Where are we and where do we want to be?
By month’s end, the global Unification Family will celebrate 100 years since the birth of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and 60 years since his marriage to co-founder, Hak Ja Han, in 1960.
It might be helpful for us to take an honest look at where the Unification Community is at currently in relation to where it wants to be.
In this article, I draw comparisons between the early Christian movement and where it stood after the birth of Jesus in the year 100 A.D. and the Unification Community in 2020. Estimates of the growth of early Christianity are referred to.
Of course, there are different approaches one can take to assessing the current situation. One can be totally optimistic and conclude that the movement founded by True Parents is far beyond God’s expectations. One can be consumed by idealism. On the other hand, some may consider a more pessimistic view and conclude that the Unification Movement is not growing as rapidly as it could. Some may even say that it is in decline.
Is the glass half full or half empty?
More that 40 years ago, Rev. Moon asked a gathering of members, “Why are we here? What is our purpose?” Various answers were entertained until one young 20-year-old in the front row responded: “To restore the world,” to which the founder responded, “That’s right. We are here to restore the world.” A tall order by any measure.
We may refer to the ultimate goal and founding ideals by the Unification term “building Cheon-il Guk,” which is a Korean abbreviation of Cheonju Pyeonghwa Tongil Guk, and translates as “Cosmic Nation of Unity and Peace.” Other similar terms are “Kingdom of Heaven,” “The Ideal World” or “One Family Under God.”
Given current global realities, that include the threat of wars, actual conflict in many jurisdictions, terrorist actions, environmental disasters, family breakdown, and moral decline, it is clear the world is a far cry from realizing an ideal on earth. Or is it?
On the contrary, some would suggest the world has never been closer to realizing the age-old dream of a unified and peaceful world. The ease of travel, communication and the global advances in technology may provide for a more hopeful perspective.
The early Christian movement founded by Jesus of Nazareth started with much hope and some scholars suggest that during his short three-year ministry, Jesus had gathered a substantial following in the thousands and had some sympathetic supporters in high places.
Consider that Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin. He is mentioned as being in dialogue with Jesus in John 3:1-3 when he asks:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” And Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Gamaliel was a Pharisee and doctor of Jewish law. He was a man held in great esteem by all Jews according to Acts 5. He is famously quoted in Acts 5:38:
“So, in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
Joseph of Arimathea, the man who assumed responsibility for the burial of Jesus after the crucifixion was a high counselor and a voting member of the Sanhedrin. His loyalty to Jesus was kept secret.
All three men, Nicodemus, Gamaliel and Joseph of Arimathea, were members of the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body at the time that was tasked with the trial of Jesus according to the gospels. It was the Sanhedrin that took Jesus to Pontius Pilate and asked that he be tried for claiming to be the King of the Jews. Understandably, there are varying views about the role of the Sanhedrin and what led to Jesus’ execution at the hands of the Romans.
With the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples scattered and Christian growth did not happen until later.
The first century of Christianity was also one of disputes and various factions within the Christian family. There were tensions between the Apostle Peter and James “the Lord’s brother” as well as with a later convert, Paul of Tarsus. One such dispute was settled at the Council of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15 and it was concluded that Gentile Christians would not be bound by Jewish ceremonial rules. The first century saw the beginning of other theological and organizational disputes among various factions that eventually led to the many factions and denominations of the Christian movement today.
One hundred years after the birth of Jesus, scholarly estimates are that the small group of Christians had grown to approximately 7,500 followers in the Roman Empire. The population of the Roman Empire in 100 A.D. was approximately 60 million and the estimated population of the entire world at the time was no more than 200 million.
For context, the global population 2,000 years ago was no more than the current national populations of Brazil, Nigeria or the United States. The population of the vast Roman Empire, which included an area that encompassed much of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, was between 50 and 60 million, comparable to the current population of South Korea, South Africa or Colombia.
With these basic facts as a backdrop, consider the findings of Rodney Stark in his 1996 book, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, who claims Christianity grew to comprise over 50% of the population of the Roman Empire by 350 A.D. by simply growing at a rate of 4% per year or 40% per decade. According to him, by 100 A.D. there were approximately 7,500 adherents of the Christian movement which was only 0.0126% of the then population of the Roman Empire of approximately 60 million.
