The Divine Principle Home Study Course
Why Christ Came and Why He Must Come Again
As the Divine Principle sections on "The Creation" and "The Fall of Man" have explained, God originally created man and woman in His image. They were intended individually to grow to full emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity, and on this basis form families that could fully embody and express God's love. Such families would then be the well-spring of God's love for larger levels--the society, nation and world. The first couple chosen to achieve this ideal, however, the Biblical characters Adam and Eve, failed to do so. Their fall occurred through an unprincipled expression of love between Eve and the archangel Lucifer, and between Eve and Adam. With the loss of love at the beginning of history, all humanity has since suffered the deprivation of love. For Divine Principle the original separation from God's love has thwarted the realization of the divine ideal and has given rise to the tremendous pain and suffering that make up the record of human history. History on the Horizon
Divine Principle explains that, beginning with the tragic separation of humankind from its Creator, God has sought to restore men and women to their original state, no longer crippled by the catastrophic events involving the first human couple. God wishes to elevate us to the status of His True Children and to lead us to live in love, justice, and brotherhood. To realize this stage, prophets and holy men have appeared, directed by God, at various points in history. The coming of men such as Abraham and Moses, Buddha and Confucius, St. Francis and Martin Luther expresses God's redemptive activity in human society. However, the central manifestation of God's work was the advent of Jesus of Nazareth. For Divine Principle, Jesus was the man anointed by God as His Son to realize the original ideal on earth. He came in Adam's place to restore the lost Garden of Eden--the Kingdom of God on earth. The Bible
The New Testament offers an inspired and beautiful account of the life of Jesus and has served as the very well-spring of the Christian faith. Over recent decades, however, the New Testament--and, indeed, the entire Bible--has come to be understood in very different terms than has been the case in centuries past. The critical catalyst in this change has been the advent of modern biblical scholarship, particularly as it has been focused on the four Gospels. While as devotional material the Gospel accounts are awesome, it is now widely considered that as historical documents they fail to provide reliable data on the human Jesus and his actual teachings. The problem as most scholars see it is that the writers of the Gospels--writing anywhere from thirty to seventy years after the death of Jesus and writing with their own purposes in mind--freely embellished earlier oral and written reports that up to then had been the sources of information on the life of Jesus. In the words of Father Raymond Brown, of New York's Union Theological Seminary: "Primarily the Gospels tell us how each evangelist conceived of and presented Jesus to a Christian community in the last third of the first century. . . they offer only limited means for reconstructing the ministry and message of the historical Jesus." Recognizing such realities has led to extensive re- examinations of the life of Jesus. In recent decades, scholars have looked again at the Gospel accounts, questioning orthodox understandings and expressing radical dissatisfactions with traditional thinking about the Son of Man. The very fact of the volume and intensity of debate on this issue points to the problematic nature of the traditional New Testament picture of him. Hero, prophet or zealot?
The arguments presented by different theologians have ranged over a broad spectrum. A pivotal book in this debate was written by none other than the famed Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who, among his other great accomplishments, was a highly regarded theologian. In his Quest for the Historical Jesus, Schweitzer demolished a number of his predecessors' views of Jesus and advanced his own understanding of Jesus as an apocalyptic hero. He sees Jesus as believing in the imminent, supernatural appearance of the Kingdom of God, complete with the subjugation of all evil forces. In Schweitzer's view, at one point in his ministry Jesus expects the arrival of this Kingdom even before the next harvest. Only when his hopes are dashed does Jesus start thinking of the cross. Schweitzer concludes that Jesus finally went to the cross believing that this act would precipitate the apocalyptic arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth. In The Prophet from Nazareth, on the other hand, Professor Morton Enslin argues that Jesus must be understood simply as a man fulfilling a prophetic role. Enslin argues that the later Church paid tribute to the Nazarene Carpenter by bestowing him with such titles as Christ, Son of god and Lord, but that his original disciples thought of him simply as "a prophet mighty in deed and word." (Luke 24:19). Indeed, for Enslin, this is all Jesus thought himself to be. Another view of Jesus is presented by England's S.G.F. Brandon, of the University of Manchester. For Dr. Brandon, Jesus was a Zealot, striving for the political overthrow of the Roman tyranny. Jesus' primary interest was political, and this is why he was ultimately crucified. According to this view, a careful reading between the lines indicates the authors of the Gospels "rewrote early Christian history in order to remove Roman suspicions concerning the Church." Such is a partial view of the debate on the life of Jesus. Many opinions have been offered, but many questions remain. As Brandon's theories indicate, even extreme views have gained a hearing. In the opinion of many people--both theologians and laymen--the Divine Principle has shed a very helpful and clarifying light on some of the vexing problems surrounding Jesus. As a revelation received by Reverend Moon through his spiritual communication with God and Jesus, the Principle has the advantage of being able to penetrate the New Testament ambiguities and present a clear understanding of Jesus and his mission--one that has profound implications for the contemporary church and one that will help Christianity complete the spiritual revolution begun two thousand years ago.
