The Spiked Unification News
On The Future Of The Unification Church In America
The Current Situation
This paper attempts to look behind the current events roiling our church to find causes.
From DP Chapter One
To approach this topic properly, it is not enough to examine resultant reality. The fundamental question is that of the causal reality.
To me the current difficulties regarding True Father's relationships with women, Hyo Jin and Nan Sook's difficulties or the struggles of True Parents other children are not the most critical of our problems. They are perhaps the straws that are breaking the backs of a few struggling members. More fundamental are the systemic problems in the Unification Church culture which are preventing us from being a model of health. With this disease rampant we are unable to prosper and small problems fester.
Why does the Unification Church have problems?
1. Perhaps these problems are necessary expressions of the indemnity conditions the Unification Church is supposed to restore.
2. Perhaps these problems are due to poor management or structure.
3. Perhaps these problems are due to spiritual rot and hypocrisy throughout the movement.
4. Perhaps these problems are judgment on a church that isn't supposed to succeed, because it is not of God.
While I think all of us will discount #4, it is not so easy to clarify whether the problems stem from # 1, 2 or 3. However, we can categorically state that in this state we cannot grow.
The analysis presented here grew out of a request by Dr. Tyler Hendricks for comments regarding his ideas for church growth. However, these ideas are solely my own. I am not convinced I have accurately assessed them or provided the best solutions to them. I intend them to help us initiate some changes which are long overdue.
Let us begin by considering the purpose of our two leading providential vehicles.
Purpose Of HSA-UWC And FFWPU
From DP Chapter. 3 Eschatology Section 2.1
The sinful world brings humankind sorrow and causes God to grieve. Would God abandon this world in its present misery? God intended to create a world of goodness and experience from it the utmost joy; yet due to the human Fall, the world came to be filled with sin and sorrow. ... Therefore, God will save this sinful world, by all means.
To what extent should God save this world? He should save it completely. First, God must expel the evil power of Satan from this sinful world, thereby bringing it back to its original state prior to the Fall of the human ancestors. Salvation must then continue until the good purpose of creation is fulfilled and Godís direct dominion is established. ... Likewise, to save a person suffering under the yoke of sin means to restore him to his original, sinless state. In other words, Godís work of salvation is the providence of restoration.
The purpose of Father's mission on the earth is to help God to fulfill the providence of restoration. This providence is completed when all families in the world dwell in God's direct dominion. The critical issue is how is this to be done. It is my belief that we need a vehicle that accomplishes this.
Father created HSA-UWC in 1954 to do this. From numerous speeches Father has given on the anniversary, it is clear that he and God hoped that HSA-UWC would be the vehicle that accomplishes the providence of restoration. The method that is prescribed (in DP) for the accomplishment is the paying of indemnity.
From Introduction to Restoration
The providence of restoration refers to Godís work to restore human beings to our original, unfallen state so that we may fulfill the purpose of creation. As discussed in Part I, human beings fell from the top of the growth stage and have been held under Satanís dominion ever since. To restore human beings, God works to cut off Satanís influence. Yet, as was explained in Christology, we must have the original sin removed before we can sever Satanís bonds and be restored to the state before the Fall. This is possible only when we are born anew through the Messiah, the True Parent. To explain further: we first need to go through a course to separate Satan from ourselves. We do this in order to restore ourselves in form to the spiritual level which Adam and Eve had reached before the Fall -- the top of the growth stage. On this foundation, we are to receive the Messiah and be reborn, and thereby be fully restored to the original state of human beings before the Fall. Finally, by following the Messiah, we should continue our growth to maturity where we can fulfill the purpose of creation. ...
What, then, is the meaning of restoration through indemnity? When someone has lost his original position or state, he must make some condition to be restored to it. The making of such conditions of restitution is called indemnity. For example, to recover lost reputation, position or health, one must make the necessary effort or pay the due price. Suppose two people who once loved each other come to be on bad terms; they must make some condition of reconciliation before the love they previously enjoyed can be revived. In like manner, it is necessary for human beings who have fallen from Godís grace into corruption to fulfill some condition before they can be restored to their true standing. We call this process of restoring the original position and state through making conditions restoration through indemnity, and we call the condition made a condition of indemnity. Godís work to restore people to their true, unfallen state by having them fulfill indemnity conditions is called the providence of restoration through indemnity.
Unfortunately, not many are attracted to a life of paying indemnity and if they are initially attracted to it, by a conversion experience, not many can stick to it over a lifetime. It is also not a good way to raise a healthy family. (See the result in Father's and other church members families.)
The conclusion, as practiced over many years, is that the providence of restoration through indemnity may separate one from Satan, but does not help one in creating an ideal family in which God can dwell. Therefore, it may be useful in helping teens and young adults in fulfilling the first blessing but it is counter productive in helping families fulfill the second and third blessings. This dichotomy may be too simple. Without separating from Satan there are no ideal families. The problem is that we also have to fulfill conditions of indemnity. It is very difficult to do both.
