Proceedings of the Virgin Islands' Seminar on Unification Theology -- Darrol Bryant, General Editor - April 1, 1980
In this lecture, I am going to be speaking about the nature of God's kingdom according to the Divine Principle, and also about the nature of the last days. Later in the seminar Neil Salonen will lecture about the second coming.
What is the kingdom of God? What is it to be like? This has been one of the most basic questions in the Christian tradition and the Divine Principle provides a fairly clear answer to it.
God's kingdom was his ideal from the very beginning. In Genesis 1:28 we find God's three blessings, which are the blueprint for this kingdom. The first blessing involves individual perfection: perfected individuals with their minds, bodies and spirits united to God by such a strong bond of love, such an intimate relationship, that the individuals never turn away from God. One consequence of this would be enhanced spiritual capacity. All of us have spiritual senses, with which we ideally would be able to communicate with the spiritual world. Because of the fall, this capacity has been lost; and yet when God's kingdom is established, it will be regained. Even now, in the twentieth century, we see a great increase in spiritual phenomena and increased interest in extrasensory perception. These happenings in themselves are not necessarily part of God's kingdom. The essential aspect of the kingdom is the centrality of people's relationship to God.
In the last days, as God's kingdom approaches, however, spiritual phenomena will become more common. According to Acts 2: 17, "In the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."
Another aspect of individual perfection is a certain freedom of mind, both in terms of what we know about ourselves, and also in terms of what we are free to believe and speak. Even now, in the twentieth century, we find increased interest in problems of psychology, and in how to solve the internal conflicts that all of us have within ourselves. We also find an increased interest in the meaning of human rights, in freedom of belief and worship, and in responsible free speech. Ironically, we also find the opposite of these things. It seems to be characteristic of the modern world that at the same time that we see progress in the directions that I will be talking about, we also see some of the worst manifestations of their opposites.
For example, in modern psychology there is tremendous confusion about purpose: a lack of awareness that the central purpose of our lives is our relationship with God. So we find psychological techniques and methods being perfected without any clear idea of how they are to be used, and we find that in fact they are terribly misused sometimes. Another example concerns modern estimates of the value of the individual. It is becoming increasingly clear what a division we have in the world today. On the one hand, there really is an enhanced awareness that somehow all people are to be brothers and sisters. The world no longer seems as big as it used to, and it is becoming clear that we are actually part of the same family. On the other hand, we find at the same time an increase in oppression in some parts of the world, a callous indifference to human rights. The contradiction between good and evil is becoming sharper.
Still another example concerns love. In the kingdom of God, of course, love grows only out of a relationship to God and manifests itself as a self-sacrificing concern for others. But in many parts of the world today we find an increased interest in love as sexual self-gratification. Once again it is evident that there is a confusion about purpose and direction. In the kingdom of God, according to the Divine Principle, the primary emphasis is on the centrality of the relationship with God. Since God desires our individual happiness, true love follows naturally if we put God first.
The second blessing involves the family and society. Throughout history, too often the family has been a breeding ground for crime and emotional problems. Today, we find an increase of crime in this country, especially in our major cities. At the same time, we find an increased awareness that many of these problems have their roots in the home.
There is an increased interest in tackling those problems by getting to their roots. On a larger scale, the fulfillment of the second blessing involves political and economic issues, that is, a perfect society. In our universities today we find a great deal of emphasis placed on departments whose interest is solving the problems of society. Likewise, the Divine Principle wants to see this world cured of its social problems. Abject poverty, hopeless gaps between the wealth of some people and the poverty of others, crime, wars between nations, terrorism, concentration camps, the holocaust -- all of these are results of the fall. In the ideal world we would live as one family, one world family. The Divine Principle does not prescribe a specific political system, but it does maintain that the basis for solving social problems is this one world family.
The third blessing involves the creation. At the same time that we now find ourselves equipped with the means for controlling our environment, curing diseases, solving ecological problems, we also find shortsighted and selfish exploitation of our natural resources, troublesome pollution, and misdirection of resources into areas that are serving special interests rather than areas that could benefit large numbers of people. For the first time in history, we have the technological capacity to think seriously about subduing the creation for the sake of mankind and for the sake of God; but our fallen nature leads to widespread misuse of that capacity. When Genesis says "have dominion" over creation, it means God-centered dominion, not selfish exploitation. Once again, the central problem is purpose and direction. Religion and science must unite and technology must be centered on God and God's purpose. For this reason we find Paul (in Romans 8:19-22) talking about how the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God, and how the creation groans in travail until it is released from its bondage by the children of God.
So these three aspects of the kingdom of God are at the center of Unification eschatology. And it is important that they be taken in the proper order. The first blessing must be fulfilled before the second and third. In order to establish an ideal world, we want to subdue the creation; but we find that when we direct our efforts primarily towards technology, the dominion we establish over creation tends to be misused. It tends to miss the point, because even more pressing than technological problems are social and political problems. Yet even here, we find that if we direct our attention primarily to solving social and political problems, changing the political structure and instituting external reforms, somehow we are again missing the point. Inevitably, these things fall short of the goal because society is made up of individuals. If we put a new group of people in power politically, and they are just as corrupt and just as separated from God as the people who preceded them, then we have just as serious a problem as we had before. If we train new scientists and give them new tools for controlling the environment, and yet as individuals they have all the same problems as the previous generation, then we are not closer to the kingdom of God. So the first emphasis in our eschatology is the individual perfection. And of course at the center of all these aspects must be God.
This is the meaning of God's kingdom. Here we have a practical blueprint for the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven on earth as well as in the spiritual world. This is a practical ideal that we are talking about and for that reason it is also a revolutionary ideal. It is not the sort of thing that can only occur in the distant future; it is the sort of thing that can happen in this world right now.
Of course this means that the Divine Principle has to explain some passages in the Bible which seem to indicate that the world we are living in now is not the world in which God's kingdom will be established. For example, in Revelation 21:1 we read about a new heaven and a new earth.
In II Peter 3:10, we read how "the elements will be dissolved with fire and the earth... will be burned up." And there are other apocalyptic passages in the New Testament which seem to indicate that this world has to pass away, and that God's kingdom involves a new world, a new heaven and a new earth. How do we deal with those passages? First of all, we have to look at them in light of other passages in the Bible which seem to indicate that this world is not going to be destroyed. For example in Psalm 78:69, God "built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever." In fact, this world that God created is not evil. Why should God destroy this world? There is nothing wrong with the trees, or this island that we are on, or the sea around us. The problem is within us.
Therefore, the Divine Principle takes those passages which refer to a new heaven and new earth to be symbolic. There seems to be a precedent for this in what happened at the time of Jesus. Malachi 4:1 talks about evildoers being burned up at the time of the Messiah's coming: "the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up..." But perhaps we can find a key to this in Luke 12:49. Jesus said, " I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" According to the Divine Principle, both "heaven" and "earth" can be taken literally or symbolically. Taken literally, this world would have to be destroyed, but taken symbolically (as it seems to be in the New Testament), then heaven would refer to God's kingdom or the spiritual world, and earth would be the fallen world. Instead of expecting a literal change by literal fire, we can expect a change, albeit a radical one, within the world that we have right now. Then a verse like I Thessalonians 4:17, which says that Christians will be caught up into the air, would be interpreted symbolically to mean that Christians are resurrected on the foundation of Jesus' salvation work. This air would not be literal but symbolic. That is, Christians are caught up spiritually; they are resurrected spiritually and reunited with the coming Lord.
Now of course we have some other problems with biblical passages referring to the second coming. For example Matthew 24:29 says, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven..." Now many people have interpreted this literally; but we can perhaps find the key to this passage in the Old Testament, back in Genesis 37:9-11, in which Joseph is telling his brothers about a dream he had. He says, "Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." Then his father rebukes him and says, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" Of course, this is exactly what the dream did mean, and this is exactly what Jacob and his sons did. So in this case, the sun refers to the father and the moon to the mother and the stars to the children. This is the interpretation that Genesis gives us; and according to the Divine Principle, the symbolic meaning of these terms in the New Testament would be that the father is Jesus, and the mother is the Holy Spirit, and the stars are Christians who find rebirth through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And the meaning of this verse then for the second coming would be something like this: when the lord of the second advent arrives in the last days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will fail to give its light and the stars will fall from heaven, meaning that the truth, the glory and the love that accompanies the second advent will be so bright and so powerful that what went before will look pale by comparison. As an analogy, consider how the light of a candle would be dwarfed by the brightness of a powerful electric light, which in turn would be dwarfed by the brilliance of the sun itself. And finally, the stars falling from heaven would be the Christians who forfeit their positions by rejecting the messiah.
