Orthodox -- Unification Dialogue -- Constantine N. Tsirpanlis Editor 1981
The Unification position is, speaking generally, very inclusive. It is not just a philosophical system: it is a world outlook. Consequently, Unificationism intends to answer all the ideological questions concerning man. To be more precise, Unificationism includes theory and practice -- practice which is developed on a broad scale, embracing not only theology and philosophy, but also politics, economics, sociology, education, art, sports and all other human phenomena. From this point of view, the Unification position is similar to the position of Marxism and that of scholasticism. These three worldwide movements present not just philosophical systems, but provide world views which intend to answer all the questions pertaining to human life. Consequently, Unificationism belongs to quite a unique category in the history of thought. Contrary to Marxism and in agreement with scholasticism, it puts stress on both God and man. Thus, there are two foci of interest in the Unification movement: the main focus is on God, the second is on man; yet God is related to man, and man to God. Man is interested in God but interested in himself, too, and this is precisely the center of interest of the Unification movement: God and then man. Consequently, all the problems which pertain to human life are treated from two points of view: One a priori, the other a posteriori. The main point of view is a prioristic. This means that man is treated from the point of view of God and not so much from the point of view of the purely natural and rational. The other point of view, a posterioristic, starts with man's natural experience and his reason alone. These two aspects we can quite clearly distinguish in the Unification treatment of man. For this reason, the doctrine of Unificationism is both theological and philosophical; theology and philosophy constitute the basis of Unification thought. From these disciplines are deduced other disciplines such as politics, economics or aesthetics. In this particular paper I shall concentrate on the problem of man's nature. Dealing with this issue, we must repeat, involves using two approaches, the theological and the philosophical.
Unificationism treats man's nature basically from three, even four points of view. In the first place, we find a treatment of man's original nature. What is man's original nature? Man's original nature is man's basic nature, human nature as it has been created by God. This nature is essential to man and unchangeable. For this reason it is called the original nature of man. The second nature of man is his acquired nature: the presently existing, changing nature of man. This state of man's nature resulted from his fall away from God. For this reason, man's nature after the fall can be called his fallen nature. We should distinguish yet a third state of human nature according to the Unification teaching, namely, man's restored nature, that is, man's nature after restoration due to Christ's merits. This state is the specific concern of Christian theologians rather than the average person. Therefore, a definition of this condition might be subjected to serious discussion due to the specific theological positions of various scholars. Finally, we can distinguish a fourth state of human nature, man's nature at the status termine; in other words, human nature at its end when it is finally rewarded and reaches its final perfection. In this respect, Unificationists speak about the future, eternal kingdom of God on this earth.
(1) What is Original Nature?
First, what is man's original nature? As was mentioned already, man's original nature is that created by God. Each person is created in the image of God, so man is the image of God. Man is, however, a special image of God, namely, the direct image of God. We observe also indirect images of God; such indirect images are found in other creations lower than man, namely, animals and inanimate matter. They may be called symbols of God only, i.e., they indicate God, but do not represent Him directly.
Man's image of God is first of all expressed in spirituality and physicality; in Unification terms borrowed from the Korean language these are his "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang." Man as a spiritual being consists of his spiritual mind and spiritual body; in Unification terms, we can say that the spiritual mind is man's internal Sung Sang and the spiritual body is his internal Hyung Sang, both being aspects of man's Sung Sang, i.e., of his spirituality in general.
Man's spirituality as thus described is indicated rather than proved in Unificationism. Some possible proofs for some of the claim, though not developed, we may find in the Unification assertion that man is seeking after values such as truth, goodness and beauty. This grasping for such values reminds us of more systematic proofs for the spirituality of man's mind advanced by neo-scholasticism, which insists on man's knowledge of universals that cannot be reduced to common mental pictures alone, as Hume tried to prove they could be.
Physical man is simply his physical entity, i.e., his physical mind and physical body. Between the spiritual man and physical man, a mutual relationship exists. More precisely speaking, this is a relationship of give-and-take action. Give-and-take action takes place whenever the relationship of subject and object is to be found. So give and take occurs in the first place between spirit man and physical man; in other words, between man's soul and his body.
If the meaning of the spiritual mind is quite clear to us, the meaning of the spiritual body is not so, and requires clarification. The spiritual body refers to the body cooperating with the soul. Such a body has spiritual organs. By these organs we should understand cooperating organs in spiritual perception, that is, all kinds of extrasensory perception. This basic psychosomatic structure of man, spiritual and physical, is the image or picture of God.
