Hermeneutics and Unification Theology - Edited by Darrol Bryant Durwood Foster

Hermeneutics: Opening the Question

Darrol Bryant: From our introductions last night, it strikes me that we might fruitfully focus our conversation on the question of hermeneutics. That's a many-sided question and I'm sure that different people conceive it in different ways. Since Mr. Duddy was the first to raise the issue last night, we'll let him begin.

Neil Duddy: First, I would like to say something about the record of Western theology: it is often akin to a speeding pinball machine in which there is a lot of action-reaction. Many theologies developed as bouncing defense mechanisms. There's an emotional attachment that many people have to theology that leads them to use theology as a defense mechanism. Of course everyone would like to believe that they are using theology constructively: helping people in their everyday situations to be more progressive and social, and working toward alleviating the problems that the world presents us with. Still, theology is often used as a defense mechanism. In my particular background, that's what it's used for primarily. Therefore, Western theology has pretty much confined itself to a heady propositional emphasis. Things that don't come across as being purely propositional sometimes create a lot of problems. However, it's interesting to notice that in different cultures that don't have the same kinds of Western problems there have been different uses of theology. Some of these different uses of theology come about just by the cultural context in which people live. For example, there are different geographical areas in Africa where the future tense isn't part of their grammatical structure. How in that context do you go about communicating the notion of the coming Kingdom of God, when we will see the satisfaction of God's reign on earth? This raises the problem of what I would call cultural or contextual hermeneutics. This would involve questions of how people see things, and how they perceive the Gospel, and how they communicate the truth of Scripture. There are cultural orientations that bring out different responses to different elements of the Scripture. For example, in the West because of our strong traditions of individualism we would have more of a tendency to think of the church in terms of individual commitment. But some of the Africans that I've met from Nigeria and Uganda have a tremendous sense of community. There are instances where whole tribes would get evangelized and no one would step forward when there were "altar calls." But if the chief did, this was the same as if everyone did, and there was a tremendous spiritual revival. Here then is a sense of social solidarity, a sense of community, that would shape their understanding of the church.

Now this is a starting point of my interest in the Unification Church. It has its roots in Korea. Have they, given this background, responded to different elements of the biblical Gospel? Have they just expanded and built on those truths in Scripture which in Western thinking might be considered secondary or tertiary truths? Could the differences of cultural backgrounds be a source of confusion when the Unification Church moves into a Western context?

Anthony Guerra: I think that's a very perceptive comment. And, I think you are right. For instance, the whole notion of yin-yang which is very tied up in Confucian concepts is used in the Divine Principle to explain an aspect of the divine nature which is manifest in the creation. We see these aspects of masculinity and femininity in Adam and Eve and believe them to be characteristics of the divine nature that are present in all of creation. For instance in the Unification view, we believe that in order to bring about the ideal world, we need a family centered on God. The family is the key. The meaning of the Adam and Eve story is the coming together of man and woman to create a child. But since that didn't happen properly you need a savior to come, and that savior actually has to be again both a male being and a female being who cooperate together to bring about salvation. Therefore, in the Unification view, the Holy Spirit, like in Eastern Orthodox theology, is a female agency. Also the Unification view holds that Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as the father and mother, generate a spiritual love which, when a person takes the child position to Jesus-father and Holy Spirit-mother, leads to rebirth. You see the same thing in our eschatology. The Second Coming is also going to be Christ as the third Adam, and his bride as the third Eve, who will generate a family of a new order that can begin a new age. So that this Eastern notion of masculinity and femininity becomes integral to the whole theology of the Divine Principle. So I think that's one way in which one can see the influence of Oriental culture on the theology of the Church. There are probably other aspects as well.

Theologian X: Just in looking at the Divine Principle and following the yin-yang principle within world history, and also the assertion that Jesus' success was spiritual only and not yet physical, it seems to me that logic would require that the Lord of the Second Advent will have to be a woman. Yet it didn't come out that way. I was just kind of curious why the Lord of the Second Advent is assumed to be a man?

Anthony Guerra: Well, first of all, according to the Unification view, Jesus is the Messiah, but the Holy Spirit also has a salvific function. This is what I just explained. So that spiritually you get a spiritual father who is Jesus, and you also get a spiritual mother who is the Holy Spirit.

Theologian X: The way I interpreted it was that the Holy Spirit was the spiritual side of the physical Jesus.

