Hermeneutics and Unification Theology - Edited by Darrol Bryant Durwood Foster

Hermeneutics and Eschatology

Darrol Bryant: We have an hour before we break for dinner. We are going to spend this time exploring Unification eschatology, their hermeneutics of the future. Since we are short on time, I'm going to ask Anthony Guerra to give us a thirty second outline of their eschatology. (laughter)

Anthony Guerra: How generous!

I think that probably the simplest way to explain our eschatology is to say that it's systematically related to the purpose of creation. That purpose is to establish the family of God, beginning with the original parents and then expanding out from those two original parents to a tribe, a nation, and finally a world. That world would be the world God originally intended. Our horizon in the present is focused on the original values which would have been realized in that original family, a God-centered family. The fall was explained as the dissolution of that original ideal of the family. Then, the process of reconstituting that original family is really the eschatological goal.

There's a notion again similar to what we find in Irenaeus -- that in order to achieve restoration what must be done is precisely to reverse the problem that occurred in the original family. We've heard one part of the problem, which was the problem between Adam and Eve. But there is an additional problem which is central to our notion of restoration and that involves the Cain-Abel relationship. This is the problem of unity between the children. All humanity is symbolized by the children: Cain and Abel. The way Unification conceives of the restoration of that relationship is as follows: Abel made an offering to God which God accepted, Cain's offering was rejected. God's original ideal was that Cain, rather than killing his brother, should have united in joy with his brother who had God's blessing upon him. Abel should have been humble before his brother and served him in such a way that he would have been able to empathize and be joyous with him in the blessing. If that had happened Cain and Abel would have united and experienced feelings of joyous brotherhood centered upon God. Now, that failed to happen. This model of Cain-Abel functions as the primary model for understanding the problem and for discerning the principles by which all conflicts can be resolved.

Unification theology argues that the ideal world is built around ideal relationships. That ideal world has both physical and spiritual dimensions. Religion, politics and economics are expressions of the spirit and the body and the relationships among men. All of these aspects of the world come under the Providence of God. The way God will now reconstitute the ideal is through the reversal of these failures, by reconstituting the original family, tribes and nations. Certain nations will serve as the Abel factor towards other nations who are in the Cain position. This principle of Cain and Abel is applied from individual relations to familial relations, to tribal, national and international relations. The goal is a just world. At the critical juncture, "the Last Days," there is a concentration of good and of evil, which may be the same thing as a concentration of power, such that the capacity of human beings for the realization of the ideal as well as for virtual destruction becomes available. That's the eschatological context in which former actions now take on a whole new dimension of significance. The only way to resolve this critical juncture is by applying the principles of unification. That, in brief, is my outline of Unification eschatology.

Darrol Bryant: What are some of the practical expressions of this notion of unification within the movement? I think you've suggested one thing already in terms of the promoting of intercultural marriages. Dr. Durst might want to say something about the things that are going on in the Bay Area family that are tokens of the movement towards a transformed world or building of the Kingdom. I think it might be helpful to know the sorts of things that you are doing which give concreteness to this larger theme.

Neil Duddy: It strikes me that the whole idea of the apocalypse, the Armageddon, has been by-passed. Could you say a little about that, which I know is a tenet that does appear in the Divine Principle.

Anthony Guerra: Yes, I think it goes this way. There is a notion that at the critical juncture in eschatological time there has to be this sort of Cain force, since all history has developed under this motif of Cain and Abel; there has to be a Cain ideology and world system, as well as an Abel ideology and world system, which can then relate to each other in the proper way of mutual service and love and accomplish the ideal world. One would represent a more materialist culture and a more atheistic-humanistic frame of reference. In this case we see that as communism. The other would represent a more spiritual theistic-humanistic perspective and value system and we see that as Christianity. Now, of course, we've had Cain and Abel factors throughout history. We've had atheistic-humanistic traditions and we've had theistic-humanistic traditions in, for example, the Renaissance and Reformation. The Divine Principle goes through a whole history of the development of atheistic and theistic ideologies as world systems, so what's special about our time? What seems special is that both have the conceptual and political capacity to embrace the entire world. In fact, there are two "world systems." That's what's crucial. At the same time, of course, we acknowledge the fragmentation in the communist block, and also a fragmentation within Christianity. Our view is not even conceived of in the same way that it was ten or fifteen years ago by Unification people. But we still operate with the same models.

Neil Duddy: In the Divine Principle it speaks about a Third World War in which there would be this opposition to communism and the final overthrow. Now I'm hearing a different interpretation. Are you saying that this is not necessarily going to come to pass?

