Mainstream Unificationism

TP

By Michael L. Mickler

Mickler full-sizeMainstream Unificationism upholds two core affirmations. First and foremost, it affirms Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon as the True Parents of Humankind. Second, it affirms the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC or Unification Church) and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) as the authoritative institutional expressions of Unification faith.

These dual affirmations are central to Unification identity and tradition. They are the sine qua non of mainstream Unificationism. Denial of one or both of them places one outside the Unification mainstream.

For most of its history, few within the movement questioned these affirmations. Members varied in their understanding of True Parents. They also behaved differently depending on their cultural background. But mainstream Unificationists did not challenge True Parent’s authority and did not seek to undermine Unification institutions.

That is no longer the case.

Mainstream Unificationism is now under attack. The most strenuous and ongoing attacks have come from Rev. Moon’s eldest and youngest living sons, both of whom at one time or another were considered likely successors. They have challenged True Parent’s authority, even their identity, and attempted to supplant Unification institutions.

Discord of this sort is far from uncommon in religious traditions. Sometimes, challenges to authority overwhelm communities of faith, especially new ones, driving them to extinction. Other times, religious traditions withstand attacks and root out opponents, stigmatizing them as heretics or schismatics. Occasionally, religious traditions channel dissent and opposition into sharpened or expanded versions of faith.

The intent of this article is to consider the structure, purposes and dynamics of mainstream religion as it pertains to religious traditions in general and Unificationism in particular.

Structure  

Mainstream religion consists of vertical and horizontal components. Vertical elements include beliefs and teachings. They also include allegiance to persons or institutions believed to be carriers of a tradition’s faith. Horizontal elements refer to a religious tradition’s orientation toward the “world,” i.e., the surrounding secular society. In a classic study, H. Richard Niebuhr argued that Christianity moves between the poles of Christ and culture, and identified five basic patterns of interaction — Christ against Culture, Christ of Culture, Christ above Culture, Christ and Culture in Paradox, and Christ the Transformer of Culture.

Mainstream Unificationism, like religious mainstreams in general, consists of vertical and horizontal components. Core teachings contained in a series of doctrinal texts express aspects of the “new truth” or “Principle” revealed through Rev. Moon. Alongside these, an oral tradition consisting mainly of Rev. Moon’s sermons and speeches, recently expanded to include Mother Moon’s words, is authoritative and understood to extend the doctrinal texts. Prior to his passing, Rev. Moon designated his “last words” to humankind in the form of “Eight Great Textbooks.” Mother Moon subsequently organized these into three Holy Scriptures.

Apart from texts and scriptures, mainstream Unificationists are committed to True Parents as the embodiment of Unification teaching. They also accept the authority or at least the legitimacy of institutions established by them as carriers of Unification faith: HSA-UWC, FFWPU and governing structures being formed according to the recently authorized Cheon Il Guk (“Heavenly”) Constitution. Taken together, these components comprise the vertical elements of mainstream Unificationism.

Horizontal elements are less easily identified. At different times and places, Unificationism manifests varied orientations toward the world. Some Unificationists embody Niebuhr’s Christ against Culture perspective, sealing themselves off from interaction with “fallen” society. Others seek to blend in, adopting a Christ of Culture orientation. Still others see human cultural expressions as needing to be completed or perfected by Unification teaching. They represent the Christ above Culture position. Some Unificationists live in tension with culture, simultaneously embracing and rejecting aspects of it. They exemplify the Christ and Culture in Paradox position.

All of these resonate with Unification experience. However, mainstream Unificationism’s orientation toward the world corresponds most closely with Niebuhr’s Christ, the Transformer of Culture. This position holds that True Parents are redeeming all creation. Therefore, Unificationists can and should work to transform culture. Mainstream Unificationism balances a total commitment to its messianic ideal with a complete commitment to the world.

