Unification News for January and February 2001

Christian Preparation for the Second Coming

Mark Callahan
January, 2001

As a religion, Christianity serves two primary purposes. The first is to resurrect fallen individuals up to the level (i.e. status) of adopted children of God whom God can rightly claim as his own. Through Christianity, God can experience the role of a parent and the heart of a Father. Secondly, Christianity prepares a world-level foundation to receive the Lord of the Second Advent (i.e. The Second Coming of Christ). To this second purpose, Christianity has undergone three distinct dispensations so as to prepare for and receive the Return of Christ. The first dispensation was Christianized Judaism. The second was Roman Catholicism and the third dispensation was Protestantism. In each of these dispensations, an attempt was made to prepare an environment in which the Messiah could reappear and be received.

According to the Divine Principle, the Divine Will or Providence is to be fulfilled through three stages, ages or generations at the most. Since the Protestant dispensation for Christianity is the third stage, the Returning Christ will actually appear and work initially with Protestantism. This occurred after the Second World War in the crucial seven-year period 1945-1952.

Today, I wish to address the first initial dispensation for Christianity and how God sought a foundation for the Messiah’s Return through Judaism in the crucial 40-year period after Pentecost. Judaism until the advent of Jesus was centered on Moses. It had been a nationalistic religion whose identity was tied to Israel. According to the Genesis account in the Bible, the name ‘Israel’ was given to Jacob by a defeated angel (some translation say ‘man’ or ‘God’) who had wrestled with him (Genesis 32:28). Judaism became a covenant religion that God shared with the physical descendants of Jacob/Israel, who with God’s help, formed a nation.

Judaism however was meant to be more than a nation-level religious faith. Through Jesus, a shift should have occurred: Judaism should have become a world-level religion embracing Gentiles as well as the Jews. To accomplish this, the Jews were to transfer their loyalty from Moses to Jesus. Moses and Jesus shared many similarities that should have aided the transition. For example, as infants, both were almost killed in a state-sponsored program of infanticide. Both were viewed as liberators; Moses delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage and Jesus liberated the believer from bondage to sin. Each had an intimate contact with the Word of God; Moses received the initial Ten Commandments from the hand of God and Jesus was the Word made flesh.

If the Christian Jews had successfully integrated Jesus into mainstream Judaism, what kind of ‘Foundation for the Messiah’ could have been laid? Christianity would not have developed into a separate and distinct religious faith apart from Judaism. Judaism would have undergone a great Reformation. Judaism would have been lifted up to a world-level faith that could have embraced the Gentiles. Jesus came with a new covenant and a new divine lineage. He was to replace the position of Jacob and extend his new lineage to both Jews and Gentiles. This new lineage was obtainable through the Holy Spirit and Christian rebirth.

To accomplish this Jewish Reformation centering on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, Judaism was to have moved beyond its exclusive national faith into a more inclusive world faith for all people. To achieve this, Judaism had to do two things: accept the resurrected Jesus as the Messiah and love the Roman enemy. Had this occurred, then the Jewish Reformation could have built the foundation for the Second Coming. The Second Coming would have come much earlier in Christian history –as Jesus had promised.

St. Paul of Tarsus was an exceptional Jewish follower of Christ. He understood the new covenant through the resurrected Jesus had to transcend its Jewish origins so as to embrace the world of Gentiles. He helped the Jewish leaders like Peter in Jerusalem to loosen up and not be such strict observers of the Old Law. But even Paul did not understand truly understand the need to work through Judaism as well as through Christ. Perhaps Paul did not feel so comfortable working in Jerusalem. His unity with the twelve apostles is questionable. When the eleven apostles chose Mathias as the twelfth apostle to replace Judas, the criteria for leadership was one who served in Christ’s physical ministry while Christ lived on earth before the crucifixion. If this continued to be one of the basic credentials for true leadership among the Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem, then Paul must certainly have felt slighted. Perhaps too, Paul's exceptional efforts and sacrifice brought forth a strong pride that contributed also to the possible tensions between the two Jewish factions of early Christianity.

But this speculation can only suggest possible difficulties and failures. The results nonetheless are undisputed: the first dispensation for Christianity did not occur. The Jews did not accept Jesus as their new liberator and as a consequence were never inspired to love and serve the Romans. Instead, they continued a quest for a national liberation apart from Rome. They wanted their God to crush the Romans with divine retribution and exalt Israel above all other nations of the world. The Jews failed to understand that loving the Romans whom in turn would lift Israel up with divine glory and honor could fulfill these aspirations. The Jews failed to perceive their fate and destiny bound to Rome’s. Had Christianity fulfilled its first dispensation for the Second Coming through Judaism, the pagan Roman Empire would have become a Jewish Roman Empire! Jerusalem was predestined in this first dispensation for to be the capital of this new Empire. Because the Greeks instead of the Jews actually receive Jesus, Emperor Constantine moved the capital in to the Hellenistic city of Byzantium (later renamed Constantinople) in 330 AD instead of Jerusalem -to mark the Empire’s new beginning and its separation from a pagan past.

