Are UTS Graduates Able to Engage Theologically With Christian Ministers?

By Robert Duffy

In taking online courses offered by Unification Theological Seminary in the past nine months, my amazement at the theological power of the Divine Principle has been renewed.

In the early 1970s, I was a DP lecturer at the International Training Center at the Belvedere Estate, north of New York City, and had the privilege to lecture many of the state leaders and others who went on to become international foreign missionaries in 1975.

At that time, under Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s personal direction, we lectured the DP almost verbatim, but from memory, not from notes, and the most important feature of our lectures was indeed the emotional and intellectual balance in our presentations, much like exists in the DP itself. Passion and logic were close friends in those lectures.

Is UTS turning out theologically-trained pastors and ministers of the Word who are able to engage with their Episcopal, Methodist and Roman Catholic counterparts in an informed and cogent way? Are there any Doctors of Theology or of the History of Christian Thought in our camp who can lead the way in helping to bridge the current chasm between mainstream Christianity and Unificationism? Is there a possibility of reviving the incredible excitement generated in an earlier period when UTS hosted theological conferences that challenged and inspired theological discourse in the time after the “Death of God”?

As I see it, our principal issue as Unificationists with regard to our Christian friends is that we don’t know how to adequately respond to the centrally-held tenets of Christianity:

  • One is stated in the Nicene Creed, specifically that the Son of God was begotten before the Creation, and is part of the Godhead, i.e., the Trinity.
  • A second core belief, that God made the Creation from nothing (ex nihilo), a doctrine that first appeared in the second century and can best be explained as a defense of the most controversial part of the Christian kerygma, the resurrection of the dead, is a widely-held belief which Unification ontology speaks to, and should be addressed in Unification-Christian dialogue.
  • A logical conclusion of the above tenets is the implication that the plan of God before all Creation was to build a corruptible creation around a corruptible humanity that would require the salvific power of the Son whom God would insert into history at some point to redeem us.

While there are a variety of theologies that allow for a either a passible or impassible God, these core notions are central to classic Christianity, and are directly repudiated in the Divine Principle. The theory of a God who has, from before creation, planned the insertion of his Son into history to save us from sin presents a problem of the predestination of God, of the freedom of the human will, of the factor of human responsibility as well of God’s purpose for his creation. Luther, Calvin and others have proposed that God has indeed predestined some sinners to salvation and some not, from the foundations of the world. From this we can legitimately ask our Christian friends the question, “What kind of God is God?” And “What is God’s purpose of creation?”

There are, in fact, two audiences for our theological reflection — Unificationists and non-Unificationists. To effectively engage their mainstream Christian counterparts, Unificationists might wish to sharpen their theological skills to include the basics of early church history, theological development in the primitive church, and the councils which produced the main theological content of what was to become classic Christian theology. Also useful would be the study of the non-static history of Christian thought to the present day to evaluate its evolutional trajectory.

For mainstream Christians, we should be thinking of presenting opportunities to explore Nicene Christianity as well as historical theological trends for their relevance today. Most mainline Christian ministers have had seminary training and are familiar with a range of theological ideas and history. After establishing friendship, we might propose a series of seminars for clergy from a wide variety of denominational perspectives in which topics are discussed with a view to enlivening a theological discourse to common ends.

We must strive to make common cause with our Christian brethren. And herein lie the horns of the dilemma: we are challenging, with our own theology, the very foundations of historical Christianity.

In this we have no choice, but we should realize how shocking it is. In spite of this, we cannot continue, with our Christian friends, to bury our theology behind appeals to good works or to peacemaking. It cannot be submerged in “feel-good” programs in which, though we cooperate with them, we remain mere friends, or at best, distant cousins. We must begin the painful but rewarding process of developing our theological output to include well-researched, but non-confrontational, occasions where our theologies can be explored in a nuanced way to reveal similarities and differences. After all, Christians are our natural allies in attempting to raise awareness of our Heavenly Parent in the secular world.

If indeed we turn our attention to the great spiritual hunger and need for spiritual renewal in the world, and ask ourselves what role intellectual work, and specifically theological work, might play in that renewal, we are likely to conclude that our seminary could play an important role in once again revitalizing theological discourse, as it did in an earlier period.

In imagining a vital discourse, it might be useful to work on two levels — the hard-core theological stream where seasoned academics gather with our theologians to trade notes and ideas around a common theme, and a theologically lighter approach for ordained ministers and pastors who, with our own pastors, would benefit from a refresher in not only their own denominational theology, but in practical subjects like church management. Exposure to other theological perspectives may broaden their outlooks and bring greater maturity to their ministry.

In this effort, I am not suggesting that we should develop in any way as a denominational movement, but rather that our theology should, and I believe does, introduce ideas which can bring a fresh outlook to an existing theological framework, and through it, make creative openings for Christian theologians and ministers to work with us in the pursuit of common goals in the physical environment.

As to the subject of the only-begotten daughter, it is a great challenge to theologically-trained Christian clergy and academics. However, those with whom we have developed a friendship should be able to engage with us in fruitful theological discussion arising from that challenge. I believe it is vital that we pursue theological acuity, not only of the only-begotten daughter, since that is True Mother’s chosen title, but of all theological topics which the Divine Principle touches.

In fact, it could be said that the controversy surrounding the title “Only-Begotten Daughter” itself is an indication that our theological understanding is limited. One UTS course, though not perfect, goes a considerable way to exposing some of the dimensions of a theology of the feminine in divine providence. I suggest that the masculine-feminine dual characteristics have yet to be fully explored in Unification Thought.

And, as a corollary, the expression of Divine Principle ontology organizationally in the Unification Movement is something yet to be realized. I’m thinking of couple leadership for example. True Parents are our model for organizational as well as spiritual leadership. Is our organizational structure leaning toward that model, or is it caught in the current worldly model of corporate governance? This is something worth pondering.

In primitive Christianity, much theological debate characterized the first three centuries after Jesus’ death. The theological debate subsided when the then-current political power, i.e., the Emperor Constantine, weighed in on the essentials of the faith. Having unresolved theological issues can produce unfortunate results down the road, it seems. We should spend more effort on fleshing out, if not settling, our theological roadmap before the passing of True Mother, so that future leaders are clear as to how the first generation of True Parents’ disciples understood their essential message.

Unification Theological Seminary’s 44th annual commencement on May 22, 2020 was the first to be conducted virtually due to COVID-19. Above are some of the participating graduates, faculty and board members. 

It may be that practical considerations don’t allow for extensive theological training, such as a lack of students interested in theology, or demographic, financial or other issues. That would be sad. On the other hand, I believe Heavenly Parent wants nothing more than to claim our Christian brothers and sisters who have the highest level of preparation to receive the Divine Principle and subsequent revelation.

Unification Theological Seminary has a unique and proud history in bringing new theological insights and enterprises to the fore. It can once again become that nexus of spiritual excitement if we can meet our Christian counterparts on a more equal level than in the past.

An unthinkable alternative would be a future world in which the loss of the seminary, an uneducated Unification clergy, and an inability to relate with our Christian counterparts had left the Divine Principle, True Parents’ signature doctrinal work, as well as their vast repository of sermons and speeches, in the hands of parties with no firsthand experience with the True Parents, to be analysed, interpreted and ultimately promulgated. This is not to suggest that important theological work on aspects of Unificationism has not already been done both under UTS auspices and beyond.