Please note that there is a basic practicality to the Divine Principle interpretation, a fundamental this-worldliness about the eschaton. This also applies to the last judgment. The Bible speaks about a judgment by fire, but what kind of fire? James 3:6 says, "The tongue is afire." In Luke 12:49, which I already quoted, Jesus talks about casting afire on the earth, yet we know he didn't cast a literal fire. The word of God is the fire. It is judgment by the word. What does this mean? All of us have a contradictory nature because of the fall. That is part of us, our original self tends to be centered on God and part of us, our fallen nature, is related to Satan. We have an internal contradiction, a divided allegiance. Now if in the last days, at the time of the second coming, people like us were condemned to eternal damnation, then this good part would also be eternally damned, which would be an injustice. Therefore the meaning of judgment in the Divine Principle is that by God's word, good and evil are separated. By hearing the truth, we are able to recognize our evil nature and separate ourselves from it. God gives us the clear light and truth which slays evil, so the fire represents our separation from evil by God's truth. God's truth enters the world in a newer and brighter form than ever before, in a form that can touch us so deeply that we can separate ourselves from Satan and evil.
The next question then is: What should be our attitude towards the new truth? We know that in the time of Jesus many people were awaiting the messiah. Many people were sincerely religious, sincerely devoted to doing what they thought God wanted them to do. We also know that many of the people of Israel failed to understand that Jesus was the messiah. They failed to recognize him or to understand the truth that he brought. Now I have often heard people tell me -- good devout Christians -- that surely when the messiah comes, surely when God speaks, they will have no difficulty understanding. But in my own life I have found that it doesn't always work that way, that in fact I often don't understand God's truth. I don't necessarily recognize a holy person by meeting him in the street. We started these lectures several days ago with a quote from John 16, in which Jesus said, " I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth... I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father." How are we going to recognize this truth when it comes?
It seems to me that the fundamental attitude we have to have is one of humility. Every day in my life of faith I realize once again that I have to be humble in the face of God's truth. Our understanding is so limited compared to God's! None of us understands the whole truth. So an attitude of humility is, I think, essential if we are really going to be open to God's truth when it comes. Another attitude we can have is one of prayerfulness. In spite of our fallen nature, our original mind is still with us. There is a part of us which can still talk to God. Through sincere prayer, through humble prayer, I think we can be guided by God. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." As far back as I can remember, since I first started reading the Bible, I have wondered what Jesus meant by this. And now that I am a student of theology, a scholar, I often have to remind myself that there really is a fundamental truth here. There is a childlike innocence, an openness, an uncriticalness even, that we have to maintain in spite of our professional obligation to be scholarly and critical and systematic. I think this may be one of the fundamental challenges of a conference such as this. I hope that in the course of our theological dialogue we can somehow maintain this childlike innocence and openness. This is demanded by the very nature of what we are talking about this morning. It is not for no reason that there has been such an avalanche of hostile reaction to Rev. Moon and the Unification Church. It is because the Divine Principle is not just a theory, not just words on a page. It is practical idealism. It actually involves people in something fundamentally revolutionary, and it is happening right now. And we, as theologians, have a responsibility to combine theory and the practical, and thus contribute to the transformation of this world.
To conclude, I would like to return briefly to something that Joe Tully covered yesterday. I am not going to go into detail because you can refer to the book. I refer to the historical parallels that the Divine Principle finds between the Old Testament and the history of Christianity. Jacob fulfilled the foundation to receive the messiah, but the foundation wasn't strong enough since it involved only his family. So we have a repetition of the foundation up to the time of Jesus. These eras are all divided into what are seen to be parallel periods, similar in their spiritual content as well as their numerology. I merely want to point out the similarities between two of the points. After the return of the Jews from exile, in the time of Malachi, Ezra and Nehemiah, the temple was rebuilt and Israel prepared to receive the messiah. Roughly 400 years later, Jesus came. Now in Christian history we find a parallel in the case of Martin Luther, who in 1517 tacked his ninety-five theses on the door of the Wittenberg cathedral and initiated the reformation. We see a fundamental similarity here: a reformation as the beginning of a preparation period for the coming of the messiah.
I am sure that it comes as no surprise to you that the Divine Principle is thoroughly eschatological here. It claims that these days are the last days, and that the transition to the new heaven and the new earth is occurring now. This is the most revolutionary challenge of the Divine Principle. On the one hand, we see so much promise in the world today. We are so close to fulfilling God's three blessings. And yet in another sense we are so far away. There must be a fundamental divergence between good and evil in this world. We can't just have the external form of the kingdom of heaven: technological achievement, political freedom, and techniques for self-fulfillment. We know that these will not do the job. We have to have an intimate relationship with God at the center of it. And this must develop right in the midst of the world we are living in. The change takes place in each individual. The new age grows out of the old age. That has always been the case in history. The Christians were building the kingdom in Israel while the rest of the world was oblivious to them.
But something is missing. The central event of the last days is the second coming of Christ. This is the essential link between us and God. That is the key to establishing our intimate relationship with him. And that is what our next lecture is about.
Rod Sawatsky: How does your eschatology regard the possibility of a nuclear holocaust that would wipe out everything tomorrow?
Jonathan Wells: It would be a disaster. (Laughter) Seriously, it would set back God's providence considerably. It is not God's desire to see millions of people destroyed. Ideally, conflict should be resolved on a spiritual or ideological level. That would be God's ideal.
James Deotis Roberts: When you talk about heaven coming to earth, do you have to take into consideration the meaning of love and man's situation? Is there such a thing as justice and how does that relate to love? And how do you deal with collective evil as well as private?
Jonathan Wells: Dr. Roberts' question involves the relationship of love to justice in the new heaven and new earth. Love of course starts with God, with a relationship with God. My knowledge of ethics is quite limited, so I feel unqualified to answer your question adequately; but it seems to me that the foundation for an answer is the idea of God's family. The injustice that we find in the world today, economic, and political, is not God's desire. But the fundamental problem that underlies such injustice (I would say) is a certain disrespect for people. For example, the feminist movement is a response to the fact that women have not been accorded their full respect as daughters of God. It seems to me that fundamental respect for each other as brothers and sisters, as equals before God, is the basis for anything that we're going to say about love and justice.
Kapp Johnson: In its most fundamental form, Walter Rauschenbusch's program for Christianizing the social order is based on the notion of redeemed individuals. What is it within the Unification movement that leads you to believe that it can succeed now when it couldn't in the Social Gospel movement of the 1920's and 1930's?
Jonathan Wells: Good point. Actually, even before Rauschenbusch, Luther and Calvin talked about the kingdom being here with us now, in a certain sense. The church was, in a hidden way for Luther and visibly for Calvin, the kingdom on earth. But in each of these cases we're dealing with sinful people. The question, the fundamental question at the heart of all of this, is the elimination of original sin. In fact, that has never been accomplished in Christianity. Thus what Rauschenbusch is talking about, the Christianization of society, is impossible. The only way original sin can be eliminated is through the second coming of Christ. So, the Divine Principle is a social gospel in a sense; but instead of being a liberal social gospel, it's a radical social gospel.
Frederick Sontag: I'm leaping ahead just a little because my comment involves communism. But I think this comment relates to what you're saying and I'd like to underline it. It involves the revolutionary quality of your doctrine which it seems to me is many, many times missed. I say this because it came home to me when I was in Korea and talking to the early members. I always asked, "What interested you in the doctrine?" At least one of the answers was, because communism was all around us and they are laughing at us Christians, saying, "We're going to change the world and revolutionize it and bring a new kingdom in, and what are you Christians doing besides praying?" And of course, the answer is that you're not just praying, and you're not a bunch of nice guys who have little social programs; you really are going to usher in the kingdom of God. This has amazing parallels religiously to Marxism. That is, there is an unfolding of God that the Marxists believe, but you can grease the skids little. You can hurry it along its way. You're going to try to change society and you're going to get the same kind of reaction that Marxism gets because you really want to fundamentally change society. You're often politically identified as conservative which, in some senses, is true: your anti-communism is often considered a conservative doctrine which wants to keep the established society as it is. Consequently, people overlook the revolutionary quality of your intention. But the people who sense it are the people who respond quite strongly against you. And it seems to me that that quality is often overlooked. But if you see your program as a religious parallel to the Marxist program, then you can draw some striking parallels.
