Since August 2014, Hak Ja Han Moon, the widowed spouse of Rev. Sun Myung Moon whom FFWPU members call True Mother, has been proclaiming herself “the only begotten Daughter.”
The title itself is well-established in Rev. Moon’s teaching: “The only begotten Son needs the only begotten Daughter” (May 1968), and “The Messiah, who comes as the only begotten Son, must find the only begotten Daughter” (January 1989). Yet, Mother calling herself by this title has caused some members considerable consternation.
First is the matter of disabusing Christians that Mother is not equating herself with God. This is because Christians understand the scriptural title “only-begotten Son” to mean that Jesus is God. Consider the Nicene Creed:
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…
Jesus was “begotten,” not at his human birth but “before all ages.” It means he is of God’s very substance (consubstantial), “God from God.” He is made of God-stuff, not mortal flesh and bone.
However, “only begotten Son” in Unificationism means something very different. First and foremost, Jesus is a human being.
His being only-begotten means he is the originating point of God’s lineage — Adam, had he not fallen. He is only-begotten because his birth on earth was based on the special conditions made by Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary so that he uniquely could be conceived and born in God’s lineage. Unificationists know the story; I need not go into it here.
Yet beyond the terminology and all the efforts to explain it, I was left with the question, “Why?” Why does Hak Ja Han Moon, who is already the True Mother of the universe, call herself the only-begotten Daughter? I have met members who criticize her, saying she is exalting herself above Father. Some even ascribe to her the motive of dissatisfaction with Father. In my view, she is too committed to the providence to allow herself to be captivated by such petty concerns. There should be a serious providential reason.
I have come to the realization, based on my study of the Principle, that in calling herself God’s daughter, True Mother has in fact lowered herself. Her proclamation is not puffing herself up, but is actually going down, from the parent position to the child position.
There is only one reason she would do that: The Parent position was not secure. This should be a cause for concern.
Consider that after Rev. Moon’s passing, True Mother was disrespected. She was not recognized by some as having the authority of True Parents in her own right. This despite that Rev. Moon had proclaimed in 1992, “Until now Mother has been following me, but… now she stands at my side.” Again in 2003, he declared that True Mother was co-equally True Parents in every respect.
The problem came to a head almost immediately, when True Mother published a revision of the scripture Cheon Seong Gyeong. Although she gave good reasons for revising the text, objecting voices were raised from every quarter: “These are Father’s words; how dare Mother alter them!” This made it plain that for many members, True Mother’s authority only derived from True Father. They regarded True Father, the Messiah, as the only one with the authority of the Word, and in telling Mother not to revise them, they were in effect saying that Mother’s position was merely that of a disciple. They did not believe she stood side-by-side with Father, but rather stood behind him.
This was actually an outright denial of who True Parents are. To say that the dignity of True Parents only depends on True Father, while True Mother is respected only because she is True Father’s partner, undermines the value and purpose of True Parents. It was a negation of all that True Father did to raise up True Mother in order to fully establish the position of True Parents.
We say that in True Parents God established an ideal family. But how can any family be ideal if only the husband is perfectly aligned with God while the wife is not? If the husband is worthy of respect while the wife is not? Even among secular families, we regard those in which husband and wife both share in the responsibilities and burdens of family life as superior to those in which the husband carries the entire weight of the family on his shoulders.
Rev. Moon in heaven would be distressed to see that all his efforts to establish True Parents as a couple of unity, equality and oneness before God were in vain. He once said, “If Mother did not stand next to Adam, then Adam, who was on his way to God’s throne, would have to turn back and re-inherit the exit path.” (May You Blossom, My Beloved, p. 150) Yet Rev. Moon is in the spirit world and cannot do anything about it. The task of “re-inheriting the exit path” fell upon True Mother.
