Hermeneutics and The Shape of the Future - Edited by Frank K. Flinn
Darrol Bryant: We have three papers that are on the agenda for this evening. Kapp Johnson's "Critique of Divine Principle's Reading of the Old Testament," Thomas Boslooper's "Critique of Divine Principle's Reading of the New Testament," and Frank Flinn's "Hermeneutics of Completed Testaments."
Andrew Wilson: I was so impressed and provoked when I read Kapp's paper that I decided to write a rebuttal. I agree with the idea of separating significance and meaning. Significance and meaning are not meant to be equivalent because our context of interpreting the Bible is different from the context of people living in the Old Testament period. I believe that everybody brings something with them to the text that mediates between significance and meaning. For example, the Christian interpretation of messianic passages in Isaiah as referring to Jesus Christ is something that was not meant by Isaiah himself. The real issue is whether there is still a relationship once the mediation is begun. What is the nature of the relationship and how is it mediated?
I sense in Kapp's paper that he was implying but not saying that the original meaning of the text was the primary criterion for its contemporary significance and that this is an either-or situation. Either a text's significance has to stem directly from its meaning to the Israel-ire audience as determined by literary critical methods, of it is considered inadequate.
However I don't think that the case is either-or. A relationship between significance and meaning is not derived from its original setting without being mediated by various structures that we have discussed. Take, for example, the idea of the providence of restoration. To argue that that idea comes from outside the Old Testament is to ignore that the development of Jewish and Christian biblical theologies themselves were based on the biblical text. The concept of providence comes from the Old Testament through Christianity. Furthermore, already in the Old Testament there is periodizing of history by various authors including the writer of Daniel and the Priestly writer who distinguishes about different covenant ages. Having a dispensationalist approach to history is thus not unrelated to what is in the Old Testament.
With regard to the Exodus story, to say that God is the hero of the Exodus in the Bible and Moses is the hero of the Exodus in Divine Principle is unfair to both. In the Old Testament there is the J strand which had God the hero, and the E strand which had Moses as the hero. Divine Principle (p. 340) explicitly refers to the Exodus as God's work.
The relationship between grace and indemnity is quire complex. Indemnity is for the purpose of grace, that is, indemnity is to lay a foundation so that grace may be received from God. The Old Testament theology of covenant is also not a theology of grace but of grace predicated on works, where a person's obligations to the covenant have to be fulfilled before the promise of the covenant is realized. It is not too difficult to draw similarities between the idea of covenant in the Old Testament and the idea of indemnity in Divine Principle. In the covenant formula the prologue contains a recounting of God's prior election and grace to his people. Then there follows a section which lists the people's obligations. The covenant concludes with blessings and curses depending on whether the people obey or not. In Divine Principle's idea of indemnity, you have first of all the idea of God's primordial blessing and the history of the people's relationship to God which forms a prologue for what is the indemnity condition they must fulfill. This corresponds to the obligations. The result of their fulfilling the obligations is the blessing that the Messiah will come. So there is a formal similarity between the form of the covenant in the Old Testament and the concept of indemnity in Divine Principle.
Finally, on the question of the fall of man. It seems clear from ancient Near Eastern texts that the sexual nature of the story of Adam and Eve is only thinly disguised. For example we have a parallel in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu who was living in harmony with the animals in nature had sexual relations and his eyes were opened. He could no longer live as a nature-boy, the animals flee, he realizes he is naked and he clothes himself. Then he has to leave the garden and enter civilization. Likewise, the language in the text of Genesis 2 and 3, "to know good and evil," is used in II Samuel 19:35 to refer to sexual activity. The idea that the shame that Adam and Eve felt was shame towards God and not shame towards each other is belied by the use of the verb bosh (to be ashamed) in the Hithpael in Genesis 2:25 which means that Adam and Eve before the fall were naked and unashamed in a reciprocal sense towards each other. Textually there are many many supports for seeing the fall of man sexually.
There are some poor uses of scripture in Divine Principle, for instance Job 31:33 and Jude 6:7. However the identification of the serpent with Satan in Revelation 12:9 is a proper use of scripture interpreting scripture. There are many inaccuracies in Kapp's paper and that is why I was motivated to give this response.
Jonathan Wells: What I have to say actually ties into that. I was also going to bring up the fall and specifically the identification of the serpent in Revelation 12:9-1 will just reduce my comment to a question. If the Unification identification of the serpent with Satan is not legitimate then what do we do with the standard Christian interpretations of the fall by Augustine, Irenaeus and many others?
Kapp Johnson: I will respond to Jonathan's first. The development of the interpretation of the serpent as Satan is a very long one. One has to recognize that historical process. The Unification interpretation of the serpent faces the same kind of problem as the christological interpretation of Christ in the Old Testament. G. Ernest Wright calls this christomonism. That is the hermeneutical problem. This hermeneutical step is not being delineated and spelled out satisfactorily either in Divine Principle or in contemporary theologies of the Old Testament.
Frank Flinn: Kapp, what you are doing, though, is resorting to the lowest level of literal historical criticism as it is now understood. I would go back to the Church Fathers and ask: Why is your literal historical critical method better than the typologization that I find in Augustine? In terms of holding the Bible together, I think Augustine does a better job than any modern biblical scholar I know. I grant he has deficiencies but he holds the whole thing together in many better ways.