However, there remain many theological stones to be turned, a treasure trove to be uncovered. Leaving this work for future generations could work out, as it did for Pauline Christianity, resulting in a Unificationism somewhat parallel to Nicene Christianity, cobbled together as it was under competing theological interpretations. But what a shame if we direct disciples of the True Parents are not able to give the world of the future a firsthand account of our understanding of the theology of the greatest historic figures of all time.♦

Born in Ontario, Canada, Robert Duffy joined the Unification Movement while travelling in the United Kingdom in 1968. After pursuing a degree in economics and literature, he joined the Unification International Training Center in Tarrytown, New York, as a trainee, then as lecturer, before being appointed national leader of Canada at age 25. Missionary work followed in Ireland. He and his wife, Johanna, have five children and one grandchild. He holds a number of directorships within the Unification Movement and elsewhere, and was appointed Secretary-General of UPF Canada in 2017.

52 thoughts on “Are UTS Graduates Able to Engage Theologically With Christian Ministers?

  1. Thank you, Robert, for this paper. Everything is interesting, I was particularly impressed by this courageous statement,

    “We cannot continue, with our Christian friends, to bury our theology behind appeals to good works or to peacemaking. It cannot be submerged in ‘feel-good’ programs in which, though we cooperate with them, we remain mere friends, or at best, distant cousins. We must begin the painful but rewarding process of developing our theological output to include well-researched, but non-confrontational, occasions where our theologies can be explored in a nuanced way to reveal similarities and differences.”

    In my opinion, two great qualities in the Exposition of the Divine Principle help us engage in non confrontational dialogue with Christians.

    1. The art of raising questions

    The Divine Principle contains many deep questions, in almost every chapter.

    1.1 In the Introduction, we have questions like,
    “Can it be that human life originated with such a contradiction?” (p. 2)
    “Though we may diligently study the Bible, can we really say that we know clearly the reality of God? Can we ever grasp the Heart of God?” (p. 8)

    1.2 In the Principle of Creation, we have this wonderful question

    How can the creation give God the greatest joy? (p. 32)

    1.3 In the Fall, we have questions which were never raised before, by anyone, such as,
    Why is the power of love stronger than the power of the Principle? Why did God create it stronger …( p. 66)
    “Why God set up the commandment as an object of faith (p. 66)
    “Was God’s commandment not to eat the fruit binding forever?” (p. 67)
    We could continue with every chapter. These questions may matter more that the answers provided. If you look at every chapter, almost every paragraph tries to answer questions such as
    – Why?
    – What for?
    – Who? Whom?
    – What?
    – How? How much? How many?
    – Where?
    – When?

    Such questions always serve three purposes:
    a) theology is a methodology for good spiriual questioning. A good theologian does not give you the answer. He asks the good questions and suggests a method to search for the answer.
    b) Theology should never depart from common sense and should not become dry and excessively intellectual.
    c) Theology should remain connected to the experience, whether the mystical and prayerful experience, or the practical, missionary experience.

    2. Friendly language

    The Divine Principle is expressed in a friendly language. We read in the chapter on Resurrection, “On the one hand, these prophecies are the word of God, and people of faith must accept them. On the other hand, give the modern state of our knowledge, they do not make rational sense” (p. 133). This is clever.

    Later, in Christology, we can read, “The conventional Christian belief in Jesus’ divinity is well founded …” (p. 166) and then “Jesus may well be called God …” (p. 167)

    The spirit of the Divine Principle is non-dogmatic. It calls for the Unificationist evangelist to stand as an Abel figure, who approaches his Cain counterpart with friendly questions, so that the Cain person may feel free to bring his offering on God’s altar. We show how much we respect the theological tenets of our brothers and sisters. And we suggest that they leave room for further questioning. I think that the Exposition of the Divine Principle should never be used as a dogmatic book. It serves as a lecturer’s manual, and the main purpose of most chapters is to be an eye-opener, to give people a thirst for deeper answers.

    • Thank you, Laurent, for your thoughtful comments. Yes, the two qualities of the Divine Principle of asking the relevant questions and its diplomatic approach can guide our outreach efforts with Christians and others.

  2. It is wonderful to read this essay and I want to say “ditto” to Laurent LaDouce’s comment.

    As a “Baby-Boomer” American, I see clearly that the life-changing power of Christianity has been lost in our culture. Growing up in the 1950s, virtually everyone in my community went to church, and it was an important part of our upbringing. But during the 1960s, the importance of church and religion declined. Now it is almost extinct in many communities.

    While Christian believers are doing great acts of service and outreach around the nation and world, there are deep and wide gaps in their ability to explain God’s and Jesus’ love. I have been inspired to watch the Chosen Workshop video series in which virtually every Unificationist pioneer interviewed has stated that they were “searching for truth.” Most came from either Judeo-Christian or Buddhist backgrounds, but they knew something was missing in their understanding of life. Nothing has changed — something is still missing for millions of Americans, and only the Divine Principle, in my opinion, can help.

    Thank you to Robert Duffy for offering this article. I really hope it bears new fruit. I need to learn new ways to share and explain what I believe, so I’m looking forward to a revival of the teaching of DP within the Unification Movement.

    • Thank you, Laura, for your encouraging remarks. I believe there is a great hunger for a renewed, reworked, familiar-yet-different worldview. A DP refresher could be a requirement of UTS curricula.

  3. Thank you, Robert, as well as Laurent and Laura for your timely and needed input about working with Christian pastors, theologians and Christians in general. There are many graduates who were trained well at UTS. We need to have New Era conferences that include graduates, not just the few currently enrolled students. Creative endeavors such as a Unification Thought Institute that is more
    inclusive and national in scope and participation to include the many graduates in the field could also be sponsored by UTS. Laurent gives a relevant analysis of process-oriented dialogues; Laura calls for a revival of involvement, too.

    At the same time, I think it is crucial to have a CAUSA-style national involvement that couples with the teaching of DP and UT. Those of us who, during the 1980’s, met in ministers’ offices were successful to open up a dialogue, in more non-threatening ways, by focusing on the issues of faith, family and freedom. I support theological dialogue/conferences. Yet, we must deal with the threats to religious freedom, constitutional freedoms, family values, loss of parental rights, government tyranny, and moral decline concurrently. This is a very crucial and neglected activity since the dissolution of CAUSA and the American Freedom Coalition in the 1990’s. Now its time has come.

    • I would agree, Donna, with the idea of a revival of a “CAUSA-style national involvement” if the concept involved the central DP concepts of growth and responsibility as relates to freedom, as well as the teaching of God’s purpose of creation through the lens of a humble-hearted parent who has created all things for us, his children. God as a “couple,” God as a parent, the ontological base for our family values, the extension of family to society and nation, the implications for social and political life — all these components, if well developed, could lay the groundwork for a renewal of an American polity.

  4. Another aspect of Robert Duffy’s article that struck me is that he thinks about the future and gives us a warning. He says,

    “An unthinkable alternative would be a future world in which the loss of the seminary, an uneducated Unification clergy, and an inability to relate with our Christian counterparts had left the Divine Principle, True Parents’ signature doctrinal work, as well as their vast repository of sermons and speeches, in the hands of parties with no firsthand experience with the True Parents, to be analysed, interpreted and ultimately promulgated. This is not to suggest that important theological work on aspects of Unificationism has not already been done both under UTS auspices and beyond.”