Stark, a sociologist of religion, contrasted his findings about the growth of the early Christian church with the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) since its inception in the first half of the 19th century. Writing in the late 1990s, Stark suggested that LDS could, within a century, grow to membership levels of 250 million simply by sustaining growth rates of 4% per year.
How then, does the Unification faith community compare 100 years after the birth of Sun Myung Moon? Where are we in relation to where we want to be? Certainly, the ultimate goal of world peace is a visionary one and will take time. A more pertinent comparison may be to the levels of growth achieved by Christianity during the first decades and centuries after the birth of Jesus.
The global population is currently estimated at 7.7 billion. As mentioned, the global population in 100 A.D. was approximately 200 million. The 60 million population of the Roman Empire at the time was about 30% of the world’s population.
Thirty percent of the current global population would be 2.31 billion and is a reasonable comparison. If we use Stark’s estimate of Christianity comprising 0.0126% of the population of the Roman Empire as a benchmark, a comparable number of “members or supporters” as a percentage of 30% of the global population would be about 291,000 people. Thus, the basic conclusion is if the Unification movement currently has 291,000 adherents or members, it is currently at a comparable level as the Christian movement in 100 AD.
Certainly, some may assume that the Unification community is far beyond that number when considering the ongoing blessings. Some may have to do more research!
The Marriage Blessing of the Unification movement is world famous. Many may not know much about the teaching or theology of the Unification faith community, however, the mass weddings are well known in many circles. Consider that since 1960 hundreds of thousands of couples have been blessed in marriage in Unification ceremonies. Beginning with three couples in 1960, 33 couples in 1961, 72 couples in 1962, 124 couples in 1963, 430 couples in 1968, 777 couples in 1970, 1800 couples in 1975, 2075 and 6000 couples in two separate ceremonies in 1982, in addition to many smaller and larger marriage blessing ceremonies until now.
There have also been very large marriage blessing ceremonies of 30,000 couples in 1992, 360,000 couples in 1995 and later blessings of millions of couples since. In the past few months, tens of thousands of couples participated in marriage blessing events in Cambodia, Taiwan, Niger, South Africa, and more. Some may question the level of involvement or the numbers circulated, certainly issues that should be addressed.
Keep in mind that Sun Myung Moon did not start active outreach until August 1945 with the end of Japan’s occupation of Korea and World War II. Some of the first members to join in 1946 in North Korea remained faithful to the cause for the rest of their lives. Later, due to Rev. Moon’s imprisonment in North Korea from 1948 to 1950 and the devastation caused by the Korean War (1950-53), the Unification Community was not officially registered as HSA-UWC until May 1954. Thus, the growth curve is between 66 and 75 years as of 2020.
The following chart provides a comparison of the estimated growth of Christianity during its first 350 years with Unificationism at a 4% annual growth rate. Bear in mind the numbers are simply hypothetical projections for the Unification context and do not represent the actual level of growth for any given year. For example, there were not 17,000 Unification members in 1960 and most likely there weren’t 28,000 members in 1970. The chart simply provides projections based on Stark’s model of how Christianity grew to 50% of the population of the then Roman Empire at a rate of 4% per year and what it should look like in the year 2020 for the Unification Family.
(click to enlarge chart)
Of course, we do not have a clear definition of what the qualifications for membership were during the Christian era. Was a member someone who attended church services once a week? Or someone that partook of communion monthly or once a year? Or one who attended services only on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve?
And if the early Christians kept records of regular donors, how often did they donate? And how many hours did they volunteer to promote the faith per week or each month?
Similarly, one could observe the growth of the Unification faith during the 20th and early 21st century and ask similar questions. What is a member? What is a supporter? Are there secret supporters similar to Joseph of Arimathea? Interested sympathizers such as Gamaliel and Nicodemus? What membership criteria is relevant?
Compared to the early Christian period there are similarities but also differences.