Historically it has always been understood that Jesus came for the salvation of humankind. As Paul writes: "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him." (1 Thess. 9:10). Despite such understandings, the actual meaning of salvation has for many remained somewhat vague. Does salvation simply refer to the afterlife? Is it limited to individuals? What does it mean to be saved? If someone who was dying were to be saved, we would understand that he was restored to life and health. The same is true of a person drowning; to save him would mean to pull him form the water and return him to the shore. In these instances, "saving" a person means restoring him to his prior state of well-being. By the same token, Divine Principle teaches that spiritual salvation means restoring fallen man to his original state of goodness and wholeness-- the state he enjoyed before the Fall. This means restoring him to the position where as an individual he can fulfill the original purpose of life. Must be perfect
When Jesus came two thousand years ago, he unequivocally stated the goal of the individual life: "You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48) In Greek, the language in which Matthew wrote his Gospel, the word "perfect" (Greek: tellios) means "end" or "goal." It may be thus understood as describing one who has reached the end, or has achieved maturity in the image of God. For Divine Principle, such an ideal, challenging though it may be, reflects God's goal in His original creation and His goal in salvation. His first task is to create individual who are full reflections of Himself. Let us recall, however, that the process of salvation is meant to go beyond individuals. When John writes in his Gospel that "For God so loved the world that He gave his only son" (Jn. 3:16). he was reflecting the ultimate extent of God's goal. God is not just interested in individuals; He also intends to save families, races, nations and the world. If we think of what a saved world would be, we must think of a world free form what John F. Kennedy called the "common enemies of man--tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself." Speaking positively, we may envision a world where the strong are generous and the weak secure, where, in the words of Amos: ". . . justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." (Amos 5:24). It would be a world in which humanity's ancient hope for peace was realized, and our desire for material well-being met. It would be in effect a Garden of Eden that had been restored on a global scale. To Be Accomplished
Of course one may wonder if such a world could actually be realized. The record of human history is not promising. Nevertheless, Divine Principle points out that such a vision relies not primarily on man-- although man has his part to play--but on God. And for God to be God, He must one day realize His original ideal. Those who have followed God have on occasion been blessed with insight as to His ultimate purposes. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote of the day when God would "unite all things in (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph 1:10). Similarly, the prophet Isaiah writes of the Lord's proclamation: "I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass, I have purposed it and I will do it." (Is. 46:11). In the fullness of time, God will surely accomplish His purpose. As the God of love, He could never leave fallen man in his current state, for man was created as His child. By what steps would a restored world have to be approached? If Adam and Eve originally had managed to become marriage partners who reflected God's love, and if they had raised their children in this spirit, their family could have been the origin of an enlightened clan, society, nation and world. In other words, as the children of a perfected Adam and Eve matured and started their own families, their original family would have gradually expanded, finally developing into one world family. At the core of this global family would have been one set of true parents, perfected Adam and Eve, representing God's parental love to all their descendants. Centered on this family, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth would have emerged. Divine Principle teaches that throughout history God's purpose and method are consistent. The goal of salvation is thus a restored world expressing God's original ideal and centered on perfected man an woman. It is for this purpose that God sends the messiah. He comes to stand before God as the true individual and to establish a true family--a family that embodies and expresses God's love. On this foundation the Messiah is to build an ideal nation and world, thus fulfilling the originally intended Kingdom of Heaven of earth. For this reason Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew writes: "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom . . ." (Mt. 9:35). In the next section we will look more specifically at what the Kingdom meant for Jesus.
Jesus work on earth is dominated by a central, all-pervasive theme: the Kingdom of Heaven. "Repent," Jesus says, "for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt. 4:17)
In proclaiming this message, Jesus is announcing the fulfillment of a hope which God had long instilled in the Jewish people. At least since the seventh century B.C., the Hebrew people had looked forward to the arrival of the millennium, a golden age of peace and well-being for all. This Kingdom was to be inaugurated by the Messiah.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore." Is. 9:6-7.
Isaiah's view is that the Messiah was to govern his people with justice and righteousness. From the throne of David, he was to reign with wisdom, as Wonderful Counselor, with power, as Mighty God, with love, as the Everlasting Father. In his Kingdom, peace would endure. And not only the Messiahs human followers, but all nature was to dwell in his peace.
Isaiah writes: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them... They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the water cover the sea." Is. 11:6-9.
Isaiah further prophesied the glorious days the Israelite people would see in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you...Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried in their arms...Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall become a clan and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it." Is. 60
In the Hebrew mind, this is the glory and joy that the Israelites were to share upon the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. Their blessing would reach throughout the world, and earth would be the Garden of Eden.
"He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore." Is. 2:4
In all these passages we may see the promise of Gods ideal being realized. The world was to be restored and the Messiah was the catalyst.
An urgent message
Anointed by God for the mission of restoration, Jesus was consistently concerned to teach others of the coming Kingdom. His moral and ethical teachings, his exhortations, even his prayers all relate to this topic. His Sermon on the Mount, it has been said, may be likened to the constitution of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is also the subject of many of Jesus parables. He compared the Kingdom to sowing good seeds in various soils; to a tiny grain of mustard seed which would grow into a large tree; to leaven hidden in a meal; and to a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found with joy and then bought at the cost of everything he had.
Just as significant as these repeated references to the Kingdom was the apparent immediacy of its advent. There is a definite now quality to Jesus' references. Because the Kingdoms foundation had to be laid during Jesus lifetime, its establishment was imminent and urgent. Therefore Jesus directed his followers to seek his Kingdom and righteousness first, without giving undue thought to what to eat or wear. His disciples were told to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.
Some of the passages from Luke vividly illustrate just how urgent matters were. To a man who wanted to go bury his deceased father, Jesus retorted, "Leave the dead to bury the dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:60) On another occasion he said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:62) In teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus first petition to God was "Thy Kingdom come."
Finally, as we have indicated, Jesus made the point that to enter the Kingdom, one had to be spiritually mature. In his words, "You, therefore, must perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48)
A Kingdom on Earth
An important distinction must be drawn here between the earthly nature of the Kingdom, as conceived by prophetic Judaism and early Christianity, and spiritualized, ethereal version envisioned by the later Christian Church.
In proclaiming the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven which was substituted because of Hebrew restrictions on the use of the word "God") many Christians believe either that Jesus was referring to the fate of his followers after death or their individual spiritual fulfillment. However, this cannot be the case. As God envisioned a Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the beginning, starting with Adam and Eve, He would naturally envision a Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the end. His intent and will are constant.
Most scholars would agree that envisioning a purely spiritual or personal Kingdom entirely misrepresents the intent of Jesus message, ministry and mission.
