Unification Theology

by Young Oon Kim

Signs Of The Times

Help from Above

The vast majority of Christians -- with the exception of Reformation Protestants 10 -- have always believed that there exists regular communication between the inhabitants of the spirit world and people on earth. So far as anthropologists can determine, this belief in the regular interaction of these two dimensions of existence has been one of the oldest items of men's faith. Such a belief can be found in ancient Persia, India, China, South America, Egypt and Europe. 11 As a result of modern studies of paranormal experience and psychical research, a growing number of liberal Christians have also come to accept the basic truth of this old faith. 12

But why does such communication between these two realms occur? Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would say that they pray to St. Anthony, St. Francis or the mother of Jesus for inspiration, guidance and practical aid in their pilgrimage of faith. According to Divine Principle also this is true: we on earth can be greatly assisted by personal help from the spirit world. Yet Divine Principle gives a further explanation usually overlooked in traditional Christian thought. The principle of creation states that a human soul can only grow to perfection in conjunction with his own physical body in this life, or later through cooperation with persons on earth. Accordingly, spirit-men who did not reach perfection must descend to work with people of similar mission in order to complete their process of restoration. 13 Consequently, at crucial points in salvation-history there takes place an unusual proliferation of psychic phenomena. This explains why the Gospel of Matthew reports that after Jesus' death, many 14 ghosts" were seen in the city of Jerusalem (27:52-53). For a similar reason, the early Christian congregations were filled with the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing miracles, ecstatic trances and visions. At a moment of great significance in God's providential work, discarnate spirits rush to earth to cooperate in the realization of the divine purpose. By so doing, they are enabled to make rapid advances in their own growth. 15

Almost every observer of the contemporary religious scene notes that our day is witnessing a very remarkable outpouring of psychic power. This 20th century "Great Awakening" is far more significant than the steady decline of the old established denominations. Religious seeking and personal experiences of God's presence are amazingly widespread in spite of empty pews, the secularization of many clergy, the closing of numerous parochial schools and the growing lack of interest in the conventional churches on the part of the affluent middle class and most young people. The Swedish theologian Wingren may be correct in concluding that mainline Christians are as much a minority today as their predecessors were in the pagan Roman Empire. 16 But that does not mean that we have become secular men. We are as God seeking as ever. What differs from the pre-1960 period is that large numbers of people no longer look to the traditional churches and synagogues for religious nourishment.

Our times also appear to be threatened by a horde of evil spirits. How else can one explain the psychic cmodernsions of our age? Contemporary society seems to be literally plagued by violence, emotional instability and social despair. Psychiatrists like Karen Homey spoke of The Neurotic Personality of Our Time and often agreed with the theologians that sions of our age? Contemporary society seems to be literally plagued by violence, emotional instability and social despair. Psychiatrists like Karen Homey spoke of The Neurotic Personality of Our Time and often agreed with the theologians that modern man seems to be suffering from ontological anxiety (Angst). Hence, Tillich could revive the concept of the Demonic 17 to explain the destructive irrationalities which possess the contemporary soul.

For Divine Principle the unusual psychic activity of this generation is a clear sign that mankind is entering a new aeon. Right now we are experiencing the birth pangs of the Messianic Age. The snow is melting, the ice is cracking, the sap is beginning to flow in the maples as we approach the arrival of the cosmic springtime.

Modern Ecumenism

A second proof for the advent of the New Age is to be found in the birth of the religious ecumenical spirit. A French Jesuit has written that at last after 19 centuries and 21 allegedly ecumenical councils, Christians now recognize that non-Christians have valid encounters with God. 18 In our kind of world, ecclesiastical ghettoes and religious bigotry are as outmoded as racism and chauvinism.

