The other night, I felt Rev. Moon say to me, “My son marrying me off — I have an issue with that!” To which I thought, “That’s for sure!”
Many Unificationists have heard about the goings on in the breakaway Sanctuary Church, where on September 23, their leader, Hyung-jin Moon, decreed True Mother divorced from True Father and then proceeded to “marry” True Father to Mrs. Hyun-shil Kang.
Mrs. Kang, who in December last year joined Sanctuary Church, has the distinction of being the first disciple Rev. Moon made in Busan after he finished writing Wolli Wonbon. Further, True Parents had blessed her to St. Augustine in 1998.
The strangeness and irregularity of this event is beyond question. We have heard of children wanting to divorce their parents. But this is even stranger: the youngest son, who claims authority from his deceased father and has a quarrel with his mother, divorces his parents from one another. Then he weds his deceased father to a follower who is submissive to his will.
His motive is to establish his claim to be his parents’ sole heir, and it is quite convenient for him if his mother is out of the way. That the parents whom this son are divorcing are the True Parents, who in the past stated publicly he was to succeed them as leader of the church, is the theological overlay providing Sanctuary supporters with a justification for this deed. Yet it only makes this human farce more unsettling.
Like all members of FFWPU, I can testify that Mrs. Moon remains devoted to her husband and never ceases striving to fulfill the goals that God asked him to achieve during his lifetime. I have ample reason to believe that the True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humankind are eternally one, love each other deeply, and that God fully participates in their love.
Furthermore, it is the bedrock of FFWPU theology that the eternal oneness of True Parents is the core and foundation for God’s Kingdom to be established throughout heaven and earth, and without that oneness there is no Kingdom. Also, the eternal oneness of True Parents is the basis of the Blessing that has defined our lives and affords all of us the hope that we as Blessed Couples can become eternal citizens of God’s Kingdom.
Accordingly, I do not believe God endorses what Rev. and Mrs. Moon’s youngest son has done. From what I see, the ceremony he performed to join Father and Mrs. Kang has no validity whatsoever in heaven. It does not touch True Father, whose loving oneness with True Mother is rock-solid. It does not change who True Parents are and ever will be. It is nothing more than a fantasy play by a child indulging in wish fulfillment. Members of Sanctuary Church, including Mrs. Kang, who went along with this fantasy are merely indulging that child.
There are more serious issues though, such as what happens to St. Augustine. I’m sure he takes his Blessing to Mrs. Kang very seriously. In life he was a devoted Christian of the highest caliber, who laid the cornerstone of Christian theology. When he learned of the advent of True Parents, he received them with joy. We can read, for example, his pledge of loyalty to Rev. Moon in A Cloud of Witnesses: The Saints’ Testimonies to the True Parents (2002).
After True Parents blessed St. Augustine to Mrs. Kang in 1998, he channeled through Young Soon Kim in St. Augustine’s Confessions from the Spiritual World (2000) a series of correspondences with her. In his first message to her on March 20, 2000, he expressed his heart of gratitude to True Parents, his joy to be married to such a woman who was one of the first disciples, and what he took as the meaning of their life together:
“Although I have many shortcomings, let us honor our True Parents’ wishes and work hard together in a cooperation of the spiritual and physical worlds in order to restore Catholicism and Protestantism… Although I myself did not have the privilege of receiving the True Parents on earth, you have had the joy of serving the True Parents, and what woman could be more blessed than this! However, am I not also blessed, to have become the husband of a blessed woman?”
He continued by stating his determination to follow and serve True Parents:
“I truthfully love, believe in, and follow God and True Parents and am willing to give my life to carry out all their orders. Doing so is my life itself. To speak more frankly, God is my parent, my life, and the whole of my being. It is indescribably painful that I have not been able to serve the Parents of Heaven and Earth on earth. But the Parents of Heaven and Earth have given me the grace of the Blessing, which is more precious than my life, and how can I be able to express my gratitude in words!”
