Essentials Of The Unification Principle
by Thomas Cromwell
15. Jesus And Christianity
At the culmination of six centuries of intense global preparation for true parents, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Israel. Despite his all-important mission, his parents were poor and he started life in very humble circumstances. During his mere thirty-three years on earth, he reached some prominence as a radical religious reformer and worker of miracles but was not known well beyond a limited circle of relatives and disciples. Nevertheless, his short life shook the world. Today there are more followers of Jesus than any other religious figure in history. Clearly his life was of great importance in the providence of restoration.
To understand Jesus from the point of view of providential history, one must examine his life in the context of his identity and mission in the dispensation of restoration. Getting a clear picture of Jesus is not easy, primarily because the four Gospels that record his words and deeds are inadequate at best, with each account somewhat different from the others and all of them brief. If the recorded words of Jesus were separated from the stories of his life and placed in a book of their own, it would be a slim volume indeed. Further compounding the problem, the dearth of reliable contemporary biographical material on Jesus has clouded his image as a historical figure and resulted in the creation of many popular myths regarding who he was and what he did. These myths often present obstacles to understanding the real Jesus in his providential context.
The public mission of Jesus lasted for less than three years, at the end of which he was rejected by the very people he had come to save. Instead of welcoming him. the Jewish leaders handed him over to the Roman governor for execution. Why did this happen? How was it that the descendants of Jacob, who had been preparing for a savior for 2000 years, allowed the death of the very person they had awaited with such longing? This chapter discusses the identity and mission of Jesus, why that mission could not be completed and what the consequences of this were for the providence of restoration.
The Mission of Jesus
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, God's central objective in history has been the restoration of the position of first ancestors, sinless true parents who could fulfill the three blessings. Only through true parents can sinful human beings be separated from the lineage of their false parents, Adam and Eve, and be 'reborn' into the lineage of God's true love. All the efforts of God's central figures in the providence until Jesus, that is, the work of the prophets, saints and sages of the Old Testament Age as well as the founders of the great Asian religions, had been directed towards laying a foundation for true parents. Jesus came to reap the harvest of those efforts and to establish the true parents.
Jesus was sent by God to restore the position of Adam. Once victorious as a second Adam, he would choose a wife to restore Eve, and together they would become true parents. Their offspring would be true children and the starting point of a sinless lineage. All who united with the true parents and their descendants would be grafted onto that pure lineage and separated from the dominion of Satan. In this way, the Kingdom of Heaven would be established on earth.
This mission could not be accomplished unless those prepared to receive Jesus did indeed welcome and follow him. They would have to allow him to educate them in an understanding of God's dispensation for him and for them, so that they could fully understand and support him in his mission. However, Jesus was rejected by the Israelite leaders and handed over to the Romans to be crucified because they did not recognize him as the messiah. His words and deeds contradicted their expectations for the messiah, leading to doubts about his authenticity.
Having labored for 2000 years to raise the mentality, spirituality and responsibility of the people of Israel, so that they would be able to fulfill their providential role, and having often been bitterly disappointed by their faithlessness, God had good reason to be concerned about how the Israelites would respond to Jesus. For this reason, conditions were laid for the people of Jesus' time to accept him as the messiah. The pattern of these conditions resembled Moses' three courses to lay a national foundation. In the life of Jesus there were three attempts made to set up a worldwide foundation for true parents. These three providential courses centered on: first, John the Baptist; second, Jesus' public ministry; and third, the resurrected Jesus. In examining them we can understand why he was rejected by the Israelites despite the great efforts God had made to prepare them.
The Mission of John the Baptist
Jesus came to be a true parent, not to prepare the way for true parents. The man sent to complete the preparations for true parents was John the Baptist. The son of Zachariah, a chief priest of Israel, John was a man of great faith who lived an ascetic life in the desert. He preached a powerful message of repentance, and he baptized followers to purify them of sins in readiness for the coming messiah. Through living a life of rigorous discipline and obedience to the law, John succeeded in laying a foundation of faith; and by winning the devotion of followers through his preaching and baptizing, he established a foundation of substance with the Israelites. Furthermore, John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins.
