Heavenly Parent and the God of Dual Characteristics

By Tyler Hendricks

Soon after the ascension of her husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon (for Unificationists, Father Moon), Dr. Hak Ja Han (Mother Moon) said that God is Hanul Bumo, Korean for Heavenly Parent(s). She thus upended 2,000 years of Christian understanding as well as the normative understanding of her own movement.

Some criticized her pronouncement and used it to justify rebellion. None of those people, to my knowledge, provided a meaningful theological basis for the rejection of Heavenly Parent.

Happily, others, including Dr. Ye Jin Moon and Dr. Andrew Wilson, developed meaningful theological reflections on God as Heavenly Parent. In 2013, I published on this blog an inquiry on the subject, and I appreciate the responses to it from both Dr. Moon and Dr. Wilson. Since then, I’ve continued my exploration into the idea of God as Heavenly Parent.

My purpose here is to show that the doctrine of God’s dual characteristics in Exposition of the Divine Principle (henceforth, Exposition) supports Mother Moon’s appellation of God as Heavenly Parent.

The Ontological God and Economic God

I begin with an important distinction. I will be talking about the dual characteristics in terms of the beginning of creation, the God beyond time and space, which I term the ontological God. God in relationship to time and space is the economic God. I derive these terms from the Christian theological categories applied to the Trinity. There is the ontological Trinity, God outside time and space, and the economic Trinity, God in relation to time and space. The subject of this article is Exposition’s teachings on the ontological God, which it calls the causal reality.” (p. 15)

I note in passing that Exposition’s counsel to call God “Heavenly Father” (p. 19) refers to God “in relation to the universe,” which is the economic God. Thus Exposition makes clear that “Heavenly Father” does not refer to the ontological God.

The Dual Characteristics of God

Exposition states:

The process of God’s creation begins when the dual characteristics within God form a common base through the prompting of His universal prime energy. As they engage in give and take action, they generate a force which engenders multiplication. This force projects the dual characteristics into discrete substantial object partners, each relating to God as its center. (p. 24)

I believe what that explanation calls the dual characteristics in such statements includes two interdependent entities, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. By the way, I address the matter of being projected from God in an article, “Understanding Heavenly Parent: Love Is Not a Concept, but Is a Substantial Reality” (Research of Unification Thought, Vol. 18 [Spring 2020], 23-46).

Exposition identifies two sets of dual characteristics. One is Sungsang and Hyungsang, internal nature and external form. The other is Yang and Yin, masculinity and femininity. Let’s unpack both.

Internal Nature and External Form

Sungsang and Hyungsang appear in two contexts. One is within solitary entities, as internal nature and external form, or mind and body. These lead to multiplication when their internal nature guides them to be a Yang or Yin entity. Exposition gives this illustration: “Positive ions and negative ions come together to form particular molecules, because within every one of them exists a rudimentary internal nature that guides them toward that end.” (p. 18) In my theory, an internal nature-external form reciprocation does establish a unique, primordial multiplication to which this passage is not referring. I discuss this as well in the Research of Unification Thought article.

That is, an ion’s internal nature guides it to become either positive or negative, and the interaction of positive and negative ions forms molecules. So there is interaction between the two sets of dual characteristics, but it is the Yang and Yin that bring multiplication.

The other context for Sungsang and Hyungsang is that of cause and effect. This is the relationship between a creator and a created entity that, as in the previous case, leads to multiplication only if the two entities adopt a Yang-Yin relationship.

I conclude that the Yang and Yin dual characteristics in the ontological God are essential to multiplication, and Sungsang and Hyungsang in and of themselves do not multiply.

Correlative Aspects

I propose that Exposition presents two categories of Yang and Yin dual characteristics, only one of which applies to the ontological God.

The one that does not apply to the ontological God is what Exposition refers to as “correlative aspects: inside and outside, internal and external, front and rear…” (pp. 16-17) This duality is essential to creation, but is not constituent of the ontological God. The reason is that these are relativities within time and space, and the ontological God is beyond time and space.

