Predestination of the Only-Begotten Daughter

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By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pm“Who am I?” Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon opened her talk. She was at East Garden on December 4, speaking to some 300 teenagers and young adults. Not waiting to sort out their replies, she answered her own question: “I am the only-begotten daughter.”

She then explained that Adam and Eve had a growing period in which to fulfill their responsibility and, as a result, receive the marriage Blessing. But they became self-centered and never received that Blessing. She told her listeners: “It is the same with you. Your essence is True Parents. Your responsibility is to receive the Blessing.”

Mother Moon’s talks such as this have stimulated much discussion of the term “only-begotten daughter.” Some consider it a “heresy.” A well-known Korean lecturer is reported to have said, “The Only-begotten Daughter as Mother describes it does not exist.” The article citing him states that Mother Moon describes Only-begotten Daughter as “being born without Original Sin.”  I think this does not do justice to her self-presentation as only-begotten daughter. In this article I explain why.

Biblical and Historical Context

“Only-begotten” does not appear in contemporary Bible translations. And among older translations, by far the most influential that adopts it is the King James Version. There it appears exclusively in the writings of the Apostle John. (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; cf. 1 John 4:9)

But John is not insistent; he also calls Jesus “the firstborn”:

“Jesus Christ …is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:4-5)

This attribution of “firstborn” also appears in Paul’s writings:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rom. 8:29)

So the Bible provides latitude. “Only-begotten” conveys that Jesus is unique, and “firstborn” conveys he is the first among many.

Conflicts surrounding the first Nicene Council made acceptance of the term “only-begotten son” a litmus test for Christian faith. It was a rallying cry for the victorious party of bishops. Their formulation appeared in a dramatic passage in the Nicene Creed:

“…one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…”

Hellenistic philosophy did not provide a foundation to understand the interplay of divine and human. For those fourth century Christians, it was one or the other. Being “begotten of God,” Jesus was one with the uncreated God, hence “begotten, not made,” or “uncreated.” On this they hinged his unique power to save the world. By the fifth century, “only-begotten son” became the marker of orthodoxy.

Still today, “only-begotten” conjures up an impregnable fortress of Christian faith: Jesus is the one and only name. And although most Christians would deny predestination, they nonetheless believe Christ’s sinless birth and death on the cross was God’s plan from the beginning of the world.

This puts Christians in a theological vise-grip. Not much wiggle room for Christ to return as a Korean couple and reshape the Gospel story. And Unificationists as well tend to view True Parents, or for some True Father alone, as predestined, God’s plan from the beginning, born sinless like no one else.

To loosen this vise-grip for us as well as Christianity, I offer an interpretation of the meaning of only-begotten. It is my interpretation only, but follows the Divine Principle outlined in Mother Moon’s words quoted above.

Purely-Begotten, Misbegotten, and Only-Begotten

Adam and Eve were meant to marry with God’s Blessing, on the foundation of fulfilling their responsibility. They failed to do so. To achieve God’s thwarted purpose of creation, humankind has to set the foundation to receive a new Adam and Eve. We do so by undoing the first Adam and Eve’s failure and fulfilling their responsibility. Not being whole and complete offspring of God, we do this through indemnity conditions.

Like the first Adam and Eve, the new Adam and Eve, in my understanding, have God alone as their Parent — Satan is not involved. Now we get into the “only-begotten” territory. God was indeed Adam and Eve’s Parent, but God worked with an object partner to create them. Genesis 2 refers to the object partner as “the dust of the ground,” and True Father also refers to the creation as one of our parents. People speculate whether Adam and Eve had anthropoid parents, or was it literal “clay” from which they were formed. That is immaterial to my point, which is that God had a horizontal object partner in the creation of Adam and Eve. This object partner was part of God’s creation and was good. There was no Satan meddling in the birth of Adam and Eve. So Luke calls Adam the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

To bring forth the new Adam and Eve, who is going to be God’s horizontal object partner? Human beings. So human beings need to make the conditions to separate an act of conception from Satan’s meddling, to create an act of conception that is good, centered on God alone. Rev. and Mrs. Moon outline the major conditions for this to happen, which were set in Jesus’ lineage.