Anthony Guerra: The Holy Spirit is an independent agent, independent, that is, of Jesus, who cooperates with Him through a relationship whereby they generate spiritual love which offers rebirth to the Christian who stands in the position of child to Jesus-spiritual father and Holy Spirit-spiritual mother.

Herbert Richardson: I would be inclined to say that the Lord of the Second Advent is a woman in Unification theology. Let me explain. If one moves to a higher level of abstraction as we do in theology and does not use the word Christ but uses the phrase "the christological symbol complex," what are the elements in the Unification christological symbol complex? It's clear that in Unification theology, as in Catholic theology, there's both a man and a woman. The suggestion is that in the Second Coming, there must be...

Theologian X: You're speaking of Mary now, I assume.

Herbert Richardson: Yes, in Catholic theology, there's Mary as well as Jesus. One sees this development in, for example, the iconography of the Catholic crucifix where you see the increasing presence of Mary.

Anthony Guerra: I think that what you have in Unification is a specification of what divine love really is. Of course, the phrase "Lord of the Second Advent" is used, but that is a suggestive, open-ended title. What it suggests, I believe, is that the messianic function, or the salvific foundation, is now going to be performed, not only by Eve and Adam, but by men and women in their relationships to each other. This is what I mean by saying that in Unification theology there is a specification of what divine love is really like. The best analogy of divine love is the love between a man and a woman which is pro-creating love. I think that traditional Western Christianity, because it lacked the woman figure in the christological symbol complex, had to use heroic action as a model of what divine love is. Go out there and sacrifice yourself.

I think one could ask, on a theoretical level, what the appropriate human analogy is for speaking about divine love? In Unification theology it is the relation between a woman and a man. This becomes for us a theological way to talk about divine love. When you see this then you understand why the family is seen as the critical point within the Divine Principle. The critical point within the world where divine love can enter is through the love of man and woman, and their love for their children. I think that's the doctrine.

Now to return to Neil's question, you can ask where did that doctrine come from? Here's what I think happened. I think it's a precise reading of the Scripture in an Oriental context, where the notion of identity is so familial that people think of themselves as members of a family. Hence, if they were to sin, rather than saying, "Oh, I feel so guilty, I sinned!" -- that's an individual approach -- they would say, "Oh, what shame I've brought upon my mother and father, my brothers!" The sense of being a member of a group is so much stronger that the problem of guilt is less important than the problem of shame. Hence, when you read the Scripture, you're always thinking in terms of the family. So, when you go to the Adam and Eve story and read that Adam and Eve sinned, in the West we always say, "What did they do?" And you immediately turn to questions of responsibility and guilt in Adam and Eve. But in Unification theology which is so much more Oriental, you ask when you read that Adam and Eve sinned, "What's that going to mean to their family?" So then you look immediately to Cain and Abel to see the effect. The reading of the effect of original sin in the family context takes you into looking at Cain and Abel, which it seems to me is a perfectly legitimate hermeneutical move, given the Eastern familial cultural pattern. It generates, however, a new theological datum from the point of view of Western theology because we're so individualistic. That's what you said about the African world. I've always found that to be a very useful insight into how people reading the Bible in another culture with a different anthropology discover in the Bible new teaching that the Western church didn't see.

Durwood Foster: I think the discussion is illustrating the complexities of the hermeneutical problem. Hermeneutics is such an oceanic problem that it is difficult to know where specifically to begin. It seems to me that one of the issues that immediately faces one is how one goes about attempting to differentiate between the realities one is seeking to construe, understand, appropriate, and integrate, and on the other hand the conceptuality of the symbol complexes within the group in which one is attempting to do that. This is not at all easy. It's like splitting the atom. The realities -- if I may use that word without being challenged with respect to it -- we are talking about, are already merged into and mingled with symbols that we use to talk about them, and yet we know they're not one and the same. Hence, they must in some way be differentiable.

In addition, I wanted to raise the closely connected question of how one who is not already in the hermeneutical circle of Unification theology goes about understanding the inner logic of that theology? It seems to me that Mr. X's question was oriented in that way. He extrapolated from an analysis of the deficiency that is found to exist in the case of Jesus, to conclude that logic would seem to demand that the Lord of the Second Advent should be a female figure. To pose that kind of question is potentially fruitful, hermeneutically, for those who are not within the circle, because to think through that kind of issue with Unification theologians would give us some concrete feel for the way you think and for the frame of reference, or the field of force, within which you are moving.

