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 18.104.22.168)
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.