By Hugh Spurgin
This article is adapted from a sermon delivered May 15, 2016, in the UTS Chapel to a FFWPU New York regional congregation.
We are living in a special time in history due to the role and mission of the co-founders of the Unification movement, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. The time of Jesus was a period of transition from an old world to a new one when a new religion was born. It took nearly 400 years for that religion, Christianity, to gain acceptance by the Roman Empire. It will not take centuries for the Unification movement to be accepted because events are happening much more quickly in our lifetime. It will take decades, not centuries.
Jesus proclaimed good news based on a new revelation that established a new religion. Externally at that time, the power of the Roman army created stability in the Mediterranean world, establishing the Pax Romana that allowed Christianity to spread widely. At the same time, new mystery religions internally caused uncertainty and insecurity for people; even Christianity had many different sects.
Out of that confusion, an entirely new world, not just a new religion, emerged.
There is a parallel between the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago and America after World War II. The power of the American military and economy provided for a time of relative peace and stability called the Pax Americana. Yet in the 1970s, when Rev. and Mrs. Moon arrived in the U.S., America was in a chaotic state. Many people were confused and could not understand what was happening. From my perspective, America was in a state of decline. There was a danger that the United States would fall in the same way that Rome did when Christianity emerged.
During that time, Father and Mother Moon played a major role in helping to revive America, even though most people still do not know their historical role. Nor did people know who Jesus was, since very few people heard about him.
The Unification Church movement has spread rapidly around the world, but during the 1970s people did not know what to think about it. There were many new religions; most of them are now gone. The one that is still alive and active is the Unification Church movement, which is based on a series of revelations from God.
Forty years ago, in his speech at Yankee Stadium honoring America’s bicentennial, Father Moon talked about two great awakenings and also about a third spiritual revolution in the 20th century that was centered on the Unification movement. Many historians have written about the first two great awakenings.
The First Great Awakening
The First Great Awakening occurred prior to the American Revolution. It was a religious revival that brought about unity among people from different nationalities, religions, faiths, and states. At that time, there was division between the Old and the New Lights. In the midst of that revival, a new nation was born.
At Yankee Stadium, Father Moon talked about America achieving sovereignty over its own land as a result of the First Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and others brought about a revival in America before the American Revolution. John Adams declared that the ideas of the American Revolution were already in the hearts and minds of the people several decades before the first shots were fired, due to the work of ministers and revivalists of the First Great Awakening. Hence, that Awakening led directly to the American Revolution and to a new nation led by George Washington as President.
Unfortunately, America’s Founding Fathers failed to abolish slavery due to the fear of many Southern planters that they would lose their human “property” and of merchants in New England who profited from the slave trade.
The Second Great Awakening
A group of revivalists, including Charles Finney, led what historians call the Second Great Awakening.
That Awakening resulted in the rise of several major social reform movements. Most important was abolitionism that sought to abolish slavery. The contention of the evangelists was God does not want anyone to be enslaved.
As Rev. Moon said in his Yankee Stadium message, “God raised a new leader, Abraham Lincoln.”
At the time of his nomination to be the candidate of the Republican Party in the presidential election, Lincoln was unknown to most people. He opposed the expansion of slavery to the territories newly acquired by America. After Lincoln was elected, the Civil War occurred in which churches split and society divided between the North and the South. Lincoln’s priority was to save the Union. Initially, he did not intend to free the slaves, but in 1863 issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
What Father Moon declared was that the First Great Awakening provided the land (i.e., sovereignty), and the Second Great Awakening furnished people who were free to inhabit that land. In that way, Lincoln re-founded the American nation. The internal or religious dimension influenced external political events and economic consequences.
The Third Great Awakening
Upon arriving in America, Reverend and Mrs. Moon brought a spiritual revolution, which was a Third Great Awakening. Some historians maintain there were more than three Great Awakenings, but my contention is that the religious crusade of our Founders of the Unification movement was a major event in American history. Father Moon said that he brought a new worldview that was God-centered, in order to awaken the American people to the dangers of communism.