Now, specifically on that question, I had an observation also. I didn't follow the process of extrapolation that Mr. X went through, because it seems to me -- and correct me on this because I haven't reviewed recently the specific data -- but as I recall, what is found to be specifically deficient in the case of Jesus is the early termination to which His historic life and career comes. That is, He is crucified before He can, in fact, carry through as presumably He otherwise would have, and generate a family, a new humanity in the physical sense. Hence, what is needed now is not simply a woman to stand alongside a man, but what is needed is a new beginning -- someone who will carry through what Jesus was prevented from doing because of His early death. So the logic would seem to entail, in this case, someone like Jesus in many other respects, who doesn't get crucified quite so early. That would seem to me to be within the framework of the existing argument.

Anthony Guerra: I would agree. But I want to enlarge this discussion. I must speak confessionally as well as theologically, because part of my struggle in accepting Christian teaching before I joined the Unification Church was this: how could a loving God demand the death of His Son as the only means to salvation? That was a gut-level reaction I had against the Catholic interpretation which led one to believe that of God. I wouldn't subscribe to that.

What Unification theology did for me was to explain that God, in His love for His created children, limits Himself to the point where He responds to as well as acts in history. Human beings can respond to God's intervention in human history either positively or negatively. So when God through the prophets prepares the historical foundation of a nation to which to send the Messiah, all along the way they have the decision to accept the prophets and then to accept Jesus, or not to accept them. God's desire is that the people will receive the Messiah, that the Israelite nation will whole-heartedly accept and unite with the Son of God who represents the new humanity, who is the embodiment of the new humanity. It's by people uniting with Him that they can gain awareness, be educated, and receive a new spirit in which they too can be renewed.

So the major point in Unification theology is the unity between the Messiah and the people. How that unity would come about is a major point. The unity could have come about, Unification theology says, by people simply following and obeying Him. After He'd taught them, they'd say, "Yes! Here's a man of God, here's a person to whom I should take the child position, the student position -- with whom I should work." Or if that doesn't happen then there has to be another means, and the alternative becomes the crucifixion, where by that utter sacrifice Jesus demonstrates a kind of love and obedience which is so persuasive, which is so powerful an example, that after the resurrection people realize who He is. They were not able to realize who He was without the event of the crucifixion, but that was not God's primary will; that was the historical situation.

So, in Unification theology there's the notion that there is a God who is working within history but is limited by the responses of human beings. Somehow that view seemed to do two things. It seemed to say that the crucifixion wasn't the only way, but at the same time it upheld the value of the crucifixion under those historical circumstances. That explanation solved a very critical problem for me.

Herbert Richardson: In this case, your way of presenting the doctrine of atonement is a little like the game that many theologians play: they caricature the position that they are now not going to accept to make it easier to reject it. Though I think it's a reasonable caricaturization you've made, I just want to ask you this question. One of the nice things about having Evangelicals here is that it's a reminder to stay close to what a good evangelical interpretation of atonement might be. Now, speaking from this point of view, you used two words to describe the Christian doctrine of atonement which you were going to reject. One was, God demanded this of His Son and sacrificed Him and the other was that the act of Jesus Christ was an act of obedience to God.

Now, I would just like to say two things. First of all, at least within the longer Catholic tradition, God the Father did not demand the death of His Son, but the Son freely and voluntarily sacrificed and offered up His life to God as a sign of respect, hope and love for the Father. That's the first point. And the second is, the death of Christ is not any part of the obedience of Christ to the Father, because the Father cannot demand of a sinless man that he should accept death. The real freedom of Jesus to give His life to the Father is a free act over and above obedience since God doesn't have the right to demand the death of a righteous person. Now in the Catholic tradition, it's fully understood that Jesus offers His death to God on our behalf, as our brother, out of love for us and because He honors the Father. And if I may say this, what kind of a God would it be who would reject a gift like that? See how the rhetoric gets turned around? Suppose that my son goes, and out of concern for my purposes, sacrifices his life, and I say, "I reject any gift like that." Ridiculous. I would say, "My son, how you've loved me, how I rejoice in this gift, and how the honor you have given me is truly yours not mine." Now, I think that that's the true Christian doctrine of atonement, and also that it is a fair account of how Unification theology might interpret the death of Jesus, namely, as something offered to God out of love.