Donald Deffner: Your conception of what is inherent is problematic. Luther's conception of the literal sense, or the plain and simple sense, includes christological interpretation. It wasn't conceived as some kind of second order significance of the text. Your conception of inherency is problematic.
Kapp Johnson: No, I would say it is the other way around. We have confused the steps. The christological interpretation is a separate step from what I call the literary critical interpretation of the text. That once again is the hermeneutical problem. When I was using language of the literal meaning of the text, I was not placing an a priori on the text. For me an a priori would be what is the fundamental basis of human communication. That is my starting level, whether communication be oral or written. Part of that fundamental basis is intentionality. That is not to say that one climbs into the author's mind.
Frank Flinn: You are going to run into a fact-value argument. This is my whole objection to the modern positivistic interpretations of the Bible.
Kapp Johnson: It is not positivistic.
Frank Flinn: Well, that is what your roots are, and we have got to pay indemnity for all our roots, (laughter) Your roots are in the belief that you can arrive at an a priori, a tabula rasa. I think there is no such thing as an a priori.
Herbert Richardson: May I ask a question? You don't deny, do you, is precisely their interpretation of Old Testament texts?
Kapp Johnson: No.
Herbert Richardson: That is, the literal interpretation or the literal historical meaning for the writers of certain New Testament texts can be understood only as an interpretation of an Old Testament text.
Kapp Johnson: That was the New Testament self-understanding.
Herbert Richardson: And not only that. Within the Old Testament itself there are texts in which the literal meaning is an interpretation of other Old Testament texts.
Kapp Johnson: That's right.
Herbert Richardson: I might say this is true for a whole series of texts then. The)' are to be interpreted as types intended by the author of earlier texts.
Kapp Johnson: As an example, would you be referring to Deutero-Isaiah as a new Exodus event?
Herbert Richardson: That could be an example. Now I want to ask you this. Is it the case that you would want to argue that every single text which functions as a type of an earlier event is intended by the author as such a type? Or is the author merely working within a tradition that has a certain symbology and it comes almost unconsciously to his mind?
Kapp Johnson: To what extent can those be separated?
Herbert Richardson: That is exactly my question. If that is the case, then it would be the case that not only are there types backwards but also types forward which are also genuine types underneath the literal meaning. That is, if we are dealing here with a symbolic tradition that people are working in and you acknowledge that the meaning of the type, even if it is not intended by the author, is in a sense borne by the character of the language, then it is the case that prophecies forward are this way. I might even say that the meaning of the text in Deutero-Isaiah literally, even though not intended by the author, is literally completed, or the significance of the symbolic structure of the language is literally completed by certain things that happened in the New Testament.
Kapp Johnson: No.
Herbert Richardson: Oh, then I would like to know how you get out of that argument. Because you have already granted a certain structure to the language and its symbolics, and you just can't keep going backwards. You have to be able to allow it to go forward too.
Lonnie Kliever: Why is that, Herb? I mean it makes perfectly good sense to say that in a community nourished by a historic tradition of symbols, subsequent events are unconsciously interpreted in the light of the symbols. I don't really see the force of your argument that the same kind of move forward is implied. I really don't.
Herbert Richardson: Well, I think I could give it to you. It would be something like this but on another level. Let us suppose that I give an argument for a certain thing on the level of sheer logic and I haven't really thought out the logical implications of what I've said. But if somebody would say, "Well, if you've said that, then you're committed to this." And I say, "I don't see that, I am not intending that." And he would say, "Well, look at this and this and this; it follows from your argument." So I have said something forward.
One might say that, though the logic isn't quite as tight, the same thing happens when you have a history and a system of symbols that are operating. They are operating with a forward intentionality and tendency. It is quite clear within language and literature. Just think a little about this. Though I don't wholly buy Pannenberg's christology, he points out that the dynamic of the christological symbols, say of Nicaea, is not just an interpretation backwards but also contains within itself a logic forward. It seems to me the same thing is true within a whole group of texts within the Bible itself. I don't want to fight the matter out too much. My point is only this: vis-a-vis Kapp's paper, namely, that what Kapp is calling significance and type is not merely our interpretation of the Bible's text but it is within the Bible's own interpretation of certain biblical texts.
Kapp Johnson: Wait a minute. You might be shooting past people. What I would say is that if the Bible in its reinterpretation of certain traditions and symbols does...
Frank Flinn: But is it reinterpretation?
Kapp Johnson: Maybe reinterpretation is not a good word, but when it deals with the significance of this kind of typology, it is at that level of hermeneutics that I am talking -- namely, the meaning of the Exodus event as a salvation event, the constitution of Israel as a people of God. The new Exodus event is a proper resignification of the Exodus event in the sense of the reconstitution, not the constitution, of a people. It functions at the same level of meaning, but it is applied to a new circumstance and to a new event.
Herbert Richardson: I would simply say this to you. My interpretation of Divine Principle moves us from the time of Jesus up to the present day. It is methodologically exactly the same thing as what the Bible does within itself, from Jesus back to Adam and Eve. You have all these types running through the Bible right up into the New Testament. What Divine Principle does is to see the process of providence working in the same way and interpreted in the same way, namely, through types. Things of the same type happen over and over again on the same foundation. Everything that has happened up until the time of Jesus has happened from Jesus to the present day. Therefore the method of interpretation of history that the Unification Church uses is exactly the method that the Bible uses.