Professor Frederick C. Grant typifies scholarly opinion: "Jesus conception of the Kingdom of God is absolutely and unequivocally and exclusively a religious conception: pure and simply religious, but religious in the sound ancient sense, as embracing all of life, society, politics, the labor of men, as well as their inner feelings, attitudes, and aspirations." --The Gospel of the Kingdom.
The early Christian Church, being closer in time to the earthly life of Jesus, knew that Jesus envisioned an earthly Kingdom and eagerly awaited Jesus return to complete his work. Reflecting this fact, the Apostle Paul is on occasion at pains to placate the early Christians who were hoping for a quick return of Jesus.
"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word...to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." II Thess. 2:1
It was only later that the return of the Lord would be viewed as indefinitely postponed. With this postponement, the concept of the Kingdom was gradually deflected away from earth and toward heaven.
We may say in summary that the kingdom that Jesus attempted to bring was a literal, physical kingdom, a restored world based on Gods original ideal. Jesus was to become the spiritual and ethical archetype, the model individual of the Kingdom. Achieving this himself, he was to show all people the way to individual and collective maturity. Based on the example and the inspiration he furnished, an ideal family, society, nation and world would have come into being. In this way, the long-sought Kingdom would be established.
Clearly, however, the ideal of the Kingdom was not realized. "What happened?" In the next section, the Principle will pursue the answer by first looking at the work of Jesus forerunner.
From the time of the early Church, Christianity has always held an elevated view of John the Baptist. Even its best modern thinkers, for example the German, Gunther Bornkamm, persist in identifying John as a heroic figure eternally testifying to the Risen Christ:
"...he signifies for the Christian...the returned Elijah who was to prepare the people of God for the coming of the Messiah...The Church recognizes him to be the one who will be forever preparing the way for Christ..."(in 'Jesus of Nazareth')
Despite each noble testimony, a close look at the New Testament record raises many questions about the Baptizer. Let us look more closely at John's role and activities.
An Elijah-like figure
Certainly Bornkamm is correct in describing John as an Elijah-like figure. In the Hebrew mind, Elijah had always been expected as a forerunner to the Messiah. Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, has prophesied: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." (Mal. 4:5).
To this day, at Jewish Passover seder, a cup of wine is provided for Elijah in the anticipation of his arrival prior to that of the Messiah.
Living in the ninth century before Christ, Elijah is famed for his dramatic victory over four hundred and fifty prophets on Israel's Mount Carmel. (I Ki. 18:20-40). Through his obedience and faith, he is thus regarded as having purged Israel of satanic influences. However, perhaps due to the subsequent spiritual lapses of the people, his work had to be redone. Only after this task was accomplished could the Messiah come; therefore, as Malachi predicted, another Elijah had to arise.
John as Elijah
According to the New Testament, Jesus regarded John the Baptist as the anticipated Elijah. Matthew reports Jesus saying:
"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come." (Mt. 11:13-14)
The New Testament records that John had been chosen even in the womb. Luke tells us that the angel Gabriel had announced to Zachariah that his wife Elizabeth, would bear a son who would prepare his people for the Anointed One.
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." (Lk. 1:16-17)
The entire course of John's life was subsequently a preparation for his later task of witnessing to the Messiah: his lonely period in the desert, his time of meditation and study and his exercise in ascetic piety.
According to Mark and Matthew, John modeled his lifestyle--including his clothing--after Elijah. He adopted as his own the rough camel hair garb and leather belt which were the marks of the prophetic office ever since ancient times. Like Elijah, the Baptist poured fiery judgement on the society around him. Everyone felt the effect of his withering denunciations.
In addition to all this, John was apparently aware that he was a forerunner of a greater one yet to come. We are told by Luke how John replied to those who thought that because of his spiritual might John himself must be the long-awaited Deliverer.
"I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Lk. 3:15-16).
Regardless of such demurrers, all four Gospels, and other ancient historical sources as well, agree that John attracted large crowds and developed a substantial following of his own.
The strategy upset
Divine Principle teaches that coming in the role of Elijah, it was John's mission to unite with Jesus and give clear testimony to him. However, according to the Gospel of John, when the question of his identity was put to the Baptist, he denied that he was Elijah.
"And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No." (Jn. 1:19-21)
In light of the fact that in the Hebrew mind Elijah had to arrive before the Messiah would come, such assertions by John were extremely damaging to Jesus and the role he was trying to fulfill. Because of John's prestige, any major statements of his concerning Jesus carried great weight, more so than did the words of Jesus, a man of apparently less significance in the opinion of the people.
Jesus was an obscure young man raised in a humble carpenter's home and was not known to be experienced in spiritual disciplines. Yet, contravening established authority, Jesus proclaimed himself "lord of the Sabbath" (Mt. 12:8), was known as one who was abolishing the law (Mt. 5:17), and had put himself on an equal footing with God. (Jn. 14:9-11). Disturbed by all this, Jewish leaders claimed that Jesus was working by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. (Mt. 12:24).
John, on the other hand, displayed much more impressive qualifications. He was the son of a prominent family, and the miracles surrounding his conception and birth wee known throughout the country. (Lk. 1:5-66). Living on "locusts and honey" in the wilderness, he was regarded by many as leading an exemplary life of faith. In fact, John was held in such high esteem that the high priests, as well as the common people, asked if he were the Messiah (Lk. 3:15, Jn. 1:20).
Under these circumstances, we may imagine the people of Israel tended to believe John more than Jesus. Jesus' view of John as Elijah seemed untrustworthy, said only to make believable Jesus' claims about himself.
While there is dispute over the exact relationship that existed between John and Jesus, the gospel record also reveals a certain inconsistency in the Baptist's behavior toward Jesus. The Gospel of John indicates a definite recognition and affirmation by John of Jesus' role: "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (Jn. 1:29).
Matthew indicates, however, that later John vacillates. After he has been imprisoned by Herod for criticizing Herod's second marriage, John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask: "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (Mt. 11:3).