He also spoke about his gratitude for receiving the Blessing and being blessed to such a precious person as Mrs. Kang:
“Since I have received such a great and uncommon blessing, I have made a determination to live for the purpose of repaying the True Parents’ grace. I have heard about the value of the Blessing through the Unification Principle, and firmly believe that it is truly a marvelous grace and that the greatest tragedy of humanity is the loss of the Blessing. In this sense, I am sincerely grateful that through the Blessing I have received you, Lady Kang, who worked hard and accumulated great merits in your life on earth, while I feel so sorry about my unworthiness.”
For Mrs. Kang’s part, quite often True Father asked her to give her testimony about what it is like to be married to St. Augustine. That True Father would choose her as the exemplary person to speak about what a spiritual world–physical world blessing was like indicates she shared much about their relationship to him privately. At a leaders’ conference in January 2000, she said:
“Father is asking me to reveal all the secrets. You know we have to go through the 3-day ceremony and the 40-day period. During the 3-day ceremony, I could vividly feel he was with me and that Father was not lying. Father has been telling us the truth. At that time, I again realized that Father emphasized how real it is for us to have relationship with a spirit person.”
Again, in a speech in January 2005, True Father called on Mrs. Kang and said, “Please talk about Augustine!” She replied, “How can I explain? It is hot love. From morning to night I am discussing with him. I can talk to him all the time. We have a hot love relationship.”
Early members Hyun-shil Kang (right) and Sae-hyeon Ok in front of the first Seoul Church, informally known as the House of Three Gates, in 1954.
How must St. Augustine grieve that his wife has left him for another man, a man whom she loves more than him? He thought himself truly blessed to be with Mrs. Kang. He had been devoting his heart to her and preparing for the day of their joyful meeting once she ascended. Now that she has betrayed him and demonstrated her infidelity, what is he to think of her? It matters not that she will never actually possess the object of her new desire; her wayward heart is on display for all, and for Augustine, to see.
I understand that Hyung-jin Moon ceremonially withdrew St. Augustine from his marriage to Mrs. Kang and then blessed him to another sister. Yet, I would not be surprised if, like Rev. Moon, he too has an issue with being married off like that. Would St. Augustine really treat his marriage to Mrs. Kang so lightly? He must now be in a quandary about how he can relate with her, and if he is a devout believer who values the Blessing above anything else, they will have some serious fence-mending to do.
I believe True Father has an issue with Sanctuary Church’s lack of respect for the Blessing and the value of marriage. When FFWPU members join the Sanctuary Church their previous Blessing is not recognized, which can plunge their families into the hell of broken marriages and estranged children if the other spouse refuses to follow the Sanctuary Church path. In other words, faith is more valuable than marriage. This was the case for marriages in the fallen world, but it contradicts the value of the Blessing established by True Parents.
True Parents’ Blessing is on a higher level than faith. Hence, it is available to people of all faiths; Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, even people of conscience can receive True Parents’ Blessing and enter this realm. The Blessing as doorway to the eternal presence of God in the family is the very core of salvation. Blessed families are God’s eternal treasures; they are the citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. Heavenly Parent is pained to see these children whom He has blessed torn apart over a True Child’s quest for power of far less consequence than the cosmic victory of True Parents and its fruit, the Blessing.
Here we see the corruption of true family values, even to the extent that divorce is now something that can be solemnized in a holy ceremony. The read-out of a list of True Mother’s purported crimes to justify the divorce reminds me of the Jewish practice of the get, a bill of divorce, which Jesus condemned in Matthew 19 when he said, “What God has joined together, let no man pull asunder.” The rabbis wrote an entire book of the Talmud arguing about what were valid grounds for a husband to divorce his wife, but in Matthew 19, Jesus allowed only one valid ground for divorce: unchastity. Yet, True Mother was never unfaithful or unchaste.
Should anyone who bears the name of a Unificationist teach that it is legitimate for a husband to divorce his wife if she gets angry with him? Or if she disagrees with him on matters of money, or the inheritance for their children? Sanctuary Church’s acceptance and even celebration of this particular divorce makes a mockery of True Parents’ effort to establish the value of fidelity in marriage as a bedrock value of human society.
