The Sanctuary Church Schismatics

Front View of SC

By Michael Mickler

Mickler full-sizeThe Sanctuary Church (SC), with branches in the U.S. and overseas, is best understood as a schismatic movement. Followers of schismatic movements are known as schismatics. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group.

SC, formally the “World Peace and Unification Sanctuary,” claims that the wider Unification movement has deviated from the teachings and practice of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and that its purpose is to preserve and propagate his teaching.

The SC schism was several years in the making.

In 2013, SC Pastor Hyung Jin Moon, then International President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU, a.k.a. the Unification Church), refused the request of his mother, Hak Ja Han Moon, to take up duties under her in Korea. Instead, he relocated to the “wilderness” of Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, where he began an independent ministry. He was supported by his elder brother, Kook Jin Moon, who relocated Kahr Arms, which he heads, to nearby Pike County. Together, they purchased a church facility in 2014 and began the SC ministry.

Initially, SC uplifted gifts of grace and the Holy Spirit. Later, a “wilderness” mentality took hold and sermons turned apocalyptic. Hyung Jin Moon castigated “predatory elites” and “postmodern” thinking, gave credence to “truther” claims about the Twin Tower attacks, and emphasized prophetic speculation about Shmita year cycles and Blood Moon Tetrads. Then, in a series of sermons, beginning January 18, 2015, he broke decisively with FFWPU.

His epiphany was that the “predatory system of control… in the world at large” also was occurring in FFWPU. Based on this understanding, he directed Unification Church members to resign from FFWPU organizations. In a subsequent “Declaration of Heaven,” he announced the removal of all current leaders of the Unification Movement, declaring they had “no authority.” He called on members to take over church boards and elect replacements.

In March 2015, FFWPU removed Hyung Jin Moon as International President.

This radicalized his position. Previously, he called for the “liberation” of his mother from “archangels” surrounding her. Afterwards, he attacked her directly. He declared her “authority and power” to be “stripped away and removed.” He announced her displacement as “True Mother” and conducted a ceremony transferring that position to his wife. He declared his mother was “seduced” by archangels, and in an unfortunate phrase, referred to her as the “Whore of Babylon.”

Along with these pronouncements, Hyung Jin Moon declared all “Holy Blessings” conducted since Rev. Moon’s passing to be invalid and began conducting “restorational” blessings. He declared “ancestor liberation” ceremonies under the auspices of FFWPU were corrupt and announced he would liberate member’s ancestors to the 210th generation. He denounced the governing structure of FFWPU’s “Cheon Il Guk Constitution,” and substituted “The Constitution of the United States of Cheon Il Guk” which identified him, and his male heirs, as temporal monarchs.

The Sanctuary Church has been disruptive due to its ongoing attacks and efforts to poach members from the wider movement. It gained a fervent following, established branch churches, and aggressively marketed itself on social media. The remainder of this article offers a cursory sketch of SC beliefs and future prospects.

SC Beliefs

SC shares many beliefs and texts with FFWPU. This section outlines core beliefs that depart from or have been defined in opposition to FFWPU.

God. In opposition to Mother Moon’s admonition that members pray to their “Heavenly Parent,” implying that Unificationists image God as mother as well as father, SC affirms a wholly patriarchal deity. God, they insist, is in the masculine “subject” position.

True Parents. According to Hyung Jin Moon, True Parents “are equal in love and in value… but in authority that is a different matter. There is an order. There is a hierarchy in True Parents.” As he expressed it, “In TPs, there is an absolute subject and king.” That is Rev. Moon. Mrs. Moon is in a feminine “object” position not only to her husband but also to his male seed.

Bridegroom theology. Hyung Jin Moon teaches that it would have been best if Father Moon, as Messiah and King of Kings, had taken “all the women of this world and be their spouse and to have children from every single one.” This, he said, was the “quickest way” to kill off Satan’s lineage.

Scripture. SC denies that Father Moon’s teachings, specifically his “last words” to humankind in the form of “Eight Great Textbooks,” can be edited or altered in any way. SC applies its doctrine of textual literalism primarily to the 2,500-page Cheong Seong Gyeong, or “Heavenly Scripture,” which includes excerpts of Father Moon’s sermons arranged thematically.

Succession. SC takes the position that Hyung Jin Moon has “inherited the full authority of the True Parents on earth.” As such, he has the right to proclaim himself the “second King” of Cheon Il Guk (the Unification equivalent of the Kingdom of God on earth), announce that his wife was now fulfilling the role of True Mother, and conduct a ceremony in which his wife bowed before one of his sons designated as the “third King,” thereby solidifying the ongoing subordination of mother to son.

Eschatology. Hyung Jin Moon views the current situation as a “time of warning” and “time of desecration.” In his view, “postmodern, humanistic, secular feminist ideology” dominates the world and FFWPU. SC upholds catastrophic biblical predictions as prophetic warnings to America and is quick to cite “signs of the end” such as a MERS outbreak in South Korea which temporarily shut down a FFWPU workshop site. SC is suspicious of multinational corporations, central bankers, politicians, and elites in general. It embraces a vision of the ideal that attempts to link dynastic monarchism with libertarian values.

en_Christian_Sects_over_the_History_VIgnette

A chart (click to enlarge) of Christian denominations since the first century CE, emphasizing pre-1054 schisms (adapted from a chart published by an Islamic organization).

Future Prospects

SC’s future is indeterminate, especially at this stage. Its conflict with FFWPU is asymmetrical. SC possesses only a small fraction of FFWPU’s membership and resources. It has promoted itself on social media to look outsized. However, vocalness should not be confused with size or influence. So far, SC has limited itself to poaching members from the wider movement. As such, it tends to resemble any number of splinter groups, particularly those that have broken off from large U.S. sects, such as the Latter Day Saints or Seventh Day Adventists. SC, as a movement, has little meaningful contact with the “outside” world, seeing itself in a cosmic struggle against “predatory elites” and pretenders who have captured the wider society and their church.