(2) Man as an Image of God
In God there is also a spiritual part and a physical part, i.e., His Sung Sang and Hyung Sang. God, within His ontic simplicity, is composed, according to the Unificationist conception of Him, of His inner subjectivity (Sung Sang) and its outer form, i.e., His objectivity (Hyung Sang). The former contains God's reason, heart and will; the latter, His energy and relation to the external world. A similar polarity occurs in man. Thus man reflects God, although in a human and finite way. Other creatures besides man do not have a spiritual part; therefore, they do not constitute real images of God but may be only His indirect images or symbolic representations.
In addition, man reflects God's positivity and negativity in the fact of the two human sexes. The two sexes together make a complete whole: one mankind which is male and female.
Man also exists on a cosmic scale and not just as a private, individual citizen of this earth. Because man is related to the whole universe, he plays a central, cosmic role. This is due first to the fact that man is both spirit and matter. Man as such a compound creature contains both kinds of cosmic elements, both spiritual and physical elements. His centrality is reinforced by the fact that man is a unity of two sexes, namely, the male sex, which includes all the masculine elements of the world of reality and the female, which includes all feminine elements. Together they make one unit representing everything. Through this unity, people are destined to dominate the whole world. As the whole universe is created for man's sake, he has to dominate it according to the will of its Creator. As the absolute ruler and center is God, man -- like the rest of creation -- is God's object; thus, man is an object whose subject is God.
(3) The Dignity of Man
In addition to the fact that man is at the center of the universe, his dignity lies in the fact that God creates him according to His individual pictures of him. In other words, Unificationism points out that man is the individual image of God. God has in His mind (Logos -- Sung Sang) individual images when He creates particular beings. He has individual images of individual persons. His is not just a creation en masse, not mass production. Mankind is not just a collective being, according to Unification thinking; each man is a singular being of which God takes special care. By this affirmation, Unificationism points out that it is opposed to the position of Marxist communism, where man is treated collectively, simply as a social unit.
With this idea is connected another, namely, that man, who is a picture of God, has heart at his center. As the God of love is a God of heart, love takes the first place for man, too. Heart takes priority. Heart is the cause of life as well as the source of love. If man practices love, he will find satisfaction in his own life and he will live in harmony with the universe. Thus, there will really be the kingdom of God here on this earth.
Another aspect of man is his reason or logos. This logos has to guide man; man through his reason has to govern the whole world. Reason provides the law of man's being. By containing universal concepts as well as particular ones, reason gives harmony to the whole world. Man's reason is a replica or image of God's reason, the Logos. Man possesses logos just as God does.
In addition to heart and reason, there is another important element in God and man, namely creativity. God is the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and earth. He creates the whole universe. As a creature made in the Divine image, man is given creativity. He has the capability to make discoveries and to invent new things. By these means, we make progress on this earth.
(4) Ontology of Man
a. Man as Object
In his status as a being, man is both an object and a subject. Man is an object for God; God is his subject. From God man receives love in order to live according to God's love, to love God and to love other people and thus to create harmony in the world. From God also, man as object receives his reason, his creativity and other perfections. Because of them, man is capable of religion, justice, charity and so on.
b. Man as Subject
Man is in a subject position, however, with regard to the universe. All the things in the world are created for man's satisfaction and man himself is created for God's satisfaction, for God's joy, God's pleasure. Man has to govern all creation with love. And in this way, if man accepts and uses the received love of God, all the wars, strife, violence, troubles and struggles in the world will end. There will be at last peace throughout the world.
c. Man as a Center
Man should be the center of an harmonious cosmos. He is the center, as I said before, because he is endowed with a physical nature and with a spiritual nature. In this way he is a union or intermediary between two worlds, the invisible world and visible world, a spiritual world and an earthly world. When he dies, he goes to this invisible world because he has an invisible spiritual entity in himself.
The original or basic nature of man is in itself unchangeable. But then comes the fallen nature of man, his second nature. This second nature of man results from loss of the original image of God.