    To think of the future is of paramount importance. In February 2019, True Mother asked our theological schools to talk about God’s acting in the present and the future, and insist less on the theological study of what God has done so far. But how can we think about the future, as Robert invites us to do? How can our minds become more future-oriented?

    My answer is that we should think of God-and-us in the future perfect.

    It is good to consider what the Unification movement has done in the past (New Era, God’s Conference, CAUSA), but how can we start thinking in the future perfect, in oher words, what will Unificationists have done in 10, 20 years from now? What are the steps we should take now, in one month, one year, five years? I propose that first of all, we may look at two speeches of True Father,

    – “Host of the Future” (Belvedere, October 23, 1977)
    – “For the Future” (London, September 10, 1978)

    There, True Father outlines the frame of mind needed to think about the future properly.

    • The main points, in a word, that I derived from the two speeches you commend us to read, are “prototype” and “example of love.” True Parents as prototypes of a man and a woman who live for the sake of others throughout their whole lives, as examples of love for others, to be emulated not as a matter of moral superiority, but because living by these values is more effective in the long run than living by clever or devious values. We can certainly find a variety of avenues through which to teach our values going forward.

      • Yes, exactly, we have to become prototypes and examples of true love. In his speech “For the Future (London September 10, 1978), Father asks what makes a nation great. He truly praises England for being the cradle of democracy, and a nation of diplomats. He says that Germany excels in technology and that France is great in the arts. But then he says that what matters is the English person, the German person, the French person. He talks about becoming desirable people.

        It applies to us. Uniificaionism is so great, the Divine Principle is so huge. But the source of this is the most desirable couple, our beloved True Parents. An orthodox bishop from France came back from the New York WCLC meeting at the end of December 2019 and testified to us, “Oh my God, the love I felt there! I never, never experienced this love I felt there, during these few days. As a servant of God, what are we searching for, most of all? We long for God’s love. It was there, it is still in my bones and flesh as I speak.” Included in this divine love, were truth, vision, hope.

        Thank you again, Robert. Your article is really food for thought.

        • May we ever become and remain those “desirable people” who can elicit such testimonies!

  5. Robert,

    Thank you for your interesting article. It is an area I am very concerned with too and I agree with much of what you say. To maintain brevity I will just offer one point that for me is part of the root of the issue.

    I would suggest that our movement is training apologists rather than theologians. For the apologist, the target (in this case Christian) thought is in the subject position not Divine Principle. There is no theological development of or from Divine Principle. For the Unificationist theologian, Divine Principle itself would be subject and guide the development of the thought. Then we can engage with Christian ministers at an entirely different level. We have many apologists, but we are lacking theologians.

  6. Laurent,

    Recently Dr. William Lay commented on a UPF forum that not government, but peoples’ “acts of heart and generosity” would help solve things. Serving for the sake of others, as a tradition, is what Father deems as patriotism for country, world and God that these earlier speeches express. Recently, I read of an 18 yr. old African-American boy went out for 10 hours straight to pick up the glass and garbage that rioters and looters had strewn in his city neighborhood. Then a neighbor was so impressed that he gave the youth a used sports car that he did not need. Another neighbor then gave him a paid insurance policy for the car. A businessman who heard of this teenager’s selfless service then gave him a college scholarship since the boy could not afford to go to college.

    Yes, as the speeches express, selfless acts of service and loving kindness are our encouraged tradition. And, lest we forget, Father’s speeches that you cited also instruct us to live in three other countries as service to humanity and the world. While in our home country, he says to invite those of other nationalities to live and work with us whenever possible. How many of us have sponsored someone from another nation to live in our homes? How many of us have learned more languages so that we can communicate with other foreign nationals? Korean language initiatives anyone?

    Recently, one of our church congregations was asked whether families engaged in home church activities and even getting to know the neighbors? Surprisingly, only a couple of hands went up from the congregation.

  7. I have already mentioned the great qualities of Robert Duffy’s approach, and I really enjoy the lively discussion that follows.

    Another item which caught my attention in your essay concerns “couple leadership”. It is mentioned only once, but rather powerfully:

    “The expression of Divine Principle ontology organizationally in the Unification Movement is something yet to be realized. I’m thinking of couple leadership for example. True Parents are our model for organizational as well as spiritual leadership. Is our organizational structure leaning toward that model, or is it caught in the current worldly model of corporate governance? This is something worth pondering.”

    I think I agree, and yet, I am not sure I understand exactly what you mean. Would you be able to articulate your thoughts a little more? Especially, how would you relate this particular issue with the main theme of your essay?

    • Laurent,

      Your question provokes in me considerable thought since it represents an as yet not fully formed reflection on how the DP presents the locus of the basic unit of society as the family with the parents as its head, as opposed to the individual. This notion has radical implications, I believe.

      If True Parents modelled that structure in their public lives, then we should investigate ways to model that type of leadership at least at the senior levels of our organizations. The purpose would be to represent our ontology on the organizational level, but the effect would be the revelation of balance between the masculine and feminine features or dimensions of leadership.

      Feminism has always focussed on either/or in terms of masculine and feminine roles. What if leadership is shared, at least partially, by both sexes, as in marriage. The ideal of a loving couple is the apex of positive public images of the UM.

      If we are to challenge the theological world with a radical paradigm, we should aware that our counterparts will undoubtedly look for the expression of our theology in our own organizations.

      It should be part of our ongoing educational effort to reflect on how in our organizational reality we can manifest the strengths of our theology.

      • Thank you, Robert. The explanation you just gave makes the whole idea much more clear and explicit, in my view, than the short and somewhat “shy” paragraph in the essay. I am glad you took time to develop this part and pur substantial flesh on it.

      • I believe that we already have a model, at least implicitly, at the highest levels. Rather early in his presidency, Rev. Dunkley, talking to the congregation, said, “I can go directly to True Mother.” His wife, Umiko, rose from her front row seat, went up to him, and whispered in his ear. She sat down, and he said, “My wife corrected me. I have to go through her.” Manhattan Family Church co-pastor Dr. Rouse very frequently says, “Marie and I”. Our district pastor, Rev. Edner, at any event (as contrasted with just giving information) always makes sure that his wife participates as such. In my memory, every inauguration of a trans-congregational leader has featured a couple together on stage.

  8. Of course I thoroughly agree with Rev. Duffy’s article, since witnessing to mainline clergy was my self-chosen mission from the start. That said, we must always act within the framework directed by the True Mother, thus including activities of our theological schools.

  9. Robert,

    Thanks for your insights. I was intrigued by this statement:

    “I suggest that the masculine-feminine dual characteristics have yet to be fully explored in Unification Thought.”

    I agree.

    It has been suggested that the beauty aspect of the beauty-truth-goodness paradigm is the feminine aspect of Heavenly Parents’ being. We understand that the realm of beauty corresponds to heart and emotion on the internal level and nature and art are the external manifestations of beauty. We use the term “Mother nature” when referring to the physical wonders of nature.

    At this juncture in the providence True Mother is emphasizing the arts by way of the Hyo Jeong Cultural Foundation and Academy. I am working at the Academy in the music department and in 2018 we established the Hyo Jeong Youth Orchestra program that now has 110 third-generation students involved. Moreover, we have had four holy song contests in the hopes of discovering our best song-writers and new songs that my be added to the Holy Song canon. I think it is only fitting that True Mother is leading these “beauty-based” initiatives from the feminine position of True Parents.