Jesus retorts sharply: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." (Mt. 11:4-6).
In light of the enormous difficulties faced by any messianic movement in first century Palestine, the chances for success were greatly diminished if the forces for reformation remained divided.
If John had affirmed his own Elijah-like role and consistently testified tot he messianic status of the Nazarene, Jesus' way could have been opened wide and the Kingdom established on earth. Given Jesus' messianic role, we may imagine the ideal situation would have been for John to unite with Jesus even becoming one of his chief disciples. Since John himself had disciples, this would have enormously aided Jesus' cause.
Tragically, even though Jesus was eagerly searching for followers ("Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers") (Lk. 10:2), John and his group remained apart. There are even indications that tension existed between the two groups. Matthew, for example, reports a dispute between the disciples of Christ and those of the Baptist over fasting. (Mt. 9:14). And according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the Fourth Gospel seems to contain a polemic against the disciples of the Baptist (John 1:6-8) which suggests that they existed as a separate group, distinct from the Christian Church, even up to the end of the first century.
While John was in prison, Jesus is recorded as assessing John's role. On the surface, his paradoxical statement is quite puzzling. " . . . among those born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist, yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." (Mt. 11:11).
John was born at the ;most important time in human history and had the unique privilege to serve Jesus directly by testifying to him. John should have brought everything he had--his experience, his knowledge, his large following--and offered them to Jesus.
Because of his great influence and popularity--an influence that extended to the religious establishment--John could have thus led many influential people to Jesus. Jesus therefore described John as "the greatest born of women" because the opportunity before him was such a great one. but the sad fact is that John failed to grasp that opportunity and so was less than the "least in the Kingdom." Because John failed to fulfill his glorious place in the Kingdom to the most humble believer.
Reasons for the failure
One may ask why it was that John didn't follow Jesus. The reasons seem to be multifaceted--psychological, sociological and spiritual.
For one thing, John apparently saw a conflict between his own interests and those of Jesus. He felt that if Jesus prospered, then he would decline. In John's words, "He must increase, while I must decrease." (Jn. 3:30). Feeling that supporting Jesus would involve giving up his own following, he failed to see that if he were truly united with Jesus, as Jesus' star ascended so would his own.
John may also have had doubts about some of the things that Jesus espoused: the sayings of Jesus were quite out of the ordinary, such that he was accused of undermining conventional Hebrew morality and Mosaic teachings.
Observing Jesus' background and achievement, John may have gathered that the long-awaited Son of Man could not be as commonly human as was Jesus--of questionable birth, dubious education, a mere carpenter, and without a well-developed following.
In addition, John may have compared himself to Jesus and found the comparison quite unflattering to this alleged messiah. While John was the son of a Temple priest, Jesus was formally uneducated and frequently seemed to contradict the Hebrew scriptures. Also, Jesus' disciples were men of little education and competence. John lived a very ascetic life while Jesus ate, drank and stayed with tax collectors, prostitutes and others considered undesirable by society.
The prevailing conception
Finally, we must understand the prevailing conception of the Messiah-to-come at the time of Jesus. Generally speaking, the expectation was a apocalyptic one. It was a period of eager anticipation of imminent dramatic events, a time which combined both a sense of despair about history and yet a hope that God would act dramatically to change things utterly and forever.
Influenced by the Book of Daniel, many sincere believers expected the Messiah would come on the clouds of heaven. Daniel had written:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him." (Dan. 7:13-14).
Short of such a cataclysmic event, other Israelites felt the ;Messiah would come as a mighty deliverer, raising the standard of national freedom and driving the Romans into the sea. After all, their immediate concern was liberating themselves from the Roman tyranny. Thus their concept was essentially temporal and militaristic.
Perhaps even John could not help being influenced by some of these assumptions about the coming Son of Man. How hard it must have been to accept a mere carpenter like Jesus as the Promised One!
Whatever the reasons, John's support of Jesus clearly did not go as far as it might. With no clear Elijah, with Malachi's prophecy unfulfilled, Jesus' task was rendered incalculably more difficult.
The perfection which Jesus attained was to expand from him to his family and disciples. From there the nation of Israel and the entire world were to gradually evolve into higher and higher levels of moral and religious consciousness, modeled upon Jesus' example. We know, however, that this did not happen. Not only did John fail to support him, but, because of this, most of Jesus' fellow Jews failed to support him as well.
Indeed, when Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah finally came to the people, he was most sadly treated, particularly by the religious leaders. Some of the people listened to Jesus and often marveled at him, but their response was often focused on his miracles and healing rather than the truth he brought.
A few came to recognize him by the truth of this words, but the priests, scribes, and Pharisees, perhaps threatened by Jesus' works, consistently criticized his teaching as being contrary to the law of Moses. They viewed his miracles as coming from Beelzebub, the devil. (Mt. 12:24). they denied his Messiahship by saying that he blasphemed in referring to himself as the Son of God. (Jn. 12:33). By their frequent condemnation of Jesus, this leadership element alienated the people from him. Ultimately they bribed one of his disciples to betray him.
How can you believe?
In this hostile context, Jesus was clearly not able to disclose all that he wanted.
"We speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" (Jn. 3:11-12).
We may imagine that the "heavenly things" Jesus wished to share consisted of advanced knowledge concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. However, he could not convey such information to the people, because they did not believe in him.
The Gospel records indicate that Jesus did virtually everything possible to persuade his people to recognize and believe in him. He had preached about the Kingdom of Heaven he had come to establish. He frequently performed miraculous works in the hope that the people might see who he was. He had loved them with his whole being. Nevertheless, critical elements of Hebrew society failed to accept him as the Messiah, and repudiated his words and works. Matthew reports and angered Jesus rebuking them for their unbelief: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." (Mt. 11:21).
Jerusalem, the city of the Temple, had rejected Jesus, the true temple. He wept: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate." (Mt. 23:37-38). "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes . . . because you did not know the time of your visitation." )Lk. 19:42-44).