During its first 100 years, Christianity existed in a limited area around the Mediterranean. Unification communities currently exist in more than 150 countries. There are conflicts, disputes and factions today as there were then — some obvious and others more discreet.
In terms of numbers and global influence, there are observers who may take the view that Unificationism is a passing phenomenon. Still others have suggested the Unification Community could be a mere footnote in history.
Yet there are many videos, speech transcripts, memos, and reports of events on social media and the Web by which one could easily dispute such a view. It would be a massive footnote indeed!
Developments in past decades show there has been interest by people in high places with leaders of countries and various religious groups and NGOs supporting the global vision of the founders. There is also evidence of support for the Unification marriage blessing movement by significant numbers, especially in Asia and Africa. The hundreds of thousands and millions of couples who have participated in the marriage blessing and their children are connected in some way. But are they members? It really depends on how one looks at the results and assesses the current situation.
Some may brush off such developments and take a cynical or even an antagonistic view based on theological or other grounds. There are devoted followers who will see signs of progress that confirm their idealism. Some simply observe and are not ready to commit one way or the other.
Still others may take Gamaliel’s position: that if it is of God, nobody will be able to stop its growth and one may be found opposing God if they do.
There are simple, faithful and idealistic views and also complex, statistical views to consider.
At 100, the Unification Family may not be where it wants to be ultimately. The ideal has definitely not been established on earth yet and there is much more to be done.
At the same time, definite progress has been made and the glass is far from being half empty.
The Unification Family may indeed be much further along than the early adherents ever dreamed.♦
Rev. Franco Famularo (UTS Class of 1994) lives in Montreal and serves as National Leader of FFWPU Canada. He is also Chair of the Board of Trustees of Unification Theological Seminary.
For me, the hallmark and sign of Divine approval are the many testimonies from the Spirit World plus ongoing healings in Cheongpyeong.
I am grateful to Franco Famularo for addressing such a relevant issue on this blog, a few weeks before the 100th birthday of the founder. Rev. Famularo has perfectly formulated the question that both Unificationists and non-Unificationists should discuss, by saying, “It might be helpful for us to take an honest look at where the Unification Community is at currently in relation to where it wants to be.”
The approach chosen by Rev. Famularo may not seem charismatic to some readers. They may have expected him to express a stronger personal conviction. He was wise to remain open and “neutral.” Rather than offering ready-made answers, he is constantly offering good tools to keep questioning. He feeds our thoughts with some questions, and refrains from offering subjective views. I like this approach, which leaves the doors open to radical optimists, to skeptics, and to radical pessimists. There is then a long and specialized use of statistics, with the view that it might help the discussion. Though I was not very convinced, I found the approach interesting and well-written. No doubt, it is part of the discussion.
I would like to prolong the debate on whether or not the world is going, consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or by some necessity, in the direction of an ideal world as prophesied by the founder and the Divine Principle. Rev. Famularo says:
1. “Given current global realities, that include the threat of wars, actual conflict in many jurisdictions, terrorist actions, environmental disasters, family breakdown, and moral decline, it is clear the world is a far cry from realizing an ideal on earth. Or is it?”
2. “On the contrary, some would suggest the world has never been closer to realizing the age-old dream of a unified and peaceful world. The ease of travel, communication and the global advances in technology may provide for a more hopeful perspective.”
For me, these are the key questions, but I wish they could be more elaborated. Especially, I found the number 2 rather shallow and external. I wish we could think of deeper signs. However, I am not sure that all readers are interested in this debate. I ask the opinion of other readers before suggesting anything.
Again, I am impressed by the quality of the presentation. I feel that there is a real opportunity for a much-needed discussion, and I hope that we shall have many contributions.
Thank you, Laurent, for your thoughtful response. It is indeed my intention to stimulate discussion that improves our understanding. Articles on this blog are generally short and thus authors cannot explore topics in depth. Hopefully, comments will provide more insight into why we have never been closer to realizing the dream of a world of peace. There are both practical and spiritual explanations that may lead to a more hopeful view.
Very good piece of writing. Thank you, Franco.