    It’s interesting to note as well that the “Peace Starts with Me” events have prominently featured some of the top Christian musicians who have been like musical John the Baptists in support of True Mother’s message. Music can bring the Holy Spirit into the proceedings in a most efficacious way, especially if the music is infused with truth and love.

    True Father often said that “religion and music go hand in hand.” As I see it here in Korea, True Mother is substantiating on earth the vision of True Parents, and beauty — the feminine aspect of God’s being — is playing a huge role in the process.

  10. I am very pleased with Robert Duffy’s article, which may have been inspired in part by his participation in my class “Toward a Theology of the Only-Begotten Daughter,” where we began to address Christian theological issues around that title and True Mother’s role. He is right; there is so much more that we could and should be doing when it comes to theological engagement with Christianity. And I applaud Dr. Ferrantello for mentioning the New Era conferences, which were a big part of my formative experience at UTS back 40 years ago when I was a student. Especially through those conferences, we students had great interactions with Christian professors from diverse schools. They prepared some of us to go on and enroll in those schools to get our own doctorates.

    I mention this because if we are to cultivate our ability to engage theologically with Christian ministers, there is no substitute for seminary training that includes frequent interaction with Christian professors. UTS is a place where this can happen because we have a diverse faculty and student body that is a mix of Unificationists and Christians. Ecumenical diversity is one of the best features of UTS, and it needs to be maintained. True Father himself, during his lifetime, promoted that diversity by offering scholarship funds that were earmarked specifically for Christian students. While some would like to limit the mission of UTS to educating Unificationists only, it is precisely our school’s interfaith aspect, welcoming the involvement of students and faculty from other faiths, that enables that education to give our students the theological grounding for the sort of engagement that Mr. Duffy rightly calls for.

    Nevertheless, in my life, I found that to get to the top level where I could truly master the art of theological discourse, I had to take another step and get a doctorate at Harvard Divinity School. I needed a full immersion in the world of Christian theology. I needed to experience the Christian heart. I needed to understand not only its historic currents of thought but also its modern trends and contemporary issues. I was privileged to be among those 30 or so UTS graduates in the 1980s whom True Father supported to get doctorates at Christian schools of theology around the country, including Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary, Drew, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, Graduate Theological Union, and more. On the foundation of the masters level education we received at UTS, we could handle the challenges of living and studying in Christian environments that were not always hospitable to our church and its theology. Mastering those challenges gave us strength and confidence to deal with Christian ministers and theologians.

    A great feature of that education, first at UTS through the New ERA conferences and then in our doctoral education outside, is that we engaged with mainline theologies, with professors and students from mainline churches. These days the church’s interfaith outreach more often than not focuses on Pentecostal Christians, pastors who are alive in the spirit but are often without much formal seminary training. When working with those Pentecostals for whom the spirit is more important than the word, we may find it prudent to avoid deeper theological engagement. Yet that can only take us so far, as Mr. Duffy rightly points out. While God is working powerfully in them, we should not neglect the educated clergy that form the backbone of historical Christianity. They are still its gatekeepers. It is only when they understand the Principle that Christianity as a whole will be able to understand and appreciate True Parents.

    This is unfinished work, and Mr. Duffy calls on the church to renew its commitment to continue it. I encourage UTS to continue its theological conferences and improve their quality, to make them like the conferences that New Era used to hold. New Era ended when IRF was formed and its budget for conferences was transferred out of UTS and put under Rev. Kwak’s control. That led to the God Conferences, big conferences at lavish hotels, but for UTS and its students it was a loss. What they lost was the opportunity to learn and practice theological engagement. Eventually IRF was subsumed under what became UPF, but UPF for the most part has ceased doing interfaith work. Would this not be an opportune moment for the movement to revitalize interfaith engagement at UTS, which is its natural home, by re-establishing New ERA?

    Also, I believe that our church needs to prepare a new generation of thought leaders who can engage with Christian theology on the highest level by again sending some well-qualified UTS graduates to Harvard, Yale and other great theological schools and supporting them to get doctorates in the theological field. That would be a worthy investment in the future of our movement as a vital force for Christian theological renewal.

    • You are correct, Dr. Wilson. My article was inspired in part by my participation in your course and I wholeheartedly agree that “we should not neglect the educated clergy that form the backbone of historical Christianity. They are still its gatekeepers.” I don’t know if it is possible to re-establish New ERA, but as we have seen during this coronavirus pandemic, it is possible to meet via social media like Zoom for little money, but with remarkable impact.

  11. Yes, Dr. Wilson, here is a point we both whole heartedly agree on! New Era revived can energize the many young Christian preachers and seasoned pastors and theologians to voice their views and questions that compel us all to deal with the current religious institutions and cultural crises. And, it can reactivate the many UTS graduates in the community to engage in interfaith dialogue and witnessing with the support of an institute such as UTS. It should not be just for a dozen or two enrolled students.

    Even with an on campus Barrytown student body that was perhaps over four times larger than the current on site students at 43rd street, we welcomed the visiting scholars and people of faith to spend 2-3 days with us for weekend conferences every 2-3 months. It was so inspiring to have discussions over meals in our dining hall and roundtable discussions in the white carpet room or lecture halls. 43rd Street has a dining hall and kitchen facility and even dorm rooms. Barrytown has the total environment for parking, outside walks and BBQ’s as well as the renovated dorms, guest rooms, dining halls and classrooms. Take your pick.

    Like you, I remember the inclusion of visitors as well as the already graduated seminarians in our midst as a highlight of the curriculum. We also had the good fortune of a “resident scholar,” Mr. Royal Davis, who almost daily met with us in the dining hall and mentored some of us by discussing our papers and offering critical commentary. He had studied with the Univ.of Chicago progressive theologians and offered an historical perspective on theological education and scholarship in America. On my first day walking into the dining hall, I saw “Royal” sitting at a table, reading a book. He also assisted Dr.Young Oon Kim by research and editorial work on her books.

    This should be more than a memory, as you also advocate. It needs to be a present thriving time for theological and interfaith engagement at our premier institute/environment for these timely discussions. What is the nature of God? How is the Second Coming of Christ being realized when many passionate Christians are longing for this time? How do we unite the body of Christ and how are theological issues impacting our identity and unity?

    Thank you, Dr. Wilson, for this needed advocacy. Its time has come again!

  12. A Question: How many 2nd generation children do we know of who chose to pursue a degree in religious studies? I know of only two (one is my daughter) and a brother I met in Korea. There may be others, but has anyone done a survey to find out just how many BCs have chosen that path? I’m curious.

    • David,

      We definitely have to make theology and religious education in general a priority. It will be attractive to a younger generation if we ourselves are excited about it and create genuine excitement in the dusty, musty domain of religious studies. That may be harshly put, but how many young people today will be interested enough in religious study to spend precious time, money and career capital in a field in which there are so few prospects, without considerable financial, intellectual and emotional incentive? We will need to generate that incentive. Can we do it?

  13. Mr. Duffy,

    Thank you for your comments and insight on the future of the theological work to be done. It’s always good to hear candid opinions from old timers, like yourself, who see things the rest of us may be missing.

