes it. But in Unificationism, since sin is defined as a condition whereby the Devil has a relationship with us, we also need Satan’s surrender, so that he too will agree to release his hold on human beings. So in the case of Jesus, his sinless birth came on the basis of conditions that Tamar, Mary and others made to cleanse the womb from Satan’s claim. Then Jesus’ sinlessness at birth becomes a fact recognized by all, and the Devil cannot dispute it.
The same goes for Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han, they had to be free of Satan’s claim. I believe that God could declare it so at their birth on the merit of Christ’s sinlessness and their future mission to continue the work of Christ. But I think it was only conditional, contingent on their fulfilling certain conditions themselves. If they didn’t fulfill their “5 percent,” that condition would be voided. At some point in SMM’s life, he received God’s “seal” that he was the Messiah in all respects, including sinlessness. I think it was the same for True Mother.
As to the “trial wives,” I believe they were actually “providential relationships” for cleansing sin because they were reversals of the Fall; hence far from detracting from the concept of sinlessness, they paradoxically aided in establishing the conditions for True Parents to be sealed.
I applaud this article by Dr. Wilson, including his point at the beginning that it is the task of theological work to clarify, rather than condemn. This is such an important point, because we are going through a period that is similar to early Christianity (and some later Christian controversies such as the nature and role of scripture). There are tremendous forces pulling us apart, and that’s why the work of reconciliation must be on-going for us as Unificationists.
Having also studied accounts of True Mother’s early life, in the context of teaching at Cheongshim Graduate School in Korea, I agree very much with Dr. Wilson’s main points about True Mother’s early life course. One small point of disagreement:
Dr. Wilson writes:
“Hence, when Father first met Mother, he could say, ‘Heavenly Parent, I’m so grateful that You could present to me such a precious daughter.’ He could see in that young girl of 13 she was destined to be his bride. He could recognize that she already had a special relationship with God.” I suggest that the second sentence is an unnecessary conjecture — it seems to contradict the account of that meeting in As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, and perhaps would raise questions in chronology, as to the time and circumstances when that destiny was recognized.
But the main point is, everything changes with True Parents’ Holy Wedding in 1960. Everything that came before is to be understood in the light of that event, and everything that has come after as the unfolding of it. We are gradually coming to a new understanding and appreciation of True Mother, and therefore of True Parents. This will lead us, I hope and believe, to a new understanding and appreciation of True Family also (as a whole, not just one or two members).
Your last point about “a new understanding and appreciation of True Mother, and therefore of True Parents,” is ferociously important! Jesus told his disciples that the Paraclete would not — could not — come until and unless Jesus went away. But after the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, “a new understanding and appreciation” of Our Mother, the Holy Spirit, has made all the difference. Without it, Jesus might have remained a “local messiah” (to speak David Kim “Unificationish”); under the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus himself “became a life-giving spirit,” and the church flourishes. I encourage all True Children everywhere of the True Parents to rally round Mrs. Moon, unite with her, uphold her, protect her from worldly enemies and from her naughty Children, and to pray about her, for her, and in her for the success of the House of Jacob for 10,000 years. Blessings.
Thank you, Warren. So good to hear from you on this thread. Hope you enjoy seeing some of the tools you’ve given us in action!
Tom, did you just call yourself “a tool?”
Partly in response to Jennifer Tanabe’s question, I’d like to look at this topic from the standpoint of what True Father said about the original plan for Jesus’ bride. He stated publicly that the first choice would have been John the Baptist’s sister. Such a person doesn’t exist in the Bible, but presuming that Father is right about it, she would have had a remarkable birth. We can easily see that she would have been conceived of the Holy Spirit in the same sense that John was, at least. Moreover Elizabeth and Zechariah, if they had succeeded in their missions, would have established by then important conditions of indemnity to allow her birth, namely restoring the earlier failures of Jacob, Leah and Rachel that True Father often speaks of. I have no personal opinion about how Original Sin figures into all this. The term didn’t even come into use until Augustine’s time. I earnestly hope we never reach the point of establishing required creeds based on the “true” nature of True Mother’s role as the Holy Spirit or the character of her birth. But I have no problem at all accepting that she was either born as, or became through her own merit, the Only Begotten Daughter.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson, for your thoughts on this important matter. My question to you is why would Mother say that it is false to say she was raised and educated by Father when he repeatedly taught this as part of women’s course through history, including Mother, and was also very obvious to those who witnessed this difficult dynamic between the two of them? It is not shameful to have needed this education and guidance throughout her life. Also, Father on several occasions said how Mother doesn’t understand all that he does. I am open to accepting the idea of Mother as an only begotten daughter — thank you for clarifying this position in your article — but struggle to understand why Mother seems to contradict some aspects of Father’s teaching. After all, he was the teacher of the truth while on earth, not Mother. I do not say this to demean Mother but as a point of observation.