The foundation for Jesus’ birth was also the foundation for the birth of his would-be bride, whom Father Moon refers to as John the Baptist’s younger sister. Rev. Moon, to my knowledge, said nothing about her birth, but he did say that if an only-begotten son is born, an only-begotten daughter will be born. So the conditions had to be in place in her lineage.

Now, are the only-begotten son and daughter born equally from God, a Genesis 1:27 model? Or is the daughter born out of the son, a Genesis 2:21-22 model? This was the filioque debate in Christian history: does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father or from the Father and Son? Principle works with both models. This essay works with the Genesis 1 model; the Genesis 2 model will have to wait.

Next step: I believe all children are begotten of God. Angels do not create people. Principle teaches that the vertical Parent participates with the horizontal human parents in conception. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism refer to this as the “divine spark.”

So every child is begotten of God, but can be “purely begotten,” without Satan’s claim, or “misbegotten,” with Satan’s claim. Which it is depends on the parents. If the parents are born of a lineage mingling God’s love and Satan’s love, which Unificationism calls “Satan’s lineage,” then their children are misbegotten; that is, they inherit the Original Sin.

On the other hand, if the parents fulfilled the conditions that Jesus’ parents fulfilled, through the marriage Blessing, their child is “purely begotten,” born without sin. It means God’s object partner in the child’s creation set the condition for God to claim the act of conception.

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A depiction of the parable of the virgins.

It took millennia for humankind to set this condition, culminating in the birth of Jesus and his would-be Bride. By our faith, Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s parents stood on this condition. Further, all blessed couples stand on this condition. Thus, on Dec. 4, Mother Moon stated to the gathering of young people born of blessed parents, “Your essence is True Parents.”

But being purely-begotten is only the beginning of the only-begotten story. Adam and Eve were purely begotten, but they fell. Jesus was purely-begotten and he grew into true maturity and obediently gave his life for us. That is what makes him, and not Adam, God’s “only-begotten son.” To be “only-begotten” means to be born and live one’s entire life in only one love.

Similarly, Isaac’s absolute obedience made him Abraham’s only-begotten son. (Heb. 11:17) “Only-begotten” is about one’s life, not just one’s birth. The writer of Hebrews was not making claims for Isaac’s lineage, but for his absolute obedience. And we note well that this reference to Isaac shows that in the Bible, “only-begotten” does not refer just to Jesus.

And Mother Moon’s absolute obedience made her God’s only-begotten daughter. “The issue,” Father Moon once said, “was whether she could overcome everything and be victorious. Mother was victorious over all of it.” (Chambumo Gyeong, p. 209 and pp. 203-210 passim)  She fulfilled her responsibility to stand as the only-begotten daughter and on that foundation she and Father Moon together could become True Parents, humankind’s original ancestors.

Postdestination

Was the advent of those specific two people as True Parents predestined? The answer is yes, according to the Divine Principle definition of predestination. As with every one of us, God predestined them on the basis of their nation, lineage, education and training, personal character, and time and place in the providence.

Divine Principle predestination is from birth, but one does not realize what one is predestined to be, and become what one is predestined to be, except by fulfilling one’s 5% portion of responsibility. In other words, a person’s predestination appears in their accomplishments. The proof is in the pudding; the tree is known by its fruit. I call it “postdestination.” You don’t realize it was predestined until it happens. And it happening depends on your 5%.

The legend of King Arthur illustrates this as well. In the story of the sword in the stone, no one, including Arthur, knew that he was predestined to be king until he fulfilled his 5% by pulling the sword from the stone. Only the one born to be king could do that; hence he was born to be king.

The Bible illustrates this in the Acts 4:11 teaching that the stone the builders rejected, Jesus, turns out to be the cornerstone. The builders don’t know which one is the cornerstone until they get to the corner. Acts 4:12 honors the fruit of Jesus’ life: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” What starts as contingent concludes as absolute. In the case of Christ, of True Parents, it becomes the linchpin around which history turns.