At the same time, it would be a mistake for FFWPU to minimize or dismiss SC out of hand. Hyung Jin Moon was FFWPU International President. More than that, he was “crowned” on several occasions by Father and Mother Moon. He and his wife were designated as their “inheritors” and “representatives.” Kook Jin Moon headed Tongil Group, FFWPU’s corporate conglomerate in Korea and controlled the distribution of monies to the wider movement. In addition, SC has won several FFWPU leaders including a former national leader of Japan, the former president of Unification Theological Seminary and a former chair couple of the U.S. Blessed Family Department. To this point, SC’s demonization of FFWPU and adoption of countermeasures show no sign of abating.

The particulars of the SC/FFWPU conflict are unique but the “schismatic dynamic” it embodies is not without precedent in the history of religion. The following are five trajectories this dynamic can take or has taken:

  1. Subjugation. The subjugation trajectory is a classic zero-sum or “win-lose” model, i.e., either the schismatic organization subjugates the founding organization or the founding organization subjugates the schismatic organization. However, there are few, if any, examples of schismatic groups (SOs) subjugating founding organizations (FOs). Some have absconded with property or funds. Most have simply departed or, like SC, gone into a real or symbolic wilderness exile. FOs, on occasion, have succeeded in persecuting SOs out of existence but rarely in winning them back into the fold.
  2. Absorption/Re-absorption. The absorption/re-absorption trajectory is a variation of the subjugation model. It posits that in the longer term the schismatic organization will absorb the founding organization or the founding organization will re-absorb the schismatic organization. Again, there are few, if any, examples of SOs absorbing FOs. This is the case even when SOs eclipse FOs in vigor and scope. Christianity began as a SO within Judaism and eventually outdistanced it. However, Christianity never absorbed Judaism despite continuing efforts to “convert” the Jews. Neither did Judaism succeed in re-absorbing the sect of the Nazarene.
  3. Conflagration SOs sometimes self-destruct in violent conflagrations. Sociologists of religion have identified factors leading to these apocalypses such as charismatic leadership, claims to absolute authority, us-versus-them messages, control of an encampment, sexual abuse, positive views on the use of force, and access to or stockpiling of weapons. This end-game is not common but SO adherents cannot be naïve as to this possibility, however small.
  4. Continuation. The most likely scenario from a history of religion perspective is that SOs persist as permanent schisms. If unsuccessful, SOs typically either go out of existence or re-create themselves in new forms. Anabaptists became Mennonites. Millerites morphed into the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They just as commonly splinter into new SOs, often for the same or similar reasons that prompted the original SO/FO split. Factionalism, politely called denominationalism, characterizes Christianity not less than rival schools or guru lineages in other traditions.
  5. Reconciliation. This is the optimal model going forward and the one most closely aligned with authentic Unificationism. Unfortunately, it is the least common. The modern ecumenical movement within Christianity, of which the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) partakes, might be an exception but its progress has been spotty. This is ironic since confession, repentance, forgiveness, love, and restitution are at the core of most religious traditions. Yet intra-religious conflicts are among the world’s most intractable.

Religious movements are born in primal innocence and grow up in worlds of infinite possibility. As possibilities constrict, there is a tendency to rebel and seek to create new systems of primal innocence and infinite possibility. Unfortunately, fomenting schism is like eating the forbidden fruit. The primal innocence and infinite possibilities promised are illusory and new SOs spawn new schisms. This is the very dynamic that Unificationism exists to reverse.♦

Dr. Michael Mickler is Professor of Church History as well as Vice President for Administration at Unification Theological Seminary. His books include: Footprints of True Parents’ Providence: The United States of America (2013) and 40 Years in America: An Intimate History of the Unification Movement, 1959-1999 (2000).

64 thoughts on “The Sanctuary Church Schismatics

  1. Dr. Mickler leaves out the internal spiritual characteristics as having a role in the evolution of SC. The reality of our true existence is as God’s fallen creation, and by such omission in the article, obfuscates the true struggle of God against Satan and how much that struggle motivates subsequent actions. Both the FFWPU and SC have the same potential for “falling.” Eternal vigilance is the prerequisite for surviving evil’s impacts. Once you’re compromised, you’re relegated to the ineffective or recruited to the evil team.

    Restoration is a time consuming process of indemnification. As far as evil co-opted systems go, it’s more efficient and effective to evacuate, demolish and rebuild, rather than fight through reforms.

    Transitioning into a new improved version that exudes virtuous actions will be far more attractive, compelling and engaging than a deficient struggling to reform organization that contains the baggage of failure in its brand.

    The world knows success intuitively. We as individuals are motivated mainly by the Why. Developing the How is the external challenge for achieving a collaborative and cooperative effort.

    The external structures of our relationships are dominated by Evil. In order to effectively manage them, we have to factor real evil as an ever present threat and must never allow it a seat at the management table. This requires a commitment to transparency and accountability.

    Success is proportional to the quality of the system deployed. Without a proven system framework to follow, group efforts devolve into egos and personalities in contention.

    For now, our global Church organization is controlled and directed by egos and personalities. What we choose to do next will define us for a long time to come.

  2. At some point, the SC will have to develop ministries that reach beyond witnessing to existing or disaffected FFWPU members. The FFWPU faces a similar issue, i.e., that of new growth in membership. Remaining relevant to the next generation, to children of members and the concept of the three generation family I think will also be something to watch. It certainly is an issue for the FFWPU, which an entire generation of leaders are starting to address.

    Are the children of FFWPU members who have joined the SC embracing this new path their parents are taking? Will the Pastor’s own children embrace his choices and this new theology? Only time will tell, but having raised children to adulthood, I can say that this will not be an easy course. Living in a small, rural town in Pennsylvania not unlike Newfoundland where he lives, his children will be living in a secular environment and the likelihood of his own children embracing his new theology is less than 50/50, in my opinion.

    Without passing on the traditions, even in a cultural sense to the next generation and attracting new membership, no religious organization can continue. Non-profits, to succeed, need four things; a plan, marketing, people and money. We will see if the SC can execute these.

    Time will tell if the world economy collapses as they predict or if the entire UM collapses and embraces his new vision. If these do not happen as he predicts, we will see how he responds.