Jesus endeavored to make his fellow countrymen recognize him by his words, his works, and his prayers, but it was all in vain. In this context, Jesus began to speak of the return of the "Son of Man." Jesus did not mention a Second Advent from the beginning of his ministry. He did so only after it became apparent that his primary intention--that of inspiring the construction of a physical and spiritual Kingdom on earth--could not be realized.
Jesus was denied and crucified by God's chosen people--the very people who had fasted, prayed, offered tithes, prophesied, served God faithful, and longed for the Messiah throughout their suffering. However, let us be hesitant to blame the Jews of those times. If we had lived then and seen Jesus with our own eyes, quite possible we would also have denied him. This is particularly true in light of the fact that for many Jews there was apparently a missing element--Elijah--in the messianic formula.
The course changed
With the slowly developing conviction that his primary task of Kingdom-building was becoming less and less possible, Jesus was forced to change his course. A critical event in this transformation was Jesus' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke reports that at one point Jesus went upon a mountain to pray, with Peter, John and James accompanying him. During his prayer, Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, and his inevitable suffering was revealed to him.
"And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem." (Lk. 9:30-31).
Peter and the other disciples were heavy with sleep and were not fully aware of what had transpired. Peter's exclamation: "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for the Elijah." (Lk. 9:33) reflects his excitement at the spiritual manifestation of these two great figures, but he had missed the whole point.
The Gospels indicate that about this time, Jesus began to intimate to his disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem and be killed. Significantly, the disciples were shocked. Matthew tells us that Jesus' chief disciple Peter was so alarmed as to exclaim, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (Mt. 16:22). Peter, as an intimate of Jesus, would probably have known what Jesus' intentions were. The obvious implication is that Jesus' remarks concerning his suffering were upsetting because such statements were in complete contrast to everything Jesus had taught up to then.
Although to the outer circle of followers, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God only in parables, to his intimate disciples he revealed more. Luke records Jesus as telling his disciples: "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables . . . " (Lk. 8:10)
Taught by Jesus, his close followers knew that Jesus was working to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. With this knowledge, John and James once asked Jesus: "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." (Mk. 10:37) Regardless of such petitions, on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, Jesus had resolved to confront the imminent crisis. He had to take an alternative path, the path to the cross. Thus he was diverted from the victorious course prophesied by Isaiah.
According to conventional theology, Jesus' death was in accordance with the fore-ordained will of God, the necessary ransom for the redemption of a fallen humanity. In support of this position many Christians point to the "Suffering Servant" passages of the Book of Isaiah.
One particular passage is often cited as offering incontrovertible authority that the Messiah was meant to be killed:
"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? . . . He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . . surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted." (Is. 53:1-4).
In explaining the significance of this passage, Divine Principle stresses that the purpose of god is fully accomplished only when people cooperate with Him. If men and women do not wholeheartedly obey Him, God's will cannot be fulfilled.
Accordingly, there were two possible responses to the Messiah: he could be received and supported by the people, or, failing that, he could be rejected.
In line with these two possibilities we may identify two distinct avenues of prophecy reflected in the Old Testament. The prophecies of the King of Kings recorded in Isaiah 9, 11, and 60 (e.g. "of the increase of this government and of peace there will be no end:) express one line of prophecy and would have been fulfilled if the necessary people responded to the Messiah wholeheartedly.
However, if the proper people did not respond, the Messiah would be faced with a suffering curse. This prospect is reflected in the prediction of the Suffering Servant recorded in Isaiah 53. Either of the prophecies could have been fulfilled, depending on the people.
Traditionally Christians have assumed that Jesus came among men only to die. In understanding the roots of this belief, we should be aware that any other interpretation seems to have been purposefully excluded from consideration.
Modern research notes that as time passes by in the chronological order of the Gospels, the stark tragedy of the crucifixion is gradually covered up.
In Mark, our oldest Gospel, Jesus utters a single agonizing cry from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Mk. 15:34) Even though Mark was probably written in Rome, the poignancy of that cry made such a lasting impression that the evangelist preserves it in the original Aramaic language spoken by Jesus.
Matthew copies the same account without major alterations. Luke, however, omits the cry of agony and replaces it with the serene words: "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!" (Lk 23:46). From a scene which evokes anguished despair, that recorded by Mark, the Third Gospel changes to a scene of confident acceptance.
In John, the divine Christ proclaims from the cross in majesty, "It is finished." (Jn. 19:30).
As the Gospel writers thus succeed each other, any thought that Jesus might have considered his mission a defeat is discreetly excluded from the record. In fact, in the Syriac version of the scriptures used by certain Christian sects of the Near East, Mark itself has been altered to read not "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" but "My God, my God, for this I was spared!"
Ultimately, the early Church seems to have followed a process of reverse logic. Professor Robert Morgan makes this point: "Why did Jesus die? . . . The early Christians believed that they understood the meaning of Jesus, and this controlled their answers to the question. They worked backwards from the answer to the question and said that Jesus died because it was God's will. They then retold the story complete with this theological explanation in order to illuminate for others the whole meaning of Jesus as they understood." (The Trial of Jesus).
They will respect my son.
Jesus' parable of the vineyard, as reported in Matthew, clearly indicates that he did not come to die:
"There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? They said to him, 'He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their season.' . . . Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." (Mt. 21:33-43).
In this parable the householder is God. Just as the householder expected the tenants in the parable to receive His son with respect and love, so God expected His chosen people to receive His son Jesus. As one may imagine the broken heart of the householder upon hearing of his son's death, so also we may imagine the sorrow of God over the crucifixion. At least this is reflected in Jesus' own experience in Gethsemane.