David Paulsen: In the midst of all these broad, sweeping questions, I'd like to raise some very picky issues. I do this as a student of the Old Testament. My problem is related to Lonnie Kliever's presentation last night about allegory. Let's look at your account of the Joseph story. Almost any biblical scholar worth his salt would say that yours is a totally irresponsible exegesis. And you seem to have a lot of this in the Divine Principle.
Jonathan Wells: Dave, could you explain why the account of the Joseph story is irresponsible exegesis?
David Paulsen: Because you're taking a totally independent event which stands by itself -- Joseph's dream -- and you're suddenly jumping with that to a totally different situation, that of eschatology. Here's some remote Old Testament figure who has a dream and now we're in New Testament eschatology. That's a tremendous leap. I just want to pose this question. Obviously, the Unification Church is moving into the larger academic world. (I tell you this very frankly because some of the most interesting, stimulating conversations that I've had this last year at the Harvard Divinity School have been with Unification Church people. It's been very enriching.) And I think you have to ask yourself some hard questions. Do you want to continue this type of exegesis? You seem to take science very seriously. Do you not want to take biblical scholarship as seriously? Now you can go the route of allegorizing, since the early fathers did it, and the New Testament did some awfully weird things too. However, the weird interpretations of the New Testament as applied to the Old Testament took place as a result of what early Christians and most Christians since then have considered the earth shaking event of the resurrection. We have to ask, what earth-shaking events have taken place already that justify your interpretations?
Paul Sharkey: I have one short question and that is my concern about the way the word "science"' is used both in the book and also in the lectures. Whenever the unification of science and religion is talked about, it's talked about in terms of technology! The word "science" means more than this. How it is that science is conceived? Is it mainly in the sense of technology?
Jonathan Wells: First, just one sentence on David's comment, which by the way I think is an excellent point. It also happens to be a point which could be raised in any discussion of Christian theology, namely, how do we interpret the apocalyptic passages in the Bible? I'm not going to dwell on that but I will observe that I find that when I discuss these questions with Lutherans, Calvinists, Catholics, or whatever, the variety and imaginativeness of the interpretations is incredible. Unification offers one version. Dave has a good point, but it's problematical for all Christians.
Paul's question, which was never adequately answered yet, is quite important. It's quite true that I dwelt on technology, which has grown out of science. But more fundamentally, of course, science is the attempt to understand the world. It seems to me that there is a serious imbalance between religion and science. Although the origin of the universe and the development of life are open questions, scientists dominate the theoretical consideration of them these days. Theology tends to be intimidated by science; and even a very speculative scientific theory tends to be taken more seriously than theology -- even by theologians!
Now, the unity between science and religion about which the Divine Principle speaks is a certain consistency between scientific explanation on the one hand and theological explanation on the other. The Divine Principle does not structure its theology to fit scientific theory, but the two approaches are assumed to be compatible. Unification thought, though not yet well-developed, represents an attempt to develop a metaphysical and ultimately cosmological explanation out of theology. Christian theology, on the other hand, took over an alien metaphysics and tried to wed it to Christian doctrine. I think Unification thought is off to a better start in this respect.
Lonnie Kliever: Simply one comment concerning something that I think arises at this point in the Divine Principle. It's perhaps a footnote to Professor Sontag's comment. It concerns the political timetable and rationale of the Divine Principle. This bothers two groups of people. It bothers those people who see in the Unification Church a threat to American civil religion, to the established social-political way of life that prevails. But it also bothers a deep American theological tradition that challenges any identification of the kingdom of God with any political or economic or social order. I remember Richard Niebuhr's rather forceful comment in the preface to the Meaning of Revelation that the great source of evil in the world is absolutizing the relative -- seeing in any historical, political, social order, the coming of the kingdom of God. Now, it seems to me that the Divine Principle is on record as doing precisely that. Granted that Divine Principle envisions a purified and fulfilled democratic social order, a democratic political order and a socialist economic order. Nevertheless this is not in your view of things some far-off Utopian ideal. It's breaking in, it's happening right now in the struggle between democracy and communism. In other words, Unification messianism troubles both those who politically identify and those who theologically separate the present order and God's kingdom.
Jonathan Wells: OK, I'll keep this short. Much of what you're talking about will be covered in other lectures today and I won't touch on those questions even though they're very good. The main point here I think is that for Unificationists the external form, the political structure that evolves in God's kingdom, is secondary. However, I happen to think it will be some kind of democratic socialism. The essential point, though, is that in God's kingdom, the people themselves must be fundamentally better, and if they're not, the political and economic forms are irrelevant.
Now, we're talking about a transformation of sinful people to sinless people. But how can we know that the Divine Principle can show us how to make this transformation? On the one hand, we've got a movement that's attempting to convince people that despite the failure of earlier apocalyptic and Utopian movements, this is the one that can work. And on the other hand, we have to face the possibility that the only way we can find out if it works is to see if it works. I don't pretend to have an easy solution to this dilemma.
Darrol Bryant: Since I've been allowed to make my comments, I'm going to do that. I'll try to be very, very brief. I do this in the context of someone who has been concerned to try to understand historically a number of people who've tried to develop eschatology. And I'm thinking here particularly of works like Augustine's City of God and Jonathan Edwards' History of the Work of Redemption. These works always strike us as in some respects bizarre and strange. There are in them very odd uses of scripture. Now I think that the question we need to consider is this: what is the question that eschatology is addressing? I would argue that the central question these works are addressing is the question of the orientation of the Christian community in time. How should the Christian community orient itself toward the future?
Now there are two things that consistently, especially in contemporary theology, undermine that project. One of those is historical criticism which insists on limiting the meaning of scripture to knowing its literal, grammatical meaning. The other is that perverse kind of historicism that always says, "Oh, this is nothing new; it has been tried before and has failed."
Admittedly, it is true that these millennial groups have failed. But that doesn't undercut the importance of the question that an eschatology is trying to address. It is trying to answer the question of how the Christian community should be oriented toward the future. That effort needs to be linked up with scriptural foundation in precisely this allegorical way by saying this which we see here in scripture is like what we see here in the present. Why is this necessary? It is necessary in order to create continuity and to build into the present eschatological perspective a dynamic which allows us to critically reflect on the relationship between our scriptural origins and our present historical time. This allows both our scriptural base and our present historical time to undergo mutual criticism and revision.
I agree with Professor Kliever that it is a disaster when the eschatological mode is developed in such a way that it becomes closed and fixed. But one of the things that strikes me as interesting about the Unification proposal is that we know that it has already undergone revision. We've seen that creative dynamic in the writing and rewriting of the Divine Principle. We've seen it in the many people in the church who aren't even sure if the principle of restoration as presently articulated is even central to the Unification movement, and say instead that what is really crucial is the principle of creation. We've seen it in these kinds of conferences where it becomes clear that many of these ideas are negotiable. We've seen it in the promise that has come from several people that there is going to be a further revision of the Divine Principle. So I think there is considerable evidence that there is something very dynamic here. Unification theology is dealing with a very, very serious problem which we in contemporary theology in the main just don't address. It's the question of God's continuing work in time and the eschatological end of creation and history. For many, these questions have simply dropped out of the picture. That's why I think we have to attend to what is going on in the Unification movement; even if we don't agree with their proposals, we must take these questions seriously.