    • Excellent insight by Rob Sayre. SC thus far is basically a reactionary movement against the UC. It needs to look outward as well. Moreover, in the long run, if it grows, it cannot avoid most of the problems the UC faced. In my opinion, it represents a rejection of a natural process in this history of religions (or is that an oxymoron) — namely the institutionalization of charisma. Eventually, schismatic movements too calcify and lose charismatic power.

    • Rob,

      You raise a lot of questions but do not seem to take a position on this matter. Yet I’m sure you have one. I feel taking a position is important. I’m not talking about bad mouthing or persecuting others. I’ve always been fond of Hyung Jin Nim, but he went way too far in denouncing his mother, True Mother, in derogatory and disrespectful ways.

      I feel there are important distinctions to be made. For one, to go in his direction is to dismantle the position of True Parents, which I see as an eternal cornerstone, which, if removed, will result in a myriad of negatives. Among these is the ascendancy of a male-centered (old Korean Confucian) ethic. What then happens to the age of woman coming to stand beside man? And how can an exemplary path for a unified world come from the sort of vitriol that has come forth?

      Anyway, there’s a lot more to be said but not today.

      • Lloyd,

        As you know, Sally and I helped start the Shehaqua Ministries in 1995 and formed our own non-profit in 2000 to manage it. We stepped down from leading it in 2007. We welcome families who work for and support Hyun Jin Moon, those who think the UC is crazy, and Hyung Jin and others. We have welcomed quite a few of SMM’s grandchildren and thought that Hyung Jin’s were coming last summer, but they requested some special deals which we could not accommodate. That is another story. As such, we are independent of FFWPU and others, so I am a little careful about taking positions in public, but I do have my own. Maybe I’m a non-denominational Unificationist, if that makes any sense.

        I’ll try to summarize some thoughts for you and others. We live about 1.5 hours from the SC and Hyung Jin’s home. We visited his home on several occasions, and we thought he was going to build a megachurch, with a Pentacostal touch, with the help of Rev. Jesse Edwards. We have attended several other times once they purchased their building in Newfoundland. His sermons in his home were quite inspiring.

        Their expressed views and public meetings espousing the Shemetah, championed by a Messianic Jew from New Jersey, and other end of the world views, are rooted in fear, a misunderstanding of biblical prophecy, and of the market economy, in my opinion. I asked several people, point blank, if they thought the massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, was a CIA conspiracy; the answer was yes. They expect the entire world economy to collapse by as much at 70%, and this was predicted on or about 9/14 of this year. I think they need to take a field trip to CT and talk to the other teachers and first responders there. It is beyond arrogance.

        Hyung Jin made two public appeals to the Commissioners of Pike County asking them to pass laws that I guess were to make the federal National Defense Authorization Act null and void. The Commissioners’ response was polite, but expected, that it is a federal issue and they should take their concerns up with their Congressman. Need I say more?

        This is delusional thinking. This was enough for me. I am glad he and his brother were fired from their appointed positions, even though I am sure they did a lot to change corruption in the church in Korea, etc. I know they were crowned, but they were also fired. These things happen in successions, and in retrospect, it seems like a wise action. I think they need to read the Federalist Papers, Shakespeare, and the history of the various kings of England.

        I used to listen to many of his sermons, but I don’t so much now. I just have too many other things to read and do. His “Bride of the Messiah” theology seems to misunderstand Christology in the DP. Again, I asked several people if they believed that women must relate to God via their husbands. The answer was yes. Well, this seems to me to be an old Christian concept. This is not for my wife or daughters. They see this as simply sexist. I do as well. And wives having sex with TF in their dreams is just strange. I won’t repeat what my wife said.

        They also make a big deal about changing the holy books. True Father’s speeches, the various editions, are all edited editions, and 100% of the intellectual property still exists. I expect more, not less, expositions and explanations. No one is destroying that intellectual property as far as I know. The DP is still being taught by the FFWPU. I don’t care about the CIG anthem and other stuff they are so upset about. Both seem like good songs to me.

        It seems to me that True Parents still have the same position with both on earth, one in spirit world, or both in spirit world. I am definitely not looking for a new Korean couple to follow.

        Their Constitution is just scary. It cannot be changed, ever. It appoints Hyung Jin with absolute powers as King and this power is vested in his family. Kook Jin has the title and power of Inspector General whose absolute powers (a real Big Brother) are also passed onto his family. These two brothers’ kids may or may not embrace their new positions. They have not raised teenagers, nor college students, nor young adults, nor their own grandchildren. Their kids could just walk away as be obedient to their “eternal regime.” What happens then?

        Since I already enjoy the privileges of a real Bill of Rights, I see no need for theirs. And their Kingdom and Constitution is one with actual territory, with an army, a militia and the power to tax. No thank you to that Kingdom. I’m not sure where they expect to get land, territory, but I am sure the residents of Pike County also have guns and I am quite sure they are not looking for a King from Korea or any other place. They believe in the Second Amendment as well.

        The FFWPU Constitution is odd as well, but it seems to be for managing the institution, similar to the Papacy. It only has the power I allow it to have. Does the FFWPU need to be reformed? You bet. True Mother has a big mess to handle and women approach problems and get things done in very different ways than men do. She can take as much time as she needs from my point of view and I’m not in a position to know exactly what should be done.

        I guess that’s enough for now. I try to follow a few simple rules: do not misuse love, do not misuse public money, do not misuse others’ hearts and strive to live for others. This is tough enough, without all these other distractions. But I am grateful, I have a wonderful woman to share my life with, great kids, and very cute grandchildren, I belong to more than one interesting tribe, and am grateful for the many friends and colleagues I have, including you.

  3. This article focuses on the UC as an institution, rather than on the accomplishments of a messianic movement that has successfully reached Foundation Day, and brought us into a post-restoration, post-messianic world. It’s important to claim our victories, and not to cling to old patterns, and we have come to a time of moving forward.

    If there are people who still feel the need for the old messianic times, then SC will continue, but I can’t see there being much demand for this path outside of the old UC. The age has come and gone. Young people have en masse rejected the traditional religious paths for a new spirituality, including many of our own young people, and that is the way it should be for progress to occur in manifesting our divinity here on earth.

