Essentials Of The Unification Principle
by Thomas Cromwell
16. Parallels In History
Although Jesus was unable to complete the messiah's mission, his spiritual victory over Satan paved the way for the providence to move to a new level. Those who accepted and believed in Jesus, the Christians, inherited his victory and assumed the special mission of leading the restoration providence. Once the leaders of Israel had rejected Jesus as the messiah, the primary responsibility for laying a foundation for true parents was transferred from the physical descendants of Jacob to the spiritual lineage of Jesus.
The mission of Christianity has been to restore the 2000 years of Israel's preparation for true parents by indemnifying all the mistakes in the earlier providence. Because of Christianity's central providential role, its history is of particular importance for all humankind. Christians have had the advantage of building on the conditions laid by the Israelites as well as the spiritual foundation established by Jesus. Nevertheless, they have faced many of the same problems as those confronted by the Jews in the earlier dispensation. As this chapter will show, Christian history has followed a course remarkably similar to Israel's. However, instead of significantly shortening the time required to lay a foundation for true parents, Christianity has paralleled Israel's pattern of achieving a few spiritual victories against a background of many providential mistakes. The ultimate consequence has been a 2000-year prolongation of the providence of restoration, with the six main periods of Israel's history mirrored almost perfectly in Christian history. These repeated patterns in the restoration providence produce the parallels in history that this chapter examines in the limited context of Israel-Christian history.
A significant difference between the histories of Israel and Christianity lies in the difference between their missions: Israel's was substantial national preparation for the true parents, whereas Christianity's was global but spiritual. Furthermore, those who accepted Jesus and obeyed his words had the benefit of living lives centered on a true son of God whose depth of heart and spiritual understanding were unequalled.
Much of the history of Israel is contained in the Bible, but there is no corresponding scriptural account of the Christian era. The New Testament was written within seventy years of Jesus' death. But God has been working for the restoration of fallen humans over the past 2000 years with as much determination as He did during the 2000 years before Jesus. The signs of His providence are there to be discovered in the history of the last two millennia.
Undoubtedly, the two most important providential developments in the years since Jesus walked the earth have been the emergence of Christianity and Islam as the world's most powerful religions. Clearly the phenomenal growth of these two global belief systems is related to God's providence of salvation. This chapter examines the most significant dispensational developments in Christian history, as they parallel the history of Israel, while the following chapter discusses the role of Mohammed and Islam in God's providence.
400 Years of Hebrew Slavery and Christian Persecution
The 400 years of Hebrew slavery in Egypt were paralleled by 400 years of Christian persecution under the Roman Empire.
Because Jesus, the founder of Christianity, walked a course of suffering and persecution, culminating in his death on the cross, those who have followed in his footsteps have likewise had to go a way of suffering. Many of his early followers were martyred by secular powers, sometimes acting hand in hand with ecclesiastic authorities who persecuted the new religion. In particular, the Roman Empire, of which Israel/Palestine was a province, opposed the new faith and put many Christians to death, often in extremely cruel ways. The established religions in the Roman Empire felt threatened by the vibrant new faith and did everything possible to crush it; but the persecution did not succeed in destroying Christianity. On the contrary, it flourished. In 325 Emperor Constantine of Rome had a vision of Christ's cross and converted to Christianity. He moved his capital to Constantinople, where, by the end of that century, Christianity was made the state religion by Emperor Theodosius II.
The 400 years of Christian suffering under Rome paralleled the 400 years of slavery the Israelites underwent in Egypt, where they were under the heel of harsh secular authorities supported by a pagan priesthood. In both cases, the oppressed maintained their beliefs and traditions and, with God's help, eventually triumphed over their oppressors.
400 Years of Judges and Church Patriarchs
The 400 years during which Judges ruled Israel were paralleled by 400 years of church patriarchs ruling the Christian world.
Israel's suffering in Egypt came to an end when Moses was sent to liberate the Hebrew slaves and take them into the promised land of Canaan. Once they reached Canaan, they embarked on a 400-year period of rule by judges, beginning with Joshua and ending with Samuel. In Canaan they were no longer oppressed slaves but rulers over the land, and for the first time in their history they were able to shape their national destiny. But they made many mistakes, not only in failing to unite, but especially in their failure to set up a clear internal separation between their life of faith centered on the Mosaic law, on the one hand, and the idolatry of the Canaanites, on the other. Thus, instead of establishing a God-centered nation that could receive true parents, they mixed their religion and culture with that of the Canaanites, diminishing the purity of their faith and lineage and losing sight of their central mission.
The second 400 years of Christian history began with the newly sovereign religion positioned to mold a new civilization rising out of the ashes of the Roman Empire. Christian missionaries bravely set out to convert the tribes of Europe, laying the religious, economic and social foundations of European civilization.
