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

Dipolar Theism in Process Thought and Unificationism -- by Theodore T. Shimmyo


Process thought, whose primary modern source is Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), has a theory of divine dipolarity. According to it, God is "dipolar" having mental and physical poles, which Whitehead calls God's "primordial" and "consequent" natures, respectively.1 Unificationism, which is the thought of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, has a similar theory of divine dipolarity, according to which God has the "polarity" of "Sung Sang" and "Hyung Sang," which are respectively mental and material in character.2

To say that God has a physical pole as well as a mental pole might sound unfamiliar, for traditionally God has usually been understood to be only mental or spiritual. According to Plato and Aristotle, God is purely spiritual, so that the world must be made out of some pre-existent material stuff which is independent of God. According to traditional Christian theism, God is purely spiritual, creating what is material ex nihilo. Thus divine dipolarity proposed by process thought and Unificationism is rather a novel perspective in the history of thought. But it is this novelty that is capturing the imagination of an increasing number of philosophers and theologians today.

As an Unificationist who has studied Whitehead's process thought,3 I have been interested to compare dipolar theism in process thought and in Unificationism. Young Oon Kim, a Unification theologian, has already correctly touched upon the theological affinity between the dipolarity of God's primordial and consequent natures in process thought and the dipolarity of God's Sung Sang and Hyung Sang in Unificationism."4 In the present paper, I will pursue a more metaphysical line of comparison. Sections II and III will treat process and Unification dipolar theism, respectively, and Sections IV and V their similarities and dissimilarities respectively. Section VI will explore the practical implications of dipolar theism in process thought and Unificationism with respect to human religious need.


In process thought, the dipolarity of God is understood along with the dipolarity of "actual entities." Each actual entity, which is an act of concrescence arising out of its data, is "essentially dipolar with its physical and mental poles."5

In each concrescence there is a twofold aspect of the creative urge. In one aspect there is the origination of simple causal feelings; and in the other aspect there is the origination of conceptual feelings. These contrasted aspects will be called the physical and the mental poles of an actual entity. No actual entity is devoid of either pole; though their relative importance differs in different actual entities.6

To Whitehead God is an actual entity.7 Like any other actual entity, therefore, God is dipolar. Of course, God is different from other actual entities because he is non-temporal and others temporal, i.e., because he originates with his mental side (non-temporal) and then is complemented by his physical side, while other actual entities originate with their physical side (temporal) and then proceed to their mental side.8 Nevertheless, it is clear that God is dipolar like other actual entities. "God is not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles, invoked to save their collapse. He is their chief exemplification."9

In his mental pole or "primordial" nature, God conceptually feels the entire multiplicity of "eternal objects."10 These conceptual feelings in God's primordial nature, "untrammeled by reference to any particular course of things,"11 have a primordial concrescence of unity among themselves directed by God's own "subjective aim,"12 so that "there is an order in the relevance of eternal objects to the process of creation."13 In his physical pole or "consequent" nature, by contrast, God physically feels the actual entities in the temporal world,14 and these physical feelings in his consequent nature, too, are directed by his own subjective aim with a view to being integrated with his conceptual side.15 The difference between the two sides of God which we should realize here is that while his conceptual side is "unchanged, by reason of its final completeness," his physical side is "consequent upon the creative advance of the world."16

There is a third nature of God, however, which is called his "superjective" nature and in which he acquires the "integration" between his conceptual and physical sides centering upon his own subjective aim.17 Through this integration in his superjective nature God produces some divine input for each temporal actual entity. This divine input, called the "initial subjective aim" of an actual entity,18 constitutes a vision of what that entity might become. It is a divine persuasive and not coercive unifying activity aiming at "intensity" in the concrescence of each actual entity.19 As such, it is derived from the order in the relevance of all the conceptual feelings in the primordial nature of God, but it undoubtedly centers around that conceptual feeling of God which is, by reason of the integration of both poles in his superjective nature, "immediately relevant" to the actual world physically felt in his physical pole.20


Unificationism understands the dipolarity of God as the cause of the dipolarity of all existing beings: "The Sung Sang and Hyung Sang of existing beings are derived from the Sung Sang and Hyung Sang of the Original Image (of God)."21 Thus God's Sung Sang is "the attribute of God that constitutes the fundamental cause of the invisible, functional aspects of all existing beings,"22 while his Hyung Sang is "the attribute of God that constitutes the fundamental cause of the material aspect of all existing beings."23

