Evangelical - Unification Dialogue

"Heavenly Deception"

Mark Branson: The question of "heavenly deception" has come up as a result of conversations with some people who were formerly involved with the Unification church. But I might also say that ex-Christians who are no longer part of the church would suspect the same thing of our testimonies. Out of our spiritual pride we have a sense of needing to defend what we say or believe, whether that's rationalizing for ourselves or supposedly protecting the beliefs or integrities of other people around us. Cathy, who was with the Unification church for eight years, filled me in on many beliefs and activities. She often said, "They will deny this. They will deny this. They will deny this!" That just automatically raised the concern for me. Can I ask questions and know that the answers I'm getting here will be true, both concerning doctrine and concerning history? Obviously a lot of us are going to be in situations where we can say we don't know and where we must be free not to know. But, when it comes down to an issue and I receive an answer from a Unification church member, can I count on that being a true answer?

Rod Sawatsky: Does anybody want to speak to that?

Irving Hexham: A point that's worth making is that many groups have a policy of teaching simple things first, which in many ways is sensible. Then they gradually move to more complicated things. The Mormons, for instance, do this. With new converts they use the Book of Mormon, which is fairly close to the Bible; then they move on to the Pearl of Great Price and more difficult works which take them away from the established Christian tradition. Very often this is taken as deception, although I don't know if it really is intended as such. In discussion with people generally, it may not always be wise to say exactly what you believe because they may reinterpret what you've said and misunderstand it. Therefore, you've got to build a pattern so they can begin to understand what's really being said. So I wonder if we could perhaps get to the point and you could ask one or two explicit things which you've been told that members of the Unification church will deny, and then they could explain how they understand them. Can we accept that we're all here under a certain obligation to communicate, and that, if we hear things that could be embarrassing, we could agree not to pass them on, because we may not have fully worked through what's involved, and it's easy to take things out of context. And that must not be done.

Rod Sawatsky: O.K. Let's try one or two.

Mark Branson: I'm not sure that simply throwing out the question will serve our purpose. I could ask some of the more common questions and see the contradiction between evangelical responses, such as Yamamoto1 and some of the things I read. These mainly concern conversion experiences. What I could ask, simply, is whether people are detained against their will in the three-day weekend, because I've read about that and I've talked to at least three people who've said that they were fully detained during the training experience, were not allowed to leave even though they had transportation, etc.

Jonathan Wells: May I respond to that?

Rod Sawatsky: Yes, please.

Jonathan Wells: Of course, it's not enough for me to say that I wasn't detained or restricted because that wouldn't prove anything one way or the other. But, as someone who has been accused many times of being involved in a nefarious group, I've done a lot of checking. The facts of the matter are that this whole issue has come to trial several times, in several different courts of law, and also in various legislative investigations, several of which I was involved in. And, of course, we all know that things can happen that cannot be proven in a court of law; but, every time the issue has come to some kind of adjudication, the church has been found innocent. Not only that, but a certain other class of people, namely the deprogrammers, has been found guilty numerous times. This, incidentally, is the class of people which most commonly makes the accusations against us. So, their accusations have not held up in court, but the church's accusations against them have.

Now, it seems to me that conversion is one thing, but coercion is another. Evangelicals wouldn't survive without conversion experiences and neither would we. But coercion is no good. It's not fair, it's not legal, it's not God's way, and I certainly don't condone it. And I don't know anyone in the church who does. In fact, we've been so thoroughly investigated already that, if we did do something like that, several of us would be in jail. Now, one other point in my experience is that many of these stories about being detained, in fact, come from people who have gone out through deprogramming. Now you'll have to check yourself in your own experience to see statistically how that works out -- I'm not saying in every case -- but, in my own experience, something like 90 or 95% of those stories come from people who confess to having left the church through a deprogramming experience, where coercion was applied in some form or another. Now, if you, as an evangelical Christian, were to give up your faith under coercion, then either you would have to repent of that failure, or you would be likely to turn on your faith and say that the faith was counterfeit all along, and that's why you gave it up. You certainly wouldn't like to admit that you gave in under pressure. And I find that that's common among people who go through deprogramming.

Pete Sommer: A point of clarification. What I've found is that with one exception, I think, they're all people who did not leave the church through deprogramming. We personally are against deprogramming. Our position is outlined in Yamamoto's book, The Puppet Master, which Andy Wilson said he didn't read because of the offensive cover. I would encourage you not to be put off by that and to read what we have to say about the unethical nature of deprogramming especially. But I will bear witness with Mark that I've talked with kids who've tried to leave but were prevented from leaving, who've had the phones cut off, and things like that. These stories are not from deprogrammed people.

Patricia Zulkosky: I've been one of the major lecturers of the Unification church in three-day, seven-day, and twenty-one day workshops, and my personal experience is that it is not at all advantageous to keep a negative person at a workshop if he wants to leave. There's the contamination factor among others. So, in my own experience, as one who taught the Divine Principle extensively, if someone has this kind of strong feeling, then it's one of my primary objectives to see that he gets back to his destination with all possible speed; otherwise, it is not conducive to the spiritual atmosphere of the workshop.