Purposes

Mainstream religion has dual purposes, one positive and one negative. On the positive side, mainstream religion provides a framework of faith that functions to reinforce coherence and provide continuity over time. Within its overarching framework of faith, mainstream religion accommodates differences of opinion or interpretation so long as they don’t undermine core affirmations. On the negative side, mainstream religion filters out untenable positions and marginalizes persons who seek to undermine a tradition’s core affirmations. In the face of direct attack, religious mainstreams commonly harden into orthodoxies. Religious orthodoxies are far less tolerant of deviance but also more difficult to sustain over time as their narrowness invites further division.

Mainstream Unificationism also has dual purposes. On the positive side, it provides a framework of faith that has sustained a diverse, international body of adherents. It does so by being uncompromising with respect to its core affirmations while accommodating a range of views as to their interpretation and application.

Unification Christology, for example, holds together varied opinions as to the ontological status of True Parents, i.e., the extent to which they embody humanity and/or divinity. Unification sacramental theology and theology of salvation accommodate differing views as to the literal or symbolic nature of “holy wine” and “change of blood lineage.” The Unification doctrine of creation has openings for creationist and evolutionist perspectives. Unification politics, specifically its “headwing” philosophy, has room for right-wing and left-wing ideologies as well as a spectrum of views on gender, ethnicity, race, the environment, capitalism/socialism, globalization, and other issues. Unification eschatology or vision of ultimate order accommodates different opinions as to democratic and theocratic governance. Unification institutions encompass centralized and local governance, i.e., “Supreme Councils” and “tribal messiahs.”

Simply stated, Unificationists, of good faith and standing, are free to advocate a variety of interpretations and applications of Unification teachings.

On the negative side, mainstream Unificationism filters out those who undermine its core affirmations. This includes individuals or groups who reject or otherwise seek to displace or supersede one or another of True Parents.

During the last years of Rev. Moon’s ministry, his eldest living son, Hyun Jin Moon, took to lecturing his father on the “needs of the providence,” rejected his authority, and led several break-away organizations. After Rev. Moon’s passing, his youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, denounced Mother Moon as the “Whore of Babylon,” presented his wife as her replacement, and established a breakaway church. Both of them reject HSA-UWC/FFWPU. Hyun Jin, who is avowedly anti-theological and anti-institutional, argued that Unificationism needs to get rid of its church-centered framework and re-configure itself as a global peace movement. Hyung Jin, who is intensely religious, charged that mainstream Unificationism is led by “predatory elites,” condemned the world’s “postmodern, humanistic, secular feminist ideology,” and configured his group as a warring sect.

In response to their positions, the mainstream movement did not demand assent to a restrictive orthodoxy. However, HSA-UWC/FFWPU stripped both sons of their positions, took legal action to recover assets or prevent unauthorized use of church symbols, and otherwise marginalized them as schismatics.

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The Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace, Museum and Meeting Center in Korea.

Dynamics

Religious mainstreams can be dynamic or stagnant. During dynamic phases, religious mainstreams are highly creative, adapting their core affirmations in novel ways to altered cultural and historical circumstances. In so doing, they extend their appeal to new constituencies, develop partnerships and avoid becoming insular. During stagnant periods, religious mainstreams stand pat, holding on to certainties and failing to engage opportunities. Often, there is a “crisis of confidence” and religious traditions turn inward, seeking accommodation and carving out denominational niches within which they might self-perpetuate. In the end, mainstream religious expressions are superseded or absorbed by more comprehensive and dynamic syntheses of religion. This pattern might come to an end should humankind adhere to a common mainstream tradition. However, that prospect appears exceedingly distant.

Mainstream Unificationism has been dynamic and adaptive since inception, growing within 60 years into a global movement consisting of religious, cultural, educational, media, commercial and industrial enterprises worldwide. Unificationists embraced a pattern of heroic religiosity and the tradition took shape as a “world-transforming social movement.” At the same time, a pattern of conventional religiosity also emerged and within its first generation, Unificationism took on the trappings of an organized religion. However, this is a creative tension and propelled the tradition forward.