John's foundation was made for the messiah and therefore had to be offered to Jesus. It was not for John to use for his own promotion in Israel. However, after testifying about Jesus, John doubted the messiahship of Jesus and held back from offering himself and his followers to Jesus. Like most Jews of his time, John must have expected the messiah to come in glory and demonstrate superhuman attributes. Such unrealistic expectations, coupled with the problem of accepting his poor cousin as the long-expected savior, caused John to doubt Jesus. If he had truly believed in Jesus, he would naturally have followed him. However, despite receiving confirmation of the messianic mission of Jesus, in particular through the miraculous public anointing of Jesus at the Jordan River by the Holy Spirit of God, John continued to question Jesus and went his own way instead of becoming a disciple of Christ.
The mission of John was particularly critical to Jesus because John fulfilled a very important prophecy of Malachi. As the last prophecy of the Jewish Bible, given 400 years before Jesus, it said Elijah would return to Israel to prepare the way for the messiah. Elijah was a prophet who had, according to the Bible, been taken to heaven in a chariot of fire at the end of his life, rather than facing normal death. Many Jews expected Malachi's prophecy to be fulfilled through a dramatic return of Elijah. Thus, if Jesus was the messiah, they wanted to know where the promised Elijah was. When Jesus was asked this question by his own disciples, he indicated that John the Baptist had come in the place of Elijah. However, when John was asked about this, he denied being Elijah.
By this denial, John put Jesus in an extremely difficult position. It was much easier for the Israelites to believe John, who came from a credible and respected religious background, than to believe Jesus, who was raised in the home of Joseph, a poor carpenter. Without the help of John, Jesus could not penetrate the leadership echelons of Israel. Instead he had to work with simple folk who accepted him at their own level of understanding but were poorly equipped to introduce him to the rest of the nation. To accomplish his mission, Jesus had to convince the Israelites of his identity and purpose. With the loss of John the Baptist as the foundation-builder for his mission in Israel and his bridge to the people, Jesus was faced with the overwhelmingly difficult task of convincing the Israelites of his messiahship by himself.
Thus, the first course to set up a foundation for Jesus to be received as a true parent ended in failure because John the Baptist did not offer his own foundation and support to Jesus.
Jesus' Public Ministry
When John the Baptist failed his mission, Jesus set out to restore John's lost foundation by laying a foundation himself. In effect, he determined to make indemnity conditions as John had done to prepare for his own messianic mission. He did this by going to the desert to fast for forty days. At the end of the fast he was tempted three times by Satan, but Jesus overcame them. This success set up a foundation of faith for the second course.
To lay a foundation of substance, Jesus had to win the people's love and obedience. Yet the Israelites did not understand him. Even his twelve closest disciples only partially grasped his mission, being simple men of faith with little education or ability in spiritual matters. People were attracted to Jesus mainly because of his healing powers and the miracles he performed, rather than the words of truth he uttered. However, the only reason he performed remarkable feats was to help them recognize him as the messiah. In the end, despite his great efforts, Jesus could not win the hearts and minds of the Israelites.
When Jesus saw that his mission to set up a foundation of substance was not succeeding, he began to tell his disciples that he would have to offer his life for the salvation of humankind, and that the mission of the messiah would have to be completed in a second coming in the future. As the end approached, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem to pray for God's guidance. Even at that final, desperate moment, as soldiers approached to apprehend him, his three closest disciples slept. They simply did not realize his importance and the gravity of the situation.
What's more, when Jesus was arrested and taken for trial before the religious authorities of Israel, his disciples abandoned him altogether, leaving him to be convicted of heresy and turned over to the Romans for execution. He ended his life on the cross surrounded by enemies and deserted by his followers. Without even his disciples showing loyalty and obedience to him, Jesus was unable to lay a foundation of substance.