Pete Sommer: During the workshop I would grant that. But I've heard people who have said, "Once I had decided to join the church, for six months I was not permitted to have contact with my parents." And I know of two cases where people tried to leave: one was a girl who decided after pressure to stay in (and did for a couple of weeks), and another was a fellow who did leave in Berkeley; actually an Inter-Varsity guy helped him break out.

Patricia Zulkosky: I can well imagine that through counseling or something like that, someone may be convinced not to go out; but, when I went fundraising, I was dropped off somewhere and I had tons of time when no one checked up on me. When I was witnessing, I'd go out on the street, and I'd do anything I wanted anywhere I wanted. I could even call anyone I wanted. I could disappear if I wanted. I was not being watched to the extent that I'd be forced to break out if I wanted to go.

Pete Sommer: But you know that you would be reminded of the doom you might face if you left, that people would certainly call and pursue you if you did. What I'm interested in is what these two people have talked about, a kind of six-month quarantine and indoctrination before one is sent out fundraising and witnessing. Now I don't know that that's a Unification general procedure, but it was in this case.

Anthony Guerra: Well, I think one has to make some distinctions. It's possible, although I don't know of any cases, that one or two individuals in the church have done something like you're indicating. But, in terms of church policy, in terms of all of the experiences in all of the states and all the people that I know who are leaders of the church, this has not been done. As a matter of fact, the policy is that we oppose coercion because we're a religious movement, and we believe that truth and spirit are what convert a person. Now, I think that it is important to define what you mean by coercion, because that word may be used by some people who want to discredit not only our movement but any religious movement. The legal definition, also the definition that most people can agree upon, is that coercion is the use of force to prevent someone from pursuing his will. Could we agree upon that as a definition? That is legally what physical coercion is. Now, I don't think there's ever been that. That's what the courts have adjudicated. But, acting as a spiritual leader of the Unification church, I certainly wouldn't say, if someone wanted to leave the church, "Well, you want to leave? Well, go right ahead. I was thinking of leaving yesterday too. That's the thing to do." But, I would take it very seriously and try to counsel that person, speak confessionally, and do as much as possible on a spiritual level to see that that person would remain and come to a deeper understanding. I think that's exactly what any good Evangelical would do, if I'm not wrong. And that's very serious.

When people experience that and still leave anyway, they later interpret that intense pleading as being coercion. I don't believe that's coercion. It's just a bare fact which is an inherent factor of any religious movement, that there's that kind of conviction and there's that kind of spiritual embracing that you have. But the assertions, as Jon pointed out, are that we have been detaining people physically, and that's absolutely false; yet the deprogrammers, who are the source of that accusation to a great extent, have detained people that way, and we, on religious principles, absolutely object to it. On religious principles, we would never conduct any type of forcible detainment.

Pete Sommer: I know of at least one situation where that was the case. I could relate the story.

Jonathan Wells: Physical detainment?

Pete Sommer: Yes. The guy was in the Hearst Street house in Berkeley. He went to the San Francisco airport. He was interested in going back to his family in San Diego. He was on the telephone to his mother at the airport and said, "I'm on my way home." Two gentlemen from the church hung up the phone for him, and she, that is, his mother, didn't know what was coming off; so she phoned our area director in San Diego, who called my predecessor in the Bay Area. My predecessor went to the house and, through conversation, helped the guy get out and onto a bus. So, it was a matter where two people followed him to the airport, hung up the phone for him in the middle of the conversation, and took him back to Berkeley. So, I mean, at that point, I guess it's a matter of my word against anybody else's.

Jonathan Wells: No, no, I don't think anybody's doubting your word.

Pete Sommer: And I'm sure that it was under the excuse of a we-know-best-what's-good-for-you kind of thing and that they may have done it with the best of intentions.

Jonathan Wells: I wouldn't necessarily defend the action that they took. I mean, as Anthony said, all of us know that there are cases when our members don't act up to the best standards.

Pete Sommer: So you need to know that it has been done. Let me just register that point.

Lloyd Howell: Yes, sure, I know there have been examples like that. It's no secret, but I think the issue here is whether you can bring a person to God through your own love and example; and if your love and connection with God isn't strong enough, you might resort to another method, especially if you're young in the faith. If you're just a spiritual baby yourself and you try to bring someone in, you hardly understand what love is and how to reach into a person's heart and touch him. I had a guest at a workshop once; I was very new in the church, and I tried very hard to convince him. He was a very troubled person. I saw slashes on his wrist. I'd met him in the street, and I cared for this person, about where his life was going. He was ready to commit suicide. He'd tried it before. I brought him to a workshop. I wanted him to experience God, but before the workshop even began, he got all these negative feelings. He said, "I want to go back." It was very difficult for me to want to let him go. I didn't really know how to love him enough. And a thought came to my mind -- he said he had a plane ticket to go to Florida -- and the thought came into my mind, throw the plane ticket in the fire, you know. What the heck does he need to go to Florida for, when we want to give him God here? But I didn't understand. I tried to talk to him, and then we let him go. We drove him down to the road where he wanted to go and that was it. But that temptation came into me. I think you learn how to love, and you grow, and, if you don't know the difference, if you don't know what love is, you might try to grab people because you really care for them. This may be confused with "compel them to come in." You have to compel them through your life and your example. I just want to make that distinction.

Rod Sawatsky: The other issue is that coercion can also be nonphysical.