Now, why has the problem you allude to, Anthony, arisen? The problem arises, I think, because what happened in the Christian tradition is this. Christians began interpreting the meaning of the atonement in terms of the verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave..." So the death becomes something, then, that the Father gives rather than that the Son gives. I think a real deformation occurred there. Although the verse is all right, many people didn't reflect on it properly and consequently a certain authoritarianism entered in. I think that Protestantism has a lot of concern for command ethics and obedience, rather than for an ethic of sacrifice and gift, and that this to some extent depreciated and distorted the death of Christ. They wanted to make Jesus' death an act of obedience, rather than an act of love that was beyond obedience, which is a supererogation which we Protestants aren't supposed to believe in, but which seems to me exactly what's at the heart of the classical doctrine of atonement. Now I think that the Unification criticism of Christian theology is in fact Unification criticism of certain forms of deformed Christianity, and in that way it's a useful criticism. What I think I've said, namely, that the death of Christ is the Son's offering to the Father, has to be understood as an act of filial love and respect, and not as a work done by obedience. It's a free and gratuitous gift. Can Unification theology accept that account?

Anthony Guerra: Let me say that I really thank you for that interpretation because I think you're accurate. In the New Testament we find a number of interpretations of the sacrifice. Certainly in the Pauline tradition, we do have God as the agent of salvation and Jesus as the instrument, and I was describing one tradition that came down to me within a Catholic educational system. Maybe they were deviant Catholics? (laughter) But I think that the description of the tradition I was talking about is close to the evangelical position. You're probably right in saying the view you offer is the traditional Catholic point of view.

Unification theology talks about the intimate relationship the historical Jesus had with Heavenly Father. They were in communication with each other. If you read the Divine Principle, it talks about the Garden of Gethsemane scene where Jesus was communicating with His Heavenly Father about the crucifixion itself. In the Garden of Gethsemane He was asking if this was the only way. I don't think that Jesus got the idea at some point that He wanted to make this offering to His Father. How can we work this out?

Darrol Bryant: Careful now, are you shifting there to a caricature of another position? I think that a couple of things are getting confused here. If we go back to Neil Duddy's question, the question involves the impact of specifically the Korean cultural context on the emergence of the Divine Principle and on the formation of certain Unification doctrines. I think that's a very important and interesting question and some things have been suggested about that that are very illuminating. That is the context out of which this religious movement has arisen, and there are built into that setting certain kinds of metaphysical assumptions related to yin-yang, family, traditions, and so forth that affect the reading of Scripture and the presentation of the theology of the Divine Principle. I think we still haven't explored that whole question sufficiently. There's another set of problems, though, and I think those are also important. When we encounter this movement in the context of North America, especially in the context of people trained in the Christian traditions of the West, there is a whole set of other problems that arise. The thing that you said that struck me earlier was at the end of your statement. You said something like, "And that means we believe in the notion of a limited God." Why did that come in? What's that related to? Is it related to Eastern metaphysical notions?

Anthony Guerra: I guess it was a question for me. I said I was going to speak confessionally, and to me it was a problem. I'm sorry, I in fact wasn't answering your question, but I thought the question had gone through three or four permutations by that time.

Darrol Bryant: Well, it has gone through about three or four permutations. I'm just trying to sort some of them out, so we can focus on them one at a time. Perhaps we should simply go back and ask other Unification members here to address themselves to that specific question Neil asked, about whether or not the Korean cultural context has played a significant role in the formation of the Divine Principle and Unification theology.

Dagfinn Aslid: Actually, what I had in mind was less specifically the Korean element than -- the word I've had on my tongue now for a little while is the word, "history." It is a very important category for our hermeneutics, and speaks to the relevance of the Bible. Now I grew up in a context where I had the Bible all along. I grew up with the Bible, since I grew up a Christian. But it didn't have any relevance; it didn't address the secular situation or the philosophical systems that I encountered. It's the historical hermeneutic of the Divine Principle that opened up Scripture for me in a new way. It allowed me to bring the biblical categories and biblical stories into a meaningful dialogue with people I met on the street. Then I felt comfortable in bringing out the Christian faith. This new understanding of Scripture forced a wider horizon, so to speak, in my faith.

If I were to address the question of the Korean element in Unification theology, I would see that as the historical event of two horizons meeting, East and West. I think we see in the Divine Principle a complex merging of those two horizons.