Natasha, we don’t really know the full context or what Mother really meant by the statement that Father didn’t educate her. I don’t think she said that Father didn’t raise her — there is a difference. If by “educate” we assume it means that Father instructed her on every detail of what she had to do, we could be mistaken. After all, she, like everyone else, has their 5% portion of responsibility to figure out what to do. Father may have given her some guidelines that she obeyed absolutely, but also she had to win her own victory. Also, we don’t know if by that statement she meant the education she had from Daemonim and her grandmother before she ever met Father. In short, I believe we cannot hang too much on any one statement when there is so much more to refer to, especially since Father and Mother have each spoken extensively about their lives.
Mother had her own course and her own choices to make, therefore Father would likely have “educated” her by putting her in impossible situations and leaving her to deal with it. Her choices defined her own personal victory, not Father’s telling her what to do, I’m sure. There’s no reason to suppose as far as I can see that Father would even know how a true woman would react in certain circumstances, or how she’s supposed to act. After all, presumably God Herself figured there was at least a good chance that Adam and Eve wouldn’t fall, so it seems God doesn’t exactly know everything about human behavior either.
Mother had to restore all the mistakes taken by former providential figures on the Eve side, and there’s no way Father can do that; he can only set up the conditions, which means Mother has to be in the same situation and make better choices. And on top of that, God put her into situations which quite likely Father never foresaw, too.
I love the Moon family for their drama, like an opera. A grand opera and I like Mrs. Moon for her beauty and patience.
Couldn’t agree more! Back in the good-ole’ days of UTS, my students used to scold me when I would confess to “dreaming about Mother.” (My dreams about her, let me say, were passionate but chaste.) Word got back to her that Dr. Lewis said he was dreaming about her, and she sent a message. Laughing with good humor, she said: “Tell Dr. Lewis that it is appropriate for him to dream about me. All the brothers are supposed to fall in love with me, and love me as the Restored Eve, so that then they will know how to love their wives.” Blessings.
A strategy of trying to rationalize things by using some elaborate theology is a common practice in our church.
I remember while I was in Cheongpyeong at the time of TF’s passing that I received some “theological” explanation of why the time of TF’s passing was perfect. They went on to explain, theologically, how the year, month, day, hour, and even minute were all providential! The math used was so unrealistic and ridiculous, I think they later decided not to use that explanation anymore.
Are you serious! True Mother born sinless and is also a messiah? It doesn’t matter how hard you try to rationalize things using theology. For some people this may work, but not for anyone who sees things realistically and objectively. Good luck, though.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson. I felt so inspired reading this. True Mother is ever so strongly and quietly standing up for who she is. I admire this greatly. She does not contradict True Father at all. Rather she has her own unique expression of God’s personality. She is not — luckily for all us — merely True Father’s robot or minion. I, for one, derive so much courage from her faith and strength. I really appreciate your deeply thought out and researched article. Would you consider writing something on True Father’s earlier wives (again controversy) as contacts in the future are sure to bring it up.
To answer Graham’s question about when Kim Seong-do died: according to her grandson’s testimony, “When my grandmother was in jail she became ill. Soon after she was released, on April 1, 1942, she died at the age of 62. She had worked for 30 years building a foundation for a new Christian revolution.” From a speech Chung Su Won gave in April 1986.
Yes, that’s where I got the 1942 date from. However, all other sources seem to say 1944. Previously, I have used the 1942 date from Rev. Chung but the editors there changed it to 1944 before they published it. That’s how I got interested in her date. Then I noticed that she was supposed to have appeared a few days after Mrs. Moon’s birth in 1943 and that confused me even more. Regarding Rev. Chung, the dates he provides are inconsistent, so I have no great confidence that his 1942 date is correct (how many of us know the year our grandparents died without having to sit and think it over?). 1942 seems to fit best, but I’m just not sure, given that her date is always given elsewhere as 1944.