Now a good argument might be made from outside that goes something like this. Yes, but God stopped working providentially after Jesus the way he did before Jesus and therefore the method of interpreting the work of God, namely types, is no longer valid. That is what the church usually says, but then it is the church that is inventing the new method for interpreting the Bible. The Unification Church is not inventing a new method because it is using the Bible's method for interpreting the Bible. It is the Christian church that has invented the new method. for interpreting the Bible basically on the assertion that the process of providential history and the principle for interpreting providential history have come to an end with Jesus Christ. The new method for interpreting the Bible in the early church was dogma; today it is the historical method. Now I would say, I'm with the "Moonies" because they have the Bible's own methods for interpreting the Bible. If there is anything that is problematic, it is what the biblical foundation would be for a dogmatic interpretation of the Bible a la the Catholic Church or a historical critical interpretation of the Bible a la the Protestant churches.
Now we Protestants and Catholics can say that we have abandoned the Bible. Basically we believe in human reason and historical criticism. The Bible's method of interpreting the Bible is ridiculous. We wouldn't use it today. Or we could go with the Catholic Church and say that we have abandoned the Bible, that we now use tradition. Let us be honest and say it. The "Moonies" are stuck on the Bible. They haven't come into the modern era; they are not critical people; they don't submit their minds to the Pope. But you can hardly argue that they are not interpreting the Bible in the biblical way.
Kapp Johnson: I didn't argue that.
Herbert Richardson: No, you wanted to know how they did it. (laughter)
Durwood Foster: The point that I wanted to make has at least been ventilated, (laughter) First of all, the matter of meaning is a very complex theme indeed. To contrast meaning and significance is in a sense only to scratch the surface of the issue. I'm sure Kapp realizes that beyond that there is the question of types of meaning and levels of meaning. Classically, of course, the four-fold meaning of scripture is a very important theme that has come into the discussion. That needs to be parsed before one can really deal adequately with this.
Dagfinn Aslid: I can resonate to this whole idea of resignification. At Claremont James Sanders stresses that the Christian tradition has indeed left the biblical foundation which he sees as a dynamic resignification of tradition. Sanders sees hermeneutics as the immediate interaction between text and context. Dr. Richardson's point is very clearly illustrated when we look at the Bible as a canon. What has remained in the Bible as canon is those texts which have original meanings capable of being resignified in different historical situations and able to inform the identity of the community which used these texts. Jeremiah is a good example as it points up Hananiah as the archetype of the false prophet (Jeremiah 28). Hananiah was consistent in terms of what you might call the Davidic hermeneutic -- the view of the providence as something which was always on the side of the Israelites against any invaders. Hananiah said, Well, God will surely lead us out of Babylon, whereas Jeremiah said, No, this is not so, God is strong enough also to keep us in Babylon. Hananiah was in the orthodox Exodus tradition but Jeremiah, the one who resignified the tradition, is canonical and is preserved as the prophet. This is telling us that orthodoxy and canon are very dynamic things and it is very hard to go at it with a fixed probe. Of course our situation is different.
Kapp Johnson: And Dr. Sanders would point out the last thing you said. Because the kind of thing that you are talking about is what Dr. Sanders would call period two and very different from how he would understand what is happening now.
Dagfinn Aslid: But I still think he would tend to resonate with what Dr. Richardson said in terms of having abandoned the midrashic resignification of the text. Look at Paul for instance. In Galatians he radically turns upside down the whole idea of the covenant and makes the traditional heretical.
Kapp Johnson: That is correct as far as Dr. Sanders is concerned and I would even concur with that. But one thing that Dt. Sanders would say is that the process of that resignification starts at a literary critical level and moves forward from there.
Frank Flinn: I think that is where my point becomes most relevant. As Ricoeur shows us, the letter doesn't interpret itself. The letter calls forth interpretation because it says something more than itself. There is a surplus of meaning. You find that in the Bible itself. Literary historical-critical methodology is based on the premise of fixing statements within given time frames and limiting those statements to specific historical contexts. This cuts off what Ricoeur calls the literal surplus of meaning and what Richardson calls the forward thrust of symbols.
Frederick Sontag: Well, I do find it rather amusing that the "Moonies" turn out to be the only true fundamentalists, (laughter) But I want to comment on Tom Boslooper's paper and yours too, Frank. Both your conclusions puzzle me a little.
At the end Tom says that the "Moonies" miss the magnificent opportunity of using their doctrine on the sovereignty of God and its corollary, the ultimate kingdom of God on earth. That puzzles me because what seems to me interesting and fascinating is that their notion of God's sovereignty is not traditional. God can lose because there is human dependency. God is not going to pull off the final restoration by his own action. If there is a failure on the human side, he can keep trying. One of the real issues is that the classical doctrine of the sovereignty of God is not preserved. At the beginning of your paper you said something about the conviction that God will surely save and restore his people and establish his kingdom. I don't think that is a statement that comes out of Divine Principle.