In his Sung Sang, i.e., in his mental side, God has the functions of intellect, emotion, and will centering upon his "Purpose" or "Heart" and thereby thinks, feels, and decides his plan of creation by appropriating "ideas, concepts, original law, and mathematical principles."24 "Ideas" and "concepts" thus appropriated in God's Sung Sang are equivalent to Whiteheadian "eternal objects" conceptually felt. The plan of creation thus made in God's Sung Sang is called "Logos."25 God's Hyung Sang, i.e., his physical side, by contrast, is a kind of latent energy which is called "pre-energy"26 or "pre-matter."27 As material cause, God's Hyung Sang takes various forms, when the Logos, his Sung Sang, unites with it.28

The Sung Sang and Hyung Sang of God unite with each other centering upon his Purpose or Heart to constitute a "United Body,"29 through which is generated some divine input for the world. This divine input is either "forming energy" to form the internal unity of each creature or "acting energy" to enable all creatures to interact with one another.30 Whether "forming" or "acting" energy, it represents God's vision of unity.


From the last two sections it is already clear that there are striking similarities between process thought and Unificationism concerning dipolar theism. The present section will deal with them more specifically.

First of all, both process thought and Unificationism conceive of God as having a fourfold structure. In process thought, the fourfold structure of God contains: 1) his own subjective aim, which is sometimes called "appetition"31 or "Eros";32 2) his primordial nature, which is his mental pole; 3) his consequent nature, which is his physical pole; and 4) his superjective nature, which is the integration of the two poles, producing the initial subjective aim of each temporal actual entity. In a very similar way, the fourfold structure of God in Unificationism contains: 1) his Purpose or Heart; 2) his Sung Sang, which is his mental pole; 3) his Hyung Sang, which is his physical pole; and 4) the United Body of the two poles, producing forming and acting energy for creatures. Unificationism calls this fourfold structure "Quadruple Base" or "Four Position Foundation."33 For the sake of visual clarity, I have schematized this structure of God in both systems below.

Secondly, there is an important parallel between God's Eros in process thought and God's Heart in Unificationism. In process thought, God's Eros or apparition is "the eternal urge of desire,"34 or "the living urge towards all possibilities, claiming the goodness of their realization."35 Its importance is such that it can be regarded as the center of the fourfold structure of God, though it actually belongs to his primordial nature.36 In Unificationism, God's Heart is "the emotional impulse to seek joy through love,"37 so that it occupies "the central position" in the fourfold structure of God, though it actually "lies deep within the Sung Sang (of God)."38

Thirdly, when talking about dipolar theism, process thought and Unificationism do not suggest a dualism of the two different poles of God at all. In process thought, the unity of the two poles is maintained through the superjective nature of God which secures the relevance of eternal objects to the temporal world.39 In Unificationism, the unity of the two poles of God is maintained because the Sung Sang itself has Hyung Sang elements and the Hyung Sang has Sung Sang elements.40 "Sung Sang and Hyung Sang are essentially of the same quality, with only a relative, not an absolute, difference."41 Unificationism is "neither dualism, nor spiritualism, nor materialism: it is Unitism."42

The Fourfold Structure of God in Process Thought

The Fourfold Structure of God in Unificationism

Fourthly because of this unity of the two poles of God, both process thought and Unificationism can blur the traditional sharp distinction between universals and particulars which has plagued much of Western thought. In process thought, God with his two poles united mediates between the timeless realm of eternal objects (universals) and the temporal realm of actual entities (particulars).43 Thus universal eternal objects are particular in the sense that they do not exist except as being exemplified in particular actual entities; and particular actual entities are universal in the sense that they can, by reason of their exemplification of universal eternal objects, enter into the description of other particular actual entities.44 Whitehead calls this the "ontological principle."45 In Unificationism, the unity of the Sung Sang and Hyung Sang of God is such that elements in his Sung Sang (universals) are relevant to the world of "individual truth bodies" (particulars)46 whose material cause is his Hyung Sang. Thus universal "ideas" and "concepts" are particular in the sense that they do not truly exist except as realized in particular individual truth bodies. Especially "ideas" as God's "Individual Images" of particular individual truth bodies are particular in the sense of being just what they are;47 and even God's "Universal Image," which is the universal "dual characteristics of Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, positivity and negativity"48 and which "may be denoted by a concept,"49 is particular in the sense of being, "without fail, regulated by an Individual Image in its development into the world of phenomena."50 Particular individual truth bodies, on the other hand, are universal in the sense that they can, by reason of their realization of universal "ideas" and "concepts," enter into the description of other particular individual truth bodies.51

