The Words The Kwak Family

God and Creation in Unification Theology

Chung Hwan Kwak
April 1982

This paper was presented at the conference, "God: The Contemporary Discussion"

How can we know God? As the unique and eternal first cause of everything, God cannot be confined within the space-time of this world. As the standard of perfection and the source of all ideals, God is absolute and unchanging. How can we, who live in a spatio-temporal and changeable world, know God, who is unique, eternal, absolute and unchanging?

We can know God because we are created in His image (Gen. 1:26). Although studying an image can never yield complete knowledge of its original source, a deep understanding of our own human nature should reveal something about God's nature. However, if we examine our own nature in an attempt to know God, we are immediately confronted with the problem of evil and sin.

We have evil tendencies which often thwart the good that we would do. But our self-contradictory nature could not be a reflection of God's nature, since it would be impossible to give a plausible account of the harmony and progressive development of the universe if God were self-contradictory and self-destructive. Therefore, we must conclude that the image of God in us has been distorted by sin, and that in order to know God we must look for a person with no evil tendencies, a person without sin.

Such a person would not only embody original nature but would also reveal something about God's nature. Such a person is Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to call God "Father" and to love all human beings as our brothers and sisters. He taught us that our own true happiness is to be found only in the Kingdom of God, and out of his love for God and his love for us, he single-mindedly dedicated himself to establishing God's ideal. Even when that dedication led to his death at the hands of those whom he had come to help, Jesus forgave his persecutors. His self-sacrificial love, manifested in an unwavering effort to lead us to true happiness, reflects the most essential aspect of God -- what Unification theology calls "heart."

Heart is the impulse of love that seeks joy through loving someone or something. It is not the same as emotion, since it would obviously be a mistake to say that the most essential aspect of Jesus and God is emotion (just as it would be a mistake to say that the most essential aspect is intellect or will). Heart manifests itself in love, which is not merely a sentimental emotion or a romantic longing -- but a purposeful activity which serves, benefits and invigorates someone or something. As such, love involves intellect and will as well as emotion; so heart is deeper than intellect, emotion and will, and is the starting point and motivation for all three.

When The Lover Has A Beloved To Love

Jesus did not love abstractly, in a vacuum. He loved real human beings. Joy arises only when the lover has a beloved to love. Although the lover exists independently of the beloved, joy is dependent on the relationship between them.

Since the purpose of heart is to give love, heart includes the impulse to find or create a suitable recipient for love. Thus, the creation flows from God's desire to seek joy through sharing His love. However, because of the nature of love, the lover cannot fully experience joy unless the beloved is also joyful; so God's primary desire must be for His creation to be joyful. By understanding God's heart in this way, we may conclude that God's motivation for creating the universe is joy -- joy for creation and joy for God.

If God is our "Father," then He must have created us to be His "children." According to Unification theology, this follows from God's motivation for creating the universe.

Just as the joy experienced by someone who loves another human being is potentially greater than the joy experienced by someone who loves an animal or an inanimate object, so also the joy experienced by God is potentially greatest when the object of His love most nearly resembles Him. Thus, God's children, like all other things in His creation, have aspects of "internal character" (mind) and "external form" (body), which are distinguished but inseparable; and these reflect God's "internal character" (intellect, emotion and will, with their roots in heart) and God's "external form" (the divine energy which sustains the creation and provides for its harmonious operation). Likewise, God's children exhibit aspects of "positivity" (initiativeness or assertiveness) and "negativity" (receptivity or responsiveness), reflecting the fact that God both initiates and responds in His relationships with us. Furthermore, in addition to a physical mind and body, each of God's children has a spiritual mind and body which survive physical death to live immortally in relationship with God; and by virtue of their spiritual immortality, human beings are more like God than are other creatures. However, the characteristic possessed by all human beings which most nearly resembles God, and which most distinctly sets them apart from the rest of creation, is creativity.

As God's sons and daughters, we are similar to Him primarily because we are co-creators. In a minor sense, we are co-creators because we are capable of 'sing existing materials in creative ways; but more fundamentally, we are co-creators because we are capable of participating actively in the process of perfecting ourselves as sons and daughters of God. Thus, Jesus taught us that we must become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). To be a co-creator in this sense means to be responsible for directing our behavior in such a way that we do not misuse the love we receive from God. Love is fundamentally important as the basis of all true relationships; and as such, it must be properly ordered, so that the "vertical" relationship with God takes priority over "horizontal" relationships with other created beings. This is the significance of Jesus' Great Commandment to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).