Thomas Boslooper: No, I say that is out of the meaning of apocalyptic literature.
Frederick Sontag: Right, but then you say that the "Moonies" missed it. I say they can't make it. Theirs is a very different interpretation. It is interesting and fascinating but I think they miss it.
This is similar to Frank's conclusion. He says that what they have is a "process of restoration" and a "process eschatology." This is a strange kind of notion. I think you have characterized it rightfully. Still, eschatology has always meant a divine in breaking and a radical reorganization of the world. You can use a milder form, but this is what we mean by the Second Coming and the coming of the kingdom. You say it is a realistic eschatology, but this surprises me. I don't under stand that.
Frank Flinn: I was tempted to put that in quotes but I didn't for these reasons. I was speaking there within the context of the American millenarian movements which tended to jump the gun on God and fall into what I call eschatological catastrophism. That is what I call Zap-eschatology. (laughter) The kind you read in the comic books. But Divine Principle, I think, is taking a realistic view of the eschatological time event. First, in 1977 Rev. Moon declared Year One. They have a post-millennial hermeneutic. One reason why we have difficulty in talking to them is that they are post-millennial in their stance and we are not. At the same time, they are realistic in the sense that they focus on the family. The family is the key to restoring individuals, clans, tribes, nations, etc. This is a concrete program and it is realistic. You can do a lot of things that they are setting out to do. The Mormons have already paved the way.
Frederick Sontag: Well, you have a point there. I boggle on the word "realistic," because I hesitate to define what is real. Your point seems to be that Zap-millennialism stresses that God will perform miracles. The problem with this viewpoint is that, if you prejudge God on his dates, you can go wrong. O n the other hand, if you see the eschaton as a realistic process, you are totally dependent upon the events of the world and human effort to carry that out.
Frank Flinn: No, I was very careful to avoid the two pitfalls, and Unification is somewhere in between. Put it this way, I think they have struck a median route in between what I call divine catastrophism and humanist gradualism.
Frederick Sontag: But I don't see how you can say that. I want to bring up another point. You say in here that Divine Principle is not an addition to the Bible. That seems to me enormously strange. Can you show me at any point in the Bible where the kingdom of God is going to come gradually? And not by divine action? I don't want to prevent them from holding that doctrine. I don't happen to believe that if it is non-canonical, there is something wrong with it. But to state that it is not an addition to the Bible seems to me to be strange.
Klaus Lindner: German liberal Protestantism in the nineteenth century certainly got it out of the Bible that the kingdom was going to come gradually.
Frederick Sontag: I understand that others have done it. It is not really a new doctrine. But I would argue with them too. I really believe we have to admit that is not the biblical intention. If you want to change it, that is all right with me.
Herbert Richardson: What else is the Bible in its entirety other than the record of the fact that God establishes the kingdom through steps, that is by a process that has a certain graded or gradual character? The only people who can believe that the kingdom comes all at once are the people who have totally abandoned the Old Testament. I would suppose, for example, that the gradualness of redemption begins with the calling of Abraham, the several generations of patriarchs, the divine salvation of Israel through the events in Egypt, the deliverance, the bringing them after many years of wandering into the kingdom, the establishment of the monarchy and so forth. It seems to me that the whole teaching of the Bible is that God's redemptive work is precisely by a historically graded process, step by step.
Frederick Sontag: That is an interpretation which I am sure you can give if you want to.
Herbert Richardson: Is that really an interpretation? Or isn't that what the Bible says? I really don't understand your objection. It is intrinsic to the character of story as literary form that meaning and telos is attained gradually, step by step. If we are dealing here with narrative history, if it has anything of story, if there is anything of temporality that is intrinsic to the process, the gradualness is there. It is not an interpretation. Have you done what most people have done? Most Christians have just reduced the Bible to Jesus and the New Testament and have totally abandoned the idea of God saving providential step by providential step. Have you Fred?
Frederick Sontag: Yes, I think I have, but I don't know that that is so terrible. Many Christians have, (laughter) I argue that there is a return to the Old Testament in Divine Principle. That is all right with me. Yet one classical way of reading the New Testament and Jesus' words is that he was expected as a traditional Messiah who would lead his people into a historic kingdom. You and I think Divine Principle wants to restore that idea. That is why Rev. Moon's being another Messiah is not such a wild claim. I read the Ne w Testament differently. The disciples misunderstood this and so did the Jews of his time. They expected the Old Testament Messiah and they didn't get it. Instead you have the distress of the crucifixion. Therefore the reason the resurrection event has been given a classical stress in Christianity is precisely the fact that human gradual effort did not work.
Herbert Richardson: What you have done is to abandon the Old Testament as canonical.
Anthony Guerra: I like the term "realistic eschatology" for different reasons than those for which you used it. What is implicit in the Divine Principle view of eschatology is that the kingdom in the historical order will continue ad infinitum. The eschatological event is not something which brings about a dissolution of the historical order so that the continuation of the kingdom is something only spiritual, something which we enjoy in heaven.
Frank Flinn: I meant that, too, by the way.