To restore the world means a great deal more than church growth. I always thought that we were a movement to restore God’s ideal, not a church. First we need to remove the word “church” from our vocabulary. Our founder did this many years ago.
We are a movement of Federations for Peace. If we focus on church growth this comes with two problems. First, we become like any other church where we put our donations in the plate and go home. This does not inspire me and I suspect many others. This does not seem to be working, since our Sunday services are not very well-attended, mostly by older people. Does this sound familiar? Second, we miss the opportunity for growth by building a better world with all the people that support us. This is happening and is exciting.
If we only focused on outreach more, we will grow.
Thank you, John for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated. Noted about using the correct terminology.
In the article, the word “church” is used only when referring to the early Christian church or the Latter Day Saints church (LDS). The debate over whether the Unification Community is a church or movement has been persistent since the early days of our movement.
Initially, the Founder established the “Holy Spirit Association” and as we all know in 1994 declared not only the Family Pledge but also the beginning of the Family Federation which was later officially declared in 1995 through a global speaking tour and more formally in 1996.
In much of the West, our Unification communities were not “congregational” and centered on Sunday Service until the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Korean and Japanese communities followed a slightly different trajectory. Other countries have their own histories.
The reality on the ground depends much on the local realities. Political and cultural realities definitely impact practice. Some countries are more “church”-like and others are more “movement”-like. What you are suggesting would require a major shift that could only come from the top. Whether it can be implemented depends on many factors.
Thank you Franco, for opening the debate.
First of all, I would like to emphasize how much the culture of peace has progressed in one century, both theoretically and practically. When True Father was born in 1920, the world had just witnessed the first episode of total war, World War I, the war of all against all described by Thomas Hobbes. The worst was still to come. The Principle says that, at the end of times, when the Messiah comes, Satan will play his last card, through the coming of the antichrist. An evil imitation of the ideal world will triumph everywhere. In 1920, Father was born in a nation under a bad sign. The chosen nation of Korea was occupied by imperialist Japan, and in case the grip of Japan on Korea was not enough to deter the Savior, Satan could already claim one nation under Satan close to Korea, and this was the nascent USSR.
Twenty-five years later, the Japanese Empire was defeated, but one world under Satan was quite possible with the nearly triumphant Stalinist temptation, which was soon to take all Eastern Europe, and to establish a perfect axis of evil in Asia, with the USSR, China and North Korea. The ideological passion for communism was so strong. Many in the world really believed that Marxism-Leninism was the inescapable horizon of human history, as Jean-Paul Sartre said. People worldwide were fascinated by dialectical materialism and the view that violent revolution can solve everything. This, for most young people, was the truth, and nothing but the truth. The rest was illusion and lies. Marxism seemed the answer to everything and for all people.
In 2020, the false world which was so strong when True Father was born has changed completely. Japan, which represented a mortal danger for Asia, was defeated at the end of a war of extreme violence. As MacArthur prophesied, Japan turned into a nation of peace. It regularly ranks among the most peaceful nations of the world. Who would have believed this in Korea, in 1920? Moreover, we should let the world know about True Father’s heart for Japan. Father was tortured, nearly killed by the Japanese enemy. Father forgave Japan, embraced Japan, loved Japan with a divine heart. The worldwide movement which he created after 1960 has its stronghold in Japan, one of the least Christian countries in the world. What a messianic lesson! Japan rose to become a key component of the democratic axis, and Germany, likewise. Father’s heart, Father’s thought, are behind those miracles. The view of history of the Principle has proved true.
In 1920, who would have believed that Korea would become what it is today? When seen by human standards, South Korea is something that should not even exist. How can there be such a democratic and prosperous regime, nowadays in Seoul?
Moreover, Stalinism, communism, is gone, worldwide! The Berlin Wall is no more, the Cold War ended after 40 years. Again, the price paid by True Father is beyond imagination. In the future, people will discover that our Lord and Savior shed his blood, sweat and tears under communism. While people worshipped the beast and wished they could become communist, Father prayed with tears for his torturers. In 1991, he greeted Kim Il Sung.