An Unbreakable Unity Of Heart

According to Unification theology, the love that flows between a person and God, if not misused, would gradually establish an unbreakable unity of heart between them. A person in such a relationship with God would "inherit" God's internal character, and especially God's heart.

Consequently, that person would share God's purpose and God's feelings, and would become capable of manifesting perfect divine love. Furthermore, although free (like God), that person would never do evil, because an evil act would cause that person the same grief that it would cause God. It is because Jesus established such unity of heart with God that we can look to him in order to know God.

However, co-creatorship also implies the freedom to choose a purpose different from God's purpose. Unless human beings were free not to establish a perfect unity of heart with God, their co-creatorship would be a sham. But if perfect unity of heart with God is unbreakable, then there must be a period of time, before that unity is established, during which human beings may "sin," or act in ways that cause God grief instead of joy. Unification theology calls this period of time the "growth period." Between the original formation of a human individual in birth and infancy, and the time when a person reaches spiritual maturity or "perfection," the individual in the growth period has the responsibility to "create" himself or herself as a child of God. As the necessary condition for co-creatorship, this growth period follows from God's original desire to seek joy through loving someone who resembles Him as much as possible. Therefore, God could not create us perfect instantaneously, but had to provide a process through which we could exercise our co-creatorship.

Furthermore, although animals, plants and inanimate objects (unlike human beings) do not have any portion of responsibility for their own growth, the growth process itself is reflected throughout the whole of creation. Thus, the physical universe developed through many stages over a very long period of time before living things were created; living things evolved progressively from relatively simple beginnings to their present complexity and diversity; and each individual organism grows through several stages on its way to maturity. However, all these processes were specifically instituted by God to prepare the way for His children. None of them are random or undirected, since the ultimate goal was fixed in advance; so Unification theology is incompatible with theories which rely primarily on random mutations and natural selection to explain evolution. For that matter, Unification theology is incompatible with any theory which takes the material world as its starting-point to explain life and spirit. Life does not arise spontaneously from inanimate matter, but represents a fundamental transformation of "internal character," effected by God. Similarly, the immortal human spirit is not a mere epiphenomenon of matter, but (like matter and life) has its origin in God.

Human Beings The Preordained Goal

Therefore, human beings are not merely the product of random mutations and natural selection, but are the preordained goal of the entire evolutionary process. Their origin cannot be explained materialistically, but only by relation to God.

According to Unification theology, all relationships can be analyzed in terms of a "four position foundation," wherein an origin divides into two complementary aspects which constitute a unity by relating harmoniously to each, other on the basis of their common origin. For example, human perfection can be understood as a four-position foundation with God as the "origin," mind and body as the "division," and perfected individuality as the "union." In relation to God, the mind establishes a unity of heart; while in relation to the body, the mind initiates actions which are consistent with God's purpose. The body is made of elements which (to a limited extent) reflect God's characteristics, and it responds to the mind's direction. The perfected individual would thereby reflect God's nature, and could be said to be created in God's image.

In order for our first human ancestors to achieve individual perfection, they had to exercise a portion of responsibility. The biblical story of the fall casts this responsibility in symbolic terms, as the duty not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). But our first ancestors neglected their responsibility. Consequently, they not only failed to inherit God's heart, but also acquired a deformed "fallen nature" riddled with contradictory tendencies. As the original parents of the entire human family, our first ancestors thereby transmitted fallen nature to all of their descendants, making it necessary for God to institute a process of restoration before human beings could again become capable of fulfilling their responsibility to grow to perfection as His children.

God's Original Desire

Since the most essential aspect of God is heart, God's original desire had been for human beings to reflect His nature in such a way as to produce the greatest joy. But instead of being a joyful culmination of the long process of creation, human beings broke God's heart.

In Unification theology, God is not seen as a wrathful judge who sentences people to death and eternal damnation, but as loving parent made sorrowful by the failure of His children. Therefore, the most important consequence of the fall is God's grief.

