Unification Theology and the FFWPU


When God's providence moves as rapidly forward as it has in recent months, theologians are sometimes left scrambling to catch up and to understand the implications and significance of new developments. This was the purpose of a seminar held in Barrytown on July 28th which brought together theologians and other scholars from UTS and Sun Moon University (SMU) which hosted the first seminar which was held last year. The one day gathering covered a range of academic and theological issues relating to the Founder's recent announcement of the discontinuation of HAS-UWC as an institution in favor of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU).

The seminar was divided into five sessions:
1. The Age of the FFWPU as the New Context for Unification Theology.
2. The Community and Content Addressed by Unification Theology
3. Methodological Approaches to Unification Theology
4. Educational Philosophy and Practice
5. Practical Cooperation Between SMU and UTS

Speaking during the first session, conference organizer Dr. Andrew Wilson attempted to define this age of the FFWPU by identifying its characteristics. Firstly, he noted that the Completed Testament Age Word is comprised of three speeches which have been delivered by Reverend Moon since 1993. These are "View of the Principle of the Providential History of Salvation," "In Search of the Origin of the Universe," and "True Family and True Universe Centering on True Love." Dr. Wilson pointed out that the Divine Principle is the eternal truth and that these new speeches are consistent with that truth. He suggested, however, that these speeches may now require a rethinking of how the Divine Principle is understood. "The implication is that we must reconceive the Divine Principle as including, and indeed centering on, the content of the Three Speeches which is the Completed Testament Age Word," he said.

A second characteristic of the age of the FFWPU, said Dr. Wilson, is "the universalization of the Blessing which will soon embrace all of humankind." The Blessing, he said, is now a free gift of God which means that Blessed couples are no longer required to walk the path of restoration as "Father has paid the price of restoration for them."

Dr. Wilson saw a third characteristic of this new age in the passing of HSA-UWC which, he said, means that the age of Christianity has also passed. While the Divine Principle was designed to persuade Christians, he said, in the age of the FFWPU, Unification Theology is liberated from the task of appealing to Christians to receive the Lord of the Second Advent. "FFWPU is not a religion," he said "but a movement offering salvation to families of whatever religion. Therefore, its theology can appeal to all human beings who are charged with the mission to form true families."

The final characteristic of this age identified by Dr. Wilson is the return to the original commandment. He pointed out that Reverend Moon is strongly emphasizing sexual purity. "He teaches that if men and women will only respect the proper function of the sexual organs, all social problems will be solved. This message has the significance of reinstating God's original commandment to Adam and Eve."

Dr. Wilson went on to discuss the implications of these four characteristics for Unification Theology, suggesting that rather than following the order common to most Christian systematic theologies - namely Creation, Fall and Restoration - we should now adopt the Completed Testament Age kerygma as outlined in the Three Speeches. These speeches, he said, organize the overall structure of CTA theology into three themes - The Root of God's Love; True Marriage and Family; and The Ideal Society.

Continuing the discussion of FFWPU as the new context for UT, Dr. Jae Young Lee of SMU pointed out that the name "Unification Church" was adopted after common usage by others rather than through a decision by the Church itself and that a certain image is now associated with the name. In the same way, he said, the clear purpose and identity of FFWPU should now be disseminated into all areas of society. Unification Theology, he said, can play the role of an intermediary by introducing the words of True Parents to society and he proposed the development of a new theological structure based on heart, true love, true family and the heart-centered cultural world.

During the second session, Dr. Hang Je Kim stated that the definition of theology as "a contemporary interpretation of truth and a contextual confession of faith" means that Unification Theology in the age of FFWPU must be different from the age of HSA-UWC. He offered the following outline: True Parent God; True Parents Messiah; Completed Human Being as True Parent; Ideal World Through the Redemption of True Parents.

Dr. David Carlson's role in session two was to clarify the community and content addressed by Unification Theology. He stated that the nearly universal experience and recognition of the family as the source and school of social bonds means that the community addressed by UT is the whole world. He cited the recent experience of those going door-to-door offering the Blessing; "Couples from all nations, all cultures, all races, all religions, and all classes of society responded," he said. In addressing the question of content, Dr. Carlson asked "To what extent is Unification theology, as it is presently formulated and expressed, a universal message, with the capacity to reach all people?" He noted that Divine Principle was written at a time when it was historically necessary to speak in Christian terms and to a Christian audience. Generally speaking, he said, people of other faiths do not feel comfortable with a narrow Christian perspective and he suggested that "we must be able to express the truth in terms which are meaningful to a world audience."

Speaking during the third session, Dr. Frank Kaufmann raised the question of whether a tradition of "legitimate theological labor" has ever existed in the Unification movement. He suggested that the need to save everyone within a specific time period has resulted in a dilution of God's truth as revealed by Reverend Moon as opposed to a serious effort to secure a profound grasp of that truth. Dr. Kaufmann speculated that "perhaps we are doing theology for a future time; a time when seeking a clear understanding of Sun Myung Moon's teachings has overtaken the providential necessity to save everyone before the clock runs out." Looking toward that future, he responded to the question of which approach best leads to an understanding of Unificationism, the Judeo-Christian approach or a World's Religions approach? Dr. Kaufmann took the paradoxical position of affirming the Judeo-Christian hermeneutic as the best approach to Reverend Moon's teachings while also affirming that Reverend Moon's teachings are unique and unprecedented in the history of religious thought. Of the two approaches, he expressed a preference that the latter should be emphasized.

In the same session, Professor Hyun Kwang Kim (UTS '90), proposed a method for establishing the "Completed Testament Theology." He proposed to use Dr. Young Oon Kim's "Unification Theology" as the basis for this project with annual joint seminars providing the forum for ongoing discussions. Professor Kim also proposed to establish clear sections of the existing theology such as Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Historical Theology and Practical Theology with professors from each institution being responsible for one section. As in all of the sessions, there was an animated discussion of the proposals but in the absence of President Shimmyo, who was in South America, and President Se Won Yoon, who was unable to attend, few decisions could be made.

Dr. Mike Mickler's presentation on educational philosophy and practice in session four suggested that there are three main areas to accentuate as we go forward into the age of the FFWPU, with the first being globalization. "I believe that Unification education can only take place in a global, multi-cultural, inter-racial and interreligious context," he said. "Second, I believe that volunteerism and in-service education will be a key component. Third, although we are undertaking a transition into a more peaceful and harmonious world, Unificationists have to be forceful in advocating traditional values and a Godly way of life." Dr. Jin Choon Kim (UTS '95), Dean of the College of Theology at Sun Moon, contributed to this discussion by offering a summary of the Founder's statements concerning theological education and his expectations of the graduates of UTS in particular.

In the final session, Dr. Yoshihiko Masuda (UTS '77), Dean of the Graduate School at SMU, offered several ideas concerning practical cooperation between SMU and UTS and divided them into three areas: exchange of students; exchange of professors and cooperation in research and publication. Regarding the last of these, Dr. Masuda encouraged faculty members at both institutions to contribute to the journals which both now publish. SMU launched Journal of Unification Theology earlier this year and the first issue of UTS's Journal of Unification Studies will be published in the very near future. Dr. Masuda also encouraged joint research and authorship among the various specialists at both institutions.