Jesus’ parable of the virgins is an account of the path of the only-begotten. In the parable, the first condition was to be a female virgin; the second was to be waiting for the Bridegroom. The next was to prepare your oil, knowing that he could be late. The foolish virgins thought he would adhere to the schedule; the wise ones knew that the schedule was up to him. Five of the ten virgins entered the wedding banquet, only to face more tests and conditions before being chosen. Recall the man in the wedding banquet who was cast out for not wearing wedding garments. (Mt. 25: 1-13; 22:11-14)

The one who fulfills all responsibilities is the only-begotten daughter predestined to be the Bride of the Lamb and True Mother of humankind. As God gives me light to see, this is who Hak Ja Han Moon is. So too we honor Rev. Moon as the only-begotten son, who fulfilled his responsibility to restore the house built on Jesus’ cornerstone, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, worthy for her appearance.♦

Dr. Tyler Hendricks served in leadership roles with IOWC, Ocean Church, U.S. CARP, the International Religious Foundation, and HSA New England Region, before becoming President of the Unification Church of America (1995-2000) and of Unification Theological Seminary (2000-10). He publishes regularly on True Parents Way, directs the Center for Education at UTS, and co-hosts “Holy Marriage Blessing,” the radio ministry of the Unification Families of Kingston (NY), Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. ET on WKNY, 1490 AM (simulcast on the Web; programs archived at Holy Marriage Blessing). 

Photo at top: Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon at their wedding in Seoul, Korea on April 11, 1960.

17 thoughts on “Predestination of the Only-Begotten Daughter

  1. Thanks, Tyler. As always, I appreciate your thoughtful response to such important issues that cause many to stumble and, on this occasion, the importance of a robust appraisal of True Mother’s position. Best wishes to you.

  2. This is an excellent theological interpretation that brings understanding for second generation of their unique “essence,” their journey through young adulthood, their maturation through marriage and family relations, and contribution to society.

  3. The case for wanting to establish Mother Moon as the “only begotten daughter” of God is self-evident. If such a belief can become enshrined in Unification doctrine, any lingering concerns among long-time members that Father might have failed to raise Mother to perfection or that she may not be living in the direct dominion are rendered void. In essence, Mother was on the road to perfection from day one.

    But there is a need for caution here. The foundation of many members’ faith lies in personal experiences with Father, the Principle and God. Truth is not doctrine. It has to come from within and not from without. (For the record, I am not a fan of the Sanctuary Church, but feel it is important to recognise that Unificationists hold a variety of viewpoints and cannot simply be divided into one camp or another. I also appreciate the value of the AU Blog and feel it would be a shame if it came to be seen purely as a mouthpiece for the establishment)

  4. Dr. Hendricks, thanks for the article. Yet it would have been nice if the article had considered the establishment of HP’s Day [God’s Day] also. It’s OK to discuss Christian history, the parables and so forth. Yet you, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Selover, and other authors don’t consider this event as important as it should be considered.

    As you know, the first God’s Day was celebrated on January 1, 1968. The condition to start this holiday was True Mother’s victorious seven years from 1960 to 1967. The period in which Cham Abonim treated Cham Omonim as a servant, a child, and as a younger sister was over. Through all these trials she had totally sacrificed herself. She has been obedient without complaint. Can we remember this seven-year course sometimes? Above all, I think this is the main victory of TP, the establishment of God’s Day. Don’t you think so ?

    • Dear Migliore,

      Thank you for your comment. The establishment of God’s Day was indeed a decisive victory for our True Parents. It deserves an article of its own, and more, as do countless other events in Father’s and Mother’s life courses. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  5. Thanks much, Tyler. Now we can see why True Parents sent you and others like Michael Mickler and Andrew Wilson to get Ph.Ds. Your scholarly approach and insights are crucial in the splintered age.

    Much appreciated!

  6. Dr. Hendricks,

    Thank you for an interesting narrative on “predestination of the only begotten daughter.” As it seems, misbegotten, only-begotten and purely begotten roughly correspond to lineage after the fall, lineage of restoration and finally lineage after the coming of heaven. They represent a three-stage process of development — original sin, forgiveness of sin and finally, without sin — the three levels of spirit, form, divine and life spirit; and the three providential time periods — Old, New, and Completed Testament ages.

  7. I do not subscribe to the head in the sand “salvation by obedience” philosophy where faithful believe that if they just have blind obedience to whoever is in power on Earth then they won’t risk their reward in Heaven.

    Nor do I subscribe to the antagonistic legalism of the many faithful who act as babies throwing out their Mother with the bathwater. Mother is True Mother and the wife and object partner to True Father regardless of whether she has every theological “T” crossed and “I” dotted.