Fifthly, when maintaining the unity of the two poles of God, both process thought and Unificationism are "panentheistic" (not "pantheistic"), holding that God is in the world and the world in God. According to process thought, God is in the world because through the unity of his two poles the initial subjective aim of each actual entity in the world is generated; and the world is in God because it is physically felt in his physical pole to be eventually integrated with his mental pole. Thus Whitehead says: "It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World."52 Unificationism holds that God is in the world because the unity of his Sung Sang and Hyung Sang produces forming and acting energy of the world; and that the world is in God not only because it is close to his Hyung Sang which is "pre-matter"53 but also because it is perceived by his Sung Sang which has his Hyung Sang integrated with it.54 This panentheistic position of process thought and Unificationism would not agree with the traditional understanding of God as the self-contained Absolute.

Sixthly, both process thought and Unificationism can well establish the so-called "internal relations" of particular existents, because their dipolar theism, blurring the sharp distinction between the universal and the particular, can reject the traditionally prevalent thesis that the relations of particular existents, being merely "external," can only be described purely in terms of transcendent universals. In other words, both process thought and Unificationism can metaphysically affirm the genuine interrelatedness of particular existents, unlike the traditional thesis that particular existents are essentially independent and not requiring each other in order to exist.55 Whitehead calls this the "principle of universal relativity" and holds that particular actual entities are "present in" each other.56 Unificationism calls this principle the "give-and-take law"57 and says that individual truth bodies have "give-and-take" with each other in order to exist, multiply, and act.58 It goes without saying that this genuine interrelatedness of individual existents is that which is aimed at by the previously mentioned divine input (i.e., initial subjective aim in process thought, and forming and acting energy in Unificationism) generated through the integration of the two poles of God.

Lastly, this divine input aiming at interrelatedness and unity in the world is persuasive and not coercive, because particular existents in the world are given their portions of responsibility according to process thought and Unificationism.59 Whitehead says that "the divine element in the world is to be conceived as a persuasive agency and not as a coercive agency,"60 for the God-given initial subjective aim of a temporal actual entity is completed only through that entity's own "self-causation"61 or "decision"62 which is "self-creative."63 According to Unificationism, though God's will to accomplish his purpose itself is "absolute," the accomplishment of that will is not coercive but "relative," for "God's purpose of creation is to be fulfilled only by man's accomplishment of his portion of responsibility."64 The human possession of responsibility allows for the inheritance of God's "creatorship."65


There are however at least a couple of important dissimilarities between process and Unification dipolar theism which we must not neglect.66

First of all, process thought and Unificationism somewhat differ from each other over the role of the physical pole of God. Whereas process thought says that in his consequent nature God physically feels the temporal world, Unificationism does not attribute such a positive role of perceiving the world to the Hyung Sang of God. Of course, both schools agree that the physical pole is close to the world by reason of its character of being immanent in the world. But Unificationism explains that immanence simply by saying that the Hyung Sang of God is "pre-matter."67 Thus Unificationism does not attribute the role of perceiving the world to his Hyung Sang so much as to his Sung Sang which has intellect, emotion, and will.68 The Hyung Sang of God in Unificationism, then, is more like Plato's "matter" with respect to its passive character as stuff (and, needless to say, not with respect to its being outside of God). Of course, if we know the fact that Whitehead equates what he calls "extensive continuum" in the consequent nature of God69 with Plato's "Receptacle,"70 then we would be able to see better the parallel between the consequent nature of God in process thought and the Hyung Sang of God in Unificationism. But still the above difference should be noted.

Secondly, process thought and Unificationism disagree with each other over the locus of the ultimate cause of creativity. Whereas process thought locates it outside of God as "the ultimate metaphysical principle,"71 Unificationism locates it inside of God as part of "God's own character."72 In other words, in process thought God himself is not the ultimate principle of creativity but an actual entity, if an aboriginal one, which merely "characterizes" it like all other actual entities do.73 In Unificationism, however, God himself is the ultimate cause of creativity.74 This disagreement should be taken seriously, because process thought does not maintain that unity of God which Unificationism upholds.75 Thus it can be said that the God of Unificationism is more powerful than the God of process thought. Therefore, whereas process thought denies omnipotence to God,76 Unificationism still talks about God's omnipotence, if in a qualified way.77


Robert B. Mellert explains, and correctly, I think, that there have historically been two different views of God: a God of eternity and a God of history. Thus the Bible, too, says Mellert, contains two different images of God: Yahweh and Lord. Yahweh is a God of eternity who said, "I am who I am";79 he is eternal, unchanging, unchanged, transcendent, and far removed from the world, so that we have no control over his will. By contrast, the Lord in the Bible is a God of history, taking sides in history, showing constant care and concern for the Israelites, loving and suffering for them, and even being affected by them.

