Articles from the August 1997 Unification News
Nature Of God And Man; The Purpose Of Life.
Volume 1 part 6
Obviously the world we know is hardly the world of God's ideal; indeed, the proverbial description of our earth as a "vale of tears" is not far from the mark. Let us inquire how this could come to be the case.
Observing different earthly phenomenon, we note they all exist within the realm of time. Chemists recognize that in any chemical process, for example, time must elapse before a result can occur. All backyard gardeners know a summer must pass before their tomatoes can be harvested. In the case of the formation of the earth, geologists believe it took as long as four billion years to develop to its present state.
Time is also needed for movement. Each movement has a point that it starts from, a path that it follows, and a concluding point. In the natural world, a lightening bolt reaching a speed of 87,000 miles per second still needs a beginning and an ending point, a path to follow and time to occur.
"Days" as epochs
According to the Bible it took six days for God to complete His work. While indicating that time was integrated into God's creation, this teaching appears contradictory to the discoveries of modern sciences which emphasize the evolution of the earth over eons of time. Reconciling the two understandings, Divine Principle teaches the six days in Genesis does not mean a literal 144 hours. As we are told by the Second Letter of Peter that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8), so we may perhaps best understand the "six days" of creation as the ages or epochs through which God completed His creative work.
They correspond roughly to the successive ages many scientists say the earth has passed through in its development.
The French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, who is well-known for his paleontological work in China, notes that when observed in terms of millions of years, life can easily be seen to move in a definite direction. While anti-religious scientists maintain that development takes place randomly, Teilhard argues that from the lowest to the highest level of the organic world there is a persistent and clearly defined thrust of animal forms toward species with more sensitive nervous systems. For both Teilhard and Divine Principle, the divine mind behind creation is working according to a plan.
States Of Growth
"But you can, Jonathan. For you have learned. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin." -Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Since no one or no thing becomes mature in an instant, growth is a vital dynamic in human life. If one is to fulfill his destiny, if one is to come to full maturity in the eyes of God, he must grow through time. As with all living things, to cease to grow is to die.
While the phenomenon of growth is widely recognized, it is recently coming to be understood in new ways. What Harvard's Erik Erikson did for children, and apparently what Richard Bach did for seagulls, Gail Sheehey has now done for adults; in her bestseller `Passages' she had pointed out that growth never stops: There are different phases of human growth, even in adulthood, and then emergence of advanced phases depends on the successful completion of earlier ones. While Erikson has identified these phases for children and adolescents, Sheehey has begun the task of identifying them for adults. As she points out, the phenomenon of growth is a lifelong process, often precipitated by crises and difficulties.
While recognizing that there are innumerable phases of human development, Divine Principle nevertheless suggests a three-stage model as descriptive of this process. One's movement toward maturity may be thought of in terms of formation, growth and completion. During the first years of his life a child learns how to walk and talk and how to use his personality as a self-concept are established during these formative years.
As he grows older he attains most of his physical size, develops a greater measure of independence from his parents and cultivates his own circle of friends. Thus he actualizes the growth stage of his life. Reaching adulthood he not only becomes mature physically, but, ideally speaking, during this completion stage he also gains an autonomous personality and develops a mature capacity to love and work.
Since every being develops through these three general stages, Divine Principle teaches that the number three represents the state of completion.
The Dominion of God.
Although most Christians tend to claim that from birth to death man is guided and governed by the strong love of a kind Heavenly Father, they also affirm, on the other hand, that man is the master of his state and the captain of his soul. There is thus a considerable tension for Christian believers between the faith that God rules -- and the equally strong belief that man possesses free will. Resolving this paradox has been no easy task.
Divine Principle addresses this question by reference to the direct and indirect dominions of God. According to Divine Principle, God's rule over man before he reaches maturity is indirect, a relationship which can be explained by analogy to the natural world. During the period of growth each thing of the material creation operates by the autonomous power of natural law.
The snow and rain come, the seasons change and day dawns and night falls, all because of the prearranged law of nature, created by God.
God relates to immature man in a comparable way. We may say that men and women who have not reached a spiritually mature state are guided by spiritual law. Thus, the period of growth is the time of God's indirect dominion of mankind.
We should note that this indirect dominion can often be a period of difficulty and instability. Physically, if we do not live in accordance with the rules of good health we may injure or destroy our bodies. Likewise spiritually, if we ignore the principles of God, or if we engage in spiritually unhealthy activities, we are likely to suffer as a result. By aligning ourselves with God's principles and laws, we can grow to full maturity and health, both spiritually and physically. In this way our growth beyond the indirect dominion becomes possible. On the other side of the indirect dominion, we enter the direct dominion of God's love.
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