As a Christian phenomenon, the modern ecumenical movement can be traced to the coalescence of four somewhat disparate tendencies in the opening decades of this century: the cooperation of various Protestant missionary agencies in order to facilitate the evangelization of the world, the growth of Protestant liberalism which recognized the values of theological and denominational pluralism, Anglican efforts to serve as a bridge between Catholics and Protestants, and not least important, the desire of the ecumenical patriarch at Constantinople to promote cooperation among all Christians on matters of practical concern. As a result, the World Council of Churches was born and gradually cooperation with the Vatican was obtained. Since the Amsterdam assembly of 1948, most mainline denominations have decided that it is necessary to unify their witness wherever possible. Probably Archbishop Temple exaggerated only slightly when he called the ecumenical movement the great new event of our time.

More important is the ever-growing experience of fraternity among Christians and all men of good will in other faiths. 19 What startling changes have taken place, for example, in the relations between Christians and Jews since World War II. 20 Few theologians and denominational leaders now will publicly claim that Jews must become Christians in order to be saved. On a much smaller scale, there seems to be a similar movement towards fellowship with Muslims, Buddhists and other non-Christians. One should not ignore the almost insuperable obstacles in the path of a new all -comprehensive faith for mankind. At the same time we should not ignore the pressing need for religious unity. Fundamentalist Protestants as well as ultra-conservative Catholics and Othodox have often denounced ecumenicity as a betrayal of their "one true faith." Divine Principle would rather agree with those who herald religious broad-mindedness as God's will for our time. In fact, for Unification theology the movement toward religious unity is a clear sign of the dawn of the age-to-come.

The Course of Human Events

God manifests His purpose through His mighty acts in sacred history, we were told by the Biblical theologians of the recent past. 21 That was the chief merit of their interpretation of the Scriptures in terms of salvation-history. Their weakness, as Pannenberg indicates, is the way they circumscribed the "acts of God" to Biblical times and the Biblical people. We should look upon all of history as the theatre of divine activity and revelation. 22 For this reason, Unification theology uses the pattern of scriptural history to find meaning in post-Biblical times and world events.

By discovering the parallels between our age and the Biblical experience, one can see how we are on the threshold of the messianic fulfillment of history. Are we not in the process of harvesting the results of all the seeds planted since the Reformation? 23 If So, we must be repeating the four-centuries-long preparation for the coming of Jesus. If the time from the Exile to the birth of the Nazarene bears unmistakable resemblance to the course of human events since Luther, then we are approaching another dramatic moment in God's dispensation. Hence, as sharp-sighted an intellectual as Koestler observes that man has reached a point of momentous decision. He must either remake himself rather radically and institute a new social order far superior to anything previously experienced-or he is likely to destroy himself. 24

According to Divine Principle, World War I set the stage for God's new and decisive entrance into history. Spengler thought it signaled the inevitable Decline of the West. Quite significantly, within a year after the signing of the Versailles treaty, the Nobel Prize-winning mystical writer W. B. Yeats published a poem entitled "The Second Coming" 25 (1920). In the wake of World War I, four great empires lay in ruins and two more were badly crippled. As Lenin's communists seized control of Russia, people like Yeats felt that things were falling apart, the spirit of anarchy was loose and darkness was settling on the world.

For Unification theology the struggle between communism and democracy marks Satan's final assault upon God. But to make that claim leaves us open to ridicule and scorn. Most intellectuals prefer to treat communism as a purely economic and political phenomenon. Why confuse the problem by dragging in extraneous factors like God? they would say. For this reason, the attitude of Divine Principle toward communism must be explained with special care. Above everything else, Unification theology must be distinguished from forms of anti-Marxism based upon commitment to reactionary politics, laissez-faire capitalist economics or bourgeois social patterns.

Like Cain and Abel, democracy and Marxist collectivism strive against each other for supremacy. The struggle has serious spiritual implications. Until recently most Christians agreed that Marxism is totally antithetical to the Biblical faith. For example, when the Vatican was still resolute enough to speak its own mind, Pope Pius X1 declared that communism is intrinsically wrong and that no one who wants to save Christian civilization should collaborate with Marxists in any way. 26 Almost equally strong indictments of the Soviet system and its ideology came from the World Council of Churches' meetings in Amsterdam and Evanston.