    A child may disagree with God. That is the nature of free will. Then surely they may disagree with their Father or Mother. That does not mean they are no longer a child of God or their parents.

  8. Well written and supported. I always appreciate your insight, Dr. Hendricks.

    As you said in this article, however, this is your opinion and not the official position of the UC. I like your opinion, but don’t think True Mother’s self-understanding matches your perspective. In your article, you make the case for defining the OBD as the one who completes the mission. You seem to place more importance on this than on the nature of True Mother’s birth. True Mother, on the other hand, has emphasized her birth as qualifying her as the OBD.

    I support your idea that what makes True Mother special is not her birth, but her accomplishment. I find the entire discussion of OBS and OBD to be an unnecessary distraction from what is truly important — the accomplishments of True Father and True Mother. True Father never focused on these things, so, why are we now so engaged in this discussion?

    • I think it essential to acknowledge that the birth question(s) are unimportant, primarily by virtue of the salient, continuing Korean reality of national division. So much testimony as well as opportunity for intimate pilgrimage remains lost. Whole generations have been corrupted and destroyed by the evil that is the Kim dynasty.

    • Brian,

      Thank you for the insightful comment and sorry to be slow to respond.

      Christian history shows that after the whirlwind of the Christ-event on earth, people eventually sit down to figure out exactly what he (she) did and on what authority. Obviously the matter of one’s birth status in relation to sin has some bearing.

      Different answers arise and, in Christian history and it seems to be the case in our history as well, parties develop around the different answers.

      Well, we might say, what difference does it make? Here are three reasons I came up with from my Christian history studies: 1. Christ defines the ideal for all people, so we should be clear about his/her nature and mission. 2. Christ really is the only way. Therefore we have to stand up for Christ’s uniqueness as compared to, say, Buddha, etc. 3. My responsibility in relation to Christ hinges upon who he was/is.

      As with you and others, the matter of Father having or not having original sin has always been a non-issue. Father didn’t really talk about it, and whether or not he had it, he saved my life and that’s my starting point and ending point. Because it fit my interpretation, I stated here that Father didn’t have original sin.

  9. Paul Tillich in Dynamics of Faith admonishes believers to be careful about “what we put our faith in.” I question the motives of those who ask us to be primarily concerned with Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s lineage. I ask of them that what Tillich demands we ask ourselves: “What is our ultimate concern?”

    • My Confucianist side questions this, while my secular side gives it an enthusiastic one-hand clap. 🙂 Yes, Tillich and others would certainly demand more of themselves — and us. Urie sowonun tongil, etc. Let’s just get on with it, shall we?

  10. Many thanks Dr. Hendricks for clarity on the question of OBD. I had great difficulty in accommodating Mother’s pronouncements primarily because her departure seems to be in relation to her birth, as Brian Sabourin states. However you raise the importance of Mother’s accomplishments, which settles the debate for me.

  11. Tyler, I am sure you are aware of the orthodox Christian understanding of “only begotten.” C.S. Lewis explained it very clearly:

    “We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set – or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set: say, a statue. If he is clever enough carver he may make a statue which is very like man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.”

    “Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Son’s of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God.”

    Here it is clear that the doctrine developed as Christians tried to explain the difference between Jesus and other people. The result was a Christology and doctrine of the Trinity which is very different to that of the Principle. I find the sudden prominence of this phrase in our own spiritual community based on the couple of times Father happened to mention it in speeches very problematic. It raises the obvious question, “Why is it happening?”

  12. Thanks, William, for your comment.

    When I think of “begetting” I simply cannot ignore the need for both male and female. Christianity ignored this when debating Jesus birth, and nowadays some of the male lineage of True Mother’s family seems to be following the same pattern. The answer to your question: “Why is this happening?” is simply, in my view, in the fact that for love to flow freely in the family system excluding of any family members, or ignoring the facts, does not work.

    The reason there are so many problems that theologians need to “work” on doctrines is to deal with the pain of lack of love. In true love, fear is embraced by love. There is no need for words, for rationalizing. We all are begotten through sexual love between a man and a woman, we all need to appreciate both our mother and father. Man is in the service to woman in the process of begetting children and creating a family. The question is how the future generations, begotten without original sin, can focus on making love flow in their family system. If more of the energy and resources were to focus on healing and education towards that end, I would be very inspired.

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