I point out as well that the dual characteristics that multiply do so through interaction, and the correlative aspects in and of themselves do not interact. Consider a kitchen. You have hot and cold — the stove and refrigerator. If you combine them, you get nothing — the characteristics neutralize each other. You dont turn on your heater and air conditioning at the same time, or air moisturizer and dehumidifier. So the correlative aspects dual characteristics do not lead to multiplication.

Sexual Entities

The other category of Yang and Yin dual characteristics consists of male and female or plus and minus entities. Exposition’s standard exemplification of “masculinity and femininity” is actually a list of entities that embody one or the other of the dual characteristics. These are the entities that are capable of having a plus-minus, or male-female sexual relationship: subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, stamen and pistil, male and female animals, man and woman. I would call these, sexual entities.”

From the viewpoint of correlative aspects, entities possess both male and female characteristics. From the viewpoint of multiplication, entities are either one or the other. 

Based upon this observation, let us analyze the following statement in Exposition:

Every entity possesses dual characteristics of yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity) and comes into existence only when these characteristics have formed reciprocal relationships, both within the entity and between it and other entities. (p. 16)

This statement includes both categories of Yang and Yin.

The Great Nebula in Orion, also known as M42 (source: NASA).

The phrase, “Every entity possesses dual characteristics of yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity),” refers to correlative aspects, as does the reference to existence through their reciprocal relationships “within the entity.” Their relationships within the entity are “reciprocal” in the sense of co-existence.

Comes into existence” through “reciprocal relationships between …entities” refers to the reciprocation of sexual entities. That alone creates force and multiplication. (p. 16) Thus, this passage’s statement, “every entity…comes into existence only when these characteristics,” referring to “yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity),” “have formed reciprocal relationships, …between it and other entities” describes sexual entities, two independent entities, masculine and feminine, whose relationship brings “every entity” into existence.

I submit that “every entity” here includes the ontological God. God, a person, an existing entity, is not an exception. The entire premise of Exposition’s project here is that the creation reveals the nature of the Creator. It states, “everything in the created universe is a substantial manifestation of …the Creator’s invisible, divine nature,” and then lists entities that possess “dual characteristics of yang … and yin,” which list culminates with Adam and Eve: “Only after God created Eve as Adam’s female counterpart did He declare that His creations were ‘very good.’” (p. 16) Commenting on this Bible verse, Father Moon once said,

What does God look like? Genesis 1:27 says that God created human beings in His image, as man and woman. This leads us to conclude that within God there is a man and a woman. They have united and appeared as a subject partner, and this is God. (The House of Unification for World Peace, Father’s Words on the Divine Principle I [Seoul, Korea: The House of Unification for World Peace, 2003], p. 33)

This category of Yang and Yin dual characteristics is composed of entities, and these entities in the ontological God are Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. As Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother engage in give and take action, they generate a force which engenders multiplication; they “form a common base through the prompting of His universal prime energy.” “Universal prime energy” that does the “prompting” is the sexual love relationship of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, whose union is Heavenly Parent, and that is the ontological Trinity.

Absolute Sex

This primal love relationship is what Father Moon called “absolute sex,” and this term’s first appearance was in his address entitled, appropriately, “In Search of the Origin of the Universe.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong [Seoul, Korea: Seonghwa Publications], pp. 211ff.) To explain the origin of the universe, Reverend Moon did not talk about the correlative aspects, nor mind and body. He talked about the human sexual organs. My interpretation of Exposition’s teaching is consistent with this.

My interpretation is also consistent with Exposition’s explanation of the spiritual trinity, which it describes as “the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit in oneness with God.” (p. 172) Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, three persons in one person and one person in three, are, or is, the root of the Christian trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, Mother Moon has not introduced a new teaching. God as Heavenly Parent is implicit in traditional Christianity and, as I have shown, is implicit in Exposition’s theory of the God of dual characteristics.♦

Dr. Tyler Hendricks (UTS Class of 1978) is a theological consultant to Family Federation International, lecturer at Sunhak UP Graduate University, and member of the Cheon Il Guk Academy. He served in leadership roles with IOWC, Ocean Church, American CARP, the International Religious Foundation, and HSA New England Region before becoming President of the Unification Church of America (1995-2000) and of Unification Theological Seminary (2000-10). His podcasts, videos and articles appear on True Parents Way.