In the 1970s, America was in trouble. Rev. and Mrs. Moon focused on turning the situation around. Father Moon contended there was an ideological battle going on worldwide between the free world and the communist world. He said America should take the lead to end atheistic communism and work to bring about the fall of Soviet Union. At that time, no one else thought that was possible. The contention of Rev. Moon was that the people who lived under communism were enslaved. He awoke America to the danger and worked to bring about the fall of the USSR.
According to Rev. Moon, the Third Great Awakening was based on a new ideological, religious worldview. At that time, America was in turmoil, and Father Moon worked to reverse that decline. He sought to bring about an awakening based on a revival of the spirit of the founding fathers. President Ronald Reagan described America as a “city on the hill” for everyone to see. On the foundation of that revival, a change occurred which created an upswing in the 1980s and beyond.
An overview of the Washington Monument rally on September 18, 1976.
The Current Situation
What about today? Again America is in decline, and confusion reigns. There are many parallels between 2016 and 1976. As the cliché says, history repeats itself.
Ultimately, God is in charge, yet the false precedes the true. The old world must disappear before a new world can emerge. The new world cannot be built upon the unstable foundation of a world that is impure and corrupt. How will the old world collapse and a new world emerge? The new world begins in a small way and grows over time. We can see its beginnings even now.
The old world currently is governed by elites who are concerned primarily with preserving their own money, power and exalted positions. Eventually that corrupt world will collapse.
Worldwide there are many challenges to the established political and economic world order, hence to the elite leaders who rule those institutions. Religious, political, and economic establishments are being challenged everywhere, including in America. Every major religious, political and economic institution in America is under fire: Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, the press, organized religion, and the two major political parties. Those institutions are destined to change.
During the presidency of George Washington, America developed a two-party system. The modern Democratic Party originated over 200 years ago, but the Federalist Party was replaced by the Whig Party and then by the Republican Party, which elected Abraham Lincoln president in 1860. Now we see divisions in American society on every level from that of the individual, family and nation. American institutions are divided, including the two major political parties.
It would be good if evangelists stepped forward. A small group can have a dramatic impact on the trajectory of history. Look at that motley group whom we call the Christian saints. Most were simple people who were not very impressive. Paul had an education, but most of the others did not. Yet when Emperor Constantine converted, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Likewise, Lenin was able to conquer Russia with a small cadre of people.
From the Old to the New
Today we are in the process of moving from an old to a new world, as prophesied in the Book of Revelation. As we approach the year 2020, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rev. Moon, we can see the emergence of a significant new religion. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like a mustard seed that is small, but grows to be a big tree.
Many people worry about the abundance of problems in our contemporary world. It would be easy to give up, do nothing, and watch the world fall apart. Unificationists are everywhere working to make this world a better place to live. They are in every aspect of human society. People may not be aware of what they are doing, yet they are providing leadership to a troubled world.
When George Washington was camped at Valley Forge, he could have returned home to Mount Vernon and lived a comfortable life. But he did not. He persevered. The spiritual battle fought at Valley Forge was a major factor in America winning the war for independence. To succeed we also must have faith, love, charity, and grit or determination.
Many people do not realize that the Third Great Awakening brought by our Founders has occurred and I predict its implications will be even greater than that of the first two revivals. We are the ones to tell that story.
God seemingly acts at the very last moment. Why? God allows things to take their path and then our Heavenly Parent acts. If God acted in the beginning, then something could destroy it.
We are moving toward the end of the old world order and the beginning of a new heaven and new earth. God can talk directly to each of us during this Third Awakening. I believe that soon we will see the emergence of the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. Let us move toward that goal.
Our goal is to bridge religious and cultural divides. We seek to break down the walls that separate all people. The Unification movement is not limited to a particular race, ethnic group or nation. The Unification Church is seeking to break down barriers between black, white and yellow; between this group and that group, between this nation and that nation, this religion and another faith.