God could not overcome His grief by unilaterally and arbitrarily restoring people to their pre-fallen condition, since such an act would have negated their freedom and responsibility and made it impossible for them ever to reflect God's nature. Unless human responsibility is preserved in the process of restoration, God's ideal can never be realized. Thus, throughout Old Testament history God called upon people to obey His commandments and fulfill His will; and despite repeated failures, the people of Israel finally succeeded in overcoming, at least symbolically or conditionally, the failure of our first ancestors. Jesus came on the foundation of their success, to a nation waiting for the Messiah.

Beyond His Own Perfection

Jesus was born sinless as the "second Adam." He fulfilled his responsibility and inherited God's heart. However, as the true son of God, his purpose went far beyond his own perfection, and he desired that everyone become a child of God. Since Jesus was united with God, by uniting with him as their mediator, people unite with God and thereby are cleansed of their fallen nature. Through this process, God could restore in fallen people the capacity to fulfill their responsibility as co-creators.

Of course, Jesus could not force people to unite with him against their will; so he attracted them by sharing God's love with them, and he taught them to "believe in him whom He has sent" (John 6:29). Nevertheless, while Jesus was alive nobody followed him wholeheartedly, and when the persecution became serious even his closest disciples deserted him. Although Jesus had come to bring joy through unity with God, he was misunderstood, rejected and crucified. The crucifixion added to the grief which God felt because of the fall, and God's grief has persisted up to the present day.

The present state of the world is hardly such as to make God joyful. The very fact that human beings are still so far from reflecting God's nature is evidence that the process of restoration has not been completed. Yet Jesus was definitely the Messiah who came to establish the Kingdom of God. What went wrong? We can begin to answer this question by examining in more detail God's original ideal -- what Unification theology calls the "three great blessings." God told our first ancestors to

(1) be fruitful;

(2) multiply and fill the earth; and

(3) subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing (Gen. 1:28).

The first blessing refers to individual perfection, or unity of heart with God. Jesus achieved the first blessing. However, through the faithlessness of other people rather than through any failure on his part, Jesus was prevented from achieving the second blessing.

From the very beginning, God's image was female as well as male (Gen. 1:27). The second blessing indicates that God intended the original man and woman to be the "True Parents" of the human family, transmitting God's heart and love to all their descendants. However, our first ancestors failed to achieve the first blessing, and became "false parents" instead. The Messiah comes to rectify this failure by restoring true parenthood to the human family, which must be "reborn" to become the true family of God. The femininity as well as masculinity of God's image, the importance of True Parents, and the need for fallen people to be reborn into the true family of God all suggest that the messianic office is to be exercised not by a single individual, but by a husband and wife. However, Jesus was crucified before he could establish a true family on earth. Only after death did Jesus receive a "bride." In the Christian tradition, the "bride" of Jesus is the "Mother" Church, filled with the Holy Spirit, which together with Jesus gives spiritual rebirth to faithful believers.

Whereas the first blessing calls upon people to become God-centered individuals, and the second blessing calls upon them to establish God-centered families, the third blessing calls upon them to develop a God-centered relationship with the rest of the creation. Unification theology interprets "subdue" and "dominion" in such a way as to emphasize God-centered stewardship. With physical bodies that reflect the material universe, and spirits that reflect God's nature, perfected individuals would serve as mediators between God and His creation, bringing joy to both. Practically speaking, by achieving the third blessing, human beings would acquire the knowledge and technology to minimize problems such as disease and hunger, and to provide the best possible physical environment for the Kingdom of God.

Because of the fall, our first ancestors failed to achieve any of the three great blessings. On account of the crucifixion, Jesus was prevented from achieving more than the first. But until all human beings are able to achieve all three, God's joy will not be complete, because God's heart will always seek perfect joy for every individual, and perfect joy consists in achieving our full potential as co-creators and children of God. God, our invisible Heavenly Parent, is the eternal origin of true love. Despite the fall and despite the crucifixion, God will not be satisfied until the human family can inherit His heart and reflect His nature. This must begin with True Parents at the family level and expand from there to societies, nations and the world. The True Parents must share God's love with everyone, establishing the brotherhood and sisterhood of all human- kind, the Kingdom of God. Then God's grief will be wiped away, and God's joy and our joy will be complete at last. God, humankind and all of creation will be united, centered on God's heart. Jonathan Wells is credited with developing this new expression of our teachings. 

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