Anthony Guerra: I did want to say something about Tom Boslooper's paper. I learned quite a lot from it. First, I was really intrigued by your notion that the failure of unity between John and Jesus also was a reason why the unity between the northern and southern kingdoms was not established at that time. That is something that I would like to pursue, but in terms of statements with which I have some problems. The notion of Jesus as the second Adam in Pauline literature should be extended. You don't find it in the gospels. The interesting thing about that of course is that we know that the earliest writings are Paul's writings. Further, Irenaeus takes up the notion of second Adam and adds the notion of a second Eve in his biblical typology because he believed in recapitulation. In order to bring about restoration you need to reverse all the significant events in fallen history and therefore you reverse the problem of Adam and Eve. Irenaeus not only believed in the second Adam but he also believed in a second Eve, and that second Eve turned out to be Mary. Of course there are some problems with that because Eve was by no stretch of the imagination ever thought to be the physical mother of Adam. Compared to Irenaeus' extension of this Pauline term, it would seem that Divine Principle is more consistent with the Pauline message than Irenaeus who did in any case take up the typology.
Jonathan Wells: I would like to return to a point in Kapp's paper because I think the point is important to our discussion. Concerning Divine Principle, you say: "There is no apparent hermeneutical clue indicating when a text is to be interpreted literally or metaphorically outside of the theology itself." Now the context of this remark, of course, is your distinction between meaning and significance, the former being what the text meant in its original context. This is what modern biblical scholarship can tell us. I don't think any of us would be satisfied only with the meaning that the text had in its original context because it is not only a human text. Somehow, God was involved in the events being described and, presumably, in the making of the text itself. Only when we try to interpret God's message, that is, the theological significance of the text for us today, are we doing theology. When you say there is no apparent hermeneutical clue outside of the theology itself, it seems to me that that is always true, no matter who is interpreting what text.
Durwood Foster: When I raised my hand ten minutes ago I wanted to comment briefly on the give-and-take between Herb and Fred on the mode in which the kingdom will come. I also want to comment briefly on this matter that Jonathan just raised.
The first comment would simply be that there has been this very intense discussion of types of biblical and New Testament eschatology over the last several decades. I think that the result of that discussion has been a kind of stalemate. There is no way absolutely to settle the debate between two or three main kinds of biblical eschatology. One is more graduahstic and there are some biblical images that support that. The image of the mustard seed, for example, is one that is often cited by liberal theologians who take the view that the kingdom is something that does grow. We are all familiar with this. I just want to say that the situation in theology generally is one in which a pluralism of eschatology is recognized. Theologians have tried to work out some kind of synthetic perspective on the situation. For example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer distinguished between the penultimate and the ultimate. In the dimension of the penultimate, a kind of progression goes on which is a preparation for the coming of the kingdom. Here human action and human labor enter in, but that is not the whole story. There is also the ultimate which human action does not contrive at all but which is added from above by God as a sort of transcendent culmination to what goes on humanly. This is just a comment from the general theological discussion of the last several decades. I think the upshot of it tends to say that in a sense Fred and Herb are both right and both wrong when each denies the other. We have a situation in which both of these dimensions are to be recognized and in some way reckoned with.
The other comment I want to make relates to Kapp's presentation and has been picked up by Jonathan and others too. It has to do with the question of what historical critical method could contribute to the kind of hermeneutical purposes which bring us together here in the Bahamas or which generate dialogue and conflict at any point in the interpretation of the Bible. The result of the discussion of the last hour would seem to be that it is unclear that historical critical method contributes anything decisive at all. And this I suppose would seem to many of us very frustrating. I think that we want to believe -- those of us who have expended the energy to go through a doctoral program -- that somehow the methods and tools of modern historiography can exercise at least a relevant control over issues of authenticity. Now, Kapp made clear that in his own view historiographical considerations are a necessary but never sufficient condition for the interpretation of biblical texts. But nevertheless the fact remains that we seem, so far at least, not to have been able to state or demonstrate how critical historiography could indeed help us at this point. The hermeneutical circle constituted by Unificationists proceeds in its own way with the material that we are talking about, for example, in its interpretation of Genesis. Other circles of interpretation proceed in different ways. Historiography seems impotent to reconcile the conflicts between these circles of interpretation. Personally, I am somewhat frustrated by this situation. But if what I have stated is, in fact, the case, I think it is important for us to recognize this correlates with something I have observed in teaching theology for a couple of decades. More and more students get absolutely nothing that is theologically helpful out of their historiographical critical work, in spite of the fact that this takes a very large part of the required units in the curriculum. What do we do about this? This shouldn't be the case; but nevertheless here we are illustrating it, and I just want to point this out. If someone has a different view of where we are with this one I would like to hear it.
Frederick Sontag: A couple of quick points on what Durwood is saying. I'm perfectly willing to accept gradualist interpretations. I don't think that there is one theology that comes up as Christianity, but I do believe historically that gradualist interpretations stem from the nineteenth century and the Enlightenment. I would want to question whether the events of the last two centuries offer any possible hope both for American millennialism and whether the kingdom of heaven really can be expected in this way. In the last analysis, I would only deny that gradualism is a classical position. It has emerged in recent centuries and I think ought to be appraised in that way. I think Divine Principle represents an agreement with this kind of gradualism.
