The Divine Principle Home Study Course
God's Goal for Human History
In the Autumn of 1921, as he sped westward on the fabled Orient Express and gazed out on the moonlit Turkish countryside, the young British scholar Arnold Toynbee was inspired to jot down a list of topics on a half-sheet of paper. Little could he have known at that time, but thirty years later, having ranged over all recorded history and having examined the rise and fall of twenty-six civilizations, Toynbee had developed that list into his classic twelve-volume A Study of History.
Among his other conclusions, Toynbee came to feel that underlying the turbulent progress of human affairs was a divine purpose. "History", he wrote later, "is a vision of God's creation on the move."
Despite the extensiveness of Toynbee's research, there are many who would disagree with him. Karl Marx, for example, sneered at the spiritual dimension of existence and insisted that economic and class tension hold the real key to history and universal truth. Charles Darwin would no doubt argue that history simply express an evolutionary struggle whose solitary meaning is to be found in the survival of the fittest.
What can we look forward to in the future? A few centuries from now will our descendants be living in the Marxist materialist ideal of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"? Or may we more properly anticipate the prophetic, spiritual vision of the earthly Kingdom of God, such as Toynbee suggested?
On the other hand, perhaps we should envision no glorious fulfillment of history at all - whether it be proletarian or divine.
Certainly realities such as the atomic bomb, overpopulation and global resource depletion suggest the prognosis for the human family is not good. Supported by such grim realities, more than a few individuals cite the Bible to proclaim the final destruction of the earth and the end of time.
The second Letter of Peter, for example, states that at the end of history the heavens will pass away and the elements will be dissolved by fire (II Pet 3:10).
Likewise the Gospel of Matthew presents us with the vision of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from heaven.
With the combination of ancient prophecy and modern crisis, it is no accident that such books as Hal Lindsay's The Late Great Planet Earth have made such an impact with certain segments of our society.
Paradoxically, while apocalyptic Biblical references foretell the ultimate demise of our planet, other Biblical writers assure us it will endure eternally. The preacher of Ecclesiastes, for example, writes that "A generation goes and a generation comes, yet the earth remains forever." (Eccles. 1:4)
How then are we to understand the meaning of our past, and the prospects of our future? How is the God who is traditionally regarded as the Lord of history working in the present day? How may the apparently conflicting strains of Biblical prophecy be reconciled? Section Four of the Divine Principle Home Study Guide examines some of these issues of the "Consummation of Human History".
The Universal Ideal
Traditionally those from the Judeo-Christian heritage affirm that an almighty God created a first man and woman, placing them in a earthly paradise called by the author of Genesis the "garden of Eden". Since the original meaning of the Hebrew world for Eden is "delight" or "joy", we may surmise the Biblical belief is that man was originally intended to live a life of joy and delight.
For Divine Principle, such an ideal vision reflects the original hope of God. If the untoward event known as the Fall had not occurred, the spiritually mature Adam and Eve would have discovered true love and joy in living and would have multiplied descendants who would have inherited their spiritual blessing.
As these descendants multiplied, forming families and clans, we may imagine this mini-society would have overflowed the original garden, ultimately forming a society, nation and world centered on God. Had Adam and Eve attained oneness with God, the world itself would have become a global Garden of Eden. The Kingdom of God on earth would have been a substantial reality.
The idea that the world was originally intended to be harmonious, loving and beautiful is an assertion that is likely to play on the deepest layers of our cynicism. There is little in our experience that suggests human society could ever be this way. Nevertheless, we must recall we all experience life from a jaundiced perspective.
Had there been no disturbance at the essential core of human origins, had we ourselves been raised in a just and loving society, had, in many cases, our family experience been more nourishing than it was, we would be likely to see things from a quite different perspective. Perhaps then we would be able to see the possible reality of an ideal human society.
The question is with what spirit could this ideal have been achieved? For Divine Principle, it was to start with the loving individual and his family. And there was originally to be a complete unity between God and each person. Apostle Paul urged the early Christian at Ephesus to "be imitators of God" and to "walk in love." (Eph. 5:1-2) so all the people and families were to embody God's spirit, loving as He loves, had this spirit originally penetrated the earth, a history of goodness, peace, and prosperity for all people would have existed. In short, the world would have been a literal Garden of Eden, a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Some modern sage has observed that life is like an onion: a person unpeals it one layer at a time, and he cries a lot. [I saw an even better one on a T shirt recently: Life is a bitch; you marry one then you die.] Such is the life we have come to know in a fallen world, separated from God's love.