  4. The Bride Theology (called by Dr. Mickler “Bridegroom Theology) is very much an integral part of this new religion. It holds that all women, including blessed wives and 2nd and 3rd gen women, are brides of Rev. Moon. It also takes this to the next step — in a series of lectures from last Spring, and in direct comments to members that they have posted — Hyung Jin Nim is positing that as brides they should see sexual intimacy with Rev. Moon. Now that he is in the Spirit World, they should seek it as dreams, but presumably they engage more directly once they are in the SW with him. The blessed husband’s role is that of best man, which H2 says in one speech has the role to stand outside the bridal chamber protecting entry so that the Rev. Moon and the best man’s wife can have sexual relations. Hyung Jin Nim’s wife is not just the new True Mother, but the “leader of the Brides.” The bride relationship is not a restorational principal, but rather an eternal principal. Thus, Rev. Moon is bridegroom to all women, and all women, when blessed, have two spouses.

    Also, Hyung Jin Nim declared that True Mother cannot be “God” because there can only be one God, and that is Rev. Moon. This is a complete misunderstanding of the Christology chapter of Divine Principle.

    Dr. Mickler also understates the role of Conspiracy Theories in the SC. The Twin Towers is the most reasonable of the conspiracy theories. They see CIA Black Ops in the Oklahoma City Bombing and Newtown killings, they see the US government bringing in illegal drugs in order to stage a fake drug war so that they can confiscate guns, they see a cabal controlling the world, etc. They see the same conspiracies in HSA-UWC. They take Revelations 17 as literal in depicting the whore of Babylon and the multi-headed monster; they see conspiracies in sitting in the wrong chair, or take statements out of context, and blow them up as if major conspiracies.

    This is all in their lectures. Privately, they engage in unusual ceremonies, such as the Knighthood Ceremony where they give titles of Sir and Dame to certain members and give them guns.

    SC’s apocalyptic, conspiracy-laden, new theology has attracted quite a few members, who are quite dedicated, but most unfortunately use as a modus operandi character assassination, division and spreading rumors. One would think the theological changes alone would give pause, but the mode of operation should definitely take one aback.

  5. Dr. Mickler has done a tremendous service to provide historical perspective on what is happening to our movement. (To gain such perspective is one of the reasons Father founded the Seminary, though I think Father was intending us to use this knowledge to help reconcile and unify other religious factions, and not our own!)

    Both parties involved, whether the founding organization of FFUWP or the SC schismatic group, are naturally and strongly tempted by fallen nature and by legions of the spirit world into blindly reenacting the sad patterns of our human past. This means falling into vicious attacks against the other justified by claiming to be abused victims and to be standing up for their version of the deceased Messiah, all the while violating the true heart of the Messiah’s message to us. We have to be wise enough to get out of this trap.

  6. Interestingly, Dr. Mickler stresses near the beginning of his article that Hyung Jin Moon “refused” to follow his mother’s instructions and undertake duties under her in Korea after True Father’s passing, as if that were some kind of rebellious act. One must understand there is a greater context here. TF had previously crowned his youngest son heir and successor at three separate ceremonies — two of which were on two continents, Korea and America, in just one day — and his mother signed off on this as well. Later, Dr. Mickler states that, “SC takes the position that Hyung Jin Moon has ‘inherited the full authority of the True Parents on earth.’” This is not just SC’s position, but was True Father’s as well.

    • Hyung Jin Moon does not have that authority while True Parents are alive, which they are. To leave his position as object to TP and try to seize that authority from the living TP leaves him, well, as having left his position. Position lost.

      • TF said that he and TM, together, are the Messiah. Since TF is no longer alive, that just leaves one person to play that role, such as at Blessings, which, of course, is unacceptable according to TF’s definition of the position. Therefore two people are needed to fulfill that role. In this case, it appears to be Hyung Jin Moon, the duly appointed heir and successor, and his wife. This is pure and simple DP.

        • Some of us at the WFWP Abel UN July 2012 Conference at Cheongpyeong had the unexpected blessing of hearing Father’s last public talks and HDH in the palace. At an early morning HDH, with around 30 women and Korean leaders at the palace and less than two weeks before he entered the hospital, he shared these prophetic words: “If the pillars of the church come down, then I will be with True Mother always, in her arms, guiding her and loving her.” So, True Mother has his presence and guidance with her as he stated and as she has experienced even daily now.

          Previously, in the 2010 East Garden final talks, he also shared that “at the end of these three final years before Foundation Day 2013, perhaps only 3 or 4 of my children will be left.” So, Father already sensed the difficulties that some of his strongest children would have in fulfilling their positions in the church.

        • Of course, as Dr. Ferrantello points out above, TF can help TM from a spiritual position in order to help further the providence. Jesus and the Holy Spirit do that all the time. But in order to fully bring about the KOH on the earth, one physical person representing just one half of the Messianic couple cannot do it alone. This is why the Marriage Supper of the Lamb was so important and why it took so long to happen; so there could be the physical fulfillment of the KOH, not just the spiritual. This is why TF and TM had to crown both Hyung Jin Nim and his wife as successor and heir because he knew that TM alone, after he ascended, would not be able to accomplish the Messianic mission by herself alone, such as Blessing people. The Messiah is meant to be the mediator between heaven and earth, but you have to actually be on the earth to accomplish this. Therefore, you can’t just have half of the Messianic couple on the earth and the other half in SW to fulfill major providential goals.

  7. Dr. Mickler correctly has explained the regressive nature of the SC in its resort to violent separation and condemnation of True Mother and denunciation of the “Double Messiah” in True Parents’ unity. It is not surprising that the quest for power distorts rational familial and principled relating. It is not surprising that those who experienced rejection, alienation and disillusionment would gravitate to a charismatic SC that promises a newly found intimacy around this rejected identity.