When the early Christian Church had its rapid movement to the Greco-Roman world, the image of Yahweh was more favorably accepted than the image of Lord, for it was more easily combined with Roman imperialism and Greek philosophy. Thus the Christian God became "the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover," to use Whitehead's expression.80 The image of Lord was forgotten to a large degree. There was especially a great influence of Greek philosophy upon the formation of the Christian doctrine of God. To Greek philosophers, God was an ultimate philosophical principle which is perfect, self-contained, immutable, unmoved, and passionless. Basically, therefore, God in Christianity became a perfect, self-contained, passionless God who is not acted upon by what is going on in the world.

This doctrine of God, however, would not be able to satisfy completely the religious need of human persons who seek an intimate relation with God. Thus Christianity would have to restore the other side of God: the image of the compassionate Lord who is always with us. It is however a very difficult task to restore it, because it involves the problem of how to reconcile it with the already familiar image of the transcendent Yahweh. As John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin point out,81 this is exactly the problem which Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas had to face when they, who under traditional theism believed in the unmoved, passionless God, attempted also to retain the biblical notion of divine compassion for the world.

What is important about process thought and Unificationism is that they have solved this problem by introducing dipolar theism. Yahweh and Lord, roughly corresponding to the mental and physical poles of God, can become one, because the two poles of God are one.82

Dipolar theism in process thought and Unificationism, introducing the physical pole of God, can affirm God's close companionship with humans which is critically important for religion. According to process thought, everything we do makes a difference to God because he feels it in his consequent nature to eventually integrate it with his primordial side. Thus God has "a tender care that nothing be lost."83 Not only the intensity of satisfaction which we experience but even our suffering is understood by God and made valuable in his companionship:

He [i.e., God] gives to suffering its swift insight into values which can issue from it. He is the ideal companion who transmutes what has been lost into a living fact within his own nature. He is the mirror which discloses to every creature its own greatness.84

He also suffers when we suffer: "God is the greatest companion -- the fellow-sufferer who understands."85 Unificationism, too, has a similar theory of divine companionship by reason of the Hyung Sang of God which is immanent in the world yet at the same time united with his Sung Sang:

God is love; God has tears and compassion. God is sensitive and feels sadness; God feels deep compassion as well. More than anyone else, God also needs a companion.86

According to Unificationism, therefore, God suffers when humans suffer.

There is, however, an element which makes Unificationism quite different from process thought in regard to the suffering of God. It is the unbearable tragedy of the human fall. Unificationism emphasizes it, while process thought does not. Because of this, Unificationism portrays God as more tragic than process thought: When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they indeed broke His heart. Ever since, God has been a tragic, sad God, but He has never given up hope.87

Process thought does not have such a strong expression to describe the suffering of God. Nevertheless, it would be right to say that Unificationism has more optimism than process thought, because the God of Unificationism is more powerful than the God of process thought, as was mentioned at the end of the preceding section. Thus, the God of Unificationism will not bear the human fall forever and therefore must seek the restoration of humanity. We are therefore persuaded to console the suffering heart of God through our efforts to become his loyal children (in spite of our own suffering) in the course of restoration. Thus the founder of the Unification Church says:

I never prayed from weakness. I never complained. I was never angry at my situation. I never even asked His help, but was always busy comforting Him and telling Him not to worry about me. The Father knows me so well. He already knew my suffering. How could I tell Him about my suffering and cause His heart to grieve still more? I could only tell Him that I would never be defeated by my suffering.88

In spite of this difference, however, there is no doubt that process thought and Unificationism, because of their similar theories of divine dipolarity, can together open a new dimension in religion.


1. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, corrected ed., ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (New York: Free, 1978) 343-46. Henceforth abbreviated as PR.

2. Sang Hun Lee, Unification Thought (New York: Unification Thought Institute, 1973) 11-13. Henceforth abbreviated as UT. Sung Sang and Hyung Sang are Korean terms and can be roughly translated as "internal character" and "external form" (UT 8).

3. See my Ph.D. dissertation, "Transition and Concrescence: A Comparison of the Two Species of Process in Whitehead's Metaphysics" (Drew University, 1984).

4. Unification Theology (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980) 63.

5. PR 239.

6. PR 239.

7. PR 18.

8. PR 345, 348.

9. PR 343.

10. PR 31. "Eternal objects" in process thought are equivalent to Platonic ideas or forms, though unlike Platonism, process thought does not allow an eminent reality to them.