  14. Divine Principle possesses the form of systematic theology. Topics such as Predestination, Christology, Eschatology, etc., are hot issues in Christian theological circles.

    However, in substance, Divine Principle is not a theology but a Divine Revelation, if theology deals with the human interpretation of God’s Word. The reason that this new Divine Revelation is not present in the form of story-telling, the way the Bible does, is because modern man’s intellectual level can no longer be easily satisfied with mere stories.

    Divine Principle corrects, amends, straightens up what is “distorted” in traditional Christian doctrines and it fills up whatever is missing in the belief. It is a completed new world view!

    • I admire your enthusiasm, but we need to know the language and concepts of those who oppose us. It’s a “Cain-Abel” thing.

  15. Robert, I would like to join my fellow commenters in thanking you for this thought-provoking article.

    I enjoyed its attention to the value of raising questions which you exemplify in your title and is lauded by Laurent. It is indeed a hallmark of Divine Principle and I would venture to say of our future journey on the road to God’s Ideal.

    I would, however, not use “engage” but “lead” in the title. I agree with my husband, David’s, comment here that we are not, in this Post-Foundation Day era, to engage as apologists with today’s Christianity. We must lead with Unification Ontology. The most important aspect of True Parents’ victories in this regard is the arrival of the feminine God in Heavenly Mother and the profundity of the ontological reality of Heavenly Parent. This I would support as the first theme of a new God Conference with great attention to having equally represented feminine and masculine attendees.

    I agree with Andrew and Donna that its time has come again, but why should this be called “the painful but rewarding process”? As a feminine theologian, I assure you that it is anything but painful to experience and explore the feminine nature of God and maybe we could use some of that Pentecostal spirit that Andrew mentions within Unificationism to light the fire of recognition of God’s presence in the feminine. In this vein, you suggest “that the masculine-feminine dual characteristics have yet to be fully explored in Unification Thought.” This I would say is an understatement.

    Unificationism, in general, has not yet explored this aspect of the Principle of Creation in light of the full engagement of God’s feminine and masculine nature Post-Foundation Day, so I applaud you for raising this point. This extends to your idea of couple leadership. Alas, I have been motivated to attend conferences just so at least one woman’s voice could be heard and one woman could be in the photo at the closing. We have a long way to go for women’s leadership in Unificationism. How ironic since we are lead by True Mother.

    Passion and logic will accompany emotion and intellect once more when we as a movement claim the victories of True Parents after Foundation Day and herald in the era of a Cosmic Gender Balanced God. We lead the Christian world by taking a U-turn away from the restorational aspects of Divine Principle and heading straight for the Principle of Creation where we begin the process of constructing the educated questions to Our Heavenly Parent as to the necessary elucidations of its content. We need to have more women. We are greatly under-resourced, so I echo Andrew in supporting 2nd generation graduate students in theology, but with a priority in the short term for women candidates. Men can never represent the feminine view which, theologically speaking, has, in many dimensions, yet to be heard.

    Laurent uses an anachronistic reference to Cain and Abel (since we are beyond restorational terminology and how does the feminine fit into that paradigm anyway), but he makes an excellent point in the give and take of Christianity and Unification. The answers to the Principle of Creation questions will not always come from Unificationists nor will the questions themselves. God will work: just build the venue and the answers through interaction will come. Unification theology is a theology in motion. We know that God’s Origin Design is ours to build. God’s plan is that we cannot do it alone. We need a gender balanced experience of God, we need men and women and, by the way, we need the angels too.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful response, Kathleen.

      I recall witnessing in my younger days to a young person, bringing him to the center and teaching him the DP. Was I leading him, or engaging him? I think I was doing both. I had to understand to some extent his background and education in order to engage him at a level that would stimulate and awaken his original mind.

      Mere apology is like the art of the deal – it may get you a convert, but you have yet to bring both the object of your efforts and yourself into a realm in which God’s revelation begins to witness to you both. That place, where God is present in your mutual inquiry, is the very place where God is liberated. That’s the type of engagement I envision UTS graduates having with Christian ministers and/or theologians, whether in the pastor’s office, at a renewed New ERA conference or at any other type of get-together.

      We are not salesmen or women; we are seekers, genuinely interested and passionate about the liberation of God in this world. If we are triumphalist in our approach to our Christian brothers and sisters, we will not get far. That said, if we can be constructively critical of our own movement, we can, beginning at the academic level, start a process of improvement that will place us in a position to call on our counterparts to move forward in their social and theological life. We can only encourage self-reflection in others if we are willing to engage in it ourselves. This is the definition of a dynamic group.

      I believe that gender balance issues have been raised to the extent that they are beginning to be addressed. And I believe the entire human family has yet to get past the Cain-Abel “anachronism”. Do they not still have to meet their ultimate Abel-figure, the only-begotten daughter, before they can receive her as True Mother?

  16. What is the future of theology? It is politics. What is the future of politics? It is economy.

    The study of Heavenly Parent should turn into a study of the holy community, which is more political and social than merely religious. This study should turn into a study of man’s livelihood.

    Father wanted to offer one nation to God, not another religion and doctrine.

    In 2027, Mother will have done that with all of us. Her theology is more feminine, not only for theological reasons, but also in order to bring balance to politics and economy.

    Her partners to restore nations include the clergy, yes, but the political leaders as well. God wants to reveal His true self in any nation where the presidential couple officiates the blessing, with the clergy attending, the parliamentarians and the people attending. Meanwhile, the media of the country will broadcast the Providence live. That is how God will become God-with-us.

    We shall see God, touch God, we shall feel Immanuel into our bones and cells.

    The couples receiving the Blessing thus become a political entity as well as the body of Christ. This is our idea of citizenship, or registration. What we need also is a clear economic program. True Mother wants to develop business through the Magnolia Foundation. If we have this global vision, our husbands and wives will work more together, our second and third generations will pay attention.

    In my HTM center of Benin (West Africa), with my team of three volunteers, our new concern now, after Blessing 430 couples, and teaching them the Principle is to develop agriculture. I wish I could have learned less theology and more business in workshops. I often read the New Hope Farm Declaration (1995), a “theo-politico-economic” statement.

    So, yes, we may need some sort of new CAUSA, or whatever name we give it. It should be an interdisciplinary approach about the building of the God-centered nation.

    • “Faith and Reality” — wasn’t that the title of a famous speech of True Father in the 1970s which highlights the challenge of translating faith and spirituality into everyday life? The great work of UPF is bringing into focus the many dimensions of human endeavour in an effort to harness the goodwill of the more idealistic in each field to global action in collaboration for peace, the fruit of which will be borne in practical, physical expression in the world of reality. Ultimately, this reflects the True Parents’ vision of a functioning “one-family-under-God” world community.

  17. In addition, human beings are created to learn best through observing and uniting with models (e.g., parents and teachers, as Adam and Eve should have been, as Moses’ family was to have been to the Israelites, as Jesus and his family were to have been — think Imitation of Christ — and as we know True Parents are today) and also from listening to stories, particularly those told again by parents and teachers. These are two core forms of real life education upon which personal experience is then based, a third significant form of learning.

    Why are these two core forms of learning so essential? Because we humans learn our deepest lessons when there is a connection of heart, a living presence, involved. Why is it so important to have parents? Because there is the deepest living connection of heart and love between parent and child, followed later by the close connection between a good teacher and his/her students.