About the first seven-year course, I’ve just been reading a lot about this. I don’t think we can rightly see this course primarily as the course for TM’s perfection. I don’t deny the truth of that claim, but it’s only part of the picture. Father usually refers to it as a course pioneered by TP together as the model course for each of us to walk. For example:
“The motto of the first year of the first seven-year course is ‘Let this year be the most fruitful year of our lives.’ This means that I, in the position of a man, had to find True Mother. The motto of the second year is ‘Let us become Heavenly Father’s representatives.’ Because I finally found Mother, I could work on behalf of our Heavenly Father to advance toward the restored kingdom of heaven. These mottos refer to my own life. The motto of the third year is ‘Let us have something to show and be proud of.’ Spiritual sons and daughters are the ones we can show and be proud of. This refers to your restoration course. Therefore, this is both my motto and your motto. Focusing on the first seven-year course, you need to have the greatest year of your life in front of Heaven. The best year of your life should be one in which you, as a lost man, find your lost woman. Then as a representative of God, you need to show something and be proud. After that you need to become a victorious leader. Once you have completely restored the four-position foundation, you need to govern the realm of victory. In 1960, when I said ‘When this seven-year course passes, the complete foundation will be established on which I can work,’ you thought I was only dreaming. But now you can see that things have turned out just like I said they would.” (025-239, 1969.10.04) [draft translation]
Thank you, Dr. Wilson for clarifying TM’s role. You did it eloquently and carefully.
In this time of division, we need to “forgive, love and unite.”
Thanks Dr. Wilson. I prefer to stick to the Principle, because by the Principle we can solve all problems. The subject in the True Family’s four-position foundation is Father. The titles True Mother, True Parents, and God of Day are more prominent than God’s only begotten daughter. This terminology can easily be misused to nullify everything including the Divine Principle, True Family, True Parents, and the Blessing. Ever since the emergence of this title, we don’t hear about Father and the spirit world.
It is true that the subject in the True Family’s four-position foundation is Father. But what happens when, in any family, the subject passes into the spirit world? The unity of the four-position foundation spans both worlds, but it is Principle that the locus of responsibility remains on earth. In an individual who has both physical and spirit selves, advancement is based on the portion of responsibility exercised by the physical self; so it is in a couple where husband and wife are in different worlds.
You can research this matter by talking to other families where the husband has ascended. The widow has to manage that couple’s earthly legacy and make decisions for the both of them, while consulting with her passed husband in prayer.
As to “hearing from” Father in the spirit world: I have friends to whom Father has appeared in dreams or through channeled messages. But do you think it would be a good idea if our movement were led by spiritual messages purportedly from Father in the spirit world? I could conceive of scenarios where various members springing up announced messages and they conflicted with each other — it would be chaos. So I for one am pleased that for official purposes, the locus of authority is with Mother, a living person, and not with Father in the spirit world channeled through intermediaries.
When True Mother is referred to as “True Parents” I find it difficult to relate to.
Alan, for many years and often, Father would refer to himself as True Parent. No one batted an eye; they understood that he represented the both of them. Now Mother represents the both of them on earth. If it is hard to relate to that, it is probably not sexist, but rather because not many of us have the kind of personal relationship with Mother that we cultivated with Father over many years. That is a problem for us. Nevertheless, Father affirmed Mother’s position time and time again, so let’s make effort to know her.
Also, remember that in Korean there is often no distinction between singular and plural; it is the choice of the translator as to whether to add the “s” at the end of Parent, whether the issue is True Parent(s) or Heavenly Parent(s).
We can call True Mother “True Parents” because they are husband and wife united centered on God’s love according to God’s original ideal of creation; they are one, one flesh, one entity. So it doesn’t matter if one is in spirit world and one on earth, both on earth or both in the spirit world. We see only Mother, but if our spiritual eyes where open, I’m sure we could see True Fathers’s spirit with her. Likewise, I’m sure that in spirit world True Father doesn’t appear alone, but with Mother’s spirit by his side.
Dear Dr. Wilson,
So glad to see you pressing theologically forward! While I was at UTS, I was impatient for Mrs. Moon, as the “incarnation of the Holy Spirit,” to take her proper place. We now can see that her “proper” place could not be taken until after SMM’s passing. Now that she is doing what I had hoped she would do, let all UC Sisters take note: The time for Unificationist Women’s Lib is upon us. You go, Girls! Just as the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements have empowered women throughout Christendom, may True Mother’s realization of her role empower women throughout the House of Jacob and Rachel! Blessings.
Thanks, Warren, and a hearty “Aju!”
When True Father was talking about being an only begotten child of God, he was referring to a person taking responsibility for God. The theology has been devised that incorporates lineage and applied to True Mother and True Father. So each has a separate prepared lineage. One has replaced the other. The original lineage isn’t two or more separate lineages. There can be only one. The understanding of lineage is seen from the perspective of physical lineage where the actual original lineage is a spiritual connection to God. True Father established it through his own relationship with God, his life of suffering, and payment of indemnity.