In response to this sad reality, the vision of a just and loving society has recurrently emerged at different time and places throughout human history. Even such a figure as Charlemagne, no ingenue in human affairs, is said to have slept with a copy of St. Augustine's City of God under his pillow and to have sought to realize its promise in the vast kingdom he governed.
In medieval times the popular legends of the exploits of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round table, in the idyllic realm of Camelot bespoke this universal yearning for an ideal. In modern times the Camelot legend has been recalled in descriptions of the hope and vision John F. Kennedy brought to the American presidency in the early 1960s.
Sometimes the vision of an ideal occurs in the unlikeliest of places. In the eyes of those unacquainted with pre-revolutionary Russian piety, the proclamation by Feodor Dostoyevsky of his country's messianic, historical role comes as shock or even a cruel joke. But in June of 1880, during the dedication of Pushkin's statute, the literary giant announced a Russian mission to usher in the brotherhood of all humanity, based on religious, not political ideals. Far from exploding into laughter, his distinguished audience listened with rapt attention. He was greeted with shouts of genius!, saint! and prophet! Something in the deepest layers in the Slavic soul passionately responded not only to Dostoyevsky's love affair with his native Russia but also to his call for a universal religious, socio-economic order inspired by Russian spirituality and social ideals.
Not off the mark
Although such visionary dreams as those of Charlemagne and Dostoyevsky have not yet been realized, Divine Principle teaches their idealism is not far from the mark. Since God originally intended a world of good, sooner or later He must do something to remedy the existing situation. God is absolute, eternal and unchanging. If God is therefore to be God, He must achieve His original ideal. A defeated God is no God at all. Thus God intends to restore man to the uncorrupted state he had before the Fall and finally eradicate evil and suffering from human existence.
Reflecting this determination, Isaiah writes in the spirit of the Lord: "I have spoken and I will bring it to pass: I have purposed, and I will do it." (Is. 46:11)
The process of history then is the process of realizing this original ideal. Since human history began with evil and suffering, it became a history of God's efforts to restore the original, but lost purpose. The ultimate goal of history is thus to supplant the chronicle of suffering we have known with the story of goodness which God originally intended.
In their own way, there are other modern thinkers who also recognize that one day humanity is destined to achieve some type of universal ideal. The eminent Jesuit thinker M.C. D'Arcy, for example, suggests that the things that have worked against us can come actually to work for us: "Historians, for the most part, are prepared to admit a kind of spiral movement ... towards a universal society ... without his willing it, man has been forced to unite to form into nations and leagues, through the pressure of events ... and what with economic and social interdependence and the threat of nuclear arms, and international society is in prospect."
In the same vein, well-known Jesuit scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sees the universe being inexorably led to union with God. He foresees a day when humankind will reach what he calls the Omega point. At this point man becomes united with God, each individual is Christlike, and the world becomes divine.
Another French scientist, Lecompte duNuoy, has written a similar process in his book, Human Destiny. He concludes his book by asking all men to remember that the destiny of man is incomparable, but that we must collaborate in the transcendent task.
With Chardin and duNuoy, Divine Principle affirms a historical process of humankind's movement toward God--a movement inspired by God Himself. Goodness marches on toward its goal in spite of numerous obstacles. From Moses to Jesus, from Buddha to Confucius, from the early disciples to our own times, God is working to transform the world according to His dispensation of restoration. Indeed He has been working to spark a fire wherever the heart, mind and soul of man have been so inclined to receive it. Ultimately then, the suffering history we have known will be supplanted by the creative and joyful history God originally planned.
If we think pictorially, we may thus say the line of history is no straight but circular, bringing us at the end to what history should have been at the beginning. The end of history is thus the fulfillment by God of His original ideal
Divine Principle points out that if history had started from a source of goodness, it would be eternally good as God is eternal good. Therefore, this history would have no end. However, because man fell away from God human history began apart from Him and thus, as it is, has no eternal foundation. In some way, the history we know must eventually end. Such a time is known in the Bible as the Last Days.
Seeing the Last Days only as an end, however, is to miss the point. The Last Days of one era are simultaneously the first days of a new one. It is not a literal end, but a time of transition.
