The Words of Hyung Jin Moon

Founders of Korean Religions - Korea's Unification Church Spreads Out to the World

Newsmaker Magazine
June 3, 2008

The following article was the first in a series of five articles that were printed over the course of five weeks (May 6 -- June 3, 2008) by Newsmaker, a weekly news magazine published by Kyunghyang Newspaper in Korea.

Started as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in 1954… the name of the church was changed in 1994

On April 18, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the youngest son of the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, was inaugurated world president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and president of FFWPU Korea.

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (known as the Unification Church) officially began in 1954. The original name of the church was the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. When the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon put up the first church sign, he said, “the day that we take this sign down must come soon.” In 1994, the sign was finally taken down and the name of the church was changed to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

On April 18, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the youngest son of the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon became the official representative of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. He had inherited the position of world president and president of the Korean church. His older brother, Kook Jin Moon, is the chairman of the foundation that oversees Unification Church businesses. Within the Unification Church, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon’s rise to leadership is seen as an historical event that advances the “providence” one step closer to “realization.”

The Unification Church was the first among religions founded in Korea to spread out to the world and it has spread further than any other. The Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who established the Unification Church, was born in Sangsa-ri, Deokeon-myeon, Jeongju-gun, Pyung-annam-do in 1920. His birth name was Yong Myung Moon. Born as the second son out of eight children, he studied Chinese literature in the local village school as a youth. At age 15, he transferred to the Osan Elementary School, where he learned Western literature. In that same year, his family converted to Presbyterianism and he became a Christian.

In 1935, while he prayed on Easter morning, Reverend Moon is said to have received a revelation directly from Jesus. According to The History of the Unification Church, Jesus told Reverend Moon that he failed in his work of saving humanity and repeatedly asked Reverend Moon to take on that mission.

At that time, the [Japanese colonial forces in Korea] oppressed all forms of religious worship, including Christian, and instead strongly enforced compulsory shrine worship. Christians consider this time period to be one when they were thoroughly bereft of their religious rights. It is worthy to note that Reverend Moon’s religious awakening happened at such a time.

Dr. Jaeha Lee, head chaplain at Jung Ang University, who majored in historical theology, explains,

“Christianity in the late 1930s was being spiritually raped by imperialist Japan. When existing religious teachings couldn’t function, some went on a passionate search.

Some people risked their lives saying that they saw things that no one else had seen at that time. Those who believed them said that they had received revelations from God, but those who opposed them claimed that they had come in contact with the spirit of Satan. Whichever of the two was the case, it remains a fact that those people had strong religious experiences.”

The Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who graduated elementary school at age 19, went to Seoul to study electricity at the Kyeongseong Practical School of Commerce and Industry, where he completed the middle school course. During this time, he attended the Myeong-su-dae Church in Heuk Seok Dong and started an active life of faith. He became a Sunday school teacher and was devoted to the point of witnessing on the street near Changgyeong Palace and Seoul Station.

Immediately after Korean liberation, in October 1945, Reverend Moon entered the Israel Monastery in Paju-gun, which is in Kyeonggi province [in South Korea]. There, he prayed and studied the Bible. While he stayed there for six months, he worked as a guide in the Sangdo-dong Assembly Hall, which was connected to the Israel Monastery. The Israel Monastery was ostracized from established Christianity because of its tendency toward mysticism. Its leader, Baek-moon Kim, wrote Theology of the Holy Spirit and The Fundamental Principle of Christianity, in which he espouses a unique interpretation of the Bible. Some say that the roots of Unification Church doctrine Exposition of the Divine Principle (Exposition) come from him. The Unification Church rejects such claims.

On June 6, 1946, Reverend Moon went to Pyongyang in North Korea. It is said that God guided him to go to that city. In the entire Korean peninsula, Christianity had been the strongest in Pyongyang up until that time. Christianity was very active there, to the extent that Pyongyang was nicknamed ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ and mystic movements proclaiming that Jesus would return to Korea were widespread. Some made every preparation for the Lord’s return, including the preparation of clothes and meals for Jesus at his return.

Reverend Moon evangelized in Pyongyang, but he ran his church without a sign on the door. In this church, which was called the ‘Wilderness Church,’ he taught a new interpretation of the Bible to his followers while worshiping with them. However, a few months after he started his church, he was arrested on charges of disturbing public order and kept in custody for 100 days. The North Korean government must have found it suspicious that Reverend Moon was running a church with no sign on its door and with different beliefs than those of conventional Christian churches.

Reverend Moon started his pastoral work again after being released from custody. However in early 1948, he was arrested under the same charge and sentenced to a five-year imprisonment with hard labor. One of the main reasons he was imprisoned was that many people reported on him. He was luckily liberated when the Korean War broke out during his time in Hungnam Prison.