    At the same time, FFWPU needs to see through the glass darkly to its own inner limitations as Dennis tactfully points out. More than just passing on church traditions to the next generation as Rob identifies, FFWPU needs to improve its leadership tendencies that thwart its growth and fulfillment of its mission in the world. Here are just two examples:

    1) The lack of encouragement and implementation of Tribal Messiah activities and mission work that transforms culture and public policy in the larger arena of society. Church leadership still focuses on Sunday service rather than serving in the community. This is one factor that explains the pop-ups of social activism in the first schism of Hyun Jin Moon and the social critiques in Hyung Jin Moon’s schism — the lack of involvement of the main membership with being in the world and interacting with communities beyond its own Sunday service group. Most Sunday sermons are curiously disconnected from information about the major issues that face America and the world. And, without doing the relevant work of transforming culture and public policy through participating in community relationships, clubs, organizations, and governing bodies, we are not able to influence any restoration of society. We need to refocus on community relationships and service as we did in the 1980’s with CAUSA, Project Hope, Home Church, community activism, and other creative projects such as the use of media. We have several exemplary leaders in this respect but only a few.

    2) The tendency of HSA leadership to not communicate with or be inclusive with many members but its small, selected paid leaders. Father’s own words to leadership at East Garden were, “If you think you are so great, then you should be loving and serving those [who you perceive as] under you.” Even in developing second generation leadership, this tendency to create an in-group mentality that excludes others is subtly transferred in a politically correct egoism. Relevant to this tendency is the longtime marginalization of professional members and seminary graduates who are not being included in leadership discussions and interaction with our leaders or national ministry discussions. We have many seminary graduates who are well-trained and experienced who are not given a voice or role to interact with HSA leadership. The late UTS President, Dr. David Kim, spoke of this marginalization of seminary graduates. True Mother has started a Crane’s Club for second generation, but there was never a Crane’s Club for the many first generation who still make up our movement’s constituency and have been marginalized by HSA leaders.

    Without an impact on the society around us, we will continue to see, not only our own decline, but the decline of the world to catastrophic proportions predicted by Rev. Moon in his final talks. So, it would behoove FFWPU leaders to communicate and inclusively relate beyond its own circle to expand its mission effectiveness in the world.

  8. While I think Dr. Mickler’s article is, overall, very good and enlightening, I was disappointed by the [managing editor’s] inclusion of the very misleading graphic of an “Islamic organization’s” chart of Christian denominations. It is misleading because it is incorrect.

    For example, it suggests that from 1054 Roman Catholicism split into many groups listing several monastic orders. While there may have been divisions I am not aware of, this example is inaccurate because it lists the religious orders — e.g., Franciscans, Carthusians, etc. — as separate religious groups similar to the many Christian denominations which sprang up during and after the Reformation. Many of those religious orders such as the Franciscans remained, and do so to this day, very much part of the mainstream Roman Catholic Church, following the guidance of a person who oversees their correct behavior within the Catholic faith. They simply provide another way for people to practice their faith in more or less conscientious ways while remaining part of mainstream Catholicism. From there it moves on to the 16th century where Roman Catholicism seems to disappear altogether.

    Is this Islamic propaganda or simply a totally ignorant piece of work produced by some “unknown” person? There may be other errors but I have simply gone for what is obvious to me.

    My point in saying this is to show that if one is to read and accept what a writer is expressing as an educated explanation of a situation regarding the Sanctuary Church schismatics, then such a mistake as the inclusion of a piece of incorrect work is not good enough. The author’s point can only be taken seriously as an academic appraisal of a situation if the examples are all correct. I am not an academic, so it is important for me as a FFWPU member and community leader within the FFWPU fold to be able to trust all the content a writer expresses and where an obvious error appears it could raise questions of reliability concerning other parts of the text.

    [Editor’s note: The chart above was selected primarily to depict schisms that occurred in early Christianity (comparable to the current situation of the Unification Movement), prior to the Great Schism of 1054. Most other available graphics only focus on post-1054 schisms/denominationalism. Every chart of Christian denominations seems to have an inherent bias, depending on who published it.]

  9. This is an important topic, and it is good that Dr. Mickler, as a church historian, helps us to understand the Sanctuary Church phenomenon in historical perspective.

    Many religious schisms occur at what is referred to as the “growth stage” in the Divine Principle. At the individual level, this occurs in middle school, where students begin to compare and question their own family background, bond with peers, and finally develop their own identity. Sometimes students defend their parents, other times reject them.

    This process also happens at an institutional level. Members of the FFWPU were forced to shape a “post-follower” identity with the ascension of True Father. In a liminal period, one experiences “cognitive dissonance” between what one was taught or believed in a sheltered community and actual experience in the world at large. In The Absoluteness of Christianity and the History of Religions, sociologist Ernst Troeltsch described three possible reactions to this dissonance: (1) retrenchment into a conservative, scriptural-based fundamentalism, (2) a revolutionary rejection of the past and religion leading to a secularism with hollow values, or (3) a maturity in which the inherited values are constructively transformed and integrated into the present world.

    We see the first two reactions everywhere. “Pro-government” and “anti-government” attitudes in the political sphere are also examples of more childish reactions to cognitive dissonance. We see hasty pro- and anti-comments on many Facebook pages that deal with religion, politics or economics. Maturity, on the other hand, is transformative and integrative.

    From this sociological/psychological standpoint, Sanctuary Church tends to be a reactionary-type response. It argues for some unchangeable concepts rooted in scriptures that are definitive. It continues the inherited patriarchal view of God. On the other hand, those that leave the church and adopt the ways of the world would be in the second camp which rejects the fundamentalist view but is not up to the task of transforming what was inherited based on what is experienced. They lose their foundation. Maturity would seek to understand valid criticisms and distinguish those things of value we have inherited from those points that can be transformed or updated, or where people in existing offices may be acting inappropriately. It would seek neither to form a schism nor to abandon the church completely, but to update and improve the institutions that have been inherited and continue to evolve and be perfected.

  10. Dr. Mickler, thank you for your reasoned and historical viewpoint. There is, however, only one problem that I find with this type of analysis of SC. By describing them as a “denomination,” “splinter group” or “schism” and comparing them to the Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, etc., I fear you (and others) are giving them too much credence and legitimacy. They are much more akin to a “wacky” — for want of a better word — David Koresh or Jim Jones cult, bordering on the edge of dangerous and delusional thinking. To even contemplate some of the aforesaid options seems sadly ludicrous.