Anthony Guerra: The Divine Principle has always said that it was an ideological war, not necessarily a physical war. What I'm suggesting is that in the present world situation, although we fundamentally use those categories, we acknowledge a kind of pluralism within communism that also needs to be accounted for. In fact, that is being accounted for by Unification thinkers.

Neil Duddy: Mr. Kim, do you see communism as the work of the devil?

David Kim: As Anthony just said a few minutes ago, the terms "devil," "Cain," "Abel" all have technical meanings in Unification theology. The ultimate goal of Unification is to get rid of our Cain nature and to bring brothers into unity under God. That's the whole thing right there. So, Part II of the Divine Principle deals with the principles by which this goal is to be accomplished.

We understand ourselves as peaceful consummators of God's will. If everything is destroyed in the world, there will be nothing left for mankind. We say "love thy enemy," which is the teaching of Jesus, and we are going to practice it. We are very persevering people because we understand God's law of indemnity in human history. Even though our enemies are trying to destroy us with the backing of left wing and communist groups, we still pray for them just as Jesus prayed for his enemies because they didn't know God's will. Even on the cross, Jesus prayed for God's forgiveness for his enemies. So we Unification Christians are following his example.

Communists are the war-mongers, not us. We insist that we have to defend ourselves. When the free nations become sufficiently weak, the communists will try to conquer us since it is in the nature of communism. They will never change their tactics and their goal of conquering the whole world. Whenever their chance comes they want to conquer the whole world without God. But the ideology of Christ is to unite the world centering on God. The international dimension of both ideologies is similar, but the orientation is different. I don't say that communists are devils. Even good Christians, when evil influences them, become evil persons.

So then, what is evil and good in God's sovereignty? If anything adds to God's dispensation that becomes good; if anything is against God's will it becomes evil. This is the Unification definition. Jesus told Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan." When Peter stood in opposition to Jesus and God's will, he suddenly became "satanic." Ideology comes first and is very important. World communism is based on an atheistic ideology and concept. According to God's will, the atheistic ideology must surrender to the theistic ideology.

We have to go back to the Garden of Eden and find the origin of sin. The fall of man induced the first murder between Cain and Abel. God must restore the damaged and lost relationships, otherwise He is not God. God is a God of principle and science. He preserves, controls and runs the whole universe based on the law. This teaching of the Principle of Restoration through Indemnity (Part II of the Divine Principle) contains very profound and deep points of the Divine Principle. Rev. Moon explored it and found out answers to fundamental questions about the universe and man, and finally God approved it officially. This is the spiritual law that still applies up to the present.

Rev. Moon said in his public speeches that he came to America as a fire-fighter because this nation is in danger and the American people are completely ignorant of the nature of communism and of the threat to America. America must have ideological supremacy over the atheistic side. Thus the original Cain and Abel relationships in God's dispensational course must be restored. But the Cain side representing evil will never just give up, they will continue their aggression until they no longer see any hope for victory. In other words, if the supremacy of free nations over communist nations is not maintained, they will risk war. Therefore our church is giving a strong warning. We must have supremacy in both ideology and military strength over communist nations. In this way we will prevent a war which would be disastrous for all mankind. This is the Unification position on the possibility of war.

In the meantime, we have to try hard to maintain peace and freedom in the world. We believe in democracy which is based on Christian concepts: human rights, individual freedom of worship and religion. Communism, on the other hand has the clear goal of world conquest centering on a God-denying ideology. It's now one of the most powerful dynamics in the world. Even the largest democratic nation, America, did not defeat a small communist nation in the recent war in Vietnam. If there had been a more active and genuine Christian movement against communism, its successful expansion on the international level could have been prevented. We are worrying about this point.

Our bitter and sorrowful experience during the Korean War taught us what communism actually is. We don't care as much about the doctrines and theories of Marxism and Leninism, as we are deeply concerned about their evil practices. Therefore all Christians should have one central motto: "We must overcome the evil of communism." Unification people believe that we can convert even the communists to the Christian ideology. The reasoning of communists is wrong. They deny God. A simple illustration can make this point a bit more clear. You and I have a real physical father who is alive, but suppose someone were to say, "You have no father." We just cannot accept that argument.

Rev. Moon says that the reason for world communist expansion derives from the failure of modern Christianity. Christian churches are challenged by reform movements, by new interpretations of the Bible and new religious movements as part of God's dispensation to the degree that modern Christianity failed in its heavenly mission.