The current discord threatens to undo this dynamic and drive the movement as a whole, both the mainstream and its opponents, into a stagnant phase marked by mutual recriminations, entrenched positions, and preoccupation with survival.

To this point, mainstream Unificationism has resisted the tendency to turn inward, deemphasizing growth and conversion. Mother Moon discontinued some initiatives such as professional soccer tournaments and an automotive plant in North Korea. However, she did not back down from aspirations for growth and vitality, expressing her determination to “liberate all humanity and bring back all 6.5 billion people to Heaven.” She committed the movement to a seven-year course (2013-2020) intended to demonstrate tangible results on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Rev. Moon’s birthday

Conclusion

Unificationism aspires to be a universal tradition, liquidating sin, resolving the fundamental questions of life, unifying religion and science, uniting “into one absolute way all the existing religions as well as all the ‘isms’ and ideas which have existed since the beginning of human history,” and creating a world in which humanity forms “one big family under God.” Its core principle is that of unity (tongil). In Rev. Moon’s thought, the ideal of “two becoming one” (Cheon Il Guk) or “unification” is a dynamic process. Akin to the Hegelian dialectic, it is the creative principle of the universe and ruling dynamic of any tradition that seeks to be universal.

Unification schismatics, by definition, are divisive. Their intent is to undermine and finally destroy or displace mainstream Unificationism with a new mainstream fashioned in their own image. To that end, they attempt to drive a wedge between the True Parents or between the True Parents and mainstream Unificationists, depicting one or another of them as defective or deviant. They also attempt to drive a wedge between Unificationists and mainstream Unification institutions, declaring them to be illegitimate or irredeemably corrupt.

Mainstream Unificationism’s challenge is twofold: first, to determine whether its schismatics’ grievances have substance, and second, to sharpen and enlarge, but not to abandon mainstream Unification faith.♦

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).

21 thoughts on “Mainstream Unificationism

  1. In the breakaway of Hyung Jin Moon’s Sanctuary Church, the dominant role of Kook Jin Moon cannot be omitted in my opinion. At the root of this schism is the difficult relationship between Hyun Jin Moon and Kook Jin Moon and their relational struggles with their mother. It is obvious to me — e.g., from the most recent Q&A session of Kook Jin Moon and Hyung Jin Moon — that Kook Jin Moon is the driving force behind the SC schism. One could say that he pulls the strings in the background. Without Kook Jin Moon’s financial support his younger brother Hyung Jin Moon would be much weaker.

  2. Dr. Mickler,

    First of all, thanks for this very good analysis and essay for our UC mainstream. The situation you describe I basically agree with.

    But upon reflection of your essay, I’m still missing several points, what TF as the LSA gave us already as guidelines, explanation and foundation, without being orthodox or dogmatic.

    Furthermore, the schism within our UC, what is mainly initiated by the two sons (H1 and H2), has also to be analysed more deeply and regarding what kind of historical role TP’s children are carrying. All this additionally in connection to our own basic responsibility of each one of us being a follower of Rev. Moon (TPs), as a blessed couple (adopted children) and finally as tribal messiah.

    Next, your essay is categorized in four main parts: structure, purpose, dynamics and conclusion, and this is not a criticism, but from my point of view, I’m still missing a fifth part — a proposal for a solution — or a similar topic. On this issue, I would like to share some of my personal reflections, based on my own understanding of DP and long time observation as a UC elder.

    Finally, from my point of understanding, UTS has not only the purpose for theological study, but also to be a “think tank” within our worldwide UC movement. And it is urgently needed, to analyze and bring proper proposals for a useful strategy to our top Korean — and international — leadership in order to have substantial and successful development for the future. In 2013, TM committed to a seven-year course in Vision 2020. But that is still for most of our members more of a mantra, a wish, a hope, etc., without a clear strategy or plan, and last but not least, a successful approach toward our own tribal messiahship mission, too.