The nature of fallen man consists of an abnormal relationship between man's invisible nature and his visible nature, in other words, (in Unification terminology) an abnormal relationship between man's Sung Sang and Hyung Sang. What is this Sung Sang? It is man's seeking after truth, goodness and beauty. Hyung Sang is man's instincts, his sexual drive, man's sensuous, earthly characteristics. Thus, in fallen nature there is no longer harmony between man's spiritual life and physical one. Consequently, there is no agreement among men and no harmony within the cosmos. Due to this fact, we witness among men all kinds of ignorance concerning the world outside and our own inner nature. Worse, because of the fall, man has become Satan-oriented. Before the fall, man was God-oriented. In other words, before the fall, man's behavior was ethical and orderly. After the fall, Satan influences our lives; man is inclined towards evil. After the fall, there is not much love of others according to God's pattern. Men are subject to all kinds of wrong desires and commit numerous acts of unrighteousness. The normal subject-object order of creation can become reversed e.g. the body can dominate the spirit. This results in the multiplication of crime, violence, war, and so on. However, man still retains his freedom in spite of the fact that he is oriented toward Satan. Man is always free. Being free, he longs to restore his original nature.
Unificationism points out emphatically that only Christ can liquidate original sin. Therefore, Christ is the True Parent. Restoration, then, is connected with the event of Christ. Without opening up the vast subject of Christology, I would like to point out only one fact: Divine Principle clearly accepts the doctrine of Jesus' meritorious and sacrificial death on the cross, His Resurrection, and His Second Coming. However, Divine Principle does not go into great detail about the nature of Christ, except to say that He is both human and Divine. How to reconcile these two natures of Jesus, Unificationism does not explain. Is there any reason for not discussing this topic? There is a reason, as I see it: namely, that if Unificationism wants to unite all Christians, it should not enter into doctrinal details and take one specific position. To do so, Unificationists would be supporting one view against other theological positions; thus, not unifying Christendom, but reinforcing denominational fragmentation.
What is man's destiny? Man's destiny is happiness, joy in the kingdom of God. This kingdom of God will result from the Second Coming of Christ. Unificationists maintain that God's kingdom must take place on this earth. The question naturally arises, Is this expectation in agreement with Christian belief? It would be difficult to say that it is not. Why? Revelation 21:1 clearly says that there will be "a new heaven and a new earth." What does it mean, "new heaven and a new earth"? I think nobody knows except God Himself, so if Unificationism explains this text in its own way, it would be very hard to prove that its position is wrong. Not until the Second Advent actually occurs can we be certain about this.
Unification thought maintains with regard to the final destiny of man that universal reconciliation will ultimately take place. This question is very sharply debated among Christians. What is the final destiny of man? Will man be punished eternally or only temporarily? And what about the fate of Satan? Will Satan remain a fallen archangel or will he be converted to God? Religious people differ greatly on such matters.
The Unificationist position is an optimistic one, namely, that Satan and all the condemned people finally will be somehow converted to God. I'm not too sure myself about the final conversion of Satan himself; but about other people, I agree with the Unificationists. There will be no eternal punishment; hence there must be universal apocatastasis, reconciliation. Unificationism is not at all pessimistic. It is a movement based on serene optimism. And this optimism permeates the whole approach, practical and theoretical, of the movement.
From these four states of human nature one can understand Unification ethics. I will briefly present this, not going into much detail. Generally speaking, Unificationism distinguishes between morality and ethics. Morality is subjective, an individual's personal sense of responsibility and duty. Ethics is objective, dealing with man's collective responsibilities: his economic, political and social morality.
Man has to be oriented first of all toward God and then toward his own earthly family. The father has to be oriented first toward God and then toward his wife and children. The mother should be oriented toward God in the first place, then toward her husband and children. Children should be primarily loyal to God and then to their parents. In this way we can preserve order in personal morality and order in social ethics. Ethics and morality in Unificationism are basically concentrated on the family. The individual members of the family must be in harmony within themselves; they must work to attain their own perfection. Achieving that, they will be able to live in harmony with other members of the family. Living in harmony with other members of their own family, they will live in harmony with other families and subsequently with the whole world. Such is the basis of Unification ethics and morality.
What is value? Values are truth, goodness and beauty. But the highest absolute value is truth. Truth is then the first value. On the basis of truth, Unificationists oppose Marxism. They point out important kinds of value the communists do not emphasize. Labor value is not the only type of value, nor is it the most basic. To mention one difference between Unificationism and Marxism, the latter denies the profit motive while the former does not, yet feels that profits should be shared by all members of society. Capitalism is not excluded by Unificationism, but it recommends wider profit-sharing. This would give us more true democracy, true communism, not Marxist communism as we know it now, but a truly Christian communism.
In the Unification position certain tenets may provoke serious disagreement. The question of original sin is one such controversial belief.
The original sin, according to the Unification position, is connected with the adultery of Eve and Lucifer. Was the first sin an illicit sexual act? Some Christians do not accept this interpretation, others do. Consequently a sexual explanation of the fall belongs to disputable issues in Christianity. But what about the serpent with which Eve had intercourse? Here again, the Unificationist explanation is not something entirely new. We find a similar position in Jewish rabbinic traditions. So the idea that the original sin was connected somehow with concupiscence is not novel in the history of religion.