I hope this answers your questions even if it is a rather long remark. Anyway, we Unification people are peacemakers. We don't want Christians to be killed by communists, as has happened in the past and is happening in contemporary times.

Darrol Bryant: I think that your anti-communism is one of the more controversial aspects of this movement. Another controversial aspect of the movement is its apparent concern to create business and economic institutions. What, many ask, does this have to do with the coming of the Kingdom of God? Would someone care to speak about this? How does having a cleaning company, as I understand you have in the Bay Area, build the Kingdom of God?

Jonathan Wells: I think theologically the root of the question is in the real success story of the Bible: the story of Jacob and Esau. Here you have two brothers united by the power of love. They were separated just like Cain and Abel, just like the Archangel and Adam. This same pattern runs through the Bible. Jacob, being the younger of the two, was chosen and was able to win the blessing. That restores the lineage. The first-born represents the first fallen act of Satan or Lucifer, the second-born represents God's side. So what does Jacob do? He works for twenty-one years to win the material blessing. He gains a family and material things. Then he comes back from exile and his brother still wants to kill him. His brother is materialistic. He's the guy who sold his birthright for a pot of lentils, he has that kind of nature. Jacob, in his wisdom, understanding God's principle, realizes that the only way to win his brother's heart is through material things. He sends over first some of his servants and flocks, as if to say, "Here, I love you." His brother accepts them, but is still uptight. Then he sends over more of his possessions, and Esau begins to think, "Hey, this is not bad!" Finally Jacob sends over his family. They say, "We love you. These are gifts from your brother." Esau, who has been standing there with 400 armed men ready to pounce on Jacob, capitulates. Jacob is able to win his brother's heart and restores that relationship. That becomes the victory of God.

This sets a pattern for restoration. This is behind the Unification effort to restore a material foundation, like business, and establish an economic foundation. In order to overcome a materialistic ideology in this country and elsewhere, we've got to be able to express Christian love in real ways. That's what Marxism is doing in South America and Africa: winning people by materialistic means. If we recognize that we are, in a sense, in that Abel position, that we are like the Jacob of today, and communism represents the position of Esau, somehow we have to be able to restore that relationship. Material things are then, from this perspective, important. Furthermore, America's wealth is a blessing from God. America's blessing is a material blessing for the world. For God to be able to continue to bless this nation, America should use her blessing well for God's purposes. That's theologically important.

Durwood Foster: Just a couple of comments. First: there is a very widespread and growing consciousness today in the world of the necessity of uniting the spiritual and material. One should celebrate the way in which the Unification movement is expressing that and contributing to that. Richard Quebedeaux was talking last night about the young Evangelicals; this is what they are trying to do. Liberation theology is doing this. Sri Aurobindo in India, and Neo-Hinduism in general, is attempting to integrate the ideal and the real. There is a world-wide movement of consciousness in this direction. It's right that the Unification movement also is promoting this and attempting to provide a theoretical-theological base for it. I think that the theoretical-theological base that can do the most justice to this issue will be the one that ultimately emerges as the appealing one and the helpful one for the world as a whole. One question I wanted to ask was whether in the Unification eschatology it is envisaged that the realm of God will be established within time and space; that is, whether this realm is looked forward to as a utopia that can and will actually be achieved under historical conditions? The theology that I mainly studied in my own seminary days denied that and critiqued that kind of utopianism very sharply. But there's been a kind of reaction against that today within Christian churches also.

Mose Durst: One of the great appeals of the Unification Church to me, from my Jewish background, was the messianic ideal for the world, not a fixed point at which things stopped, but rather a point of maturity at which time things began. In a mature culture, growth and development are continuous. The quality of culture will continue to improve based on a certain foundation. The ideal of our life is that knowledge is good, and its purpose is to teach us how to love. Therefore, all professions are helping professions, and all activities are ideal, loving activities, which follow from God's heart. If knowledge is centered upon love, a standard of divine love brings the supreme value. A theory of art, for example, is centered not only on aesthetics, but also involves ethics. By having the aesthetic dimension centered upon an ethical value structure, art becomes the new art for the new age. Our projects in the Bay Area, like Project Volunteer, have the motto: "public service with commitment of heart." Education is not only technical education, it's ethical and heartistic education. In every dimension, in every area, we seek to work in the world to transform culture. If the media is not operating to its full potential, we have to develop a daily newspaper in New York City to help promote a new standard of value for what media can be. If art is not functioning well, we have to have a Manhattan Opera Center, with an inspired operatic artist like Ron Paquette. If churches are not functioning to their full potential, then we have to start the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, unifying race and culture. All of these issues need to be addressed. The International Cultural Foundation seeks to bring sciences together. Conferences like "The Unity of the Sciences and the Search for Absolute Values" seek to direct sciences once again to value questions. In all of these dimensions we see the necessity of transformation. We've got to take culture as it is and move it up to a new level. We have to take responsibility for our individual consciousness. I've started a Creative Community Project here as an attempt to take my training in humanistic psychology and apply it to a new vision, a deeper vision. Rev. Moon doesn't call us in the morning and say, "Look, you get out there and do this." I'm inspired by an ideal and I have the responsibility of translating that ideal into economics, politics, culture. When I go into my office before teaching I close the door and pray to be inspired to serve my students more.