Even in dreams, you never see that.
Ideologically, political Marxism has been backed into a corner worldwide; theories of cooperation are deemed much more convincing. Even if people have not yet heard about the divine law of give and take action between the subject and the object partner, the zeitgeist (spirit of the times) is for harmony and cooperation, not confrontation and dialectics.
Why are we not enlightened enough then? Well, as some proof of the resident evil in this world, the region near Korea remains a demarcation line. Japan and South Korea are peaceful, prosperous, but China has become such a threat, and North Korea remains a source of constant anguish. This very situation, in my opinion, is proof that the center of the truth always remains clouded. The rest of the world has basically overcome the ugly temptations that existed around Korea in 1920. Everywhere else, the atmosphere surrounding World War I and World War II is gone.
Everywhere except the very place that most people think will be the center of world affairs in the 21st century. The roots of radical evil that existed before WWI and WWII in Asia are still there. This can show the world what are the priorities for world peace.
This is part of my story telling. If I were to tell the story of my beloved hero, I would describe his limitless joy of having liberated so many people of the world from satanic influence by paying the highest price among all of us. Yet, True Parents still have a very, very heavy heart for the homeland of humankind, which will host the rest of the world for Father’s centennial. This amazing situation, for me, is proof of the Messiah, proof of some part of the Truth, at least externally. But there is other evidence, more internal.
Thank you, Laurent, for taking the time to express your sentiments and thoughts. To some, your comments may come across as those of an idealistic and true believer and I’m sure are inspiring. A radical optimist is an interesting term! Cynics, on the other hand, may not see your perspective the same way. One could go on trying to guess what the battle-weary and veterans think, not to mention our pragmatic youth and the generation born after 1985 who have little recollection of the 20th century, such as millennials and the younger “I-Generation” or “Generation Z”. They see our world through different lenses.
How God sees the current situation would be of even greater interest.
Very well written…lots of food for thought. I like that you leave it open to readers to draw their own conclusions. As for me, the glass is definitely half full. Very interresting for me is also the information about the early followers/supporters of Jesus. And last but not least the essay is not too long, thus easy to read. 🙂
Thank you, Rosemarie. Appreciate your comment.
Thank you for this article. I like the approach to identify and evaluate the movement based on objective numerical criteria. It is a much needed task and a good first step. I hope this can be expanded upon, but to accurately identify trends we need better and more clearly defined institutional data. I don’t know if such data is available, or how you would get it.
For example, in my local church a number of couples have fulfilled their 430 Tribal Messiah Blessings. Quite a feat, but our local congregation has not shown a proportionate increase in participation on Sundays. We are still the same old (and getting older) people as 20, 30, or perhaps even 40 years ago. Personally, I would not say membership has increased despite this success in Blessing. Rather the opposite, as families have left the church in a steady trickle over the years. Blessing numbers themselves are perhaps not a good criterion to define membership, and I think we need to look more closely at data such as Sunday service attendance and tithing.
What I would really like to see is how data for Sunday service attendance and how many people are tithing (not how much they have tithed) have changed over the years in different countries. For me, this kind of self-analysis is essential for understanding our work in in the world. I don’t think we can’t objectively get a grasp on where we are heading without this kind of analysis.
Appreciate your very relavent comment.
Indeed data is available on each and everyone of the local communities. It is a matter of asking the responsible individuals in your community or elsewhere for the information you seek. It may not be easy, but it is definitely possible.
You mention aging and also stagnation in your local community. It would be essential for a community in a situation as you describe to do an environmental scan and hopefully make a plan for its future. If the community doesn’t, it may be too late when folks are too old to make a plan, even a strategic plan for succession!
Demographic data such as the age of participants, gender, ethnic and other elements can easily be collected. Also data on attendance, time contributed through volunteerism and percentage of contributors by age group would help clarify where a community is at.
If 80% of active participants and donors are over 65 yrs of age, then there is a crisis waiting to happen. In some communities it is as you describe. There are some other Unification communities that have developed activities that are much more attractive to the younger generation. I don’t think our communities can avoid trying to solve the aging issue since time waits for nobody.