I'd like to begin with a quick word of appreciation for the week we are having together in spite of the serious problems that have recently been articulated by Lonnie Kliever and James Deotis Roberts and by others during the seminar. I think we have been on the way toward significant dialogue. But it seems to me that we should acknowledge continuously how fundamental these problems to which I've just alluded are. The hermeneutical problem, which I associate particularly with the statement of Professor Kliever yesterday, is something that looms as a kind of colossal obstacle that we have to address. And I would say that the consciousness of liberation theology, or of the oppressed peoples of the world, which has made a tremendous impact upon the whole current scene in theology, has come to expression through Deotis Roberts. This also poses an immensely serious agenda for all of us, as it seemed to me many of you have acknowledged and affirmed in a very wholesome way. We could have become preoccupied with either or both of these problems in a way that would have swallowed up the whole week. If our dialogue continues beyond this conference, there is no way we can avoid engagement with those problems. I want to emphasize that, but I also want to say I think it has been useful to be exposed to the content of the Divine Principle and of Unification theology in the way we have been, prior to taking on other problems with which we could easily have become totally engaged. I believe that the mutual exposure that has been taking place, in spite of frustrations that are always part of the opening phase of a dialogue of this kind, may very well lead to deeper mutual acquaintance and trust out of which more significant dialogue can emerge. In this way, a contribution has been and is being made to unification -- to Christian and human unification -- and for this I am grateful. I want to be very clear about that.
I have decided to use the rest of my time simply to state in somewhat staccato fashion twelve points which I appreciate about Unification theology but also have questions about. I don't know whether this puts me in an Abel or a Cain position, or dialectically in both.
The first of these is the effort in Unification theology to interrelate the historical, the biblical and the living Christ. I should remark, since this session is focused on eschatology, that I regard the accent and thrust of the Unification movement in general as eschatological. I see it as one of the manifestations of the theology of hope in our time; and, as with the theology of hope, at almost any point where we dip into it we are dealing implicitly with eschatology. In the first point I have mentioned -- the effort to integrate the historical, the biblical and living Christ -- it is notable that Unification theology lifts up the third of these Christs as its primary point of departure. This is the experience of the reappearance of Christ in our time, the consciousness of living in the last days. The eschatological thrust, it seems to me, is the very heart of the movement. I have some questions about what may lately have been happening to this consciousness which in my perception was stronger some years ago than today. Nevertheless, the emphasis upon the living, coming Christ remains one of the foremost marks of the Unification movement.
At the moment I see that there is also an effort to integrate the living and coming Christ with the historical and biblical Christ. This adds to Unification theology a great deal of interest from my own point of view. I consider myself an evangelical Christian, as many of you who have spoken from up here have also identified yourselves, because I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Lord, or I affirm the "Christ norm" as the center of my own thinking and living and existential striving. But for me, as I think for the Christian tradition generally, the Christ norm, or the Christ who is Lord, embraces three dimensions which we can identify as the historical Jesus Christ, the biblical Christ, (that is, the biblical witness to the historical person), and thirdly the Christ who is risen, who lives and reigns, and who is to come. The other day when Don Deffner was making his strong presentation, which I much appreciated, it seemed to me he did not do justice to this third dimension. Along with the historical and biblical Christ, this third dimension is very central to the New Testament witness. Christ is the Lord who lives and is to come! This is maintained in at least two senses in the New Testament witness itself. One is exemplified in a passage such as John 16:13 where we are told that the Spirit of Truth will come to bring to our remembrance all that Jesus said and to lead us into all truth. Thus the "Holy Spirit" is looked forward to as the Spirit of Truth who will continue beyond what already is given in the first historic appearance of Jesus Christ and the biblical witness to that as a further expansion of the truth.
The second sense of the "third dimension" projects the Christ who is to come at the end of the age to consummate the process of salvation. This expectation of a second coming to consummate history seems to me an intrinsic, deep-seated part of the total Christian witness. It is because I take this third dimension of Christ seriously, along with the first two, that I am bound to be open to Rev. Moon and the claims made by him or for him. Because I too expect a returning Lord, I cannot a priori shut myself off from those claims. And I am bound to respect the effort that runs through the Divine Principle and Unification theologizing to corroborate the identity of this third dimension of the Christ (in terms of the claims made for the Rev. Moon) by reference to the historical and the biblical grounds I affirm as normative. This process of checking out the witness of Rev. Moon in terms of the established "Christ norm" I find theologically very challenging.
Of course, a lot of problems exist at this central point. I am not going to go into them at the moment; the vastly complex hermeneutical problem looms before us in that whole connection. But nevertheless, this commitment to deal with the three dimensions of the total normativeness of Christ is something that I must acknowledge and with which I must enter into conversation.
A second thing that I like about Unification theology is that in it the salvation of the world, the setting free and making whole of the world, as I like to put it, is construed as definitely both a divine and human process. I strongly welcome the note of the "human portion of responsibility" as this is featured in Unification theology. For me this is grounded in the decisive christological paradigm itself: Christ being the union of the divine and the human in which the fullness of participation of both sides is categorically affirmed. And on the basis of this normative paradigm itself as well as of so much else in the biblical and Christian tradition, it seems to me crucial to indefeasibly integrate into the total witness and thematization of Christian theology that element of human responsibility that is to be joined with the divine activity. Here I find something I can decisively affirm in the Unification perspective.
In the third place, I like the way that the intentionality of salvation as envisaged in Unification theology embraces the whole world. This is also a part of my theology. I think it is a theme toward which the ecumenical Christian witness has been steadily moving in a clearer, more emphatic way, and I welcome the manner in which it comes to expression in Unification thought. The Unification development of this theme even includes the dead, as William Bergman made clear in his presentation. The biblical witness in a text like II Peter 3:9, which is cited in the Divine Principle, or in I Timothy 2:4 to the effect that God does intend the salvation of all men is something we should appreciate and affirm in Unification theology and which we should make common cause.
There are problems that manifest themselves at this point. Again, one of the most pressing is the way in which the situation particularly of oppressed peoples is not yet adequately a part of the thematization going on in Unification theology. If this theology is to make good its universalistic promise, obviously it must come to terms with the claims of those people who have been so far left out of account. Nevertheless, Unification's universal intentionality is something I would like to celebrate and endorse in passing. I see this as an authentic biblical- Christian element.
In looking at the Divine Principle, my attention was caught by the way in which Neil Salonen was able to affirm that even those individuals, groups, nations and movements in history who have served the "Cain principle" contribute in their own way to the fruition of history. They too presumably are covered by the vision of Revelation 21:24, that says in the consummation of all things the nations of the earth shall also bring forth their riches and their glory into the realm of God. This seems to me terribly important: Unification avoids a two-value black-and-white categorization of history and foresees the redemptive inclusion of the forces of negativity in history. I like that very much because I agree with the three or four people who, during the course of the week, have pointed out that there is a problem in Unification theology with respect to evil. Evil tends to remain unredeemed, or to fall totally outside the providence of God in such a way that it constitutes simply unprincipled, and irrational and negative beings forever and ever. I think this view falls short of the fullness of the Christian vision. As Don Deffner said with particular eloquence in his presentation, the Christian witnesses that God's grace is able to suffer evil and to undergo it, to bear it, and yet redeem it. There is a question as to whether that theme is fully taken up in Unification theology, but in the statement about the Cain principle of history, I see a movement in that direction. This is something I would encourage.
Another interesting detail is the question of what happens to Satan, the first principle of evil or of deviation from the divine will in history. Will Satan, too, as originally a good creature of God, be redeemed in the end? The Divine Principle seems to say clearly in about four places that Satan will be destroyed or perish. It does not foresee that he will eventually be restored in that kind of apokatastasis (restoration of all things) that Origen, for one in the history of Christian thought, envisages. But I noted that Tony Guerra the other day unabashedly conveyed to us that more recently in the continuing development of Unification theological consciousness there is good hope for Satan too as one of the good creatures of God. From my own point of view, this is a tendency in the right direction. I see it as having implications that would help us solve the problem of the inadequate account of evil that Professor Deffner and Professor Frank Flinn among others have called attention to. But the basic point that I want to affirm is that the Unification intentionality of salvation embraces the whole world, including the world of nature, including all creatures, including, it would seem from Tony at least, even finally Satan himself.
