The Words The Kwak Family

Tang Gam -- The Real Meaning of "Indemnity"

Chung Hwan Kwak
April 11, 1984
Morning Service
The World Mission Center

Our faith has several unique tenets that are not found in Christian doctrine. One of these is the principle of indemnity, which is better described by the Korean term, Tang Gam. Although the principle of Tang Gam is one of the most significant elements of our faith, many members do not understand it. However, each of us should be aware of how to set up conditions of Tang Gam as well as what results such conditions might bring.

Originally, Adam and Eve should have reached perfection through the fulfillment of their responsibility. We can conclude that Adam and Eve failed because they did not fulfill their own portion of responsibility. After their fall from God, they lost the chance to reach perfection and to fulfill the responsibility with which He had endowed them through the Three Blessings. Fallen human beings must restore the chance to fulfill that responsibility. In other words, we have to regain and restore our original position through Tang Gam. However, many members misunderstand this concept. Some people may feel that if Adam and Eve had not had a portion of responsibility to fulfill, they would not have fallen. It is true that if man had no responsibility, there would be no chance to fail. Yet God had a reason for giving us responsibility.

Satan took and dominated humankind's chance to fulfill the original responsibility. The only means to restore ourselves to our original position, then, is through offering God conditions of Tang Gam. If we do so, God can give us His grace and blessing. It is through this grace that fallen men and women can be restored. If fallen people did not have the possibility to lay conditions of Tang Gam, they would have absolutely no hope to be restored to God's side. In several of his speeches, Father has mentioned that if Heavenly Father or a central figure ever told you it was no longer feasible to offer conditions of Tang Gam, it would be the most severe judgment possible. Without Tang Gam, salvation or restoration is impossible.

Tang Gam -- A Form of Responsibility

Therefore, we now must completely change our old concepts of the meaning of Tang Goon. It is nothing bad; neither is it punishment. Rather, Tang Gam is a changed form of original responsibility. It is the main route by which God can bestow His blessings upon us.

Basic Christian doctrine teaches that Christians are saved primarily through the benefit of God's grace. This is partially true, but tends to place too little emphasis upon human responsibility. Of course, without God's grace, it would be impossible to receive salvation or to restore ourselves. Yet we must understand that since the fall, humankind has been completely under Satan's dominion. Satan certainly does not want to give up his hold on fallen humanity. Because of this, in order to restore or save us, God needs us to offer certain conditions in order to loosen Satan's grasp. Surely, if God did not need people to offer something so that He could restore them, the history of restoration would not have taken such a long time.

God had a beautiful plan at the time of creation. Unfortunately, Satan stole everything from God, including His ideal of love. Until today, all humankind has remained under Satan's sovereignty. Therefore, even though our God is almighty, with- out human fulfillment of conditions of Tang Gam there is no way He can restore people back to Him. We must clearly understand how absolutely essential laying conditions of Tang Gam is to our personal salvation.

Tang Gam is a term unique to the Principle. This expression has been loosely translated from Korean to the English word "indemnity." However, an exact translation does not exist in English. "Indemnity" in English has a rather negative connotation. According to my understanding, the English word has two main meanings: it denotes paying back (as in a loan, etc.) or it implies a penalty. However, the meaning of Tang Gam entails neither "paying back" nor "penalty." Rather, the concept focuses upon the proprietor granting favor or grace, not on a debtor paying the deficit, suggesting thereby that the debtor has no capability to pay back his or her debt. The real meaning of Tang Gam is that a debtor offers his or her creditor (i.e., a landlord) all of his or her possessions, representing his or her total assets, even though this is insufficient compensation for the debt. The debtor asks for the creditor's grace and forgiveness, and that the debt be cancelled on the basis of the offering. The debtor's attitude is, therefore, very important. A debtor must approach the creditor purely, humbly, and sincerely.

Fallen humanity's situation is exactly like that of a beggar. We have no hope to pay back our debt to God, especially considering how His heart has been broken. This is why Father chose the descriptive term, "Tang Gain."

It is in this sense that we must reflect on how to offer our conditions of Tang Gam to Heavenly Father. The most important point is whether or not God accepts our conditions, whether He can really forgive us and cancel our debt. Conditions offered but not acceptable to God are of no consequence.

God's Grace and Acceptance

Until now, many of you might have thought from time to time that laying conditions of Tang Gam was too difficult and wondered why you should continue. When you have had this type of feeling, you must have vacillated in your faith and become tired. You did not understand Tang Gam correctly and you had the wrong attitude. The most significant part of the principle of Tang Gam is God's grace and acceptance. We have no right to complain. Offering conditions of Tang Gam may be difficult, unless we view it as the amazing blessing it is. Instead of focusing on the conditions themselves, concentrate on whether or not God can accept them. Your faith will stabilize as a result, and you will never become tired of this way of life.

From this time on, if you emphasize the blessing of receiving God's grace and whether or not God can accept the attitude with which you offer your conditions of Tang Gam, your heart will naturally develop gratitude. Too much emphasis on making the conditions themselves will only serve to exhaust you spiritually.

Tang Gam is not based on the debtor's authority, power or the condition offered. Without the permission and acceptance from the creditor, a debtor cannot actually make an offering of Tang Gam. A creditor still holds the authority and power to ask that all liabilities be paid back. If Heavenly Father asked humankind to pay back all damages resulting from the fall to mend His broken heart, we would have absolutely no way to comply. Yet we are not in such a situation. Instead, God has granted us the opportunity and privilege of offering conditions of Tang Gam. Tang Gam is the avenue through which we can reach Him, and He in turn, can reach us. When we understand the true nature of Tang Gam, we should joyfully accept such opportunities.