A historical example may illustrate this point. It is commonly said that in 410 A.D. the Roman Empire fell. To state that the vast empire collapsed, however, is not to assert that the land and its people were destroyed but rather to point out that Roman power and governmental authority had come to an end. The nation itself continued under new rule.
By the same token, the destruction of Hitler's National Socialism and the Third Reich in World War II did not mean the elimination of the German state. Germany today, succeeding Nazi totalitarianism has become a leading member of the democratic alliance. In the same way, even though the world will go through a radical transformation in the Last days, when this period ends, it inevitably will be succeeded by a New Era.
As we have indicated, since God has been working to restore humankind back to goodness, humanity's history will progressively be a history of goodness. That this is the case is due both to the fact that God has labored for this ideal and to the fact that we ourselves seek it.
In the Last Days, then, a tremendous change from the satanic domination of humanity to the beginnings of the Kingdom of God on earth will develop. Instead of expecting a string of frightening, cataclysm, physical events, including annihilation of the earth, we can instead anticipate a new age with great joy and hope.
Reflecting this reality in symbolic terms, the Book of Revelation promises the magnificent, ultimate union of heaven and earth, of God and man:
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with me. He will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them'" (Rev. 21:2-4)
Last Days Past and Present
The coming transformation of human history will not be the first time that such endeavor, change in all areas is the pattern rather than the exception. Both geological and historical records reveal periods of great transformation. Geologically, the ice age, for example, altered the entire landscape of the earth and affected our global climate. Earthquakes and volcanic eruption have had similar effects. Because of His heart and love, God has constantly worked for a transformed world. However, to accomplish this goal two things are necessary: God must do His part and His children must do theirs. Unfortunately, each time God has ventured a try to a new history, human beings have failed to complete the effort. Since God's purpose can never be fulfilled by Him alone, history has continued in its tragic ways. To achieve the goal of a just and loving society, God needs our cooperation.
The Bible tells us tow times that divine efforts toward radical alterations of society were frustrated by human foibles. The first involved the massive flood reported in Genesis. Here we are told the Lord "determined to make an end of all flesh" (Gen. 6-13), but spared Noah and his family to "establish [His] covenant" with them and inaugurate a new beginning.
Through Noah, God sought a new world. Obviously, since evil and tragedy still flourished thereafter, something went awry with the plan. God's hopes were disappointed by man's actions.
The second Biblical account of God's struggle for a new beginning lies in the story of Jesus. Approximately, 400 years before Jesus came, the prophet Malachi prophesied of events to take place with the coming of the Messiah:
"For behold, the days comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble: the day that come shall burn them up" (Mal. 4:17).
Such was the purification Jesus was to bring. Evil was to be eradicated and a new era was to dawn. Indeed, the "Kingdom of Heaven [was} at hand" (Mt. 4:17).
Jesus was coming to separate good from evil and to inspire a world in which the good might prosper. Yet when he came, he was crucified by the very people whom he hoped to transform. Coming with a revolutionary vision, he was seen as a blaspheming against God, as violating the Mosaic law, and as undercutting traditional Hebrew morality.
Threatened by the power of this young upstart, the established religious powers, the scribes and Pharisees, united against him and had him killed. Again God's efforts were frustrated by the failure of His children.
Since Jesus was unable to bring about the end of history, he promised another "Last Days" when he would return to accomplish his original purpose.
Historically, then those of the Christian faith have awaited another--and final--"end". For Divine Principle, as we shall see, society is now approaching that end which is at the same time a beginning.
Before we examine the significance of the present days, let us quickly look at some historical expectations of what the Last Days will be like. The Bible is replete with apocalyptic prophecy pointing to a cataclysmic end to the earth and all its works. If we accept the Divine Principle view of God's ultimate purposes in history, however, we must be sure of literal interpretations of such apocalyptic imagery.
Although dramatic cataclysmic events could well attend the transformation of this world from a sovereignty of evil to a sovereignty of good. Divine Principle suggests that as a general rule biblical apocalypticism is best understood spiritually and symbolically.
Divine Principle avoids the violently literal apocalypticism fashionable in fundamentalist circles for much the same reasons that Origen of Alexandria rejected it 1,000 years ago: He, who had emphasized the perfection of divine love, could not bring himself to believe that the wrath of God was a final expression of that love.