Unificationists seem to have enormous confidence that man will eventually respond. I just want you to tell me, what in heaven's name is the evidence for that confidence? The entire history of mankind seems to go in the other direction. Now there were times in America in the nineteenth century when we thought we moved into a different age. You do quote Augustine, but I have always been startled by Augustine's "... and our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee." Looking around I find that very few people seem to have that sort of ultimate divine quest. A handful of people do and I think they are very important, but that the history of mankind can be described as ultimate drama in which humanity is determined to get to God startles me.
Andrew Wilson: First of all I want to really thank you, Frank, for your paper. I like the idea of doing a hermeneutic on completed testaments in the plural. The next step might be to look at the Book of Mormon and Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health and the Koran (the last might be a completed testament also, but I am not sure about that), and do some comparative analysis with Divine Principle to see whether Divine Principle is in fact a better completed testament or not, i.e., more likely to withstand some of the historical pitfalls that these others have fallen into.
Frank. Flinn: It's pretty difficult to withstand historicism.
Dagfinn Aslid: I would like to try to unpack the tension that seems to be present in any hermeneutic approach to scripture -- the tension which I in my language call the war between the egghead and the muse. On one side, there is this egghead who focuses on reason, logic, historical critical method. O n the surface of it, it seems that Divine Principle tends to be very scientific and tries to spell forth a systemology that seems almost positivistic. On the other hand, when you listen to Rev. Moon theologize, what he says is very enchanting, very playful and not at all something that we should subject to any kind of positivistic verification criteria. This reason I find also resonating in our discussion between Frank Flinn and Kapp Johnson. You can guess who is the egghead and who is the muse as far as hermeneutics goes, (laughter) I think it is a challenge for our hermeneutics to find a way to reconcile these two because in the Christian tradition today there is a war between the two. We find for instance that those who want to do the new literary criticism and structuralist analysis of the gospels are named Docetic by those who hold onto the historical critical method. It is symptomatic, I think, that in Kapp's paper the word "sign" was used rather than the word "symbol" which reminds us of concentrated, packed meaning, the richness of meaning. I don't have a solution to this, but I think that Divine Principle as it is written is overly rational and discursive in its mode of theologizing and in its hermeneutic. It is not really -- I wouldn't use the term -- a third testament or gospel in its literary form, as Durwood Foster has pointed out. What we need is something more substantial in terms of its literary form, its imagery, its power of enchantment.
Frank Flinn: I just want to add one little note about the historical critical method. Kapp, you say you are not a positivist. Well, the very distinction between significance and meaning is Rudolph Carnap's distinction between Sinn and Bedeutung. If anybody was a positivist it was Rudolph Carnap. In fact, he is trying to save positivism just as wise old Nietzsche was destroying it from within. I think Nietzsche destroyed it when he showed that all "facts" come from "valuations."
But let's look at the concept of history. Is the concept of history in the Bible more important to the Bible than the concept of allegory as in Galatians where Paul says, "We said these things allegorically"? I would just like to point out that there is no biblical word for "history." There is not one word in the Bible that translates as "history" per se. There is "generations," there is "events of the days" (that is Chronicles), but the word "history" as we mean it is not in the Bible. There is the word for patterns and we do find that patternizing of history in the Bible. The Fathers called it typologization. One can go overboard with it as in medieval exegesis but I think it is consonant with the Bible. I think the Bible thinks in that way.
Klaus Lindner: My question was triggered by Fred Sontag's problem about the sovereignty of God. I see things precisely the opposite way. The fact that history has been going on for such a long time and we don't have the kingdom of heaven does not call for an affirmation that God will do it. What we need is a reason why God hasn't done it yet. Why hasn't the kingdom of God come about yet? I see the fact that we have such a long history of people not accomplishing the kingdom of heaven on earth. I see that just precisely as an argument against affirming that God is going to do it.
Frederick Sontag: Are you saying that Divine Principle does that? Certainly it is not a negative nihilism which says we are going to explain why the whole thing turned out that way. That is not the only thing. In Divine Principle you have the reverse: this event is going to happen and here is how it is going to happen. What you are arguing is that our tragedies say that we should explain why God has failed to date. I wouldn't disagree with that, but surely you are not claiming that is what Divine Principle does alone.
Klaus Lindner: No, the argument goes the other way. It hasn't happened because people failed to respond to God.
Henry Vander Goot: First of all, a footnote to the concept of history as related to scripture. It is quite correct that the distinction between the historical, on the one hand, and the metaphysical-cosmological, on the other, is a distinction invented in the nineteenth century. Not only is it falsely superimposed upon the Old Testament but also upon the Greco-Roman literature, as if in that literature there is no sense of process and development within human existence. That is a good point that you made there and worthy of some reflection because it is so dominant in a lot of contemporary literature. It is taken for granted and it is not a concept to be taken for granted.
Now to the question that I have for Frank. I think your paper is really stimulating and very suggestive. I am wondering if you could think out for us the connection between what you describe as the basic motif of Unification theology, that is to say, a First Article, a Third Article and a thrust towards the creation of a third testament beyond the two testaments. Is the relationship between these two things necessary or is it simply accidental? Do you see a logic here between the motif First Article/Third Article, and the thrust toward a third testament?
Frank Flinn: Yes.
Henry Vander Goot: What, for example?