The practice of the theology may be good for individuals -- sacrificing for 3 to 7 years -- as a foundation. But when this is continued into our middle-age and in our families it results in stressed families. Our current culture, starting from the top, does not empower families, but rather squeezes them to tithe, pray, sacrifice and spend less time with their families. Thus not only the theology but also the practice of it is counter productive to fulfilling the second blessing. Furthermore no one is attracted to a stressed family, and we do not feel power to witness to the situation. Almost all church members in America no longer desire to witness, because we do not have a healthy situation to witness about.
It is also clear that our policy of requesting large donations (in relation to income) from families also contributes to family difficulties. Furthermore the fact that the donations from the local level are sucked out of that level leads to financial difficulties for the local churches.
It seems to me that Father has tried in his speeches to teach about the second blessing and how to fulfill it. We need therefore to formulate a family theology. This is an essential and significant task.
The fundamental contradiction in the teaching and in its practice must be resolved or we are forever doomed to fail.
Where does the Family Federation fit in to this discussion. The Founders' Message at the FFWPU inauguration 1996
We have dedicated our lives to the realization of God-centered families... Without families that embody the love and ideals of our Creator, reconciliation and peace among the divided classes, colors and creeds will remain an unattainable dream....
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification represents the culmination of our life's work to inspire the human family to move toward the light of God. We urge you to join us and take up this cause. The state of our families is a global issue. The spirit that can overcome the cultural, economic, political and religious challenges that we face today, can only be forged in families that are free from want and oppression, and that nurture the ideal God has placed in each of our hearts.
Let us join together and chart a course that future generations will look back on with gratitude as a starting point for a world of peace. In the spirit of unity and with the help of God we shall surely succeed.
From a review of the FFWPUI literature
The FFWPUI supports a network of families around the world, representing every race, religion and culture. the worldwide organization is based on the principle that families, working together, have the capacity to resolve the problems of their societies and the world. Peaceful families will build a peaceful world.
From these statements and from how FFWPU has acted (as a non-sectarian, interfaith front) it seems to me to fail to completely fulfill as a vehicle to complete the providence of restoration. Instead I see it as a stepping stone and as a vehicle for interfaith activities.
Even if Father declares the end of religion as long as people are separated from God there continues to be a need for religion. If Father can't help them then God will need to find somebody else who can.
FFWPU is not as it currently stands a successor to the church. To fold HSA-UWC into the church would shackle the FFWPU.
Thus, HSA-UWC is the vehicle. But at the moment it is ineffective. Why? Even if FFWPU were to become the vehicle to bring God's direct dominion to the earth it would suffer from the same issues.
Areas Of Ineffectiveness
If we are to be effective in the marketplace / spiritual war or make any growth we must get ourselves spiritually and organizationally effective.
In addition to the contradiction pointed out above I would like to postulate 4 areas where we cripple ourselves and our effectiveness. In each case I am not going to list all the problems -- they are self evident. Of course we could list many more, but I believe these four are the most crucial.
Understanding our mission -
There is a great deal of confusion in the membership over our mission. We must clarify what the mission is and stick to that, not run off to fulfill the latest request. There needs to be a clear understanding of sacraments and policies. We also tend to several messages. Focus is needed.
Integrity in Father's family -
Advocating the trueness of a family that has clearly been invaded by Satan (True Father's own words) must stop. We can respect and work with the ones who fulfill their responsibility and have compassion and sympathy for the others. But we cannot advocate following the entire family as it stands. No one will follow. The Principles must emerge over the personalities. I am also deeply concerned that the continued empowering of the destructive behavior expressed by some members of the family will lead to further tragedy.
But should we state that the "true family" includes only those members of the family that are united with Father. We cannot judge that unity only externally. The relationship between parents and children goes deep. So it is problematic if the church starts judging members of Father's family.
So maybe we are talking here about the "invisible church," that God knows is His own. That's what mainstream churches have taught, since Augustine. Augustine was developing theology for a "Catholic" church that would soon include the entire population of the Roman Empire. Mainstream denominations, that service a wide and diverse population, take this view. Only sectarian churches cast people out as not "true Christians." I believe that we have to move away from a sect and become a universal church.
Management of the movement in US -
Spiritually there is currently a very autocratic system that is failing to connect to the vast majority of the membership. Does this management style, which has been successful in other churches, fail us? Or are there other reasons. It is interesting to note that there is also no management plan or system with regards to property and plant.
Empowerment of membership -
Does True Father and leadership wish to empower members or not. We are asked to become messiahs, empowered, and then branded as heretic when we do. Do we truly want to help people grow spiritually or do we want them to forever remain dependent. Are we willing to embrace diversity and be honest with ourselves. Honesty is one of the highest virtues in the west, it is not nearly so significant in the east. We have a cultural divide.
