Proceedings of the Virgin Islands' Seminar on Unification Theology -- Darrol Bryant, General Editor - April 1, 1980

Resurrection -- William Bergman

This afternoon I would like to share with you the part of the Divine Principle which is called resurrection. The formal definition of this word is "to revive from the dead." So to begin, one needs to understand the original status of man at the time of creation; next, one must grasp the situation of humankind due to the fall, and finally; the process of salvation.

God's ideal is that man be a perfect incarnation of his nature. Man-was created as a being who can reflect God's love, truth and goodness, so that each man or woman can stand as the son or daughter of God, the visible reflection and image of God's nature. Man was to live in the dominion of God's love. God is the source of life; his essence is love, and God's love is the source of our spiritual life. In the world God intended, all people would be united through their relationship with God.

Because of the fall, God and man became separated. By inheriting the fallen nature of the archangel, people began to have a relationship with Satan equal in degree to the extent of that separation. Thus man became the incarnation of both good and evil. Man is good because he still possesses his original God-given nature, but he is also an incarnation of evil in that through his fallen nature, he expresses a nature which is not of God. Satan has a certain dominion over man. Separated from God's love, man is thus spiritually "dead."

Now this is consistent with the Bible. At the very beginning God warned Adam and Eve that they could do whatever they wanted except eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they did that.

God said they would surely die. So we believe that restoration, or the providence of salvation, is a process of moving from a state of spiritual death to one of spiritual life. For man to move from Satan's dominion to the original dominion of God is the process of his being revived from the dead, the process of resurrection.

In Matthew it is recorded that someone told Jesus that before he could follow him, he had to first go and bury his father. Jesus replied, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." (Mt 8:21-22) Jesus clearly had two concepts of death. The man's father, of course, was physically dead and in need of being buried. But people who were physiologically alive were going to bury him. They were "dead" because they were still in Satan's dominion and therefore spiritually dead. In John 11:25 Jesus says "... he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live..." again indicating that spiritual life and death are quite independent of the physiological functioning of the body.

What then is the nature of the death caused by the fall? It is not physical death. According to the principle of creation, man's physical body, made up of the elements of the physical world, was not created for eternity. The physical body of man is a foundation upon which his spirit can grow. In addition, it serves as a means through which he can have children and fulfill the original purpose of creation as expressed in the three great blessings: to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion.

Man has the desire to exist eternally because this is in fact God's will for man. Even though our ancestors fell away from God, we still have the deep internal longing for everlasting life but because of the fall, we are often not aware of our spiritual natures or the existence of the spiritual world. We may think of existence only in relationship to the life of our physical bodies. Yet we have a tendency to want to live forever, even physically, because we are expressing the essential meaning of our eternal spiritual lives. The death caused by the fall was the death of man's spirit, not his physical body. Adam and Eve would not have lived eternally in their physical bodies if the fall had not occurred. They would have lived physically only a certain period of time; but during that time, they would have achieved the purpose of life, attained spiritual perfection, and then passed on to the highest level of the spiritual world, as God originally desired.

What changes occur as a person passes from a state of spiritual death to one of spiritual life? We believe that there are few external changes. There would be very little by which, for example, one could externally distinguish between Jesus and the thief who was crucified next to him. Therefore we don't necessarily see external changes as the resurrection process occurs, but the internal changes may be very dramatic as a person progresses toward union with God.

According to our understanding, resurrection is a process of re-creation. Man was originally to have perfected his spirit through the principle of creation. There must, then, be principles of re-creation, and we will now look at four of them.

First of all, the essential cause of the fall of man was our ancestors' disbelief and disobedience to God's word and their acceptance of something that turned out to be untrue. Therefore God pursues the process of resurrection by giving man truth and calling upon him to put it into practice in his life.

Secondly, God is revealing truth in successively higher degrees as human history unfolds. Therefore, another principle of resurrection is that it takes place according to the merits of the age. The standard of truth that is available to us at any given time will partly determine the degree of resurrection that can occur. If we had been alive after God brought truth to the world through Moses, we could have been resurrected to that degree. If we had lived on the earth when Jesus was alive, the standard of truth that would have been available to us would have been much higher.

A third principle is that resurrection takes place on the foundation of our physical bodies. Just as in the original principle of creation, development requires the physical body. We can gain vitality elements from the actions of our physical bodies. Since resurrection occurs on the foundation of the physical body, the kingdom of heaven must be accomplished on earth in order to be opened in the spiritual world. We believe this is why Jesus, when he first came into the world, spoke about the kingdom of heaven being at hand and asked people to believe in and follow him. When it became clear that the Israelites in fact were not able to respond to him, then he began to speak about his crucifixion. He left Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven on earth. He spoke of paradise: he would be going to paradise. The fulfillment of the providence of God would require a second advent.