Why is the pain and heartbreak of Augustine also an issue for True Father? There is, of course, chagrin that his family has wronged this champion of faith. But on a larger level, it is a setback to his mission to unite Christianity. True Father came to this earth with the mission to unite Christianity, and by dint of his faith and suffering through unbearable indemnity conditions, he succeeded on a foundational level. He won the support of the great champions of the Christian faith like St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Martin Luther.
Was it easy for these leading Christians to pledge allegiance to True Father and testify to him in A Cloud of Witnesses? Just as millions of Christians on earth continue to reject the Divine Principle and disbelieve that Rev. Moon is the Lord of the Second Advent, there must be millions of middling and lower-level Christians in the spirit world who think likewise. They are skeptical and even horrified that someone of the stature of St. Augustine became a Moonie, a heretic in their eyes.
Augustine put his faith on the line before these Christians and accepted the Blessing with Mrs. Kang. Now, they must be mocking him, to see him so wronged by the woman and movement that he pledged himself to. How deeply embarrassing it must be to True Father to see this exemplary Christian who had put his faith in him be made a mockery by his youngest son. It is a black mark on Rev. Moon’s effort to unite Christianity, a goal which St. Augustine still shares.
I believe this too will pass because True Parents’ foundation is settled for all time. St. Augustine will find a way forward in his life with God — with or without Mrs. Kang. Despite this aberration, the noble efforts of countless Unificationists who are faithful to True Parents and strive to live a Principled life will keep hope alive for unification and the realization of God’s Ideal.♦
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.
Painting at top: “Saint Augustine” by Philippe de Champaigne, 1650. The Flemish artist portrays Augustine in his studio. In one hand Augustine holds a feather pen, and in the other, a flaming heart. The flaming heart – a heart on fire for God – was one of Augustine’s traditional attributes. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California)
Thank you, Dr. Wilson. So many of Father’s words in the final decade of his life testify to True Mother and her victorious course. I was at East Garden on several occasions where he said that True Mother was his equal. In Cheon Seong Gyeong, Father states that the final step in creating the proper foundation for heaven on earth is for his lineal children to unite with their mother. It’s not complicated.
For all intents and purposes the Family Federation and Sanctuary Church have become two different religions. They have totally opposed theologies; different spiritual leaders; conflicting notions of succession; and their own, widely varying constitutions. Therefore, any grounds for reconciliation between the two religious organizations are extremely remote, at best. While both sides have their own apologists, their arguments invariably fall on deaf ears.
Thank you for writing this very useful article.
Very good analysis by Dr. Wilson. It exposes clearly the evil behind the strange developments in the Sanctuary Church. Thank you.
Sanctuary Church has no reason to exist nor given value! Soon it will be forgotten in the trash heap of history. As a lesson for the consequences of being unfilial and for betrayal, God’s Providence has been prolonged! A necessary step to make sure that only the pure in Heart can enter the Kingdom of God!
Thank you for your intergration of logic with metaphysics on this issue. The spiritual world is much more active in issues and our daily life than most people realize.
Sometimes we are asked to believe the unbelievable, to give up so-called earthly logic. However, truth is truth, however and wherever you find it. And truth is consistent across all platforms. Sometimes if we don’t have all the facts, we can’t understand the full truth. And so, humans are good at piecing facts together in order to create a vision of reality. When it comes to things spiritual, because while we are down here on the planet — our vision is limited. In fact, we are partly blind. So, when a religious figure wants to tell you about divine truth — you must be cautious. You must discover truth for yourself — not just accept it as it is handed down. You must verify your truth for yourself, so that you do not get taken advantage of by those who claim to have supernatural knowledge. This is why God gave each one of us our own mind, heart and personality. If something does not feel true or right to you — do not fall for the argument that “you are not worthy” to have your own truth. After all, each person is an “individual truth body” — right? If you need ceremonies and rituals in order to feel holy and sacred — so be it. But we are all God’s children, even Lucifer.