28 thoughts on “Heavenly Parent and the God of Dual Characteristics

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  1. Thank you for this explanation, Dr. Hendricks. Since this publication cites proper titles, shouldn’t your first paragraph be referring to Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon?

  2. Dr. Hendricks,

    A very thought-provoking article indeed, thank you.

    However, from the beginning I would like to point out that the ontology of God as we see it in the DP is made to fit our three dimensional understanding. The true God remains hidden still and the only persons to rely on understanding them are True Parents and their lifelong devotion to a, for us, invisible and largely (still) abstract reality which we fathom only indirectly through them. Like scientists find planets through indirect evidence.

    The human brain never would have figured out the contents of the DP as it manifested though the findings of True Father. Therefor our ability to judge its content and categorize it is limited. By testing it in life it develops value for us or not. Meaning we can discuss and analyse best practices in the yang and yin sector, etc. But in theory I find it hard to discuss ontological content as such.

    You write:

    “The one that does not apply to the ontological God is what Exposition refers to as ‘correlative aspects: inside and outside, internal and external, front and rear…’ (pp. 16-17) This duality is essential to creation, but is not constituent of the ontological God. The reason is that these are relativities within time and space, and the ontological God is beyond time and space.”

    In my understanding the next dimension includes the previous one, meaning it does not negate it, but brings it to a higher order, as such we cannot exclude that it is part of God’s ontological existence.

    You write:

    “Exposition’s standard exemplification of ‘masculinity and femininity’ is actually a list of entities that embody one or the other of the dual characteristics.”

    How does this apply to persons whose sexuality is not defined, like in the case of some marathon runners who were competing in women’s track, but brought male results? In one particular case, one “lady” was declared male later on, causing a big dispute until today. Their bodies contained both sexual parts in one. My question is where does God’s responsibility end (in creating) and where does the human start?

    Perhaps we can assume that the spiritual body only has one sex, because it is eternal. How can such a person on earth figure out who he/she is? You may think an exceptional extreme case, but isn’t it here where our identity has to be made waterproof and DP consolidated? Or in other words, let us talk about reality.

    1. Dear Rohan,

      Thank you for sharing your insights about our limitations in terms of fathoming the ineffable reality. I agree, and hence appreciate Divine Principle’s grounding its presentation of God’s invisible qualities in the things that have been made, quoting Rom. 1:20. I believe that my analysis fulfills that standard. Yours may as well. But Principle advises that we not be agnostic about God’s nature outside of time and space, and that we do need to come to clear and simple conclusions about “the causal reality,” which is invisible, in order to attain happiness and peace. So let us seek the hypothesis that best reflects the visible world, and work from there.

      Regarding sexual identity, I consider Father Moon’s words as authoritative and correct: “In this world there are two kinds of human beings: men and women. Can they decide to exchange positions? Was your birth as male or female based on your personal desire. The sex that we are born with is an absolute and is not a matter of choice. We were born of a specific gender without knowing the cause or process.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 211)

  3. Dr. Hendricks,

    Thank you so much for this article. I am excited to see some public discussion on the importance of the ontology of Divine Principle. This is something I am very interested in. It is the ontology of Divine Principle itself that upends 2,000 years of Christian understanding to make it a “new truth.” Mother’s declaration of Heavenly Parent really underscores this and makes plain what is there.

    Two types of yang and yin characteristics? Yes! I talk about this extensively in my book Science and the Relational Ontology of Unification Thought published by the Unification Thought institute in 2019. One way of describing it using Unification Thought terminology is that correlative yang and yin “within” is identity maintaining, and yang and yin acting “between” is developmental. Two quite different types of relationship.

    Applying yang and yin to God implies major a difference between God in Divine Principle and Christian understanding (see also my 2018 AU Blog article). The dual characteristics of yang and yin, whether “within” or between,” require divisibility of parts. This is a big issue for God in Christian thought, where God is seen as an indivisible substance without parts. In the traditional framework applying yang and yin to God would require two beings, two Gods, and would no longer be monotheism.