While in refuge in Beomnae-gol, Busan, Reverend Moon wrote Exposition, which would become Unification Church scripture. In Exposition, the need for a new truth is explained in this way: “It may be displeasing to religious believers, especially to Christians, to learn that a new expression of truth must appear. They believe that the scriptures they have are already perfect and flawless. Certainly, truth itself is unique, eternal, immutable and absolute. Scriptures, however, are not the truth itself, but are textbooks teaching the truth. They were given at various times in history as humankind developed both spiritually and intellectually. The depth and extent of teaching and the method of expressing the truth naturally varied according to each age. Consequently, we must never regard such textbooks as absolute in every detail.” Simply put, the Bible teaches the truth, but it must be newly interpreted in light of new discoveries made in each age. The claim is that Exposition was made for such a purpose.

When the doctrinal system of his church was completed, Reverend Moon, who had come out of refuge to Seoul, established a religious body called the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity on May 1, 1954 in Bukhak-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul. One year after he started evangelizing in earnest, something happened which grabbed the attention of the society.

The Unification Church, as it claims, answers questions that Christianity has been unable to. It gives positive answers that resolve questions young people in advanced civilizations have about conflicts between religion and science and contradictions between faith and reason. The Unification Church evangelized using logic, reason and a modern interpretation of the Bible as its weapons. As a result, Professor Sang-rae Park and students of Yonsei University converted to the Unification Church. Professor Yun-yeong Yang and tens of students at Ewha Womans University did the same. These were known as the ‘Yonsei Incident’ and ‘Ewha Incident.’

In these incidents, not only students, but also professors, of major Christian private universities run by Protestant churches had converted to the Unification Church. Even Professor Young Oon Kim of Ewha, who was sent to investigate the Unification Church, converted. The Christian world was turned upside-down. Yonsei University dismissed one professor and expelled two students. Ewha Womans University dismissed five professors who were involved and expelled fourteen students. The Protestant church, feeling the danger of the situation, branded the Unification Church as heresy and actively confronted the Unification Church.

Moreover, in 1955, Reverend Moon was held in custody together with church elders for violating military service law. He was released in three months when he was found innocent but public opinion started to condemn the Unification Church. Once the Unification Church started to receive attention in society, it started evangelizing in earnest. In 1957, 116 missionaries were sent to 116 regions and in the next year missionaries were sent to Japan and America. After overcoming the criticism of established churches within Korea, the Unification Church started to gain a foothold in its foreign missions from this time.

In keeping with the situation of the time, when North and South Korea were in an ideological conflict, the Unification Church put forth its Victory Over Communism ideology. The International Federation for Victory over Communism (IFVOC) was structured and worked hard to disseminate anti-communist ideology. Finally, IFVOC was established throughout Korea through the dissemination of its ideology.

The Unification Church declared that the battle of ideologies was the final battle for humanity. This is how it’s explained in Exposition: “…one final and inescapable conflict remains before us, the war between democracy and communism… Therefore, in order for God's providence of salvation to be completely fulfilled, this new truth should first elevate the idealism of the democratic world to a new level, then use it to assimilate materialism, and finally bring humanity into a new world.”

The Unification Church turned its interest internationally from the 1960s. Reverend Moon visited over 40 nations at that time and went to America in 1972 to start his full-scale activities in America.

Even those with no interest in religion were deeply impressed by the images of Unification Church international marriage ceremonies. Starting in 1961, when 36 couples were married in a ceremony officiated by Reverend Moon, every year these marriages have continued, creating hundreds of thousands of international couples. The claim made is that international marriage ceremonies are the beginning point of world peace and the way to unification.

Just as the official name of the Unification Church changed in 1994 to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the Unification Church teaches that the family is the minimum-size unit that can be saved and the basic unit through which God’s providence can be fulfilled. The Unification Church also teaches that world peace can come about through peace between family members.

After enduring numerous twists and turns, Reverend Moon proclaimed the opening of the nation of the unified cosmos on October 3, 1988. In the proclamation speech, he said,

“North and South will be liberated, Asia will be liberated, the world will be liberated -- not only the earthly world, but also hell in the spirit world -- and through that True Parents’ hopes will be fulfilled and the world of God’s true liberation can be established. Therefore, we now raise the flag of love in 120 nations, with a new brightly-burning beacon of unification.”

The Family Federation is aiming at establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, where the principles of God’s creation and His providence can be completely fulfilled. The Kingdom of Heaven is also the dream of all people who have been struggling through suffering in their lives. We will have to wait and see if the great dream of the Family Federation will become reality on the earth. 

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