11. PR 344.

12. PR 87-88, 344.

13. PR 344.

14. PR 88, 345.

15. PR 345.

16. PR 345.

17. PR 88, 345.

18. PR 244, 344.

19. PR 67.

20. PR 225.

21. Sang Hun Lee, Explaining Unification Thought (New York: Unification Thought Institute, 1981) 45. Henceforth abbreviated as EUT.

22. EUT 6-7.

23. EUT 10.

24. EUT 7, 34-35.

25. EUT 23-26, 34-35.

26. EUT 10.

27. EUT 11.

28. EUT 13.

29. EUT 29.

30. EUT 11.

31. PR 105, 207.

32. Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Macmillan Co., 1933) 256, 381. Henceforth abbreviated as AT.

33. EUT 29.

34. PR 344.

35. AI 381.

36. PR 207.

37. EUT 21.

38. EUT 29.

39. Therefore we do not have to join Gene Reeves and Delwin Brown, when they are afraid that the unity of the two natures of God is not well worked out by Whitehead. See their "The Development of Process Theology," in Process Philosophy and Christian Thought, ed. Delwin Brown et al. (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1971) 31.

40. EUT 14.

41. EUT 15.

42. EUT 15.

43. PR 40.

44. PR 48.

45. PR 48.

46. "Individual truth bodies" simply refer to individual existing beings. But for the technical definition of the term, see UT 42, EUT 45.

47. EUT 18-20, 73-74.

48. EUT 18.

49. UT 68.

50. UT 63.

51. This point is not explicitly expressed anywhere in UT and EUT, but in my opinion it is implied in their chapters on epistemology. See especially UT 195-205, EUT 144-57.

52. PR 348.

53. EUT 11.

54. EUT 7.

55. As an example of the traditional thesis, see Descartes' definition of substance: "Really the notion of substance is just this -- that which can exist by itself, without the aid of any other substance." The Philosophical Works of Descartes, 2 vols., trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1911-12, and 1931) 2:101.

56. PR 50.

57. EUT 62, 338.

58. Divine Principle (Washington, D.C.: HSA-UWC, 1973) 28.

59. Note, however, that while process thought attributes more or less responsibility to any actual entity, living or non-living (PR 109), Unificationism basically attributes it only to man (Divine Principle 55-56).

60. AT 213.

61. PR 244.

62. PR 224.

63. PR 25.

64. Divine Principle 197-98.

65. Divine Principle 55-56.

66. Apart from dipolar theism, there are of course some general metaphysical differences (as well as similarities) between the two schools of thought. It is however beyond the scope of the present paper to deal with them. For them, see my unpublished paper, "The Four-fold Structure of Whitehead's 'Process' and Unificationism's 'Quadruple Base': A Comparison," read at the Conference on Process Theology and Unification Thought in Lake Arrowhead, California, in 1982.

67. EUT 11.

68. EUT 7.

69. The "extensive continuum' is "one relational complex in which all potential objectifications find their niche. It underlies the whole world, past, present, and future" (PR 66). That the "extensive continuum" is part of the consequent nature of God can be understood from the following words of Whitehead: "This extensive continuum is 'teal,' because it expresses a fact derived from the actual world and concerning the contemporary actual world" (PR 66).

70. Al 192, 240-41.

71. PR 21.

72. EUT 26. More precisely, it is located inside the Sung Sang of God (EUT 26).

73. PR 225. It is interesting to observe that Whitehead equates the ultimate principle of creativity with the Aristotelian ultimate "matter" which is outside of God (PR 31).

74. EUT 26-28.

75. Unificationism agrees with Robert C. Neville's challenge to process thought in this regard. See his Creativity and God: A Challenge to Process Theology (New York: Seabury, 1980).

76. See, e.g., Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany, N.Y.:SUNY, 1984).

77. Divine Principle 95-97, 195-201.

78. What is Process Theology? (New York: Paulist, 1975) 40-41.

79. Exodus 3:14, RSV.

80. PR 343.

81. Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976) 44-46.

82. In connection with this, process thought and Unificationism talk about another type of united dipolarity in God: masculinity and femininity. See Cobb and Griffin, 62; Kim, 53-68. Though it is an important theological issue today, I will not treat it in the present paper.

83. PR 346.

84. Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Macmillan Co., 1926) 154-55.

85. PR 351.

86. [Sun Myung Moon], The Way of Tradition. 4 vols. (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980) 1:73.

87. The Way of Tradition 1:60.

88. New Hope: Twelve Talks by Sun Myung Moon (Washington, D.C.: HSA-UWC, 1973) 

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