The Words of the Eby Family
An Ethically-Morally Flawed Messiah?
November 4, 1999
The received tradition in Christianity has held that, in order for an individual to be the messiah, that individual must be morally/ethically perfect. In fact, Christianity, in its first several hundred years of development, came to the doctrine that Jesus was/is God primarily because it was thought that the task of salvation consisted of making the human (imperfect and morally/ethically tainted) divine (perfect, without ethical/moral taint), and that this could be done only by God. Thus, in order for Jesus to be the savior, he had to be divine, meaning that he had to be God. (All this owes a great deal to neo-Platonism, with its view that the physical and human is inherently lesser in quality than the extra-physical and spiritual and divine. Here's one place where, I think, Greek philosophy had a quite detrimental effect on Christian theology.)
For similar reasons, the Roman catholic version of Christianity has developed a doctrine that Mary was sinless and virgin, because, in order for Jesus to be born sinless, his mother also had to be sinless, according to that view. In addition, a Mariology cult developed -- Pope John Paul II is one of its strongest adherents today -- so that worship was directed to Mary as much, and frequently more, than to Jesus.
I think that all this is mistaken. I see no reason why a messiah has to be morally/ethically blameless. The messiah has a task, the central point of which is to restore the blood lineage lost in the fall. He can do this without being morally/ethically perfect.
My own view is that Sun Myung Moon is indeed the messiah, but that he is morally/ethically flawed. To hold otherwise -- i.e., to deny that there is any ethical/moral flaw in him -- seems to me to fly in the face of so much evidence. Also, to hold otherwise commits one to attempting to "spin" all the purported evidence to the contrary.
The account of Jesus that we get in the Gospels is highly sanitized and partisan, written at least 50 years after the fact, by people who had evangelical and theological purposes in mind. Thus, we can assume that the accounts list only those things that make Jesus seem noble and praiseworthy, and omit what may have tended to put him in an unfavorable light. And Christian history and tradition have served to further mythologize and dehumanize him. For example, although Christian doctrine explicitly condemned Docetism as a heresy, I'm convinced that all Christians are more-or-less Docetic.
Unificationism has attempted to do this mythologizing from the beginning, to set SMM up as a super-human, divine figure, without any flaws and with super excellent virtues such that anything he does is completely virtuous and serves only to advance some Godly purpose.
I do think that SMM is a figure with certain super-human qualities, and I also think that he has great virtues. He clearly commands a spiritual presence such that anyone around him is almost instantly and thoroughly sucked into it.
But I don't think he is morally/ethically flawless. I think that he has large flaws and that these flaws threaten to scuttle the work of the Unification Movement and tear it apart. But I also think that he is God's messiah. Unless he were, he would be unable, I think, to do what he has done and teach what he has taught. (I joined the Divine Principle church, I did not join the SMM church, and I certainly did not join the church of the Royal Family.)
For reasons that are unclear to me, most devout UC members seem unable to accept the notion of a morally/ethically flawed messiah. Their inability to do so results, I think, in their tying themselves in knots trying to accept and explain what is unacceptable and unexplainable. Far better, I think, to give up the notion that the messiah needs to be perfect, at least ethically/morally perfect.
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