by Young Oon Kim
The Partnership Of God And Man
In the Bible the give and take process is illustrated by the notion of a divine-human covenant. God makes covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses. Christians describe their sacred writings as the New Testament, the new covenant, as opposed to God's old covenant with the children of Israel. The idea of a covenant is one of the key doctrines of the Scriptures. 34
What does it mean to ratify a covenant? A covenant is often a political or military agreement between two nations. Each side accepts certain duties in return for the promise of certain benefits. Hence, when this secular word "covenant" was applied to religion, it referred to a give and take relationship between man and God. Each party agreed to accept some definite responsibilities for the sake of receiving some specific advantages.
During the Protestant Reformation, the importance of the covenant notion was rediscovered. 35 Hence, the seventeenth century Puritans formulated the covenantal theology which stressed the give and take principle. These Calvinists suggested that there are four levels of reciprocity.
First, a nation originates from a social compact between the rulers and the ruled. The government promises protection of men's natural rights and the governed vow to be obedient to the civil authority. Second, a church comes into being as a result of a voluntary contract or covenant between Christ and his people. Each party has certain privileges as well as corresponding obligations. Third, there are the social, moral and religious ties which bind together a husband and wife. Marriage should be thought of as a solemn covenant. As the New Testament suggests, the marriage compact could be compared to Christ's union with his church. Fourth then, on the personal level, the same rule applies to an individual's relationship to God. According to the covenantal theologians, to become a Christian means to vow conformity to the divine commandments in order to obtain eternal blessings. Thus on every level (from the individual to church and state), God employs the law of give and take.
Although the covenantal theology recognized the value of divine-human partnership its language was rather commercial and legal. At an earlier period Joachim of Fiore had expressed the relationship between 36 man and God in more personal terms. For Joachim, friendship with God is the goal of history. When the kingdom on earth arrives, men will achieve the highest and final form of relatedness with their Creator. At the dawn of the messianic age men will at last become "Friends of God " To be not God's servants or His children, but to be His friends will be the final destiny of man. Unificationists would agree with Joachim's prophecy but elaborate more concretely how men become friends and intimate partners of God.
Unification theology claims that after God created Adam and Eve, He gave them three blessings: 1) to be fruitful, 2) to multiply and fill the earth, 3) to subdue the earth andmodern dominion over the entire creation (Gen. 1:28). This threefold blessing signifies God's original and continuing purpose for mankind. However, such an interpretation of man's role seems to be a distinctive teaching of Divine Principle. No other dominion over the entire creation (Gen. 1:28). This threefold blessing signifies God's original and continuing purpose for mankind. However, such an interpretation of man's role seems to be a distinctive teaching of Divine Principle. No other modern theology, Jewish or Christian, has so clearly focused upon this particular passage of Scripture in working out a doctrine of man.
But what does this Biblical blessing imply? God's first blessing involves the perfection of man's individuality. In order to realize his full potentiality, a person must get his mind and body in tune with each other. Most people find themselves in the divided condition described by St. Paul: the flesh and the spirit are at war. Hence, as Plato taught, a man must harness, control and direct his passions. We have to tame and discipline our bodies in order that they can properly serve the soul.
At the same time, it would be wrong to think of the body and mind as irreconcilable opposites. Unlike some religions, Christianity has never really accepted the dualistic notion that flesh and spirit are natural enemies. As Unification theology maintains, the ideal is to establish free flowing give and take between the physical and spiritual aspects of human nature. Once a person becomes God-centered, his body and mind can cooperate to enrich and perfect his life. For the individual, true happiness comes from the establishment of a dynamic base of four positions. Guided by God, man's mind and body interact by producing an integrated personality. We do not need to deny or sacrifice our bodies to attain spirituality. The highest joy comes from mutually beneficial cooperation between the visible and invisible dimensions of human nature. From God's standpoint, every aspect of our nature should be treated with respect, allowed to develop and encouraged to become fruitful.
Naturally the actualization of an individual's potentialities takes time. Total God-consciousness , to use Schleiermacher's term, is never an instantaneous act. As the Biblical revelation and modern science agree, creation represents a process of gradual development. Hence Unification theology speaks of three stages in the perfection of man's original nature. Because it is easy to misunderstand what Unification thought means by perfected individuality, let me try to clarify this idea. Perfection does not refer to the end of growth. A man's life can always be further enriched by new experiences, both here and hereafter. Perfection is therefore not a static condition but a dynamic one. To reach perfection is to remove original sin, the major barrier between the self and God. To be perfect is to be at last free to realize one's true being as a child of God. Then we can actualize John Wesley's ideal of Christian perfection, meaning to be fully devoted to God and to express that faith in every act. Perfection refers to simplicity of intention and purity of affection. If a man allows God to reign in his heart, his nature will be so transformed that he will do nothing but good and pure acts. God's spirit will permeate one's whole being, just as the blood stream nourishes the entire physical body.
