The Words of Young Oon Kim
Speeches on Unification Teaching
Young Oon Kim
Unification Theological Seminary
Barrytown, New York
For about eight years New Era (our organization) has been inviting ministers and theologians to conferences such as this. Our purpose is to discuss all aspects of our teachings and activities frankly, openly, critically, yet in a most friendly way. We seek not conversion but mutual understanding. Some 1500 clergymen and scholars of quite diverse persuasions have become friends of ours. Because it has sometimes been so difficult to get together, this occasion is for me a great opportunity and privilege.
There is today much diversity in theological understanding, both within and between denominations. I am going to be honest with you about what I believe, comparing it to other theological ideas as fairly and generously as I know how. We are often asked what the differences are between Unificationism and mainstream Christianity. Today, we shall look at some of those matters.
Let us first consider the Kingdom of God, as Jesus proclaimed. Certainly, we can all agree that the key point of Jesus' message was the coming of the Kingdom of God. The coming kingdom is the focus of all his parables. Each parable crystallizes some aspect of the Kingdom of God -- its primacy, its urgency, its preciousness. Jesus compared the coming Kingdom to a splendid pearl of such great worth that the one purchasing it had to sell all he had to met its price. Such is the value and cost of the Kingdom
John the Baptist preached, "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus said the same thing, urging his hearers to repent and believe the good news. The Kingdom of Jesus' original proclamation was not to come after death or within an individual's mind alone. The Kingdom of heaven of John the Baptist and Jesus is God's reign on this earth, the establishment of goodness and love here and now, not only inwardly but in life itself, a physical kingdom and a temporal dispensation to be realized in history. Nothing -- Jesus and John preached -- must supersede the divine mandate, neither possessions, a father's burial, an approaching marriage, a job, or anything else. To prepare for the Kingdom required the disciple's total dedication.
Receiving the Kingdom and laboring for it was their absolute priority. From beginning to end, Jesus' sole concern was the Kingdom. At his Last Supper Jesus said: "Never again shall I drink from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God." Even in his last few days on earth, Jesus hoped to see the Kingdom. In Gethsemane he prayed: "Let this cup of death pass me by. Yet not as I will, but as thou wilt." He wanted, at any cost to himself, to live and see the Kingdom realized.
Then came the devastating tragedy of the cross. Jesus' execution was a shock and disaster to the disciples and to everyone else who had listened to Jesus' message with enthusiasm. The crucifixion ran counter to the whole thrust of Jesus' teaching. Jesus' grief, pain, despair, and shamed sense of failure were overwhelming. Furthermore, the crucifixion was a terrible stumbling block for all Jews who had been observing Jesus while considering his possible Messiahship. The Jews expected God's Messiah to be victorious and glorified, not rejected and crucified.
Jesus' disciples were completely disheartened to see the helpless end of their master. Only the resurrection experience revived their faith and hope. Though the earthly mission of Jesus failed, his followers accepted him as Messiah and Son of God more absolutely after his crucifixion and resurrection than in his lifetime. God could never forget Jesus' faith and dedication, which provided a base for God's saving work on a spiritual level. But the physical, temporal Kingdom was not realized at that time. It yet must come.
As a learned Jewish disciple, Paul had to rationalize and explain Jesus' premature death. It was no easy task to justify the cross to the Gentiles, and even more problematic in the case of the Jews. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24, said:
We proclaim Christ -- yes, Christ nailed to the Cross, though this is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Greeks, yet to those who have heard his call, Jews and Greeks alike, he is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
In Romans 5:9:
Since we have now been justified by Christ's sacrificial death, we shall all the more certainly be saved through him from final retribution.
It was Paul who transformed his master's shameful death into a glorious one and his failed mission into a victory. Thus he brought redemptive meaning to Jesus' death and catalyzed belief in the blood atonement.
After Paul's time, even more changes took place. In the Greek Christian churches, the gospel was given a mystical interpretation. Instead of emphasizing the coming Kingdom, the Greeks stressed the mystical union of the individual believer with the risen Jesus. This change is clearly seen in John, the latest New Testament Gospel. But Jesus himself never preached mysticism. His sole, burning concern was the advent of the Kingdom of God.