  11. It is beneficial that Dr. Mickler put much effort into analyzing the SC based on a more analytical, historical viewpoint. Similar to M. B. Steib, I would emphasize strongly the importance and impact (not only for the further development of the SC!) of the new theology, specifically HJN 2’s interpretation, that TF is God himself (quote from HJN 2 speech, “God of Night and God of Day” from 22.01.2012 in Seoul, Korea: “I think the clearest form of Christology is this: Christ is 100 percent man and he’s 100 percent God.”), which led to his present explanations (I would call it better “construction”) of “The Bride Theology” (it is also eye-opening, comparing this with the process that led to the dogma of Jesus being God himself within the first 400 years of early Christendom).

    As correctly stated by M. B. Steib: ”This is a complete misunderstanding of the Christology chapter of Divine Principle.” Unfortunately, this misunderstanding is not limited to the SC, but is instrumentalized by the FFWPU to support TM’s spiritual and temporal authority among the membership in defense of all the accusations and defamations from the side of her sons. Recently, one of the top leaders of our Movement in Europe confirmed to me that the new understanding is that TM is “the God of the Day” and TF is “the God of the Night” (he quoted from the new book, “Pyeong Hwa Gyeong” Peace Messages). This dynamic can be described as a vicious circle. That is definitely another major reason for the mess our Movement is facing today. Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with John William’s statement: “We have to be wise enough to get out of this trap.”

      • The Protestant Reformation was a schism, but it did not bring about the ideal world. There is plenty of corruption within Protestantism. There is no pride in creating a schism — it just means the couple couldn’t work it out so a divorce took place. Very sad from God’s viewpoint, not His original desire.

  12. I find this very interesting: history according to Kerry Williams, Divine Principle according to Stephen Henkin, quotes and misquotes about “understanding the new understanding.” To get out of the trap is clear: read and understand Divine Principle, the eight great texts including the new Cheon Seong Gyeong, and I thank Dr. Wilson, Dr. Mickler, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Hendricks, et. al., for giving us the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings as St. Augustine once did for the early Christian church.

  13. Getting down to real life basics: I find that people in the SC are more friendly and inclusive than the Family Federation. They are more like a Christian church in that respect. Just like the Reformation was a move away from the corruption of the Pope and Church, so too the SC is a reform movement. The orthodox church failed to reform itself and now we are left with the consequences of that and also casting out True Family members. Now there is a divide of theology between the mother and the son where both depart from orthodoxy. Better to move beyond both groups into the place we should be and that is home church, hometown, and tribal messiah, using the original authorized eight great textbooks and in association with one another, free from the tyranny of the unethical strong.

  14. Concerning the question of TF and TM needing to be on the earth together to fulfill the role of TP, and because TF is now in the spiritual world, TM cannot alone fulfill the TP role:

    I understand we are living in a different time, a time after the beginning of CIG. TF said in January 2012: “Once the actual era of Cheon Il Guk begins, the spiritual and earthly worlds will be connected and brought into oneness, and all things will be governed under the Union of the Spiritual and Physical World’s Association, which will be established on earth for the first time.” Although TM is on the earth alone, it doesn´t matter, because the two worlds are connected already and brought into oneness and TP are in the physical world here — and in the spiritual world as well.

  15. Kerry Williams admits the SC is a schism but equates it with the Protestant Reformation. The analogy is correct in the sense that Protestantism was originally a schism from the Catholic Church. Only time will tell if the SC will grow like the Protestants did. But in that context, remember that the Catholic Church is still the largest Christian organization in the world, despite several more recent schisms. And the Protestants split into between 400-700 denominations up until today. At this rate, Unificationists are liable to have more denominations than we have members. A song, and a thought for your consideration — “A House Divided [Will Divide Again]”:

    • Thank you very much, Dan. Readers may also want to watch on Dan’s YouTube channel: “The Day We Drove Away the Rain” (Yankee Stadium); “She Stepped Up” (True Mother); “Psalm 42, Like a Deer”; “Life at Barrytown”; “I want to be worthy”; and others.

      These are lovely treasures of heart. For those who want to feel the connection to who we are and and our loving parents, these songs can be healing too.

  16. I find it interesting to hear our UC scholars coming out to discourse on matters that besiege our faith, of the common UC members. This is timely and of paramount importance. Thank you, elders.

  17. I’d like to return to the trajectories that Dr. Mickler outlined, especially #5, Reconciliation. He points out that it is the least common path, but also the one most in tune with the ideals that we all signed up for. How that could work is hard to foresee at the moment, but if, as Kerry Williams suggests, we are up to a Protestant reformation already, ecumenism may be just around the corner.

  18. Thank you for your article, Dr. Mickler. Your conclusion, “Religious movements are born in primal innocence and grow up in worlds of infinite possibility. As possibilities constrict, there is a tendency to rebel and seek to create new systems of primal innocence and infinite possibility,” sums up the SC schism perfectly. That “this is the very dynamic that Unificationism exists to reverse” is a strange and painful paradox.

    • For me, this means first accepting that others have made decisions I may not agree with, nor believe the same things I do. There may never be some unified effort or belief system.

      There are ways we may serve the world together, for instance abstinence education, summer camps for kids and families and and service projects like the cook stove project Hyun Jin and the GPF are promoting.

      Sometimes people and families work things out, more often they learn to live with and accommodate their peculiar issues and dysfunctions. My family was this way, very diverse in beliefs and not without some conflict, divorces, etc. Still, my mother, sister and a few others always welcomed all. We still do.

      People seek community, not organizations — meaning, not theology — and service to others breaks down a lot of B.S., excuse my French!

        • Two comments in response to Rob Sayre:

          First, I agree very much with the point about service to others. Through getting involved with the Common Good Project in Yonkers, tutoring high school drop-outs and re-visioning the community, I found a deep but shocking experience. I had thought that as a Unificationist I must be doing OK in the true love department. Actually, it took some sustained work with the fellas to find a real sense of heart in action.