    To maintain a monotheistic Heavenly Parent, singular, needs a new ontology, one that Divine Principle supplies. Rather than being based on substances it is based on relationship between discrete parts. The tension between monotheism and dual characteristics of yang and yin in God is resolved if we understand God to be divisible.

    When Mother first asked us to pray to Heavenly Parent it was really hard for me to make the mental adjustment. Praying to Heavenly Father was ingrained (for 2,000 years or more!) and I performed mental contortions attempting to visualize how both male and female could be combined into one indivisible being, much as Rohan’s question about indeterminate sexuality leads to similar issues for an individual [indivisible] spirit. The solution comes from the ontology of Divine Principle where things exist through complex layers of relationship between discrete parts. Both God and spirit are traditionally indivisible. Divine Principle suggests they are not.

  4. Are we back to Byzantine discussions here? Isn’t it enough to say that God is love? All that love is, pertains to God. It’s as simple as that.

  5. The change from Heavenly Father — “Hananim-Aboji” to Heavenly Parent(s) — “Hanul-Pumonim” in our intimate prayer to address our Creator contributes very little, in my opinion, to our personal relationship with God, because it was always clear to all Unificationists that God has dual characteristics and is the source of “masculinity” and “femininity”, therefore is a Father and also a Mother to all of us.

    Such change begs the question to the author of the change, in this case, Mother herself: Why did you and your husband pray together to Heavenly Father — “Hananim Aboji” (as in the Jesus prayer, “Our Father, who art in Heaven”) for more than 50 years, but now it is not appropriate anymore? Why? Is it that you were wrong (or lacking in understanding) for all that time… or there are other reasons? Furthermore, such change was not only made in her personal prayers but put as a suggestion (that became an obligation in all public gatherings) to all of his followers.

    1. Dear Jesus,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The matter of why True Parents and we addressed God as Heavenly Father for their entire lives, and I bet True Mother still addresses God as Heavenly Father at least some of the time, is well worth exploring.

      I believe that it has to do with the restoration of our heart for Heavenly Mother, the restoration of the heart of Eve, the true heart of womanhood, in the context of which we can understand woman’s suffering and woman’s han. Just as we can block out Heavenly Father from our hearts, we can block out Heavenly Mother.

      The suffering of men and women, and of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, are radically different. Historically, it has not been easy for men and women to comprehend the nature of each others’ suffering.

      Through True Parents’ heroic sacrifice (and here am I just speaking for myself?) the beautiful universal heart of Heavenly Mother is appearing in the world, and men and women can begin to address and resolve the pain of Eve, and bring glory to God’s daughters through the only begotten Daughter. Until the providence reached its latter days, True Parents did not open that gate, and so we focused on Heavenly Father and the victory of men as His beloved sons.

      In my view, Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother all are appropriate in addressing God who is Heavenly Parent. True Mother knows that each person has to decide on their own.

      1. Dear Tyler,

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        All of this reminds me of when you ask the children who they love the most, their mom or dad? Children generally don’t like that question, and will most likely answer both, and in this case, God is both and one entity. Talking about the “suffering of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother” is a human construction and an analogy … It is fine as theological speculation, but God, the Creator of the Universe, is a singularity and cannot be divided into genders.

        Regarding the formula of addressing God in prayer, I agree with you “that each person has to decide for himself”; but the official instructions are clear and offer no other option:

        Ref. No. FFWPUI 2013-25
        To : Regional Presidents, National Messiahs, National Leaders
        From : FFWPU International Headquarters
        Date : 12.29 by the Heavenly Calendar (February 9, 2013)
        1) Addressing “God” as “Heavenly Parent”
        (1) From now, when beginning a prayer report, we should begin by addressing God and True Parents as “Heavenly Parent, Beloved True Parents of Heaven, Earth and Humankind.”

        1. Jesus,

          It’s important to affirm God’s singularity and that God is love. I believe that Principle supports the Christian tradition that God is one and three, a singularity and a Trinity, which can be understood by what True Mother calls the logic of love.