The Unification community is still at a very early stage of its development and what happens as it transitions to the second, third and fourth generation will determine its future. In some zones, such as Korea, Japan, the USA and much of the West, Unification communities are older as many of the founding members joined during the 1950s to the 1970s. In other jurisdictions such as Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, communities are somewhat younger. Demographic challenges are not the same everywhere.
Similarly the early Christian movement experienced serious challenges in Jerusalem during the first and second century according to the historical record. But because there was substantial development in the Greco-Roman world by the late first century, the Christian movement grew. Although we can’t predict the future, we can acquire a sense of what may happen based on the historical record.
Numbers matter in a way; there have been theories in our movement about reaching a “critical mass”. But, as Exposition of the Divine Principle says in Messiah 2.3 (p. 129), “Since Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, he was more in need of one leader who could guide a thousand than a thousand who would follow a leader.”
Some Unificationists managed to be recognized both within the movement and without. Just in the Pak family, Dr. Bo Hi Pak truly rose to a world class leader for a while. His daughter, Julia Moon, has gained great notoriety in ballet.
The potential of the Unification movement to influence the world is huge, but we have not been able to use it well. I would like to mention four types of influence.
Concerning mystical influence, the supreme form of influence, I have no doubt that Father’s tearful prayers have already changed world history. His dialogue with God is unprecedented. There will come a time when people are desperate to grasp Father’s relationship with God. He has revealed God’s heart.
I see this as the Mt. Everest of spirituality and when people realize they have missed it, they will crave for True Father. The degree of missing the Messiah will one day be far greater than for any other prophet. Our pilgrimages (external or internal) will become very famous. People from around the world will want to know God through some very special places, or just in their deepest heart.
It is just a matter of time. Father once said that his discovery of human responsibility is far greater than Einstein’s law of relativity. There are many other spiritual discoveries, revelations of True Father, which one day will cause a wave of longing, a spiritual revolution.
Meanwhile, I observe that our current spirituality is not very inspiring, to say the least. Well, we read, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3.1), so I guess that not every community was so thrilling in the early stages of Christianity. What matters is our capacity for revival. Strong revivals will come, based on the Divine Principle. I just hope that the center of it all will be God’s heart, God’s love.
Regarding intellectual and academic influence, it is now poor, no doubt. Anyone discovering our movement now would be surprised. We used to have very high quality productions before. Right now, we are not producing much. I am irritated by it, I even think it is a scandal, but i have no doubt that we shall soon be smart again.
I have more concerns about our cultural and ethical influence. We have talented artists and some nice productions (especially some of our holy songs) but the Unificationist masterpiece in literature, painting, sculpture, music, opera, is yet to come. Most Unificationists who are cultivated still appreciate the existing arts first, and are waiting for something really interesting produced by us.
I believe sooner or later, a great book will appear, based on Unificationism. I think of a novel, rather than poetry. It will be kind of an exploration of the human condition, from a Unificationist vewpoint. For instance, a novel on the theme of the three Blessings, with lots of character, a social background, brilliant dialogues, amazing descriptions, all using a truly Unificationist style, which is yet to be defined. It may not be written by a member, but by someone who will suddenly understand the “Unification aesthetics”. I don’t think it will be a biography of True Father, it will be something different, apparently quite secular, but in reality completely providential and messianic. And then, we shall start to reach the critical mass.
My deepest worry concerns the ethical level. We have thousands of good people, very good people in our movement. What the world wants to see is the Unificationist sainthood, the aura of sainthood in marriage and family. It may take time. It will absolutely be realized, however. But I hope that the people of absolute goodness, the giants in true love will appear before it’s too late.
I have no doubt that Father and Mother together have already changed history. However, I do have doubt that the benefits of that change must come within or to Unificationism itself. More likely, in my mind, is that Unificationism will participate in a global up-welling of God’s consciousness in all people. Like the sun collectively rising in our mind.
Divine Principle claims to have emerged in the latter half of the 20th century with a “new truth,” capable of finally bringing an end to the “corrupted human condition.” To the faithful, this claim is accepted without question. To the “not so faithful,” this claim appears to be unscientific and lacking in common sense.
