Hermeneutics and The Shape of the Future - Edited by Frank K. Flinn

The Unification Understanding of God -- Lloyd Eby

Divine Principle or Unification theology divides into three sections, the Principle of Creation, the Fall of Man, and the Principle of Restoration. In order to understand how God is understood in Unificationism, we must investigate the understanding of God as it occurs in these three sections.

God in the Principle of Creation

Divine Principle and Unification thought are primarily relational in character, as opposed to individualistic (Greek) or wholistic thought. All entities, including God, are therefore seen as intrinsically related to other entities. In addition, each entity exists as an individual, with its individual need for self-maintenance. Each entity, then, has dual purposes, a purpose for itself and a purpose for interaction with other beings.

In Unificationism, God is seen as intrinsically related with the world. Beings other than people are creations of God ("symbols of God") and the human race is God's children ("images of God"). The fundamental ontological characteristics of God and of beings other than God must therefore be the same. The characteristics of God can be ascertained from studying created beings, or alternately, the characteristics of created beings can be ascertained from knowing the characteristics of God. This method of investigation may seem circular, but because of the relationship between God and the universe, this mutual relationship occurs, and it can be investigated from either side.

The Unification method of ascertaining the characteristics of God begins, then, with an investigation of the characteristics of observable things, as Paul suggests: "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Each created being is found to consist of both an internal character and an external form, interacting through a give and take relationship. These two characters are relative aspects of the same existence.1 The internal character of a being is invisible, and consists of mind, law, or principle. The external form is body, energy, or matter.

In addition to internal character and external form, beings are expressed as, and exist and interact through, a second set of dual characteristics which are called positivity (or masculinity) and negativity (or femininity). In their deepest structure, then, beings are relational, existing through a give and take action between internal character and external form. Beings then assume either positive or negative aspects and interact with beings of the opposite aspects to produce new beings of higher order. An electrical circuit, for example, exists through the give and take between the positive and negative poles. A musical composition consists of the interplay between high notes and low notes, harmony and dissonance, movement and rest, and so on. Human beings are the highest existents in the universe (except for God), so God's nature is both expressed most fully and discovered most fully in people who have both physical and spiritual mind, and physical and spiritual body and who exist as man or woman.

God, then, must be a being of Original Internal Character and Original External Form, and these must be expressed as either Original Positivity or Original Negativity. Through the interactions between these dual characteristics in God, God's activity of creation and generation takes place. God is the creator of beings other than people and the father/mother of the human race. Through the interactions between the dual characteristics in God, both God himself/herself and all other beings exist. Beings other than God exist through God's will and power, but they are of a different order from God, who is immaterial and without body. The Unification conception of God is, therefore, neither emanationist nor pantheistic.

In every case of interaction between internal character and external form there must be a primal point of origin from which or around which the interaction takes place. In God this is called "heart." This central point is ontologically, but not necessarily temporally, prior to the interaction pair; the central point and the interaction pair exist only in relation to one another. Thus Unificationism is neither a monism (in the Parmenidean sense) nor a dualism, but a unification of the two positions, avoiding the problems of each. Furthermore, the central point and the dual characteristics together make a three-fold entity; this is the deepest meaning of the Christian assertion that God is trinity. In this, Unificationism is quite similar to Confucian yang and yin thought, and quite different from the kind of Greek-based thought in which an individual is first of all a monistic unit having an essence. In that kind of thought, relations are problematic because it is difficult to derive relations from individuals. In Unification thought, however, even an individual is fundamentally a relation. Unification thought, therefore, does not deny the existence or importance of individuals, but it sees an individual itself as fundamentally composed of an internal relation, and thus Unificationism makes both relations and individuals equally fundamental.

Saying that God has Original External Form does not mean that God contains matter, but saying that God has both Original Internal Character and Original External Form means that God has within his/her own being the principles of the origin of both mind (or law or principle) and matter (or body or energy). The origin of both the spiritual and material worlds is therefore within God, who is the first cause of all beings other than himself/herself. First Cause arguments for God's existence are sometimes employed in Unificationism.