    • Thank you, Hannes, for identifying the lack of solutions. As long as improvements and needs for change within the FFWPU are presented as only a footnote, rather than a developed evaluation, then the institution will not grow.

      As you rightly pointed out, Tribal Messiah and “Transforming Culture” is an area of neglect by both leadership and members. Probably over 75% of my congregation does not engage in Tribal Messiah activities. This is a real downfall of the movement as our founder shared with us that “The Church that does not work for the nation and the world, but only for its own church, will perish.”

      During the 1980s, we had very active Home Church, CAUSA outreach (that provided a critique of Marxist-Leninism and a counterproposal, Godism), Project Hope, and then AFC (American Freedom Coalition). These were all outreach and service-oriented for the purpose of transforming culture. Both CAUSA and AFC were involved in civic engagement with legislators and public officials for the purpose of affecting policy on the local, state and national levels; they were not just abstract or academic seminars.

      At that time, leadership and membership in most of the states were involved with CAUSA. One of the highlights of that leadership was the role of UTS seminarians who pioneered city leadership. Rather than just giving roles to HSA paid employees or pastors, of which there are still very few, UTS graduates were respected and given roles as City Leaders. By providing a mission for the purpose of “Transforming Culture” as well as providing respected roles for UTS graduates as another “tier” of leadership in the field, our movement could create what I like to call “circles of leadership.”

      By creating more “circles of leadership” in a real and organized way, the movement expanded leadership in the 1980s. Now, without these tiers of “circles of leadership,” movement leadership falls into patterns of exclusivity, where those of equal leadership talents and dedication are not empowered, listened to or even related with. This is one reason why we have lost many members and Ph.D.s and seminary graduates. Recently, a “Crane’s Club” was organized for second generation members, but there is nothing for the many first generation members.

      The heart of a “true leader,” as our Founder shared in his “Golden Rule of Leadership,” is “to elevate others’ responsibility to their true potential and talents….not keep them under you (SMM, Belvedere).” Most importantly, we need members who are on fire for the purpose of transforming culture and public policy that will impact others before November this year, since our founder declared that “America is God’s Hope” and if America declines, we will decline. Without a full mobilization of members engaging in Tribal Messiah activities, we may lose America.

      • I would like to remind readers that in 1983, the UM under TP’s guidance, purchased 500 mobile homes (spiritual purpose) and 500 trucks (physical purpose) to educate and serve the USA “religious and civil society.” If some good results came of that, it means that that strategy was the right one.

        • Migliore,

          Thank you for this good example. This was part of the Home Church strategy in the 1980s era. It was a good strategy and it is a good neighborhood development project that could work in tandem with an ACLC pastor. Some ACLC pastors have asked for this kind of development project, especially in the inner cities. Drew University started these kind of regional service projects that interfaced the gospel with family needs, housing needs, legal needs, marriage counseling needs, and work with local town and state officials. It is called “Shalom Communities” and can be also a way for us to form coalitions with these already existing endeavors if we had the willingness and service orientation to do so. But, it is not just giving out money or physical services. It is a real investment of heart and connection with the community that then develops into real relationships. From that foundation, many people can be blessed. This is the organic approach that is rooted in concerned citizens working together and also influencing the outgrowth of values and principled leadership in the towns and state from which the church is rooted.

  3. Mike,

    Thanks for this. While I agree with your interesting analysis from a historical perspective there is a more spiritual issue that I do not feel any side has yet come to grips with adequately. That has to do with the end of restoration. If restoration has indeed ended, as Father declared, then in particular, that means the Cain-Abel dynamic as a driving force behind history has ended and we are living in a new age. While there are many ramifications of this, I believe that fundamentally it means an inevitable move away from centralized spiritual authority. In that light, though each group does claim central authority, just the fact of their formation is perhaps the first sign of this spiritual transition.