The Pilgrim Fathers arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Now 400 years later, we are looking toward dramatic changes occurring from 2020. Let’s do our best to move toward the emergence of a new world centered on the vision of the founders of our Unification movement.♦
Dr. Hugh Spurgin (UTS Class of 1977) is President of Unification Theological Seminary. Previously, he was President of Bridgeport International Academy, a college preparatory high school. He has served as Vice President of the Unification Church of America, Executive Director of the Professors World Peace Academy International, and Executive Director of the International Cultural Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in American and European history from Columbia University, an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, and an MPA from Syracuse University. Dr. Spurgin and his wife, Nora, are the parents of four adult children, who are married and have professional careers.
Painting at top: Detail from “George Whitefield Preaching” by John Collet (1725-80).
My UTS thesis was precisely on this topic. At the time in the early 1980s, I thought that the social manifestations of the Third Great Awakening initiated by True Parents would soon be evident for all to see just as with the first two awakenings. There was a moment in the ’80s when I believe it could have happened had the American political leadership responded to True Parents and, specifically had President Reagan given True Father a pardon. Instead our movement continues on a wilderness course. Substantial fruits on a national level are still to come. I hope, as Dr. Spurgin believes, that it will be mere decades rather than the 400 years it took Christianity. Much depends on each one of us and our families doing our part.
Dr. Spurgin makes a lot of excellent points and brings me back to our time together studying American history under Dr. Robert T. Handy at Union Seminary/Columbia University in 1978-79. I would like to push the concept of the “Third Great Awakening” a bit because he mentions two components: “a new ideological/religious worldview” on one hand, and “the spirit of the founders” on the other. The first aspect reflects the purpose as reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the second the political machinery as reflected in the U.S. Constitution.
I think we have to revive and build on both of these aspects of the founders today. If the first revolution restored sovereignty, and the second people, perhaps the third needs to restore the social order, which includes the system of governance. Communism was in the “Cain” camp and the U.S. in the “Abel” camp, but neither were in the headwing camp.
Regardless of the fact that the U.S. Constitution served well for 200 years, it suffered from many weaknesses, and most of its checks and balances have been undone over those 200 years. I have argued in my last book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, that the spirit of the founders embraced five core political principles that must be included in headwing systems of governance if they are going to serve us in the future: (1) protection of life and property, (2) subsidiarity, (3) adequate checks and balances, (4) transparency, and (5) the right to secede. Application of these principles should be considered part of the Third Great Awakening that is reviving the spirit of the founders.
That last point (secession) frustrated a lot of my American readers, but it is a check on a corrupt system, just as the right to leave your place of employment is a check on a tyrannical employer. I think the value of the right to secede will become apparent with Brexit, as the U.S. and the EU are both challenged to move from “Abel type” to “headwing” systems of governance in the 21st century.
Gordon, the Founders did not believe in secession or they would’ve included it in some way into the Constitution. They did not. It was specifically left out as a means to resolve constitutional disputes.
The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that there are only two ways secession can be had under our constitutional system: 1) by force, and 2) by the consent of the states (though they didn’t say what sort of majority would be required…no doubt because they didn’t know and still don’t but likely would be through the mechanism of a constitutional amendment). Force was tried once and it failed; it will likely fail again because Americans in general do not like the idea of any state leaving the union, especially by force.
Next to try would be a constitutional amendment that permits a petitioning state to leave. That may or may not pass. I personally don’t support such a thing because it’s an instrument of Balkanization that leads to conflict. It’s in no way a check on anything but unity. Your comparison to leaving a job is a false comparison. I’ve argued elsewhere that in our nation, nobody has a right, based on their geographical location, to determine that area’s ties to the nation, because all Americans no matter where they geographically reside, are also owners and residents of every geographical area within the nation. So just because one lives in North Carolina, for example, doesn’t mean one has a right to secede that trumps other Americans’ right for North Carolina to be a part of their larger commonwealth, even though they live outside the state’s boundaries. Again, this goes to individual human freedom, and trumping one person’s freedom for another’s is grist for conflict and unPrincipled and anti-constitutional-republic.
