Recently, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (True Mother) has been making a point of designating herself by the title “Only Begotten Daughter.” This term designates her special status among all human beings in history by lifting up her unique relationship with God that preceded her position as True Parent.
The title is founded upon Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, where on several occasions he spoke of True Mother as such. Therefore, on his authority, there should be no disputing True Mother’s declaration that she is the Only Begotten Daughter.
Also, True Mother finds this title appropriate to her own life experience. She testifies in the Chambumo Gyeong that throughout her early life she felt God’s special love. When True Mother was born, her mother, Hong Soon-ae (Daemonim), had a dream in which the late Rev. Kim Seong-do, founder of the Holy Lord Church, came to her and told her to raise her with special care because she was not her own but God’s daughter. When she was six, after Rev. Heo Ho-bin, founder of the Inside the Womb Church, had been imprisoned, Rev. Heo’s mother took her aside and gave her a special blessing, saying, “You are Heaven’s bride.” From a very early age, Mother knew she had been born with a special destiny and identity.
Those experiences made True Mother who she is, long before she met True Father. Hence, when True Father first met her, he said, “Heavenly Parent, I’m so grateful that You could present to me such a precious daughter.”
During the 52 years True Parents were married, True Mother could rely on being objective to True Father. But after True Father ascended, she found it necessary to make the point that she also stands on her own foundation.
The title, Only Begotten Daughter, serves this purpose. With it, she expresses her determination to stand on her own. It also gave her strength to overcome the many trials that came upon her after she became True Mother. It is thus a fitting description of who she is.
Nevertheless, the title has stirred up a storm of controversy within the Unification movement. Therefore, it behooves us to investigate the theological issues around the term Only Begotten Son, and by extension, Only Begotten Daughter.
In Christian theology, the term Only Begotten Son is used of Jesus Christ to mean he was not begotten by a human father, but directly by God. The basis for Christian belief that God Himself begat Jesus was the virgin birth. That Jesus was conceived by God is as old as the Apostles’ Creed: “Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” The Nicene Creed goes further in making a sharp distinction between Jesus’ miraculous birth and the birth of ordinary human beings with the words, “Begotten, not made.”
Nevertheless, Unificationists believe Jesus had a human father, and that the virgin birth is rather a metaphor for the special condition that Mary made at Jesus’ conception. This means we should not rely upon traditional Christian concepts when trying to understand the meaning of the terms Only Begotten Son and Only Begotten Daughter in Unification theology.
The Principle’s Basis for Asserting Jesus is God’s Only Begotten Son and True Mother is God’s Only Begotten Daughter
The only two human beings who were directly begotten of God were Adam and Eve; God formed them of the material of the earth and breathed into them of His own spirit (Gen. 2:7). The viewpoint of the Principle is that no human beings other than Adam and Eve will ever be created directly from God. Everyone else is a descendant of Adam and Eve, and thus not begotten of God, but rather a second, third or fourth-generation descendant of God.
That is how things were meant to be had Adam and Eve not fallen. The Fall caused God to lose the origin-point of His lineage. Ever since, God has been seeking a new Adam and Eve to restore that lost starting-point.
Thus, the definition of Only Begotten Son and Daughter is the two human beings who represent perfected Adam and Eve and stand as the origin of the lineage of restored humankind. Jesus was the one who began God’s lineage spiritually, and as such, he is God’s Only Begotten Son, who can say “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
How did Jesus, a descendant of Adam and Eve, come to stand in the position of God’s Only Begotten Son? The Principle describes a measure that God took when Adam was about to commit sin. God took Adam’s original spirit back to Himself until the time when it could once again return to earth, this time in the person of Jesus. As stated in Wolli Wonbon:
Adam and Eve were supposed to grow to maturity centering on the higher mind, which is the base of God’s original self that He had initially infused into them. However, after Adam and Eve committed the sin, Adam’s original spirit self was not able to remain in the body with which he had committed evil. Therefore, God removed it.
In other words, God removed the one spirit of Adam, who before he committed the sin had stood at His right hand. Then, He sent that spirit to the one in the position of the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, Romans 5:14). That was Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God. Based on this reasoning, the meaning of the term “God’s only-begotten Son” becomes evident. (p. 54)
This is how Jesus could stand as the only-begotten Son: his spirit was united with the very spirit of Adam whom God had begotten at the creation. With this understanding of how Jesus came to be the Only Begotten Son, it was not necessary that he be born that way. He simply inherited Adam’s God-begotten birth.