If God in His wrath
According to the Principle, if God in His wrath devastated the earth (along with a number of other supernatural cataclysmic actions) as envisioned by some millenarians, this would either mean that God had given up His plan for the reconciliation of mankind or that He had made a bad mistake in the first place. For Divine Principle neither option is viable.
Then how shall we interpret apocalyptic material? The Principle would agree with Professor William G. Doty of Rutgers University, for example, who has pointed out that apocalyptic writing "...is largely figurative language, richly textured with the language forms of symbols, images and metaphors" (Contemporary New Testament Interpretation).
The prophecy in Revelation 21 of "a new heaven and a new earth" is a case in point. Exiled on the Mediterranean island of Patmos, the author of this fascinating and much-discussed book writes of his vision:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Rev. 21:1).
A new kind of world
For Divine Principle, this passage may be best understood as referring to the transformation of the earth as we know it, with all its hatreds and wars and sufferings, into a new king of world characterized by justice, peace and well-being. Only in such a fashion will the "first earth" pass away. Since God's Kingdom is to be eternal, and the earth is the place where He will establish His Kingdom, then the earth must be eternal also.
Similar to this famous passage from Revelation, the second Letter of Peter also suggests the demise of our world. In writing of the second coming day of the Lord, II Peter 3:12 warns us that "the heavens will be kindled and dissolved and the elements will melt with fire!"
Again, we must avoid a literal interpretation of such a dismal forecast for God's creation. For God to permit such an event would be a negation of His original purpose in creating humankind. As a parent, He seeks to have His children dwell in love and happiness on earth.
In addition, as we have mentioned, such dire forecasts contradict other Biblical insights, such as the Book of Ecclesiastes' promise that: "a generation come, and a generation goes, but the earth remains forever" (Eccles. 1:4).
Judgement by fire
In all probability the fire referred to in II Peter 3:12 indicates a type of judgement. In Luke 12:49, for example, Jesus exclaims that:
"I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled!"
Jesus, of course was no arsonist. However, as the prophet Jeremiah suggested, the word of God has the same purifying effect as does fire (Jer. 23:39). Rather than igniting a literal fire, Jesus brought a purification which was symbolized by the image of a fire. This purification took place not by fire but by the Divine Word.
God's Word confronts people with their own corruption and their own limits. "How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" asks Peter (Mt. 18:21). And Jesus replies not seven times, "but seventy times seven." In this encounter Peter's inner limits are exposed and challenged by Jesus' words. The Master's words both judge and purify the disciple. By the same token, the idea that in the Last Days the earth is to be consumed by fire suggests how it will be cleansed. The earth will be purified by the Truth of God.
Another spectacular sounding and familiar prophecy is found in Paul's first Letter to the Thessalonians. Here the Apostle promises the faithful that they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air:
"For the Lord himself will come down with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
While this statement has been a source of hope for conservative believers the world over, we must see it in perspective. For one thing, Biblical scholars note that Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians is the first of all his letters and thus reflects only the thinking of his early public ministry. While we cannot see into the mind of Paul, it seems that at that point he him-self, with the great majority of the early Christian church, was anticipating the early return of Jesus in some supernatural way.
With the long delay in Jesus' return, Paul's thinking seems to have undergone an evolution, such that in later letters he no longer seems to wait Jesus' return on the clouds. In Philippians 1:21-23, for example, Paul writes that he looks forward to his own death, for it is through that event that he will finally meet Christ.
From another point of view also we may be doubtful of taking the Thessalonians passage literally. Regardless of the intellectual development of Paul, in light of the Principle, which emphasizes that God's ideal is to be realized on earth, not in the skies, we must regard his early Thessalonians statement as figurative on the face of it. In the Bible "heaven" usually refers to the holy and exalted real under the sovereignty of good, while "earth" other refers to the unholy or sinful realm dominated by evil.
The phrase "Our Father, who are in heaven", for example, does not primarily mean that God is located in the sky, but rather refers to the holy and exalted realm of God's existence. Thus to "meet the Lord in the air" should not be understood as referring to the physical elevation of Christians to meet Christ in the sky; perhaps rather it can be best seen as referring to the development of inner spiritual qualities such that Jesus' followers are elevated to become one with Christ inwardly.
Through the leaders of Israel had been faithful to God, as they understood him, and eagerly awaited the Messiah, they were unable to accept Jesus when he came. In his common humanity, he did not conform to their own extravagant preconceptions. How can faithful, spiritually conscious people today be sure that they also, like the ancient Jews, will not fail to recognized God's new dispensation when it arrives? Perhaps it too will arrive in a wholly different manner than expected.