          In True Father’s definition, the heavenly nation is where two become one. In marriage, generally, sooner or later, when two become one, the result is three — husband, wife and child. True love makes two into one, and when the two are male and female, or plus and minus, the result is three. Understanding this, we can affirm God’s singularity as well as familial oneness.

          Regarding the official instructions, we’ll see if my article leads to any changes! The Family Fed/Holy Community that I know considers heart most important.

  6. Thank you, Dr. Hendricks, for addressing the paramount topic of all theological science: who is God? We need this kind of deep study. I believe that your presentation will be helpful for those who have to teach daily the Divine Principle. You go back to the very fundamentals.

    I think I managed to understand the “what?” of your essay, but I am not sure if I could completely grasp the “why?” and “what for?” What are the practical implications of the teaching on Heavenly Parent? Why is it so crucial in the history of humankind? I read your article several times, but could not see so much of this questioning. Maybe I have to read it even more.

    At the end of your essay, you mention Absolute Sex. But you don’t elaborate so much on it. When Father expounded the theory of Absolute Sex in his famous speech In search of the origin of the universe, I guess that we did not grasp the very deep theological meaning of it. Most members thought it is only a clarification on our sex ethics. Or it is only our counterproposal to the prevalent free-sex, this means it is yet another ideological tool to address the problems of the society.

    When I ask members what they remember from Absolute Sex, most would reply, “well it is a teaching that asks for sexual abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage.”

    This understanding is of course correct, but then it amounts to a simple form of “neo-Puritanism”. However, the absolute sex theory is so much more than a neo-Puritanism.

    Actually; most of the Absolute Sex teaching is a metaphysics of human sex and an ontology of sex, before it is an ethics of dos and don’ts about love making. Before being a series of guidelines about how love should be made, it is a statement about how love should be said, understood, declared.

    Absolute Sex, among other things, means that Heavenly Parent is realized in the conjugal love, with the two meanings of “realized”, i.e. (1) Actualized, made real, substantialized (2) Understood, grasped.

    The practice of Absolute Sex is to guide all mankind on the way to experience the “real presence” of God at the core of human life, and I mean “real presence” just as Catholics understand it, when they talk about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Absolute Sex is the paramount communion between the true God and the true couple, and it is what the Principle refers to as “the center of the universe” (Creation 2.3.4, page 30)

    The theological teaching on Heavenly Parent may remain yet another dogma, or creed, with no substantial impact on the real life of people, without the practice of Absolute Sex. It is time to launch the heavenly “Me Too” movement, whereby the Absolute “I” is the center of the “you and I” communion, and God is attended in the holy chapel of sexual love.

    1. Thank you, Laurent.

      Three purposes for the article. One, to show that the position that the ontological God is Heavenly Father alone is unfounded. There are those who insist that God is Heavenly Father alone, and on that basis criticize Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, and I wanted to show from the Principle how God is also Heavenly Mother and that Dr. Moon is correct. So, in this respect, the article is a polemic.

      Two, to show that the teaching of God as Heavenly Parent and also as Heavenly Mother is profoundly embedded in our core DP teachings, properly understood.

      Three, that the dual characteristics doctrine connects DP theology, the theology opened up through the only begotten Daughter, to the deepest streams of Christian perception of God as Trinity from the early centuries, and actually helps solve problems that Christian thinkers could not solve.

      Thank you for your elucidation on absolute sex. I agree with it all and enjoyed reading it. I mentioned absolute sex at the end of this short article because it is a natural implication and application of the Principle’s Trinitarian thought, but I did not get into it, and that wasn’t the purpose of the article.

      1. I appreciate this summary of the three purposes of your article, which makes things much more clear. I kind of needed these guidelines. And I do ackowledge there is a need to clarify those issues.

  7. Dr. Hendricks, this is terrific theologizing.

    I mentioned now, as some readers may not have known it, that in February 2019, in my blog, in a post, “The Most Important Principles”, I suggested that vertical relationships are those of internal and external, while horizontal relationships (including those of dual purposes) are those of increase and decrease. Elaboration in the post and, especially in soon forthcoming revisions and extension of the post may shed additional light on your post.