  4. Unification “religion” is still in its infancy and its story is far from over. It is true that any person who believes in True Father’s teachings would have to accept Rev. and Mrs. Moon as the True Parents. But it is not true that they have to accept the FFWPU or HSA-UWC’s authority. Some people joined the “Unified Family” or other such organizations in the beginning. HSA and FFWPU are simply vehicles to accomplish God’s will and can be discarded if necessary or if they are not fulfilling their purpose; they are not God’s will itself. You are right about True Parents’ centrality, but wrong about the institutions’ centrality to our faith.

    • Jorge Beltran: I agree that Unificationism is still in its infancy and the story is far from over. I also agree that any person who believes in True Father’s teachings “would have to” accept Rev. and Mrs. Moon as the True Parents. However, you phrase this in such a way that acceptance seems unduly reluctant.

      I even agree with you that any person who believes in True Father’s teachings doesn’t have to accept FFWPU or HSA-UWC’s authority. People are free to believe in whatever teachings they want and accept the authority of whatever institutions they want.

      But mainstream Unificationists accept the teaching and authority of True Parents which extends to the core institutions they created and work through.

      It is true that early members in the U.S. joined the “Unified Family” or other organizations. However, the “Unified Family” was shorthand for HSA-UWC, which Young Oon Kim legally established in 1961. Still, it was the case that some who joined the Unified Family or other groups during the 1960s, fully accepting the Principle teachings, couldn’t adjust to True Father’s authority in the 1970s and left the Unification mainstream or the movement altogether.

      Although I agree with your basic premise, I don’t agree that HSA or FFWPU are “simply” vehicles to accomplish God’s will and can be “discarded” as easily as your comment suggests. TP’s investment and members’ blood, sweat and tears deserve more than that. The Principle clearly teaches that restored humanity will not need religion, or indeed a savior. Short of that, Unificationism may become well enough established to accommodate multiple institutional expressions or denominations claiming centrality, like Christianity, and that may be regarded as being a good or a bad thing. But, present-day Unificationism is far from either of those realities.

      True Parents are clearly subject over the institutions they have created which is why mainstream Unificationists “first and foremost” affirm their identity. Mainstream Unificationism secondarily affirms HSA and FFWPU as authoritative institutional expressions of Unification faith. There are any number of rationales for not accepting the authority of these institutions as there are rationales for not accepting TP’s authority. But they go together and denial of one or both places one outside the Unification mainstream.

      Dissenters may claim to be God’s mainstream and they are free to make that claim. But they shouldn’t claim to be mainstream Unificationists.

      • Dr. Mickler:

        I can understand your passionate response and affirmation for FFWPU/HSA and I agree with it. However, for many of us, your article states the obvious that we already know about the schisms. Your contribution about Niebuhr is what makes the article interesting.

        In responding to criticism that underlies Jorge’s or anyone’s questioning of an institution and/or its leadership, it is far more productive to go toward the direction of listening to the specifics of what is lacking and proceeding to improving that institution and how it might be unresponsive to the needs of some of its constituency.

        Our Founder would be the first to humble any leadership by admonishing them to improve on unfulfilled attitudes, methods and goals. Many of us heard these talks from our Founder at East Garden and Korea. In his last series of HDH and public talks in Korea, in July 2012, he shared that no one had done what he asked them to do. He said, “If you change and start from now on, then I can forgive you.” Also, in 2010, he vehemently chastised HSA leaders saying that “If you think you are so great, then you should be loving and serving those [who you perceive to be] under you more” (SMM, East Garden, 2010). Never, in over 30 yrs., had I heard such genuine anger from our Founder in a public talk. Noticeably, he did not emote this tone for most of his last talks. He is indeed a hero, that with all his disappointments, he was able to continue with a heart of love regardless.

        The most productive path to continue in the hopes of FFWPU/HSA and its institutions’ improvement in success and influence to transform culture and people is to listen, respect differences of viewpoint and constructive criticism, cultivate relationships and more avenues for exchange and improved communication from the top and do not marginalize members.