The danger of this happening is increased greatly by the character of the language in much of the apocalyptic material in the Bible. Apocalyptic material by its very nature is difficult to understand, so that a variety of interpretations, many of them bizarre, are possible. Failure to take a proper approach to it can result in a narrow-minded blindness and even a tragic rejection of God's continuing revelation to man. One must be open, then, to new understanding.
In summarizing its view of apocalyptic, Divine Principle would support the view of Germany's Professor Jungen Moltmann, well-known as the architect of the "theology of hope". Moltmann stressed that the world should not be viewed as the waiting room of the soul's journey to heaven but rather as a battleground for freedom and the arena for creativity. Both Moltmann and Divine Principle would agree with a remark by Walter Rauschenbusch, the Baptist father of the Social Gospel:
"Ascetic Christianity called the world evil and left it. Humanity is waiting for a revolutionary Christianity which will call the world evil and change it."
It was not without reason that after the crucifixion the disciples of Jesus expected the quick return of their lord. Jesus had indicated that they should. Matthew reports him telling his disciples:
Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste my death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom (Mt 16:28).
That the hopes of the early Christians were dashed has never dissuaded the generations of their successors. Churches of every age have believed that their time was the Last Days and therefore the time for Christ's return.
The Millerites, for example, the forerunners of the modern day Seventh-Day Adventists, were born in the expectation that Christ would return between March 1843 and March 1844. Their conviction was so strong that in anticipation of the great day many of the faithful disposed of their material goods. In the 20th-century the Jehovah's Witnesses initially proclaimed Christ return in 1914 to inaugurate his Kingdom. Even though he did not return physically. Witnesses nevertheless still affirm that Christ returned spiritually at that time.
Clearly, if one is to assert a certain time as the Last Days, he must have sound reason to do so. Mere speculation, dreams, intuitions and astrological wonders can hardly be a persuasive basis upon which to proclaim the actual arrival of the end of the age. More sound and rational criteria must be found.
Unlike the Past
Without particular reference to the concept of the Last Days, a number of people have sensed that something new is happening in our time. Former Cornell Professor Alvin Toffler, for example, in his classic analysis of change in today's world, vividly affirms the fact that we have entered an age totally unlike the past:
"By changing our relationship to the resources that surround us, by violently expanding the scope of change, and, most crucially, by accelerating its pace, we have broken irretrievably with the past. We have cut ourselves off from the old ways of thinking, of feeling, of adapting. We have set the stage for a completely new society and we are now racing toward it." (Future Shock)
In addition to Toffler, others also see that we have entered a new age. Speaking from his own vast experience, the late Indian Prime Minister Nehru argued that humankind was "leaving the age of religion and politics, and...entering the age of science and spirituality".
Canadian media-guru Marshal McLuhan has stated that we have left the age of communication through print and are living in an electronic age in which "a totally new environment has been created'. This, he says, is changing man's consciousness, social structure and culture and is hurtling him toward a coming "global village".
As an alternative to the global village, of course, we have the potential of nuclear holocaust. Such modern films ad Dr. Strangelove and On the Beach have reflected only too well the popular awareness of this prospect facing humankind.
Arnold Toynbee, among others, has recognized such cataclysmic prospects, yet affirms that this very threat can be the source of a radically new and higher world order:
"We are now moving into a chapter in human history in which our choice is going to be, not between a whole world and a shredded up world, but between one world and no world. I believe that the human race is going to choose life and good, not death and evil. I therefore believe in the imminence of one world, and I believe that, in the 21st century, human life is going to be a unity again in all its aspects and activities". (New York Times)
New spiritual trends
Beyond there more or less secular commentators, there are many new spiritual trends now abroad which suggest something special about our age, For one thing, more people are striving for self-realization by seeking inward truth.
The eminent Berkeley sociologists Robert Bellah and Charles Glock document the rise of a new religious consciousness among idealistic youth, beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The entry on the scene of the New Religions and their phenomenal growth a decade later, testifies to a new spirituality afoot in the land. Moreover, evangelical Christianity is prospering. This has even extended the charismatic experience and "gifts of the spirit" to formerly conventional, nominal Christians. Much of this has developed since 1960.