We are told that just prior to the crucifixion, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wept and prayed three times that the cup of suffering might pass from him -- that he be spared from death. (Mk. 14)
In view of Divine Principle, the reasons for Jesus' tears are several. For one, Jesus understood that through him God had wanted to fulfill the original ideal He had in creation. As one with a unique communion with God, we may imagine he knew clearly of the sorrow in God's heart over His broken creation. Jesus has sought to relieve that grief, but with his own rejection he realized that the Divine will was being frustrated again. God's sorrow would only intensify. Unable to succeed completely in his mission, Jesus must have felt sorrowful himself.
At the same time, Israel had undergone repeated trials and had suffered long in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. By rejecting him, Jesus recognized the likelihood that Israel would lose God's blessing and her long suffering would become meaningless. Deeply loving his people, Jesus may have sensed a bleak destiny facing them.
Jesus may also have foreseen that his followers would suffer as he had suffered. He was going the path of the crucifixion. Could their fate be any better? Furthermore, since the establishment of God's Kingdom was postponed, humanity's suffering in this Satanic world would also inevitably continue.
Filled with thoughts of these things, Jesus must have felt great pain and anguish. Certainly such feelings are suggested by the Gospel reports:
"And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, 'My Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as though wilt.'" (Mt. 26:37-39)
Some paradoxes resolved
For a moment, let us look at this Gethsemane scene from the other side of the argument. If we thing that the crucifixion was God's predetermined course of saving mankind, why was Jesus so sorrowful in accepting it? Why would he pray that the cup of suffering pass from him? The argument has been made that the Gethsemane scene simply reflects the emergency of Jesus' "human weakness."
Nevertheless, it is a fact that numerous martyrs have gone to their to their deaths joyfully and serenely. The first martyr, Stephen, who died by stoning, went to his death with a joyful heart. (Acts 7:54-59). Likewise, it is said that Peter, faced as Jesus was by crucifixion, reacted simply by requesting he be allowed to be crucified upside down.
Beyond the religious sphere, the revolutionary war patriot Nathan Hale was sorry he could die only once for his country. Could Jesus be less heroic than these? Could Jesus, the Savior of mankind, have less faith than others when he prayed to have the cup taken from him? Certainly not. He desperately prayed, even three times because he knew his death on the cross was not God's primary will. In his agony he sought some possible way to fulfill the divine mandate.
We may also note that if Jesus' crucifixion had been God's predetermined plan, the role of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, should have been vital in God's sight. If Judas' action had helped to accomplish God's will, why did he hang himself afterward?
The action of Judas was rebellious, and Jesus is reported as clearly displaying his anger at Judas' treachery: "...but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it would have been better for that man if he had not been born." (Mt. 26:24)
From this and other reasons given above, Divine Principle stresses that the cross was not the primary intention of Jesus, although it quickly became the preoccupation of the early Church. Jesus came to fulfill God's original ideal. He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly.
Had Jesus been able to gain acceptance by his people, world history would have developed along very different lines that it did. Following Jesus, we may imagine the people of Israel would have become the enlightened center of a glorious new world. The subsequent split between Judaism and Christianity would never have occurred. The early Christians would never have had to confront their terrible sufferings and the pain and conflict which humanity has faced over the past 2,000 years would have been avoided. Also, since the mission of the Messiah would have been completed, there would be no need for the prophesied Second Coming.
To understand Jesus' mission in terms of a defeat, however, would be an error. As we have indicated, God is seeking both the physical and spiritual salvation of humanity. As a result of the crucifixion, however, the physical selves of mankind are still subject to satanic invasion. Reflecting this reality, Paul writes to his fellow Christians in Rome: "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate....For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind." (Rom. 7:14-23)
Despite the frustration of God's primary intention for Jesus, Divine Principle affirms that the secondary course adopted by Jesus salvaged a victory. Though the crucifixion was a defeat, the resurrection was a victory opening the way to spiritual salvation for all people. Through the resurrection. God opened the way to a realm free from Satanic accusation.
While it is true that no physical body, including that of Jesus, can survive biological death, spiritual bodies are not affected by the end of physical existence. Therefore, Jesus' body was resurrected. This resurrection gave a new religious life to those who had united with Jesus in spirit. Because God had sacrificed the son He loved the most for the sake of those who rejected him, Satan no longer had a base from which to accuse God. The cross was Satan's victory, but the resurrection was God's. Through it, God could begin a new dispensation of spiritual salvation through the resurrected Jesus.
Even after Jesus' appearance on earth, the world continues to suffer under the power of evil. Complete redemption, both spiritual and physical, thus awaits the Second Advent. Through the word of the new Messiah, the prospect of the liquidation of humanity's sin and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth will be offered again.
Much of Christian thought has been devoted to the vexing problem of the Nature of Jesus. For centuries, his own question, "Who do men say that I am?" (Mk. 8:27) has been debated heatedly by both theologians and laymen alike. Was Jesus really God Himself in a human body? Was he only man? If the former, how could God so limit Himself? If the latter, how did Jesus differ from other men? Did he exist before his birth? What is his relationship to the Holy Spirit? The Principle sheds light on these age-old questions and clarifies them.
Divine Principle explains that Jesus is best understood by reference to God's original ideal for man. On several levels a person who fulfills this ideal has special value and significance.
Firstly, with much of historic Christian theology, Divine principle affirms that every person is created as a child of God. When a person matures according to the image of God within him, we may think of him as embodying true personhood; in Jesus' words, he is "perfect as (the) heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48) He becomes a person in whom the spirit of God dwells, a visible manifestation of the invisible God. In this sense we may even say he becomes God's body.
Secondly, since all human beings resemble the universal aspects of God, we all share a common nature. However, each person also embodies unique characteristics from God. No two people are the same. Ultimately, a person who fulfills the ideal of perfection can never be duplicated, throughout all of eternity. He has his own eternal uniqueness.
Thirdly, Jesus once asserted that a person's life was more precious than the whole world. As the Principle of Creation explains, each human being is a microcosm of the cosmos. His spirit encapsulates the elements of the spirit world, and his physical body those of the physical world. For Divine Principle, since each person encapsulates the cosmos, he has the same value as the cosmos.