Therefore, Mother exited from the position of True Mother and took up the position of God’s daughter. She had to re-establish her position as God’s daughter, who fulfills the First Blessing of individual perfection as God’s perfect object partner, before she could stand as True Mother who fulfills the Second Blessing with True Father. The First Blessing should precede the Second Blessing. Therefore, True Mother lowered herself to the child’s position — the only begotten Daughter. She embarked upon the mission to re-establish that position as a public position recognized before heaven and earth.
Let us look at this from the perspective of the Principle of Restoration. According to Exposition of the Divine Principle (p. 197), after Adam and Eve fell, God worked with their sons Cain and Abel to establish the foundation for the parents to be recovered. They were supposed to make the foundation of faith and foundation of substance; and on that foundation Adam and Eve could once again stand as the Parents.
True Parents followed this principle as a consistent formula. In 1960 the members made a foundation of substance between the church members (Cain) and the three first engaged couples (Abel) as the foundation for True Parents’ Holy Wedding. In 1992, Cain-Abel unity of Koreans living in Japan, between the pro-North Chosoren and pro-South Mindan, mediated by WFWP led by True Mother, was the foundation for the public proclamation of True Parents’ messiahship, the beginning of the international Blessing movement, and start of the Completed Testament Age. In 2003, unity between the Ambassadors for Peace (Cain) and the FFWPU members (Abel) was the foundation for True Parents’ second-stage Holy Wedding.
However, during the years immediately before and after True Father’s passing, Cain and Abel were not united. In particular, this condition was absent in 2012, which caused True Parents to cancel the third-stage Holy Wedding. True Father expected that his eldest living son, Hyun Jin Moon, who had built a foundation in the political realm (Cain), would unite with his youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, whose foundation was in the religious realm (Abel). But instead of the Abel son winning the natural support of the Cain son to unite as Jacob and Esau did, these two sons were locked in a fierce battle over inheritance.
True Mother, during the last year of True Father’s life, encountered only faithlessness and disunity wherever she looked. The True Children disunited. Major leaders disunited. Consequently, at True Father’s seonghwa, there were only meager expressions of support from the wider public. The audience at that event was largely made up of members with only a smattering of leaders from society — a considerable decline compared to the audience at the 2003 Holy Wedding.
True Mother said, “Heaven wanted the Holy Ascension Ceremony to be done in a place where the current heads of all nations of the world recognized True Parents’ status on the national level. However, that situation did not even happen. I was in the position of having to finish the providence alone” (Feb. 15, 2019). I remember well Mother’s sad face standing alone at the ceremony. It seemed to me at the time that she was expressing her human emotions grieving over the loss of her husband. But now I realize that the cause of her sadness was Heaven’s heart, bemoaning the lack of victory, the lack of public recognition that should have come to Father at that historical moment.
Opening Ceremony of the African Continental Summit – Niger 2019, November 28, 2019, Palais des Congrès, Niamey, Niger.
So, to shore up the crumbling foundation for True Parents, Mother lowered herself. She took up the child’s position to stand as Abel, in order to restore the foundation for the Messiah, just as Jesus lowered himself to the child’s position to take up the mission of John the Baptist when he was not recognized. Father had done the same when Christianity did not support him.
According to EDP, God never intended for Jesus to go a path of suffering, but when those responsible to lay the foundation proved faithless, Jesus took responsibility to lay it himself. Specifically, when John the Baptist did not prepare the way for Jesus, Jesus had to prepare his own way:
Jesus, who came as God’s only begotten Son and the Lord of Glory, was not meant to walk a path of suffering. Rather, it was for John the Baptist, born with the mission to make straight the way of Jesus, to go through tribulations. However, because John did not complete his responsibility, Jesus had to undergo suffering in John’s place. (p. 271)
Father did not intend for True Mother to walk a path of suffering either. But when those who should have supported her failed to fulfill their responsibilities, she lowered herself to fulfill it for them — taking the child position.