Any system must have individual human freedom as its primary raison d’etre. After that it’s just working out the mechanics folks are happy with.
Dr. Spurgin wants to give hope to Unificationists. To understand the process of implementing the goals of hope, we need to provide a deeper analysis of how the Principle works as our Founder described in a number of his talks. As Dr. Spurgin acknowledges, the false appears before the true form or the Satanic version of the Principle appears before the God-centered solution or stage of development.
Breaking down barriers between races, cultures and creeds is a major goal of Unification philosophy. Today, these goals are heralded also by a number of other spiritual groups, seminaries and churches under the banner of “multi-culturalism.” Like us, they want love and peace. However, they consider all religions to be equal as well as all cultures and people. Our Founder centered his philosophy on a moral compass that restores sin on the individual, family and social levels. In that respect, his “headwing” philosophy of intercultural and interfaith unity was not the same as “an anything goes” multiculturalism where religions are equal and all cultures/people are the same.
In the Yankee Stadium speech, “America is God’s Hope,” and in “God’s Plan for America,” he specifically designates Unificationism, Christianity and Judaism as the lead religions to create the unity of religion and a Great Awakening for America. Yes, all people of faith are embraced as God’s family; however, after the initial “idealism” of the 1980s, our Founder personally saw the growth of violence before his passing. So, to keep the moral compass that heralds in a “New Age” and a Great Awakening, we are shouldered with the huge burden of dealing with eradicating the evils that threaten America and the world. Getting to the promised land is not as easy as singing love and peace to all people and all cultures.
The sad truth is that, as in Father Moon’s “God’s Warning to the World,” we have to warn America and the world about the need to weed out these threats to world peace. In the time of Nazi Germany, many people and churches, even the Pope, did not call out the evils of Nazism. Many did not even see it developing as they easily slipped into condoning national socialism in their country. We are called to have a moral compass and not turn a blind eye to the radical and violent religious extremists bringing a satanic version of the Principle.
Our Founder knew this was coming. He taught us that without more providential conditions of transforming culture, public policy and society with God’s ideal of True Marriage between one man and one woman, true families and all institutions of society being within a principled form, we would decline and possibly “lose half of the world’s population.”
So, a Great Awakening has to emerge that is different from multi-culturalism and which develops a moral compass that is outlined in Divine Principle and many of our founder’s talks. As the leader of religions, Unificationism, Judaism and Christianity, have to teach and lead the way for the religions and cultures of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.
A Great Awakening, what is it really? When individuals first met True Father in Korea he spoke of it being a great nation. At that time, Korea had just went through 40-years under Japanese encampment and their own civil war and saw their nation torn in two. Could they believe his words to be true at that time?
Here in America the same was true, as True Father spoke of Americans flocking through the doors to hear Divine Principle. Many must have thought that to be true, but have we seen it happen?
We read about the great spiritual revivals and just imagine them in our minds. But we don’t really know how it felt. We weren’t there.
The world today is very complicated and very wide. And Satan has more control than he had in the past. So how does God break the chain? Break the chain of command? As True Father stated years ago, God does it pebble by pebble, one by one, until it reaches over the top and breaks through. And that is what I feel we are facing today. The Great Awakening today will come only after the seeds that True Parents planted in many nations can gain strength and break the plain of evilness and turn to God.
America is at such a crossroads. Which way will it turn? Will we stay on the same course? Or make a drastic change of direction? Is America strong today? Or getting weaker? Is God present today? Or is God being asked to leave? In such indecision how can God work at all? And especially, within the movement itself can God find one that really can make a difference?
Thus, God must look outside. Same as when Jesus looked outside his 12 to select Saul. True Father chastised Paul for all his mistakes, yet he must have been grateful for all his victories in moving the providence along. Without Paul, Christianity might not have reached Rome.
So, here is where we stand today. Do we stand with God? Do we stand with True Parents? Do we stand with True Mother? Do we stand for a change? If we do, then the Great Awakening in America is now — and it may start with an outsider as President!
Donna referenced the speech, “God’s Warning to the World.”