As centuries passed, Christianity moved further and further from its original foundation. The Kingdom of God faded from view, or was pushed so far into the distant future that it lost all immediate relevance. Other matters took precedence. For example, some churches laid prime emphasis on the sacraments. Even in our day some make the rite of baptism the most important part of Christianity. Others make the Communion service the heart of their faith. Salvation, we are told, depends on the sacraments.
Into contemporary Christianity -- 2,000 years removed from its founder's intent -- comes a new voice, the voice of Reverend Moon. What is this disruption? What is this -- people leaving their accustomed lives in response to his message. Something new? No. In reality, Reverend Moon has but re-proclaimed the original Gospel of Jesus. He returns us to the core of the Christian message: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!
Now let us move into the second topic, God. The Westminister Confession of Faith states:
There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal most just and terrible in His judgements, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty. (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, pages 4-5.)
Most of you would agree with almost everything in this creed. So do we. There are, however, some controversial points, which I would like to go into. According to this statement Christians should believe in the one living and true God. But many Christians seem to worship three Gods: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Jews and Muslims believe in One God. How can Christians engage in ecumenical dialog with them? Strictly speaking, many or even most Christians are not monotheists in faith and in practice. We Unificationists believe in One Living God.
Then you may wonder what we think about the Trinity. What about the Holy Spirit? And how about our Christology? First, the Holy Spirit! Biblical usage concerning the Holy Spirit is varied. The churches have no one official doctrine about it. Who and what then is the Holy Spirit? Is it the spirit of the Lord? Or the Spirit of God? Or the Spirit of Christ? The early church had three perplexing questions.
1. Is the Holy Spirit a person, a self-conscious entity different from God the Father or Jesus Christ the Son?
2. If the Holy Spirit is a distinct being, is it masculine, feminine, or neuter?
3. If it is a separate entity, is the spirit equal to or subordinate to God the Father and Christ the Son?
These questions have never been answered clearly.
In Unification Theology the main point is that the Holy Spirit is not a separate entity, a being different from God the Father. The Holy Spirit simply refers to God's redemptive activity. Hence in Genesis the spirit is defined as God's breath. In the Fourth Gospel the spirit is describes as a wind. And the common New Testament term "Pneuma" means simply air or wind, an impersonal energy derived from God. An Orthodox Rabbi once told me that the Holy Spirit is God's energy penetrating into human souls. Unification theology portrays the Holy Spirit not as an individual person, but rather as divine energy, a sign of God's work in history and His spiritual influence upon individual life. As such, the Holy Spirit operates through many intermediaries: Jesus Christ, angels, saints, sages, and all good ancestors.
If the Holy Spirit refers to the working of the transcendent God within history and inside the human soul, this helpful and providential activity may be carried out by many ancestral or angelic messengers, not being limited to a single agent. Like God Himself, the Spirit is invisible and incorporeal -- a bright light or a field of magnetic energy, so to speak. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit needs a definite form, it uses and works through the medium of a discarnate human spirit or an angel. It should now be obvious that the term "Holy Spirit" has been used rather loosely to cover all kinds of work by beneficent spiritual beings, both angelic and human. (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, page 202.)
Now! How about Christology, our third point of discussion. Although some denominations believe in the Nicean and Chalcedonian creeds, modem theologians generally agree that Christology should be based on the Jesus of history rather than on creedal doctrines. Jesus was a human leader chosen by God for a divine mission. Called to be the Messiah, his mission was to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth. Let me quote from Hans Küng:
We need to consider Jesus today from the standpoint of his Jewish contemporaries and his first century Palestinian environment. Jesus' Jewish disciples were attracted to the man of Nazareth. Because they listened to his teachings and watched his actions, they raised the question of his relation to God. That is why they believed he was the Messiah. (Hans Kung, On Being a Christian)
Protestant theologians for the past 100 years, from Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack on, have emphasized the human nature of Jesus. This is Reverend Moon's teaching as well.
We come then to our next question. Was Jesus' crucifixion intended by God? Was it a victory for Jesus? Does his cross have saving efficacy? Modem theologians' historical study of Jesus climaxed with the publication of Schweitzer's epoch-making Quest of the Historical Jesus. Schweitzer wrote and I quote:
In spite of his untimely death and the ensuing age-long wait for his return in glory, Jesus is something to our world because a mighty stream of spiritual influence has gone forth from him and has penetrated our age also. This fact will never be shaken nor confirmed by an historical knowledge. (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, pages 4-5.)