What of Eve’s spirit? God took the same measure to safeguard her original spirit; it was likewise taken up by God when she was about to commit the sin. It descended at the First Coming in the form of the Holy Spirit, which was only a partial manifestation of what should have been her embodiment in Jesus’ actual Bride. This is how Wolli Wonbon describes this hoped-for outcome, the embodiment of the spirit of original Eve in the Only Begotten Daughter:
Had there been a woman who restored the position of Eve centered on Jesus, she would have reached Eve’s level of growth prior to the Fall. Then Eve’s spirit, which is the Holy Spirit, would have dwelt in her. Then she would have continued growing under Jesus’ dominion and attained oneness with him. This is the reason the Holy Spirit in heaven has been looking forward to the day of his return, when she can relate to Jesus on earth. (p. 657)
Here we have more specifics about when the spirit of Eve would have entered into Jesus’ Bride—at which time she would have become the Only Begotten Daughter. It would have been when she had “reached Eve’s level of growth prior to the Fall.” It is based on this text that I asserted that Adam’s spirit would have likewise entered Jesus when he had reached that level.
Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon addresses the Inaugural World Assembly of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) in Seoul, Korea, February 4, 2017.
This passage from Wolli Wonbon, written in 1951, looks towards the time of the Lord of the Second Advent and the woman who would become his Bride—True Mother, the substantial Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, we can deduce from this passage that True Mother inherited the spirit of unfallen Eve just as Jesus’ Bride would have done, when she was at “Eve’s level of growth just prior to the Fall.” That would be when True Mother was 16 years old, already at the top of the growth stage and preparing to meet the Lord of the Second Advent. In other words, she was already the Only Begotten Daughter prior to the Holy Wedding in 1960. Afterwards, for the seven years from the Holy Wedding in 1960 to God’s Day on January 1, 1968, True Mother grew through the completion level under the tutelage of True Father, or as this text puts it, “under Jesus’ dominion.”
Thus, we can understand that True Mother is the Only Begotten Daughter by the same logic that Jesus, and True Father as well, is the Only Begotten Son. It is because they became the very embodiments of Adam and Eve before the Fall, whose spirits God infused into them. Since this refers to lineage and not birth, the question of whether they were born that way fades to the point of irrelevance. Dwelling on that question is unfruitful because the actual date when God the Father begot them was 6,000 years ago.
On the Matter of Being Born without Original Sin
Having clarified the Principle viewpoint on the Only Begotten Son and Only Begotten Daughter, next we need to address the concept that the Messiah and True Parents were born without original sin.
In Christian theology, Jesus is without original sin for the same reason that he is the Only Begotten Son: he was begotten directly by God. However, in Unification theology, it is helpful to distinguish these concepts and treat them separately.
The Divine Principle’s concept of original sin is disorder in the sexual realm of life. Its locus lies in Adam and Eve’s relationship with Satan that has been passed down through lineage to all their descendants. Therefore the removal of original sin requires a change of lineage.
I realize Exposition of the Divine Principle affirms that Jesus is without original sin (p. 168). Yet, it also affirms that Jesus has “completed the purpose of creation,” “realized the ideal of creation,” and is “a perfect human being” (p. 166). However, it is not possible for a single individual to attain the ideal of creation, not even Jesus, because God’s ideal is a creation that realizes His original duality of masculinity and femininity. Hence, a single individual cannot fulfill God’s purpose of creation, which is true love. That requires a man and a woman to manifest God’s duality in conjugal union.
True Father and True Mother each had the condition of sinlessness, in that they had the potential to resolve the original sin by their marriage. It does not mean they were born having totally resolved original sin itself. That required both of them coming together to resolve it.
Thus, the sinless lineage that True Parents set up through the Holy Wedding is not True Father’s lineage or True Mother’s lineage; it is True Parents’ lineage—God’s lineage. That lineage did not exist before the Holy Wedding because neither True Father nor True Mother by themselves could solve the original sin. It could only be solved by both of them together.♦
This is Part I of a two-part article. Part II will appear next week.
Dr. Andrew Wilson (UTS Class of 1978) is Professor of Scriptural Studies at Unification Theological Seminary. He edited World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts and World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon.
Thank you for this, Dr. Wilson. This makes sense to me and besides giving an explanation for how True Mother can be God’s only begotten daughter, you explain what the Holy Spirit is, something I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Now, I would like to point out what appears a discrepancy. You have written, “The Principle describes a measure that God took when Adam was about to commit sin. God took Adam’s original spirit back to Himself until the time when it could once again return to earth, this time in the person of Jesus. As stated in Wolli Wonbon:
“… However, after Adam and Eve committed the sin, Adam’s original spirit self was not able to remain in the body with which he had committed evil. Therefore, God removed it.”
My question: Was it before or after Adam and Eve committed the sin that God removed their original spirit?