To restore the foundation of faith, True Mother undertook three years of mourning at True Father’s wonjeon. This was a duty which traditionally would be carried out by the eldest son. Of that time, she said,
Since True Father’s seonghwa, he has lain in the Bon Hyang Won, and I go there every day to offer devotion… In Korean cultural tradition, when a parent of a noble family passes away, the children mourn at their parents’ graves for three years. You do not go back and forth from your home; rather, you live in the mountains, by the tomb. You do not eat decent meals, nor do you wear decent clothes. You cannot light a fire, even during the cold of winter. In Korea, a lot of snow falls in the winter. Yet for three years you live by the side of your parent who is buried there. After doing this, you can be called a filial child.
What about you? You should be doing hoondokhae every day, reading Father’s words with this heart of attending him every day. It is for you to inherit the tradition that True Parents want you to uphold. (Chambumo Gyeong 126.96.36.199)
After True Mother restored the foundation of faith in the position of a child, she was ready to stand as Abel for making the foundation of substance. To establish her position as the Abel child, she took up the title “only-begotten Daughter.”
To understand this better, I encourage you to read the Moses and Jesus chapter of Exposition of the Divine Principle, which explains Jesus’ course in this manner. It explains that Jesus went down to the child position after John the Baptist disbelieved. In that position he fasted for 40 days to restore the foundation of faith. Then he stood in the position of Abel for fulfilling the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature. That indemnity condition would be for Jesus to gain the support of the Jewish people, as John the Baptist had done.
Think how difficult it was for Jesus. Lacking proper support from John the Baptist, the man in the child position who should have brought Israel to him, he had to take up that position himself. Paul wrote that “he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even to death on the cross.” (Phil. 2:8) So now Mother is traveling the world, enduring an arduous schedule of rallies and public appearances despite her frailty and advancing age, to restore the recognition that True Parents are meant to have. Far from being the Mother of glory, she goes about her providential task as the Mother of suffering.
Mother has been working to restore the children’s unity. First, with respect to the True Children, she raised up Hyo Jin Moon and placed him side-by-side with Heung Jin Moon as the faithful Cain and Abel sons in the Cheong Pyeong prayer hall. At least she could stand on these sons’ spiritual unity. Next, with respect to the church elders, Mother gave special recognition to Dr. Bo Hi Pak and Rev. Yo Han Lee upon their passing. Then, she chose dynamic second-generation leaders who would support her with absolute faith, love and obedience. Finally, to restore unity with the wider public, Mother is holding rallies throughout the world.
With all this, True Mother is preparing to offer the foundation of substance of Cain-Abel unity as the foundation for True Parents in 2020. Cain includes the faithful members of the True Family including the grandchildren; it includes the FFWPU members and their restored tribes; and it includes the many religious and political leaders who have bonded with True Mother. They, in the Cain position, are all supportive of the only begotten Daughter in the position of Abel. Together they are about to offer to Heaven a victorious foundation of substance for national restoration.
Perhaps with this explanation, you can understand why Mother has to do this work in the position of the only begotten Daughter rather than as True Parent. She may appear to be sidelining Father, but that is not the case at all. To “re-inherit the exit path” of the child’s position was a providential necessity.
What may Father, looking down from heaven, think of this? Is he upset that Mother is putting herself ahead of him? l don’t think so. I believe he is cheering her on. He is rooting for Mother to be victorious. Seeing Mother going the same course that he went, struggling for recognition amid broken and failed foundations and overcoming by herself as he did, makes Father love and respect Mother even more. When Mother ascends and he greets her, he will be greeting a woman who is every bit his equal: equal in experience, in suffering, and in accomplishment. Her difficult course only expands the base for them to share love eternally as a couple. Thus, in the end, supporting Mother to be victorious as the only begotten Daughter is a love offering to True Father.♦
Dr. Andrew Wilson (UTS Class of 1978) is Professor of Scriptural Studies and Director of Scriptural Research at Unification Theological Seminary. He edited World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts and World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon.
Photo at top: Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon at the 2019 Africa Continental Summit and HyoJeong Family Blessing Festival, December 7, 2019, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Thank you for this thoughtful and humbling explanation, Dr. Wilson.
Thank you, Dr. Wilson, for your explanation.
As mentioned before, in one of his last HDH at the palace with some Korean leaders and 30 women representatives from the Abel/UN Conference of July 2012, I heard Father state: “If the pillars of the church come down, I will be with True Mother, in her arms…loving her and guiding her always.”
Many Christians are likely to be concerned about this question. And, I thank you, as a professor at UTS, for taking up the apologetic task of explaining the faith. Your explanation is as good of an explanation as I have heard. However, I do not know if anyone can say exactly why True Mother says this unless she explains it. And I think it is only possible to imagine how True Father feels about this unless one is somehow transparently connected to his consciousness. Therefore statements that seem to definitively indicate how they feel or think seem not to be possible any more than you know how I am thinking or feeling about something at a given moment. It would seem to me a bit less pretentious to say, “I believe he is cheering her on. He is rooting for Mother to be victorious,” rather than stating it as an absolute fact. I think that kind of precision in language is important for church apologetics in a post-modern world.
Faith-based claims put forth by anyone ought to be recognized as such; nothing more and nothing less.
Perhaps Dr. Wilson ought to have prefaced his essay with something like: “My confession of faith regarding the Only Begotten Daughter.”
Gordon, I appreciate your editorial comments. Maybe the Webmaster could add that important qualifier.
[Managing editor’s note: Done 🙂 ]
Like every member, we love True Mother. But, Andrew, can you tell me why she appears to never mention True Father?
Presumably, if you are an “only begotten daughter,” then there would be no need to mention True Father, or anyone else for that matter. Your theological place in the providence would be virtually assured on its own merits.
Why does she need to mention him at every turn? She is the True Parent. When Father was proclaiming the providence, did he always mention True Mother?
Andrew makes a very good point. TF did not mention True Mother all the time. Mostly, when he spoke, he said, “Father did this,” or, “I did that.”
Thanks so much, as always, Dr. Wilson. Your explanations are very helpful.
I have a question that continues to nip at my ankles, though, as I work with traditional Christian clergy and their members. You mention very clearly the difference in the nature of Jesus between traditional Christianity and Unificationism. Traditional Christians believe that Jesus is “the stuff of God.” And Unificationism believes Jesus is a man. Then you take us on an excellent journey of explanation of “The Only Begotten Daughter” from a Unificationist perspective. Excellent and well-put.
However, a core strategy in America these days is to witness and bring along traditional Christian ministers. But when they hear about “The Only Begotten Daughter,” since their reference points are different than ours, then your explanation to Unificationists is not sufficient for them.
Therefore, I think we need a comprehensive apologetic on this topic. I am wondering if you might agree and perhaps work with some of the other scholars and leaders like Archbishop Stallings and Dr. Rouse to craft such an apologetic explanation. I think it is urgently needed. Do you think this is needed and possible?
That’s a good idea, Henri. I have some thoughts, but it would be much better to have a sit-down with these accomplished Christians.
OK, I will suggest it to them after the smoke clears for Dec. 28. I know both of them have discussed things along these lines — not specifically this topic, but about speaking to Christians in their language. And Dr. Jenkins did his thesis on that topic, if I’m not mistaken.
Given that the focus of discussion is True Mother’s position and role, it might be appropriate to involve a few women. All the participants you mention are men.
On another note, there are people of faith who have no problem with the “only begotten daughter of God.” It almost doesn’t register in a sense because this wording is seldom spoken. The Christians who receive this wording reference various Bible verses — one of them being “we must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect” and that God wants all sons and daughters to perfect themselves. If we follow this path, ultimately God would have many begotten children, both sons and daughters.
Both Father and Mother have pushed worldwide to bring us back to the ideal and would ultimately be overjoyed at humanity’s accomplishments to fulfill the ideal. They don’t hold on to their positions but have to speak like this in the absence of a foundation. Still, having clear language will be very helpful.
“The Parent position was not secure. This should be a cause for concern.”