John, I agree with you that there is only one lineage; it is the lineage that begins from the True Parents. They are the true ancestors of all humankind — that is one meaning of “only begotten.” It is a lineage that is sealed and established for all time. If you believe in the Principle, you should know that salvation requires that we be reborn by both a father and a mother —- True Father and True Mother. We cannot be saved just by Father or just by Mother because rebirth requires both True Parents.
True Mother’s lineage before their marriage and True Father’s lineage before their marriage is entirely secondary to the lineage that they originated together as the True Parents, at the Marriage of the Lamb in 1960. Any concept of only-begotten that makes light of that fundamental reality is missing the point.
Forgive me but in the interests of clarity, your last sentence should read: “Any concept of only-begotten that makes light of that fundamental reality is missing the point.”
[Editor: This was the editor’s mistake and Dr. Wilson’s comment above has been corrected]
If God’s original lineage should have been created through perfect Adam, man, and perfected Eve, woman, and they failed to do so, it follows that a man alone cannot recreate God’s lineage, but it takes a new Adam and a new Eve to do so. That’s why, in the same way that True Father established his own relationship with God, so did True Mother, who, going her own course of restoring Eve, fulfilling her 5% of human responsibility, had to lead and is still leading a life of suffering and payment of indemnity. A man alone cannot give birth to children.
Seeing only True Father as the absolute unique Messiah is stepping back to Christianity, and God’s providence is always moving forwards, not backwards.
You are confusing things here. Yes, you are right, we need a pure lineage, from both man and woman, in order to give birth to a pure lineage. However, what you are distorting is how this is to happen.
True Father clearly explained that he needed to “restore” his bride, and connect her to “his” lineage. True Mother wasn’t born on earth with this lineage, as you are trying to suggest. This is a distortion and deviation from True Father’s word and the Principle.
I do not think our world needs another theology or new religion. One challenge the Unification movement can embrace is to be a major contributor to the current transformation of human consciousness that is unfolding all over the globe!
A good place to begin is in starting a constructive conversation about what I call the “myth of the True Parents.” Our sacred narrative as history (our “myth”) about who True Parents are, where they came from, how they got here, and what they are doing for humanity has shaped a powerful worldview and created a distinctive cultural experience for thousands of people around the world. In the 21st century, let’s build on the worthy aspects of our sacred story and be careful not to exaggerate or idealize reality.
From another perspective, “our world” actually has endless “theology and religion” with the challenge of “transformation” also possible – both within those countless theologies and religions as well as without. I personally love much of the Hindu take on man and the universe (as well as flat-earthers [for fun!], Joseph Campbell, Poe, Aquinas, Buddha, Kazantzakis, et. al.), yet contain myself most often and simply focus on my own family and its little universe; seemingly, at least, like the majority of (poor) humankind.
This article touches on many related points, all of which I find myself in agreement with. At times, I can be annoyed by what I perceive to be the misplaced political correctness of various statements made about the role of women in the Unificationist community (the opposite of male chauvinism). Not here. This is carefully worded common sense.
I particularly and emphatically agree that by insisting that True Father alone is the Messiah one unintentionally proclaims his failure, since his mission was the establishment of True Parents.
This article somehow lacks the notion of the “principle of restoration through indemnity.” It only mentions Adam’s “could have” while overlooking Eve’s “could have.” Since Adam failed to take responsibility for the fall as a subject partner, it was True Father’s (Messiah) mission to guide and restore Eve to the state before the fall. On the other hand, Eve could have said “sorry” for her first falling with the Archangel by ignoring God’s commandment and then making Adam fall by dominating over Adam. However, Eve accused the Archangel instead. So True Mother’s mission (regardless of her begotten-daughter status) was to obey and follow Adam as his object partner to be restored (as we all learned through OSDP), and then to keep God’s word and overcome Archangel’s temptation by herself (without True Father’s guidance or help). Only when True Mother victoriously completes the mission in both stages, will she become a real bride and ideal love will start.