Deciphering the precise meaning of Wolli Wonbon is fraught with difficulty. I take it to mean that since it would be impossible for God to dwell in Adam after he fell, God took up his “spirit” just before. Also, the text doesn’t specify what exactly this “spirit” was. I believe it was the divine mind. I don’t think it was the spirit self that continued Adam’s identity as a person, because that became fallen. Also, the descent of Adam’s divine mind to Jesus doesn’t fit the usual understanding of returning resurrection. All this is material to ponder prayerfully.
Dr. Wilson, the leading expositor of True Parent’s teaching since the passing of Rev. Moon, has crafted a compelling argument in favor of True Mother’s designation of herself as the “Only Begotten Daughter.”
He bases his argument in part on True Father’s words (i.e., “Where there is an only-begotten Son, there is also an only-begotten Daughter”) and True Mother’s life experience. But the crux of his argument revolves around a passage in Wolli Wonbon which asserts God “removed” Adam’s “original spirit self” and subsequently “sent” it “to the one in the position of the second Adam” (Jesus). In this way, Jesus “inherited Adam’s God-begotten birth.” God took the same measure to safeguard Eve’s original spirit, taking it up when she was about to commit sin, sending it as the Holy Spirit, a “partial manifestation” at the First Coming, and as a full manifestation in True Mother, the “substantial Holy Spirit.”
Dr. Wilson does not deal with the mechanics of how True Father came to manifest Adam’s original spirit (along with Jesus) other than to state, “True Mother is the Only Begotten Daughter by the same logic that Jesus, and True Father as well, is the Only Begotten Son.”
I have two issues with Dr. Wilson’s argument.
First, there is no authorized edition of Wolli Wonbon and Dr. Wilson’s reference is to a draft translation that he and others have been working on for some years. Therefore, it has no official standing. More than that, it may be the case that subsequent editions of the Principle directly authorized by Rev. Moon supersede Wolli Wonbon just as Wolli Kangron (1966) superseded Wolli Haesul (1957). Hopefully, the place of Wolli Wonbon in the Unification canon will be clarified in the future.
Second, Dr. Wilson propounds a seemingly literal “rapture” and “second coming” (or third coming) of Adam and Eve’s spirits. The image of God snatching their original spirits prior to the Fall and dispensing them afterwards evokes a supernaturalism akin to the virgin birth, resurrection and Second Coming, none of which are taken literally in Unification texts. It also suggests a spirit/flesh dualism that is foreign to Unification teaching. In order to preserve Dr. Wilson’s core argument, with which I agree, it needs to be shorn of mythological content. It likely wasn’t their spirits but God’s investment in the couple that was withdrawn.
To address your concern regarding theological argument, evoking supernatural literalism — not to be taken literally and suggesting a type of spirit/flesh dualism, which needs to be shorn of mythological content — is like painting one’s self into a didactic corner. It gives sympathy to Jack LaValley’s position.
Concerning your second point, if these are Father’s words we rather don’t doubt them. We need to be humble and understand that both True Father and True Mother are together with Jesus the only true sons and daughter of God until now.
When Father says that “God removed the one spirit of Adam, who before he committed the sin had stood at His right hand. Then, He sent that spirit to the one in the position of the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, Romans 5:14)”, he’s not speaking about a literal “rapture” of Adam’s spirit. He doesn’t refer to Adam’s spirit returning in a new body, Jesus.
Rather, as Father says, Adam and Eve were supposed to grow to maturity centering on the higher mind, which is the base of God’s original self that He had initially infused into them. However, after Adam and Eve committed the sin, Adam’s original spirit self was not able to remain in the body with which he had committed evil. Therefore, God removed it.
Thus we can understand that the base of God’s original self he had infused into Adam’s spirit self — His original Masculinity — returned to God when Adam fell, and was infused into Jesus spirit self, turning him into God’s only begotten son.
Thank you for pointing out that God’s Lineage had to be establish by two people.
True Mother has really proven herself to be in the position as the Only Begotten Daughter of God. All of True Father’s teaching has been to establish the Foundation of Faith, and with True Mother by his side, establish the Foundation of Substance to receive the Messiah. No one has ever proceeded on this path before. True Parents have always been trailblazers.
Even though True Father has ascended into the Spirit world, True Mother is still here on earth to carry on the Providence of God.
I agree that we should not be guided by Christian interpretation of the term “Begotten” (including its connection to Original Sin) and totally support Mother’s standing on her own foundation. The key for me is to relate the term to the First Blessing — which is not part of Christian understanding and which we are all supposed to achieve. In this context, I would suggest “Begotten” simply means having achieved the First Blessing, that we are all supposed to become “Begotten of God” in that sense. In that context, Jesus was the First Begotten Son. As the First, he was the Only Begotten Son for 2,000 years, but is no longer Only Begotten, as Father is the Second Begotten Son. Now Mother is the First Begotten Daughter, currently the Only Begotten Daughter — until someone else gets there too.
