The Words The Kwak Family

Unification Theology Seminars

Chung Hwan Kwak
April 1981

Three simultaneous seminars on advanced topics relating to Unification Theology drew a large number of participants to San Juan, Puerto Rico January 21-25, 1981. All of the participants had attended one or more introductory seminars on Unification Theology sponsored by New ERA (New Ecumenical Research Association).

Seminar on the Principle of Creation

Six family members and ten theologians and philosophers dedicated three days to discussions based on the Principle of Creation, centered around three themes:

1) how the Principle of Creation relates to the natural sciences,
2) implications of various doctrines of creation for one's theology and
3) the relationship between one's doctrine of creation and one's doctrine of redemption.

Patricia Gleason, a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, summarized the discussion. "It is the Unification insistence on a consistent relationship between the doctrines of creation and redemption which interests many "scholars," she observed.

On the first day, participants discussed the relationship between science and religion. Recent developments in science have made its claims to absolute certainty about the nature of the world unacceptable even to scientists, so there seems to be a new mood of openness toward theological insights. One participant proposed abandoning "metaphysical realism" in which science and religion tend to conflict, in favor of a "pragmatic relativism," according to which science and religion could cooperate. Science used to claim that it was completely objective and value-free, but now scholars are admitting that scientific descriptions of reality are also dependent upon subjective choices. Science also has a "morality," and too often this morality, centered on a materialistic view of the world, has led to exploitation of our world.

Dr. Kurt Johnson, President of WRFF, said that a scientific explanation of change is not necessarily related to a strictly materialistic notion of cause. He proposed a theistic, sung-sang / hyung-sang motive of purposeful change as a possibility for solving some major problems in molecular biology which materialism could not solve, and for providing an explanation of the step by step process of the origins of creation. Jonathan Wells, a student at Yale University said that Unificationism is evolutionistic in the sense that it accepts the pattern of evolution but creationistic in that it attributes process to God's purposeful activity.

On the second day, various models of creation were presented. A professor of philosophy and religion compared Plato's account of creation with the Divine Principle model on two points -- with respect to the idea of internal character and external form and with respect to the four-position foundation. He criticized the idea that the world was created to give joy to God and thought Plato's idea that the world was created out of God's selfless love was superior. He also felt Divine Principle understands "parenting" too biologically.

During the discussion, it was pointed out that

(1) according to Divine Principle, God's love is unconditional, as He is continually sacrificing Himself for the sake of the world; it is only from humanity's point of view that it is important to see the world's purpose as returning joy to God; and that

(2) spiritual lineage is far more important in Divine Principle than biological lineage and the only reason for any disjunction between the two is the fall of Adam and Eve.

A professor of philosophy spoke on God's "radical mystery," and cautioned participants against thinking they could say anything about God. While participants thought that words cannot fully capture God's nature, most felt that we should not therefore give up our attempts to understand God's nature and purpose.

A professor of practical theology and missiology critiqued various aspects of Divine Principle's doctrine of creation and also presented several African versions of the creation and fall. She particularly did not like Divine Principle's use of the Genesis 2 creation story, wherein the creation of woman is depicted as an afterthought, as an appendage to man. She noted, however, the apparent development in Unification publications towards a better view of woman, both in the description of her relationship to God and her motivation in the fall. We did assure her that God (according to Divine Principle) intended the creation of both Adam and Eve from the beginning, and that they were created for each other, not just the woman for the man.

Dagfin Aslid, a student at Claremont Graduate School in California, discussed the relationship between process theology and Unification theology. The intensity of the ensuing discussion indicated the possibility of a very fruitful dialogue between Unification thought and process thought.

Tyler Hendricks, a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, compared Jonathan Edwards' metaphysics with Unification Thought and pointed out the superiority of Unification Thought metaphysics for its ability to relate God and the world (by locating the harmony of all dualities in God). The religious need for a sovereign God, he said, does not have to be satisfied by denying that the world and God have anything in common; rather, it can be satisfied by locating God's sovereignty in His essential heart/purpose, which is love and joy.