In that speech, Section 7 as I recall, Father spoke very poetically about the “Harmony of Extremes” citing the value and importance of the conjoining of opposites, specifically East and West. He used a musical analogy of how a violin has strings that produce both high and low pitches in the expression of beauty and meaning in music.
Whether it’s East-West, man-woman, or high strings-low strings, we view polarity, relatedness and harmony as ontologically in accord with the Creator (Romans 1:20). The current culture wars that are upon us are the result of a calculated, planned and well-documented attack on the very tenet of polarity vis-a-vis marriage and sexuality as defined in DP. This is not debatable, IMO.
Not calling out the perfidious nature and intent of those who are on the attack — and they are — is acquiescing in a way that allows for “a new normal” to emerge. And that “new normal” is having deleterious effects as divorce, infidelity, out-of-wedlock births, poor academic achievement, drug addictions, poverty, crime and the continual expansion of the welfare state (to deal with these sociological maladies), which has put the Elder Son nation in a very compromised position. (Who are we to make moral assessments?) Most, if not all of these proclivities can be traced to the improper understanding, or misuse, of love as defined in DP. Are the “ossified” strictures of traditional religious beliefs regarding love and sexuality really the barriers to progress? (Nietzsche)
Much is made about compassion, but compassion without a well-reasoned understanding of what causes our social ills is not an effective remedy because it’s not the ultimate healing balm. Compassion may reduce the pain, but ultimately it doesn’t cure the disease. “Political correctness” is seen as a balm of sorts, but it was a term used by Leon Trotsky and the Bolsheviks (and later on, Mao) and referred to the need to change to whatever was the “correct” political perspective du jour of the party bosses. PC perspectives are not “unchanging, “eternal” or “absolute.” Quite the opposite. PC attitudes too often trade in divisiveness, resentment, identity politics and perhaps most importantly, the aggressive prohibitions of civil liberties and freedom, without which there is no way to act in the “principled” ways that can actually get to the “causal” aspects of our problems.
We often say that Satan’s most clever ruse has been to shift the focus of the discussions about our problems to anything and everything but the original cause — Satan. By not calling out the real culprits are we being complicit in establishing the “new normal?”
Exactly, David. We are gradually, or maybe not so gradually, sliding towards totalitarianism in which those who oppose political correctness should be silenced. The Left has been very successful in manipulating the culture to accept homosexuality, and now transgenderism, as normal. Those who disagree are regarded as hateful bigots. We cannot possibly get to a point where we can establish God’s ideal until religious freedom is clearly upheld so that that ideal may be freely expressed and practiced.
BTW, as we debate this issue and the future of America, it’s important to cite specific attitudes of the candidates running for President in relation to DP’s tenets regarding freedom, religion, love and sexuality.
This is a major issue with regard to the Supreme Court and the progressive penchant for ruling via judicial fiat. One of the two major party candidates, for instance, is on the record last year as saying at a women’s conference: “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will… And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
If this isn’t a wake-up call as to the intentions of a potential president, I don’t know what is. Using the courts or the power of government (“political will”) to compel or coerce is fundamentally against DP.
If you are talking about candidates running for President, I’d like to raise the point of also evaluating the team they put below them. I say this based on watching several predecessors fail and then President Neil Salonen finally succeed at the University of Bridgeport. It will be important to study the reasons people are chosen by the President and their qualifications.
If a President chooses someone based on past loyalty to them or fills the position as a political reward, the President is likely to fail. Such people will not tell a President what he needs to hear. Many insecure or power-hungry leaders do this. If a President chooses people with superior skills in a particular area and listens to his team members more than issuing them orders, he will likely succeed.
If I may offer a sports analogy: Winning teams often are effective on both offense and defense. The ability to defend one’s end zone or basket or net is as important as scoring points. At some point, you have to be able to stop your opponent’s attack or you’ll lose. This may sound like giving into fear, but as our brother Eugene Curtin once opined, “The beginning of wisdom, in addition to the fear of God, is the fear of that which deserves to be feared.”