Despite these provocative assertions and hopeful stirrings, can we say our day is indeed the period of the Last Days? Jesus said that we could know by the sings around us:
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates".
What kinds of signs would indicate that he is "at the very gates", that in fact we are in the dawn of the Kingdom? What things would make sense as indicators of the advent of the Kingdom?
The goal of human history is the establishment of God's original ideal, which is the world based on the three blessings of individual maturity, multiplication through true marital love, and creative dominion over the universe. If our era is the Last Days, therefore, we should be able to see signs that these three promises are being realized. Let's examine our era with this idea in mind.
The first blessing involves the attainment of spiritual maturity, or "perfection". A spiritually mature person is one who enjoys fully his freedom of thought and action, who embodies and expressed God's love to others and who has a heart of love for God's creation. Such a person, of course, was Jesus. He lived the life that is lived in the Kingdom of Heaven and was the model for us all. As we know, because of the Fall, humanity could not realize this quality of life. One day, however, we are meant to achieve it. Indeed, the period of the Last Days if the final stage in God's progressive effort to restore each person to this state.
At the present time many people are thirsting deeply for greater spiritual advancement. This inclination is evident in the recent worldwide interest in new faiths as well as in movements toward universal love, liberty, equality, and human rights and dignity. In addition, we may point to the modern development of man's spiritual sensibilities. According to Divine Principle each person is created to become one in heart with God and to be able to communicate fully with Him. However, because of the Fall, our first ancestors and all their descendants fell into a state where they were insensitive to the presence of God.
For this reason, the Heavenly Father is felt by many to be remote, if not even incommunicado. As the Bible indicates, however, communication with God and the spirit world will be restored in the Last Days: ""...in the last day....I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my man- servants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my spirit". (Acts 2:17-18)"
Recent increases in spiritual experiences and psychic phenomena worldwide reflect the phenomena mentioned in Acts. Such events as the well publicized experience of Bishop James Pike with his deceased son, the publication of such books as Dr. Raymond Moody's "Life After Life", and the emerging awareness of the reality of extrasensory phenomenon suggest a coming breakthrough in communication with the spirit world. This emerging restoration of our heart and spirit indicate that humanity is in the initial stages of restoring the first blessing.
God's second blessing to man - the blessing of multiplication- involved the ability of Adam and Eve to become godly parents and on this foundation to create an ideal family, and then a true society and world centered on that family. In other words, this second joy is the ability to create a true family and, growing out of this, to foster the realization of one global family throughout the world. However, as we know, Adam and Eve fell, resulting in a tragic corruption of their parental role.
All of humankind inherited their distorted character, thus realizing a world under an evil sovereignty. As a result, the process of restoration became necessary. God has had to work through religion and through different aspects of civilization to guide man toward the establishment of His original ideal - a unified global culture based on familial love. If we take a glance at history we can see how God has struggled to realize this original goal. Historically, many different cultures have come into existence.
Through time, however, as Arnold Toynbee has pointed out, higher cultures have emerged centered on rising new religions. Through a process of absorption of the varied and numerous lower cultures by the higher and more universal ones, a consolidation of cultures has taken place. As a result, there are only four major cultures remaining:
Judeo-Christian, Moslem, Far Eastern (based on Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism) and Hindu. This convergent flow of history shows the trend toward man's establishing one world culture - and that God's second blessing is being restored. It was not without reason then that such scholars as the D'Arcy and McLuhan, as well as Toynbee himself, anticipated the present-day emergence of a universal society.
In addition to these long-term developments, short-range trends also point toward a coming world unity. Since World War II, the human community has to an unprecedented extent become aware of the need for international cooperation and world government.
This awareness has given rise to the United Nations and other international commissions and organizations, all concerned with international cooperation. Everything from food reserves to the use of ocean resources, from atomic power and ecology to trade are now matters of international concern and action. The establishment of such organizations as the International Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the world Bank all reflect the increasing convergence of life on planet Earth. Also, because of the tremendous advance in transportation and communications, the world has "shrunk" to such an extent that we can travel to almost any part of the world in a few hours.
Travel to other countries has increased tremendously, bringing about unprecedented intention and understanding among different peoples. We find ourselves living in a world community where the races, nationalities, customs, cultures, and products of the world intermingle and harmonize as never before. In the view of Divine Principle, all of those hopes and trends will reach fruition when the final gifts of history arrive, the Lord of the Second Coming and the new universal ideology that he brings. It is through the new Lord that the one world lost at the beginning of history, will finally be restored.