How it is possible that people who sincerely pray to God for answers about specific questions can come up with such contradictory conclusions about what is right and wrong!? I think it’s because most people are actually communicating with very persuasive masquerading spirits which we mistake for God. I suggest we take True Mother’s advice and focus on teaching the Principle in our centers and homes as best we understand it. Then, as we help one another to actualize the Three Blessings, we can also cooperate with many other Abel-type groups who want to help humanity become a more spiritually mature species. If we stay busy that way, then all the spiritual weirdness around us will more quickly fade away and be forgotten.
Religious institutions often outlive the original altered states of consciousness that created them. The current crisis in the Unification religion is due to a lack of personal experience with the “living Spirit” at the common core of all authentic religions. When this happens, religions can be problematic and their theologies appear empty.
Yes, Jack. Also, when there is a lack of witnessing, home church and “being in the world” or engagement for the purpose of influence and transformation of culture and societal policies and customs, churches and religious ideals decline. As you mentioned, the spirit and internal calling toward the “Great Commission” comes first.
I have to agree with Donna in that “outreach” is imperative for our personal and public growth. Back in 1995 while in Brazil, Father instructed me and several other UC artists to help other artists in their endeavors as a way to demonstrate parental love. By helping other artists to compose and/or produce their music they would become endeared to us and then reciprocate. We would then be in the position to inherit their foundations.
It’s a win-win-win situation because it allows us to be more influential, it allows us to grow though our service to others, and allows us to inherit or work with foundations larger than our own. That was why Father created the “federation” concept. He understood that we need to create alliances with organizations larger and more influential than our own. But this requires that we go beyond our comfort zones.
Lately I have more hope that the spirit of witnessing is reviving in our church. I am teaching a DP course to 27 students, and the majority of them are completely committed to witnessing and tribal messiah activities, or for some, other forms of outreach and social activism. I was pleasantly surprised to see this, and it bodes well for the future.
Would it be rude to conjecture that there might be some mental frailty involved? Mrs. Kang is quite old, so perhaps she suffers from dementia or has a touch of Alzheimers.
True Parents married me and are the grandparents of my children. The oneness that they represent for me is very personal. On top of that, True Mother is much too beautiful to be exchanged with any other female. The thought in itself is just unimaginable and ridiculous.
Rohan, it wouldn’t be rude to suggest that old people’s minds can become frail and they can do and say odd things.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson. I really appreciate this article. Also, the way you explain life in the Spirit World, although not new, is an excellent reminder for me, at this time of my life, where I am starting to include/invite my spiritual helpers to join me in my outreach effort.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson, for your penetrating analysis and insights.
When I heard of Hyung Jin Moon’s ceremony to “bless” Mrs. Kang to True Father, several questions came to mind:
* Can anyone choose his own mother (or father)?
* What if the child dislikes his mother or disagrees with her, does that make it possible for the child to choose someone else as his mother?
* What if he thinks that his parents don’t get along with each other, does that make it possible for the child to replace one or both of them?
* In this case, did Hyung Jin check with True Father to get his approval? If so, how?
* Did he check with all his brothers and sisters to get their approval?
* Did he check with Mrs. Kang’s husband to get his approval?
I understand that Mrs. Kang was a faithful disciple of True Father for some years before True Parents’ Holy Blessing in 1960. However, he did not choose her to be his wife — he chose Hak Ja Han. Why?
I am saddened to see Hyung Jin and Kook Jin engage in such folly. They owe their lives, their talents, and their own Blessing to both True Mother and True Father. They need to realize that their parents (both parents) have sacrificed far more than they, and under much tougher circumstances than they have experienced. And they need to realize that their mother continues to love them.
At the end of one Hoon Dok Hae session that I attended in New York, True Mother said (to the best of my recollection), “And one more thing … Regarding the True Children, don’t say, ‘True Children this’ or ‘True Children that’.” In other words, she was telling us not to criticize them. This is the heart of our True Mother. I pray that true reconciliation will come soon.