Unification News for August 2003
Cross Reconsidered Conference for ACLC at a major Seminary
by Rev. Michael Jenkins
Rev. Levy Daugherty as executive director of the ACLC did a fantastic job at developing and coordinating a second of a series of theological conferences that Father requested concerning the movement to end the era of the cross.
Rev. Phillip Schanker opened and moderated the conference citing that this is an historic time in which the faiths of Abraham are becoming one. Rev. Schanker talked about the pilgrimage to Israel and how he is now preparing for an even greater pilgrimage now. Rev. Schanker is playing such a key role in educating the clergy and the scholars through teaching and through the powerful documentary film-making he is doing with Simon Kinney. He is creating such a powerful tools through the videos to capture the spirit of this historic march to the realization of God's Kingdom. We are grateful for his contribution. When we showed the video today "Beyond the Cross' -- people were overwhelmed by the interviews and the scenes of the greatest movement of reconciliation in all of history. Rev. Schanker is on the cutting edge.
Another historic seminar was successfully completed recently at Union Theological Seminary. A theological revolution is in the making because the more we pursue the issue the more it becomes clear that we are on very solid ground Biblically, theologically and in terms of the heart of reconciliation with the First Israel.
Rabbi David Ben Ami and myself opened the session giving an overview of the movement to end the era of the cross opening to receiving the crown at the time of the return of the Lord. I gave the overview of the movement that began with Father Moon's call to end the era of the cross at the Washington Times 20th anniversary.
Archbishop Stallings led the way on December 31st in taking the cross down from Imani temple. Through the Divine Principle convocations understanding spread so that on Good Friday this year, 123 churches removed their crosses. It was discovered that God had already prepared the way when the Hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" revealed a fundamental principle which the majority of Christians support -- that when the Lord comes we will one day exchange our cross for a crown.
This opened up the door for hundreds of churches to follow. Little did we know at that time that this would be part of the key conditions to bring reconciliation between the first and second Israel. Suddenly after the Easter victory and resurrection experience Father directed the ACLC to go to Israel and begin a movement of repentance, reconciliation and atonement. This led to the overwhelming breakthrough of response from Jewish leaders and the repentance of the first, second and third Israels combined with the embrace of Ishmael and the Muslim family. Now we are going to Jerusalem to "March for Peace" We have the mandate and the anointing of the Lord. Now the Moslem leaders are continually playing a key role in the process -- Therefore an additional focus of our conference is reflected in the conference title -- Harmony and Peace in The Middle East: Among the Children of Abraham -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim Reconciliation.
Rabbi David Ben Ami (who first stood with us during the religious freedom era), was deeply inspired. He said, "This is the movement -- the IIFWP, the ACLC and the movement of Rev. Moon -- this movement is the most committed and realistic movement in the world at consistently respecting and embracing and unifying all religions to work together harmoniously. He testified that he is confident and committed to open the hearts of the Jewish leaders in America and throughout the world. He said that once they really understand Rev. Moon and the way God is working through this movement they will feel comfortable. Many will feel that this is the time of the Messiah that the Jews have been waiting for since the time of the prophets.
Dr. Lonnie McLeod, was so excited. Last night he shared with me that he was discussing this with a prominent German Theologian who has been his life long mentor. He said that as they discussed the issue of the cross more and more the German theologian said that this is an historic and Biblically and theologically correct move in history. The cross, though endearing to the Christians, actually was not the symbol that the Christians chose, but rather became their symbol through Constantine the emperor and began as a symbol of Conquest. It is definitely a wall that must come down if the Jews and Christians are to ever reconcile. And reconcile they must if they are to ever realize the fulfillment of scripture. Without this reconciliation and the unity of the Abrahamic faiths the world is in grave danger of being torn apart by those who deny God and want to rule by violence and terror. Dr. Mcleod was deeply pleased with his mentor's response. He shared with me that this is a much bigger revolution than people can imagine. Rev. Moon has discovered an emotional attachment that is not theologically grounded.
The first session was on "Abraham, The Father of our faiths" -- Dr. Mcleod, Dan Fefferman, and Imam Ameer Salahuddin were the presenters. UTS President, Dr. Tyler Hendricks moderated.
Dr. Lonnie Mcleod of New York Theological Seminary shared he sees the major road to reconciliation of the Abrahamic faiths in that the cross must be overcome. He stated that for Christians the cross has become a place of residence instead of a stepping stone to the resurrection, victory and joy. "We are focusing on the misery and suffering instead of the resurrection and victory. This will not heal or lift up the people. It's time to move beyond the cross." Dan Fefferman did a masterful job at highlighting the special nature of Abraham as the father of faith, citing the time when Abraham cried out to God because his conscience caused him to ask God. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Dan went on to say this was a great quality of Abraham -- his conscience allowed him to have a sincere and honest relationship with the Lord. Then Dan explained that this is one of the great teachings of Rev. Moon -- that your conscience must be above all. You must be guided by your conscience. Centering on your conscience you even have the right to discuss the way of righteousness with God. Dan also shared how he came to be a follower of the teachings of Jesus through the late Dr. C.L. Franklin, the famous Detroit preacher who was the Father of Aretha. Dr. Franklin stated that he didn't care if Jesus was historical or just spiritual but for him, Jesus is real because he lives in me. Dan went on to say that Abraham is real because he lives in me.
Imam Salahuddin is a courageous Moslem Imam who is totally tearing down the walls. He cited the common ground that the Messiah is consistent with all Abrahamic faiths. He made it clear that the scriptures call for one man to fulfill the role of the Messiah and that the one man is coming to be the Jewish messiah, the Muslim messiah and the Christian second coming. He went on with confidence to say that it is clear by the fruit we are seeing that this ONE MAN IS HERE. That's why we are now coming together.