Reminiscent of Yeat’s “The Second Coming.”
You write in your essay:
“His [Jesus] being only-begotten means he is the originating point of God’s lineage — Adam, had he not fallen. He is only-begotten because his birth on earth was based on the special conditions made by Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary so that he uniquely could be conceived and born in God’s lineage.”
As you also wrote, we Unificationists are very familiar with this aspect of Father’s teaching. Father spoke many times, in great detail, about how both he and Jesus were born without original sin. But on March 16, 2019, Hak Ja Han made the following statement: “Therefore, with regards to Heaven’s providence, when looking at the 2,000 year history of Christianity, what is more important than the Second Advent of the Messiah, is the advent of the Only Begotten Daughter who comes from Heaven’s lineage with no relations to Satan, just as Jesus did 2,000 years ago.”
Can you explain how she was able to do that?
Kerry, on the topic of Jesus’ lineage, did you ever consider that it would have been John the Baptist sister’s lineage too? So the conditions of Tamar, Ruth, etc., would have applied to her as the Bride as much as to Jesus. She even would have benefited from Mary’s condition, because her mother Elizabeth had to consent in submission to God’s will for Mary to conceive with her husband, which she did.
Why can Hak Ja Han Moon say that the advent of the only-begotten Daughter is more important than the second advent? Because the second advent occurs on the foundation of the first advent, while the only-begotten Daughter is a new providential development that pioneered God’s emergence in the feminine. As all Unificationists know, the Principle is only fulfilled when perfected Adam and Eve fulfill the four-position foundation. The Adam position was already secured by Jesus, but the Eve position remained vacant until True Mother’s advent.
True Father even wrote in Wolli Wonbon that the primary Will of God at the second advent was to find Mother. As I studied those words and reflected on their significance, I came to a better understanding of Hak Ja Han’s key role in the providence. Of course, it goes without saying that she could not have emerged without Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s efforts for the Will. If we compare it to building an arch, he laid the stones for its foundation and walls, while she is like the keystone, the stone that secures the whole structure.
Thank you for this article! The answer you gave above is highly valid — “Because the second advent occurs on the foundation of the first advent, while the only-begotten Daughter is a new providential development that pioneered God’s emergence in the feminine… If we compare it to building an arch, he laid the stones for its foundation and walls, while she is like the keystone, the stone that secures the whole structure.” A few years ago while giving a sermon on True Mother’s life and looking into her lineage, I discovered that True Mother’s lineage aligns more with Jesus’ lineage and for any female in history this is a first and new providential moment. Moreover, it was victoriously established.
True Father had said that Mary should not have had more children and should not have married Joseph, instead she should have cared for Jesus and helped him find his bride to become True Parents. Daemonim followed the path which Mary could not follow. Daemonim did not have any more children, she gave total care to the spiritual life and education of True Mother with the help of her mother (Elizabeth should have helped Mary). Daemonim knew who Father was, knew who her daughter was, followed and offered her daughter to True Father regardless of the age difference, deeply understanding God’s providence. There is so much more I discovered researching for that sermon so in my mind there is absolutely no doubt or debate about this point of True Mother as the first and only begotten daughter. It’s the keystone because the true lineage of humankind can only begin when there is the only begotten daughter.
We can understand that the existence of True Mother as the only begotten daughter is a major victory for Heavenly Parent. After the fall of Eve, no matter after how many attempts, God could not nearly establish an only begotten Daughter due to historic failures. Not only did Heavenly Parent find a son who was willing to make it happen at all cost, he found his daughter who was determined not to have failure at all costs. Its emotional when I think about how much True Parents liberated Heavenly Parent and how much joy they brought. Again, Thank you.
Thanks so much for this! It totally resonates with my own faith.