The Jews failed to perceive the value of Jesus as the Son of God in a manner similar to the parable of the tenants (Luke 20:9-16). The tenants failed to receive and honor the owner’s son. The evil tenants were cast out and new tenants were put in. In 70 AD, the Jewish ‘tenants’ were forced out of their homeland in Palestine and scattered among the nations of the world and persecuted for nearly two millennia. Relief for the Jews came in the providential year of 1948 when Israel –and Korea, once again became independent nations and Christ reappeared on earth with his ministry. So who were the new tenants that replaced the Jews and carried forth the Christian dispensation? According to the Divine Principle, the new chosen people were the Germanic people and Roman Catholicism:

"In this manner, the center of God’s providence of restoration shifted from Judea, the land of God’s bitter grief, to Western Europe, formerly the territory of the Western Roman Empire now occupied by the Germanic tribes" (Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 333)

What about the Orthodox Christian faith that emerged in the Greek-speaking Eastern half of the Roman Empire? Why was the so-called Byzantine Empire (450–1453 AD) not used by God in the second dispensation for Christianity? The Gentile peoples of the Roman Empire had a unique position, as did Israel. The Greek-speaking Hellenistic Christians certainly influenced and shaped the future course of Christianity but nonetheless, they could not become the new ‘tenants’ or chosen people to lead Christianity. Their fate was determined by having another relationship involving Israel that will now be explained with an analogy. If we compare Jesus to a masculine sperm cell, an ‘Immaculate Conception’ was to have taken place between subject heaven and object earth. The nation of Israel can be likened to the feminine sexual seed or ovum from the ‘handmaiden-earth’, which was to meet ‘groom-heaven’ and receive His Will. Together, the fertilized union of Jesus Christ and Israel would have created new life. The Mediterranean world can be likened to Earth’s womb. The development and rise of the Roman Empire can be likened to the highly-developed and prepared endometrium lining of the uterus that is prepared to receive and support the fertilized union of egg (Israel) and sperm (Christ).

The Greco-Roman people, being in the position of the world’s womb had a very specific mission –to receive and grow the new life. But here’s the important point: Israel was the seed for new life and not the Hellenistic peoples. The Divine Principle states the fate of Rome (the womb) was altered when it destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish state (see quote below). By destroying the ‘egg,’ the womb also destroyed its own value. For this reason, even though the Hellenized Greeks and Romans became Christians –and even went so far as to make Christianity the single official faith of the state, there was no egg. Israel had been destroyed. The womb -in a sense sanctified, was nonetheless empty and no life or fortune could rise from the Christian Roman Empire.

Nineteen years after Christianity was declared the official state religion of the Roman Empire (391 AD), the city of Rome was invaded and sacked by the Goths. The critics of Christianity wrongly interpreted this misfortune as a sign that Rome’s greatness had come to an end because the empire had forsaken its pagan gods. The defensive Christians too were surprised and could not understand why Jesus could have allowed such a transgression. In 455 a Germanic tribe known as the Vandals once again overran AD the city of Rome. Their wanton destruction gave rise to the modern word ‘vandalism.’

In this Dark Age of confusion, St. Augustine appeared and wrote the City of God to give hope and understanding to Christians who could not understand why their Christian empire appeared so ‘sterile’ (Ok, my word) and unable to give life to the world. Augustine wrote of a new place –a spiritual place that God could call His own. This ‘New Jerusalem’ as Augustine called it, had nothing to do with the Christian Roman Empire. What Augustine anticipated was a new vineyard and new tenants. Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire took up that City of God vision held by Augustine in the ninth century after Christ. That new land, faith and people became the second dispensation for Christianity. Medieval Catholicism was God’s second foundation to receive the Messiah. The Byzantine Empire (the eastern half of the Roman Empire that survived and continued for a thousand years after the Western half collapsed) continued to exist for the purpose of providing security, nutrition and support to the West. In other words, the Roman Empire continued to exist and serve its providential mission as a womb but in this instance, for the Carolingian Empire instead of the Jewish State of Israel.

If the Jews had become the first Christians, "Jesus would have been honored throughout the empire as the King of Kings. He would have established a worldwide dominion with Jerusalem as its capital. However, because the Jewish people disbelieved, Judea was destroyed and the Roman Empire was fated to decline" (Exposition, p. 333).

Judaism was to have undergone a Christian Reformation. God had prepared a world to embrace and receive that New Jerusalem. Jerusalem was to have been the eternal city and the center of the world. What an honor! What a wonderful promise was given to the Jewish followers of Christ. Though the Jews had been responsible for the physical murder of Christ Jesus, if they had received the resurrected Jesus, their collective sin would have been forgiven and the lineage of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob would have been blessed. When God began the second dispensation for Christianity through Western Europe, the fortune of the Jews changed significantly. Since God had promised to bless the descendants of Abraham, the blessing continued but was passed from the descendants of Isaac to Ishmael. This is the basis for the rise of Mohammed and Islam.

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