Let me rush on because I'm taking too much time. I'll just mention some of the other points. In the fourth place, I want to endorse the way in which the unity of creation and redemption is asserted and developed in Unification theology. Professor Flinn made this point in passing. There is an affirmation of the goodness of creation including its polarities, its disparities, energies, its positivity and negativity in the Taoist sense, prior to the disruption and corruption of these energies and polarities. Thus Augustine's great affirmation "being as being is good (esse qua esse bonum est)" is a part of Unification theology which in this aspect seems to be genuinely within the biblical-Christian tradition.
In the fifth place, Unification thought reasserts strongly the unity of the Bible. In the historical and present situation of theology in general, there are those who argue the unity of the Bible and those who argue the diversity of the Bible. In the evolution of historical-critical method, the insight into and appreciation of the diversity of the Bible came to prevail over the sense of unity of the Bible. Therefore many theologians besides Unificationists have made an attempt in recent years to recover the unity. Now I think there is a serious problem in Unification biblical study with respect to the diversity of the biblical witness. This is again the hermeneutical problem to which Lonnie Kliever so well called our attention the other day. Nevertheless, in acknowledging that problem I would also like to acknowledge the way in which the theme of the unity of the Bible is forced upon our attention here. As a systematician, when I attend the American Academy of Religion or the Society of Biblical Literature, I never am confronted in the way that it happens here with the issues of the thematic thrust of the whole Bible. I appreciate this confrontation very much if we can only conjoin with it an honest and thorough dealing with those hermeneutical and critical problems that have come to light through modern criticism's exposure of the diversity of the Bible. In this respect, I would say there is a critical deficiency at present in Unification exegesis as it appears in the Divine Principle.
Now along with the Bible's unity, there is, in the sixth place, the proposal to recover the meaning of history. This I suppose has an affinity with what I said about the value of dialectically affirming the Cain principle. The effort to comprehend the whole of history, though it may appear fantastical and bizarre to some of us because there are inevitably simplifications and grievous omissions in it, is nevertheless engrossing. It reminds us of St. Augustine in The City of God, of Giambattista Vico in the 17th century, and of many other Christian efforts to interpret history in the large. In contemporary theology, the best that any of us can hope to do is perhaps something like Langdon Gilkey does in his recent thick tome The Reaping of the Whirlwind. I feel close to Gilkey in a lot of ways. Yet his laborious study does not yield the positive kind of interpretation of history that Unification thought proposes. Such an interpretation tends to get dissolved in the corrosive acids of critical insight. In the established scholarly community, we live and move in those acids, which is the intellectual obligation of our faith. Yet I want to affirm the effort once again to engage us in a more positive envisagement of history in terms of its special concentrations. This is a wholesome service of Unification theology, even though an enormous number of specific problems confront us here.
Leaping on, since I'm out of time, let me affirm in one breath, the intention of unifying religion and science, of unifying politics, and of unifying economics and culture. Those are my seventh, eighth and ninth points. However, the affirmation is subject to a very serious proviso. The proposal of unity is fine if it is not heteronomous and imperialistic. From the Divine Principle it is not clear to me that it is not. Many statements in the Divine Principle seem to suggest there will be a merger of the spiritual and temporal powers under a kind of new super-pope who will create a unified world culture. The preservation of genuine pluralism and freedom in that scenario is a very real concern for me.
The tenth point that I like in Unification theology is that the kingdom of God is both this-worldly and other-worldly. This is a specifically eschatological point. In theology generally, there's always the danger that the two will break apart and we will have only a this-worldly eschatology or only an other-worldly one. Both are present in Unification thinking. Wherever God's will of love reigns and achieves its purpose, there the kingdom is instantiated, as Jonathan Wells said beautifully this morning.
In the eleventh place, the comprehensiveness of Unification theology impresses me. This threatens to break down into an eclectic conglomeration because there are bits and pieces of various kinds of theory in it that are not fully unified. For example, in soteriology one discerns elements of both a physical theology, an indemnity theory, and a moral-influence theory. No doubt further integration of these elements will occur. The movement seems disposed to assimilate whatever it can, and this spirit of inclusiveness is, I would say, catholic and Christian.
Twelfth and last, I want to affirm the openness, the dynamic willingness of Unification theology to work itself out in give and take with the contemporary theological oikumene, including even the skeptics and atheists who reside on the edge of it. A statement by Tony Guerra in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin that was put out here a day or so ago, struck me as a pithy statement of this openness: Tony says, "Our theology is not a set of closed doctrines, it is in the process of formation. I see my mission to help formulate it in dialogue with other faiths." Other people, for example, Richard Quebedeaux, have mentioned this already. But I also want to endorse very strongly this commitment to openness, which I think belongs to authentic Christianity. In the whole history of religion, it has been both rare and creative. It augers indeed for a more hopeful and fruitful eschaton, and it gives excitement and promise to the kind of event occurring here this week.
I feel as if I'm joining Lonnie Kliever and maybe some others in being a skeptical respondent here. Whatever my religious convictions in other areas, I'm basically a nonmillennialist. Simply put, I think too many people have "cried wolf too often and I don't buy it. As I read it, the New Testament argues that the eschaton is going to come very quickly. Jesus suggests in Mark 9:1 that those listening to him right then will see it. The early church lived in the belief that the end would be coming right away; but it didn't happen. As time went on, the church had to make some accommodations to the fact that for some reason the end of things had been delayed.
But over the years many have again proclaimed the proximity of the end. In art history, I think it's notable that in the last half or so of the century before the year 1000 little happened. There was a widespread belief that the second coming would take place in the year 1000, and in that light it made no sense to start a 200-year project like a cathedral. But nothing happened. Similarly we can see great expectations of the end of things in American religious history -- expectations which were not fulfilled. William Miller had tremendous numbers of people fired up in upstate New York expecting it to happen in 1843, and I think it's amazing that when it didn't happen he was able to recalculate and light another fire under his followers for a new date later in 1844. The people were so convinced that we have reports that they bought ascension robes and did a lot of other highly irregular things out of the conviction that the event was about to happen. But it didn't, and the failure killed William Miller. He was despondent, and so he died.
The Jehovah's Witnesses announced 1914 as the date of the end, claiming to have lots of evidence for it. When it didn't happen, they revised their theology and claimed that there had been a war in heaven and so events here on earth had been delayed. Later they came to suggest that 1975 would be the year of doom, but the last time I asked a Witness about the apparent failure of that date, I was told that they really had never exactly made a claim for it, that it was a "maybe" date, not a firm one.
Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God also used to talk about 1975. And we could go on and on. The point is that there's an enormous history behind the practice of proclaiming an imminent end of things, and I don't see why I should believe the Unification contention that it's going to happen very soon any more than I should believe anyone else's. The Divine Principle suggests that we are in the last times right now, that it will all be over very soon. But I don't see any evidence for that. Billy Graham has been quoted by Martin Marty and others as saying in 1950 that he had previously announced that we had at most five years before the end; but now wanted to revise that and say that it would be no more than two. Now, of course, Billy Graham isn't setting dates. So today I'm the skeptic here: how can anyone argue that we're in the end times today any more that we were in 1000, or 1844, or 1914?
I'm not denying possibilities; certainly there could be an eschaton in some form. And I wouldn't restrict its form or nature; I think it's perfectly plausible to believe the second coming could involve the person and form of a Korean electrical engineer. I see nothing more unreasonable in Unification eschatology than in other eschatologies in that sense. Anything is possible; I just don't think it's going to happen.
Actually, I do have one eschatological strain in my personal outlook on the world. It's very this-worldly: I think the human race is running an excellent chance of destroying itself regardless of any act of God, and it is to underscore that point that I'm wearing my antinuke T-shirt today. That we continue to generate electricity from splitting atoms astounds me. To hear statements after Three Mile Island that we must accept some risk in any technology is overwhelming and it seems to me that it is entirely logical to believe that we're going to be putting the human race out of existence. We could well do it within this century. Thus despite what I have just said, maybe the people who say we're in the end times right now are right.
Nuclear power is something I personally have a real interest in stopping. But I don't think it's the only mortal peril; there are a myriad of environmental problems, such as our continual production of long-lived toxins which are going to haunt the human race for hundreds of millennia. Our local city commission in Lawrence recently looked into the disposal of nuclear research materials used by the university. The research officials said, "We put them in the approved nuclear dump rather than the regular city landfill and when we catch our people throwing them into the wrong disposal bag, we try to correct it." Obviously we don't have any comprehensive idea at all of what we are doing to our environment. There are lots of catastrophic problems looming. So in that sense, I'm a real doomsday millennialist.