A Canadian professor noted that in the face of evil, the idea of a good God poses a problem for theology. Only if God is seen as "taking a chance" in creating does the world make sense. In this regard, he found Unificationism "theologically promising," and said he knew of no better alternative. He thought any doctrine of the fall was ridiculous, however. Many participants thought that a fall doctrine placed the responsibility for evil outside of man and that this was dangerous. People wanted to uphold the benevolence of God and wished also to ensure that humans take responsibility for their actions.

Further presentations focused on the doctrine of creation in Karl Barth's theology. Several people pointed out that Barth subordinated creation to redemption. Barth's theology of creation lacks Unification's view of the potential perfection of creation and cannot affirm man's genuine, free participation in a covenant relationship with God. In contrast, Unification theology's stress on the humanity of the Christ assigns a higher potential to man.

Andrew Wilson, a student at Harvard University, discussed the Principle of Creation from the viewpoint of Christology. He said creation is, in a sense, Christocentric, for it centers on perfected man and woman as the center of harmony and value. He interpreted the natural theology of the first part of the Principle as a secondary argument, and said that the primary analogy of being flows downward from humans to created beings, which are all "created as images of human character and form "A fruitful discussion followed, focusing on Christology, the atonement and the role of True Parents in comparison to Jesus.

Patricia Gleason then spoke on the relationship of the doctrine of creation to redemption, which challenges humans to become the substantiation on earth of God's dual characteristics of character and form and masculinity and femininity. Participants applauded the potential of such a view to offer liberation to women and also to release the feminine qualities of God more fully into human consciousness.

"The participants enjoyed each other very much, and we all felt quite close by the end of the week," she concluded. "I think people began to feel the emptiness of the more atheistic views espoused by certain guests, and also the potential danger and barrenness of dogmatic claims to truth which can … off the renewing spirit of God. These conferences give many people confidence that God is important, that love is real and that this kind of work is still worth doing."

Seminar on Revelation

The seminar on revelation drew six family members and 18 professors of religion, philosophy, linguistics, history, literature and black studies. Discussions focused on the concept, the content and the consequences of revelation for Unification theology and Christian traditions. Steven Post, a student at the University of Chicago, summarized the discussions.

Dr. Herbert Richardson's paper on the need for revelation in the light of the radically sinful condition of fallen human nature opened the proceedings. He argued that it is impossible to know God simply through natural human powers, which were eroded at the fall. Therefore, revelation through a spiritual teacher or prophet is absolutely crucial. In contrast, the speaker who followed him held that we know about God primarily through nature and unaided human reason.

Lloyd Eby, a student at Fordham University in New York, synthesized the two opposing views. The Divine Principle, he argued, allows for both natural revelation of God as known through the creation (Rom. 1:20) and also for the further need to receive truth through a central figure. He also asserted that the revelation of God through the True Parents was a final stage of a progressive process which could be looked at in terms of dialectics. The ensuing discussion left one question hanging: Is the concept of True Parents the final revelation?

In the next session, Whitney Shiner, a student at the University of Chicago, stressed the experiential life of faith in the presence of the True Parents, affirming that through their actions, words and thoughts, we can come to know God's heart of love. He argued that the nature and character of complete deity as masculine and feminine expression of heart was visibly manifested in and exemplified by Reverend and Mrs. Moon. His paper elicited quite a good response.

The following speakers presented different views on revelation. One gave a theory of revelation which was autobiographical; in harmony with trends in liberal theology, he stated that revelation is not a direct communication from God to a particular person, but simply the content of one's life. Another person referred to the myriad and various proclaimed revelations and recommended examining each of them very carefully. However, it was pointed out that her position was pluralistic and implied that one revelation of truth is as good as any other.

Steven Post held that as a result of secularization, most contemporary theology has lost the traditional Christian notion of a real God who reveals real truth to the prophets. Even the neo-orthodox theologies can be used to reduce concrete universal truth to the mere experience of human anxiety and the reassurance gained from the symbol of the cross. Post held that Divine Principle perspective is new in that while God reveals basic principles to a central figure, that central figure must still research details as his five percent portion of responsibility. Stressing the need to focus on the truth or falsity of revelation, Post maintained that a number of new and revolutionary concepts were revealed to Reverend Moon and that he was a true prophet because he endured in proclaiming God's word despite persecution.