As a minimum condition of restoration, the three main disciples of Jesus, Peter, James and John, should have been willing to offer their lives to save Jesus. To reverse the fall, in which man and woman died spiritually because of their disobedience to God, individuals must be willing to obey God at the cost of their lives. As the spiritual children of Jesus, the second Adam, the three disciples represented Cain, Abel and Seth. By showing complete obedience to the restored Adam figure, they would have made a condition for the restoration of both generations of Adam's family, a minimum foundation of substance to enable Jesus to pursue his global mission. Instead, they slept during his hour of greatest need and scattered when he was captured by soldiers. When Peter, Jesus' most important disciple, was questioned about his relationship with the Nazarene, he denied his discipleship three times.
Jesus' crucifixion marked the end of his efforts to lay a foundation of substance in the second course. Instead of Cain uniting with Abel, leaders of Israel turned Jesus over to the Roman governor Pilate, who sent him away for execution, in place of a common thief, Barabbas. In this way, the most precious life, from God's point of view, was treated with the least respect by fallen humanity. The crucifixion of Jesus repeated Satan's destruction of Adam and Cain's murder of Abel. The second course ended in failure.
The Resurrected Jesus
Although Jesus was totally rejected by the people, he never lost faith. On the cross he forgave the people their mistake in killing him, even though he had every reason to feel resentful towards them. In his patience and faith at that moment of ultimate agony and frustration, he reversed the loss of faith and anger of Moses at Kadesh. Thus, although Satan could attack and destroy the body of Jesus, he was unable to defeat his spirit. In this way, Jesus gained a great spiritual victory over Satan, a victory that opened the way for a successful third course of restoration.
After his death on the cross, Jesus engaged in a three-day spiritual battle with Satan. Gaining the victory, he appeared on the earth in resurrected form, and immediately began to minister to his followers. He appeared to them repeatedly and encouraged them to believe in him and to carry out the mission he had given them. Jesus told his disciples that they should prepare for a second coming of the messiah. Ministering to them over a forty-day period, he built a strong foundation with his followers, after which he left their immediate presence at his ascension.
Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit descended on a gathering of 120 of his followers, filling them with inspiration and confidence, and empowering them to go out and preach their belief that Jesus was the messiah. It was reported that on that first day of spiritual outpouring, some 3000 people converted to belief in Jesus. From that time on, his disciples had the strength of conviction to sacrifice themselves for Jesus, a commitment of faith they had lacked before his crucifixion.
In the third course, then, Jesus successfully laid a spiritual foundation of faith through his unwavering faith on the cross, his victory over Satan in the spirit world and the forty-day spiritual ministry to his disciples. He also succeeded in laying a spiritual foundation of substance by helping his disciples reach a level of devotion where they were willing to die for him. Thus the third course was victorious, although on a spiritual level. Instead of establishing the promised Kingdom of Heaven on earth by fulfilling the three blessings, Jesus established a spiritual realm of separation from Satan, accessible to all those who believe in him and follow his teachings and example. Thus Christians can achieve spiritual salvation through faith in God and Jesus, and rebirth through the Holy Spirit.
The Crucifixion Was Not God's Will
It is clear from this explanation of Jesus' three courses that the crucifixion was not the original will of God, but rather the result of human failure to obey the will of God. Rejection by the Israelites meant that Jesus was unable to fulfill the three blessings and establish the Kingdom of God on earth. He was forced to go the way of suffering instead. While there were Old Testament prophecies anticipating a suffering course for the messiah, their purpose was to warn of the consequences of faithlessness and not to announce an eventuality. Only after the fact have Christian scholars concluded that prophecies of a suffering messiah were to be fulfilled in the first advent while prophecies of a glorious and victorious messiah would be fulfilled in the second. Old Testament scriptures never speak of the messiah coming twice.
If the crucifixion had been the will of God, one would expect to see Christians, as the sinless inheritors of Jesus' victorious mission, embodying the ideal of true men and women living in an ideal world of peace and prosperity. Yet this is not so. Christians, although benefited by their inheritance from Jesus, are still born under the influence of sin and live in a world that arguably has even more ills than did the world which existed before the advent of Jesus.
Jews point to the crucifixion of Jesus as confirmation of their conviction that he was not the messiah. According to most relevant Old Testament prophecies, the messiah was supposed to be a glorious king who would put their enemies to flight and establish the Kingdom of Heaven in Israel. There was no evidence of Jesus having accomplished this in a life that ended on the cross. However, missing in this Jewish viewpoint is recognition of the all-important role of human responsibility. God always works according to His own principles, whereby His will is realized only when human beings fulfill their own responsibility in responding to God. Thus, as for all other central figures, the messiah's mission can only be successfully completed through the willing cooperation of those chosen to receive and follow him.