One criticism of Unification theology which has been voiced here and which I second is that it embodies virtually no critique of technological culture. The Unification acceptance of technology has been striking to me this week. For example, the visible technological artifacts here are excellent; the taping is being done on first-rate equipment, as is the filming.
I have some fairly broad misgivings about a lot of our uses of technology. I think some of my friends feared that I would come back from this conference a zombie, but my own hesitations were different. One of my misgivings is that I don't like airplanes much. I think they're a tremendous waste and I think that most of our flying around is unnecessary. We all should be asking ourselves about that kind of matter. Our use of resources and of technology bother me a lot more than some of the things others bring up when they criticize the Moonies. So the lack of a Unification critique of technology is an important issue which is an eschatological issue. We need to keep asking questions about what is important in society, about what will help and what will hurt us.
There's one other topic I want to pursue: the difficulty in criticizing Unification eschatology due to a lack of information. When the Unificationists say that we are in the last days, that is actually quite a vague statement. What is the schedule? Does it involve information we haven't heard? What is the importance of the year 1981, which I've heard about now and then, in bits and pieces? Does that year have an eschatological importance in the movement? Without basic information like that, it's hard to make a comprehensive analysis of Unification eschatology. Is Rev. Moon in fact the messiah in the second coming? When I ask that question of Moonies, the answer is usually something like "We hope he is." Even though some things may not yet have been announced, certainly many in the movement do believe that he is the returned messiah. But we don't have clear information on that point; bits of data crucial to making an informed judgment are missing.
I might expand my comments here to note that generally I think that a lack of information has been a consistent problem as we have discussed Unification theology. Some of us have heard of the seventy percent and the thirty percent, that you can get thirty percent of the Divine Principle by reading the book, but the rest comes through oral teaching. Those of us who haven't had the teaching are missing out on seventy percent of it. Similarly, we've heard of the inner spiritual church versus the outer structure. I feel as though there are many instances in which we really don't have all of the pertinent information.
Now, I'm not saying that there's something sinister going on, that there's a cabal doing terrible things and keeping it all from us. At least it doesn't seem that way; rather it just seems that there's some hedging on important issues.
I believe that there can be public and private theology in this or any other movement. I wouldn't propose that I should be able to go down to the Masonic temple and be admitted to the ceremonies; they're secret and I'm not a member. One of several reasons why I didn't join a fraternity in college is that they are loaded with secret hocus-pocus and I'm not interested in that. Having made my choice, I wouldn't propose that I have the right to know the rituals. Actually a lot of these things do get out; people defect and tell some of the secrets and you can piece it together. But I do respect the idea that you can have an inner theology for members only. In the case of certain Oriental traditions, esoteric transmission of information is the rule, and I think that's valid. There are things you simply can't master readily by reading a book; you have to work through them for a long time in a more personal way. I have no quarrel at all with that concept; but I do think that if that is the system, and it seems to me that there is some of that in Unificationism, it ought to be specified. If there are ideas that are too complicated to explain to us here, they should be defined as such. And I don't think that kind of clear definition has been made here this week.
So I have two basic reactions to Unification eschatology. One is that I don't have enough handles to be able to analyze it; the other is that no matter what, I'm still a skeptic. I feel like Paul Krassner did several years ago. He wrote in his little magazine The Realist that Timothy Leary had announced the formation of a cult in which the sacrament would be LSD, and Krassner replied that there would now be yet another religion for him not to believe in. The Moonies may be able to construct an interesting eschatological theology, but so what?
People who criticize the Unification Church almost always do it on different grounds than I do. The idea of total involvement in the movement doesn't bother me much. It seems to me that that's a reasonable norm in religion. Some people complain about street fundraising and a lot of other things; I could go on at length and tell you why they don't bother me much.
That there are attractive things about the movement is obvious enough; I won't duplicate what Durwood Foster has just said about that. My real concern is that there's still a lot we don't know. The other day somebody raised the question of the possibility of a Korean wife for Jesus who is now alive. Is that topic off limits? Is that an esoteric datum for members alone to know and discuss? Are we not to ask about it? If that's a ground rule, I'm willing to deal with it, but if so, the rule should be specified.
Jonathan Wells: I'd like to address myself to the issue of biblical interpretation, which I think is a crucial one and one which has come up repeatedly ever since the beginning of this lecture series. I think we have a serious problem here. I don't think it has been resolved this week and I frankly don't think it's going to be. What is legitimate biblical interpretation? Roy Carlisle got us off to a good start talking about the integrity of Old Testament language at the very beginning of the conference. Several other people have mentioned since then that if we really want to be rigorous, then the New Testament and the Old Testament must be kept completely distinct from each other. According to this view, the way the New Testament uses the Old Testament is illegitimate, based on the Old Testament itself. However, I'm going to take a different point of view; and I suspect that many of you will agree with me when I say that Jesus is using the Old Testament legitimately when he refers to it in interpreting the events of his ministry.
In the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5 says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." The Jews of Jesus' time were waiting for Elijah to come before the Messiah. Yet Jesus tells them that this verse refers to John the Baptist. For example, in Matthew 11:14 Jesus says, "and if you are willing to accept it [referring to John] he is Elijah who is to come." In Matthew 17:11-13, Jesus says: " 'Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come....' Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist." Nevertheless, the real Elijah, in spirit, appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, quite a distinct figure from John.
Now here we have a case of a very clear prophecy in the Old Testament, utterly unambiguous, that Elijah, a specific person, would usher in the messianic age. Yet Jesus tells us, quite accurately, that John the Baptist is Elijah. So we have the New Testament claiming, without any warrant from the Old Testament, that John the Baptist is Elijah. The Divine Principle does something like this with the second coming of Christ, but with far more textual justification than Jesus had for his claim. According to Revelation 3:12 "he who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name." This is open to a wide variety of interpretations, and I'm not claiming that it proves the Divine Principle position. But if we're going to grant Jesus any warrant whatsoever for saying that John the Baptist is the Elijah of Malachi 4:5, then the Divine Principle has even more warrant for saying that the lord of the second advent comes with a new name.
Neil Salonen: I'd just like to make a few quick comments. I think we'll probably leave more time for questions afterwards. To comment, first of all, about praying in Jesus' name: We pray in the name of the True Parents. It's an important point since these are just maybe important facts to clarify about the movement. We don't pray in the name of Rev. Moon. We pray in the name of the True Parents which is a position, an office. Whether or not Rev. Moon fulfills that office, the point is that it's not in contradiction to praying in the name of Jesus. That's my basic point.
Acts 1:11 talks about this Jesus, who was taken up from you, will come back, in the same way. We understand that to mean that Jesus, who was at that time a spiritual body and not a physical body, would return in spirit and has returned, many times. To claim that that's justification for the doctrine of coming on the clouds is almost as embarrassing, I think, as is the following "disproof of Christianity: a physical body which is heavier than air couldn't rise into the sky, and therefore Christianity is false. Anyway, we believe that Jesus was at that time a spiritual body. He arose in spirit and has come back in spirit many times. That's not the second coming which we're still longing for. I won't say so much else about interpretation, and I'll leave Dr. Foster's comments to Lloyd who would like to respond to them.
There is one further point that I would like to say regarding what Durwood Foster referred to as the "Cain principle." I think the fact that in our understanding God divides for the purpose of reuniting is certainly as central as his comment made it seem. We are anxious to work out the areas of the principle that need emphasis. And that's one reason why we're very much in need of conferences like this. I always remember Herb Richardson's comments at a press conference about the dangers of the potential ghettoization of Unification Church members. If we don't keep talking about things because we don't agree about them, there's always a danger that tensions will develop and important things that could be resolved won't be.