What Can Be Done
The Chinese character for crisis contains the characters dangerous opportunity.
The current time is a crisis. Hence we have an opportunity.
I would like to outline some steps to take. However a note of caution is in order, this is a dangerous time. These are not be presented in a radical or apocalyptic tone, but may well best be taken up over time, tested and only adopted if they work. However there is not much time. If some sensible plans are not articulated soon there will be very little left to work with.
1. The governing board must step up to the plate and takes responsibility.
It needs to function as a democratic body. The founders guidance needs to be more maturely and carefully integrated into the management of the organization. Rushing to fulfill some directions without clear thought often leads to confusion. I do not believe that any institution that does not have sound management will succeed.
from DP Preparation 3.2
... the government was divided into the three branches -- legislative, judicial and executive -- and political parties took on distinct roles. With the establishment of constitutional democracy, the framework for the ideal political system was set up.
The institution must establish both spiritual and physical committees which institute the policies of the church and the wishes of the founder. I am deeply concerned that we have put too much power into the hands of one individual. The entire American system of governance with its checks and balances is the most effective we have seen on the face of the earth. We have taken that system, which God created, and thrown it out the window. That allows for abuses of power, which may not be happening now at the highest level, but is happening at lower levels and may happen at the highest levels in the future.
2. There must be clarification regarding the mission.
We should go back to completely fulfilling the providence of restoration. All families living in the direct dominion of God is our ultimate aim.
From DP Eschatology 2.1
Salvation must then continue until the good purpose of creation is fulfilled and Godís direct dominion is established.
Let us ask the question of our organizations. In what way does this organization, whichever one it may be, now serve this end? If it does not then its continued existence is called into question. The mission must be honed and sharpened. Our resources must be more carefully invested.
3. There must be clarification regarding the sacrament of the blessing.
A suggestion -- only the giving of holy wine, holy water, a prayer, a commitment to the 4 vows, indemnity ceremony and fulfillment of the 3 day ceremony constitutes full blessing and change of blood lineage. Partaking in only one of the above is only the first step.
Pre blessing vast numbers helps us but does not get us to fulfill the providence of restoration, the direct dominion for all families. It is only a first step in the process. Assuming that large numbers (120 million couples and counting) are fully blessed without even their knowledge of True Parents or understanding its meaning calls into question the necessity of the blessing.
Spiritual conditions may have been accomplished but it has opened a can of worms. Are children born to these couples blessed? What happens when they marry?
4. A clear family theology needs to be formulated.
The governing board must delegate a committee to work with the founder and with theologians at UTS to formulate such a document. "True Family Values" is a start.
5. The church must become family centered.
The church / leaders should empower families rather than squeeze them. Examples of inspired families must emerge. The Mormon church, which is very strong in this regard, may be a good model.
6. Church growth must become a priority.
I was recently reminded that our community has not written any new songs of worship or praise in the last 10 years. This reflects a deep lack of joy and gratitude. Does our culture not allow for this? Or perhaps we have lost that spirit. Without this joy and gratitude there is no desire to witness. The question most often asked is how can we witness to something we find awful?
Church leaders need education to find their own self-motivation to develop "vibrant ministries." The Word of God gives life. Why is there so little teaching in our community. Millions of dollars are spent each month on our larger projects, yet we are unwilling to fund educational programs for our families. We have failed our brothers and sisters.
7. Competent leadership must emerge.
Unfortunately, perhaps because of providential reasons we have let Adam / Eve nation reasons overrule competency. In many cases incompetent leaders have been given responsibility because of nationality. Additionally, the Koreanization of the Unification Church will only alienate the market. Americans will not join a Korean personality cult. Also see the results of the Korean leaders efforts in Japan over the last year or two. The entire Japanese church is losing its way.
We need to connect to the effective leaders around the country and bring them into unity. Ineffective leadership must be removed. The issue is not the color of their skin or the language they speak, but rather whether they are competent. There must be some level of accountability.
Unless these core and systemic issues are addressed church growth in America will not happen. Attrition will continue.
Can things change much institutionally or culturally during Father's lifetime? Many assume no, and that whatever regrouping takes place will occur after Father passes. At that time we may find ourselves in either total chaos, schismatic free-for-alls, or some kind of new Unification paradigm.
Is there a John XXIII about to emerge, one who will call Unification's Vatican II and ask for aggiornamento? I don't know. And, remember, even with Vatican II, Catholics today are deeply and acrimoniously divided about the value, meaning and significance of Vatican II.
What I do know is that the view held by some of the faithful core -- that everything is moving as scheduled, with one great victory after another; things couldn't be better; God is thrilled; spirit world is virtually all blessed and getting educated and there's just a few things to tidy up down here -- flies in the face of Jesus' words, "what you bind on Earth is bound in Heaven." Matthew 16:19.
We need a reformation.
Thanks to Dr. Tom Walsh and Dr. Andrew Wilson for contributing some ideas.
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