Durwood Foster: I want to make it clear that I approve of all of these things and celebrate them, but I'm asking at the moment whether Unification is a new utopianism. This may not seem a very important question to many people, but it's a question that theologians get curious about occasionally. It seems to me that in many respects Unificationism is a utopianism. That is to say, you are working towards an actual state of affairs in history and society that you think can be achieved and will be achieved. And at one time you were very sanguine about how soon it might be achieved. I don't know if there has been some sobering up of this mood more recently or not, but that's beside the point. It's this question of utopianism specifically that I was wondering about.

Anthony Guerra: The problem with the idea of progress in history is that one feels that it doesn't take account of sin, of the potency of sin. There has been a long-standing general critique of certain notions of progress that I think has a lot of validity. Now Unification does hold that the Kingdom will be established within the historical order. At the same time, we have a very respectful view of the power of sin. The establishment of the Kingdom can only take place with an internal resolution of the problem which is simply what we've been talking about in terms of the fall, and then the establishment of families. We see that as a resolution of the deep-rooted problem of disoriented love. Furthermore, there's a heavy emphasis on the need to sacrifice, which is usually lacking in the Enlightenment notion of progress. Even the model that was talked about -- Jacob/Esau or Cain/Abel -- says that the way to overcome the deep-rooted sinfulness -- which I interpret to mean the kind of non-loving, hateful relationships that exist between races and between third-world nations and wealthy nations -- is through a great price of sacrifice on the part of the wealthy nations, or the white race. It's going to demand sincere and deliberate sacrifice. The theological notion is that God is not just concerned with the direction of individual lives, which traditional Christianity has emphasized, but He's also concerned with the direction of tribes and nations. Through that providential direction that kind of Utopia (if you will, though I think "utopia" is a bad word because it means nowhere and we're talking precisely about it happening here) can be achieved. But that can only happen through this larger providential direction. I think the real question is therefore, "How does one know about God's providence?" We have to answer this in order to be connected to it. Also, how do nations learn about it?

Mike Mickler: I think that within Unification theology, despite the clarity of the models and the understanding of God's providence, there is still space for surprise in terms of the Kingdom coming. In reading some of the liberation theologians, I was interested to see the use that they make of the word "utopia". For them, utopia seems to be something that undermines the established order, and not necessarily something that is going to be established by human means.

I think we do articulate a Utopian vision in somewhat that fashion: to undermine structures that are simply exploitative and unjust. I know that Rev. Moon is always willing to sacrifice the Unification Church. I don't see how a group of just several thousand full-time members or however many members there are in the United States can physically usher in the Kingdom in our lifetime. But we can lay a certain foundation that we can build on. I do think that through the articulation of our Utopian vision we have already shaken a lot of the established structures of this country in a lot of different ways and we continue to do that.

Herbert Richardson: You haven't mentioned what seems to be the most radical element in the Unification vision of restoration. Who's against anything you've said? But the thing that Unification theology says that is so surprising and that will shock everybody is that you even believe that you can redeem the past and the dead. It is probably the case that the first emphasis within the Unification vision of restoring the world is the restoration of the dignity of the life and work of those who went before us. How is that accomplished? This task is accomplished by taking up their task and completing it, thereby redeeming them and fulfilling them. There are all kinds of discussions about how one redeems ancestors, but I just would make the point that probably the best way to understand what Rev. Moon is doing is that Rev. Moon has taken up the task of redeeming the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to do something -- He clearly wanted to do more than He was able to do -- He did all He could in the time that He had, and He was waiting for someone who would take up His vision and work in order to bring all that He had done to true and ultimate fulfillment. One of the great sources of power within the Unification movement is that, after all, there are all these ancestors rooting for us. We also have some, unfortunately, who are rooting against us, but they are our people, too. But we have all of these ancestors, who inspire us and who fill us with the will to carry forth the work. So, for example, we're not a few thousand people. We are a few thousand people here now with millions of people there working to support us. Now, of course, that's the Christian doctrine of the communion of the saints, to some extent. It's also the Oriental doctrine of respect for ancestors and their labors. And I think it's also a kind of Jungian insight into the influence of our past and the elements within the collective unconscious and the whole cultural past that we are concerned with. I think that one gains a gigantic power within a movement when it feels connected this way with the past.

