God as Heavenly Parent in Rev. Moon’s Early Teachings

June 2006

By Andrew Wilson

WilsonOn January 7, 2013, weeks prior to Foundation Day, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, who since her husband’s passing on September 3, 2012, has led the Unification movement in her capacity as True Mother, declared that henceforth Unificationists should refer to God not as Heavenly Father but as Heavenly Parent.

Many members regarded this as a controversial innovation. Some objected to what they saw as unwarranted tinkering with time-honored tradition while others welcomed it as a step away from a sexist view of God.

However, the term Heavenly Parent, along with its implication that God is the Heavenly Mother as well as the Heavenly Father, was already an established feature of Reverend Moon’s theology, especially in his earliest teaching, Wolli Wonbon (1951).

Although as a rule Rev. Moon referred to God as Heavenly Father, he occasionally gave voice to the term Heavenly Parent. In the Cheon Seong Gyeong (2008), a large anthology of selections from his sermons, the term occurs more than a dozen times. For example,

That is something of a revelation about the Korean people — living with the Heavenly Parents for thousands and tens of thousands of years. (152)

By attending the Heavenly Parent, the heavenly kingdom and the heavenly ancestors, a royal domain will emerge (912)

We have not known that we have such a Heavenly Parent. (1151)

Have you shown filial piety to me as you would to your Heavenly Parents? (2225)

The Cheon Seong Gyeong (2014) includes an excerpt of a 1977 speech in which Rev. Moon refers explicitly to the two genders of Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother:

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