The next question concerns the nature of original sin. How did the first couple sin? Even if it was an act of adultery, was it not primarily disobedience of God's command? It is obvious, I think, that disobedience occurred. If there were not disobedience, there would have been no fall.
Another problem involves death as a punishment for man's original sin. Christianity believes death is the result of original sin. At least this tenet is accepted by many Christian denominations. Is the same position maintained in Unification thought? I think Unificationism is not clear on this matter. It does not say explicitly that death occurs because of original sin. I think that it would be extremely wise for the Unification movement to uphold such a view.
Another tenet which is quite interesting and very characteristic of the Unification position and yet is less stressed by Western Christianity is man's cosmic role. Unificationism points out very emphatically man's cosmic role. Is this cosmic role of man contrary to Christian doctrine? No, because Saint Paul emphasizes it, and in Revelation we read that a "new heaven and new earth" will result from the Second Coming of Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ is a major teaching of Unification thought. This is its messianic aspect. Christians have often differed about where Christ will appear. Consequently, if the Unification Church teaches that the Second Coming will take place in Korea, I think we should just wait until it happens and then we'll be sure who is right. (Laughter)
To conclude, are there differences between the Unification theological position and Christian thought? The differences, I think, lie in philosophy rather than in doctrine.
ontology is not Aristotelian; it is quite different. It is rather oriental, partly Taoist, but mainly Confucian. In ontology and ethics, we can find similarities between Unificationism and traditional Chinese philosophy. Of course, there is also the clearly evident influence of Christian thought. Yet Unificationism in its philosophical aspect is distinct from Western systems.
How should we evaluate the Asian aspect of Unificationism? I think it is to be highly welcomed. In my opinion, for the first time, we find in the West a philosophy which is basically not Aristotelian and not even Platonic, although Unificationism is more Platonic than Aristotelian. The novelty of Unification philosophy becomes clearer if we keep in mind its resemblance to Aristotelianism. Like Aristotle, Unificationists interpret reality in terms of subject-object relationships, external form and internal essence, substance and accident as well as formal, final and efficient causes. At the same time, Unification philosophy is not truly Aristotelian. Unificationism also has a great tendency toward being Platonic, but oriental philosophies are mystical, just as Plato's approach was quite mystical. Therefore, there is a similarity: God is known intuitively in Unificationism as He is in both oriental religion and in Plato. For example, when Plato gives some proofs for the supremacy of the idea of good and beauty, these proofs are based rather often on man's intuition. Quite different are the strictly discursive proofs of Aristotle.
In the West, Christian ethics is rather individualistic. By contrast, in Unification thought it seems that one finds more stress on the collective aspect. Rather, it recognizes both collective and non-collective aspects. Where is the collective aspect? I think Unificationism is not too clear but it has both collective and non-collective features because it distinguishes morality from ethics. Morality is subjective and individual; ethics is rather objective and social. However in Christianity as a whole, individual responsibility is clearly stressed, though at the same time, Christians are taught collective responsibility.
Now, speaking generally, when we compare Unificationism and Western philosophy, are there any questionable aspects to the Unification position? If there are, it seems to me they are not of great importance. Let me mention just a few of them.
(1) Original Nature
Unificationism claims that the original nature of man is elaborated for the first time in Divine Principle. If I understand correctly the Unification position, then, it seems to me, that is not exactly correct.
The original nature of man has already been explained in traditional Christianity. Christians had to work out a doctrine of man's original nature in order to determine the effect of original sin. Protestants and Catholics disagree over the fallen nature of man. Yet both have carefully developed explanations of the difference between man before the fall and afterward. Though they debate the details, both Catholics and Protestants recognize a basic distinction between man's first state and his present fallen condition.
Where do Unificationists stand? Are they more Catholic or more Protestant? Again, I would say it is not clear and the Unification position can be defended by Catholics or by Protestants. Is it wrong to be so unspecific? I think it is an advantage that the Unification movement does not take a specific position, because in this way it does not alienate anybody.
Now let us look at logic. Unification thought says that it has invented or discovered a new logic. Is this true? At present Unificationists really borrow much of their logic from the dialectics of Hegel. In my opinion, they would be better off following Aristotle instead. But is a new logic possible? If Unificationism offered the world a new logic which was non-Aristotelian, as mathematicians have developed a non-Euclidian geometry, that would be something really extraordinary. It may someday be possible to accomplish such a feat.