Frank Flinn: It has to do with the fact that Unificationists keep playing around with christology and I just don't think traditional christology is that important to them. It is a two point theology, creation and restoration. Maybe the two article motif is what necessitates a completed testament, which is almost like a new, democratized christology. I've had that thought but I am not all that sure about it. But maybe you can extrapolate what the paper made you think. As I say, I got myself out here on a limb and I just left myself hanging.
Henry Vander Goot: Well, it seems to me that if you give in on the oriental-like basic ontology which conceives God in terms of the bipolanty of positivity and negativity, masculinity and femininity, Father and Holy Spirit, then you are necessarily into a kind of Arian-like subordination of the Son. This means that you are necessarily into a subordination of the work of the Son which is pre-eminently a work of revelation and is connected with scripture. In effect, given this fundamental ontology of polarity, you have opened the door to the possibility of additional, alternative or quasi-revelational testaments. There is a real inner logic here that is gradually becoming clear. From the conversation, I mean, I think you can add two and two together and see the structure here. At least that is the way my thinking is running on this particular point.
Jonathan Wells: I'm reluctant to say anything because I'm going to be talking about it tomorrow morning. With all due respect I have to strongly object to this whole line of argument. As far as I can tell, christology is the cornerstone of Unification theology in a sense that I will explain tomorrow. Specifically, it is the cornerstone of Unification hermeneutics, and to say that Unification has no christology and ignores the Second Article...
Henry Vander Goot: I didn't say that it had no christology.
Jonathan Wells: Almost no christology. I'll deny it is subordinationist and Arian.
Frank Flinn: I say some things to provoke people, (laughter)
Jonathan Wells: I like that.
Henry Vander Goot: That is simply inaccurate because in classical christology Christ is not only mediator; he is sole mediator. If you have got Rev. Moon in there somewhere, I don't know what you do with that. But I don't know quite how Rev. Moon functions.
Herbert Richardson: He functions typologically. I'm going to give Jonathan's argument now. Well, I am going to give an argument which I think is Jonathan's point. The heart of Divine Principle is in fact not only christology but a very high christology. I would like to make four points here.
First, I would like to give a definition of typology. We have used it a lot and people think it is very esoteric but it is very simple. I want to give a definition of typology so we will know what we are talking about. When I came in here today, as I am sure you were aware when you came here, there was something very unusual about the experience: we were all getting together again. What is the difference between this and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands? Well, there is something interesting.
When we got here we weren't just getting here, but we were getting here with the realization that we had been together at St. Thomas. So there is something new about it, namely, we are all here and it is an event in its own right. But there is something about it that is old, and what leads us to recognize this event as a repeat is precisely the element that is ordinarily called a type. There is a certain typological dimension to this meeting and the typological dimension arises out of the fact that when we meet here it is different from when we met the first time because we meet here with a certain experience of having met the first time. Now, that is a very significant dimension of human experience and I might say that it tends to be neglected, for example, in the historical critical method. People ordinarily have not first experiences but repeat experiences and therefore they experience most of what they experience not only as a unique thing but also as a type of something else, because that is what a type is.
My second point is that because experience is temporal all experience is typological, that is, typology relates to temporality, because it relates to the fact that when we have an experience it frequently is an experience that reminds us of another experience that came earlier, so typology or the typological dimension of experience is the ordinary structure of human experience and human language: "Hi, Durwood, it is good to see you again." "Hi, what is your name?" "I didn't remember Gail's name, she is looking so much more holy than she did last summer." (laughter)
My third point is about the interpretation of the Bible. In the Bible it is very clear that when people experience things they frequently experience them feeling that what was going on was like something that had happened earlier. For example, in the prophets there is the experience of certain things that are going on that are like certain things that happened much earlier in the history of the people: a deliverance here like a deliverance earlier. And you see that in the New Testament, too. When people experienced Jesus they felt that things were happening around Jesus that reminded them of types of things that happened in the Old Testament. W e find it very easy to see this in ordinary life.
There are people who read the Bible and identify certain things that are happening in the Bible with things in their own life. I had an experience where I felt very close to Abraham when I had to leave Boston to go to Toronto. It was going to a foreign country. W e find Blacks who read the story of the Exodus and they read it like the Jews do as a sort of liberation theology Exodus experience, being freed from slavery in Egypt, coming up over the river Jordan. It is very clear that there are people who experience their life today as a repetition and type of something that happened in the Bible. That is very understandable.
My fourth point is that Divine Principle experiences what is happening today as a type of what happened in the time of Jesus. The whole New Testament age and the drama of what happened around Jesus is felt to be a type of what is happening right now.
Frank Flinn: It should be John and Jesus, I think.
Herbert Richardson: Well, John and Jesus, but the point is that what is happening today is experienced with a kind of recognition that what happened in the New Testament is very like what happens today. That is typological understanding. That is why I think that what Jonathan is saying on the centrality of christology is so critical. We are living in a New Testament moment of history and the whole drama of what happened around Jesus is happening around us. There is nothing dogmatic about this because the foundation for it is the ordinary human experience, that is, there are people who experience what is happening right now as like that. There are people who are experiencing Moon as like what happened in Jesus' time. I experienced Martin Luther King as Christ, as my Lord and Savior, as a kind of charismatic crusading spirit. It was an ordinary experience, many people's experience. No dogma. It is an ordinary level of experience. This is the way typology works.
