Unity In Diversity - Essays in religion by members of the faculty of the Unification Theological Seminary - Edited by Henry O. Thompson - 1984

Bridges of Understanding: By Way of Preface - Henry O. Thompson

Unity in Diversity aptly describes the faculty of the Unification Theological Seminary. We are Eastern and Western. We are women and men. We are European and Asian and American. We come from backgrounds of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Confucianism. We are Unificationist and United Methodist, Orthodox Jewish and Greek Orthodox, Reformed and Roman Catholic, and "one who submits" (Muslim). Among us are graduate students and triple doctorates. We are full-time and part-time and visitors. We work together in harmony and sometimes disharmony. Someone said, "Work on and do not despair. But if you despair, work on." We are not in despair, but we do work on, sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing but working on. We are a microcosm reflecting a diverse macrocosm that continues to function in spite of its diversity. Some would find this distracting. We find it exhilarating.

A great deal of the exhilaration of teaching at UTS comes from our students. They also are a microcosm reflecting the diversity of the world in which we live. They mix occidental and oriental, black and white, women and men. Some are well-versed in religion while others are still at the introductory stage. A few are special students without degrees while a few have doctorates. All come with inquiring, questioning minds, ready to learn but also to wonder and to ask, to offer perspectives out of their own richly variegated backgrounds. Life is not dull at UTS.

The present collection of essays has grown out of our diverse interests. It surprises people to find that our faculty does not consist entirely of Unificationists. It should not be so surprising, however, that a movement concerned with building bridges of understanding among the diverse peoples of the world should have at the heart of its 'think tank' a similar diversity.

"What is it that ties you together?" We can answer that we are not tied at all but our togetherness is our own shared humanity. The diversity is an enriching stimulus to our own further thought, within our own specialties and, naturally enough, an occasional look at Unificationism itself. The views expressed are, of course, the authors' own.

We begin like the Bible with the broad human scene. We move from a theology of action to a radical empiricism to the personal experience of faith to the darker side of human nature. Too often we spend our time accusing others of sin when an experience of the mystical oneness which is ours to have in the freedom of democracy would allow us to act together and not only change history but restore it. That is surely a philosophical perspective that is radical enough, though we may all need to be shamans with self-awareness and a willingness to come out of our ethical caves to do good and to stop the vicious cycle of evil that continues to be perpetuated from generation to generation.

From within Unificationism, Wells speaks to the doctrinal concern of Christology. We reprint this very fine study because of the central and crucial nature of its creed. The great debates and councils of the first centuries of Christianity attest to the different understandings of Christ. The record of history suggests that those most concerned about doctrinal purity were those least concerned about practicing what the Christ represented. Jesus came preaching, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." He told of a God who longs for his children, suffers with them, calls them to return to him, and offers hope to the oppressed and downtrodden. The call of course is for Liberation Theology's 'praxis,' practicing what we preach. Continuing from within Unificationism, we present the Judaic action side or life style side of religion, in this example of life in the middle years. The Unification movement has been presented in the media in terms of' children.' These 'children' are in their 20s and 30s but here we share the growing maturity of the movement that never was a teenage phenomenon. In its maturity, the movement offers an alternative to one of the most massive ideologies in human history -- David meets Goliath...

New insights have come from looking at Unification and... The foregoing essays do that in a number of ways. Here, we present studies from a biblical perspective by Boslooper and James. The Bible is said to be the best selling and the least read book in America. Some have criticized the Unification movement when it was quoting the Bible; the critics appear ignorant of the source of the quoted material. The Bible's importance in the Western tradition has often been more symbolic than applied. An earlier version of Boslooper's essay circulated in offprint as "The Character of Unification Theology as a Modern Christian Statement." It is a pleasure to offer this revised version with its additional reflection. As Christianity syncretized the oriental Semitic religion of Judaism and the occidental culture of the Greco-Roman Empire, so it has been suggested that Unification thought syncretizes occidental and oriental thought. Dr. Pyun examines some possibilities in this perspective. Lee on his part takes a strictly Western philosopher for comparison. At first glance, this editor would never have thought of Unification and -- John Dewey. Yet the paper presented here makes eminently good sense, though readers can judge for themselves. Whether agreeing or disagreeing with the association, however, the issues discussed are an important part of modern history. One of the most volatile issues in modern history has been the relationship of religion and science. Here scientist Kurt Johnson offers a perspective on the Unification Principle and Science. Voluntary association has been an important aspect of modern history. Hendricks points out that it has been a major feature of American life from the beginning of European settlement on these shores. As a voluntary association, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity fits well with the American scene. But he also points out the pressure to conform as part of our scene from the Puritans unto the parties of the present.

As we cast our bread upon the waters, we acknowledge the help of numbers of people in preparation and presentation, for inspiration and support. A special thanks is due to Lloyd Eby who provided some valuable information on Aristotle for Mr. Kim's essay. We "name in our hearts" as the liturgy goes, but take this opportunity to say "thank you" for the continuing support of John Maniatis, former director of the Rose of Sharon Press. Over the months that this volume has taken shape, his availability for counsel has been never-failing. Without the determination of Arthur Herstein, this volume might never have seen the light of day. For his 'midwifery' we give thanks and praise. It is a special joy to acknowledge the continuing support of David S. C. Kim, President of the Unification Theological Seminary, for his leadership of the Seminary from seminal thought to reality; from shaky beginnings to the stability of maturity. We gratefully dedicate this book to Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon for the warm hospitality of their home, for their many gracious kindnesses toward the UTS faculty, for their spiritual guidance and for their continuing support.

Henry O. Thompson
Associate Professor
Religion and Society 

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