    On another point, Father Moon in a major speech on August 27, 2008, stated that he was God incarnate. Considering this in the framework of traditional Christian trinitarianism, if Jesus the son incarnates the second person of the Trinity, then Father Moon may be incarnating the first person. Going further, in the Unification Principle, since the concept of the Father is broadened to the Parent(s) it would be the True Parents together who are incarnating the Deity. I will leave it at that.

  8. Tyler, thank you for your clear exposition of this aspect of Unification ontology. I very much appreciated your analysis of two types of yang and yin, and especially for referring to yang and yin “sexual entities.” It gets to the core of who God is: God is love; it is His-Her very nature as a being who contains within Godself the sexual aspects of yang and yin; and further, God designed the universe for sexual love on every level.

    In this regard, I hope the next area for your exploration of Unification ontology will be to delve further into the meaning of Absolute Sex. Since Unification ontology is a relational ontology, the activity of sexual union between yang and yin is at least as fundamental as the positions of yang and yin themselves. What does the give-and-receive action between God’s yang and God’s yin look like? How is it manifest in the creation, and between God and creation?

    Also, even in the concept of Heavenly Parent, we conventionally think in terms of our relationship with God as our father and our mother, a parent-child relationship. But what about God relating to human beings in a conjugal relationship, as Heavenly Lover? In that case, God is not only my Father and Mother; God is also my Wife (or for women, my Husband).

    To be brief, I think that a central manifestation of God’s purpose of creation is that God wants to be sexually intimate with human beings, participating as a Divine Partner in our conjugal life with our human partner. That is my definition of absolute sex.

    God can be present in bed, enjoying our loving caresses and enhancing that experience with His-Her caresses, participating with His/Her orgasm in our orgasm, His ejaculation with the man’s ejaculation; Her vagina moist with the woman’s vagina. This means that God can be fully involved in the conception of the child that results from our lovemaking, which establishes that child as of God’s direct lineage. Not just as a positional or legal reality, but as a physical reality.

    This relates directly to the Divine Principle teaching about the Fall, where Lucifer desired to possess Eve, who was created to be God’s wife. Lucifer interposed himself in human conjugal love, pushing God away, so that human sex became divorced from God’s loving presence.

    I believe that based on True Parents’ victories that have restored God to His-Her rightful place as our Heavenly Parent who can be fully involved in our lives, even to the point of sexual intimacy. It’s our homework to recover this.

    This shouldn’t just be theoretical. Have we arrived there yet? If so, I expect that there are readers who can testify to such experiences of intimacy with God. And when such testimonies become widespread, everyone on earth will want the Blessing.

    1. Thank you very much Dr. Wilson for calling a spade a spade. Even if Dr. Hendricks did not intend to write specifically about Absolute Sex, I had about the same thought as you. The very good ideas he expressed about Heavenly Parent should prompt us to write more about Absolute Sex.

      1. Andrew, Laurent and others,

        Thank you for drawing our eyes and hearts to the reference I made to absolute sex. Absolute sex is a deep and profound topic, and I’m gratified simply to have pointed out the foundation for it in the teachings on the dual characteristics.

  9. Sun Myung Moon, August 20, 2005, “The Holy Marriage Blessing is the Path to Unite the Virtues of Heaven and Earth and Harmonize and Unify the Universe as One”:

    “What would have happened if God’s creation in the Garden of Eden had ended with man and there had been no woman? The miracle of all miracles is that men and women exist together in this world. For only one to exist would be the same as no existence at all. Humankind would have ended in less than a hundred years. It is only when men and women are together that the heavenly path can be established and ethics and moral principles have their beginning.”

    Dr. Hendricks, ethics and moral principles have their beginning when a man/woman are together. I find these words like a rainbow appearing after a storm. Is there any connection with God’s dual characteristics?

    1. Dear Migliore, I agree with you, and those words from True Father are profound. Man/woman together are the ultimate substantiation of God’s dual characteristics, as well as the origin of the manifestation of the same. “Two become one” is true love, living for the sake of the other, the epitome of ethical and moral principles.