        Many of us know that the criticism from the schism leaders is very hostile and destructive, rather than being constructive and interested in working together with True Mother’s institutions.

  5. Mahalo, Dr. Mickler, for this article. Truly appreciate your clear and consistent historical analysis.

    The analogy of Niebuhr’s Christian examples is spot on. It helps us to look into where we are in our thoughts in relation to our own faith and position. Keeping the theme of One Family Under God calls for a quality of heart vision that should not only be maintained but expanded to be inclusive in all the virtues of love, forgiveness, and welcoming of all our brothers and sisters. Two thousand years of Christendom has produced some very smart theologians, hard working missionaries and monumental projects throughout the world.

    As mentioned earlier in the article, the affirmations of True Parents is a merit of the age. Although not covered in this article, the dimension of spirit world activity is an element that is responsible also for this merit of the age for many of us first generations. In this sense, coming to meet True Parents is beyond a movement; it is a calling of people from all over the world to meet the task of Kingdom building.

  6. Dr. Mickler, I appreciated your reference to Niebuhr’s five Christ and Culture paradigms.

    I agree that the mainstream view should be that of Christ Transforming Culture. That is the only one of the five positions that reflects a True Parent position. All other positions are related to formation and growth stage psychological perspectives. I personally find it useful to consider the behavior of people of institutions in light of these five types. Niebuhr may have indicated that Christ Transforming Culture reflects the highest religious consciousness but, as a sociologist, he hesitated to openly judge one frame of reference as more mature than another. It seems to me that it might be useful for the world to begin looking at political figures and other leaders from this perspective in order to separate the pretenders from the genuine leaders.

  7. I deeply appreciate the great clarity of Dr. Mickler as well as my brothers and sisters contributions.

    Dr. Mickler’s binding message at the end of his article is especially important. True Father’s essential mission to bring humanity together as loving brothers and sisters can never be diminished, but as your article clearly points out this seems to be one of the most difficult things to achieve.

    I believe that we in the Unification Church often spend a little too much time focusing on theology and not enough time restoring character. Dale Carnegie wrote, “Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride.”

    I believe this clearly speaks to the average human being as being largely dominated by our emotions rather than our original, peaceful mind. This means we certainly must fill our mind with the truth (DP, Bible, religious teachings, etc.) and it certainly means that we have to pray purposefully to seek God’s perspective. All Unificationists and certainly its leaders should be seeking and begging tearfully for God’s point of view especially when there is disagreement.

    I believe it was Kevin McCarthy who pointed out years ago to the ministers attending conferences in Korea that there were three possibilities as to who is right: 1) You’re right; 2) The other person is right; 3) You’re both wrong! I believe this third possibility is often God’s point of view. A view that many of us have experienced. It is a view that asks us to love more, be more generous, have courage, forgive more, etc. Like many others, I have found this to be an essential part of my own success in life.

    In the past few years, I have also come to appreciate the teachings of Dr. Abraham Low, a psychotherapist who worked early in the last century. His no excuse style requires the individual to make personal effort to move their will to do what is right regardless of their feelings. That is why I sometimes like to refer to human beings as having “emotional fallen nature”. Clarifying that it is our feelings that dominate our logic. Those who believe themselves to be most logical, are often those who are farthest from the truth.

    That is why I feel it is especially important to seek best practices that tie together the best of what we know from a theological, ethical, scientific and professional point of view. The immensely powerful truth of the Divine Principle was paid for with True Father’s blood, sweat and tears, but it will have little value if it is not manifested substantially on the earth through our changed character.

  8. Bob:

    You have voiced what is most avoided and more difficult than doing theology. All the titles, positions and treatises in the world can’t fix what the human heart refuses to face and deal with. Our founder asked us to face ourselves and learn how to be intimate with God so that we could be more true to the heart of “loving our neighbors, as ourselves.”