Yoshihiko Masuda: It might be possible to say that Unification theology is orientalized Christianity. I can see as I said earlier certain similarities between Confucianism and Unification theology. In Confucianism, the important concept is parents and children, the father-son relationship and filial piety. In Confucianism the central figure is always expected to function as a father figure. In Japan, our members are supposed to be symbolically parents and children. In a Japanese company also, the president is expected to function as a father, and the employees as children. Many Japanese and Koreans have this Confucian concept. Because of this concept many Japanese and Koreans tend automatically to interpret Adam and Eve as parents. Jesus is also in the position of a parent. Naturally, when I read the Bible I felt it was strange that Jesus didn't establish a family. For many Japanese it is very strange that Jesus didn't establish a family. One of the reasons that the Japanese rejected Christianity is that the New Testament teachings didn't stress the importance of filial piety. So for many Japanese, Christian teaching is not ethical; it is morally unacceptable to Oriental cultures. Rev. Moon was brought up and educated in Korea and Japan, Far Eastern cultures. I can see some influence of Confucian ethics. I think Rev. Moon studied Confucian teachings in elementary school and junior high school and high school -- especially in those years, students were required to memorize important Confucian sayings or teachings. Therefore, there may be some Confucian influence in Unification theology.

Stillson Judah: This has been very interesting to me, but I'm wondering whether there really isn't a different impulse motivating the Church here in America that is quite different from that of the Church in Korea. In other words, in Korea you have the very interesting mixture of Christianity with Confucianism, the yinyang philosophy, and other things which make Christianity more acceptable to the Oriental eyes. In America it seems to me, the main thrust is in a type of work ethic for bringing in the Kingdom. Actually you have then a very important part that is played by those who are in the American Church who seek to bring in this Kingdom itself, to work toward it so that they are, through indemnity and making proper conditions by their sacrifice, bringing about the conditions that will make possible the arrival of the Kingdom. I try to see this in the context of my own surveys of the people in the Unification Church. One of the things that came out very strongly in the national surveys we made was that the Unification Church members had a high percentage of people who were involved in demonstrations. Considering that the period that the surveys were made was in 1976, that far removed away from the real period of the demonstrations, this would mean that they are extremely socially active people who believed in the 60's that they could by their work and effort bring about great changes here in America. Of course, we're all aware of the idea of the Revolution that was going to change everything. Well, after the 60's the demonstrations largely stopped, but it seems to me that in the Unification Church you have a transference of this same zeal to bring about these changes, but now sacralized, as it were, through the work ethic of the Unification Church. It seems to me that this is one of the reasons that the Unification Church has a special attractiveness to the people who join it.

Theologian X: Let me just get some clarification here. Are you suggesting by implication, then, that the Unification Church in the United States with this work ethic context would be different than the Church in its context back in Korea or Japan?

Stillson Judah: Yes. If I understand Masuda correctly it is the combination of Christianity with the Oriental yin-yang philosophy and Confucianism that makes Christianity acceptable to them. I see that in the United States it is not the Confucian ethic, it is not the yin-yang philosophy that is so important, (except of course, the male and female content is very important right now in our own society because of the conditions) but actually here those people who have found importance in the Unification Church are those who were socially active in trying to bring about changes, through demonstrations which failed in the 60's. But now it's a similar but sacralized notion of change in the Unification Church that attracts people.

Patricia Zulkosky: I don't think you'd find a great deal of difference in terms of the work ethic in America and Japan or Korea. Bringing in the Kingdom is a major theme around the world. It's not something that's specifically American or Western. And I do think that some of the Oriental influence on Christianity through which Rev. Moon has made the Bible come alive is a very important thing for Americans. Before I met the Unification Church, I couldn't find an explanation that suited my nature, or dealt with the different aspects that I really felt I needed to deal with. Some of the things that Masuda is talking about are things that I was looking for. They are lost elements of Protestantism in America. There seems to have been a time of strong family ties and loyalty in the States, but these have fallen away. The Unification movement led in me to a rebirth of concern for the family that I think isn't uniquely Confucian. I think there's a stream of that even in American thought. The Unification movement led, in me, to a rebirth to that standard of hope and idealism. I don't think you'd find a big difference in terms of those particular dynamics.