Since God is the ultimate origin of both the spiritual and physical realms, Unification thought completely rejects Manicheanism. The temporary separation of the physical and spiritual realms came about because of the fall, but this separation is neither essential nor eternal. There is in Unificationism, therefore, a foundation for unity between science and theology, between reason and revelation. One can understand Unificationism as either a new revelation or as a new natural theology. A full revelation is completely reasonable, and a theology or philosophy or science which fully satisfies the demands of reason will apprehend divinity and divine purpose. People from an Oriental spiritualist or a confessional tradition tend to take Unificationism as a revelation, whereas those from a rational or natural theology tradition tend to take it as a rational system. The approaches are equally warranted.

God is creator of beings other than people and father-mother to people. In Unification thought the fatherhood-motherhood of God is understood not analogically but univocally. Thus Unificationism often speaks anthropomorphically of God and ascribes to God wants and needs just as people have wants and needs. Whatever characteristics a child has as essential characteristics must be present in the parent. Thus, in the Unification conception of God, God needs an object for his/her love and needs humans to respond to him/her. In this view, creation took place because God recognized that he/she was incomplete in himself/herself, without a being of comparable characteristics with whom he/she could interact. Creatures other than people were made as objects for people, for people's nurture and pleasure. Without people's proper interaction with this created world, it is of no value to God because its only purpose is for its use and appreciation by humankind.

In Unification thought, God is both eternal and temporal, changeless and mutable, transcendent and immanent.2 God is eternal, changeless and transcendent in his/her original will, purpose, and love. But in a particular instance or concerning any particular person or group of persons, God is bound by the choices and situations of those people. God's will, purpose, and love are therefore contingent, mutable, and immanent, dependent on the situation or person. God himself/herself is beyond space and time and hence omnipresent and eternal, but as related to us God operates within our space and time.

This comes about primarily because of God's giving humans the three great blessings, which are to be fruitful, to multiply, and to have dominion over creation. All of these are relational concepts. The first means that each person is to grow from immaturity to maturity through proper give-and-take between his/her internal character (mind) and external form (body), centered on God and God's desire, so that the individual person comes to relate fully with God, thus becoming a divine person. The second is that two such persons, man and woman, become husband and wife under the direction of and in concert with God's will and desire, and thus produce a divine family. The third is that such a divine humankind relate and interact in harmonious give and take with the natural world under the direction and will of God and in accordance with divine purpose, thus completing harmony between humans and all other created beings, according to divine providence. These blessings or tasks have been given to humankind from the beginning, and human beings are responsible for fulfilling them.

Both God and humans must work in concert to fulfill these blessings. God has given humans freedom and responsibility, and this freedom and responsibility remain with people permanently. God cannot interfere with that part of the shared responsibility which belongs uniquely to the human person. Nevertheless God is immanently involved in all these relationships that must be fulfilled in order that the three great blessings be consummated. Their successful consummation requires that a person center all his/her interactions on God and on God's principles and desires. Only through such centering can these interactions be successfully carried out. But carrying out God's will and program requires that a person fulfill that part which is his/her own responsibility. In Unificationism, understood in this way, God's omnipotence is self-limited because God's power is limited by people's choices and actions, and this limitation is inviolable.

Unificationism is thus radically theocentric (Rev. Moon often uses the term "Godism" as a description of the ideology), but it does not compromise people or human freedom. In giving these blessings to humans, God transmits to people the activity of creation, making humans co-creators with God. God is dependent on the human as much as the human is dependent on God. Just as a person cannot compromise God, God cannot compromise a person. The physical realm has been given to humankind as the locus of human activity, and only through the human person can the divine purpose be realized in the physical realm. The human is unique in being that creature who has both a spiritual and a physical dimension ("spirit being" and "physical being" co-joined). Thus people are uniquely qualified to be co-creators with God in the physical realm. Just as God is Creator and Mother-Father, the human being is also to be creator and mother-father.

Centering human life completely on God, rather than diminishing or compromising the person's humanity, is the prerequisite for realizing human potential or human nature. We could use the term theocentric humanism for Unificationism because it asserts fully the status and value of both God and the human, and asserts that human status and value are fully developed only in concert with God. A person qua person can attain his/her proper status and value only through complete interaction with God. In this, Unificationism is distinguished from the usual humanism which is more-or-less atheistic; such a humanism actually compromises the human in its efforts to assert the value and status of the human apart from God.3

In order for people to be co-creators with God, people must have freedom. Thus, in fully realizing higher relation with God, man/woman is fully free. In fact a person can be free only as he/she is fully related with God; disruption of this relationship curtails human freedom. Sin comes therefore not from freedom, but from something else. In this view, freedom implies relationship with God. Since freedom is given to the human race by God, God cannot violate human freedom. The realization of God's will and purpose, since it is mediated through people, depends on human action. God is therefore dependent on people in a real way.