Tirza Shilgi: There may be such cases, but I don't think that there are many. I want to refer to the theological side of it. What Anthony just touched is very basic to our beliefs. Anything meaningful in our life with God, or anything meaningful at all in terms of our spiritual growth, has to be done out of total freedom. Freedom is one of the most fundamental things that God gave to man. It is important that we believe that one of the reasons the fall was not prevented by God or stopped by God was in order to preserve this very fundamental freedom which God saw as indispensable for man. In other words, for man to become a son of God and resemble Him, he needs to have freedom, creativity, and responsibility. God even let man fall away in order not to take that freedom away from him; this is very fundamental to our beliefs. Freedom is fundamental for man's growth as a son of God. So, when you have organizations with thousands and thousands of people who are doing all kinds of things under all kinds of circumstances, I would not stand up and say, "No, I do not believe there are such cases." I believe there were, and I believe that they are very unfortunate, and I would say they are completely against what we believe.

Mark Branson: Yes, there are questions here of motivation. I know there can be different motivations, and they may be wrong. I also know there's freedom, but it could be argued that the concern for the individual is such that if that person returns to his parents he won't have the freedom to decide. The only place he has freedom to decide is in this seminar with us, and that can still provide a motivation for detention.

Rod Sawatsky: Irving, would you add something?

Irving Hexham: I was just thinking that these things cut both ways. I could, but don't want to, wash some other dirty linen in public. I'm sure Evangelicals can be accused of many similar things, certainly psychological pressure. All new religions get accused of this sort of thing. I wondered if there are more specific claims.

Mark Branson: Irving, I'm interested in comparing the conduct of one of their initial weekends with, say, an Inter-Varsity weekend with generous room for free time to let people talk at length with other young Christians who are there. And those are the points at which my friends say they didn't have much time for private conversations at all. They got long lectures, with little sleep. And I'm sure we understand what that is.

Irving Hexham: I've seen things like that, as well, to get the message across.

Warren Lewis: Is the question here what they do or what we think of the method? Or is not the original question: Will these people operate with you truthfully? Will they answer your questions honestly? How are they doing?

Anthony Guerra: I want to make our position clear. If it is done, it's against our teaching, it's against our stance, and I would be the first one to see that corrected, legally and in any other way. I want to make that clear, so that you can make it clear to your friends.

Pete Sommer: But we don't find that in the training manual. We don't find any written policy. Instead, we find talk of "heavenly deception," and I think this is what concerns Evangelicals as they survey your literature. I'm willing to believe you have integrity in telling that to me, and I find it interesting that there is an admission on your part that this, at least, does happen once in a while, even though you might disassociate yourself from it and say it's not part of your policy. It interests me to see it as a written policy.

Rod Sawatsky: Would somebody like to speak about what "heavenly deception" is? What is "heavenly deception?"

Paul Eshleman: I'll give you an example of it. When I was at Arizona State University, the members of CARP2 were raising money in the name of Campus Crusade for the Unification church. I would say that would be a good example of "heavenly deception." How is that disciplined in your movement? Or do they just count the bucks when they bring them back?

Johnny Sonneborn: We have a written statement from the president of our church to all fundraisers, saying what is not permissible to do. It is sent out every year. I don't have it handy, maybe someone does.

Pete Sommer: Inter-Varsity would love to have a copy.

Johnny Sonneborn: It says that fundraisers are to wear badges saying that they are Unification church members.

Irving Hexham: But what is "heavenly deception?" Is it like the Buddhist doctrine of Skill in Means?

Nora Spurgin: I would like to make a few comments about the concept of "heavenly deception." I'd never heard of it until it came from our opposition. We traced the history back in the church and discovered that someone did coin the term somewhere along the line. I'd like just to make a couple of comments in terms of its historical developments.

For one thing, a very strong American value is honesty, but our movement is not just American. Honesty is one of those values we're taught in the very beginning: honesty, equality, freedom, etc. In dealing with orientals -- I'm not talking about Rev. Moon here, I'm talking about all the orientals in our church who come and work side by side with us -- I've discovered that honesty does not have a high priority in their value system. Honesty is a very Christian concept, while, in the East, loyalty is a much higher value. You're dealing with two groups of people who were raised with two different value systems, and you're putting them together. Out of that, I believe, will eventually emerge a heavenly value system. That's why it's hard for us to say, "Oh, there's a policy." We never felt we needed to make a policy about it until all of a sudden we were faced with these accusations. Those of us who never in any way deceived anyone when we were fundraising suddenly discovered that somebody else had been doing it. Historically, I think, it began developing when we began to get a lot of persecution. You get young members who were scared to admit that they were Unification church members because they were facing possible physical danger. They experienced violence, and you'd see them backing down and saying, "Well, I'm a member of a Christian group," trying not to mention the fact that they were from the Unification church. We don't want this to happen. And, as we discover it, we make the kinds of policies that Johnny is talking about. That comes after we discover that these things are happening. It was never Rev. Moon's intention at all for this to happen. Never.

Irving Hexham: You're saying there's no doctrine of "heavenly deception?"

Nora Spurgin: There's no doctrine!! (laughter) I'm not denying that some leaders in our church at some point coined that phrase and encouraged members to use it. However, again, it matters what is meant by "heavenly deception." There are times when one, out of wisdom, reserves a little bit in order to protect the young -- even as Jesus advised...