Now moving quickly to Tim Miller's point that the fact that many people have cried wolf about the second advent so many times is ample justification for a skeptical attitude toward anyone who cries wolf again. I think that's right. I think that what it really means though, since we know a wolf exists and we know he will come around someday (Laughter), is that we have a commitment, an obligation, almost a burden, to investigate each and every time. Because sure enough, the time you don't investigate, the time you don't look, you'll find him at your door. But I would say that our movement is not crying wolf in the sense of predicting a second advent to come next year or in 1981 or at some particular point. We're saying the process, however involved or condensed that process might be, has actually begun. So we're not saying it will happen or it may happen, but we're saying that it did start, and that seems to me a critical difference. Perhaps this doesn't mean much to you, but I feel that's why we skeptics (I'm from New York; I'm probably more cynical and more skeptical by nature than anyone else here) suddenly became fanatical Moonies.
Participant: Is there an outside limit to the point by which it will definitely have been completed?
Neil Salonen: No. But that doesn't mean that we are still waiting for a particular event either. When I joined the church in 1967 a number of spiritualists had received that that would be the end of the world. Anthony Brooke1, if you know him, was going around the country at that time, and he gave a speech and we invited a lot of people. I invited all my friends and lost all my friends at that meeting when he announced that he wasn't making any plans after Christmas 1967 because that would be the end of the world.
In the Unification understanding, 1967 was the end of one of what we call seven-year courses. It didn't mean that anything happened in some kind of supernatural way, and we don't think anything supernatural will happen in 1981 either. We believe and hope that a certain era will close at that point and a new stage will begin. We think that happened in 1975, and we think it happened in 1968. We just analyze history that way. So we're not expecting the clouds to open in 1981 any more than we were at any of the previous points; but perhaps you understand that.
Now concerning the question of our lack of a critique of technological culture, I think our critique wouldn't be of technology per se, but rather an admonition to find the right values with which to use it. We consider, and the Divine Principle states, that it's the rise in technology which makes it possible to physically and literally establish the kingdom of God on earth. However, we don't have the heart or the will to do that. So we do pollute things, but we don't have to. We look for technological advancement, because we believe that that will make it possible to raise the standard of peoples all over the world.
Finally, I never heard of the thirty and the seventy percent before. I'd be interested in knowing where that came from; it didn't come from us. But it is true that not everything we believe is written in the book. That is true, but we do not have an esoteric body of doctrine. As someone mentioned, we're bursting at the seams to share things, to share virtually everything. Sometimes that leads to our being misunderstood, because we're not always conscious of the proper modes of expression. But there are no off-limit topics and I welcome any and all questions. You may make members uncomfortable, particularly people who aren't confident to share their understandings of things. But Rev. Moon himself is an extremely outspoken person, and it would have been much easier for our movement thus far if he hadn't been. He tends to say everything. If I could say anything about him on this point, it is that he doesn't know how to keep a secret. I mean that only slightly tongue in cheek since he seems to talk about everything to everyone.
Now it's certainly true that a full conception of the church requires some foundation of understanding, but I'm sure that's true in any group. Before we can explain the inner details of the meaning of marriage, for example, some things have to be understood. But if you're willing to make the commitment of time to understand the first part, we're always willing to tell you the second part and the third and all the way to the very end. I invite you to take us up on that. I think you were asking what are the limits to discussion, and I would suggest that there are no limits. So I hope this has cleared up a few points.
Anthony Guerra: I wanted to first of all thank Dr. Foster. As always he praises me too fulsomely. Now to the matter of Satan's restoration. The assertion that Satan will be restored back into Lucifer is something which was taught to me. I think it's pretty clear in the Divine Principle that Satan will be destroyed, but that doesn't mean that Lucifer will be destroyed. In a sense, Satan stands for the enemy nature -- it literally means "enemy" actually. And so there can be destruction of that position without the destruction of Lucifer. So I cannot take credit for that interpretation, though I thank you.
I want to make my remarks brief but they relate to some of the questions that were raised earlier today. I think the central thing to understand in terms of our understanding of the lord of the second advent and his bride is precisely that the mission which the lord of the second advent and his bride are to fulfill is something which can occur only through both of them, in the same way that we argued earlier that Jesus and the Holy Spirit must function together, representing in a sense both male being and female being. And it's through the love which is generated between the two of them that rebirth comes about so that man can be resurrected to the growth stage. So again it's quite clear in our notion of the messiah that it includes both a male person and a female person. The purpose of the messiah is simply to restore what was lost in the original couple, Adam and Eve. That's why we emphasize the second Adam and second Eve -- so it is intrinsic to the concept of the messiah that there be both a man and a woman, taking the positions of Adam and Eve in order to bring about the salvation. And that also means that once the lord of the second advent comes, he is not able to fulfill his position of bringing complete salvation unless he can first establish the family, that is, take a bride. Therefore Unification theology gives an essential position to women.
I hear many critiques from the feminist perspective at Harvard University to the effect that there's a problem if you emphasize Jesus as the sole source of salvation. The problem is that then you don't leave room for the feminine aspect in theology, and therefore you have to work it in through the back door. But Unification theology is saying that if one understands the purpose of the messiah, then one must realize that it is to restore the original family -- man and woman; and thus the messianic role must be fulfilled by man and woman.
It seems to me that the other concern that was not addressed is the question of what the Unification movement is doing to bring about a substantial social unity between the races. This is not only our intention but we are actually seeking to achieve this unity within our movement. It's one of the reasons that Harvey Cox, for instance, said that when he came to our community centers, the one thing he was impressed about was that he could feel that there was no racism in the center; there were black, white and yellow people living together. I want to share a story with you which I think demonstrates how this is taking place on a very internal and profound level within the Unification movement. At the recent engagement ceremony in New York City there were over a hundred and fifty black men and women who were engaged to white Americans. That in itself would be significant, for it demonstrates our concern for racial unity, our devotion to one another beyond the boundaries of race. But it's more than that. A very good friend of mine who participated in this engagement ceremony -- a friend who is white and is engaged to an American white person, and who was raised in a very liberal home and went to a very liberal college and certainly had all the liberal concepts about freedom from prejudice, especially racial prejudice -- told me this story. He said that because so many of his good friends were engaged to black people in this past engagement ceremony something deep happened to him. He said he only realized that as he was walking down the street in Cambridge and came across a black man and white woman who were walking together. He said that when he looked at them, for the first time in his life he had no resentment in his heart whatsoever. Before, he said, he had the intellectual conviction and concept that there should be unity between blacks and whites, but had to admit that every time he saw a black man and a white woman together, in his heart he felt uneasy and had a struggle. But because people he so deeply loved in the Unification community were engaged to black people and he shared in the joy of their engagements, then somehow, in some very deep way, that kind of resentment was removed. It was washed away.
There's a way in which people in our community share in the marriages, the joy of the marriages, of one another. And that's a very deep kind of restoration. To conclude this story, Rev. Moon said the only way to overcome racism is for a white person to hold his own black child in his hands. Then he'll be able to overcome the long, deep, historical resentment. And this is why Unification theology, as it was said today, concentrates upon individual restoration, although it's also very concerned about the outer aspects of restoration. We do make a critique of politics, not only of communism but of present democracies. But we ultimately see that there's a kind of spiritual heritage of resentment that each one of us carries within us which has to be worked out. And it seems to me that it's on this level that the restoration is occurring. This is the most essential aspect of the restoration. This is why we say, for instance, that these marriages have providential significance.
Lloyd Eby: I want to begin by talking about something which was left over from yesterday. I want to reply to some of the things which were said after the lecture on Unification Thought2
Fred Sontag argued that to look to a theory for a basis for unity is to look in the wrong place. I want to know why it's the wrong place. I'm fully aware that if, as he said, one took the Unification Thought proposal before the A.P.A. it would be laughed out of the room. I'm aware of that. But the fact that it would be laughed out of the room does not show that there's not something there that deserves consideration. The fact that an attempt for unified philosophy was abandoned after medieval scholasticism doesn't show that that attempt was mistaken. All that it shows is that our philosophical world has been factionalized.
Secondly, to Paul Sharkey, who said that Unification thought should not develop a philosophy as a justification for theology because then no one will take either one seriously. Once again, I agree that that is an historically accurate portrayal of current theology and philosophy. But the fact that it's an accurate description of the current situation doesn't show that it's not an honorable attempt.