Two additional implications of the principle of creation must be mentioned. The first is that God's activity in creation grounds epistemology. Since the world is created for human interaction and enjoyment, and since the world is known through the process of sensation and cognition, we are assured that the world as known to us is the world as it is. Thus Kant's claim that things in themselves are unknowable is denied in Unificationism. In this view the processes of sensation and cognition apprehend things as they are, and things are guaranteed to really be as they are known to be.

The second implication concerns ethics. From God's activity in creation, most especially in giving the three great blessings, the basis of ethics in Unificationism emerges. That which contributes to realization of these blessings in accordance with the divine will and plan is good; whatever interferes with it is evil. Unification ethics especially emphasizes a person's activity in the family and in relationship to creation, saying that ethics primarily concerns family relationships and their extension to the world at large. Ethics, then, is derived from the principle of creation and concerns the proper realization of this principle.

God and the Fall of Man

In Unification theology, the origin of sin was not God's will, and was contrary to divine providence and intention. The deepest meaning of sin in Unificationism is that through improper love, i.e., an improper give-and-take relationship, a separation in the parent-child relationship between God and humanity is effected. Satan, in seducing Eve, took over the role of God, and became the false father of the human race. Thus Jesus could say, "You are of your father the devil." (Unificationism understands this saying univocally and not analogically.) Satan seduced Eve by misusing the principle of give and take. In this seduction he assumed for himself rights that Eve possessed and thereby came into the position to be able to partially control the spiritual world and the physical world through his control of Eve. Eve's seduction of Adam extended Satan's control. The fall thus resulted in the establishment of the three blessings, but centered on Satan instead of God. Salvation then is not satisfaction for disobedience, but restoration of humanity to God, i.e., restoration of the three great blessings to their proper centering on God. (Although Adam and Eve did disobey God, their sin was not primarily in the disobedience but in the improper give-and-take relationships, centered on Satan instead of God. In the Unification view, sinful people do not need forgiveness for disobedience as much as liberation from the consequences of sin.) This restoration is the mission of the Messiah. Sin is primarily distortion of lineage, centering give and take on someone other than God or the godly. Salvation is restoration of these give-and-take relations to their proper focus or centering, and the Messiah is the medium for that restoration.

God and the Principle of Restoration

Because of the fall God lost his/her children. Therefore just as human parents suffer if their children are taken away, God suffers because of human sin. Again, Unification theology speaks univocally of God's suffering, not analogically. God, as well as humanity and all creation, is in need of liberation, and in order to accomplish this God instituted the principle of restoration.

The deepest intention of the principle of restoration is the sending of the Messiah, who is a man not of Satan's lineage but of God's lineage. The Messiah is therefore a second Adam. His mission is to restore the three great blessings, first through growing to maturity himself, second through restoring the rest of the human race by having it be reborn into God's lineage. The messianic function begins, therefore, with the divinely sent messianic man in the position of Adam, but it also essentially involves the Messiah's bride, who takes over the position of Eve. The messianic office cannot be fulfilled apart from the messianic family, and so we can consider the term "Messiah" ultimately to mean "Messianic Family." Finally the Messianic Family must restore harmony between humans and the created world. Sending the Messiah is God's task, but since God gave humanity co-creative responsibility in the beginning, this responsibility remains with humans even after the fall.

Thus, in order that God can send the Messiah, people must accomplish certain conditions (indemnity) that conditionally restore what was lost in the fall. Divine Principle calls these conditions a foundation of faith and a foundation of substance, and gives an elaborate historical account of such attempts to establish these foundations as recorded in biblical and post-biblical history.

It is in this connection that Divine Principle discusses predestination. In the Unification view, predestination in history means God's activity of calling and setting up an individual or group or situation so that some indemnity condition can be fulfilled. If the attempt succeeds, then both God and humanity are glorified, but if it fails both must suffer and try again. Actual accomplishment always depends on people freely fulfilling their part of the responsibility. Since people are co-creators with God, humanity is also co-creator of its own (and God's) salvation. God's grace is freely given, but its appropriation by humanity requires active human participation. Thus God is Creator and Savior, but fulfillment of both creation and salvation requires people's active participation. Human beings were created to be and to remain co-laborers with God.4 When such labors are in fact carried out, both God and humanity receive joy; when they fail both suffer.