Your response somehow seems to prefer to keep us all focused on restoration beyond all declarations of achievements and actual achievements on the part of True Parents and members, and of course the greater world out there. I think it’s a little dangerous to prolong the idea of restoration too long, because it first of all tries to keep women in the object/obedience model, which really isn’t the way of life appropriate after Foundation Day, and also fundamentally denies our original nature and our victories. It is not appropriate for women to obey men except for in the unique instance of obedience to a Messiah, as part of restoration, otherwise it’s just more being obedient to archangels. We can’t be waiting around forever, especially since the only person who can claim to have overcome the Archangel (who, by the way, is dead in the water these days, according to TF) is Mother herself, and you don’t seem to think she can do this, even though she is moving forward with the program. Do you think somehow she has to wait until some male being declares her free from Satan? Who would that be? Didn’t Father already claim that anyway?
I think the West may have a real contribution to make here, because Westerners seem more able to see the possibility of life free from the burdens that True Parents came to lift. I think the second gen especially are free from this burden, and if they’re going to be able to see a way to work within the UC, we need to be able to see ourselves as entering a post-Messianic age. We can still overcome our shortcomings within this new context; it’s not like we suddenly have to all claim to be perfect.
One of my favourite quotes is attributed to Disraeli. It goes, “We know not right from wrong, yet with words we govern men.”
Personally, I find great comfort in the understanding that all religions are to a some degree mythology. If they help people live better and more meaningful lives, then that is all to the good. But let us not mistake beliefs, opinions and interpretations, regardless of how scholarly the source or well-reasoned the argument, for truth.
Graham, I wonder what aspects of Unificationism you consider to be “mythological” yet helpful in living better and more meaningful lives if that’s your take on religion.
I also wonder about your criterion for truth if scholarly sources and well-reasoned arguments are insufficient.
I, too, am very grateful for Dr. Wilson’s thoughtful explanation –- we have distributed this through our European Newsletter to the general membership in Europe. I am also grateful to other UTS professors for their articles or comments that emerge from time to time (Dr. Mickler and Dr. Tanabe, in particular) –- for me, of all that one sees in the blogosphere, these make the most valuable reading.
I apologize if what I say here does not fully take account of all the excellent inputs already made. I had been thinking about some of the topics mentioned here before alighting on this discussion. In respect of True Mother being “educated” by True Father, I would say that Father has every right to say that, but I never imagined that he was instructing her or telling her how she should think or act. Her development surely took place in relationship with Father (what more challenging teacher could you have?), but I always imagined her “education” as like that of being assigned to a Zen master, who might reject and ignore his pupil, or set before them a real conundrum, but do so deliberately (and far from heartlessly) to elicit a spiritual leap forward in the trainee. In this sense, to say to Mother that Father “educated” her is perhaps disingenuous and not accurate (if you are thinking of “education” in an instructive sense). This means that her victories in the spiritual path are her own, as indeed they have to be.
The issue over changing the content of the “eight great textbooks” is a red herring, in my opinion. Perhaps someone can enlighten me, but was it ever said that the original Cheon Seong Gyeong was “out” and the new version was “in”? And since the magnificent resource, the three books (Cheong Seong Gyeon, Pyeong Hwa Gyeong and Cham Pumo Gyeong –- well, yet to see the third one in English) are drawn from True Father’s Words, which in the “collected sermons of Sun Myung Moon” are already part of this Holy Canon, I think the protests are hollow, if not foolish. I have to say I am enjoying and gaining so much from the new translation, wording and rendering into English of the Cheon Seong Gyeong.
As for the use of “Heavenly Parent” rather than “Heavenly Father,” I would welcome further explanation on this, or even some refinement. My rudimentary Korean tells me that “Heavenly Father” was adopted in place of the Korean Hananim (the “Honorable Number One” being the quaint literal translation) by borrowing from the Western Christian tradition. Hananim, I understand, is the term used in Korean native religion, and so to move to something that expresses the “Parenthood” of God as Father and Mother is totally logical in light of Unification theology generally and the significance of Foundation Day in particular. I am of the opinion that the English suffers, however. Korean does not distinguish between singular and plural much of the time –- so Pumonim (parent) could be singular or plural –- it is a useful fuzziness in this case as The Lord, we know, is “One.” When we say “Heavenly Parent” in English, it does beg the question as to whether we mean father or mother. When, or if, we say “Heavenly Parents” (which I find myself wanting to do), we risk losing the sense of oneness. This is a deficiency of English. What is more, I certainly never addressed my father or mother as “Dear Parent” –- it sounds a bit odd, cold even.
Furthermore, with Hanul Pumonim, the term True Mother has introduced, I would be interested to know why “hanul is commonly translated as “sky.” Of even greater interest to me is what the feeling of True Mother might be when she uses this expression at the culmination of her life-long journey with God? By the sound alone, I sense a beautiful progression from “Han-a-nim” to “Han-ul Pumo-nim.” That makes a lot of poetic as well as theological sense to me. I think I will use the Korean!