Thus understanding a true person's value, let us address an issue that had bedeviled the Christian church for 2,000 years: Is Jesus God himself, or is he simply a human being?
Divine Principle affirms Jesus is an example of a true person - a person who has fulfilled God's original ideal for man. He was a visible expression of the invisible God, a man of unique individuality and a person of cosmic value. As we may imagine, his significance is thus hardly to be compared with that of ordinary fallen man. Jesus was the man for others, the man who, as Emerson put it, plowed his name into the history of the world. He was a true man, and although all of us are meant to be like him, none of us yet is.
The Principle does not simply deny the conventional belief that Jesus is God, because, as we have indicated, a true person is one with God, However, Jesus was divine precisely because he was fully human.
None of Jesus' contemporaries and disciples appeared to have thought he was God Himself. The evidence before them indicated otherwise. Even his own brothers, for example, failed to recognize his identity. And although the Apostle Paul did not meet Jesus during his life-time, his proximity in time to him and his disciples led him to write:
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)
"For as by one man's disobedience mane were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19)
"For as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man )Jesus) has come also the resurrection of the dead." (I Cor. 15:21)
Nevertheless, many Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus is God, the Creator. In support of their belief, these believers point to several passages from the New Testament, especially from the Gospel of John. One of the most common citations is the fourth gospels' famous prologues:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made," (Jn 1:1-3)
Although it has been the practice of some to interpret the Word as referring to Jesus himself, it is thought by others that the author of the fourth Gospel did not necessarily intend it this way. Historically, the concept of the Word, or Logos, originates in the Greek mystical tradition. The author of the fourth Gospel adapted it to express his won understanding of Jesus' significance.
For Divine Principle, the Word or Logos, was God's ideal for his creation. That the Word was with God in the beginning does not mean Jesus, the man, had pre-existed his birth. It means that the Word, God's ideal of the perfected person, had pre-existed its expression into human form. Jesus existed from the beginning, nut only in the sense that he was the fulfillment of the Word.
Similarly, when the disciple Philip once asked Jesus to show him God, John reports that Jesus replied:
"He who has seen me has seen the Father: how can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (Jn. 14:9-10)
Again, such a passage has frequently been interpreted to mean that Jesus was God Himself. Nevertheless, this is not the case. As explained above, Jesus was a visible manifestation of the invisible God and is one with God in heart. Therefore, one who has seen him has seen the Father. As the person who realized the original ideal of God for man, Jesus was simply the visible, human expression of the invisible God.
For many the belief that Jesus was God Himself is an expression of a general tendency to deify our heroes. Recently, for example, Professor John Hick's The Myth of God Incarnate, argued that the only way the early Christians could express their adoration and devotion to Jesus was to make him the equivalent of God.
Asserting a similar point, the well-known scholar Dr. Joseph Campbell has noted that not only in Christianity has the original humanity of the founder been obscured, but in Buddhism, as well, "the biography of Gautama was turned into a supernatural life."
Paul referred to Jesus as the last Adam. (I Cor. 15:45) for the Divine Principle, this is one of those brilliant insights which quite regrettably was never taken up and elaborated upon by succeeding generations of Christian thinkers. Nevertheless, its importance is clear. In becoming the new Adam, Jesus was to fulfil the divine mandate given to his original ancestor. Because Adam, the first man, did not fulfill his divine mission, another man as to come in his place -- as a man.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus at one point asserted his humanity, not his deity. I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. (Jn. 14:28) By saying that the Father is greater than he, Jesus made clear distinction between himself and God.
At another point Jesus is reported as drawing a sharp distinction between himself and God, exclaiming, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Lk. 18:19)
Beyond such statements, Jesus was in appearance no different from other men. Even his brothers failed to see anything unusual about him. One of them, James, did not join the Christian movement until after the crucifixion. Because of his very human qualities, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan.
According to the earliest Gospels, he often retired to a lonely spot to pray because, as a man, he needed strength from God to continue his exhausting ministry. Like anyone else, he was hungry and sleepy at times. More than once, the Evangelists tell us, he broke down and wept.
Jesus also became disheartened by the opposition encountered from the Pharisees and the disbelief of his fellow-countrymen even in his hometown of Nazareth. He was filled with distress when his inner circle betrayed, denied and then abandoned him to his fate.
For proof that Jesus was thoroughly human consider his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and his lonely cry from the cross, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Mk. 15:34)
The early Christian theologian Athanasius of Alexandria argued that Jesus could be of help to us and could be our Savior only if he were one of us in every respect. Divine Principle would agree adding that if Jesus were not subject as a human being to temptations similar to those facing the rest of us, he could never liberate us from Satanic dominion. If Jesus were not human, his life, his teaching, and his example would have no significance for us.
Nevertheless, Jesus is different. In addition to being a man who fulfilled the ideal of creation, Jesus is set off from other people by his mission. Jesus is described by John's Gospel as the true vine and his followers as its branches; only as part of the tree could they bear good fruit.
By being spiritually reborn through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, a fallen person can be restored as a spiritual child, and can ultimately come himself to resemble Jesus. If Jesus was the first fully human man, others were to achieve their own full humanity in relation to him. Jesus was the temple of God, and all others could become temples by uniting with him. In this divine mission Jesus was unique; but this mission he was to fulfill as a man.
One of the most famous statements in the New Testament is Jesus' assertion to a stunned Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of God, one must be born anew. (Jn. 3:3) Regardless of the historical age, ever since the remark of the concept of rebirth has been a core doctrine within the Christian faith. In light of the Principle, let us investigate why humanity is called to rebirth.
As we have suggested, if Adam and Eve had fulfilled the original ideal of God, becoming true human beings, true partners and True Parents, then the Kingdom of Heaven on earth could have been realized centered on them.