    So, worldview, yes; completed understanding of doctrine, yes; but there must be more, there must be a deep, unbreakable heart connection for the deepest learning to take place which can lead to embodiment of that truth. “When you see me, you see my Father (and Mother).” Otherwise, DP is just one more thought system among many.

  18. Laurent,

    It seems that you seek a theologically based economic system.I was present in the early 70s when Father was vigorously urged to endorse capitalism, the most successful economic model thus far, but refused to do so. Although a theistic religion should decry capitalism as inherently evil, I believe that it should be accepted for now because in the present reality, commonly described by Christians as “fallen”, the alternative, socialism, would be worse. I will unpack that sentence and describe how American capitalism has developed to deal with its problems.

    1. Capitalism is inherently evil because it virtually forces good people do bad things. An example is the British colony of Georgia, founded by idealistic men to be a plantation society where slavery was forbidden and where there would be no great disparity of wealth. However, after some years a neighboring colony, due to having acquired vast quantities of slaves as cheap labor, became able to profitably sell cotton at a price significantly lower than that in Georgia. Faced with bankruptcy, the Georgians reluctantly and sorrowfully began to purchase Africans as slaves: they reasoned that if they went bankrupt, others would populate the territory and face the same decision. The more common example is the good-hearted-mom-and-pop store whose prices are undercut by a neighboring store that profitably treats its workers badly.

    2. The alternative to capitalism is set forth in Exposition of the Divine Principle, written in Korea in the 1950s with revisions in the 1990s proposed by a small team in America and approved in Korea, and whose core contents are considered to be revelation. After stating that people will inevitably yearn for a socialistic society, the book repeatedly sets forth socialism as the eventual ideal society and, in one section, clearly identifies the society of “mutual interdependence, co-prosperity, and shared values” as socialism. However, while this prophecy will surely eventually be realized, it assumes people having realized God’s first and second blessings to human beings. The model for the eventual socialism is the human family. In the family, the parents, connected to God, hold all the power and use this to ensure the well-being of each and every child. In our present reality, evil spirit people very much too often find persons on earth with whom they can form a common base, and very much too often those persons succumb to their temptations. Accordingly, the relatively few persons who would necessarily hold all the power in a socialism today would be corruptible. Even the Libyan socialistic dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who led an ascetic life, eventually became corrupt

    3. It is widely proposed and almost universally accepted that a capitalistic society in which selfishness all too often prevails should be modified by governmental intervention in the economy, even though this surely leads to inefficiencies in production. This takes the form of the welfare state, best envisioned by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, along with vigorous regulations of commerce along the lines first proposed by Republican Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio in the early 1950s.

    a. The welfare state depends, first of all, on subsidies given not only to individuals who have suffered directly or indirectly owing to the selfishness of others, but also to those who otherwise would become a drag sooner or later on the economy. These subsidies almost inevitably turn into bribes, allowing governments to put pressure on the lifestyles of individuals, thus subverting the core virtues of the Bill of Rights.

    b. Even before the welfare state distorted relationships between the government and individuals, American federal society, designed to resolve commercial conflicts between states, brought distortion of the relationship between the government and the individual states by the manipulation of international trade and immigration. This set states or groups of states in opposition to each other and has strained the federal system.

    c. A major weakness of the regulated state, beyond the cost of the huge bureaucracies required to administer it, is that for every regulation there are people seeking loopholes in it. In 2008, a small group of well-intentioned bankers, exercising their duty to seek profit, found a loophole in a regulation, and unintended consequences reverberated around the world including staggering amounts of fatalities and impoverishment. A remedy for this would be the employment of a person with a rare highly-developed critical mind, armed with an appropriate algorithm, able to find loopholes in regulations before they were published. (My second son is such a rare individual and, armed with algorithms developed by a niche company, is sent from company to company to find flaws in proposed business plans before they are put into execution.)

    • There have been many debates and discussions among Unificationists about capitalism and socialism. Adam Smith asserted that there are self-purpose and a whole-purpose aspects in capitalism and attaining a balance is essential. Also, in Cheon Syeong Gyeong we read in Book 10:

      “Godism combined with free-market capitalism can help America find a straight line toward God. (p. 1066).

      I believe the key issue is freedom. As we know, too much state control results in infringements on civil liberties, therefore attaining a proper balance is important. Godism cannot flourish without freedom being seriously in the equation.

      • Thank you David, for your contribution to this discussion. In my comment on the welfare state, which is endorsed by both major parties, I describe its strong tendency to interfere with individual freedom. Government is in the position of parent to its citizens and must offer help to those in need; however, fearful of economic well-being down the road, administrations both nationally and in major cities, have also been helping those who may not truly need it. Your mention of the need for balance would be good advice for administrations, nationally as well locally. Those of us who are citizens also are voters,and in choosing lawmakers we should seek and support those willing to compromise and balance the Congress as well.

    • Thank you, Dr. Sonneborn. I am not sure that I am “seeking a theologically based economic system”.

      But I woild welcome a theological questioning and methodology that gives rise to political and economic questioning.

      We seek a Kingdom of God on earth where human beings attend God. At one moment, this entails a reflection on sound institutions, both in the political and economic field. Our movement has produced the draft of a constitution. Are we using it at the moment in our own governance?

      The Unification Movement also has built some economic projects. Do we have a clear vision of what economy is and should be, from a Unificationist viewpoint?

      Our current ideas on Kong Saeng, Kong Yang and Kong-Ui, (strangely translated as interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values), are very broad. They show that we are aware of the questions raised and in search of answers, like anyone else. From this point of view, we may become like the United Nations, which understands the problem very well, and has the good will to solve them, but no real answers, except case by case.

      And somehow, I accept that we don’t have the answers yet. We create panels and open discussions about these topics. It may be wise.

      The danger which I see for the future is that, in the absence of answers, our theology may become either very dogmatic or very empirical, if not skeptical and neutral in relation many practical issues. At the present moment, our membership draws very different political and economic conclusions from a common set of religious beliefs.

      • Laurent writes: “From this point of view, we may become like the United Nations, which understands the problem very well, and has the good will to solve them, but no real answers, except case by case.”

        In the recent “Chosen” docu-series on True Parents’ life course, Dr. Thomas Walsh made the comment that UPF is not “mono-sectoral;” meaning that UPF examines many realms in which it can offer a principled view of various situations — politics, governance, culture, media, environmental issues, religion, etc. The one “answer” we actually do have and promote as a way to attain interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values, is the idea of peace through ideal families — the 3 Blessings as articulated in Chapter I of Divine Principle.

        We say that it’s through principled family relations that we learn how to create the proper relationships that can be applied in other spheres; governance, the arts, education, et. al. Taking a parental heart is an important first step. Of course, we promote the concept of Godism as a the basis of those “universal” values, but as yet they are not universally shared. There are many detractors with regard to religion as a basis for a moral culture, as we know. And that (!) is the key issue. How do we convince the skeptics and deal with their recalcitrance with regard to the God-centered solutions we offer? The answers are clear to us, but we need to enhance our modes of edification. This gets to back to Robert’s initial premise about how to engage with those who have similar views and values — Christian ministers — in the hopes that they will ally with us in our pursuit of a culture of peace.

        • David, thank you for your input. It may be all right to state that “it’s through principled family relations that we learn how to create the proper relationships that can be applied in other spheres; governance, the arts, education, et. al. Taking a parental heart is an important first step.”