Hmm… America was in decline and chaotic in the 1970s and now it’s again in decline and confused — really? I find this an oft-repeated refrain on Unification sites. Does the author mean the health care that is available, the technology we consider normal, the declining levels of violent crime and homicides; or the levels of homelessness, child poverty and incarceration which are on the rise? If the author means moral, ethical or spiritual decline, then please be clear and include a clarifying adjective.
Is life really so bad in the USA despite your miserable presidential choices? Let’s compare to 100 years ago when a million were being killed or wounded over the Somme in Europe (July – Nov. 1916) while the almost equally horrific Battle of Verdun was ongoing (Feb. – Nov.) and the U.S. was invading Cuba (1917) and the Dominican Republic (1916) — maybe these were the good old days? For a vignette of everyday life in the USA 100 years ago, check this article out.
What about 50 years ago? Yes, this was the year England won the World Cup, but the USA did not qualify so at least your footie (soccer) is getting better! Life expectancy was 70 years, now it’s 79, maybe because of the warning on cigarette packs introduced in 1966! U.S. involvement in Vietnam was ramping up and the U.S. experienced its first mass shooting (16 dead at the University of Texas-Austin), there were race riots and surging inflation. I could go on…but please let’s not exaggerate the USA’s decline, chaos and confusion!
David, undoubtedly there have been many advances over the past half-century, as you have alluded to. However, the threats to the sustainability of Western civilization are undeniable: the continuing rise of terrorism, a developing racial divide, the overall secularization of culture and the marginalization of religion and its concomitant moral values, the ubiquitous breakdown of the family which is the bedrock of civilization, and the continuing skyrocketing of the U.S. federal deficit. Especially on the last front, a day of reckoning is coming. The current situation is simply unsustainable.
With regard to David Stewart’s query: The U.S. in the late 70s was experiencing several crosses. The Cold War in full swing, Soviet proxies in Indochina and Central America were on the prowl, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics, there were gas shortages, the Iran hostage crisis was ongoing, the economy was in bad shape and Reagan famously asked, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” His campaign was a referendum on the pessimism—domestically and geopolitically—that was the aura of the era.
Though the Cold War is not the issue now, the cultural war certainly is. Cultural Marxism is not a new phenomenon, but it certainly is a real threat to the ideals that America was predicated on.
The French political philosopher Jean-François Revel wrote:
“Democracy cannot survive without a certain diet of truth. It cannot survive if the degree of truth in current circulation falls below a minimal level. A democratic regime, founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decisions in ignorance of reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions.”
If Revel was correct in his assertion the rapidly diminishing level of truth in our public discourse suggests that we are in dire straits. And we must not forget that the postmodern iteration of Marxism trades in lies and obfuscation. When truth is fungible there are no certainties and doubt invites us to believe in nothing. Whether it’s secularism, nihilism, PC-based multiculturalism, et.al. a re-wakening to the values of our founding document seems necessary to thwart the advance of cultural Marxism.
Respect to Dr. Spurgin and his excellent points. I see it less as “Unification Church” and more as a “truth movement” that goes beyond religion. We can debate religion and dogma till the cows come home (are they home yet?) but the passion and politics are too strong and polarizing.
The DP when deeply examined has the power to transform everything. And as some referenced in these posts, when we do it as a “pebble thrown into a lake,” who knows what walls it will shake? Even a tsunami?
We now have tens of thousands of blessed families, multiple generations living and thriving all over the world. These seeds of light, although not particularly “religious,” in many cases are sensitive, righteous and succeeding in their fields, and I predict, will have tremendous impact in the future. One family, under God (whoever, whatever one perceives “that” to be — even intuitively ourselves — as “co-creators”) is our destiny. The unity of “the family” will come about and change…everything. Everything, a time period. Could be wrong, but that is my hope and prayer…and action.
I think the fundamental point here is that the Third Great Awakening ignited by Father demonstrably sputtered out quite some time ago and never got off the ground. It still needs to occur; I think it absolutely must occur for the nation to proceed safely thru its third 100-year period.