Now having said all those things, and having really argued very strongly for the typological character of the Divine Principle reading of the Bible which reads our life today as a type of the New Testament times, I might say that very few Christians read their life today as a type of the New Testament. If we were really serious about it, as we pretend to be, we should be very upset at Blacks who want to use all this identification of their experience with the book of Exodus. It is very interesting that we don't have any trouble at all experiencing contemporary life as a type of the Exodus but we have a lot of trouble with people who want to experience today as a type of Jesus' time. I find that to be inconsistent. Frankly, I think both the Exodus theology and Divine Principle display the same type of thing.
What is the ethical application of this? This is for Deotis. I want the Unification people to think about this fact: your theory of indemnity is directly related to your hermeneutics of typology. It works out exactly like this. I'll give you an example from my life. My father had a heart attack at thirty-nine years of age. As I came up to age thirty-nine, I experienced a lot of anxiety that I might have a heart attack, too. My brother three years younger had a heart attack at age thirty-nine and dropped dead within one week of the day that my father had his original heart attack. The experience of reliving the life of your father is a very common experience. As I was coming into thirty-nine approaching forty, I kept saying, Richardson, you have got to find a way to break the pattern of repetition; you have got all these things in you like your father and he ended up with a heart attack. So I consciously set about performing activities to reverse the course of events, that is, actions which in Unification theology would be indemnity actions, actions intended to reverse the course of events. A very critical kind of decision I have also made was at times when my marriage wasn't going so well and I was thinking whether to divorce my wife or not. I thought about the fact that there had been too much divorce in my family and somebody had to try to reverse this destructive pattern. So I tried to change certain patterns of my behavior in order to go on with my marriage by actually performing a kind of indemnity intended to reverse a pattern.
A pattern can only be recognized through the device of typology. An event is seen as a type of another event. It doesn't mean that you have to do the same thing, it means that on the base of that recognition you can perform an act which is intended, by recognizing the type, to reverse the tendency. You can perform an indemnity. You may be successful or you may not be successful. In any case, what I want to say, then, is the Unification theory of indemnity as an ethic is directly related to their hermeneutic of typology. Critical to their typological theory is the identification of our age as a type of the New Testament age. Now the act of indemnification is that we must not fail Moon as the early disciples failed Jesus. That is to say, can we act in such a way that we can reverse or perform an act of indemnification that will reverse the outcome of events as played out? Do you want to know what Rev. Moon has been struggling desperately to do? Let us even acknowledge that he has made it because today is his sixtieth birthday, and in a sense he has achieved it because in Korean thinking the sixtieth birthday is the end of a life on a certain pattern. Moon has managed to escape, to avoid being crucified. That is, he has managed to lift from the human race the burden of guilt for another crucifixion. That is pretty significant. And we might say those who have gathered around him and protected him have managed to keep that guilt from our shoulders too. Now, of course, I would only talk this way because I believe that, typologically speaking, for Moon to have been killed would have been roughly the equivalent of killing Jesus, in terms of the longer history of guilt of the human race. If any of you find it a little bit strange to talk this way, just think a little bit about the guilt that the human race has acquired for the murder of millions of Jews. And how the hell are we going to reverse that one?
This is how I see that the theory of indemnification is directly related to the hermeneutic of typology and how it gets to the root of the transformation of human history in a restored direction. I don't find anything esoteric about this theory. The reason that I have offered so many psychological and personal analogies is that I have wanted to argue very strongly that there is nothing about this theory that arises because it is an a priori theory. I think that everything about this theory arises because it is true in a very fundamental way to human experience. In that way it is common sense, rather than academic. That is how I see the matter.
Henry Vander Goot: But it is not high christology in any traditional sense of the word. When you talk about typology, you are talking about the universal element in the experience surrounding Jesus in the New Testament community and comparing it to the experience of the Unification Church surrounding Rev. Moon. But what about the particular element that is characteristic of classical christology? That is to say, there is a sense in which what Christ did and what happened to Christ has a once-for-all characteristic. How are you going to do justice to that?
Jonathan Wells: Can I suggest that we discuss that tomorrow, because that is the topic of my paper.
Lonnie Kliever: Just one comment. If I had a better memory I could cite the source. Much of the discussion this evening triggers the memory of an essay that H. Richard Niebuhr wrote entitled "The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Unity of the Church." Niebuhr argued that church history viewed in proper perspective is best understood as a series of unitarianisms. He sketched out a typology of the unitarianism of the Father, the unitarianism of the Son, and the unitarianism of the Spirit. Each of those unitarianisms handles the problem of creation, redemption and consummation from its own perspective. But he says that the unity of the church is not found in the comprehensiveness of any theology but in the reciprocity and the wholeness of all of the theologies with their own distinctive impetus and their own particular ways of handling these doctrinal loci. This is just a suggestion for when we get back to where books are and libraries are. The article was in Theology Today in about 1955, and it is a good essay that might be worth picking up on, particularly as a rejoinder to Frank's notion that Unification theology is First and Third Article theology. Niebuhr would say that every unitarianism involves all three of the articles of the creed but handles them in the light of one of the articles.