          One part of me believes this to be true (of course). And this belief is more than blind faith.

          But a more rational part in me would argue :”Family Values are a necessary component in the answer. But it is insufficient”. For instance, the Unification Thought makes an analogy between the cosmic order and the social order, especially in the family (Essentials, pp. 145-146). Analogies such as this one are helpful at some stage of the thinking process. But the human thought is noble in both ways: in its capacity to make analogies and in its capacity to make sharp distinctions between similar things. Contemplating the cosmic order, Kant had this admirable (and lenghthy) statement:

          “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not seek or conjecture either of them as if they were veiled obscurities or extravagances beyond the horizon of my vision; I see them before me and connect them immediately with the consciousness of my existence. The first starts at the place that I occupy in the external world of the senses, and extends the connection in which I stand into the limitless magnitude of worlds upon worlds, systems upon systems, as well as into the boundless times of their periodic motion, their beginning and continuation. The second begins with my invisible self, my personality, and displays to me a world that has true infinity, but which can only be detected through the understanding, and with which . . . I know myself to be in not, as in the first case, merely contingent, but universal and necessary connection. The first perspective of a countless multitude of worlds as it were annihilates my importance as an animal creature, which must give the matter out of which it has grown back to the planet (a mere speck in the cosmos) after it has been (one knows not how) furnished with life-force for a short time. The second, on the contrary, infinitely elevates my worth, as an intelligence, through my personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent of animality and even of the entire world of the senses, at least so far as may be judged from the purposive determination of my existence through this law, which is not limited to the conditions and boundaries of this life but reaches into the infinite.”(Practical Reason, 5:161–2)

          1. In our movement, we absolutely need to be aligned, and live as much as possible as a dutiful object partner, with an object partner consciousness. We are to respect the rules, the etiquette, the norms, the central figures, the mainstream, the orthodox way, etc.

          2. Our movement also needs to have, within its own ranks, creative and independent individuals who think out of the box and even challenge our mode of thinking with a critical (in the Kantian sense) approach. This is what I like in the Heavenly Tribal Messiah Academy. It is completely open to many theoretical models. At the present moment, I see it as the most creative Uniifcationist institution, the one producing truly new ideas which truly increase our Unificationist knowledge.

          I am calling for an epistemological revolution in our movement, and I believe it has started already in the HTM Academy.

  19. Mr. Duffy,

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. I’d like to respond only to two points. One is directed to your content; the second, experiences as a UPF coordinator dealing with Christian ministers.

    You wrote:

    1. “In primitive Christianity, much theological debate characterized the first three centuries after Jesus’ death. The theological debate subsided when the then-current political power, i.e., the Emperor Constantine, weighed in on the essentials of the faith.”

    What you describe as “primitive”, the Nicaean Creed has become the major pillar of Christian theology until today. Historians agree that the bishops accepted what emperor Constantine dictated. “Homo-usios” Father and son being — wesensgleich –- essentially the same?! (difficult to translate).

    In fact, religious disputes did not end with this creed but endured and led finally to further schism between the western and eastern Roman churches and ultimately to the emergence of Islam. The position of the king as from God anointed which was one of Constantine’s goals got cemented by the Nicaean Creed and the foundation for the divine justification of dynasties that became anti-Christian in their behavior in subsequent centuries.

    2. Being a UPF representative in Iceland and having brought five ministers and theologians to our conferences, I think it is very important to eliminate some preconceptions before inviting:

    i) To make clear what we believe (True Parents)
    ii) Request tolerance
    iii) Introduce the masculine Korean character as a cultural characteristic but not imposing as perceived by some more quiet (North European) cultures if confronted for the first time.

    After they had understood and accepted the floor was set for open dynamic discussions. Recently one accompanying minister who noticed the many candles at our holy day received an explanation of the internal meaning of fire and wax. An opportunity to introduce the depth of the things we are doing.

    Last, but not least, from my experience, it is better to avoid a head-on theological debate, but agree to shortcomings on our side, even admitting errors, e.g., the sometimes lengthy cultural program at True Parents birthday. Taking a break from the standard program and go on a pilgrimage to the holy sites at CP. From my experience, it had the best effect. Asking questions instead of exchanging theological dogmas and let the Spirit World actively participate to change people’s hearts worked best for our ministers.

    • Mr. Nandkisore,

      1. You are correct in pointing out my improper use of the word “primitive” in describing the first three centuries of Christianity. I should have used the word “early” to describe this period. I did not intend to suggest that the Nicene Creed is a “primitive” document. The fact of religious disputes around a highly speculative and philosophical set of beliefs, and of earthly rulers coopting a potential political force to their own ends, is hardly new. In fact, this was one of the main thrusts of my article — that if we don’t set the theological compass to its true north, others will inevitably bend it to their purposes after we are gone.

      2. All good suggestions regarding relations with theologians and ministers of the church. As I mentioned in my article: “After establishing friendship, we might propose a series of seminars for clergy from a wide variety of denominational perspectives in which topics are discussed with a view to enlivening a theological discourse to common ends. We must strive to make common cause with our Christian brethren. And herein lie the horns of the dilemma: we are challenging, with our own theology, the very foundations of historical Christianity.” Common cause and friendship are essential.

      That said, since there is no historical precedent, as far as I am aware, of a religion accepting an “upgrade” which reconstitutes its fundamental tenets in such a way as to give its organizational expression new thrust, we really have no idea where our interfaith and ecumenical activities will lead.

      • Robert,

        We have known some ACLC ministers for a long time. Those most present over time with us and at True Mother’s events should provide feedback and guidance. We had testimonies from Rev. Mark Abernathy recently. Pastor T. L. Barrett, Archbishop Stallings, Pastor Noel Jones, Dr. Luonne Rouse, and others are ACLC leaders to consult with.

        The late Rev. Lonnie McLeod, former Dean at UTS, gave a presentation on why Jesus was not meant to die. This presentation came from biblical sources as well as the Divine Principle. Also, New Era conferences provided transcripts for theological debates about our theology and Christian responses. It seems to me that the direction is not that difficult to implement and provide leadership for. The essential elements are courage and providing a venue or place of interaction for these relationships. Theological discourses as well as political analyses of religion in society and the threat of totalitarian socialism/communism provide new thrusts or stimulation into status quo churches.

        Let us trust God and go forward into these needed initiatives.

  20. Colleagues:

    It seems to me that “mutually shared values” should not exclude True Family values and essential
    moral values that True Parents’ legacy has taught us. Otherwise, are we creating “relationships” and “friendships” that acquiesce, empower and/or condone LGBTG values, and the destruction of our essential freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of parental rights, freedom of assembly, especially for religion, freedom of protection in our communities, freedom from infanticide, freedom of property ownership and business endeavors to be free from tyrannical regulations and control….etc.?

    I don’t hear much other than rhetoric about “mutual interdependence, prosperity and shared values.” As Ronald Reagan said: If we don’t keep vigilant “we are only one generation away from extinguishing our freedoms….”

    That time has come. We have already lost many of these freedoms in America and are witnessing the destruction of our essential moral values and freedoms. Other countries also are experiencing this time of grave destruction. Rhetoric is not enough; Civic participation and action is required to create a good and God-centered society.