Jonathan Wells: I think the discussion is relevant and very interesting. The fact is that the Oriental elements are there. But to relate back to Neil's original question on hermeneutics, it seems to me that on the hermeneutical level, we are dealing with two very different matters. I wouldn't want to say the Divine Principle is simply a Christian gloss on Oriental philosophy. This discussion has brought out that this is not the case. So the question is, what is the hermeneutical approach? How is the Divine Principle derived from the Bible? If I can dissect Mr. Duddy's question a bit, I think you were proposing an answer to a question that you implicitly hinted at, but never actually stated, which is that there is a very pronounced difference between Western theological traditions and the Divine Principle, and that is the issue. Now, by Rev. Moon's own account and the account of early Church members, the way that Rev. Moon derived the Divine Principle from the Bible was not by mixing together various elements. At an early age he began "crying." In fact, the early Church is known as the "crying Church," because even after it got started the Church services were just drenched in tears. Rev. Moon and the members cried not just out of repentance, but out of concern for mankind. And not even just that, but out of a concern for God. So the hermeneutical approach that Rev. Moon used was to read the Bible in order to learn how to comfort God. The story that I heard was that he went through many Bibles. He wore them out; they just fell apart because he devoured them trying to understand what God was really trying to tell us in the Bible. Now, there's the whole issue of the clarity of Scripture. Isn't the Bible obvious? Can't you just read it and it's clear? I hope we don't have to get into that. If the Bible were clear, Western Christianity would have been thoroughly united from the time of the first ecumenical council. That's the point we have to get at: Rev. Moon wanted to find out what God's point of view was when the Bible was written. Whether he's right or wrong is another question, but that's his hermeneutical method.

Darrol Bryant: Is that his hermeneutical method, or is that the question with which he approaches the Bible?

Theologian X: Could you restate your last two sentences, I missed part of one of them.

Jonathan Wells: His purpose was to find out what it is that God is trying to tell us in the Bible, granting that it was the word of God. There are clearly things that don't seem to fit together, and things that seem to be left out, additions and clarifications that need to be made. So he wanted to clarify the basic questions of the Bible, not just coming from the Oriental cultural viewpoint, not just for the purpose of establishing a certain kind of theocracy, but as nearly as possible to find out what God really wanted to say. So he takes the Bible very seriously. The Bible, to Rev. Moon, is much more important than Confucian philosophy, infinitely more serious. But the way it is viewed is as an imperfect record written down by people, many of whom didn't understand what God was trying to say. Obviously we have to interpret it and the Divine Principle is the outcome of that.

Durwood Foster: I'd like to make a very specific comment on this point. To me it's part of the hermeneutical complication that exists for us as a problem. I like what you said in terms of its illuminating the situation of Rev. Moon. But one observation that needs to be made is that the Christian community of faith had for two millennia been in that situation and recognized it as such. It recognized that there is a problem of understanding what God wishes to say to us in the Scriptures. And there is an immensely rich and substantive theological tradition that has been generated through those two millennia attempting to answer that question. At least prima facie one has the impression that Rev. Moon did what we sometimes accuse biblicist denominations of doing. As Paul Tillich would put it, he simply jumped back over two millennia, as it were, directly into the Bible and started there. Now that is perfectly understandable psychologically, but he was not conversant with these two millennia of rich theological tradition, at least not very deeply conversant. Maybe I am wrong about this. Maybe he was more conversant than one has the impression he was. It would be an interesting question to me just how much of the history of classical Christian theology Rev. Moon knew. But I can say that he plunged into the biblical text itself, in going through various versions.

Jonathan Wells: Yes.

Durwood Foster: OK for me, there's deep pathos in that image. But I haven't heard anyone say that, in any comparable way whatever, he went into what for most of us who work in the established Christian tradition is also a definitive hermeneutical frame of reference, namely these two millennia of theological interpretation. I guess I'm saying something very obvious. One of the gulfs that we face is that those of us in established Christianity who want to relate to Rev. Moon's witness are doing so out of these two thousand years as it were, and he is doing it in a more direct way and with a more -- not to use the word in a pejorative sense -- primitive biblical stance of his own. This is just an observation, but the question in it is whether anyone here knows whether and how and to what the extent the Rev. Moon was theologically educated, in addition to going through these many versions of the Bible.