From the Christian perspective, what are the fundamental defects of Marxist-Leninist philosophy and practice? Let me note the chief points agreed upon by the ecumenical theologians:

a) Marxists deny God and His sovereignty over all human history.
b) Marxism foolishly assumes that one class-the proletariat-is free from sin.
c) Marxist materialism and determinism are incompatible with the Christian concept of man as a free, responsible person created in the divine image.
d) Marx was in error when he stated that a perfect society can be established by merely changing our economic system.
e) Marxist totalitarian insistence that all men give unqualified 27 loyalty to the communist party denies the supreme authority of God.

Like other Christians, Unificationists would accept these findings of the World Council of Churches. Moreover, Unification theology goes further to point out other basic defects in the Marxist argument:

First, a realistic ontology must be based not on the dialectical principle of inevitable contradiction but rather the principle of creative polarity. Second, the central figure initiating the next leap forward in man's progress will not be a political revolutionary or economic reformer but a God-centered leader who establishes a truly God-centered family as the base for the creation of a better world. (See S. H. Lee, Communism: A Critique and Counter Proposal, 1973).

10 According to 1978 figures, there are two or more Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox to every Protestant in the world today.

11 Cf. M. Eliade, Shamanism (1970) and other works.

12 See, for example, the situation in the Anglican church which is especially significant because of its institutional respectability, social fashionableness and theological acumen. Acceptance of the reality of psychic phenomenon among Episcopal theologians can be dramatically seen in the lives of Bishop James L. Pike and Canon J. B. Phillips as well as the writings of Rev. Morton Kelsey: A Spraggett, The Bishop Pike Story (1970), Phillips' autobiography Ring of Truth (1967), Kelsey's Encounter with God (1972) and The Christian and the Supernatural (1976).

13 Note that Divine Principle does not teach reincarnation, as critics have sometimes charged.

14 Even if this text may have slight historical support because of its absence from the other Gospels, it shows that Mathew expected that a crucial moment in God's dealings with man would be accompanied by supernatural phenomena.

15 Note that Divine Principle defines three kinds of resurrection: 1) Jesus' resurrection, 2) spirits' progress to higher stages by cooperating with living men and 3) those who achieve resurrection to perfection while on earth through participating in God's final dispensation of restoration (Rev. 20:6).

16 G. Wingren, Creation and Gospel (1979), pp. 153-155.

17 Older liberals had dropped all reference to Satan and the demons. Tillich returned to the old word "demonic" and thought that was one of his major contributions to theology. This is discussed in The Religious Situation, his first book in English. He does not mean belief in personal evil spirits but irrational, destructive powers which control individuals and whole nations at times (i.e., Nazism).

18 G. Deleury, "A Hindu God for Technopolis" in J. B. Metz, ed., New Questions on God (1972), p. 135.

19 Cf. W. E. Hocking's Living Religions and a World Faith (1940); S. J. Samartha, ed., Dialogue between Men of Living Faiths (1971) and his Living Faiths and Ultimate Goals (1974).

20 Cf. J. M. Cuddihy, No Offense: Civil Religion and Protestant Taste (1978) to see how Protestant, Catholic and Jewish intellectuals have been required to overcome the narrow tenets of their religious traditions.

21 cf. G. E. Wright, The Challenge of Israel's Faith (1944); B. W. Anderson, Rediscovering the Bible (1951); E. V. Filson, The New Testament Against Its Environment (1950); 0. Cullman, Christ and Time (1951). For a critical study, see B. S. Childs, Biblical Theology in Crisis (1974).

22 D. H. Olive, Wolfhart Pannenberg (1973), pp. 44-45.

23 For stimulating studies of the effects of Luther on subsequent thought, compare J. Maritain, Three Reformers (1929) and G. Santayana, Egotism in German Philosophy (1940) with W. Pauck, Heritage of the Reformation (1950).

24 A. Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up (1978).

25 M. L. Rosenthal, Selected Poems and Two Plays of Yeats (1962), p. 91.

26 Encyclical Divini Redemptoris (1937).

27 Man's Disorder and God's Design (1948), p. 194; The Christian Hope and the Task of the Church (1954), p. 35. Cf. Y. O. Kim, Unification Theology and Christian Thought (1975), pp. 191-195.

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