At the same time, this period was characterized by deepening divisions within the church and the growing power of church patriarchs, each with his own area of ecclesiastic influence. Five patriarchal sees emerged: Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome. The patriarchs had considerable power over secular affairs as well as religious, thus enjoying a status similar to that of Israel's judges.
As the power of the patriarchs grew they tended to see each other as rivals rather than brothers in Christ. This inter-patriarchal rivalry and disunity paralleled the inter-tribal disunity in Israel that bedeviled the period of judges. The contentiousness was coupled with theological ossification as churches drew lines around their beliefs and became increasingly critical of others' theologies. In the midst of this growing competitiveness and power-seeking among the churches, the central mission of Christianity was forgotten. The real purpose of the church was to create a foundation for true parents and the Kingdom of Heaven they were to usher in. This required faith and purity, which were somehow overlooked in the rush for external values. Towards the beginning of this period Augustine articulated a vision of a kingdom under God, but the church was not sufficiently pure and focused to implement it.
120 Years of United Kingdoms
The 120 years of the United Kingdom of Israel were paralleled by 120 years of the United Christian Kingdom.
At the end of 400 years of judges, the last judge, Samuel, responded to the wishes of his people by anointing Saul the first king of Israel. Saul's mission was to unify the twelve tribes of Israel in one kingdom, centered on the Temple and the law of Moses. This United Kingdom of Israel was to prepare for true parents, who would make Israel into the cornerstone of the Kingdom of Heaven. Saul was unable to win the support of Samuel, and this quarrel between the secular and religious authorities caused his downfall. His successor, David, was a fine military leader who built a great empire, but was not allowed by God to build the Temple. David's son, Solomon, failed to unite the Israelites around the Temple, when he did build it, so that on his death Israel was divided into northern and southern kingdoms, ruled by his servant and son, respectively. According to scriptures, Saul, David and Solomon each ruled for forty years, giving the United Kingdom a life span of 120 years.
Among the leaders of the Christian church, the patriarch of Rome, or Pope, claimed a central position as the man who had inherited the mantle of Jesus' leading disciple, Peter. This position was not recognized by the other churches, leading to conflicts between the church of Rome in the West and the Eastern Orthodox churches. This schism eventually developed into a complete break between the eastern and western churches, in 1054.
The relative unity of Western Christianity, centered on the Pope (in contrast to the four largely independent sees in the East), provided an opportunity for God to set up a unified Christian nation to prepare for true parents. Therefore, the central providential course within Christianity was focused on developments in the western church.
In the year 800, Pope Leo III anointed Charlemagne as the first ruler of the United Christian Kingdom. He understood his mission was to realize Augustine's vision of a "City of God" by creating a united Christendom. Charlemagne was inspired by the ideal of Christian unity under God and proposed union with the Eastern Orthodox churches. With unusual farsightedness, he recognized the importance of good relations between Christianity and the new religion of Islam, and made overtures to its leadership in Baghdad; but the dream was not to be fulfilled. Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, a man of inferior vision, quarreled. This lack of cooperation between church and state would become a major problem in medieval Europe. Thus disunity crept into the Christian kingdom and, in the third generation of his family, just 120 years after the anointing of Charlemagne, his grandsons divided the kingdom into three domains, which eventually formed two blocs: the East Franks and West Franks. The faithlessness and disunity of the Christians prevented them from setting up a God-centered kingdom to receive true parents.
400 Years of Divided Kingdoms
The 400 years of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were paralleled by 400 years of division between the Eastern and Western Frankish kingdoms.
The northern kingdom of Israel did not accept the warnings of the prophets, refused to repent, and was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians. Four centuries after the division of Solomon's Israel, the kingdom of Judah in the south, which also refused to obey God and persisted in idolatry, was invaded by Babylon. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and the leading Israelites taken into captivity.
In the Christian providence, the division of the United Christian Kingdom into West and East Franks marked the beginning of a long period of division and decline, with only isolated mystics and monastics, such as Francis of Assisi and Dominic, setting the example of true devotion to God. These Christian saints were like the Hebrew prophets who reminded the Israelites of their true purpose and exhorted them to turn from evil ways.
However, instead of laying foundations for the Kingdom of Heaven, Christian leaders were preoccupied with ecclesiastic conflicts and dragged the church into a quagmire of disputation and disunity. The western church came to see the eastern church and the new religion of Islam as its chief enemies instead of potential allies in the battle against evil. The Popes in Rome encouraged Christians in the West to take up arms in crusades to liberate Jerusalem from the "infidel" Muslims. On the way to Jerusalem, the knights took time to attack savagely and destroy communities of Jews and to strike at the heart of Orthodoxy by capturing Constantinople and defiling Saint Sophia, the most important church in the Orthodox world. This lamentable behavior by the western church could lead only to its isolation from God and invasion by Satan. resulting in spiritual corruption and decline.