  9. Perhaps the most obvious element of the two major schisms (that of H1 and now primarily H2) confronting the mainstream (“affirming Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon as the True Parents of Humankind”) is the male chauvinist aspect. Perhaps less the case with the elder son, but certainly the case with the younger son(s).

    Objective observers might simply attribute this to the usual (historical) case of sons absolute obeisance to their father within a strictly Confucian cultural context while the woman (including the mother) is relegated to simply being “silent, hard-working, and compliant.”

    • Completing my thoughts here a bit, further, regarding the (“strictly”) Confucian cultural context, the reality is that such context is probably short-sighted, or at the very least, outdated. That said, older generations likely recall the manifestations of such fairly well.

      A question to the schismatics (or those prone to such) as well as all of us, might be, therefore:

      “Do I truly know (and understand) my own (lineal, full) history (and not simply, theologically)?”

  10. I agree with you that the orthodox Unification position is based on the ” two core affirmations” you listed to start your article. As such, the recent breakaway elements will probably remain small for the next few years. However the concept of a “true family” as a specific family may be tarnished if none of the family can generate enough respect or authority when the first generation has moved on. What will still exist or be flourishing in a few generations time?

    Several other movements were based on families, but had to move on. In recent times the Bahai’s after three generations of family-based leadership moved to a democratic structure. The 3rd generation was a poor representative and was dropped. In a different way the Mormons moved on from the authority of the family intended by Joseph Smith and followed a charismatic follower, Brigham Young. This was the branch that multiplied, leaving a small group in Missouri, based on the family which held some of the Churches early holy sites.

    Of course any change in the position of the Moon family would need a change in the interpretation of True Family, from being a specific family to something we can all (try to) achieve. An update of this would probably not become popular, especially with those members from the East, where lineage is more respected. The challenge seems to be for the next generations of the founder’s family maintaining respect and authority. If family members cannot accomplish this, then the founder may be maintained and revered, but new ways of organization will undoubtedly arise, new ways which may have more vitality than the old.

    It would seem that those religions that went into a universal mode flourished more than those that stayed based on a particular family. Followers of Paul outnumber followers of James, Sunnis outnumber Shiites, etc. If Bahai’u’llah returned to earth he would probably be surprised that his movement now claims to be the most democratic of religions.

  11. The sine qua non of mainstream Unificationism is that Christ bears the lineage of God. That’s why Jesus had to come again, to plant his physical seed on earth so that he would always be with us in body as well as in spirit.

  12. Having finally taken the time to read/listen to what the “main(stream) schism” actually posits has brought me back to my usual posture or personal stream (of consciousness) in regards to matters of orthodoxy, homeostasis, spirituality or however one cares to state it. Friends and families have taken sides — or have they? Some are quite obviously still friends and still family. Some are not (or never really have been). Souls (yours, not mine) must be saved, etc.

    The new shows the way “out” for the old.

    At the very core of “the split” there are real question(s) of authority as well as a “family quarrel” of he said/she said (or more correctly: “they’ve been saying for a long time and she/he either doesn’t want to hear (more) about it or he/she/they actually do.”)

    Personal, universal…conscience ever your guide.

    As has been stated by various members over the last few years in one form or another: “[We] don’t have the right to play judge in that [True Family] relationship.”

    If we believe in/follow a “personal God” –- how can we not, at least, be very interested in that relationship?

  13. I rarely criticise other scholars’ work, and have great respect for the author’s writing as a historian of the Unification movement, but in this case I feel it is necessary to address what I believe to be mistaken philosophical and theological positions, which endanger the very notion of what Unificationism is supposed to represent, to itself and to the world.

    Dr. Mickler has first committed what I suppose is a default error of the historian, which is the historicist fallacy of predetermining the course of the future, at least in its broad sweep, based on past experience. There may indeed be patterns to the history of social movements, whether religious, political or cultural, but the development in each case is also unique and we have no way of knowing what we are dealing with here. Are we to see the rise of a new Catholicism, monolithic and jealous of its authority, a new Protestantism divided into countless competing sects, or a new Gnosticism flaring briefly before sinking into oblivion? I think that while there is no evidence to support one destined developmental pathway, asserting any one model involves moral choices that are only heightened in the case of Unificationism’s particular worldview, choices which have consequences.