Herbert Richardson: I want to say something to your question specifically. We began with Neil's question about the Korean context and how it might have influenced the formulation of the doctrine of the Church. We immediately began discussing -- which is perfectly all right -- Korean family structure, yin-yang, and so forth, totally forgetting that Moon was a Presbyterian. He was taught Presbyterian doctrine, he was taught the Westminster confession of faith, he was taught his Christianity by Presbyterian missionaries who were trained in the United States, who brought the entire American Reformed Presbyterian theological tradition to him. So when he read the Bible, he didn't read it as some person who found a Bible in a bottle and read it on a rock totally out of contact with the Christian tradition. He read the Bible that was given to him by Presbyterian missionaries. There were obviously competing Christian missionaries in town, and anybody who knows Korea knows that there would have been arguments among them going on. Moon's formulation of doctrine is discussable among us precisely because it is a formulation of doctrine growing out of and in direct relation to discussions about doctrine in the American Protestant tradition. Probably it was a context that focused especially on the argument between the perfectionistic Baptist-Methodist group and the Reformed group, perhaps somewhat more along dispensationalist lines. Here the central questions were the meaning of the atonement and the work of Christ. These questions, these doctrinal positions that the Unification Church throws out, I think have to be understood as what a Korean who's joined an American Presbyterian church and listened to other arguments about which formulation of Christianity is right and studied the Bible now says to this discussion. My belief is that Moon learned a bad Western doctrine of atonement from his missionary preacher and read the Bible and talked with others and said that's not the doctrine of atonement the Bible teaches. The Unification people today say, "We've got this great new doctrine of atonement, which is different from the Christian view. However, I believe that the doctrine of the atonement that is implicit behind Moon's critique is really what I would call the bad doctrine of atonement that they were getting from some local preacher. That's what I think.

We all know that Unification theology is exciting to discuss precisely because it has the same contents as Western theology. Why does it have those? It has those because it's formulated in direct relation to the theological discussion going on in Korea at the time it was being developed. It's perfectly obvious that, historically speaking, Unification theology poses its questions within the framework of on-going Protestant theology, not Catholic theology. That's the whole Fragestellung. When we go into the question of the hermeneutics in Korea, while it's certainly true that Korean culture is one factor, no less important is the Christian missionary situation there out of which Moon comes and to which he responds. That's the second thing hermeneutically.

The third thing hermeneutically is this. This is the Jonathan Wells approach. In the Korean tradition -- and interestingly enough this is another thing it has in common with the American evangelical tradition -- there is the belief that you can commend what you have to say by making it clear that it rises out of deep sincerity and goodness of heart. It's usually emphasized by offering a dramatic contrast by saying, "Well, he used to be very insincere and nasty, but now he's very sincere..." Now, I may say, as a Presbyterian minister, I think all of this talking about how sincere you are and how much you prayed and whether you had dreams or not is a bunch of nonsense. Nuts are sincere, and Hitler was sincere, and they all cried. And so what. There's a kind of pietistic subjectivism here. I recognize its legitimacy. But I want to say that I'm much more interested in the question about what the Scripture says, about being true to Scripture. I don't care how much you cried before you found the answer. You could have cried all night and still have a wrong answer. That's part of hermeneutics, too. The pietistic hermeneutics says that we have to hear that Rev. Moon cried. I think that's sweet but it doesn't convince me. What does convince me is a theological argument.

Now here we have the fourth thing. Formally, I think Rev. Moon asked the right question when he read the Bible, even though he was crying, (laughter). But I just want to point out, in his context there would have been a lot of people reading the Bible to find out, "What shall I do to be saved?" Consequently, you read the Bible to find what's in it for you. But that wasn't Moon's question when he read the Bible. Nor do I think that Rev. Moon read the Bible from the perspective of "What is God trying to say to us in the Bible." That is already much too propositional. And I've never heard, until you said that, any Unification person speak that way, suggesting that the Bible is God talking. I think Rev. Moon read the Bible saying, "What is God's purpose? What is the purpose of God in all this?" Which is to say that you don't have in the Unification Church any doctrine of the Bible being the infallible, totally accurate word of God, in that sense. But you have, as a hermeneutical question behind Unification theology, "What is the purpose of God in creation?" It's trying to read the biblical record as a kind of access to the will and purpose of God. What was God trying to do in the world? There's still another way to read it, and I have a certain affection for this one, being an old Calvinist. One might read it asking, "How does this record reveal to us, or manifest to us and testify to us, the glory of God?" This approach is somewhat more theocentric but still I think that there's an orientation to the purpose of God in creation that is behind Rev. Moon's reading of the Bible. That, then, leads to all kinds of texts becoming meaningful.

Jonathan Wells: Calvin starts his Institutes by talking about piety, right? That's his starting point, and that's why I talked about Rev. Moon's tears because that's a kind of piety. But now the hermeneutical question -- I think there are two issues here. One is how he arrived at what he calls an interpretation of the Scripture, and the other is how we evaluate it. I think the two are very closely connected. But certainly in a formal sense we have to distinguish the two. I don't think that Rev. Moon has to know Christian theological history to arrive at his interpretation.

Theologian X: What do you mean, "Has to know?" In a sense, obviously it's true that he didn't have to know.

Jonathan Wells: I don't think he actually did know, though I don't know that for sure.