Irving Hexham: In the Buddhist doctrine of Skill in Means, the Bodhisattva, in his compassion for all sentient beings, realizes that compassion alone is not sufficient. You need wisdom. And, in his wisdom, he realizes that certain people will not come to enlightenment of their own volition. Therefore, he must make the path to enlightenment sufficiently attractive to them so that they will attain enlightenment. This seems similar to "heavenly deception" and makes sense in an eastern context.

Anthony Guerra: Yes, Paul talks about the same thing, about feeding milk to babes. I think that that's true, but the term "heavenly deception," if it means you deliberately lie or falsify statements, is something distinct from that doctrine. In other words, to reserve something because a person is not ready to hear it is one thing. But, to falsify a statement, or to deny a fact, is something else. And I would say certainly we have a doctrine that truth is taught in stages, but I don't believe that we have the doctrine of "heavenly deception."

Irving Hexham: You're saying truth has got to be presented in stages. I think that raises an important question concerning concepts of truth. Are you working with an oriental or a western concept? In Buddhism, there isn't this problem because of the inherently contradictory nature of reality, whereas with western Aristotelian logic, you've got problems. Skill in Means doesn't present the same problems in an eastern context that it does in the West. Now, which concept of truth do you work with?

Anthony Guerra: I'm a westerner, and I work with the western concept of truth. I think that what Nora was alluding to is precisely your point: that there are Asians in the church who have the view that to make a person feel good is more important than giving him truth which is related to the capacity of reason. And, therefore, Asians might not say things, or might say things which seem inaccurate to someone from a western point of view, because they're basically trying to uplift him or make him feel good. But, as far as "heavenly deception" is concerned now, I would say we can't go with that. I would not call it a doctrine of the church. I think it's a false opinion.

Patricia Zulkosky: Lloyd and I just remembered where the term may have come from. It actually dates back to the Old Testament and the story of Jacob and of how Rebecca learned that Jacob was to receive the blessing and the inheritance, even though Esau was the eldest son. Because of the revelation which she received, she inspired or encouraged Jacob to take Esau's place at the time of the blessing by pretending that he was Esau. This is what is called "heavenly deception." That term, then, was picked up. Some might have said that fundraising in the name of another group is "heavenly deception." I don't think this direction comes from God in any way. I think this is downright deceit, and, if it is reported, then it can be dealt with. But if it's never reported, we may never be able to track down the people to correct their ways. By reporting these situations to church officials in the area, you can do something.

Jan Weido: I agree with what you are saying. I was a new Moonie when I met the director of fundraising who was here. He was a western person, but he was very much united with an eastern person. Sometimes, when we would go fundraising, we'd get a little pep talk like the kind maybe the Campus Crusaders get when they rev up their spirit a little before they're going to go out and meet the people. And this is the theological rap that comes down about Jacob and Esau, and also Tamar seducing her father-in-law: "Look what happened! That was the Messiah's lineage; therefore, cosmically, that little deception was nothing compared to the ultimate event of Jesus being born." But there was more: the examples given were more things like ways of sneaking into businesses past the guards and how to "become invisible." I think what happened is that these people, Japanese people in particular, do not understand the American covenant of openness. We've broken that covenant and I think we need to be rebuked when we do those kinds of things, and we need to change those things. I also want to say I can affirm that, whenever Rev. Moon and the church hierarchy heard about this, there was a very strong statement made against it all.

Paul Eshleman: Can you recall specific instances when you were told to use another name?

Jan Weido: Not use another name; but, because of the publicity, instead of saying "Unification church, Rev. Moon," you might say, "a Christian youth group."

Paul Eshleman: W e got calls one day from people selling flowers saying they were with the Crusade.

Patricia Zulkosky: It could be One World Crusade.3

Jan Weido: Yeah, that's a name. The Moonies have been accused of using a lot of "front organizations," which were not devised as an attempt to deceive the American people; it's just that we have different organizations that do different things. "New Hope Singers" might be fundraising, and they're going to say that they're "New Hope Singers." If I'm fundraising, I tell people that I'm a seminary student at the Unification Theological Seminary. And if they ask me if that's Rev. Moon, I say, "Yes, he founded the seminary, and I'm a member of the church."

Pete Sommer: Part of evangelical sensitivity to this kind of thing has come in connection with Transcendental Meditation, which has tried to deny its religious nature from the word go, though we have now partly established that they are religious in a court of law. We became tired of their rap when we clearly saw that they were committed to a Hindu agenda. I'm perfectly happy to deal with a Hindu any old time, but to pass off the religion as a relaxation technique is something that Inter-Varsity has just waded through, and we're sensitive to these issues.

The other thing I'd like to know is what status Ken Sudo has in the movement? In reading the training manual by him, what am I reading? A m I reading something that is now passe? Is his word law? I noticed talking with Johnny last night that you called him a "very important person" with "very daring interpretations." This made me wonder if he is in the experimental end of the theology. Why was he director of your training? This would seem to be a fairly central role? I'm not accusing anybody, but I'd just like to know -- what's he all about?