All of human history is the history of a fallen human race against the background of God's working for human salvation through the principle of restoration. Unificationism claims, therefore, that human history is not merely random or repetitive or meaningless, but that it is meaningful and that its meaning is found in the success or failure of individuals and groups in carrying out the conditions of restoration. Thus history is understood as being under the direction of God, and God is understood as a historical God.

History is enormously important in Unificationism. Since history is made up of cycles of time -- hours, days, years, and so on -- which are expressed as numerical units, and since numbers have their origin in God and God works through principles which have a numerical component, the history of restoration is expressed in terms of numerological units. Time periods of particular numerological length and meaning are required for conditions of indemnity to be carried out. Recurrent historical cycles are therefore not accidental but are expressions of the working of this principle of restoration. It is not an accident that these time-periods are carefully recorded in the scriptures.

Since God's desire is that restoration be accomplished, and since the accomplishment of restoration means re-centering of the three great blessings on proper give and take with God and since it is the Messiah's task to carry out this restoration, it is in no way God's desire that the Messiah be crucified. Crucifixion means the thwarting of the process of restoration, a result of no benefit to either God or mankind, but of benefit only to Satan, who does not want restoration to succeed. God foresaw, however, that it would be possible for people to reject the Messiah, and therefore provided for a providence through crucifixion as a subsidiary (but much lesser in value and only partly effective) course, if the Messiah should be rejected. This is in fact what happened with Jesus, so St. Peter can correctly say, "... this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God."5 But it is God's subsidiary plan and foreknowledge, not the primary one. Even after the Messiah arrives, people must co-operate (co-work) with him in order that salvation-restoration be accomplished. God's gift of cocreativity to humankind remains inviolable, and both God and humanity are bound by human activity. This does not mean that God does not work with people to enable and encourage them in fulfilling their cowork, but it does mean that God cannot do it without human cooperation. Since Satan is in a position to control humanity as a result of the fall, people's fulfilling of their part in the cooperative scheme is extraordinarily difficult, requiring them to tear themselves away from Satan's control. This is the inner reason for the struggles and fighting in this world.

Its confident belief in the eternal and unchanging character of God's heart, love, and will for the carrying through of the providence of restoration and the fulfilling of the principle of creation makes Unificationism a theology and philosophy of hope. God's will and purpose will ultimately prevail, and the salvation of all beings (God, angels, men, women, the created order) and the restoration of the ideal of creation will be accomplished. This does not mean that any particular calamity will be averred, but only that God will persevere until the necessary conditions are fulfilled and the divine program triumphs. God's triumph is humanity's triumph; therefore Unificationism holds to this underlying hope. At the same time it is completely realistic about present and future difficulties, anticipating suffering and (some times) defeat. It is an ideology of hope in the midst of a realism about persons, events, and situations.


1 It is Aristotle's complete separation of contraries, e.g., matter and form (Metaph., Lambda, 1075 a 30), that allows him to assert that the highest being, the Unmoved Mover, is pure form or pure act without any potentiality. This, of course, leads him into absurdity. In Unificationism this absurdity does not arise because a pair of contraries, especially internal character and external form, are necessarily correlates of one another, and hence inseparable. They cannot occur apart from one another because they are dual aspects of one existence. Thus Unificationism joins together monism and dualism.

2 In this, Unificationism is quite similar to process thought in its account of the primordial and consequent natures of God. But Unificationism is theocentric, and process thought is not. Process thought conceives of God as creator of the world in a univocal way. In process thought, God as primordial has no personality, heart, or mind, but in Unification thought these are all within God, even when God is considered as transcendent.

3 This is the ultimate reason why Marxists and Marxist states are so inhumane. Humane treatment of people requires recognition that humanity is essentially related to divinity; denial of this relation will eventually result in inhumane behavior, as happens in Marxism. It does not necessarily follow that religious people or ideologies will be humane; they often are not because they are either mistaken in their basic principles, (ailing to make God necessarily related to all mankind and dependent tor his/her own happiness on human happiness, or else they compromise these principles in practice.

4 See, for example, St. Paul's accounts or himself as a co-worker with Christ, e.g., II Corinthians 6:1.

5 Acts 2:23. 

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