According to Divine Principle, a perfected individual feels as God does, as if God's feelings were his own. He has fully united with God's heart. In unrestricted give and take, he loves God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. Hence, he perfects his own humanity, while enabling God to experience the highest joy. Because of its mystical heritage, Eastern Orthodox theology understands the meaning of this first blessing. What Orthodox theologians call "deification" 37 is very much like what Divine Principle teaches.
Nevertheless, Unification theology goes beyond most forms of Christian mysticism by insisting upon the higher value of God's second blessing. When the Bible teaches us to multiply and fill the earth, it sanctifies marriage. Unification theology explains that since God exists in polarity, a husband and wife can reflect more fully God's dual essentialities. Each partner experiences greater love and joy than he would by himself.
In Divine Principle the partnership of husband and wife is also expressed in terms of love and beauty. Because a man is loving he can see beauty and because a woman is attractive, she evokes love from her partner. And vice versa. Because God is love itself, He is radiantly beautiful, as Barth says in his exposition of the divine glory, Man delights in God because God is so divinely beautiful. By His very loving nature He fills us with enjoyment. His incomparable beauty is the cause of His inexhaustible glory.
Similarly, Father Andrew Greeley in The Mary Myth (1977) describes God as passionately tender, seductively attractive, irresistibly inspiring and graciously healing. For this reason He is infinitely magnetic and fascinating to all men and women. We find Him unconditionally trustworthy, so we feel inspired to be faithful and loyal to Him. Furthermore, as we gratefully respond to His love, we become even more beautiful in His eyes.
Consequently, Divine Principle defines this dynamic give and take between Creator and creation, husband and wife, as love and beauty. Such love and beauty are two aspects of a single relationship. Thus in a God-centered family, the relationships among the members-husband and wife, parents and children-reflect the loving nature of God. A husband and wife will enjoy mutual concern and affection. Both will be united in bonds of fidelity and loyalty. In this way Unificationism greatly deepens traditional covenantal theology.
God's third blessing-man's lordship over creation-involves even greater extension of give and take action. God made man as the encapsulation of all things, a microcosm of the entire macrocosm of creation. Man can "dominate" the whole universe through his reason, imagination and sensitivity because he is so intimately related to his environment.
But what does it mean to "dominate" the creation? Ecologists today have often criticized the Judeo-Christian tradition for the way it justifies man's ruthless and foolish exploitation of nature. 38 Some recommend giving up the notion of "dominating" the creation. Were not the so-called primitive religions wiser when they stressed "the kinship of all life"? Should we not treat nature like a mother from whom we all come and to which we owe tender care? Was not Schweitzer correct to base ethics upon an all-inclusive "reverence for life"?
Unification theology, like the Bible, is not an advocate of exploitation of our natural environment. Nature is not simply made up of "resources" to be used thoughtlessly. What Divine Principle teaches is that men can and should establish full give and take with the universe as a whole. We are challenged to establish a quadruple base with all creation, centered on God.
Man's lordship over creation means two things. Negatively, it means that we are not bound by the world. To be human is to be able to transcend the limitations of our physical environment. We can change it by controlling the forces of nature. Man exercises sovereignty over the creation by using it for his own ends. As Vatican 11 theologians assert, we now live in a man-made world to an ever-increasing extent. We have largely subjugated nature to meet human needs.
But man's lordship over creation has another meaning. What is wrong with our present attitude toward the natural world? The well known anthropologist Loren Eiseley states that men have not really conquered nature because we have not conquered ourselves. To master ourselves and to use nature wisely, he says, we have to understand the real uniqueness of man. Man has not survived because he is tough and strong. He has survived through tenderness. If man at heart were not a tender creature toward his kind, a loving creature in a special way, he would have long left his bones to the wild dogs. 39
How then is man's lordship over creation to be exercised? If we use nature just to please ourselves without regard for God's will, we misuse the creation. We must establish full give and take with the universe based on our love for God. When we use nature for God, gratefully and appreciatively, then it is glorified.
By realizing the three blessings through perfect union with God on the individual level and creating a God-centered marriage and protecting and caring for His creation, man forms a cosmic four position foundation. Man will then represent God to the creation. Creation will serve God through man and glorify Him. Thus men as individuals, families and humanity as a whole carry out partnership with God in terms of both responsibility and love. This concept of a theo-centric quadruple base is central to an understanding of Divine Principle and represents a distinctive notion to be found in no other religious philosophy.
34 The Swiss Old Testament scholar W. Eichrodt insisted upon the central place of the covenant in understanding Scripture. Cf. D. G. Spriggs, Two Old Testament Theologies (1974), pp. 3-6.
35 W. A. Brown, "Covenant Theology" in Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1924).
36 M. Reeves, Joachim of Fiore (1977), pp. 1-29.
37 Cf. R. B. T. Bilaniuk, "The Mystery of Theosis or Divinization," Studies in Eastern Christianity (1977), vol. 1, pp. 45-67.
38 Cf. Lynn White, "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis" in David & Eileen Spring, Ecology & Religion in History (1974).
39 L. Eiseley, "An Evolutionist Looks at Modern Man" in R. Thuelsen & J. Kohler, eds., Adventures of the Mind (1960), pp. 3,6.
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