Theologian X: By "has to know," do you mean it would not have been desirable that he know?

Jonathan Wells: I think that where the theological tradition comes in is in the evaluation of what he's saying. Certainly we want to take the Divine Principle and compare it with the Council of Nicea and the christological disputes and find out where it stands in relation to those issues. Does it enlighten the dispute? Does it clarify questions that have been unclarified? Now, that to me is the fascinating question and that's why I'm studying theology. I think as the day goes on, some of these issues will be specifically discussed. I think, in fact, that's our job. Our theological job is to take a proposal like the Divine Principle and evaluate it. I think we can take it and analyze it theologically. Does it clarify serious and deep problems in the Bible itself and in the Western Christian tradition?

Darrol Bryant: I'm going to let Virginia state her question, and come back to Mr. X, just to get the questions on the floor, and then we'll take a short break.

Virginia Hearn: This is not a question so much as a response. Durwood referred to the centuries of Christian tradition that those working in theology now are familiar with and work from. It seems to me that we have to recognize that the Western tradition of Christianity and the Eastern, too, for that matter, have been in the hands of males who had a certain role in their given culture. Now, whenever you have a socio-cultural group other than the white male come to the Bible and take it seriously, it is inevitable that they are going to pick up different things. They are going to have different sensitivities. They are going to find different points relevant to their own situation. We have another example of this today in the case of a little handful of what are called biblical feminists in this country. We take the Scripture seriously, and we are knowledgeable of traditional interpretations. But at the same time we recognize that when we study, when we exposit, when we translate, we at times see things differently. We see different points to emphasize. We have some fresh understandings that then become important to us. So if we were to come up with a systematic theology of our own, I have no doubt that there would be some different thrusts. It's easy for the traditional white male establishment to look at that and give it a quick putdown and say it's heretical. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. It may be just a different pair of spectacles.

Darrol Bryant: That's an important observation, Virginia.

Theologian X: I think there's more than a hermeneutical question at stake in Jonathan's comment. What Jonathan said surprised me a bit. Why? Well, because hermeneutics, as I read the discussion of the last century and a half, is a principle for understanding how we interpret an ancient text without any reference to the supernatural intervention of God. From that point of view, we might look at Rev. Moon's interpretation of the Scripture which, according to Jonathan, is the result of Rev. Moon's reading the Bible many times in an attempt to discern what it is that God Himself wants. But -- and here's the problem -- that doesn't square with what I understand is Rev. Moon's own claim, namely that this is a new revelation. This is not an interpretation of an old revelation, but a new one. He describes his own view as absolutely new, totally fresh. The Divine Principle is a new revelation. It's not a re-application of the old one. Speaking on behalf of evangelical Christianity, the problem of the modern world is not a problem of revelation, it's the problem of sin. A new revelation is not going to cure that one. The old revelation was definitive, it was a complete enough expression of who God is. People just choose, understanding the truth, to disobey God. It seems to me that the problem of sin cannot be cured with any new revealed truth. So there are two issues: one, the false presupposition, I think, that a new revelation will relieve the problems of the modern world -- I think that's intellectually weak -- and then, secondly, that which really in terms of our tradition makes Unification theology heretical, namely, that it feels it necessary to add to and supplement the revelation which the Christian church has deemed to be an already completed one.

Holly Sherman: I'd just like to say one thing. Earlier Professor Richardson was saying that Rev. Moon asked the right question when he read the Bible. I agree that Rev. Moon didn't go to the Bible saying, "How can I be saved?" I also don't think he was trying to find some truth, or even that his question was about God's purpose of creation. I believe that when Rev. Moon was young he had a fairly good life, but that he began to realize at some point that mankind was really suffering. For some reason, he felt so strongly that he wanted to find a way to end that suffering. Along with that, he thought that if God is the Creator of man, if God is the Father of man, then He also must be suffering very much. It is at this point that Rev. Moon began to pray really seriously, and really ask God, "Why? Where did this suffering come from? Where did this evilness come from?" His desire was to find out where it came from so that he could find a way to end it. This is also what guided his study of the Bible, his searching to find out where evil came from, and how in history God has been working with man to end evil and suffering. That, I think, is where the Divine Principle comes from.

Darrol Bryant: You've helped clarify something that for me has been disturbing about the Unification Church, and that is that it is such a terribly monolithic group, (laughter) We've now had at least six different readings of the Divine Principle, its origins, its central purposes, its central questions, (laughter) Let's take a five-minute break. 

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