I remember an essay by Metz, (the Catholic Marxist theologian) who in that essay in Religion and Political Society,* asks who in the midst of all the talk about liberation is finally going to have the courage to talk about the liberation of the dead? Well, let's talk about it. What is the liberation of the dead? It's taking up that for which they gave their life and making it your responsibility so that their vision in life might find fulfillment. I think that should be talked about. It's a very much needed message in America. This is where some of the misinterpretation of the Unification Church comes in. In talking about the past in Unification theology it's not only talking about the past, but also about our responsibility for the future. That's what renders it different from either a conservative group, which talks about the past for the sake of the past, sacrificing the future, or a liberal group, which talks about the future for the sake of the future, sacrificing the past. It's a group that really has a sense of life in time.

Virginia Hearn: I would like to ask if this is the heart of the Christian Gospel. If we have this goal of a beautiful world, is it imminent if enough of us join together and make some sincere, deliberate sacrifice for it? Is this the Gospel?

Jonathan Wells: I think that what you describe is necessary but not sufficient. This leads into the whole question of the second coming of Jesus, and what role that plays in God's providence. We're talking about setting up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the fulfillment of human history in the Last Days, and yet it seems that the traditional Christian message is that only Jesus does this, that Jesus Himself comes again to do this.

Theologian X: When you say that Jesus comes again how do you mean that? Is it not your interpretation that, as far as the Second Advent is concerned, this office would be held by Rev. Moon who would be acted upon by Jesus, is that the interpretation? Or is Rev. Moon considered as Jesus? You are not saying that, are you?

Jonathan Wells: No, Rev. Moon is not considered to be Jesus. Your first description is probably a good way to put it, that is, he fulfills an office. The office of the messiah is understood more in an Old Testament sense. Now we are back to our hermeneutical problem. The thrust of the New Testament witness seems to be that this same Jesus will return. But what happened at the first coming? Two thousand years ago people were waiting for the messiah quite consciously. They knew Elijah would precede the messiah because Malachi had said so. In fact, there's nothing in the Old Testament to indicate that anybody but Elijah would precede the messiah. So when Jesus came, he had to tell people that in fact John the Baptist was Elijah, and he does this in Matthew. So actually a different person fulfills the role that was dictated by the Old Testament prophecy. The Divine Principle interpretation of passages in the New Testament about the Second Coming of Jesus makes a parallel between His times and our times comparable to the relationship between Old Testament prophecy and New Testament prophecy. Though we believe that the coming of Jesus was the coming of the Messiah, we believe that the person who comes to fulfill the Second Coming may well be different from the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Herbert Richardson: Now, I think that's wrong myself. You've probably even heard me lecture this at Barrytown. I think that the coming again of Christ is not the coming again of another person fulfilling the office of the Christ, namely, Sun Myung Moon coming to fulfill the Christ office. Rather I think the teaching of the Divine Principle is, though not worked out specifically because it is not worked out in relation to the set of questions under the doctrine of the communion of the saints, that the person of Jesus has sought out and united Himself with the person of Sun Myung Moon, such that, using Pauline language, there is an indwelling of Jesus in Sun Myung Moon and an indwelling of Sun Myung Moon in Jesus. Hence, Moon might say, as Paul said, "I, not yet I, but Christ in me. I yet not I, but Jesus in me." I believe that the union between Jesus and Sun Myung Moon, by virtue of the indwelling of the two, leads to something like a double personal identity. "I, yet not I, but Jesus in me." I think that what Sun Myung Moon does, is done, not by Sun Myung Moon, but by Jesus in him, or by Sun Myung Moon and Jesus in him. This is not a strange way to talk because every Christian everywhere talks in this way. "Well, it's not my work, but the work of Jesus within me." I think that Jesus is working in everybody this way, and that the coming again of the messiah may quite reasonably be interpreted within Christian orthodoxy, not as His coming again in a separate flesh, but as His coming again in the spirit to indwell us in a real personal way such that we live, yet not we, but Jesus in us. It's true that I believe that Jesus is working in Sun Myung Moon, trying to fulfill His purposes and might conceivably do it.