The head of an interdenominational seminary spoke on the traditional Christian view of God revealing Himself to the prophets as a just and righteous God. Another religion professor spoke on revelation as "meaningfulness," stressing the centrality of God's revelation of His love for mankind through the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

In response, the Unificationists argued that revelation of God's love through the cross is meaningful but incomplete, and the discussion became quite heated, emotional and serious.

Further speakers discussed the possibility of revelation from the viewpoint of psychology; the invalidity of revelation from a humanistic perspective; and the Zen viewpoint that propositional truths are a hindrance to the experience of God.

Gordon Anderson, a student at Claremont Graduate School in California, spoke on the meaningfulness of Divine Principle in his religious life and provided graphs showing the distinctions between Christian tradition and the Unification view of salvation. A professor of linguistics responded by accepting the notion that Reverend Moon can receive direct propositions from God. His paper described the experience which Muhammad had in receiving the Koran but admitted that it is hard to prove that revelation is objectively true.

Discussions dealt with how to discern whether the content of a revelation is true or false. Steven maintained that Divine Principle is logical and that its order reflects the reason of God. Also, it has a universal dimension (the four-position foundation) which applies to all human experience. In short, an objective reflection of universal truth must be consistent and logical, and the Principle has both these characteristics.

Anthony Guerra's paper, entitled "Three Brothers," explained the concept of progressive revelation through the Old Testament and New Testament to Divine Principle, resting his argument on Reverend Moon's Washington Monument speech. Anthony, a student at Harvard Divinity School, held that the revelation of Reverend Moon does not contradict the Christian view but completes it. This aroused some controversy, particularly among those who hold a very traditional position on the finality of revelation through Jesus the Christ.

A Jehovah's Witness who has endured a great deal of persecution for his faith said he feels close to the Unificationists for that reason. His paper focused on the sinful condition of man and the need for the grace revealed through the life of Jesus. In response, Dr. M. Darrol Bryant presented a more existential perspective, agreeing with the Unificationists that salvation through the cross is incomplete and that Jesus did not come to die.

Over the three days a crucial fact emerged: one new element in Divine Principle has to do with the failure of Jesus' mission and the incompleteness of salvation without True Parents. In the final summary session, everyone expressed the importance of the Principle. If salvation is incomplete in Jesus and a new revelation is here in the Principle and the persons of True Parents, then we have reached a very critical juncture in human history.

Unification Lifestyle

This seminar drew the greatest number and variety of participants -- 41, eleven of whom were family members. Topics dealt with under Unification lifestyle included the disciplined life, indemnity, life of prayer and home church, evangelism and center life, authority, fundraising, and marriage and the family. Non-Unification participants responded by discussing their own experiences in such areas of religious life as recruitment and authority and singleness, marriage and the family.

Jim Baughman, a student at Drew University, presented the opening paper on discipline, explaining the theological foundations for Unification discipline in pre-fall terms and post-fall terms. He also contrasted true discipline with totalitarianism and sadomasochism. Discipline was explained not as punishment, but as the method of reversing the course of our lives and directing ourselves to God. Participants responded with questions about handling guilt, whether the idea of indemnity legitimizes suffering and what Unificationism considers the greatest temptations.

Diana Muxworthy, a student at Harvard Divinity School, next discussed the way of indemnity. She explained the purpose of indemnity as

(1) to re-create us in God's image;
(2) to change us from the midway position to God's side;
(3) to restore our relationship to God, humanity and the creation; and
(4) to restore the lack of ability of Adam's family to love.

She also explained the foundations of faith and substance and gave examples of indemnity on the individual, family, national and worldwide levels.

Participants from other religious traditions commented on their religious life. One black Baptist minister noted that the black experience revolves around a feeling, not primarily an intellectual exercise, and emphasizes freedom and the sense of a personal God. A Jewish participant signaled the covenantal relationship as the key concept of man's connection with God. He observed that through a disciplined life, the Jewish leaders taught that one can become holy. A Methodist pastor spoke of the paradox in his tradition between pietism and social action, between freedom and discipline.