Patricia Zulkosky: Having been his assistant for a year and a half, I can say he was one of the very early members in Japan who came in with a good education and began lecturing from the early days in Japan and became one of the major lecturers there. When the American church was developing and had very little theological foundation, he came to America, studied English and tried as best he could to teach us things on internal guidance and the like. Each lecturer has a different way of expressing the Divine Principle. I know that through Ken Sudo's lectures, the American family came much closer to Jesus because Ken Sudo himself has a very deep relationship with Jesus. Where the very early American family didn't understand enough about Jesus, Ken Sudo really brought a whole level of understanding of Jesus into the American Unification church. It was an understanding far beyond what we had had until that time. There are things he has said that not everyone would agree with; but, then, I'm sure you'll find in this room, on any given topic, not all of us will agree on anything, other than basic principles. Our interpretations of the Principle are influenced by our personal life experiences, as is the case with Mr. Sudo. He also had the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the Principle with Rev. Moon directly.

Irving Hexham: Could I ask a question about Ken Sudo?

Rod Sawatsky: Go ahead.

Irving Hexham: You said Ken Sudo had a great experience with Christianity and Christ before he came; was he ever connected with the "No-Church" movement in Japan? Patricia Zulkosky: No. It was because of a healing experience. He was a traditional Christian.

Irving Hexham: Traditional Christian?

Patricia Zulkosky: Baptist.

Irving Hexham: Baptist!

Richard Quebedeaux: I want to go back to the fact that I think that evangelical Christianity in its various movements in my experience has been guilty of this very same thing. Example: I did my undergraduate work at UCLA in the early '60s, and Campus Crusade really was very unpopular with the administration because, at that time, some of their functions were not labeled and they were constantly being accused of deception. I think, on some campuses, even Inter-Varsity was occasionally accused of that. In the last five or six years, though, I've noticed that there is much more boldness about "saying who we are." I've definitely seen a transition here. It may be because of the maturity of the movement. It seems very logical to me that young converts -- and I get this from Paul at a meeting we both attended -- who may just be off drugs or whatever, sometimes will appear to be in positions of authority but are doing things which are very contrary to the teachings of the movement. Another problem has been with some of the messianic Jewish groups, not Jews for Jesus, but some of the others who have held meetings saying they are Jewish and they want all Jews to come, without identifying themselves further. And this has caused a great deal of concern, especially on campuses where the administrations have been concerned that people be very honest about who they are. Another thing about Campus Crusade: in one of the early drafts of the book I'm writing, I had a statement saying, "In Campus Crusade, the ends justify the means."4 O.K. that is a long-standing criticism of Campus Crusade which I've heard for years and years, and I thought was probably true. In other words, I thought that Campus Crusade felt that the issue was to get people converted to Christ, and it was really rather secondary how this happened. I crossed that out of my text, not just because I happened to be writing a book on Campus Crusade which is basically sympathetic, but because I really felt that that was a wrong accusation. Yet I see how people could look at Campus Crusade in this way. It's a result of its aggressiveness.

Now, again, I would say that probably those in the Unification church in Berkeley are a lot more honest this year than they were a year or two ago. I mean, about ten times more so. Now, I don't know if this has to do with the initial enthusiasm versus maturity, or what. I would say that this is not something that is peculiar to the Unification church; it is common to many other religious movements, including Evangelical movements. But I do think that now there seems to be much more willingness on the part of the people to be honest and to become very clean. I think it's good.

Rod Sawatsky: I think we need to wrap up. Just one or two further comments and we can conclude this discussion.

Anthony Guerra: I just want to emphasize that we are not concerned about constructing a theological apologetic for "heavenly deception." We don't believe init. I just want to make that clear.

Pete Sommer: No, but it still has to assume some importance, since it's in the training manual.

Anthony Guerra: But they're not the standard lectures that are given in workshops anymore.

Pete Sommer: Is there a new manual, and is that available to our eyes?

Patricia Zulkosky: There are two-hour, four-hour, and six-hour lecture cassette tapes and also a video tape that's all set up ready to play, (laughter) Mr. Kim5 loves to show people the lecture tape. We don't have training manuals per se. but now there's a standard little two-hour lecture booklet you may have seen. It's a brief formal presentation of the Divine Principle; and then there is a more lengthy one and a still more lengthy one. So, it's not for the purpose of training the members the way Ken Sudo's was. It's more for a unified way of presenting our theology to the public.

Pete Sommer: You mean, this thing was secret at one time?

Jonathan Wells: No, it wasn't secret. It just wasn't distributed publicly. There's a difference.

Warren Lewis: There's a difference between "private" and "secret." Much of the literature and a little of the gnosis of the movement is private, but it's not "secret." If you want to know, you may know. All you have to do is ask.

Pete Sommer: I'm aware of that. I'm thinking of the woman who directed the San Francisco State work and said that was really secret.

Warren Lewis: It was probably important to her to be involved in a movement that has some secrets, (laughter)

Johnny Sonneborn: Mr. Sudo was director of training during a certain period of time. It was an experiment to see if we could find a new and more successful way of evangelizing. Pioneers were sent out, after quite a long period of training, by themselves, in small groups; and these methods were used. Later on, we stopped having the long training programs and used other methods. Mr. Sudo is now the director of evangelical work in New York City, where it is very important to have a successful leader.

Warren Lewis: When I was at Harvard I heard Joe Fletcher's lectures on situation ethics. Although situation ethics when used by the fraternity brother as an excuse for getting in bed with his girl friend are not something that any of us approve of; on the other hand, when Pastor Wurmbrandt sneaks Bibles past the Soviet border guard, we think of him as a saint.