For me, Mother’s declaration of herself as “only begotten daughter” simply confirmed that both boys and girls, men and women, were meant to have an intimate and loving relationship with God. Just as Jesus taught that God is our father and paved a way for salvation, Mother does this more profoundly for women. Mother already had her own relationship with God before she met Father, just as I had my own relationship with God before I met the True Parents or before I was blessed with my husband. Father did continue to educate and raise up Mother, but she came to him as one he could recognize as his intended bride, one prepared by heaven for the Providence. And, beyond that, Mother fulfilled all that Father and Heaven required so that she could stand in an equal position with True Father. Now, in respecting her and the course she has gone, let’s listen to what she has to say and learn the new revelation of Principle that she, True Parents on Earth, is sharing with us.
George Vargas mentioned above about Mother not speaking about Father. On Wednesdays, I am one of the co-hosts of the National Prayer Call so I often research Mother’s words. I realized through this that she speaks of Father often. My heart was so moved by her devotion to him. I thought to myself, “If I could show more of this love to my husband, he would be a very happy man!” Later when there is time, I will try to share some excerpts of these quotes.
That is the best explanation I ever heard. Thank you very much.
One question remains for me. How was it that our church left Mother to witness to herself? Did not our church invent the John the Baptist problematic where the “conflict of interest” of self-proclamation is used as an explanation of the failure of Jesus’ project?
TM calls herself the Only Begotten Daughter so people will know that she is that. Nobody knew until she announced it, not even Dr. Wilson, who is now apparently the expert on the subject.
I don’t think that anybody knew before. What about the establishment of God’s Day on January 1, 1968? Isn’t God’s Day a special day that celebrates the first and second blessing? That day could be established because TM completed seven years of personal training.
Father said it many times. But in the patriarchal culture in our movement, who was willing to listen or even comprehend the significance? Page 23 of God’s Warning to the World for example. Research True Father’s speeches again — you will see.
This is my opinion: The “Only begotten daughter of God” is Completed Testament Age terminology. True Mother’s proclamation completes the Complete Testament Era at this time when she perceives that the substantial CIG is inevitable.
Dear Dr. Wilson,
Many thanks for your efforts to write about this important subject. I hope to put this contribution at the very end, because it is meant as a continuation and further questions.
1. According to historians, Emperor Constantine was the mastermind behind the results of the Council of Nicaea. Briefly, elevating Jesus Christ to the level of God, justified his own claim being from the same realm. So the newly set Christian theology served as a perfect surrounding of divine justification of dynasties, not just for Constantine, but many to follow. Jesus feet were cut off. Bad, handmade, intellectually-low constructions were built such as true God and true man in one. Is not Superman carrying his superpowers, even when disguised as Clark Kent? If Jesus was God while dwelling on earth, what is the difference to an actor?
2. I am very much looking forward to learn more about True Mother’s early life and hope to receive more answers concerning the course of the only begotten daughter. Maybe you know?
Questions that I have are:
a. Jesus the only begotten son should have met the only begotten daughter in his lifetime on earth. But since she could not appear, is True Mother’s course to be pioneered of the first coming in difference to Father being the second coming?
b. True Mother comes from a family of three generations of only daughters. All of them laid important conditions for the appearance of True Parents. In Cheon Bo Gwan we can see a bridge that one of True Mothers ancestors built pointing to an exemplary line of ancestors. Is True Mother’s birth and conditions for it comparable to Jesus as the only begotten son?
c. Did True Father have to go his course of suffering also to find True Mother, meaning was True Father’s course until 1960 an indemnity course, because Jesus could not find his bride?
We are lucky aren’t we?, because we do not need to rely on theological interpretation, but can ask True Mother directly, or maybe you have done so already?
Thanks to all of the above insights to illuminate a worthy historical proclamation by our True Mother as “the Only Begotten Daughter,” but I wish everyone in the movement/Church can read it as well, to be members of substance for outreach to religious leadership!
Dr. Wilson misses the key point in his essay. Simply put, if True Mother didn’t call herself the Only Begotten Daughter, then no one else would know that she was occupying such a position. This is why she had to explain the novel concept once she announced it and why he is still explaining it in articles, like the above, on the subject.