          Second, theology is not abstract. It’s a way of thinking and talking about what we care about. If we are able to focus more on affirmation — and the heart behind it — we will be sooner able to outgrow the strife that currently afflicts us.

        • Thank you for your response. Not being a theologian nor a Ph.D., I will leave that work to you and others. In practice, in my experience, theology is most often used as a fence to keep others out or a club to assault those who differ with us. I am sure it can be a positive and unifying factor as well.

      • Rob,

        I agree with working together for service to society. But, you have left out a present and timely concern for the nation that we have in front of us in the presidential elections of 2016. We need to focus on the family level, but go beyond the family level to also have concern for the nation and world.

        Remember — it is America: One Nation under God, indivisible…with Liberty and Justice for all. Perhaps this shared cause will also break down resistances to working together and help us to cooperate more.

        • Donna,

          I don’t really have the capacity to offer much in this area. I will leave this to you and others.

      • Just to remind everyone that in 1983 the UM puchased 250 small trucks. The purpose of this purchase was to serve and help America and its people. In Atlanta, GA, we did a good job with one of these trucks. The results were pretty positive. We had from Atlanta 40 religious leaders and pastors join the 7,000 to Korea plus many other good results. Our founders knew very well that service is what makes a diffrence. Unfortunately in the US many brothers/sisters had another idea. And most of those trucks were left in the parking lot. It was another chance lost by the U.S.; another one of TP’s wonderful ideas just misunderstood… like so many others.

  19. Thanks for your piece, Dr. Mickler. I appreciate this and recent work being done by Dr. Wilson and Dr. Hendricks regarding the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the current attack and challenge posed to FFWPU and all volunteers working in support of FFWPU goals and ideals. Hard working volunteers deserve a compelling and persuasive narrative that directly speaks to the allegations and claims being made by SC against FFWPU; answering to those charges and allegations in a way that brings clarity and inspires volunteers to ever-greater commitment and resolve. Theological analysis and critique of SC doctrine and dogma is necessary, but not sufficient, to provide a comprehensive narrative of the current crisis, and how we will successfully weather it and emerge ever-stronger and more committed.

    • From the providential/restoration perspective, we have moved on to a post-Foundation Day era, without having positively affected the actual life experience of people on earth. We have not done the work of Mother God, who appears seriously under-resourced.

      Who then should we blame (supposing that we missed the point about not judging)? SC seems to blame Mother. I suggest we look a little earlier in the providence and remember that Christianity was supposed to have set up a foundation before True Parents’ mission, and also have won a person out of the hands of Satan to stand clear of historical accusation. Blaming Mother would mean that not only did she have to pay indemnity for all the failures of Christianity (and other religions), plus set up her own personal victorious foundation, but then she should have gone on to fulfill single-handedly all that should have occurred on earth on the basis of the successful Christian foundation.

      I think it is more reasonable to suppose those persons who followed True Parents for many years might think now of how to finally get religions to mop up the mess in the world and manifest a world where Heavenly Mother will feel joy at Her creation. How much do we want to leave to a single couple? How much is required from a single couple by God? DP seems at the very least to call for us to love people for their efforts much more than we accuse them for their human limitations. It’s like resurrecting Satan to replace love with accusation.

  20. Dr. Mickler’s essay is good and helpful, but it is incomplete in the sense that it does not explain “why” people are attracted to SC. Part of it is Hyung Jin Moon’s charisma, for sure, but, also the fact that SC members see unsettling changes in the FFWPU, changes that go to the core of long-held UC teachings, for example, calling God the father “Heavenly Parent” and TM’s identifying herself as the “only begotten daughter.”

    I am not a member of SC due to some of the things Dr. Mickler points out and because I love FFWPU and True Mother. But, I have come to understand that SC is on to something that will only grow unless members, especially Unification theologians, engage SC in serious dialog to sort out the differences and work to create the unity we all want to see.

  21. George, I agree with much you have shared here. The SC phenomenon needs to be understood in its other dimensions that include but also transcend the theological — although that is an important area of contribution to consider.

    Ken Wilber’s work articulated in his book, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World (2006), offers a stable platform to better understand the SC phenomenon from the individual, subjective thinking level; assumed internal group norms; individual external behaviors; and the external, organizational, and system levels utilized by SC. In the meantime, a video series that reflects a personable, warm and embracing approach to SC is a worthy project to be proposed to our headquarters.

    • Jack,

      We published a book titled “Integral Christianity” that Wilber endorsed. It uses his basic theory of consciousness development and applies it to the development of Chirstianity from warrior church to integral church and beyond. Hundreds of people have found it helpful in better understanding how they feel about their own church.

    • Jack, I am sure that, as you point out, to completely understand SC, it needs to be understood in all its other dimensions, and not only its theological. But, to me, the theological dimensions that separate SC from FFWP are what is at the root of the schism.

      I think your suggestion of a video series with an embracing approach is a good idea. But, why not sit down with them and discuss the theological reasons that have lead them to believe FFWPU has gone off track?

  22. Gordon, I know of that book. What I find interesting about Wilber’s work and those who have amplified it in various other disciplines, is that he omits a worldview that promotes a particular perspective as to the goal and purpose of human life. I see this omission as a shortcoming in his theoretical framework. I think I understand why that is, and with that being said, Wilber’s application of his theory into “spirituality” has helped me better understand the how of why it is that people “don’t see it my way.” 😎

    • Jack, I think this is a shortcoming of both Buddhism and contemporary spiritualism. It is all about personal spiritual growth disconnected from a vision of an ideal world that has more than one person in it. It is also a shortcoming of a democracy in which each person pursues their own end; you end up with fighting over resources and denying social responsibility. Our dysfunctional government today reflects the same dysfunction present in most of the communes of the 1960s — everyone wants to get free love, nobody wants to take out the garbage.

  23. The very essence of what distinguishes “us” from any religious movement, new or old, is the understanding that in the Blessing lies the key to restoration from the individual to the “cosmic” level. And so, more than any of the differences in understanding, theology or practice, SC and Hyung Jin Moon’s contention that TM’s blessings are invalid is surely the one which cuts the deepest.