The third blessing given by God to mankind involves the right and ability of a mature person to have dominion over God's creation. Originally, dominion was to be both spiritual and physical, internal and external. That is even though man was to dominate the physical world through his physical facilities, he was intended to do so with an inward heart of love. While this heart was lost through the Fall, it is now being restored.
Our moral consciousness has evolved through history, leading us into a new sense of responsibility vis-a-vis the physical universe. We are aware we may no longer abuse our environment; we must care for it, if it is to care and provide for us. In the new age, therefore, instead of the exploitation of new resources, humanity will love and care for the creation. We will think of our new dominion over creation in terms not of power alone, but of love.
Evidence of the restoration of humanity's love for the creation can be seen in the ecology and conservation movements, in societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, in drives to restore polluted areas, and in organizations and clubs formed for the appreciation of nature.
Beyond this internal dimension, man is restoring his external dominion as well, primarily through science and technology. Tremendous scientific progress has taken place in this century. Through this humanity has ben gaining control over the land, sea, air and even outer space. Despite significant problems that face us, through such things as mass production, high yield crops, transformation of deserts to farmlands, and environmental control we have the hope of being able to create an ideal standard of living for all people.
Use of the ocean floor and even both polar caps are also examples of man's ability to turn the creation into an ideal home. V.C. Ferkiss, in his "Technological Man: The Myth and Reality", predicts that in the very near future our control over the environment is to be incredibly expanded. In particular, the oceans will provide a wealth of resources undreamed until now and, according to Ferkiss, "will become as domesticated as the land surface of the planet."
The advent of the computer has also been a powerful factor in the expansion of man's dominion. Regarding the latest step in computer development, the arrival of the smart machines that can think for themselves, "Newsweek" magazine reports we are at the dawn of an era that is comparable to the industrial revolution and that will "change forever" humanity's way of life. According to "Newsweek" sources:
"The new technology offers potential solutions to humanity's most intractable problems the allocation of energy resource, food enough for all, and the worldwide improvement of health care" (June 30, 1980)
Evidence that the present is the End of Time, and therefore the stage just prior to the restoration of God's third blessing, can thus be seen in the developing concern and love for nature and in the tremendous development of science and technology. As we can see that the three blessing are in the process of being restored to humankind, so we can anticipate we are entering the age of realization of God's Kingdom. The establishment of God's ideal world is upon us. Indeed, we are in the Last Days.
Much as been written in recent years of the "existential movement" a decisive moment in time when to act is to bring liberation and growth, and to falter is to promote stagnation and death. In the providence of God, humankind has now entered such critical time.
Grasping the promise of such a moment makes no small demands on the internal freedom and spiritual insight of any person. To remain abreast of the developing flow of God's providence, one must be willing to search, to find and to evolve. Let us look at some of the principles involved in aligning one self with God's new dispensation.
History teaches that whenever God is inaugurating a new work, He always sets up a central figure as His instrument in the transition. Such men were Noah, Moses, and Jesus. With the arrival of each new person, however, the spiritual presence and authority of the old passes to the new. It was insufficient, for example, at the time of Jesus for the God-seeking person only to be obedient to the law of Moses. Rather, God's grace and power came to those who actually united with Jesus.
In our age likewise, the task of the person who would serve God most fully is to find the new central instrument of God's endeavor. Achieving that requires no small degree of openmindedness. One must be free from undue attachment to established concepts and prejudices, for God often works in surprising ways. Perhaps, as Jesus suggested, the openness of a child is what is called for:
"Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 18:3)
While possessing the openness of a child, we are nevertheless called to the autonomy of an adult. As men like Saint Francis and Martin Luther discovered, following the Lord is not something one does with a lot of company. One's family, peers even one's prior religious mentors may be totally unaware of the new calling from God.
St. Francis, for example, perhaps the greatest saint the Christian Church has ever known, was disinherited by his family. Martin Luther was anathematized by the Christian hierarchy. Both men had to walk a solitary pack, relying not on prior authority but solely on God and their won resources.
Similarly, in the Last Days, one who responds to God's new call may find little support among his family, friends and prior tutors. It is not given to all, at first, to see the light.