    Closely allied to this error is another: that from a philosophical perspective there is no way of establishing at any point in time what mainstream thought is on any topic. However, it is quite another matter to assert this from the perspective of the doctrinaire presuppositions of an accepted paradigm, which is essentially what has happened here. What Dr. Mickler is suggesting is that values such as the True and the Good are determined by authority. Of course, authority is one pillar of any institution, but the determiner of the True and the Good, which is ultimately the purpose of every great religion to manifest, is never authority, but in the experience and conscience of the believer: “By their fruits you will know them”; not, as I recall, by their categorical assertions or proclamations.

    The biggest issue I have, though, is with the clear attempt to own the concept of Unificationism. In response to a reader comment, Dr. Mickler responds that “Dissenters may claim to be God’s mainstream and they are free to make that claim. But they shouldn’t claim to be mainstream Unificationists”. This is to entirely empty the eschatological meaning of Unificationism and turn it into a brand, ownership of which, if necessary, is to be enforced through the courts (incidentally, in breach of the Pauline prohibition, I Cor. 6:1). The core of Unificationism is a revelation to the world, given through the founder’s teaching, through his lifetime of dedication to speaking on the purpose of life and love through the family, and to achieving peace in the world through far-sighted projects. Given that the raison d’être of Unificationism is to unify, it is indeed tragic that there is disunity within the founder’s family, but to speak of mainstream Unificationism is already an act of hardening that division and driving the wedge into the Unification community, in order to head off a perceived threat to legitimacy, authority and property. It should be enough to contemplate the history – and present reality – of religious war to see where this path can lead.

    It may be possible to speak of mainstream Catholicism, because throughout its history Roman Catholicism continually asserted the authority of the pope and the Church in matters of doctrine and salvation, at the cost of millions of lives and the enslavement of a good proportion of humanity in ignorance and superstition. But is it even possible to speak of mainstream Protestantism, with its doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and its countless sects, denominations and unofficial churches? More so, is it possible to speak of mainstream Unificationism, whose mission it was, and I assume still is, to restore true human nature and ownership, and bring about the unification of all religious traditions into a world culture?

    This idea of Unificationism, if it is to weather the current turmoil within the Moon clan, has to remain open and fluid, remaining true to its core teachings and its eschatological vision. This means that as a minimal condition all Unificationists, of whatever persuasion, must be able to regard each other through the eyes of agape, something that Christians were unable to do and many still not. If Unificationism is to become universal, rather than just a minor footnote to history, it will have to embrace and digest difficulties and differences much greater than just this family spat. Let us not be led astray by siren calls, from whatever source, into taking sides in denigrating others beliefs and allegiances, or breaking the communal bonds which have been forged over a lifetime of shared experience.

    • Let us not be misled into taking sides; but, to speak of Unification mainstream is a historicist fallacy and mistaken philosophical belief. “As a minimal condition all Unificationists, of whatever persuasion, must be able to regard each other through the eyes of agape (unbounded love), something that Christians were unable to do and many still not.” Love that has no bounds; can it be called love? D.M. Trubshaw asserts, “to submit to the authority of the Church (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Unification) in matters of doctrine and salvation, at (what) cost of millions of lives and the enslavement of a good proportion of humanity in ignorance and superstition.” By conscience and experience, a well-written critique-obfuscation that appreciates and demeans at the same time.

  14. Well said, Mr. Trubshaw.

    I would just add, as one also prone to certain biases, on the matter of “the idea of Unificationism” — well it does, sort of stand singularly as the penultimate of universality, does it not?

    Hence, all this much ado about everything does — in hope, uncertain — anguished, yet unabashed, lead to some kind of — mainstream!

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