210 Years of Exile and Return
The 70 years of Jewish exile in Babylon, followed by 140 years during which the Israelites returned to Jerusalem and restored the Temple, were paralleled by 70 years of papal exile in Avignon and 140 years of disputes over papal authority.
When, after repeated warnings, Judah failed to honor God, its leading class was taken into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. During their exile, the Israelites repented for their sins in order to be forgiven and allowed to return to Jerusalem. They were chastened by this humbling experience in Babylon, and they resolved to rectify their wrongdoing. This repentant attitude made it possible for God to restore them to freedom and allow them to return to their homeland. On returning to Israel they rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple and recommitted themselves to God. They then embarked on a final 400-year period of preparation for true parents.
In Christian history, the crusades ultimately ended in failure, after costing Europe many lives and a great deal of money. More importantly, the credibility of the papacy came into question. Christians wondered how supposedly infallible popes could have set Christendom on such a disastrous course. The authority of the papacy declined and eventually it was subjected to the indignity of exile under the aegis of French kings, who sought to use it for their own interests. In 1309, King Philip IV arranged for the election of Pope Clement V, who moved the papacy to the French city of Avignon, where for seventy years it remained a virtual hostage of the French monarchy.
The exile in Avignon marked the nadir of papal authority and prestige. The papacy fell into disrepute because of gross immorality, including the keeping of mistresses, fathering of illegitimate children and other abuses. The historian Petrarch dubbed this period the Babylonian exile of the papacy due to the decadence and profligacy of the French Court. Religious authorities who were supposed to represent Abel were completely dominated by political powers who represented Cain. In this disgraceful state, the church could not serve God. After the exile in Avignon ended, there was a further period of confusion and disunity in the papacy, with two, and sometimes three, Popes vying for universal recognition. The papacy was eventually confirmed in Rome once more, but without the church having undergone the self-purification it desperately needed.
400 Years of Final Preparation for True Parents
The 400 years of preparation for true parents that preceded the arrival of Jesus were paralleled by a second 400-year period of global preparation for true parents, initiated by renewal of the Christian church.
As in the history of Israel, revitalization of the church came from reformers who were dismayed by what they saw in their religion, including corruption of the leadership, and spoke out forcefully against it. To reform religion, they returned to its foundations. In Israel's history, reformation came through the work of Ezra and Nehemiah, who dealt with the abuses of the Temple hierarchy by turning the people back to the law of Moses. Instead of despairing over a corrupt priesthood as the channel to God, the Jews could find their way to God directly by studying the law and practicing it for themselves.
In Christian history, a growing number of lay Christians, empowered by the new culture of learning fostered by the Renaissance, became distrustful of self-serving church dogma and began to study the Bible themselves. Several prominent Christian scholars started to speak out against the Church's violations of scriptural commands and standards. In particular, they attacked its teachings on the status of the Pope and the practice of selling indulgences, neither of which could be defended scripturally. Study the scriptures, they told the people, and you will find the proper standard of faith.
Several of these critics paid with their lives for speaking out against the church. But in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses (which included criticism of the practice of papal indulgences) to the church door in Wittenberg, he inadvertently triggered a full-scale revolt against Rome. This Protestant Reformation ended once and for all the monolithic control of Rome over western Christians. It, and subsequent reform movements within the Roman Catholic Church, resulted in a massive purification of the church and inaugurated a 400-year period of intense preparation for true parents. This will be discussed further in Chapter 19.
The 2000 years of Christian history have closely paralleled Jewish history and have served to lay a foundation for the realization of God's purpose for humankind, an ideal world of true love. Based on the spiritual victory of Jesus, this foundation is itself spiritual and can be fully manifested only through the coming of true parents. The dispensation of restoration in the Christian era has been prolonged because of the many mistakes made by religious and political leaders chosen to play key roles in the providence of God. Nevertheless, many fine Christian men and women of faith have left a rich legacy of spiritual insight and inspiration.
When it came, the Protestant Reformation was a desperately needed movement of purification for Western Christianity, and it set in motion forces that have transformed the world over the past four centuries. In this period humankind has been prepared for a new Adam and Eve who will complete the work of Jesus and all the prophets and saints of the history of restoration. The final four-century period of global preparation for true parents will be explained in Chapter 19. But first, the life of the prophet Mohammed and the role of Islam in the providence will be discussed.
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