After our luncheon the second session began entitled "Root Causes of the Divide: The Cross Reconsidered" Bishop Stallings, Dr. Andrew Wilson and Rev. Jenkins, Moderated by Dr. Frank Kaufmann. Dr. Wilson led off. It is really amazing to see how God is working through the Unificationist scholars. This is the time that God has prepared them for and they are stepping out into the cutting edge of history. Dr. Wilson laid it out. If we don't deal with how the real stumbling blocks between the Jews and the Christians we aren't going to accomplish anything. The stumbling block is that Jesus was rejected. This has to be reconciled. Also Christians don't live up to the Gospel and persecute the Jews. The real issue is to take away the real cause of the problem. To do that the Christians are repenting for having lifted up the cross which is the symbol of pain to God and incorrectly having exalted it as the ultimate purpose of Jesus. His ultimate purpose was to bring the family of God and to restore Adam and Eve. These repenting Christians are sincerely going to Israel and this is moving the Jews. Now the Jews must respect and honor Jesus as a Man of God. This will heal the historical pain and liberate the sons of Abraham.
Bishop Stallings, ACLC Chairman of the Executive Committee is the practicing theologian of the revolution. He took it to another level when he showed that we must understand that Jesus came for Restoration. That is the restoration of what Adam and Eve failed to accomplish. The family of God that was obedient to his word. We must understand God's heart when he saw the rejection of his son. The Truth is that the cross is a source of enormous pain to God. Yes we must do as Jesus said, Deny ourselves, pick up the cross and follow him. But he didn't mean to pick up a literal wooden cross. The redemptive power of sacrificial love is always healing and that was the teaching of Jesus. The fact that he had to go the way of the cross came about due to the lack of faith, in his family, disciples, John the Baptist and ultimately the leaders of that day. Father Moon discovered this truth. There is no denying it. That is how it is and this has liberated Christians, Jews and Muslims.
I gave a power point presentation on the movement to take down the cross and the door that was opened in Israel through this process. He cited that these historical meetings often do not seem that historic or important from an outward appearance but you never know what is going on in the hearts of the people. He cited the testimony of Bishop John Witherspoon, ACLC co-convener in Wisconsin. Bishop Witherspoon shared honestly that during Bishop Stallings keynote sermon in Jerusalem he suddenly was filled with negative feelings toward the Jews. He suddenly started remembering negative stereotypes and his own experiences with his landlord in Milwaukee. Suddenly he was filled with negativity just as Bishop Stallings was repenting for Christianity not having the right heart to the elder brother of Judaism. Suddenly, Bishop Witherspoon was overwhelmed and felt that he must repent. He is here to reconcile, how can he allow these old prejudices to remain in his heart? He repented. Just as he did a prominent Jewish woman -- a well known artist -- came to him saying I think I should be with you today. Their hearts were both touched. She sent him a letter later testifying to the enormity of the impact on her life. Christians coming with a mission to repent and forgive. Especially African Americans who like the Jews were slaves -- "How we must respect and be grateful for the nobility of your souls." Bishop Witherspoon was in tears when he received this letter saying, "my life has been healed and changed forever".
The final session was moderated by Dr. Tyler Hendricks. Dr. Kaufmann and Dr. Joseph Puder -- director of the American Jewish Congress of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were the presenters. Dr. Kaufmann was deep and very serious. He analyzed in a profound way that the political systems of man have been developed to their highest level of sophistication but they are unable to bring peace. No further political development alone will solve the problem. The violence between Abel and Cain is one of a religious nature. It was based on their offering to God. Therefore the real restoration of the problem can only be religious. Politics is needed and has its place but to reconcile the problem of the religious conflict between Cain and Abel we need Repentance, Forgiveness and Reconciliation. No Justice , No Peace is correct but we must go deeper. There can be no justice without the qualities that allows all sides to repent, forgive and reconcile. This is not something Governments can do -- this is the role of religion -- therefore the work we are doing with the Abrahamic faiths is this path and will lead to both Justice and Peace.
Dr. Puder was gave a very important contribution to the effort. He is from Israel and is the son of Holocaust survivors. He was honest and real. He stated that without the religions there can be not peace. The problem is not about land, its rooted in religion. He felt that unless we get to the real source of the motive behind the radicals we will never solve the problem. Therefore the misuse of scripture of ill purpose to vent hatred must be uncovered. We must find Scriptural common ground to bring peace.
Rev. Jesse Edwards gave a powerful testimony of his experience in Israel. He shared that he saw the sacrifice of taking down the cross as the power that opened up the door of brotherhood. He said, "Folks, God is doing this. I saw with my own eyes in Israel that the Jews, Christians and Muslims are all from the same Abraham and from the same God. We are true brothers. Now we are becoming brothers in heart. This will bring the Kingdom of God."
Archbishop Moses De La Rosa gave a moving testimony of his life changing experience. Rome, Israel it is changing. He testified that he never grew up with a cross, however a church he was called to pastor had a cross. Before this movement was started he received in revelation that the cross must come down. He had the ceremony with his mentor and the Bishop that trained him. He said it made controversy but it didn't matter because "It's my church that God is guiding me to pastor". God is leading the way. His wife, Bishop Margie De La Rosa is an American Indian who was commissioned by Father Moon to bless all the tribes of Indians when she came back from Israel. She said, "The Holy Wine has the Power -- it is an awesome power. They drink the holy wine communion and their marriage is strengthened and sanctified. The Holy Wine -- Oh my -- such a power it has!!!"
We prayed and sang with Rev. Daugherty. It was a beautiful victory for God and True Parents.
Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents