Unification Theology In Comparative Perspectives - Edited by Anthony J. Guerra - 1988


Professor Young Oon Kim has placed at the foundation of her academic work an earnest and rigorous study of the Christian theological tradition and the breadth of the world's religious heritage. In so doing, she has established a courageous direction for Unification academic work, from which there can be no retreat. All contributors to this volume have been students in the classroom of Prof. Young Oon Kim.

After graduating from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, Young Oon Kim became Professor of New Testament and Comparative Religion at Ehwa University, Korea's oldest and most renowned women's college. From 1959-72, Young Oon Kim accepted the call to introduce the teachings of the Unification Church to the West. From 1972 to the present, she returned to academic pursuits and has been engaged in teaching, research and writing. The first three works of this period: Unification Theology and Christian Thought and World Religions (1976), and Unification Theology (1980) express her consistent efforts to construct Unification theology in dialogue with contemporary Christian theological thought as well as the spiritual heritage of the world religions. Professor Kim is equally forthright and unabashed in pointing to both similarities and differences between Unification theology and time honored religious traditions. In Unification Theology and Christian Thought, Professor Kim defines the Unification position on such central issues as God, Creation, Sin, Christology, and Eschatology against the backdrop of historic Christianity as well as the divergent contemporary Christian perspectives on the same. In her trilogy, World Religions Professor Kim focuses on parallel thematic emphases in the world religions and manifests here her characteristic appreciation for both the metaphysical heights and spiritual profundities of each tradition. In her 1980 publication, Professor Kim examines the influence of the Korean religious heritage as well as Protestant Christianity on Unification teachings. She presents there her mature reflection on Unification theology which she has been developing for nearly thirty years. The scope of the essays in this volume reflects only in part the range of Professor Kim's own scholarly interests.

Section One presents essays discussing the Unification understanding of God with respect to the issues of creation, gender, and the spiritual and physical poles of existence. Jonathan Wells articulates the Unification position in the "creation-evolution controversy." He defines his task as "conceptual clarification" signifying his concern with the ideas rather than with the sociological or historical aspects of the controversy and with the precise delineation of the Unification agreements and disagreements with the positions described rather than the defense of the truth of any given position. Wells describes the Unification position as creationist to the extent that God is the Creator of all things, and despite debate over whether Unification theology affirms the traditional doctrine of' 'creation from nothing'' he argues that it does affirm the intent of this doctrine in rejecting both dualist and pantheist options for conceiving of the Creator. Wells concludes that the Unification view rejects Darwinism, while it affirms the general concept of evolution as it acknowledges a process of orderly changes which extends over hundreds of millions of years and in which later stages are somehow derived from earlier ones. Further, Wells concludes that the Unification position is theistic rather than deistic for its holds that the origin and diversification of living organisms require God's creative energy.

Writing as a Unification feminist, Helen Ball Feddema notes that a theology which makes a clear break with patriarchy, but at the same time does not deny to men their part in the image of God is hard to find. Having reviewed six competing models of the nature of divinity, Feddema argues her preference for the Unification view of God's nature which she claims preserves the divine unity while representing adequately both male and female aspects. Feddema proposes not only that the Unification notion of divine polarity offers a constructive reinterpretation of God's nature as incorporating both male and female elements but also that the Unification emphasis on mutuality and cooperation in this polarity provides a positive model for relations among men and women.

In his meticulously documented study, Theodore Shimmyo, a Japanese Unification theologian, compares the "dipolar" conceptions of God in Unification thought and Whitehead. In both instances, God is conceived as constituted by a mental/spiritual as well as physical pole. Although Shimmyo raises some tough questions to Whitehead, particularly whether God has been reduced to only one instantiation of his metaphysical principle and also whether the unity of God is preserved, he credits both Whitehead and Unification theology with conceptualizing God so that the two prominent biblical images of the "God of eternity" and the "Lord of History" are embraced. Most importantly, for Shimmyo, God is understood in both process thought and Unification thought as a co-sufferer and thus they make possible a more encompassing God-human relationship.

Section Two engages issues intersecting biblical theology and Unification theology. All three articles included in this section utilize a modern scientific approach of biblical criticism. As Andrew Wilson notes at the start of his essay, Prof. Kim in her own works has already moved beyond the biblical literalism which characterizes many of the primary Unification sources. In his provocative article entitled "The Sexual Interpretation of the Human Fall" Wilson argues the thesis that historical critical research is supportive of Unification theology's construal of Genesis 3 as a basis for a sexual interpretation of the human fall. He points, inter alia, to a growing consensus among scholars affirming that a polemic against Canaanite fertility cults practicing rites of sacred prostitution is a substratum of the narrative in Genesis 2-3.

Comparing the functions of afterlife concepts and imagery in the communities of the New Testament and of the Unification Church, Whitney Shiner focuses on three areas of concern: consolation of the bereaved, moral exhortation, and relations with the dead. Although Unification shares with New Testament apocalyptic thought the concept of a reward in the afterlife as an incentive for ethical living in this life, Shiner perceives several differences. Rather than awaiting a final judgment scene, Unification understands that after death, one enters immediately into the spiritual world where one's state is directly dependent on the degree to which one has responded to the love of God and has lived out of this love. There is no simple division between the "elect'' and the "damned" for in the Unification perspective even the most saintly individual can continue to grow by loving and serving more. Further, he states the Unification view that even after death, persons are capable of growth by cooperating with living persons. Shiner thinks that this last view does not nullify the moral exhortatory function of the after-life concept because Unificationists also believe that to grow in the afterlife is far more difficult than during one's earthly existence.

In "The Will of God and the Crucifixion of Jesus," Anthony Guerra examines the Unification soteriological formulations in the light of the scholarly consensus as to the most likely genuine logia of Jesus. In this essay, Guerra begins by discussing the formal question of the theological structure of the Divine Principle 's construal of the mission of Jesus within the context of Creation and Fall and suggests that this approach is congruent with the canonical shape of the Scripture itself. He then raises the critical issue of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God and distinguishes it from that of contemporary Jewish apocalypticism as well as the early Church's interpretation of Jesus' message. Guerra suggests that Jesus' radical demand to love, to respond to the will of God and his intimate understanding of God as 'Abba' are compatible with the Divine Principle 's emphasis that the messianic task is to transform both the spiritual and the material dimensions of the historical order, a radical transformation on the individual as well as the cosmic levels. When the salvation event of cross and resurrection is measured against the criterion of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God, then this event can only be accounted rightly as a partial realization of the intentions of Jesus and God. Finally, Guerra proposes a reformulation of the Divine Principle 's assertion concerning spiritual salvation along the lines of the traditional theological (biblical) terminology of justification/sanctification.

In Section Three, Unification practical theology, contributions are found that articulate Unification perspectives on political issues and ethics. In an article entitled "The Cain-Abel Typology for Restoring Human Relationships,'' Gordon Anderson differentiates the Unificationist use of this biblical typology from that of Augustine for whom Abel and Cain represented respectively the saved and the damned. Anderson points out that the Cain-Abel model in Unificationism can be applied simultaneously on multiple levels (individual, family, tribal, national, and world) and thus presumably the same individual may be understood to warrant both Cain and Abel designations. Anderson argues that as the world is in fact divided into hostile and conflicting groups that the Unification Cain-Abel typology acknowledges this reality and further allows for the judgment to be made that one side is morally and theologically preferable to the other. Anderson is quick to point out, however, that victory is won through the end of conflict and a unity achieved through the self-sacrifice of "Abel'' to win "Cain" through love, not violence. Anderson contrasts this Unification approach to that of Marxism which he understands as operatively exploiting resentment, jealousy, revenge, and violence.

In a second article, Guerra articulates the beginnings of a Unification liberation theology. He asserts that the distinctive mark of this theology of liberation is that this task of Liberation from the Unification perspective must be extended to include the liberation of God who suffers as the Parent of all people. Guerra affirms that the religious experience of God who suffers with his children leads not to an otherworldly mysticism but to a fully responsible commitment to world transformation. Guerra confronts two publicly controversial issues of the Unification movement, namely its anticommunism and its mass marriages. Guerra seeks to subordinate the ideological critique of communism to both a theological and humanitarian critique of specific communist regimes and their practices and understands the ideological critique as complementary to the two prior modes of analysis. Finally, Guerra discusses the larger social vision of international and inter-racial harmony and how the Unification family system is conceived of contributing to the accomplishment of these goals.

The articles of Thomas Walsh and Franz Feige represent seminal contributions towards the development of Unification ethics. Whereas Walsh argues that Unification theology implies a form of social organization governed by a vision of the family, which vision he asserts is neither individualistic nor abstractly collectivist, Feige believes that the emphasis on the family in Unification ethics needs to be balanced by both the imago dei concept as well as the organic model which are also to be found in Unification sources. Both think that the Unification concept of the "three blessings" (see discussion within) offers the theological framework for the articulation of Unification ethics. Feige, however, also dwells on the dialectic between an ethics based on Creation-Eschatology and an interim ethics of Restoration as fundamental to Unification ethical reflection. Walsh argues that the task of Unification ethics is to redefine practical theology in the "aftermath of Marxism." Both Walsh and Feige are acutely aware that they are wrestling with the foundational questions to be raised in the formulation of a Unification ethical theory.

In Section Four, contributors deal in comparative perspective with some classical issues of Western and Eastern philosophy: theodicy, monism, and the concept of self. Lloyd Eby is a philosopher who is equally comfortable with thinking through matters in either the discursive or metaphorical modalities of discourse and he engages the problem of theodicy at both levels. Eby begins by making four assertions which he believes to be normative for most within the three great monotheistic religions, namely that God exists, that God is the unique Creator, that God is good, and finally that God is omnipotent. Eby doubts all four assertions can be sustained in the face of a fifth assertion readily allowed by the same religious traditions, i.e., that there is evil in the world. In reviewing the classic Christian responses to theodicy from Irenaeus to the Reformers and such contemporaries as Alvin Plantinga and John Hick, Eby helps confirm his skepticism as each seems to relinquish one or more of the four assertions of monotheism (most usually the omnipotence factor although the reformers struck at the assertion that God is good). Eby finds that the problem of natural evil is most intractable. He turns towards what he terms an "existential" theodicy which he finds cogently expressed in The Brothers Karamazov wherein Dostoevsky adduces the genuine goodness of Father Zosima as the only response to the indictments made by the Grand Inquisitor against God. Eby maintains that this "existential" theodicy is most compatible with Unification emphasis on remembering the lives of exemplary religious figures throughout the ages.

James Fleming provides us with a review of the thought of Paul Cams and points to several of his concerns which are shared by Unification theology, most particularly the vision of unity between science and religion and of the unity among all religions. Cams played an important role in the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago which the Unification movement has made plans to commemorate on its centennial. Cams espoused a "monistic" conception of reality and understood there to be laws residing in things which depend on God as their source and are discovered, not created, by the scientist. Cams, however, did not contend that there is only one substance in the world either spiritual or material, but rather that there are two dimensions of one and the same reality. In accord with his conviction that science and religion are not contradictory but complementary, Cams became an enthusiastic advocate of Biblical criticism. Having encountered representatives of Buddhism at the Parliament of Religions, Cams came to appreciate Buddhism for its eminently scientific worldview and thereafter encouraged Buddhist missionaries to come to the West so as to promote inter-religious understanding at a grassroots level.

In an experimental venture, David Carlson and Thomas Selover present an example of the Unification analogical approach to the encounter with other religions, in this case Buddhism. Acknowledging fundamental differences between the Buddhist concept of Anatta (no-self) and the Unification understanding of the fallen self, they nonetheless find three areas of agreement between them: 1) relationality, 2) the falseness of the fallen self, and 3) a large and compassionate vision of life. Selover and Carlson note that both Unification theology and classical Buddhism view human life in a context wider than just one lifetime. The authors point to the correlation between the Buddhist doctrine of karma and the Unification teaching on sin which affirms collective and inherited dimensions that determine the individual's real conditions of existence. In their ascetic practices both Unificationists and Buddhists eschew the extremes of self-mortification which is understood by the former to enhance self-righteousness and by the latter to heighten the illusion of the "self." For Unificationism, however, ascetic practice has the purpose of re-orienting sense experience towards God whereas in Buddhism the overcoming of craving leads to the awareness of no-self.

I wish to express my gratitude to all the contributors to this volume, to Farley and Betsy Jones who gave me encouragement at several critical moments during this work, to Thomas Selover who first suggested to me the idea of a Festschrift for Prof. Kim, to Patricia Gleason who helped in the final stages of preparation of manuscripts, to the publication staff of the Unification Theological Seminary, in particular, to Ann Stadelhofer, Elizabeth E. Colford, Kerry Pobanz, Carol DeMicco Pobanz and Angela Eisenbart, who were responsible for the production of the volume, and finally to President David S.C. Kim for his offer to publish as well as to write the Foreword to this volume.

Anthony J. Guerra
Cambridge, Massachusetts 

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