Can I tell a story of yours, Darrol? Darrol told me this story, it's a marvelous story. He said he was asking a young member of the Unification Church about Sun Myung Moon, and who she thought Sun Myung Moon was, and how she got this straight with the Second Coming. This student said, "I believe they are the same." This is a very simple 18-year-old girl. And you have to apply a kind of hermeneutic. Obviously she knows that Sun Myung Moon is not Jesus. We've got pictures of Jesus and Moon and they look different, (laughter) What is she saying? She's saying something that's the expression of a profound spiritual insight, namely, that it is true in our life that Christians from the past returned and so entered into the lives of others, that we say, "Yes, that's Jesus." I think that's the orthodox doctrine of the communion of the saints, and I think it's a perfectly reasonable explanation. I don't understand why there would be any trouble with it at all.

Mark Juergensmeier: But there remains a fundamental issue. I know theology is the art of the ambiguous, but essentially the issue is about the nature of revelation, whether it's special or whether it's universal. Every tradition has to grapple with that in one way or another. One way of obscuring the problem is to couch the nature of revelation in such a way that leaves room for ambiguity. But within the ambiguity, the conflict remains. Either revelation is located in time and space within a person, or it is located in a more generalized kind of way, within epochs or within a quality of the condition of the self. You either have it one way or the other. You hold traditions together precisely through the ambiguity, but I think individuals take their stand, and I think that student thought that Moon was Jesus, that the revelation occurred in a specific location in time and space. I assume that your interpretation is more universal, that the Holy Spirit works in a more generalized kind of way and may occur in many persons at one time. That's one difference, and it will always remain despite theologians.

Herbert Richardson: I think it's a very reasonable difference. But I don't think it's one way or the other, I think it's a matter of more or less. How can I say that? The teaching of the New Testament is that every Christian is one who, at least in principle, is indwelled by Christ and indwells Christ. Not only that, but all of the saints come to indwell us. There's a degree of more or less in the lives of people depending on their spiritual maturity.

Mark Juergensmeier: That tradition holds a contradiction. I'm not faulting Unification for developing this tradition. But I think it does what every tradition does, and has to do: that is, put together within language what essentially are contradictory elements. That's part of the delight of theology or our faith. If it were not contradictory, if there were not intentions of paradox, there would not be much fun to it. You'd take it or you wouldn't take it. There would be nothing to explore, it would be all terribly obvious.

Darrol Bryant: I'd like to finish the story and relate it back to Virginia's original question of what constitutes the Good News. Is this the Christian Gospel that we're talking about in talking this way? It seems to me that within the context of Unification theology, there are some very obvious things to say. The first is simply, "Yes, this is the Christian Gospel," Why? Because the Unification Church, or at least the way I read the Divine Principle, maintains that it is Jesus who restores man to God. That's one of the things that this Christian group would share with all other Christian groups and it is very central to the notion of the Gospel. What do we take, in terms of the New Testament account of Jesus as central to Jesus' life and mission? Well, as I was talking to this girl, I asked her this because she was a young girl who had come from a rural area north of Toronto. I was curious as to how she was putting together her Baptist background and her membership in the Unification Church. I asked her what the difference was between Rev. Moon and Jesus, and she said she thought they were the same person. As we talked more, it came out that who and what Jesus was, was that He's a great teacher of love. That was her understanding of it.

Mark Juergensmeier: It doesn't make any difference what her understanding of it was. For example, if I were to say that I see Christ in Christians, that's all very well for me, but that doesn't make me a Hindu. In other words, it seems to me that a tradition defines itself from within its tradition. What would make me a Hindu would be whether or not the tradition of Hinduism could understand my acceptance of seeing Christ in Christians as a part of their revealed authority, if you could use that term, or in line with the basis of authority within the Hindu tradition. I think that's always the way in which Christianity as a tradition understood what is or is not in the tradition.

Darrol Bryant: I don't see the analogy. You're talking about two distinct religious traditions and how one recognizes, acknowledges, or accepts the other on the basis of their authorities. I don't start with that premise when we're talking about the Unification Church. It's not like Hinduism or Buddhism that we have to try to get related to the Christian tradition. The Unification Church emerged in the context of the Christian traditions of Korea. Now the question is what we in other Christian traditions do with what they are saying.