  10. So, does this mean you want your children and grandchildren to address you in the third person? “Good morning parent,” “It’s nice to see you parent.” I assume you would never do this, so why do you think God prefers to be called “heavenly parent?”

    There have always been times when it is appropriate to refer to God in this way, but a deeply personal God, in my humble opinion, might prefer a deeply personal communication such as “Father” or for that matter, “Mother.” I have tried praying to the third person God only to feel foolish in the process. God comes closer when we finally come to know God as both Father and Mother. I pray to both aspects of God’s identity and find that both aspects have always been present in my life experience. So, pray to the heavenly parent if you wish, but I find it to be ineffective and maybe even a little insulting to God. How would you feel if your children and grandchildren always spoke to you this way?

    1. Hi Brian, nice to hear from you, and thank you for your comment.

      I see a difference between a formal title or attribution and an informal, personal reference. What matters is the heart behind whatever words we use to express ourselves in personal communication.

    2. Brian, when I am talking to my father I can say “Good morning, father.” When talking to my mother, “Good morning, mother.” But what if I am collectively addressing both together. Divine Principle suggests that there is a oneness that emerges from the relationship of a man and a woman. Two become one. That oneness is an individual truth body in its own right, and addressing that oneness as parent is not doing so as a third party. I would probably say “good morning, parents” to include both, because I perceive two.

      As human beings without our spiritual senses open we do not perceive or communicate directly with the oneness of our parents. We only perceive and communicate with a separate father and mother directly. I suspect that with God the situation is different. Depending on context we can talk to Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father, or Heavenly Parent, where Heavenly Parent is a personal being inclusive of both Father and Mother. It is not a third party address. The emotional content of the relationship supplies context.

  11. So… does that mean that as long as one is sincere the person of expression doesn’t matter? “Good morning parent (sincerely spoken)”, and “I love you parent (sincerely spoken)” is all that matters? If you would not speak in this way with your children and grandchildren, why do you think that God would prefer to relate with us, His/Her children, in this manner? The third person, as I have always been taught, is typically used with talking “about” someone or some thing as opposed to the second person which is used to talking “with” someone. If we truly truly seek a personal relationship with God as our parent we must relate “with” God though prayer “with” God. Sincerity, is of course essential, but the manner of addressing God, to be personal, must be in the second person. Here is brief article for you to consider.

    1. Brian, Laurent:

      Thank you both for this stimulating discussion. It occurs to me that the Korean language’s word for “parent” is “bumo,” one word that combines husband (‘bu”) and wife (“mo”). We are born of one source, which is our father and mother united into what is in effect a third entity, which True Parents name rightly as our Parent. This is biologically the case, simply by physical law. In the ideal, it is also psychologically and spiritually the case, although residue of the Fall makes that very difficult to achieve.

      It would seem that Heavenly Parent is the union of a man and woman, that is, male and female spiritual entities, which we nominate Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and yes, who want to be incarnate in us and bring Heavenly Parent to life through the cosmic creation of a child, absolute sex.

      I would consider it amazing to address Heavenly Parent as “you,” I mean, to have that level of heart. I don’t see it as wrong in principle. But I do recall True Father as being critical of the American style of addressing one’s parents as “you.” He didn’t like everyone, from your father and mother to the local teacher and barista or stranger on the street being a “you.” Well, we Americans like that, and I can see an argument in support of it, but Father didn’t. He wanted to cultivate the humility and respect that is a pre-condition for gratitude. As some say, “it’s not all about you.”

      Perhaps we can call God “the divine You.” With a capital “Y”!

  12. Dear Brian,

    I want to understand your point, which certainly makes sense. But there are limits to analogies we can make.

    God and human beings can both be called “parents”, and I would say that human parenthood derives from and takes after heavenly parenthood. We become parents by participating in God’s love. Father once said that, in a sense, Adam and Eve are ‘twins” in God’s bosom. It is not literally true, it is an analogical language.

    But, as intimate as I may become with God, He is eternally the uncreated Creator. Just like Muslims, I would never call God a progenitor. His parenthood and our parenthood are not exactly similar.

    I am a parent from my parents, from my grandparents. This is my human condition. God does not have this condition. Yet, mysteriously, He has a desire to be my Parent.

