40 Years in America

Declaration of Messiahship

During the mid-1930s, when he was sixteen years old and the Korean peninsula was under the colonial rule of imperial Japan, Rev. Moon received what he understood to be "a special mission from heaven through Jesus." According to his account, he then "spent years searching precisely how to bring salvation to humankind." In addition to his quest, he also associated with groups that emphasized Koreaís role in Godís providence. Rev. Moon recounted that the result of his search was "the new expression of Godís truth referred to today as the Unification Principle." He also noted that he began proclaiming this truth on August 15, 1945, the day Korea was liberated from Japan. His public ministry was characterized by false starts, misunderstandings, betrayals and imprisonment. Nevertheless, by 1960, he solidified a core of dedicated disciples and over the next thirty years developed a worldwide following. By mid- 1992, he considered his foundation secure enough to declare openly that he and Mrs. Moon were "the true Parents of all humanity...the Savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah."

Taken in outline form, this progression possesses a certain coherence. However, the open declaration of Rev. and Mrs. Moonís messiahship requires additional explanation. As noted, the movementís messianic premises already were well established, and Rev. Moon was commonly typed as a Korean messiah. Yet this was something that was never previously publicly acknowledged. One obvious reason for not publicly proclaiming Rev. Moon as the Lord of the Second Advent, or messiah, was that to do so risked immediate censure, mockery and dismissal, or in particularly uncongenial environments, vigorous repression. This, in fact, was the movementís experience even without making public pronouncements. Apostate testimonies and pirated in-house literature were sufficient to establish in the publicís mind that Rev. Moonís followers understood him to be the messiah and that was how he regarded himself. Still, the church refrained from direct claims, even to prospective converts. Lecturers offered abundant signs and less-than-subtle hints, but the preferred modality was that adherents decide about Rev. Moonís identity and role by themselves. For his part, Rev. Moon owned up to being a Divine messenger, to having fought "alone against myriadís of Satanic forces, both in the spiritual and physical worlds," to having come "in contact with many saints in Paradise and with Jesus," and to having "brought into light all the heavenly secrets through...communion with God." As pointed out, he acknowledged himself as a "potential messiah" in one public forum and that he was called by God to help establish the True Parentsí position. Nonetheless, he stopped short of an explicit public identification of himself as a True Parent or messiah prior to mid-1992.

The situation changed in 1992. It is difficult to be finally definitive about why Rev. Moon elected to declare his messiahship then. However, several factors were influential. First, it had become something of a now-or-never situation. Rev. Moon was seventy-two years old. While he was in vigorous condition, there were no guarantees about his longevity. The movement also had extended itself, perhaps, to its outer limit. It was operating at peak efficiency, but as was the case with Rev. Moon, there were no absolute guarantees against future reversals. It also could be argued that the U.S. and the free world had reached the height of its power. The U.S. and its allies won the cold war and sealed their triumph with a decisive victory in the Gulf War. Again, there were no guarantees that this state of affairs would last indefinitely. In this context, it made sense for Rev. Moon to declare his messiahship from the heights. Not to do so was to risk passing over the summit and proclaiming his role from a less advantageous position.

Rev. Moonís understanding of historical parallels and the logic of history was a second factor that influenced his declaration of messiahship. As has been pointed out, he saw a parallel between the period following his release from Danbury Federal Prison in 1985 and the immediate post-World War II period.

More precisely, he saw a parallel between 1945-52 and 1985-92. During the earlier period, he hoped that Christianity and the God-fearing allied nations, which had reached the zenith of their power, would accept his Second Advent ministry. On that foundation, communism would have been eliminated, and he would have emerged on the worldís stage by 1952. Due to a succession of providential failures, this did not occur and Rev. Moon embarked on what he described as a long, painful "wilderness" course. However, by 1985, the forty-year course had gone full-circle, and he found himself in exactly the same position he had been in at the end of World War II. To his mind, there was the possibility of working constructively with Christianity, and he predicted the downfall of the Soviet empire. Continuing with the historical parallel, he noted that the wilderness course would be followed by a seven-year period of settlement into worldwide Canaan between 1985-92. According to this pattern, and with the additional validation afforded by the collapse of communism, it was logical that Rev. Moon would see himself emerging on the world stage in 1992.