Muslims believe it was not Jesus himself who was crucified but someone resembling him who was executed in his place. While the Principle confirms that the spirit of Jesus was indeed victorious and undefeated by the crucifixion, Jesus offered his own body as a condition of indemnity for the salvation of humankind. In fact, it was this offering that laid the foundation for the success of Jesus' third course, which was a spiritual victory and the basis for the worldwide Christian providence.
In Jesus the three great monotheistic religions both meet and diverge. His identity and mission are debated endlessly among believers of the three faiths because of the differences in their understanding of him. For Jews, Jesus was not the awaited messiah but one of their own who broke with tradition and founded his own religion. For Christians, he was the messiah and savior who carried out his God-given mission by dying on the cross. Some Christians believe he was God incarnate, a member of the mystical trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Yet others believe he was a man with divine attributes. Muslims believe that he was a great prophet, the only one called messiah, who helped pave the way for Mohammed.
According to the Principle, Jesus was a man who manifested the true unity of humanity with God. Jesus was the embodiment of God's attributes, and Christians rightly affirm his divinity. Nevertheless, as a man who lived among men, Jesus should not be confused with God, the Creator. There is only one God, and Jesus came to restore humanity's relationship with God.
Jesus appeared on earth as a second Adam in order to restore humanity to its original divine condition, undamaged by the fall. Before the fall harmed his spiritual senses, Adam had the attributes of a true man, created in the image of God and capable of understanding and communicating with his Heavenly Father. A person who manifests God's image can have a perfect love relationship with God, like the relationship between a child and the parent it resembles. In this metaphorical sense, Adam, had he not fallen, was to become a true son of God. As discussed in Chapter 7, his descendants would have been born out of his physical lineage but internally they would have been born into the lineage of God. Because Adam fell, he was never able to manifest God's image, and neither have his descendants. Jesus, as the second Adam, was the first human being to manifest God's image truly. His sinless nature set him apart from fallen men, enabling him to live a morally perfect life in full oneness with God's heart. In this sense, Jesus was a true son of God.
But Jesus was a man. He became thirsty and hungry, tired and angry. He prayed to God for help, and he had to struggle with all the things any ordinary person must struggle with. Indeed, since his mission was to restore the mistakes of Adam, he had to be a man like Adam in every respect. Adam had been created by God without sin. In order for Jesus to be born free from sin, his parents and ancestors had made special conditions to purify the lineage out of which he was born. His purity uniquely qualified him for his messianic mission.
Trinity and Rebirth
The unity of God and the notion of Trinity have long occupied Christianity's most acute theological minds. How can the oneness of God be reconciled with His three modes of revelation: as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? The debate and criticisms over these doctrines point up the difficulty of reconciling revealed religions with the canons of reason. At the deepest level, the finite human conceptions of God's oneness and His various modes of revelation must give way to mystical insight.
According to the Principle, the diversity of the creation mirrors the diversity of God's attributes. Since God is one, the diversity within His being must be transcended by His unity. In other words, the unity of God is, in fact, the unity of His attributes. The fundamental structure of God's unity is the four position foundation, described in Chapter 2. God's four position foundation is the result of interaction among the trinity of God as origin, God as original subject attributes and God as original object attributes. The interaction of this trinity results in the creation of the fourth position: God as a union of original subject and object attributes. God's unchanging purpose, from before the creation of the universe, has been to manifest the four position foundation of His being in the world of creation as ideal families in which God can dwell. The unity of God's being is most fully embodied in a true family.