David, I am studying the previous use of the term “Heavenly Parent” in Father’s words. Mother did not invent this term; it was already in use. Father’s use of it is documented in the (old) Cheon Seong Gyeong. Even more interesting is the frequent use of this word in Wolli Wonbon, the original text of the Divine Principle that Father wrote in 1951. To be brief: even as Mother found voice to proclaim this word to the world in 2013, Father had written about it 60 years before as an essential aspect of our understanding God in the world of the ideal of creation.
My question to you is: what do you mean by red herring?
When I joined the church (then not officially a church yet) in Europe in the early 70s, it felt like a breath of fresh air after leaving the Roman Catholic Church where I felt stifled with all its dogmas and hierarchy.
To know that all of us are unique, individual truth bodies reflecting God’s Love and Nature, was inspiring, refreshing and brought hope in my heart.
It also brought a new and more elevated sense of identity: we were all brothers and sisters of a God whose Love is unconditional. This understanding and knowing helped us unite in heart as Europeans when we formed the European IOWC in June 1975, almost 40 years ago.
Having grown up in occupied Alsace, France, listening to my parents’ stories of war, I had an aversion of Germans. However, the message of unity and the newly-found brotherhood and sisterhood helped melt way the negative opinion of the past and I grew to love brothers and sisters of all nationalities as we traveled from country to country on that IOWC. I even spent a year living and working in Germany (we could not fundraise) and discovered its beauty and the kindheartedness of its people for myself.
Now fast forward 40+ years later, that newly found love, acceptance and understanding is eroding as brothers and sisters take sides with the various factions of the movement and become critical, judgmental and hardened in their opinions just like the Christians we have been trying to win over all these years. Belief divides; only in the heart can there be unity.
What I observe is that shift from a heart-centered, pioneering movement to a Church with set beliefs (as the proclamation of being the only begotten daughter of God) that “we have become them”: “them” being the churches we were trying to change and that felt like cemented in their beliefs and dogmas.
That being said, I like to remind myself of the basics Jesus taught: “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11 and what St. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 13)
Well, the “locus of authority” as Dr. Wilson noted it might best be seen where it can be seen, right now, and that seems most “logically,” at least, on earth with the True Mother.
Belief, vision, and most particularly, “an idealized” version of either is cause for discussion.
However, seldom do all members of a family, much less “groups,” agree on such completely or even absolutely. Hence, the common reversion (or affirmation) to various modes of survival: separation (and/or conflict), wandering (or simply “wondering”), positivity, and most essentially, the quest for personal meaning.
To live for “others” we must first learn to live for (with) self.
“Love” (or heart) is alpha and omega; given, lost, regained; and so on.
Transitions are tough.
Hold fast to “the ideal,” as God gives you the grace to both see it and actually do so.
Andrew, this article has certainly stimulated a lot of discussion. I am curious as to whether you see any significant practical distinction between the theological titles of “True Mother” (and “True Father”) and “Only Begotten Daughter” (or “Only Begotten Son). Both titles indicate their theological uniqueness. “True” seems to refer to an embodiment of the divine, while “Only Begotten” seems to refer more to birth in a sinless state. Yet, for practical purposes these titles both are meant to stress uniqueness that bestow divine authority on them.
I am reminded that different groups of Christians claimed Jesus authority by his birth. Matthew ties his lineage to King David, making him an heir to the the throne of Israel. Luke ties Jesus’ lineage to Adam, making him the promised one for all humankind. The book of John makes Jesus into God (“In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh”).
Very well written and explained Dr. Wilson! It pretty much reflects my own thoughts. However, there are some points I like to add and ask your opinion.
1. A few years ago Father said that he was born for True Mother. It is another indication of True Mother’s position.
2. As creation in its sequence produced ever higher species, at the end the woman was created. Looking at the body of women and that of a man, it can be easily understood that a woman’s body is not only more beautiful, but more sophisticated as well and lives longer than man.
3. The term “God’s direct dominion” has been not so much emphasized, unfortunately. If this would have been clearer to some today, they would not accuse those around True Parents, but trust in their judgment which is under God’s full authority. A Mother Theresa can act in a humanistic way, True Parents in a Godly way only.