Pete Sommer: Oh no, we don't!

Warren Lewis: All right, you don't. I do. The point I'm making is this: everybody in this room, at one time or another in his life, has used "doctor's lies" to moderate the truth that would have been too harsh in that situation. We would probably defend the action now as being the ethical thing to do in that situation, the ethic that transcended the moral norm without breaking it. Why is this such a difficult concept?

Jonathan Wells: That was Jesus' problem too, wasn't it? I mean, among other things, He told people not to spread the word that He was the Messiah, after they discovered the secret. But that's still different from deliberate lying. Now, you haven't quoted from Mr. Sudo's lectures, so I don't know quite what you're finding fault with, but the church does not advocate lying.

Lloyd Howell: Just one biblical point. There's a verse where St. Paul says to the Jews, "I am a Jew," and to the people under the law, "I'm one under the law," and so on. If I wanted to attack somebody, I could certainly work on this passage and build up something, and say, is Paul going around practicing "heavenly deception?" I don't think so. We could examine the verse, but that's another angle on the situation.

Nora Spurgin: I just want to say one thing: I feel that we Americans have to take responsibility. I don't want to blame the orientals. I know that some Americans have done wrong. I know that, in a growing movement that has many undefined characteristics, each person is called to define on the spot, and the definitions come out very differently. But I think that there have also been Americans who have deliberately lied; we all bear that sin and, I think, ask forgiveness for it.

(The following continues the discussion of the same topic but is based on additional questions which were posed to the seminarians at the second conference in October 1978.)

Patrick Means: You may already have discussed this in your last get-together, but I haven't had the opportunity to read the transcripts. If that's so, I'll pick it up from one of you during the breaks. Now, I'm not intending to be provocative in bringing this up here, but this is something fundamental. I'd like us to give some time to the whole concept of "heavenly deception." I'd like someone either to set me straight on that, or have some light shed on that, because it affects the credibility of all the other issues.

Patricia Zulkosky: I think I can get you the transcripts of the last conference, because we opened with a lengthy discussion of that topic. It might be good to make a couple of transcripts available for people who didn't attend that session.

Joseph Hopkins: I really think we ought to discuss that at this conference as well, because an ex-Moonie wrote a letter in rebuttal to my article in Christianity Today6 a letter in which he said I had been a victim of "heavenly deception." And he stated that deception is a consistent pattern in the operation of the Unification church. So I really think this ought to be aired at the outset.

Warren Lewis: That touches me more directly than anything else we've talked about. I'm glad you've said that, because I see myself on both sides of this issue as a kind of score-keeper to keep the Evangelicals honest with the Unificationists, and the Unificationists honest with the Evangelicals. I know both sides; so if you feel you've been hoodwinked in any way, heavenly or otherwise, then that says to me that I too am deceived, or duped, or that I participated in the deception.

Joseph Hopkins: I'm not saying I feel I've been deceived. I'm saying that a former Moonie made that accusation, so I do think we ought to talk about it.

Warren Lewis: As somebody down in the New York City Unification headquarters told me the other day in a moment of heavenly honesty, "heavenly deception" is fine until you start using it on one another, (laughter)

Roy Carlisle: I had an encounter about a week ago with two former Moonies in Berkeley, and I specifically talked to both of them about "heavenly deception." They both said that where the rubber meets the road with that doctrine for them is with the whole understanding of the Lord of the Second Advent. The critical statement, I understand, was that to be a Unificationist, you must honestly be committed to the Lord of the Second Advent. That to me is the critical thing here, too. If we're damning "heavenly deception" at that very critical and most important point, then that needs to be aired for me to feel comfortable again. When we get into it, I would like some Unificationists to tell us about the Lord of the Second Advent, what they really believe, and push that whole doctrine out into the center aisle and really examine it.

For one ex-Moonie, the most critical thing was the Unification belief about the Lord of the Second Advent. He said they could be pushed anywhere else on any other issue, but that one they could not be pushed on. They would lie to cover that issue, and those are strong words. If we look in the transcript, there is tremendous divergence at that point among Unificationists.

Paul Eshleman: One wondered if it was a hold-over from good field technique that was flowing in our meeting, and that what was coming out in regard to the Lord of the Second Advent was the line you would give the uninitiated who had not had time yet to have hundreds of hours of background or whether it was from personal conviction. There weren't people who said, "I believe that the Lord of the Second Advent is sinless, he's perfect." There were not those kinds of clear statements being made about Moon at the last conference.

Dan Davies: I would like to raise the question: What do you think a disciple of Jesus would say about who he thought Jesus was after he had been told not to tell anyone Jesus was the Messiah?

Patrick Means: He'd probably say Jesus told him not to tell.

Dan Davies: Do you think so? It's easy to say now, but if you were in that situation...

Patrick Means: He wouldn't lie about it.

Dan Davies: But what would he say? Put yourself in the disciple's situation and reflect upon it.

Patrick Means: I'm picking up a parallel here. Are you admitting to lying about Moon's identity because he told you not to tell people?

Jonathan Wells: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I haven't heard any actual lie. Haven't we jumped the gun here? Where's the lie we're talking about?

Patrick Means: I'm not bringing anything up. I'm trying to understand what this brother said.