A further lesson of the past is that the new age does not start after the hold had ended, but begins in its midst. Therefore it grows in an environment of opposition and conflict. Inevitably, established beliefs, institutions and powers are threatened by the new. For this reason virtually all God-inspired people from the Apostle Paul and Christian Church to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the modern American civil rights movement have tread a path of persecution. Such is the price a privileged few must pay in order to advance the cause of God on earth.
While not expressing exactly the viewpoint of Divine Principle, Professor Lewis Thomas, a biologist and researcher at New York's Sloan Kettering Institute, has expressed from the perspective of science a similarly optimistic view of the destiny of man:
"There is nothing at all absurd about the human condition. It seems to me a good guess... that we may be engaged in forming something like a mind for the life of this planet. If this is so we are still at the most primitive stage, still fumbling with language and thinking, but infinitely capacitated for the future.
Looked at this way it is remarkable that we have come as far in so short a period, really no time at all as geologists measure time. We are the newest, the youngest and the brightest things around" (The Medusa and the Snail.)
For Divine Principle also, the consummation of human history is a positive one. God's kingdom will come on earth. The task, of course, is to realize this promise, to do our part to enable the transforming power of God to bring about the realization of the ideals we all seek. God needs our help. He needs us to do our part in realizing those ideals for which we are "infinitely capacitated."
Throughout history certain men and women have been privileged to live at decisive moments. Certainly the advent of Jesus was such a time as was, no doubt the period of Martin Luther's Reformation. At such critical moments as these, one's existence takes on a larger than life significance; and the effects of his deeds ripple far further than in ordinary times.
Had Saul of Tarsus lived at any other time than he did, history may never have known his name. Had the early disciples not followed Jesus at all, his life and love would never have inspired and illuminated Western civilization.
We are in a time now of parallel significance. In the period of the Last Days the significance of one's life is multiplied. By uniting with God's new dispensation, by seeking His will, by helping His work, a person can live a life of special eternal impact.
But first one must know precisely how God is working. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that his chief goal in life was to find "someone who shall make me do what I can." In terms of realizing our divine potential, the need expressed by Emerson is the need of every person. We need a facilitator to stimulate us to be the persons we were meant to be.
For Divine Principle, this universal figure is the Messiah. Since Christ is to return in the Last Days, we must thus discover how that event is to occur. We must also learn when and where it will happen.
Such vital questions are among those addressed in the fifth section of the Divine Principle Home Study Course which will be started next month.
Test your knowledge of the Consummation of Human History section of the Home Study Course with the following questions check your answers below.
1. Which of the following statements is true?
a. The world God created was originally intended to be just, loving and harmonious.
b. The world God created was originally intended to be conflict-ridden and painful.
2. According to Divine Principle, the Last Days are the time in which:
a. The earth and all its works are destroyed.
b. The satanic history is terminated and a heavenly history is begun.
3. In order for God's will to be accomplished, what two elements are required?
4. According to Divine Principle, biblical apocalypticism is generally best understood
5. Why does Divine Principle argue that fire consuming the earth should be understood as a purifying judgment?
a. Apocalyptic material in the Bible is generally best understood symbolically.
b. Fire is used in the Bible to signify the Word of God, which has a purifying effect.
c. If God destroyed the earth He could never fulfill His original ideal.
d. All of the above.
6. According to what indicators does Divine Principle assert the modern era is the Last Days
a. The discovery of the atomic bomb
b. The insights of such men as Toffler, Niebuhr and Mcluhan.
c. The emerging fulfillment of all the three blessings. 7. That the first blessing is being fulfilled is suggested by which of the following phenomenon?
a. The advent of new religions.
b. Such movies as "Dr. Strangelove" and "On the Beach."
c. The increased communication with the spirit world.
d. The Lord coming on the clouds.
8. The realization of the Second Blessing ultimately involves a unified international community
9. Which of the following statements is true?
a. For Divine Principle, fulfilling the third blessing embraces the proper use of technology in accordance with God's purposes.
b. For Divine Principle, fulfilling the third blessing means man should return to a more pristine state, renouncing technology and all its accompanying abuses
10. One word answers:
a. The original meaning of the Hebrew word for Eden is....
b. Which prophet suggested the Word of God was like a fire?
c. According to Toynbee, what is "vision of God's creation on the move?"
3. a. God's effort and b. Human effort.
6. c 7. a & c
10. a: Delight (or joy); b: Jeremiah; c: History
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