What you, Doris and EG bring up is extremely important. Call it true love, or direct dominion, this is the ideal of creation that we pledged ourselves to build when we signed on to this movement. Yet we are clearly still on that journey; in that sense we are still wandering in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. True Parents have built a foundation for us, their children, to live in love, with God and with each other. But like the early Christians, we too have to come to terms with how we can continue that mission that remains unfinished at the Messiah’s death. I believe that True Parents have empowered us to bring that love into reality, not by following a leader in faith but by realizing our own inborn nature, now purified by the change of lineage that was bequeathed to us. Even so, a big aspect of love is filial piety, and it is out of that love that I want to be a filial child to our True Parents and to comfort God. These days that means supporting Mother, and supporting all women who have been disadvantaged and abused under the fallen male paradigms of the past.
Theology about hierarchy and positions within the household isn’t compatible with Rev. Moon’s teachings and the Principle. This perspective derives from both the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians, which are most likely pseudonymous works attributed to the Apostle Paul and express a similar theology but which actually does not represent the accepted Pauline perspective at all. Even Paul’s perspective is similar to Rev. Moon where there is a mutual relationship between husband and wife. When you look at the four position family foundation in the Principle of Creation there is a mutual relationship between male and female — not a patriarchal, or a matriarchal one. Emphasis on the “Christ” is not in line with the Ideal of the Principle either. This is borrowing from Christianity and perverting the Principle. This is not Christianity where a person needs a mediator between themselves and God. There is an ideal or archetype to model here — definitely not one that has a perversion of that ideal relationship from outside the couple, from a person in the authoritative position. That is the same as the fall. It is reinventing Christianity to serve power interests and not the interests of the whole community.
In another context, it would be very interesting to analyze why a sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. In light of the story in which Jesus expels evil spirits from a person and is accused of using higher demonic forces which in turn causes him to make this statement is quite complex. I have not studied in Barrytown, only Catholic theology in Munich as a Unificationist.
The whole concept of a sinless woman born from the womb for the process of restoring the original ideal of God lost due to the fall in the Garden of Eden is flawed and wrong. I will explain why.
Adam is created and God directly is his Creator. In Genesis 2:7:
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Eve is created from Adam as God sees it. In Genesis 2:21-24:
“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
From God’s point of view, Adam is created first and Eve is created from Adam.
The process of recreation (restoration) is governed by the same laws and processes as the original creation. So if you clearly understand this you will understand God’s promise to send the Messiah. This is God taking direct responsibility to create Adam anew, just like He did in the original Garden of Eden.
So once Adam is created, where will Eve come from? She will come from Adam. Eve is not a separate creation apart from Adam. So it is the same in the providence of restoration. This is why God and the LSA together “create” a new Eve. This is done by taking a bride from the “fallen” world (taking back what was stolen by Satan).
I hope this is clear enough that people can understand why there is not born a sinless women in the providence of restoration. For only through/from a True Adam (Father) can a sinless Eve be created.
True Father clearly taught that Adam and Eve were created as twins, emerging from the same womb. From the Cheon Seong Gyeong (2006), p. 1741:
“Since Adam and Eve arose out of God’s dual characteristics, they can be said to have emerged from the same bundle. In other words, they are like brother and sister born from the same womb as twins. Touching each other, the twin brother and sister suckle separate breasts and think together centering on love. They love each other embraced in the bosom of their mother.” (238-248, 1992.11.22)
It is unfortunate that you are relying on an account in Genesis that the Divine Principle labels as symbolic. In this age we can do better than construct our theology on ancient scriptures that are oftentimes superseded by Heaven’s more recent revelations to our True Parents.
Thank you, Andrew!
Strictly speaking, the True Parents are the model for all others. What matters is resembling the model. The way to do that is to take responsibility and own the concept ourselves. Do you think that strong-minded people are so easily influenced by changing theology and can’t discern between what is the model and course and what is not? A motivated, empowered person walking the course is focusing on the essential course and task and not even sidetracked by infighting. They have the vision and walk regardless of what is happening around them.
There’s always been a struggle throughout history within religions and despite that what does God do? God just keeps going. We have to go beyond the intellectual model and become owners of the model.
If there is a blood lineage, then the True Parents are the origin of that lineage. What does change of lineage mean? It means to establish the True Father distinct from the False Father. So there is no sin in that system when you set the condition to remove the fallen nature by reversing the four fallen natures. That is because you reverse the process and motivation of the fall.
In my understanding and reading of Rev. Moon’s speeches, he accomplished that through his own path of indemnity and suffering. In other words, he paid the indemnity to be in that position and therefore since his wife fulfilled a course of restoration — she is in that position as well. So both Rev. Moon and his wife are the substantial True Parents, the distinct Adam and Eve apart from the fallen history making a new, fresh start with no connection to the Fall at all — just like an Adam and an Eve in the very beginning. They are the fourth Adam, making a new beginning with a distinct history apart from fallen history.