Dan Davies: I just asked a simple question.

Evangelical Y: I think you're asking a contradictory question, because, if truth is anything, it is central to the Scriptures. Therefore, for Jesus to command His followers to lie is like saying here's a four-sided triangle. It doesn't work, so your question is an unanswerable question, which means that nobody can possibly respond to it.

Dan Davies: But when you apply it to this situation that we're in...

Evangelical Y: Well, Jesus made a very strong statement about truth, whereas Rev. Moon apparently has not made an equally strong statement about truth, which means I enter into calumny when I talk about Jesus commanding some people to lie. But I don't get into that same position when I talk about Rev. Moon commanding that. To me, it's not logically possible to think of Rev. Moon commanding that. To me, it's not logically possible to understand what in the world you'd be talking about to have Jesus do that same thing.

Jonathan Wells: How did this word, "lie," come into this conversation?

Rod Sawatsky: Daniel introduced it. (laughter)

Dan Davies: No, I didn't mention the word, "lie." I said, "What would you do if Jesus had told you..."

Jonathan Wells: I wouldn't answer the question. But somehow the word, "lie," got in there, and Rev. Moon has never told me to lie. I never heard him tell anybody to lie. The first thing we have to resolve is what do we mean when we talk about deception -- is it deception, or is it, as Paul mentioned, strategy from the field? Is it a pedagogical approach? Or is it something kind of unethical in the way we are talking to people?

Warren Lewis: Or, to stick with Daniel's question, is it the messianic secret?

Jonathan Wells: Or is it the messianic secret?

Paul Eshleman: I guess what we're saying right here is that we don't want any more things of this from the field. We want to know...

Jonathan Wells: ... about the messianic secret?

Rod Sawatsky: I think messianic secret is a fair answer. To say simply, "We have been told not to tell," is a legitimate answer. But is that the way you would want to answer the question here?

Johnny Sonneborn: There's a further problem, because Jesus told us in the Scriptures: "If anybody says to you, 'Lo, He is here,' or 'Lo, He is there,' don't believe it." (I forget the quotation exactly.) Therefore, I think it's not really right to ask somebody if you know where the messiah is. If you are a Christian, you shouldn't believe them if they do claim to know. It really puts us in a bind. In other words, why would Jesus say that? I think, as I understand it, and I think I've heard this in Unification church, it's because each person must find out for himself. Each eye must see.

Patrick Means: Do you see why that causes us some problems when we're here to try to understand what we see as a central issue in this whole area of how Christian, how biblical the Unification church movement is? Christ's identity and role is so central, and Moon's identify and role is so central, that when we sense there is a common understanding of who he is, when we ask anyone directly, they say, "Well, we're told in the Scriptures not to really say." To me that seems super-spiritual and not speaking to the issue, not being totally transparent.

Johnny Sonneborn: I think there are two things about that. First, it is very clear what Unification teaching is concerning the nature of the Lord of the Second Advent: that it's going to be a person of a different name, who will be born on earth, and so forth. Whether it's Sun Myung Moon or someone else is open to debate. The theology stands the same. That is one aspect.

The other aspect is that it's widely reported in journals and analyses that most Unification church members believe that Sun Myung Moon will be the Lord of the Second Advent -- at least, no one has denied that statement. It's easier to say that than to talk about personal situations. But, still, the basic issue is, can the Lord be someone with a different name, or does it have to be someone with the same name coming on the clouds, and so forth? Will He be coming back in a resurrected body, or in another body?

Anthony Guerra: I think that the question of "heavenly deception" is quite separate from the notion of a messianic secret. I would say directly, concerning this so-called doctrine of "heavenly deception," that it is not a teaching of the Unification church, Rev. Moon, or any other responsible church leader! There is no such teaching that deception is necessary to build the kingdom of heaven. Precisely the opposite is held.

It is also interesting to note, from a sociological perspective, that the few people quoted as accusing the Unification church of "heavenly deception" are mostly ex-members. I think you must all be cognizant of the fact that the ex-member of any organization can be a highly questionable source of information concerning the organization from which he has disengaged, possibly very painfully. Certainly, Joe, I would be skeptical about accepting the evaluation of anyone who writes me admitting that he was brainwashed!

In any case, I want to make absolutely clear that it is in no way a doctrine of the Unification church that its members should go around deceiving anyone for some greater good.

Patrick Means: I don't believe it's just ex-Moonies who make the charge of "heavenly deception." There have probably been a number of us in here who have had personal experiences with that. My wife on the streets of her home town was approached by a Unificationist, collecting funds. My wife asked her whom she was representing, and the Unificationist said, "Campus Crusade for Christ." She pursued the conversation with this young lady and said, "Well, I don't believe you are with Campus Crusade for Christ. Isn't it true that you are working for Rev. Moon?" The girl denied it for a while, finally admitted it, got very vehement, and went on. You could say that she was a gal who was green. We've had green people in Campus Crusade that have done bad things out there too, and I'm willing to accept that. But, it seems like there are numerous instances of this being reported. So, perhaps it's not just green ones. I'm really open to being turned around in the impression I've gathered, but I really need an understanding of this as a foundation for discussion.