    • With regard to Reagan’s call for vigilance, I’m reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King III and his speech at a MEPI event in Tel Aviv in 2007. He mentioned how his father said that in pursuing non-violent solutions for peace the first thing that’s needed is courage. In our current political/cultural climate the need for vigilance and courage among our leadership (and membership) is vital. Faith leaders and believers understand that without Heavenly Parent and a transcendent morality based on the belief in the spiritual realm, there is no way to ameliorate the various antagonisms, resentments and societal discord that is plaguing humankind.

      Because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a believer, he could offer solutions that actually dealt with the root causes of all sins –personal, ancestral, inherited. But it takes real courage to do that now given that the evisceration of religious belief (going back to Marx, Stirner, Nietzsche, Gramsci) has been highly effective — and it continues today. Advocating for Godism is often viewed as perpetuating a “false consciousness” and being “reactionary.”

      We say that America is “the second Israel” with the role as “the elder son” to support the vision and ideals of the True Parents of humanity. The proposition that underlies Western culture is that there is a transcendent morality predicated on the idea of God. You can’t just take that idea away and expect that this culture will remain intact without any foundational [metaphysical] support. As Jordan Peterson put it: Western culture “is the consequence of its nesting inside of a tremendously lengthy history, much of which was expressed in mythological formulation. If you wipe that out you don’t get to keep all the presuppositions and just assume they’re rationally axiomatic.”

      Our appeal to clergy of other faiths will need to include calls for courage to stand up to the secular progressive mindset that sees political power — the resources of government — as the solutions to our sins. We need to engage politically but that engagement needs to include the concept of Godism as articulated in the eight textbooks bequeathed to us by True Parents.

      • You hit the nail on the head, I believe. It’s not enough to speak about Godism within a fellowship of believers. It’s also not enough to pretend that we agree with everybody’s point of view. We respect and affirm every person, but not every ideology. Godism, well-articulated, is what is needed. It’s the only antidote to the current wave of anti-religious protests and violence in the USA and Europe.

        What is needed is effective outreach and I believe that involves YouTube, Vimeo and other internet applications. Young people do not read books much; Americans respond to mass media in very well-understood ways. If the Unification movement cannot utilize mass media in a more effective manner, we will continue to shrink in size and influence in the West — to our (and God’s) eternal regret.

    • Donna,

      One of the many reasons every Unificationist, I believe, should acquaint him/herself with the work and ethos of UPF is that its “principles”, referred to at the bottom of the main UPF webpage under the heading “About UPF,” articulate the set of indivisible values that comprise the expansion of that segment of the DP which highlights future cooperation in the global community as characterized, per God’s intention, by “interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values” (cf. EDP p. 275 and onward).

      The UPF Principles are as follows, and, taken together, one can rightly assume that Unificationists promote a God-centered, family-oriented worldview in which mutual respect and cooperation for the common good are paramount values:

      “• We are one human family created by God. The way to rise above the pursuit of self-interest is to recognize our common humanity, given to us by our Creator. Just as a parent can intercede in the disputes of children, the parental heart originating from the Creator can help us resolve the differences that exist between nations, cultures and religions.

      • The highest qualities of the human being are spiritual and moral in nature. Human beings long for truth, beauty and goodness. Life’s deepest meaning and purpose can be found through their pursuit. Each person has an eternal spirit that transcends physical life. Spiritual principles are to be practiced in this life so that we are prepared for the eternal world.

      • The family is the “school of love and peace.” In the family, the most basic personal and public virtues are learned. Understanding the family as the school of love helps us to recognize that family is the most essential institution. The foundation for a healthy family is a faithful, committed marriage.

      • Living for the sake of others is the way to reconcile the divided human family. By practicing living for the sake of others, we become other-centered rather than self-centered. The essence of good character is true love expressed through unselfish actions.

      • Peace comes through cooperation beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and nationality. Lasting peace cannot be achieved through political compromise alone, but requires addressing the root causes of conflict. Transcending racial, religious and ethnic barriers is an imperative of our time. Faith can give people the power to forgive, and the love to overcome even generations of hatred, resentment and violence.”

      This value-statement leaves little room for ambiguity as to our view of the role of faithful, committed marriage and spiritual principles in the building of an ideal world. If second and subsequent generations of Unificationists were to engage in “[c]ivic participation and action” on a solid foundation of education in, among their other interests, Unification Thought, Theology and Philosophy, by virtue of their exceptional upbringing by our very own first-generation parents, would undoubtedly have a positive impact on the local and national polity. Our generation needs to see to the education of the next generation.

  21. Thank you, Dr. Ferrantello, you are quite right to say,

    “Rhetoric is not enough; Civic participation and action is required to create a good and God-centered society.”

    The Principle says, “Truth illuminates the innermost desires of the spirit mind. A person must first comprehend his spirit mind’s deepest desire through the truth and then put this knowledge into action to fulfill his responsibility. Only then do the living spirit elements and vitality elements reciprocate within him, enabling him to progress toward goodness. The living spirit element and the vitality element have the relationship of internal nature and external form.” (EDP, Principle of Creation 6.3.2. p. 49)

    Our Unification movement should combine a “think tank” and a “do tank”. Or to be more precise, we should practice a fundamental tenet of education, particularly emphasized in Germany: “herz, kopf und hand.” The heart, the head and the hand should work together.

    25 years ago, Father wanted to start a major change in our movement, by bringing the Providence to South America. He wanted the Blessed families to connect Tribal Messiahship to agriculture. At that time, True Parents wanted to combine spirituality, study and field work in our daily lives. I believe in this kind of family values which includes a community project to produce something. We have to connect Heaven, mankind and the earth.

    In the coming years, I shall try to do that in Benin, with my tribe, with God’s help.

    In Battambang (Cambodia), Reverend Hajime Saito is developing a new paradigm in Unificationism. Externally, his team has given the Blessing to 400 x 430 couples in this rural area, with a Buddhist background. The follow-up is very well-organized. But that doesn’t mean much. Internally, he has a vision which is thrilling. He is a real visionary in our movement.

    Members from many nations visit this center to gain insights and see a new paradigm. I spent a few days in Cambodia in 2018, and I can say it was the best “workshop” I ever had.

  22. Robert, I continue to applaud your opening post. After all, engaging mainline Christian clergy has been myself self-chosen mission from the start. I also offer here, a couple of suggestions.

    Now that the comment above as educated you about early Christianity, and you realize that what you learned at our seminary has been inadequate, I suggest that you study at least the opening parts of a book on the history of Christian doctrine. A recent one, much talked about, is written by Paul Tillich. I haven’t seen it, but enjoyed his book Love, Power, and Justice. A good one from the 1970s is by Jaroslav Pelikan. By the way, one of the first great theological debates in early Christianity was resolved militarily (in the direction contrary to our movement’s teaching).

    Since we can go forward with the project proposed only if it gains the blessing of True Mother, you may want to send your ideas up the chain in her direction. A valid selling point would be that among those Christians who are influential in America, many or even most are theologically educated, modern-minded, and intellectual.

    • Thank you again, John, for your most helpful comments. To their ends, I have just purchased Tillich’s Love, Power and Justice, and Systematic Theology, Volume 1 for summer reading.

      As far as gaining the blessing of True Mother, our illustrious leaders, having looked at my post, may be influenced in the direction of its thrust and thus pursue its ends in their offering to True Mother, through her representatives, of future educational goals for the seminary.

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