A fourth principle is that resurrection takes place through three stages, according to the Bible. The period of time beginning with Adam up to the time of Abraham (or the time, actually, when Moses could reveal substantially a body of God's words) was the time when God was building a foundation for the resurrection providence. Due to this foundation, God revealed the Mosaic Law and the commandments which ushered in the Old Testament providence. If people believed in that word of God and lived in accordance with it, their spirits could resurrect through the formation stage. Such spirit men, "form spirits," could enter the "form spirit" stage of the spirit world. Then, on their foundation, Jesus came 2000 years ago to reveal a higher body of God's truth. By believing in the gospel and putting it into practice, people ushered in the New Testament providence, the age of faith. Through Jesus, people's spirits could resurrect through the growth stage, become "life spirits" and dwell in paradise. Then on the foundation of that providence, the lord of the Second Advent can reveal a completion of the truth. This ushers in the age of attendance where people believing in the words of the Lord and practicing them, can resurrect through the perfection stage of the resurrection providence to become "divine spirits" and dwell in the kingdom of heaven.

According to the Divine Principle, the New Testament age and the resurrection providence through the growth stage to attain paradise brings mankind's spirit to the top of the growth stage just past the level from which mankind originally fell. Thus people need to grow spiritually to be able to master the whole spirit world. Partly for this reason, as we enter the period of the Second Advent, there are many spiritual phenomena associated with the providential time. God said that in the last days, he would pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and many spiritual phenomena would occur (Acts 2:17). Many people can have revelations to a degree unparalleled in human history. It is not uncommon for a person who is spiritually sensitive to receive a revelation that he or she is the lord and begin to embark on a messianic mission to initiate some kind of plan for world salvation. Therefore, Jesus warned that in the last days we would have to be careful because there would be many people claiming to possess the truth. Our understanding is that this is because mankind is getting ready to enter the perfection stage, overcoming the level where Satan has dominion and entering that level of the spiritual world where a person can restore his position as lord of creation. So even though a person may receive the revelation that he is the lord, it does not mean that the person is the lord of the Second Advent and can complete the work of the salvation providence. However, he (or she) may have an individual mission, a kind of messianic role in a particular area. If these people maintain a basic humility before God, they will be able to see their relationship to the overall providence. Someone who is spiritually sensitive can understand his mission and how he is being raised in his particular field to act as a forerunner.

Then, what would the qualifications be for the lord of the Second Advent? He must be able to complete our salvation by having a full understanding of God's heart and God's situation and of God's viewpoint concerning good and evil. Also he has to be a person who comes on the foundation of Judeo-Christianity which has been the central providence for the re-creation of mankind. Therefore he would be able to clarify the Bible in order that there could be a basis for the unification of Christianity and beyond that, the unification of all religions. We expect the lord of the Second Advent to enable people to transcend previous denominational viewpoints and see the completion of God's will on earth.

In the New Testament, the book of Revelation mentions the first resurrection. According to the Divine Principle the first resurrection means the first humanity to recognize the lord of the Second Advent at the time of his coming and thereby perfect themselves and actually fulfill the purpose of creation. While a number, 144,000, is mentioned, according to our understanding, this refers symbolically to those people who, representing the world, receive the lord during his lifetime.

Then, what about those people who have already lived their physical lives and are in the spiritual world? What provision is made for their resurrection? According to our understanding, God's will is that all mankind fulfill the purpose of creation and ultimately dwell in the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, if even one person is still separated from God, God's will is not accomplished. So we believe that there is some provision through which those who are in the spiritual world can be resurrected. Since man's spiritual development occurs on the foundation of vitality elements received from his physical body, those people in the spiritual world who no longer have a physical body depend upon the actions of those still on earth to gain vitality elements for their resurrection.

According to the Divine Principle, on the foundation of mankind believing in the Old Testament age words revealed through Moses and the prophets, people were able to resurrect through the formation stage. Then spirit men at the time of Jesus' coming could spiritually cooperate with Jesus and those united with him. By spiritually cooperating with them, these spirit men were making a condition to receive the benefit of their good actions. As Jesus carried on his mission and the disciples of Jesus moved to a higher level, they created vitality elements for those in the preceding age to be able to move to a higher level of the spiritual world as well. We call this process the returning resurrection, since it refers to the returning of spirit men when Jesus was on the earth. Then, according to these principles, there will be a perfection stage returning resurrection at the time of the lord of the Second Advent. Those in the spiritual world will have the opportunity to cooperate with those on earth who are participating in the new dispensation; and by cooperating, make it possible for people to move to the kingdom of heaven. Through the spiritual phenomena associated with the coming of the messiah people are not only fulfilling providence on earth but creating the conditions for a change within the spiritual world itself.

According to this viewpoint, the theory of reincarnation which has developed as a result of people sometimes feeling very deeply that they have lived before, is not due to the fact that their spirits have lived before in another body. It is because they are under the influence of spirit men who are either related to them based on ancestry or drawn to support them by the quality of their character or the nature of their mission. Originally, God gave man one physical life in which to perfect his spirit and the principle of creation has remained intact despite the fall.