And this spiritual power comes through one who was caught in a labyrinth of his own, his fellow Jew's and his nations making ... The Baptist appears, and cries: 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand'. Soon after that comes Jesus, and in the knowledge that He is the coming Son of Man lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. it refuses to turn, and He throws himself upon it. Then it does turn, and crushes him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, He has destroyed them. The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great Man, who was strong enough to think of Himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to His purpose is hanging upon it still. (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, pages 368-369.)
Schweitzer expressed so poignantly what we Unificationists believe and how we feel about Jesus' death.
In the Unificationist view, Jesus was a human being ordained by God for a messianic mission. Therefore, Jesus is not equal to God. And then we view the Holy Spirit not as a separate entity, but as a manifestation of God's saving influence through various agencies. For these reasons we believe the doctrine of the Trinity is mistaken, if it means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three personal Gods.
Now let's continue our discussion of God. In our day there have been several challenges to the traditional doctrine of God. The process theologians repudiated the unchanging nature of God. They say that though the primordial nature of God is unchanging, His consequent nature is always affected by the activity of all creation, including man. Thus God is in the process of change and development, they declare. Then feminist theologians militantly denied the masculinity of God, insisting that God is both feminine and masculine -- a Father/Mother God. Paul Tillich announced that God is not personal but is the ground of being. And Moltmann, the theologian of hope, has insisted that God is not in the past, not in the present. God Himself is future. (Theology of Hope)
Unificationists explain the nature of God in a rather novel way. According to Divine Principle, God is perpetual, self-generating energy, the first cause and primal source of all that exists. This ultimate source of energy is manifested in the Universe as God's outer form, with Heart as His inner character. The give and take between the outer form and inner heart forms the foundation for His eternal existence The entire creation, including man, is the manifestation of this divine energy.
This dynamic God of Energy is at the same time the essence of Personality. Unificationism strongly affirms the very personal nature of God. Schleiermacher stressed the religion of heart. For him faith is not doctrine, nor is it simply ethics. Faith is a warm, living relationship between man and God. "Religion is the intuition and feeling of absolute dependence, the experience of God-consciousness and becoming one with the infinite in the midst of the finite."
If the heart represents the inner core of human personality, then God should be thought of in similar terms. We claim that the human heart is more fundamental than the mind. It is not so much what he thinks but how he feels that makes a person truly human. We are praised or blamed according to the depth and range of our affections rather than by how much we know. Therefore, we must say, God is above all else a God of Heart.
The essence of the God of Heart is Love itself and Wisdom. God feels at least as deeply and profoundly as we do. He is at least as sensitive to what goes on in the world as we are. If He is a God of Heart, then He experiences the whole range of emotions: from loneliness and intense grief to wonderful joy. If He is forgiving, He is also wounded by pain. God can love and express righteous indignation. Because God is the God of Heart and Love, love is most precious for Him, for us human beings, and even for the entire creation. Great wisdom is derived from no other source but pure love for God. Bhakti yoga in Hinduism, Sufi Islam, Tantric Buddhism, Hassidic Judaism, Catholic Franciscans, and all the mystical people, whatever their religion, pursue and cherish the devotional love of God. Why? Because through that love they were brought near to Him. Thomas Kempis whispered to his God:
Ah, my Lord God, most faithful lover, when thou comest into my heart, all that is within me dost joy! Thou art my glory and the joy of my heart, my hope and my whole refuge in all of my troubles.( III:5, The Imitation of Christ )
Traditionally, it was believed that God is infinite, eternal, and perfect. He has no need of anything. He already is absolute bliss, so nothing could increase his total happiness. But if we say only that God is love, we render Him static and limit His nature. In such a definition, He would be content to love Himself forever. He would be quite insensitive to joy or pain, oblivious of good or evil.
The Unificationist concept is of a fully awakened, active God. According to Unification theology, the God of infinite love and energy has masculine and feminine qualities, or fatherly and motherly attributes. These polar elements are perfectly harmonized within Himself. In His own image He created two human beings, a man and a woman. Of course, not only human beings but everything in creation exists in polarity or paired relationship. Why? So that every pair may have mutual interaction of give and take of love and energy at every level. Such reciprocal relationship exists within God's own nature, in human relationships, and throughout the whole natural universe.