Dan Davies, a student at Drew University, spoke on the life of prayer and home church. He noted that the life of prayer focuses first on God and the world, gradually reaching down to smaller levels and resting finally on the individual level.

He stressed the purpose of prayer as consoling God's heart and spoke of his personal experiences in prayer. He also showed slides of his home church work in England and explained Reverend Moon's emphasis on home church through his mottos for the past three years.

Dr. Mose Durst expounded on evangelism and center life. Evangelism, he explained, has the purpose of comforting God's heart and aiding the process of restoration -- through liberation, purification, recreating the human family and developing the parental heart. He described programs such as rallies, training sessions and Project Volunteer. He stressed authority as motivated by love, originating from God as a God of heart, principle and love. Citing Reverend Moon as an example of authority, he explained the position of Abel as he or she who serves the most. On a practical level, he mentioned the trinity system in the Oakland family, guided by 12 trinity heads and weekly meetings with Dr. Durst which were open for discussion and suggestions.

Responding about recruitment and authority in other religious traditions, a theologian of the Dutch Reformed Church noted that his church has no department of evangelism. He also cited his problems with his denomination arising from his association with Unificationism. A nun told of spending six years living in a convent where letters were censored and parents could visit only five times a year. After being absent for six years of study, she returned to a more "open" community.

Participants questioned Unificationists about the hierarchy of authority, how decisions are made in the Unification Church, the position of women in authority, and how to check for pure motivation of the one who determines what is best for another person.

In his presentation on Unification fundraising, Frank Kaufman, a student at Vanderbilt University, read excerpts from his diary when he was fundraising and recounted many dramatic stories of fundraising experiences.

He also discussed the use of church money and mentioned various projects supported by fundraising.

Jeremiah Gutman's paper regarding the legal boundaries on the investigation of churches' use of money drew favorable comment from other participants. Questioners asked if the church promotes members based on how much money they raise, and how members can keep such long working hours.

Farley and Betsy Jones discussed marriage and the family in the Unification movement. Farley explained the family as the salvific unit, the blessing as a sacrament, the matching process, and the meaning of the Blessing as a spiritual engrafting into the Adamic family. Betsy noted that current role of families in the Unification movement as pioneering the perfection of the family and stressed the ideal of following the pattern of Reverend and Mrs. Moon. In addition, she noted that although sacrifice is necessary now, it will not be so in the ideal world. "We are transition families," she observed. Giving examples from her own experience, she explained the goals of filial piety, fidelity, unconditional support and love for children.

Participants responded with questions such as "Will you feel you are a failure if your children are not better than you?" "What are your expectations for your children?" and "What is the children's lifestyle?"

Participants from other traditions commented on their views of singleness, marriage and the family. A Presbyterian noted that his church has accommodated itself to modern permissive culture and commented on the increasing number of single persons who do not know where to go for friendship.

A Unitarian referred to basic Unitarian principles of tolerance and use of reason. He said his church is taking seriously the needs of single members and is seeking to find a place in society for homosexuals. When pressed by Unificationists about the origins of the idea of homosexual marriage and whether any Biblical basis can be found to support it, he responded by saying that Unitarians do not hold literally to the Bible.

An Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship leader said that while some IVCF members date only Christians, others do not; furthermore, many of their members are questioning how much sex should be involved in premarital relationships. He added that they teach two principles of marriage: permanence and faithfulness. Although in his group, members are free to choose when, how and whom to marry, he commented, "The Unification Church has a healthy marriage preparation period."

Other participants raised questions about sex, guilt, birth control and abortion and contended that the nuclear family was out of date. One person objected that it was almost immoral in today's world to give birth to so many children and proposed that the Unification Church form an "international adoption service."

In conclusion, the following comments illustrate the positive reactions of participants in this seminar:

"These conferences are some of the most exciting theology I do all year."

"The Unification Church is the most persecuted church."

"The Unification Church provides an oasis of sacredness in the ocean of modernity."

"I have no doubt that the children in the Unification Church are happier than children outside."

"When I saw the film of Reverend Moon talking about Martin Luther King, I was sold."

"Racism is today's greatest evil. Your church is in the forefront of those working against it; you have the most effective way." 

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