Unification News for December 1999

God's Goal for Human History

Volume 4 - Part 1

In the Autumn of 1921, as he sped westward on the fabled Orient Express and gazed out on the moonlit Turkish countryside, the young British scholar Arnold Toynbee was inspired to jot down a list of topics on a half-sheet of paper. Little could he have known at that time, but thirty years later, having ranged over all recorded history and having examined the rise and fall of twenty-six civilizations, Toynbee had developed that list into his classic twelve-volume A Study of History.

Among his other conclusions, Toynbee came to feel that underlying the turbulent progress of human affairs was a divine purpose. "History", he wrote later, "is a vision of God's creation on the move."

Despite the extensiveness of Toynbee's research, there are many who would disagree with him. Karl Marx, for example, sneered at the spiritual dimension of existence and insisted that economic and class tension hold the real key to history and universal truth. Charles Darwin would no doubt argue that history simply express an evolutionary struggle whose solitary meaning is to be found in the survival of the fittest.

The Future

What can we look forward to in the future? A few centuries from now will our descendants be living in the Marxist materialist ideal of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"? Or may we more properly anticipate the prophetic, spiritual vision of the earthly Kingdom of God, such as Toynbee suggested?

On the other hand, perhaps we should envision no glorious fulfillment of history at all - whether it be proletarian or divine.

Certainly realities such as the atomic bomb, overpopulation and global resource depletion suggest the prognosis for the human family is not good. Supported by such grim realities, more than a few individuals cite the Bible to proclaim the final destruction of the earth and the end of time.

The second Letter of Peter, for example, states that at the end of history the heavens will pass away and the elements will be dissolved by fire (II Pet 3:10).

Likewise the Gospel of Matthew presents us with the vision of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from heaven.

With the combination of ancient prophecy and modern crisis, it is no accident that such books as Hal Lindsay's The Late Great Planet Earth have made such an impact with certain segments of our society.

Paradoxically, while apocalyptic Biblical references foretell the ultimate demise of our planet, other Biblical writers assure us it will endure eternally. The preacher of Ecclesiastes, for example, writes that "A generation goes and a generation comes, yet the earth remains forever." (Eccles. 1:4)

How then are we to understand the meaning of our past, and the prospects of our future? How is the God who is traditionally regarded as the Lord of history working in the present day? How may the apparently conflicting strains of Biblical prophecy be reconciled? Section Four of the Divine Principle Home Study Guide examines some of these issues of the "Consummation of Human History".

The Universal Ideal

Traditionally those from the Judeo-Christian heritage affirm that an almighty God created a first man and woman, placing them in a earthly paradise called by the author of Genesis the "garden of Eden". Since the original meaning of the Hebrew world for Eden is "delight" or "joy", we may surmise the Biblical belief is that man was originally intended to live a life of joy and delight.

For Divine Principle, such an ideal vision reflects the original hope of God. If the untoward event known as the Fall had not occurred, the spiritually mature Adam and Eve would have discovered true love and joy in living and would have multiplied descendants who would have inherited their spiritual blessing.

As these descendants multiplied, forming families and clans, we may imagine this mini-society would have overflowed the original garden, ultimately forming a society, nation and world centered on God. Had Adam and Eve attained oneness with God, the world itself would have become a global Garden of Eden. The Kingdom of God on earth would have been a substantial reality.

The idea that the world was originally intended to be harmonious, loving and beautiful is an assertion that is likely to play on the deepest layers of our cynicism. There is little in our experience that suggests human society could ever be this way. Nevertheless, we must recall we all experience life from a jaundiced perspective.

Had there been no disturbance at the essential core of human origins, had we ourselves been raised in a just and loving society, had, in many cases, our family experience been more nourishing than it was, we would be likely to see things from a quite different perspective. Perhaps then we would be able to see the possible reality of an ideal human society.

The question is with what spirit could this ideal have been achieved? For Divine Principle, it was to start with the loving individual and his family. And there was originally to be a complete unity between God and each person. Apostle Paul urged the early Christian at Ephesus to "be imitators of God" and to "walk in love." (Eph. 5:1-2) so all the people and families were to embody God's spirit, loving as He loves, had this spirit originally penetrated the earth, a history of goodness, peace, and prosperity for all people would have existed. In short, the world would have been a literal Garden of Eden, a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

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