Among the pseudo-idealistic movements or causes like communism, socialism, capitalism, post-modernism, the PC movement, transgenderism, feminism, etc., religion is the most honest in its approach.
In the Christian religion, the central focus is to stop denying one’s angry, upset, conflicted self, by deferring to “the one” who is more innocent, more truthful, and more honest. Some believe St. Paul is the best example of someone who overcame his angry and upset condition by deferring to the “innocent lamb” of God. Did St. Paul resolve his human condition? From his own recorded testimony, apparently not.
How far have “Unificationists” progressed in resolving their own angry, conflicted, upset selves?
If “peace starts with me,” this is the question to be focusing on going forward.
Thank you for your comment. It is important and you are delving into the core of human nature. In your view, how would one establish criteria for how far one has progressed in resolving an angry, conflicted and upset self? How would one measure success? Surely, claiming progress can’t be a purely subjective matter.
I have a quote from Rev. Moon that goes something like this: When you die, if you think you are going to heaven, that’s where you will end up. If you think you are going to hell, that’s where you will find yourself.
Thank you, Jack, for bringing up this point. The Divine Principle contains the promise to remove original sin and guide us to perfection. In Chapter 4 of the DP, we question whether the most Christian believer is saved by the blood of Jesus on the cross. We say no, adding that no Christian has been able to complete the three blessings.
Objectively, we don’t match the standard either. Some of us keep some magic memories of the Blessing (not all) and we had a real hope to be perfected. Then, we realized how difficult it is. There are even cases of people whose relationship with God was stronger before marriage than after. My own case combines both. There were blissful moments which I could never reach anymore after marriage, and others, of a more lasting meaning, that opened only after marriage. But I remain so thirsty.
Even the most happy Unificationists don’t claim that they have reached perfection. There have been many revivals in our movement. Not being a great expert on Cheongpyeong great works (now called CheonBo), I cannot say whether it had the claimed impact or not. It has certainly helped families to solve many problems, and the testimonies are available.
Personally, I believe that Tribal Messiahship, if done seriously, is one of the most serious ways to revive our movement and guide us to great spiritual development. The criteria for being an “accomplisher” or a “victor” combine 430 vertically and 430 horizontally. I know that some people see all of that as a some sort of big indulgence or as a vain competition. And I do believe that it can be understood and practiced with a wrong motivation.
My personal experience is that it can bring a great revolution in one’s life. I had to feel miserable and I almost lost hope, but through perseverance and overcoming all my limitations, I could break through externally and internally as well. I am now helping other couples who still struggle very much. I try to help them start with desire and joy. I believe that if we keep practicing HTM activities, God will help us overcome the two most difficult spiritual problems: (1) Cain and Abel (2) Adam and Eve. But I can perfectly understand that for some people, this is questionable. It is first of all a matter of faith. For a person who cannot believe in 430 V and H, any testimony has little meaning.
Not only I am aware of that, but I also believe that the greatest HTM victor is just a beginner on the journey toward perfection. In any case, I believe that our good Lord will help everyone.
Thank you, Laurent! Your contributions on this topic are very rich in content. I very much appreciate what you have written.
After more than four decades with the Unification Movement, these days I am more acutely aware than ever before how little I understood our creator God and mostly scratched only the surface of His hope, expectation, limitless compassion and love for our humanity. Now at least I know there is much more, but have not found the words yet to express it.
My current view is that the Unification Movement needs to focus more on tapping into and working with the divine potential in each and every person/brother/sister. What matters mostly is who and how we are, and not so much what we say and do.
Thank you Johann for joining the discussion and bringing your insights. Indeed the God question, and man’s relationship with his Creator are central. I remember how our elders in Europe (Paul Werner, Peter Koch, Reiner Vincenz and others) were all giants in relation to God. I miss the depth of their heart, I also miss the deep guidance we received from our Korean or Japanese elders in the past.
It is good that our movement is involved in many projects, and claims that it is doing so because the United Nations has failed.