Mark Juergensmeier: The issue of a new revelation becomes very important here. If one sees the revelation within the Unification tradition as an extension of and essentially based on, or in some sense a re-creation of the original revelation of the biblical tradition, then what you say would be the case. If you see it as extra revelation, that is, as a revelation like that of the Latter Day Saints, then you get into precisely the kind of tension that the Mormons do: whether they are Christian or not Christian.

Durwood Foster: I think Mark would have been very interested in the discussion this morning because we did focus on the problem of revelation and authority at that time. This is still relevant because you never get to a point where it's not relevant. However, now I want to comment on the specific matter that Herb was talking about with respect to the indwelling of Jesus in the believer, or in personal life today.

I think Christian theological language is in some respects extremely untidy on these points. That's not surprising because of its immensely variegated historical development, with many cultural streams coming into it, reaching over two millennia. It seems to me that the situation basically with respect to the return of Jesus is that there are two lines of thematization that deal with different problems. Herb has, in fact, coalesced these. In some ways it's useful to do that, but in some ways it obscures the difference to which the two lines of thematization initially and continually were trying to address themselves. One way in which phraseology about the return of Jesus has functioned has been parallel to the way in which the phraseology about the Holy Spirit has functioned. That is, it was the Christian experience that after the events named death and resurrection, there was an experience of Christian participation in the reality that had been present in Jesus as the Christ, and that was variously called "the dwelling of Jesus Christ in you," "the indwelling of Jesus," "the indwelling of the Holy Spirit." There are several variations in Christian phraseology that express that kind of experience, which is terribly important to the Christian life. But on the other hand, there's another line of thematization that has to do with the wrap-up of the historical process, the final fulfillment of God's purpose in creation and in history. It so happens that the same language got used to deal with this problem, the return of Christ at the end of the Age to judge the quick and the dead, and so on. There has been in modern Christian theology an attempt to coalesce these two lines of thematization. CH. Dodd, for example, undertook this with his view of realized eschatology. But I think the view of Christian history on the whole, and the judgment of modern scholarship, is that you can't totally collapse these two lines of thought into each other. In addition to the indwelling of Jesus in the believer -- something that was experienced from very soon after the crucifixion up until now -- there's also some point in raising the question and talking about the way in which history is finally resolved or wrapped up or ended in the sense of being fulfilled. It is this second sense in which the doctrine of the return of Christ at the end of the Age has functioned. By going at it the way Herb has you're kind of leaving that whole problematic out of the picture.

It seems to me that in the beginning of the Unification movement it was this second thing that was being talked about. Dr. Young Oon Kim also spoke of this very emphatically the time I was in Barrytown, so that to me that is still a problem. It is not totally covered by the very true things that you, Herb, have eloquently said. There's still this other usage and problematic focus that needs to be dealt with.

Herbert Richardson: I would think that the doctrine of the Second Coming is not, in the New Testament, tied up with the end of historical time, but it is tied up with, as you said yourself, the end of the Age and the introduction of a New Age of history. Now, it seems to me that it's only when you forget the idea of the millennium that you get this problem with the realistic-futuristic language. It was later Christian theology that tied this language up in a speculative way with history, that Jesus is going to come back at the end of all time. It seems to me that in Scripture that language that is futuristic in that way is not tied up with the end of history, but it's tied up with the end of a particular cultural epoch which is going to be succeeded by another cultural epoch called the millennium. Though I think that the question of what is going to happen at the end of time is a very real question, it seems to me that it is not biblical to use the Second Coming imagery at that point.

Durwood Foster: Your point is well taken. It would force the concession -- I mean, it doesn't have to be forced, it would be gladly made -- that there are various species of the second kind of thematization that I was talking about. The one in which the end of the Age would be understood as the absolute cessation of historical time would be only, at best, one of the species. But I was only attempting to differentiate that whole bracket of thematization from the other one into which I thought you had collapsed it, namely the indwelling of Jesus in the heart of the believer.

Theologian X: I wouldn't concede that much because the apocalyptic horizon stands behind so much of that language in the New Testament and that's more than the end of a cultural age! That vision involves an ontological change when the lion lies down with the lamb, when tears are wiped away forever and ever, and health is distilled in the dew. All of these images are there. There's more than just a shift from one epoch to another being supposed in Mark 13, Matthew 24-25.

Herbert Richardson: I don't agree with you at all. I think that that's the shift from the epoch before the millennium to the epoch of the millennium, not the shift from the historical age to the post-historical age, the shift from time to eternity.