Part of the problem is a perceived slight of Father in the way the term is used with respect to Mother, especially when it is linked to Original Sin. Separating the meaning of the term Begotten from Original Sin to give an “original” or “pre-Fall” meaning to the term is where I believe we should be going with this. It removes the perception of slight toward Father and allows us to appreciate the preparation in both Father’s and Mother’s lineages without comparison. From what I have understood, neither Father nor Mother were the only people prepared at the time, so there are others around with similar preparation in their lineages; but they were the first to succeed, so both deserve the term Begotten — second and first, rather than only.
In my view, a reasonable Unificationist meaning of “begotten” signifies being at the head of the lineage of humanity. In the sense that Adam and Eve were created directly by God and had no human parents (although their flesh may have been prepared through lower creatures in the animal kingdom), True Parents also have no human parents. All other human beings receive God’s lineage as children of True Parents. Even their physical parents are in terms of lineage, their children.
In this meaning, there will never be any more “only begotten” sons or daughters. We who achieve the First Blessing are God’s sons and daughters, and if we are second generation or later we are even born of God’s spirit that comes in our parents’ conception, but we are not begotten. Not in the sense of coming directly from God.
Other than that, you are absolutely correct that True Mother has no intention of slighting True Father. Rather, she recognizes Jesus and his foundation, on which True Father stands — or rather, has stood ever since he accepted the mission from Jesus at age 15. But True Mother has no such foundation to stand on, so she had to pioneer being Only Begotten Daughter from birth.
Andrew, thanks for the reply. I think I understand the distinction you are making now with Begotten only applying to one couple at the beginning of God’s lineage. I’m not sure I can get my head around how that works though — especially now post-restoration. Mother was not Father’s first wife, so we must assume similar preparation in the lineage and life of the other potential Mothers. In other words, preparation in lineage and life is not the qualification per se to become Begotten since Mother’s preparation was not unique. Though undoubtedly she was prepared from birth, just as Father was, some other factor well after birth must be the deciding factor.
I suppose it comes down to fulfilling the portion of responsibility, in order to be justified in the position for which one was predestined.
I’d be happy if I believed resolving the controversy surrounding this topic would “help improve the current plight of the American movement,” but I do not.
True Mother, from the Holy Wedding in 1960 to the establishment of God’s Day in 1968, had gone through a period of great misery and suffering. Can we understand that she has gone through a path never walked by any human being?
The fulfillment and conclusion of True Father’s earthly mission as the Lord of the Second Advent left the Unification movement with some unresolved or loose theological threads on the church “garment.” We can thank Dr. Wilson for addressing these dangling threads. I am looking forward to his second installment on this topic next week.
A couple of rhetorical questions while awaiting Part II of your article, Andrew. Was True Mother’s physical father some kind of proxy? What is presently the status of True Parents’ daughters? Why is it so important to be the “only begotten”? Is it in order to be the new Messiah, the new Christ, the Lady of the Second Advent, mandated, like Jesus and True Father, to radically transform the human condition and usher in the New Age?
Lewis, in understanding the position of True Mother’s physical father, Mr. Han, I think one must consider the providential requirement of making conditions to change the lineage by separating from Satan. In that sense, Daemonim took the role of fallen Eve and left her archangelic husband to seek the true Husband (metaphorically speaking) in True Father. Yet, in a human sense, True Mother suffered by not having her father around to raise her. I would hope that ultimately, once restoration is completed, in the next world True Mother will be able to enjoy profound fellowship with both her physical parents.
As I tried to explain, the important theological meaning of “only begotten” is to be the head of the restored, God-centered lineage of humankind. God created Adam and Eve; they didn’t have human parents, otherwise they would not be the first human beings. So they were “begotten” (of God) –until they fell. After the Fall, God would want to restore that original starting point through True Parents, the new Adam and Eve and the new starting point of the God-centered human lineage. Therefore, the True Parents are the “only-begotten” Son and Daughter, who stand in Adam and Eve’s stead at the head of the human race.
Jesus and True Father, each in the position of Adam, cannot by themselves transform the human condition, because they lack the female element, the person in the position of Eve. That’s why by the Principle it is absolutely mandated that there be an Only Begotten Daughter.
Once the True Parents have remedied humankind’s wrong beginning, the issue of their biological children becomes much less significant, theologically anyway. I am not speaking of the politics swirling around them, which is significant — after all, a movement needs a leader, and there is still a lot of work to be done to establish God’s kingdom on earth. However, as regards their theological position, they differ very little from any of us who have been blessed by True Parents and have become True Parents’ children through the Blessing. We, and they, are all members of the second generation under True Parents, but as far as order, we are to respect them as our elder siblings.