Several recent breakthroughs were a third factor influencing Rev. Moonís declaration of messiahship. These were connected to his particular interpretation of Jesusí death and the Lord of the Second Adventís return. In a speech entitled, "The Reappearance of the True Parents and the Ideal Family" delivered between July 6-9, 1992 in four Korean cities and in which Rev. Moon first proclaimed his messiahship, he contended that "The Lord of the Second Advent will not literally return in the air on the clouds" but rather "The Lord who went through the cross will return through the cross." He further explained that "there were three types of people connected with Jesusí crucifixion." All of them were sinners and together they represented fallen humanity. The first type was "the thief on Jesusí right who repented of his sins and testified to Jesus." The second type was "the thief on Jesusí left, who did not repent and who vilified Jesus." The third type was "Barabbas...who surely would have been crucified, but was saved when...Jesus was crucified instead." According to Rev. Moon,

At the time of the Second Advent, these three types are realized on the world level. Western Christianity is the first type in the position of the thief on Jesusí right. Although they still have original sin, Christians believe in the Lord and they are in the position of good. The materialistic, atheistic communist bloc is the second type and is in the position of the thief on the left. Islam in the Middle East is the third type and is in the position of Barabbas. Because Jesus died instead of him...Islam came to occupy the land of the Middle East, which had been divided among the twelve tribes of Israel. The Lord of the Second Advent, who is in the position of the reborn Jesus, has to straighten out the worldwide achievements of these three types which came about through Jesusí death.

To straighten out the "Western World of Christianity," he contended that the Lord of the Second Advent needed to "bring about a new movement of religious reformation, overcome the atheistic ideology of communism and bring all the communist world back to Godís side."

Rev. Moon clearly understood the Unification Movement to be that new movement of religious reformation. The breakthroughs he had achieved through the Danbury course and the ICC ministersí providence afforded the possibility of extending the reformation. Beyond that, the march on Moscow, the victorious Moscow Rally and the massive education of Soviet and post- Soviet students and teachers went a long way toward rectifying the position of the thief on the left. In that context, the breakthrough with Kim Il Sung was especially prominent. Rev. Moon contended that his head-wing ideology, also referred to as Godism, had the capability of overcoming left-wing and right-wing ideologies and of bringing about a unified harmony between them. Given the string of his successes during the late 1980s and early 1990s, even the secular media in the U.S. took notice. If they were not yet ready to concede the Second Coming, there was a consensus that Rev. Moon had been resurrected. Still, there was the matter of Barabbas. Unknown to most, the movement had cultivated contacts within the Muslim world since the early 1980s. While conventional mission work was exceedingly difficult, the Middle East Times gave the movement a presence in the region. In addition, the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA) held a series of six highly successful conferences that brought together Arabs, Israelis, Greeks and Turks on a variety of topics. On the foundation of these meetings, the movementís Council for the Worldís Religions convened several conferences of high-level Muslim religious leaders, including the Grand Muftis of Syria and Yemen. By October 1990, Rev. Moon was confident enough of his contacts in the region to call a Middle East Peace Summit at short notice in response to the Gulf Crisis. In a "Message to Islam," he stated, "The greatest imaginable tragedy would be for war to erupt between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East" and urged all to "live only for one goal, and that is, to protect and safeguard this situation against the possibility of a religious war."

As a result of several audiences with Rev. Moon, the Grand Mufti of Syria agreed to send forty core followers to New York for a forty-day Inter-Religious Leadership Seminar (IRLS) that included three cycles of the Unification Principle beginning December 2, 1990. The Grand Mufti of Yemen with forty participants from his country took part in the second IRLS from April 21-May 31, 1991. They were followed by separate Egyptian, Jordanian, Turkish and Sudanese groups. These activities culminated on April 10, 1992 when forty-two Muslim couples took part in a mass holy wedding of the Unification Church. Rev. Moon termed the participation of Muslims in the wedding "a miracle." In effect, it broke the tribal barrier, enabling Rev. Moon to extend the Blessing to people other than Unificationists. This was a key stepping stone toward his public declaration of messiahship.

However, there was one final matter to be resolved. In his 1990 Founderís Address to the Second Assembly of the Worldís Religions, Rev. Moon stated that mission of the Messiah was "a mission of True Parents." Hence, it necessitated Ö

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