God first sought to realize the four position foundation in the family of Adam and Eve. Adam, had he grown to perfection, would have been the complete incarnation of God's masculine character, and Eve would have been the incarnation of God's feminine character. God, Adam and Eve would thus have become the first manifest trinity, the basic unit for creation of children, who fulfill the fourth position. But because Adam and Eve fell, God would not abide with them and this first trinity was never realized. God's second attempt to manifest the trinity and four position foundation on earth was through Jesus, the second Adam. Jesus completely manifested God's masculine character, but his life on earth ended before he could take a bride as a second Eve. Nevertheless, on the foundation of Jesus' unchanging faith, God could resurrect him and then establish a four position foundation through the spiritual Trinity: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus came as a second Adam to be a true father. To fulfill this destiny he needed to find a bride who, as a true mother, could unite with him in fulfilling the three blessings. Hence, in the Bible he is referred to as a bridegroom. Since the foundation for true parents was not established for him before his crucifixion, he could not complete the restoration of Adam and Eve during his lifetime. Therefore, after his spiritual victory in the third course, the Holy Spirit, a feminine manifestation of God, joined him in the position of a spiritual Eve. The Holy Spirit functions as a mother to comfort fallen humans and move their hearts to accept Jesus. Thus the trinity within God's oneness was manifest in the Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Since all fallen men and women are born into the lineage of fallen Adam and Eve, they must be reborn into the lineage of true parents. (There is, after all, no birth or rebirth without parents.) Jesus could not set up the true parents on earth, but through his spiritual victory he has been able to offer spiritual rebirth to Christians who follow him and the Holy Spirit. Many devout Christians testify to experiencing spiritual rebirth through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They receive new life from their spiritual parents.
The mission of true parents is now to be accomplished substantially on earth. The failures of Adam and Eve must be restored completely and a new, God-centered lineage established on earth. From this sinless lineage the Kingdom of Heaven will grow to encompass the world.
The crucifixion of Jesus meant that he was unable to fulfill the prophecies of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead he became the spiritual parent of Christians and the founder of a new religion. In the 2000 years since Jesus walked the earth, Satan has continued his dominion over humanity, bringing untold misery and suffering to billions. The work of restoration will be completed only when the dominion of Satan is broken for good and God can rule His children in an ideal world of true love.
Because the founder of Christianity was killed, the believers who have followed in his footsteps have had to suffer great adversity, and many have paid for their faith with their lives.
Another consequence of Jesus' untimely death and inability to establish a victorious foundation on earth is that many Christians are other-worldly in their orientation, certain that an ideal world can be realized only in spirit, and that the physical world and its evil will have to be destroyed literally in a final judgment of God. The danger inherent in this attitude is a tendency to eschew one's responsibility in the expectation that God will end evil by Himself. The Principle shows that restoration can only be accomplished through individuals fulfilling their own responsibilities.
Despite its other-worldly tendencies, however, Christianity has made indispensable contributions to the advancement of humankind, providing the basis for morality and ethics in Western society and many other parts of the world. It has introduced a new level of human spirituality to the world, producing many internal benefits for humankind, as well as enriching devotional practice, theology and philosophy. Christian idealism has inspired artists and writers, scientists and social reformers, and Christian history is rich in good works performed by men and women committed to follow the teachings of Jesus.
Lessons from Jesus' Life Course
It is not easy for fallen people to recognize God's central figures, even the messiah. Jesus had unique internal qualities and an all-important mission, but to the eyes of his fellow Jews he was just another man. The messiah is not a superman, but someone who is pure and at one with God. The Israelites had been prepared by God to receive a messiah for 2000 years, but when he finally came they could not recognize him. They never imagined they might not be able to identify the messiah easily when he came, assuming that he would be clearly distinguished from all other people. Their expectations, based on scripture and prophecy, were not realistic. Even John the Baptist, who was specially sent by God to introduce Jesus to the people of Israel, was blinded by his own misconceptions about the messiah and how he would save Israel. The failure of the Jewish people to recognize Jesus as the messiah is a caution for all who want to know God's central figures for their time.
One must have a humble attitude in order to recognize a central figure of God. At the time of Jesus, the arrogant Jewish leaders were blind to his virtue and truth, whereas a few humble souls could recognize his unique goodness. These humble disciples saw in his actions the works of a true man, and in his words the fulfillment of scriptures. The same test of humility and heart will apply at the advent of true parents, when once again only those who are truly meek and objective before God will be able to recognize them. It is dangerous to be arrogant about one's own spiritual ability, and over-confident about one's interpretation of prophecy. Spiritual arrogance, like that of Israel's religious leaders, blinds a person to the invisible work of God.