However, because of the fall, Adam and Eve became false parents, giving birth specifically to children stained with sin and generally to a world we can call the Kingdom of Hell. In this world, fallen, conflicted men and women can never find liberation unless they are released from sin and born again into new life and new love.
As we know, however, we cannot be born without parents. To inherit God's love and grace, fallen persons need parents who can represent God to them. In this sense, Jesus came as the True Father to impart new life to all humanity. He is called the last Adam (I Cor. 15:45) and the Everlasting Father (Is. 9:6) because he was to be the True Father in the place of Adam.
But what of the mother's role? Just as for physical birth, for spiritual birth to occur there must be not only a True Father, but also a True Mother. Consequently, after the crucifixion, God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit as a mother spirit, or feminine spirit, to work with the risen Christ in Eve's place.
Making restitution for Eve's part in the Fall, the Holy Spirit inspires and comforts the human heart, leading us back to God.
Reflecting her feminine essence, the Holy Spirit is traditionally known as the comforter. As children are born through the love of parents, so through the give and take of love Jesus and the Holy Spirit give spiritual rebirth to all those who follow them.
We may thus understand Jesus and the Holy Spirit as spiritual True Father and True Mother. Being born again through Jesus and the Holy Spirit means that one's spirit is made new through the love of the spiritual True Parents.
Beyond this, however, Divine Principles emphasizes that complete restoration requires not just spiritual rebirth, but physical rebirth also. The division between spirit and body so poignantly described by the Apostle Paul (Rom.7) is to be healed. This further dimension of rebirth will take place through the Second Coming.
One doctrine bearing the scars of centuries of debate and controversy within the Christian faith is that of the Trinity. Although Trinitarian speculations were hardly at the center of Jesus' message, the Christian Church of the fourth and fifth centuries found such concerns to be crucial.
Church councils were held at Nicea in 305 A.D. and Chalcedon in 451 A.D. to define how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the same Being and yet different. To explain it, the Church Fathers borrowed complicated concepts from Greek philosophy and beat down all objections to them. Today, Church historians recognize that the political maneuvering occurring at such councils would far out do most any Machiavellian scheming at a modern-day political convention. It is quite a remarkable narrative.
Let us look at the Trinity from the point of view of the Principle. It is commonly recognized that if the Fall of man had not occurred, God would not have needed Jesus and the Holy Spirit for the salvation of man. If Adam and Eve had perfected themselves as God's son and daughter, each becoming an embodiment of God's character, they would have been "...perfect as (their) Heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt. 5:48) and they would have attained the ideal of union with God in heart. (Jn. 14:20)
As God's true son and daughter, Adam and Eve could also have become true husband and wife, centered on God. If they had achieved all this, becoming the True Parents of humankind, together with God they would have formed the original Trinity, a Trinity centered on God's love and ideal.
However, because of the Fall, Adam and Eve became the false parents of man. We may say they formed a Trinity but it was centered on Satan. As a result, since God is still determined to fulfill the purpose of the creation, He called Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the second Adam and second Eve. Together with God they form a spiritual Trinity in the place of Adam and Eve.
As we have suggested, in establishing the spiritual Trinity centered on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit accomplished only the mission of the spiritual True Parents. For this reason, the Second Coming became necessary.
The purpose of the Lord of the Second Coming is thus to marry and establish the Trinity both spiritually and physically. Reflecting this fact, the Book of Revelation intimates a divine marriage at the close of the age. This is the Marriage of the Lamb, the marriage of True Adam and True Eve, and event which Divine Principle promises will hold great hope for all humanity.
"Let us rejoice and exult and give (God) the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready...(Rev. 19.7)
Although it has the support of much of modern scholarship, the Divine Principle assertion that Jesus' primary intention was other than the crucifixion departs from much traditional belief. Certainly for some, the Divine Principle revelation will be seen as heresy.
Nevertheless, one need not look far to realize that new understanding is needed. There is widespread agreement that if Christianity is to remain relevant to the modern world it must reinterpret its message in the light of intellectual, cultural and political changes going on all about us.
When in the 1960s certain theologians like Thomas J. Altizer of Emory University shocked everybody by announcing that "God is dead," they meant in part that the old theology had become completely irrelevant for modern man. Certainly the spiritual illness' of contemporary society--divorce, crime, drug abuse and the like--are hardly being adequately addressed by conventional teaching.
Nor have the assertions of traditional Christian thought been sufficient to avoid the rise of such pernicious secular religions as fascism and communism. Something different, something new, is required if the void is to be filled and Christian religion is to make a positive contribution toward a new, progressive civilization.
A well-known representation of Christ within the Roman Catholic faith depicts the "sacred heart of Jesus." The image shows him with his heart exposed, penetrated by an arrow and bleeding. It suggests that out of his love for humanity Jesus is bleeding, bleeding for the sin of man, bleeding for the pain of the world. He had come to relieve that pain, to lead the world back to God, but he was tragically rejected. His heart, and God's heart, will bleed until the time when the wheel of history leads mankind to full salvation in a restored Kingdom of God on earth.
Before such a day could ever be realized, of course, some people anticipate the "end of the world." Certainly a number of prophetic utterances in both Old and New Testaments indicate such an event will occur. We hear of the "sun being darkened," of the "stars falling from heaven," and of "a new heaven and a new earth." What do they mean? Are they relevant to us today?
Also, it has been said by many that we are now living in a new age in history. It is an age of vast change, of global interdependence, of cultural convergence. It is an age when man can truly reach to the stars, or destroy himself with the weapons of his own making. It is an age when the most dire prophecies of the bible could come to pass, or its brightest promises fulfilled. Which will it be?
The next section of the Home Study Course, Consummation of Human History, examines the meaning of the Biblical prophecy in light of God's ultimate goals in history, and looks at our modern age in terms of God's historical providence. Ultimately, Divine Principle promises a bright future for humanity.
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