We also believe that through the returning resurrection the ultimate unification of mankind can be achieved. The unification of mankind comes on the foundation of a unification of ideology, a clear understanding of how God is working to establish his ideal kingdom on earth. The basis for the unification of ideology centers around the unification of religious thought. We believe that one key to the unification of religious people has to do with this principle of the returning resurrection. In the spiritual world at the time of the second coming, it will be clear to those spirit men who have a high standard how significant God's new teaching is, even though it may not be so obvious to us on earth. Due to a relationship between these spirit people and people on earth, however, people on earth can gain deep inspiration that this is the time of the fulfillment of their messianic hopes and ideals. Most religions teach about some kind of ultimate fulfillment. Of course Christianity is teaching very clearly about the second advent of Christ; but also Buddhism teaches about the Maitreya Buddha; Islam says that the imam or the Mahdi will come; the Jewish people are still awaiting the coming of the messiah to usher in a permanent era of peace and tranquility on earth. According to our understanding, all these different religions are speaking about the same event, though they see it through their own ideological viewpoints. Therefore, through the returning resurrection people on earth in various religions can gradually begin to identify the lord of the Second Advent. They may even receive revelations from the founders of their religions: Buddha or Mohammed may appear to their followers and reveal his identity. The consolidation which takes place in the spiritual world can then be gradually reflected in the unification and consolidation of the followers of different religious traditions on earth. In addition, there is also the returning resurrection of conscientious people -- people who do not identify with religion.

We believe that God's will is to be realized at the time of the Second Advent through the same principles of resurrection by which he has conducted the providence since the beginning of history. God is working through consistent laws. If we can understand these principles, we are in a better position to understand how God's desire for the kingdom of heaven for all mankind can be realized.


Participant: What is paradise?

William Bergman: Our understanding is that the fall of man occurred at the top of the growth stage, which meant that Satan gained some dominion over that level of the spiritual world and every level beneath it. His influence is particularly strong in the very lowest realms where there is an opportunity for him to have give-and-take action with those spirit men who have lived the most evil and unrighteous lives while they were on earth. In other words, we believe that there is a realm that is even in a sense a negative area. The meaning of the foundation for resurrection was that time when man's spiritual standard had to move to the zero point in order that the formation stage of the resurrection providence could begin. We believe that man can dwell in any level of the spiritual world. The spectrum of spiritual planes is defined completely by the degree to which one is able to experience the love of God. As we move into these realms, Satan's influence is less. Through the resurrection victory of Jesus, paradise is opened up which is a free spiritual world where Satan has no influence. In our understanding, even Jesus has been waiting for the second coming in order that that highest level of the spiritual world could be opened.

Participant: Does that mean that Satan has absolute control of some realms of the spirit world?

William Bergman: No, Satan doesn't have absolute control; he has relative control. For example, the saints in the Old Testament age had a lot of merit because of their relationship to God's providence and because of the offering that they were making in relationship to that providence. We believe that everyone has a good and an evil nature. In some spheres Satan and God share influence, but other spheres are totally Satan-free spheres.

Participant: Can you elaborate a little bit on the notion of the unification of religious ideology? Does that mean that we all have to come to believe the same story in the same way?

William Bergman: Truth is an aspect of the nature of God, so it is not a matter of everyone agreeing on everything, but only on some fundamental points. According to our thinking, there has to be an understanding of God's situation -- his heart -- and an understanding of the principles through which God is seeking to restore mankind. There also has to be common agreement as to who has come as the mediator at the time of the second coming to actually provide the conditions for the liquidation of original sin. There needs to be a common viewpoint on the basic points that would enable us to solve the problem of original sin. But many of these matters would need to be developed in the course of the completed testament age.

Participant: Why is Rev. Moon so interested in international and interracial marriages?

William Bergman: I think there are many reasons why international marriages have been suggested by Rev. Moon. I think his reasons are very deep and have to do with the individual situations of individual people. In general, it is our understanding that God is seeking to transcend all of those things which have traditionally divided us, and to embody quite substantially the idea of a family of God on earth.

Participant: Lady Dr. Kim has some kind of healing ceremony for people who have spiritual problems. In those ceremonies one brings a white robe and things of your ancestors and some old clothes. Now the ritual there is an attempt to allow these spirits to revitalize so that they can move up to a higher stage. Is it true that if people leave the movement their ancestors have to go back to their own neighborhood?

David Kim: Where did you hear that?

Participant: Well people who were Moonists have several times talked to us and told us this story.

David Kim: You have gotten all your information from a source that is not necessarily informed. It's on the level of supersitution, or of private opinion. When Lady Dr. Kim speaks about the spirit world, she is not speaking on a theoretical level, but is speaking on the basis of her individual practice.

Participant: You were talking about Confucianists and Buddhists. To what extent has the Unification Church been in dialogue with representatives from those religious communities, and what has been their response?

William Bergman: Once again I am not the best equipped person to talk about this. There is a very strong desire for us to engage in religious dialogue with representatives from all religions. 

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