  24. I am continually amazed by the fact that FFWPU members are viewing SC as almost another branch of our movement when they are decidedly not. During the Protestant Reformation, the church split over views regarding transubstantiation (body and blood of Jesus as literal or symbolic) and there were other issues regarding biblical interpretations and so forth. Were any of the Protestant churches saying, however, that they did not believe in the Holy Spirit? The Sanctuarian members have broken at the very core, yet, continue to avail themselves of our schools, our camps, etc. I really don’t know if they are dangerous or not, but I do know that they are dangerously divisive.

  25. Inspiring sermons — too small for the UM. If someone thinks that a system can be changed by simply replacing the leaders, then he is deceiving himself. To go into the jungle of sophistry about who better understands True Father will only lead to destruction.

  26. One of the loudest messages of TP that resonates, for me, is that God did not create men and women to live “in religion.” We were created to be divine. Religion was for the purpose to help us realize that. Once we have that relationship and understanding, we “create the family of God” and live accordingly. From my point of view (and experience), the SC wants to “drag” us back to those black, old days. As much as I was, initially, inspired by H2, I don’t want to “go back” to the Bible and religion, which is what is taking place. After the coming of the Messiah, who needs it? Respectfully.

    • Yes, very good point, Greg. Although we will still need religion, maybe for a century or so, we need to ween ourselves off of it.

      • Peter, the sooner the better. I agree with what many have said, not only from FFWPU, but other organizations as well, that “religions” are now part of the problem “when they hold themselves up as — the only true way — or the highway”. Of course, spiritual communities will continue to exist as extended families from many beliefs, but they should exist in harmony and in partnership with others who seek to practice true love, in living for the sake of others.

        Often, we are seeking “the speck while refusing to remove the log from our eyes.”

  27. Fascinating, Dr. Mickler! I’m so proud of you — my only-begotten son, the Church Historian. You tell it like it is. Keep up the good work.

    HSA-UWC is rapidly recapitulating the full history of Christendom. Nothing could more clearly indicate SMM’s perfect imaging of Christ or the UC’s perfect imaging of Christianity.

    The chap who’s leading this renegade bunch is that nice Buddhist boy, right — went to Harvard Divinity School? Too bad — he’s the one I like. Too smart for his own britches, I now fear. My haunting concern is that now that he has taken irredeemable steps, if he is as crazy as he seems, it will lead to a Jim Jones or Branch Davidian ending.

  28. Forgive, Love, Unite. True Mother follows the path pioneered by True Father. As he forgave a wayward son, she will forgive a daughter…and possibly other siblings. (Luke 15: 11-32)

    • Before forgiveness comes recognition of sin and repentance. The wayward sons and wayward daughter are miles from either.

  29. SC followers are confusing the experience of Christianity with their Unification Church experience and interpreting Unificationism reinvented through the concept of Christ and the Holy Spirit rather than the theology of the True Parents, since they reject Mrs. Moon. They deny the concept of True Parents and return to the individual Christ figure. I suppose that in a way they are reconnecting to God through Christ by dissenting from orthodox Unificationism. It’s an indirect consequence of the children’s rebellion against their mother that they embrace their father and justify it theologically by invoking the theology of the Christ.

  30. John, I agree. It is a step backwards, as you state. Here we are again with the single male leader and no reference to the original intention of God for creating Adam and Eve as “equal pillars of the Godhead…each equidistant from the Godhead…each representing the substantial body of God…each equally capable of perceiving the principles of creation…and both born as twins, like two peas in a pod (SMM, East Garden, 2007).” (I heard these words directly spoken from our founder, in person, while I was sitting in the second row in the middle area of the EG room.) SC is New Testament Era, not the Completed Testament Era.

  31. You wrote:

    “The Sanctuary Church (SC), with branches in the U.S. and overseas, is best understood as a schismatic movement. Followers of schismatic movements are known as schismatic. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group.”

    My question here is: Does the term schism or schismatic apply to SC at all?

    1) Disciples who left Jesus in his lifetime did not become the founders of a new branch within the same group, but disappeared into the unknown. Christians define their heritage as children of Christ.
    2) A schism is a division within a religion, whose founder has moved on, largely without theological difference and a deviation in doctrine is called heresy.

    However, I find it difficult to write, because the heart of True Mother is broken over this situation. It must be similar to Jesus when his disciples betrayed him.

    • Schism and heresy are ugly words. They push people away. That is the mistake made by Federation members instead of addressing the theology and clarifying it compared with the Principle understanding and Father’s words. It’s a divisive strategy and people on both sides are getting caught up in the net and fighting each other instead of educating one another. You have to set the emotional stuff aside and destroy the wrong theology with clear logic. Arguing with one another is counterproductive, and casting people out from the group is not the tradition for the Completed Testament age. Church members are still stuck with cult-like thinking and attitudes instead of being True Abels. Love is the only way to resolve dissent — love and clear explanation. No self-righteousness — just humble service. That’s the way of the True Abel. Fed members must communicate and debate the theology and the discrepancies to resolve the resentment.

  32. Sanctuary theology denies True Parents by accusing Mother of failure. They replace True Parents with a Christ figure. Their explanation about Father being within the Godhead is contradicting the Principle explanation. Basically, they are adapting Christianity to justify their position. Anyone joining this group is seriously separating from the position of True Parents, leaving that realm and giving it up to center on resentment. Yes — there are problems in the Federation. There will always be problems and corruption within any group. But the answer is not to try to destroy it, but to work through it, gradually reforming and putting protections in place. Sanctuary doesn’t understand Father’s theology and has devolved into a smaller doomsday cult. The parents are the key in separating from Satan. The parents are an established position. This subgroup is trying to destroy that accomplishment, and Father’s foundation, to redirect members and focus on themselves.

  33. Leave it to the great poet Lloyd Howell and the renowned church historians, Drs. Warren Lewis and Michael Mickler, to cut through the morass and shine a clear light on the situation, sad though it be.

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