God's intrinsic desire was and is to feel joy. Hence the God of Love projected His whole nature into His human creation. Man and the universe were not created out of nothing but out of God's Love and Divine Energy. He produced men and women to manifest His invisible Self in the form of a visible and tangible being. Love cannot be reciprocated unless there is a subject and object, a giver and a receiver, a lover and a beloved. Therefore, the almighty creator God needs a tangible human partner. God wanted to direct His vital and infinite Love toward man and woman and receive in turn their grateful, overwhelming response. Studying the implications of divine polarity, we begin to see God's need for creation. He is not smug, or self-sufficient, or complete in Himself. Our universe was created in order for God to experience ultimate joy by loving give and take with true man and woman, without whom He must remain lonely and unfulfilled.
Since God is Love indeed, the joy of loving and being loved was the primary purpose of creation.
There is another important purpose for creation: God wanted to express Himself in a physical way. According to the New Testament, man is to serve as a vessel of God's love and a temple of His presence. In other words, God who is infinite Spirit created finite human in His image as a means of His own incarnation. Why did God seek to be incarnate? He wanted to participate fully in human life, to feel the full range of our experiences. God sought to experience for Himself what it means to live at a physical level. Thus we could say that God created man to be His body.
You may wonder, what do we mean by incarnation? By incarnation we mean what Schleiermacher described as having God-consciousness within us. Believing that Jesus had such full consciousness of God, Schleiermacher affirmed that the differences between Jesus and us are not in kind, but in degree. The Hindu concept of incarnation is very similar. A great Avatar and, to a lesser degree, any theocentric saint, sage, or prophet, is a human being who consciously embodies God, knows Who He is, and can therefore effectively remind other human beings of what they have forgotten. They have forgotten their potential oneness with God.
While Reverend Moon was in Danbury, inmates called him "Full Moon". Mr. Kamiyama, our Japanese brother who went with him, they called "Half Moon". There were two other American inmates who were converted to Reverend Moon simply by watching him. They were called "quarter moons". Then there were other admiring fellow inmates of Reverend Moon who were called "new moons". This is our interpretation of the word "incarnation".
Finally, this morning I would like to share with you why we consider the family so significant. There are several reasons why families are important, but I will comment on only the most essential points.
Many people do not know what true love is -- how to give it or how to receive it. The family is the place where children are to receive pure and natural love from their parents, and parents are to teach and show them how to appreciate love and how to respond to it. Were this done normally and properly, children would grow and mature normally. When this is neglected, all sorts of misfortunes or tragedies befall the children. Parents must create a God-centered family realizing genuine love with one another and among family members. In this way the family becomes the matrix of God's kingdom.
God had originally intended for Adam and Eve, the first couple, to be united in marriage through divine blessing as they came to maturity. When a God-centered man and woman become one, physically and spiritually, God blesses them and makes the couple His abode and earthly temple. Thus, they become as a family the crux of His kingdom. This is the profound meaning of the marriage, and the family with offspring is called the Four-Position Foundation in Unificationism. We bring to marriage this vertical dimension of the couple's and family's living relationship with God. Such a marriage and family should have been an important part of Jesus' mission.
God created man and woman and their family to make the basic foundation for His kingdom on earth. Since the first human couple failed to realize this, God had to send the Messiah in order to fulfill His delayed dispensation.
Not only Schweitzer and Küng but many others (like Wrede, Bornkamm, Perrin, Enslin, Guignbert, Schillebeeck, Bultmann, and the Jewish scholar Klausner) all have recognized that the mission of Jesus miscarried. As Küng wrote, "The problem was, Jesus' enemies were too strong and his friends were too weak." Other biblical scholars and theologians, in order to retain a concept of success for Jesus' mission, reinterpreted the meaning of the term "Kingdom of God". They transformed Jesus' proclamation of an earthly reign of God into the inner reign of God in the believer's heart and communion with Him, because they couldn't see the tangible Kingdom realized anywhere.
In conclusion, I would like to share with you Reinhold Neibuhr's humorous and poignant quotation. His friend once said:
Christians would say Jews are so dumb because they still cannot believe Jesus is the Messiah after seeing 2000 years of Christian history. Jews would say, Christians are so blind living in this sinful world to believe that Jesus fulfilled his messianic mission by dying on the cross. Jesus' aim was to bring the Kingdom of God on earth. Where is the kingdom?
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