I contend that Rev. Moon established the position, not that he was born without original sin. Think about what original sin means in Divine Principle. It has to do with lineage. There was a false lineage centered on Satan — and now there is a true lineage centered on God with the Moons in the position of Adam and Eve, and the “True” parents this time; they are establishing the original ideal world. So those who are saying that Rev. Moon and his wife are born without original sin are saying the Moons don’t have the connection to Satan through symbolic restoration through indemnity — just like the change of lineage in the Hebrew bible. So you have two conflicting aspects to lineage now. Either they worked to achieve it or they were sinless at birth.
Some mentioned that they weren’t theologians, but after numerous workshops, studies and years in the UM, one could claim that we are all at least semi-theologians. It is clear to me it was possible that in both the lineages of the True Parents so many merits were accumulated and that God worked in their respective lineages to the extent that they both could be born sinless.
On top of that they were born in Korea, which is an exceptional culture and in special unique clans. Therefore they have a mission as Cosmic Messiah and they are the very first with a sinless lineage. We ourselves, through grace, aren’t far behind though, as God surely also worked in our lineages, so that after being “physically” grafted to the true lineage through the Holy Wine ceremony, we could enter a new spiritual level through a rebirth, and our own children could be born without original sin too. That is great.
We were taught also that according to DP everyone, including God, is growing and that we all needed training and education. This seems clear to me. After having lived long in Korea I came to realize as well that as a result of careful transcription and translation (or lack thereof) of many Korean terms, concepts and words in English there must have been difficulties. Also some early Korean members, and even now, although very good in English, were not native speakers and not always aware of certain nuances of English expressions. Sometimes pride may have been involved. So, many times they perhaps pushed through their views. One example is the term “spiritual child.” The Korean term for that is midum adul, which means literally “faith child”. I personally see my spiritual parents more as a spiritual contact person, and see the True Parents more as my Spiritual Parents, after all, they are the ones who gave me rebirth.
Furthermore, for those fortunate enough to have reasonably loving physical parents, the terms father and mother remained often more connected to them, and they were often struggling the most with the term True Parents, as they felt “… who then are we …?”, while they would have perhaps accepted the term “Spiritual True Parents of Heaven and Earth and Humankind” more easily. Perhaps I am not right, but there may be many more terms and concepts that need to be clarified more or altered in the near or more distant future.
One other issue for example is the way of addressing others, for which we apply often double standards in relation to responsible Korean, Japanese, international members and academic and non-academic members. Some of us have a Ph.D. and are addressed “Dr.” They in turm would have to use terms like Mr. or Mrs. if they want to be consistent in using respectful terms. This dialogue is clearly on the level of brothers and sisters, so the prefix of (elder) brother or (elder) sister would be better, I think. There are other points. We still have much work to do.
Your argument strikes me as a case of theological wishful thinking. You love True Mother, therefore you desire to defend any changes, real or imagined, that she has made to our understanding. This is honorable as an intellectual effort made by a spiritual son, but if I may say so, that doesn’t make it theology. If I might choose one example, you suggest that the biblical story of Adam blaming Eve is a “fallen” narrative, but your only evidence is that you want it to be so. Isn’t this the kind of ex post facto reasoning that we privately decry in our Christian brethren?
We’ve always been open to changes in the past when Father was on earth, so why be so doubtful about Mother’s changes? Yet in fact this is more a change in our church culture than a change in theology, because Father spoke of Mother as only begotten daughter many times.
Theology is faith seeking understanding. I start with faith, faith in True Parents. That includes Father’s consistent desire to uplift Mother to fulfill her God-given destiny. Theology is also logical. It is logical to regard the biblical story of Adam blaming Eve as a fallen narrative, because Adam, at the moment he blamed Eve, was a fallen man, and blaming is a fallen action, not an action done with God’s love. There is entirely too much blame in our movement and our world right now, and it keeps us tied to satanic influences. Yes, it is a challenge to rise above that, but in the name of love we must.
Yes, if you want to read Adam’s criticism of Eve as an example of patriarchal thinking, of course you can do so. But if there is no evidence for that conclusion, other than a desire to implicate the Bible in a system of oppression, there is a danger of mis-reading. Maybe that story has a different import, such as that given by Father, and maybe something very important is lost with this new reading. This reads less like exegesis and more like “we can get away with this if we sprinkle a few maybes around.” Dr. Shimmyo’s article this week gave me the same queasy feeling.