Jonathan Wells: My point is that this debate is quite important, and also very Christian. Another question that raises itself here, and I think this was Mark's concern, is, can the Unification proposal in this debate be a part of the Christian debate, or is it a totally different ball game? Every time I begin discussing eschatology with a heterodox group of Christians I find that the heterodoxy becomes aggravated by the subject. There's a tendency, I find, for people to hear the Unification proposal and automatically reject it as non-Christian, when actually if they heard each other's proposals, they would probably denounce them as non-Christian too.

Darrol Bryant: They have, in fact, done that.

Theologian X: One of the interesting things I've seen with my three-hour old understanding of the Divine Principle is that there's a dual track in Unification thinking regarding the Kingdom. As I understand the Principle, the tragedy or the triumph of Jesus was an option portrayed in the prophecy of the Old Testament. People could have accepted Him as their king with a triumphal entry into Jerusalem straight from the beginning. Or they could take the other option, the tragic option, that He would be on the cross. These are the two bifurcated options that Jesus had, as prophesied in the Old Testament. If that's the case, I would suspect that the same thing holds true for the eschatology of the Unification Church, and that's why there's the enigma in the title, "Lord of the Second Advent." It could go either way. It's almost like a self-disclosure of Jesus again. And if that's really the case, then the advent of the Kingdom through the Unification Church is also subject to the same type of tragedy. Thus we're on wheel 84 of new attempts: you know, second lord of the advent, third lord of the advent, fifth lord of the advent, and so on down the line. I think that creates an enormous problem in appreciating where the Kingdom is really coming from.

Dagfinn Aslid: I would like to make a little more explicit some elements of our eschatology. One thing that I think you clearly noticed is the use of typology as a heuristic tool. "Cain-Abel" is a device which I suspect for most Christians today is dead, but it is alive and well in our theologizing and in our history. I think this is very characteristic of our movement. Our use of these constructs as heuristic tools could, and I think should, be critically discussed. I find them very fruitful, but there is also danger when you start speculating about nations, "archangel nations and Eve nations," "Cain and Abel" nations. There are these two sides. On the whole, however, I think it's a fruitful thing. Connected with that, I'd like to make an observation concerning the mode of theologizing that I've often noticed in Rev. Moon. It is one of playfulness. There's a very lush and free imagination at work and often very surprising concepts emerge from that playfulness. Oftentimes he would come up to Barrytown and sit down under the trees, and would speak. Often he would play with theories about the length and curvature of noses and himself as an enigmatic somewhat mysterious person. And I think that was instructive to many of us. There's a danger of becoming overly serious about something that is, in a sense, very playful. I think that's one aspect of the way we go about theologizing that people often miss. We like to play around with these tools and sometimes what comes out makes a lot of sense, sometimes it doesn't. Therefore, I tend to be reserved on the question of whether or not the Unification Principle is a new truth or a perennial philosophy. I think it's a start. Since I have some background in music, I tend to look at it as a sensitivity. I liken it to Dixieland jazz where you have what we musicians call progression. I see the revelation as like a core progression upon which we improvise. There are a lot of new possibilities and that's one of the very inspiring things to me about a group like this. When we meet with traditional theologies we see the fruitfulness of these concepts. They tend to come alive, and you can see their usefulness. It's sometimes hard to keep silent because I find that the Divine Principle provides us with such exciting tools. It tends to generate ideas and concepts where before one would just hear a concept and say, "ho hum." There wouldn't be that kind of heuristic and hermeneutic encounter, nor would we see a new understanding coming alive. Finally, I would like to just briefly mention the radical importance given to human beings in our eschatology in relation to the fulfillment of the eschaton. Ours is not an apocalyptic vision. We don't believe that the Kingdom arrives through a supernatural intervention. That results in a realization of some utopia independent of what we do about it. I think we ought to underline the radical importance of our response and sensitivity to the eschatological process! It is more a process than an event. Consequently, if our responses are not there, things just don't work right. This notion is very important. It necessitates an attitude which isn't content with contemplation, but seeks to be very active to realize this purpose of God. Unless we put these principles into reality, they aren't really true. Rev. Moon has mentioned this, too, quite often. What we are dealing with here is not speculative knowledge, it is knowledge that is responded to, and only true to the extent that it is lived.

Darrol Bryant: We are just going to have to stop here.


* Religion and Political Society. Jurgen Moltmann. et. al.. New York. N.Y.: Harper and Row. 1974. 

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