    Moreover, I can say father and mother only to my father and my mother, but God is the all-loving Creator and parent of everyone. He is the Parent of so many people who will always be total strangers to me. My parents cannot do that. I would not want them to do that.
    I would say that God wanted to assume a visible, substantial form. He wants to be incarnated through Mr. Kim, Mrs. Watanabe, Miss Jones, Frau Schmitt and Señor Gonzales. In our case, we want to transcend our finitude, reach out to the invisible. God wants to become an I, a you, a he or she, a we, a they. When we pray God, we want to transcend our “I”-ness “you” ness and so on.

    The question you raise may be understood, I think, in light of the Origin-Division-Union Action. On the earth, there is a man and there is a woman. They are separate entities united in the child. You are right when you say that Patrick, for instance, calls his father “Papa” and his mother “Mom”. But he is born from their union in love with genes from both. Both refer to him as Patrick not as Patrick-P and Patrick-M. He has both parents within him.

    At the age of 26, Georg W. Hegel had a strong intuition about what we call the O-D-U, action. I quote:

    “The consciousness of a separate self disappears, and all distinction between the lovers is annulled. The mortal element, the body, has lost the character of separability, and a living child, a seed of immortality, of the eternally self-developing and self-generating [race], has come into existence. What has been united [in the child] is not divided again; [in love and through love] God has acted and created. Each stage of its development is a separation, and its aim in each is to regain for itself the full riches of life [enjoyed by the parents]. Thus the process is: unity, separated opposites, reunion. After their union the lovers separate again, but in the child their union has become unseparated.”

    In Aprll 2017, I went to Hegel’s house and museum in Stuttgart and prayed a few minutes there about his statement. Though Hegel often deviated, he sometimes also spoke the truth.

    I am aware that this is a bit long and very philosophical, yet, there is something very true in it. Playing on words (leben and lieben), Hegel said that what life (leben) divides, love (lieben) unites. Victor Hugo said about the same thing: “Love is the absolute, the infinite; life is relative and limited.”

    Though your remarks are based on common sense and human logic, I believe (maybe I am wrong), that much of God transcends common sense and human logic. Anyway, you made a very good point, I had never paid attention to that before. We need to reflect on these items more deeply.

  13. Still considering analogical language, in response to Brian, we have to turn a bit to linguistics regarding your topic. The human language is very complex and consists of many different levels. Prayer, especially in monotheism, talking to a personal God, is certainly the most complex form of human language. It is a bridge between the physical and metaphysical. I think we cannot avoid discussing about the nature of language in the discussion of naming God.

    We don’t talk to God as we talk to our parents. Prayer is a very particular form of language. Prayer is to secular language what poetry is to prose. In poetry, you use versification and rhyme, it is truly the aesthetic use of language. You don’t convey information, but beauty. Poetry is told in a special tone, which is very different from prose; it is kind of musical.

    Prayer is mostly praise to God, the vocabulary used, the breathing, the physical and mental attitude are not that of a normal conversation, most of the time, though I admit they do not exclude it. One can be very “familiar to God”.

    Prayer is what French author André Gide called “the oratory form of the soul”. He meant that we are in a state of awe. You rarely address your parents in such an oratory form, except … after they are both in their tomb, and you visit them by the grave. You then talk directly to the authors of our life, joined forever in an eternal union.

    In European cathedrals, we have the tradition of the Tomb Effigy, where both the king and queen lay forever side-by-side. It is extremely beautiful and holy. They enter eternity. Their position is then so different from the earthly world. In our movement, we have God and True Parents and we often pray to God with a picture of True Parents. This picture is some kind of “icon” for us. In Korea, you often heard the prayer “Hanul Bumonim, cham Pumonim“, where the prayer is addressed to God and True Parents simultaneously.

    I hope these few points are helpful for the discussion.

    1. Wow, Laurent… wonderful resources you are opening up for us from the European treasury. Thank you so much.

      I have no time to respond… I entered at the moment just to correct myself before someone else does, thanks to my wife: in “bumo,” “bu” refers to “father” and “mo” refers to “mother” (not husband-wife).

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