Frank Flinn raised the reason/revelation problem. I think that problem needs to be addressed, and I think as the situation now stands, it's only inadequately addressed in Unification Thought. I think Unification philosophy is theistic, that its basis is in revelation and that it's a philosophical (reasonable) development of that revelational basis. Whether or not it can be developed apart from revelation remains to be seen. I think that it can, but that's my own personal belief. In any case, I agree that that's a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and I think that problem is not being neglected.
Now I want to say two things to Durwood Foster on two of his points: first, on the point of the Unification account of history and secondly, on the Unification intention of unifying religion, science, cultures and so on. First of all, the Unification account of history is, I agree, an extremely simple account and an account that looks on the face of it as if it's trivial. But I submit that it's the same account of history, or the same kind of account of history as one gets in the Old Testament. For example, the story of the Exodus is presented in the Old Testament as if it were, among other things, a highly charged religious symbol; it is presented as a religious event. However, I doubt that half a dozen people, living at the time would have believed that. Nevertheless, from the point of view of a providential history, it's given that interpretation. I suggest that the Unification account of history is being presented with a similar kind of methodology. I agree that the Unification account of history needs to be made much more sophisticated and encompass many more things. But it strikes me that a kind of account similar to the biblical account is being given.
Now, to the question of whether or not the Unification intention of uniting things is imperialistic, I submit that this conference is an example in favor of the thesis that it's not imperialistic. Perhaps some of you do experience this conference as an imperialistic conference, but if you do, such a belief strikes me as fairly bizarre. (Laughter)
Herbert Richardson: I would like to make a couple of observations here that I think are of extraordinary importance for the theological evaluation of Unification theology. They are things that we academic theologians know about and have observed. I want to say them here, though in the past when I've made these points around Unification Church people I sensed that the level of anxiety went up significantly. Nonetheless, I would like we Christian theologians to think for a minute about a task that we have to face in order to properly evaluate Unification theology, and that is that we have to pay attention to the historical context in which it arose, the development that it has undergone, the many, many different sources that feed into it and the disagreements that exist among Unificationists as they attempt to present their position. We had a quite marvelous example when Neil Salonen said "No Unificationist ever said that." Somebody said, "Well, Joe Tully did." (Laughter) We have heard, if I may say this, that the divine principle is really only the principle of creation and everything else in the book is not really very important. I think that's been said right here. Yet someone else has said the divine principle is the whole Divine Principle book and something more too.
We are facing therefore in relation to Unification theology the same problem we face in relation to any other historical movement. In order to understand what's being said, we have to go through this difficult job of placing it in historical context, realizing that there are significant disagreements, trying to trace the development of the tradition as the disagreements are sorted out and the doctrines take shape. And now, having said these things formally, I want to make one concrete observation addressed specifically to the Unificationists.
Think about this. This book, the Divine Principle, about which we have been hearing lectures this week, was written in essentially the present form in the 1950's. Around 1957 it was published in Korea. And we've been hearing these lectures based on that text. But it wasn't until 1960 that Rev. Moon undertook that task which is described as the second blessing. Ever since that time there has been a whole body of teaching and theology that has been developing which in a sense is based on these events. Rev. Moon, after all, didn't have his whole life plotted out when he was 16 years old. He's thinking as he's going along and he begins thinking about the second blessing and the meaning of the second blessing from 1959-60 on. Everything that Tony Guerra said to us just a minute ago only has meaning in relation to the theological development from 1960 on. None of what Tony said is literally in the Divine Principle. Now we keep talking about an esoteric tradition and an oral tradition. But that's not the case. What has happened is that the Divine Principle lectures we're hearing are the lectures in the form that they developed in the late 1950's. But there has been all this theological development since that time that hasn't been pulled together yet. This needs to be done.
Now, I would make this plea, partly to the Unification people and partly to ourselves as theologians. When we are being asked as theologians to help them develop their theology, what they're really saying is something like this: Look, this book that we've got is just the first edition of something that has gone on for twenty-five years. We need your help to pull this all together. But in a sense, we can't even begin to pull it all together until we know the historical, developmental contexts and so on. And not only is there theological development in relation to what we might call the second blessing themes, but there will be a whole other development if in 1981 Rev. Moon undertakes that course of life related in a very specific way to third blessing themes. That's my view of the matter. I don't know if I'm right or not, but I believe that there will be a whole further theological development. Thus, the task before us is exceedingly complex.
Next, I'd like to point out that we keep using the word "revelation" as if somehow the Divine Principle and the teachings came from spirits in the air whispering to Sun Myung Moon. I think that is utter nonsense. The "revelation, " if we call it that, is the work of the inspired and serious theologians and Unification members working together in give-and-take trying to understand the truth of God, seeking to fulfill God's purpose for the world. That is -- in a somewhat Catholic sense, admittedly -- where the revelation is at work.
And I want to end by saying one final thing. It's very interesting to me that in the late 1930's and early 1940's there was a charismatic woman named Mrs. Kim who founded a little group on the east coast of Korea. And among the memories within the Unification Church is the statement that Mrs. Kim was teaching in the early 1940's a number of things which included many of the doctrines that are related especially to the blessing in the theology of the Unification Church. I want to say this about that: there are Korean Christian and charismatic movements that are feeding into Unification theology. Why I find this especially interesting is that many of the teachings relating to the blessing were taught by Mrs. Kim -- and this is in the 1940's, long before Rev. Moon had even begun his public ministry, and I doubt he even knew her at that point -- and Mrs. Moon comes from Mrs. Kim's group. It's very interesting to me that Rev. Moon married a woman who herself came out of a charismatic Christian community which itself had specific teachings relating to the theology of the blessing. Do you think Rev. Moon ever gets any of his theology from talking with Mrs. Moon? I'll bet he does. I mean I get an awful lot talking with my wife. And it seems to me that it is precisely these kinds of factors we must be thinking about as theologians before making premature judgments about what the meaning of Unification theology is finally or what it might become.
Roy Carlisle: Following Herb is like going to the guillotine but I'm going to do it. What I've struggled with this afternoon in a rather fun way is an understanding, especially from Jonathan and Lloyd, about how the Divine Principle is functioning. And it seems to me that I have to push this issue because I'm going to watchdog this item at every conference. You suggest using the scriptures in the same manner as the New Testament uses the Old Testament in terms of language. Now we all know, as Christian theologians, that there are problems all the way through the history of the church with this. We know that the New Testament doesn't quote the Old Testament correctly sometimes and that that causes amazing problems. Even though that is a problem, the real question is, even if the New Testament can and does do this, does that mean that we can do this?
Now I myself would find it rather embarrassing, frankly, if I were to quote the Old Testament incorrectly and say that that was something that I could do legitimately. In effect that's what you are saying. You are saying that the Divine Principle can quote the Old Testament and use it in a way that only the New Testament does. And in doing that the Divine Principle sets itself up as functionally revelatory. Now all I'm saying is -- and my plea is -- that you understand that that's what you've done. If you've set the Divine Principle up as a canon, acknowledge it as a canon and not as somehow in the genre of normal Christian interpretation. But that's not, so far as I can see, what's going on.
Paul Sharkey: I just want to make a few comments. I guess that since Professor Sontag is ill and consequently not here and since I am a disciple of his in the literal sense of having been his student, I will attempt to make a reply both for him and myself.
The word "philosophy" the way I understand the literal meaning of the term, means the love of wisdom. That and that only. So often the word is used in the sense of my philosophy of life, or my theory about this or that, or as any kind of theoretical concern. I think that if we stressed the notion of philosophy in its root meaning, it is impossible to have a unified philosophy in the sense of theory because then philosophy ends. So philosophy cannot be unified insofar as it is a love of wisdom. It is a continuing, ongoing sort of thing. I have been influenced very strongly by Professor Sontag's view of philosophy. He is a philosopher incarnate -- a man who carries the burden, and I take it I've inherited it -- of continually asking questions. Or as Kierkegaard says, I conceive it my duty to create problems everywhere. This, I believe, is the cross which the philosopher bears. And I think that for that reason it is logically impossible to have a unified philosophy in the sense of theory because if that happens, philosophy in the other sense ends.
1 Anthony Brooke is the author of Towards Human Unity, London: Mitre Press, 1976.
2 Unification Thought, New York, NY: Unification Thought Institute, 1978.