However, there is a risk that we become mere peace activists whereas the main task of central Blessed families is to make God real, present in this world. Professional peace activists can do better than us, whereas most believers cannot fulfill the spiritual responsibility of expressing God’s heart that was given to us. No matter how good other believers are, sometimes better than us, they remain limited unless they study the Principle, in my opinion. Now, we have pastors from outside joining our crusade, and maybe they will bring our movement to where it should be.
In the early stages, our movement had spiritual fire and was filled with tears. I believe it is not the time to cry any more (still it is good to cry sometimes, at least once a week), but then we have to show the joy, to inspire and uplift people. Once again, I think that God’s heart should radiate in the fields of spirituality, intellectual production, art and culture, and ethics.
Right now, I would say that we don’t match God’s original expectation as much as we used to. But I am sure that most members have a longing, a desire. As long as we don’t give up, God can guide.
Laurent, Johann and Jack,
Thank you for sharing your views. Certainly, surveying only data and historical trends is not the only area of concern. The questions you each raise are essential. External development should reflect the internal or spiritual evolution of participants. There is surely a thirst for spirituality as is evidenced by a visit to any bookstore, online or in the the bricks and mortar type.
There is a longing for truth, for love and for community. In some Western countries, the fastest growing segment when polls on religious identity are conducted, is that which identifies with no particular “religion”. In some jurisdictions 25% to 30% of the population claim no affiliation. Much higher percentages among those under 40! And yet, there is still a strong interest in all matters spiritual or related to meaning, ethics and community. Unification teaching and praxis should address the needs. God’s three headaches have not been full solved yet. There is still much to do.
When we consider the topic proposed by Franco Famularo, “The Unification Community 100 Years After the Founder’s Birth: Are We There Yet?”, we have to consider many aspects simultaneously, all of them interconnected.
As the title indicates, there is a time factor (100 years) and the Principle has a systematic philosophy of historical and providential time (especially in the chapters of DP on periods). In the Divine Principle, the time factor is related to the Foundation for the Messiah. We also say that spiritual, political and economic development go together. Korea has progressed a lot as a nation, but the relationship between Korea and the Unification movement is a big question mark and a major headache for God.
Here, we arrive at the Korean question. The Unification movement is worldwide, is cosmic, but it has its center in our homeland, Korea and even more precisely, in the hometowns of the founders. Likewise, Christianity is strongly connected to Israel and the Catholic Church to Rome. Islam is extremely connected to Mecca and the Middle East. Because this point is so clear for Muslims, they show a confidence to conquer the world that other religions don’t have.
Even if our movement was proselytizing very well worldwide, as long as it cannot solve the Korean question, the providence will be prolonged, and with it, the indemnity course, the struggles, the doubts, a certain relativism. If we don’t restore our central nation, we are going to have problems.
In the beginning, to be a Unificationist also meant that we had a burning love for the country of our True Parents. We wanted to eat Korean, learn the language, the culture, etc.
In Korea itself, our movement has not reached critical mass. We have less members in Korea than in Japan, and the Korean movement does not communicate frankly about it. Many of our second generation have tried to learn Korean, some have tried to live in Korea, work in Korea. But our level of “Korean studies” has been decreasing. It seems that our movement does not have a clear vision and strategy for Korea. Maybe the MEPI (Middle East Pace Initiative) and the NEAPI (North East Asia Pace Initiative) should have worked together, in order to connect the first and new Israel. We have lost this momentum.
There are many opinions but almost no official doctrine in our movement on the Korean question. Without a Korean Unificationist doctrine, both theoretical and practical which can mobilize our membership worldwide, we cannot have a great impact. Take the Peace Road, for instance. It is a good project, but it has become one of many projects among others. It could be given a clear centrality, especially when we see the aggressive Chinese policy on the Silk Road, but we would then need to work seriously on it. I hope that the coming Summit will make the Korean question much more clear for us. Otherwise, the Providence may be extended quite far, despite our beautiful breakthroughs elsewhere. True Mother has shown how to have a national impact, and I am sure that she wants to use that foundation to win the battle in Korea.