(3) Universal Prime Force
There is a problem in the way the notion of universal prime force is expressed. This idea of universal prime force can be easily misunderstood, because it sometimes sounds as if Unificationists believe that there is matter in God. One could easily clear up this difficulty by saying that in God matter is virtually and not formally present. This in no way runs counter to the general Unificationist philosophy and could, I think, be a useful distinction.
Now for some of the good points of the Unification position, as I cannot enumerate all of them. The first is Unification emphasis on the dignity of man. Man is a God-centered being; his value lies only with God. It originates with God and not from anything else. Man is at the same time the center of the universe. He is not at the center in a physical sense, but in a moral sense. He is the center of value; God creates the whole world for man, and man has a divine responsibility to govern-the whole world and govern himself in love. This is an extremely good point of Unification thought. With this is connected family-centered ethics. The family provides the center of ethical value. If the family is OK, the whole world will be OK. I think this is an extremely valuable thing to point out. Besides these, there is another important element, namely, Unification optimism. The Unification movement glows with optimism, optimism about the kingdom of God. This kingdom of God will come in spite of what might happen; it will come with certainty. We therefore have to prepare ourselves for its arrival. And this kingdom of God is for all mankind. This is connected with the idea of apocatastasis or universal reconciliation: All men will be sooner or later reunited with God. Another good point Unificationists make is that the fallen nature of man has to be restored by God; man himself cannot restore himself. He needs help from God. This help from God is given to man by Christ. Consequently, there is the idea of true parents! Now, if Unificationism considers other persons than Jesus as true parents, is that against the Christian position? Absolutely not! In Christianity we have spiritual fathers; we have priests who are called "father" in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. So the concept of true parent is not at all novel, but has long been a recognized part of Christian tradition.
Let me also comment on their mystical approach. Unificationism has a mystical approach, as I see it, to various problems and to God. Is this approach wrong? I think this perhaps is the best and often the only approach. I don't know how many people have been converted to God by discursive arguments for God's existence. Man believes in God on a mystical basis, namely on the natural intuition that God exists. Faith is simply intuitive. Men naturally, almost instinctively, believe in the reality of God.
And this is the Unification approach, basically, as I see it; there is not too much effort to prove that God exists...That is not excluded, but that is not the main effort. To prove God's existence is the western approach. The oriental approach is simply to believe in God, and that is what I think the masses always do. They do not read Aristotle or Saint Thomas, and maybe it is very good that they do not. Masses of people possess or accept intuitive knowledge of God. This intuitive knowledge of God is mystical. Mystical knowledge is of various types, but intuition is one of these levels, maybe the lowest level, but real nonetheless.
Unificationist mysticism resembles that of Plato. This Platonic approach consists of an insistence on love. Love is the source of harmony. Love is the source of life. And when this love is practiced between people it will give harmony and peace to the world. This point I think is extremely valuable.
Furthermore, Unificationists emphasize the unity of man. Unificationism explains this unity in terms of give-and-take action, unity on a quadruple base, even if it divides human nature into spirit man; spirit mind and body, and physical man: physical mind and body. The Unificationist concept of the spirit body makes sense once one correctly understands what the term means. Perhaps only for Westerners does the notion of a spiritual body sound strange.
My final point is most important. Unificationism, I would say, is in basic agreement with the essentials of Christianity. It just has to be understood correctly. Why is Unificationism so often misunderstood? Because of its new terminology, because of the depth of its thought, and because of the wide range of problems which Unification covers. Therefore, when people are in a hurry, they think that Divine Principle is like a book which they read as children in grammar school or even as students in a university. This is not the case with the Unificationist sources. They offer a new approach, often explained in a manner unfamiliar to western-educated readers. Hence they have to be very carefully studied. But once someone understands these things, he will not have much of a problem reconciling Unificationist teachings with various Christian positions.
But as I said before, he cannot go too far. He cannot try to identify the Unification position with Luther's position or Calvin's position or Thomas Aquinas' position or any pope's position. These identities are not there because the purpose of Unificationism is different. The purpose is to unite all Christians, all religions. If the goal is to unite all the religions, then you cannot be specific, because then you will alienate people.
But Unificationism appears to be reconcilable with various theological opinions, as I understand it. It is not a closed system. Not at all. What it offers is a basic foundation for all kinds of religious views. It provides a place where all religions can come to discuss their problems and differences. I think this is an extremely valuable aspect of the Unification movement, especially today when religions are trying to understand each other and are trying to be somehow united.