The Science of Spiritual Life and Death

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By James M. Powell

jamesmpowell72dpi-jpg_lucidThe Principle text claims it contains truth that is of a higher and richer content than previous similar works, and that it has a more scientific method of expression.

However, much of its content, specifically concerning life in the spirit world and how we relate with it from our positions here on the earth, is left unresolved and unexplained with regard to science.

One such topic that we find without a scientific explanation is that of the grace of spiritual resurrection. What is the science of resurrection? How does a person die spiritually and subsequently be resurrected? What is the actual process of spiritual death and spiritual rebirth?

The main reason people who have been spiritually resurrected believe they have been spiritually resurrected is because they felt it happen. Such resurrected are 100% sure they’ve been spiritually reborn even though they can’t scientifically explain it.

Here is the problem. A feeling or belief does not provide the modern scientifically trained and inquisitive mind with a satisfying or reasonable justification to believe that the proposed invisible spiritual resurrection is plausible.

What if someone you know sincerely asks you to explain how spiritual resurrection actually happens and they want to hear more than to just be told to believe and it will happen?

What if they genuinely want, and all they need, is a common sense understanding of this phenomenon in order to calm their doubting or questioning intellect before they make the step to believe? After all, it is noted in the Principle that without first understanding, beliefs do not take hold.

People are no longer happy to blindly believe nor should they need to.

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Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge

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By Kathy Winings

kathy_winings_3_profileAt a time in which we see horrific images of atrocities committed in the name of religion, the new film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” provides us with a different story. It is about a young man who, because of his faith, refuses to kill and commit atrocities. “Hacksaw Ridge” is director Mel Gibson’s new biopic film that tells the story of Pfc. Desmond Doss who became the first person to win the Congressional Medal of Honor without firing a single shot and without even holding a gun.

Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist, is a conscientious objector during World War II who enlists because he believes it is his patriotic duty. However, rather than enlist as a soldier, his plan is to enlist and serve as a medic so he can save lives rather than take them. While his plan seems simple and straightforward, Doss faces two clear obstacles. One, to serve as a medic, he has to pass basic training, which requires handling a rifle. Second, he has to survive basic training with the intense attitudes and feelings of the other soldiers and commanding officers who simply do not understand someone willing to enlist but not willing to kill the enemy during war.

After Pearl Harbor, many young men were filled with rage and extreme patriotism. As we are introduced to Doss’ fellow soldiers, we see young men eager to respond to the threat posed by Japan and Germany, men eager to prove themselves in battle. It is this type of bravado that makes it hard for soldiers to understand or respect anyone who doesn’t feel the same way. As Gibson’s film makes clear, at a time when many Americans wanted revenge for that fateful day in December 1941, it was hard to believe that an able-bodied American did not want to fight and show the world that he was a true patriotic American.

Through the first half of the film, Doss’ constant battles for acceptance among his fellow soldiers are interspersed with flashbacks that give insight into how a simple young man from the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia became a conscientious objector.

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The Ethics of Care

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By Keisuke Noda

Keisuke_NodaThe ethics of care is an emerging discipline developed by feminist ethicists in the latter half of the 20th century. It has gradually gained support from non-feminist ethicists and is now examined not as a feminist ethics but as a possible general ethical theory.

Care ethics has three main characteristics:

  • It views the human being as interdependent, who values caring relationships and recognizes the family as the primary setting where interdependence is evident and caring relationships are cultivated.
  • It recognizes the moral value of emotional feelings and emotion-based virtues such as benevolence, empathy, receptivity, and sensitivity.
  • It acknowledges the moral value of partiality in intimate relationships, such as those defined by family ties and close friendships.

This article considers each of these characteristics, notes criticism from traditional ethicists, examines the Unificationist perspective, and suggests that it offers the basis for a global ethic.

 Interdependence. Major proponents of this theory such as Carol Gilligan, Virginia Held and Nel Noddings argue that dominant modern ethics, such as Kantian ethics and utilitarianism which they characterize as ethics of justice, were built upon the assumption that the human being is an autonomous, rational, independent individual.

Care ethicists disagree. They point out the fact that no human can survive without caring adults who nurture and raise him or her at the early stages of life. Later in life, one also becomes dependent upon others who take care of them. It is an illusory view, care ethics theorists argue, that a human being is independent. Rather, they argue that an adequate ethical theory must be built upon the understanding that human beings are essentially interdependent.

This insight is similar to the Unificationist understanding of co-existence. One’s identity is not an isolated, atomic entity. It is intertwined with others.

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Messianic Succession

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By Warren Lewis

Warren LewisWhen I applied for a job at Unification Theological Seminary in 1975, Unificationist John Sonneborn was assigned to introduce me to Divine Principle, a summary of the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. My future employers wanted me, at least, to have an acquaintance with the confessional point of view of my students to whom I would be teaching Church History.

When we got to the part about the migration of messiahship from person to person, from Jesus, the Messiah (Christ) of the First Advent, to — as Unificationists believe — Rev. Moon, “Lord of the Second Advent,” I brightened. “Oh!” I said, “That is similar to the idea of Peter John Olivi” (ca. 1248-1298), on whose Apocalypse commentary I have been working. “He believed that St. Francis was the second advent of Christ, in spirit.”

Dr. Sonneborn was astonished and delighted to discover that someone else in Christian history had conceived of “the second coming” as fulfilled by someone other than the person of the historical Jesus. I got the job.

During my course in Church History, we would touch on other “fulfillments” of messianic expectation:  Abraham Abulafia (13th century) and Sabbatai Zevi (17th century), Jewish messiahs; various Muslim Mahdis; and, especially Mother Ann Lee, the 18th century “Coming of Christ in the Female Line” and foundress of the Shakers.

Peter John Olivi (ca. 1248-1298)

Everyone has heard of Francis of Assisi, but who was Peter John Olivi? Why did he think St. Francis was the “Lord of the Second Advent?” How could it have come about that a devout Christian could believe that some person other than the crucified and resurrected Jesus of Nazareth could have been the Second Coming of Christ?

Olivi was born about 20 years after Francis (1181/82-1226) had died, and became a member of the religious order that St. Francis had founded in 1209. Awestruck by Francis’s holiness and miracles, Olivi devoutly followed Francis as Francis had followed Christ.

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