Believers cannot depend solely on the viewpoint of their leaders in judging the veracity of a new providential figure. The leaders of Israel, secular and ecclesiastic, did not accept Jesus. Therefore, to follow them meant to stand in opposition to God's will. Because each person is individually responsible before God for his own ultimate destiny, it is vital to augment the truths one receives from tradition and the guidance of one's spiritual leaders with intense prayer and soul-searching. The original mind is always in harmony with God's will.
God does not impose His will on humankind, even through the messiah. Jesus had all the qualifications of a true parent and the complete support of God, and yet God did not force the Israelites to accept him as the messiah. Because Jesus was rejected, God's will was frustrated and God began to prepare again for the coming of true parents. Even when that takes place, the same principle of human responsibility will apply, and only if people accept and follow the new Adam and Eve will God be able to accomplish His purpose at that time. Therefore, it is not enough to wait for God to act and solve humanity's problems. Individuals must seek out God's will and from their own impassioned search find the central figure who can guide them to God.
Following a true person is not easy. John the Baptist and the twelve disciples were the best Jesus could find in Israel, but none of them was ready to offer his life for Jesus. The three chief disciples were not even able to remain awake when Jesus needed them the most. To follow Jesus meant to face one's own fallen nature and struggle to overcome it. A disciple cannot afford to be lazy or lax with matters of constant personal assessment.
If Cain fails his mission, Abel must take responsibility to complete it. When John the Baptist failed to offer his foundation to Jesus, he made it necessary for Jesus to take over his mission. Although Jesus was sent to humankind as the messiah, in practice he spent the bulk of his public mission in preparing the people to receive the messiah, a task that John was to have done for him. If Jesus had not accepted the responsibility of John, he would not have been able to lay any sort of foundation at all. In their lives of faith, men and women who seek to help God may well have to take responsibility for others who fail in their missions.
The fruit of conditions laid on earth can be harvested in the spiritual world. Although Jesus went to the cross a lonely and rejected figure, his unwavering faith through all his trials and tribulations on earth made a foundation for his spiritual victory over Satan. That victory gave him the power to work in the spirit world to save people through the Christian dispensation. The fruit of Jesus' faith is the community of Christian believers, numbering well over one billion people, the billions of Christians in the spirit world, and, indirectly, all other people who have been affected by the impact of Christianity on the whole world.
Messiahship is true parenthood. If the mission of the messiah could be accomplished by an individual working alone in perfect oneness with God, Jesus would have completed the mission by living a morally perfect life. However, history proves that the mission of the messiah could not be completed by Jesus because the Kingdom of Heaven, to be ushered in by the messiah, was not established by him. If it had been, it would exist today.
The messianic mission can be completed only by true parents who establish a sinless lineage as the beginning point of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The life of Jesus provided fallen humanity a glimpse of God's ideal. More than anyone before him, Jesus as the messiah understood the heart of God and God's desperate urgency to restore His fallen children. Jesus shared this heart with others, but he was not understood and ended his life in loneliness and a tragic death. The purity of his character and the veracity of the words he spoke have been confirmed by history and the billions of people, on earth and in the spirit world, who try to follow him today. The ideal world he described and worked to establish in a hostile environment was not realized, but it was brought an important step closer by his life's endeavor and his sacrificial death.
This ideal world will be ushered in by true parents. Therefore, the providence of restoration since the time of Jesus has focused on laying foundations for them on a worldwide level. Christianity has had the central responsibility in carrying out this task, joined six centuries after Jesus by Islam. Since Jews, Christians and Muslims are part of the Abrahamic foundation for true parents, they all continue to have important roles to play in the mainstream of God's providence of restoration.
The following chapter will show how the principles of restoration produced a pattern of salvation in the two millennia of Christian history that has paralleled the providence during the 2000 years from Abraham to Jesus. This providential coincidence confirms the special role Christianity has played in the preparation of the world for the coming of true parents.
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