Anthony Guerra: I was not saying that there is no one in the Unification church that at some time has deceived another person. I was addressing the theological question whether or not we hold to a doctrine of deception as a requirement of religious life, and we simply do not. I could quote you several examples of Campus Crusaders who have come up to me and said a lot of nasty things, even using foul language. Now, I don't suppose for a moment that such behavior is doctrinally demanded by the Campus Crusade organization.

Warren Lewis: Isn't the question, "Are you guys going to deceive you guys?" That's the question. How do you know they're telling the truth? Isn't that the question?

Paul Eshleman: You remember, I raised the question last year of "heavenly deception" on the very issue of fundraising? We then got out the one-hundred-day training manual and we worked through those passages that very clearly pointed out how to deceive somebody, and what needed to be done in the fund-raising context. We read through those, and you very eloquently said, "Some guy out to lunch wrote these training manuals, and he's not around any more in a leadership position. We don't use them anymore."

Anthony Guerra: I think that there were never any passages that I saw that were telling anyone to deceive anyone. You were reading a different script than I was.

Paul Eshleman: Then let's get out the manuals again.

Anthony Guerra: I think it's instructive to understand, as Harvey Cox has pointed out in an article that we can perhaps make available,7 that it has been common practice in the history of religion, when a new religious movement dawns, to accuse it of deception, and then to proceed to disbelieve anything that is said by anyone of that movement. Furthermore, when you do find specific individuals in that movement who do lie -- and you'll find such individuals in any religious movement -- you then take these instances as proof of the theory. And that is something that has been done to Mormons and Catholics and every new religion that has arisen in America.

Paul Eshleman: Yes, but who coined the phrase?

Anthony Guerra: The phrase was coined in reference to a specific understanding of the role of Jacob in gaining the birthright, in Scriptures. Now, that may have been coined by Unification theology, but it is in no way intended to refer to the kind of ethical activity prescribed for humanity at the present time. W e do believe that Jacob deceived his father and got the birthright, as it says in the Scriptures, and that, in those circumstances, he actually accomplished something which was in God's providence in spite of the ethical violation. Now, we're not saying that an ethical violation is something to be applauded, but that in spite of and not because of the ethical violation, God still worked in that situation.

Paul Eshleman: But this distresses me much more than your answer last year, because this year it's like, "Hey, listen, we don't know anything about this." Last year it was, "We admit it's been in the one-hundred-twenty-day training manual. I'm sure some of our trainers have done it in the past."8

Anthony Guerra: No, I don't remember that.

Paul Eshleman: Maybe we'd better bring them out again.

Jonathan Wells: While you're looking, let me say that I was the State Director of the Unification church in Vermont a few years back when this whole thing became a very intense issue, and the State Legislature was called upon to investigate us on several points. The State Attorney General in Vermont investigated and concluded that there was no fundraising deception.

There is no policy in the church to deceive people in fundraising, and I've heard Rev. Moon say numerous times that you must be honest in fundraising. Tell people who you are and who you're with. I've heard the president of the American Unification church say that, and I've heard the director of fundraising say that. And I've always said that in my capacity as a leader. I've never tolerated any kind of deception. Now, that's one thing. O.K.?

The other thing that concerns us more this weekend, I think, is whether you are going to get honest answers from us, because we're not asking for money, (laughter) O.K.? Now, on that issue, I would just like to distinguish two separate issues. One is, are you asking us for clarification of Unification theology, or are you asking us for a personal confession of faith? Now, our position is that we will really do our best to give you complete and candid answers on Unification theology, which in fact does not say that Rev. Moon is the Lord of the Second Advent; and, when it comes to confessions of faith, well, every individual is free to say whatever he wants; but I'm not sure that will get you anywhere. I mean, that's not really the issue, is it?

Rod Sawatsky: Though, Jonathan, you have on a couple of occasions given your confession, where you have said very straightforwardly that he is the Lord of the Second Advent. That is your confession of faith -- and that's the differentiation you want to make.


Rod Sawatsky: We started with a rather hard-hitting session last night, which is good. I would hope we would continue being very frank and open. Having spent one weekend together earlier, I think we really know each other sufficiently so that we can really get down to basics. I think people should challenge each other fairly solidly and strongly. If we don't allow that to happen, then we are going to get charged with a cover-up, and we dare not allow that. So let's be prepared for frank, open discussion.

We were talking about "heavenly deception," and I don't think we concluded that discussion. I doubt if we can really conclude that discussion until we talk about the question of the Lord of the Second Advent, and are clear in our minds what Unification people mean by that idea. Let's turn to that now.


1 Reference is to J. Isamu Yamamoto, The Puppet Master, An Inquiry Into Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. Downers Grove, 111.: Inter Varsity Press, 1977.

2 CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles) is an international student organization which studies the relationship between various academic disciplines and the Divine Principle.

3 A mobile evangelical unit of the church. It is composed of people of many different races and nationalities who travel throughout the world.

4 Richard Quebedeaux, 1 Found It!. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.

5 David Sang Chul Kim is President of the Unification Theological Seminary and a founding member of the Unification Church.

6 Dan Glissman, "Heavenly Deceit," Christianity Today, 22:2:9-10, October 20, 1978.

7 Harvey Cox, "Myths Sanctioning Religious Persecution," A Time for Consideration, New York and Toronto: The Edwin Mellen Press. 1978.

8 Ed Note: The reader can check the earlier discussion, p. 90. 

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