God has permitted Tang Gam in different ways at different stages of the dispensation. Generally, God has always wanted to allow ultimate Tang Gain, and give ultimate grace, so all humankind could become His sons and daughters. Gradually through the dispensation God has permitted more and more Tang Gam, and given more and more grace. Thus, Old Testament people were permitted a different level of Tang Gam than New Testament people.

How to Lay Conditions of Tang Gam?

How is it possible for us to lay conditions of Tang Gam that God and True Parents will be able to accept? There are two basic ways. The first way is to offer them aggressively. After joining the church, members offer to God conditions of fasting, prayer, study, etc. and live a sacrificial lifestyle. Aggressive conditions involve self-sacrifice. For example, people generally eat three meals a day; fasting involves sacrificing that desire to eat. Centered on God, not self, fasting is regarded as Tang Gam; however, dieting through fasting would not be regarded as such.

In the doctrine of many other religions, too, the concept and practice of self-sacrifice has always been regarded as an essential quality for those who aspired to live a religious way of life.

Secondly, even though it may not be an aggressive condition, receiving persecution allows us to offer Tang Gain. If one makes a mistake and there is a valid reason why one receives scolding or persecution, it cannot be regarded as Tang Gam. However, if one is harassed without any basis, even though one was not originally seeking to make a condition, it can be regarded as Tang Gam.

In this context, the word "persecution" has two basic connotations. One: Moonies generally keep long hours and have daily schedules full of public or mission oriented activities. If you work hard, seeking even aggressively to accomplish more, no matter what your mission, through such a sacrificial lifestyle, you lay conditions of Tang Gam. Through your mission (especially ones such as fundraising or witnessing), you automatically are provided with many chances to receive verbal abuse. This persecution can be regarded as Tang Gam. If, as Moonies, we live a public life and gratefully accept even verbal persecution, we have chances throughout the day to make conditions of Tang Gam.

As I stated previously, the most serious aspect of Tang Gam is whether or not God can accept our conditions. There is an important reason behind my statement. More than four billion people now live on this earth. The majority of people who live in the third world or Communist nations lead an extremely sacrificial life. In some cases, our life of sacrifice in the Unification Church does not even compare. Yet self-sacrifice is not considered a condition of Tang Gam unless Heavenly Father allows it, in connection to His dispensation. Therefore, when people are not centered on God, their condition of sacrifice is not Tang Gam; it could basically be thought of as suffering rather than a sacrifice offered to God. In some cases, a soldier in his nation's army, while quite loyal and patriotic, may be willing to sacrifice his own life for his country. Yet this sacrifice could not be considered Tang Gam because this man is not working in the mainstream dispensation under the direction of God.

After joining the church, even though we have no particular foundation to receive the wonderful benefits which Tang Gain provides, we work in God's mainstream dispensational activities. All these activities are connected to the principle of Tang Gam. Whatever you sacrifice, you must always question whether your offering is on God's side and whether or not He can accept it. There are members who are motivated to lay conditions of Tang Gam, and there are others who are not. However, when we examine either of the two types of Tang Gam, we would have to admit that from God's viewpoint, none of us are really absolute in making our offerings. Therefore, it is imperative that we constantly check our activities, sacrifice, motivation, prayer, and lifestyle to discover whether or not God can accept them.

Tang Gam -- For Our Own Salvation

Please consider the following points. First of all, at minimum, we should always seek to purify ourselves internally. We can easily discern whether our motivation is self-centered or for the purpose of the whole. If it is self-centered, some impure attitude has already entered into our offering; God will not be happy with it. Among our members we can see that even though many people follow the same time schedule, there are those who are excited and happy to sacrifice their lives, while others find it difficult and struggle. One explanation is that our ancestral lineages are all different; people have different amounts of necessary Tang Gam conditions because of their ancestors.

People also come from different personal backgrounds. This is a reason why one's approach to life may not be the same as another's. One person may struggle continuously, repeating impure or bad attitudes in offering conditions of Tang Gam; until he or she changes those attitudes, struggle will be repetitious. Also, struggle often results from comparison with other people's conditions of Tang Gam, based on their ancestors and attitudes. There are people who dedicate themselves completely, while others have a much more self-centered approach to living a life of dedication. I urge you to examine yourself. Try for one day to live with a pure mind and a pure dedication. Then try it for one week, one month, etc.

The reason we need to offer conditions of Tang Gam is for our own salvation. One of the motivations behind Adam and Eve's fall was self-centeredness. If our motivation is self- centered, Satan has cause to break our relationship with God. I received a letter recently from a missionary who expressed that quite some time ago she had made a small mistake in her life of faith. It was not until later, though, that she could recognize at that point Satan got much more involved in monitoring her life. If we develop a self-centered attitude, Satan will come immediately, breaking our conditions of Tang Gam and claiming them for himself.

Try to purify yourself. Even though it may be unexpected, the more you do so, the more clearly your vertical relationship will develop. This is yet another aspect of God's grace attached to the principle of Tang Gam.

Even though two members may offer the same condition of sacrifice, one member may feel what a wonderful opportunity it is to receive God's blessing. Such a member would automatically have a grateful heart towards God. Yet, as I mentioned before, if you only focus on living the life of sacrifice itself, you will lose power. When this happens, a negative concept has already found its home within you, and it will be difficult for you to feel grateful to God.

When I observe the lives of members, I notice whether they are self-centered or purely dedicated. Always check yourself. True sincerity in a person is a quality very precious to God. It is easy to misjudge a person who is sincere, yet it causes so much damage. One case in point is how the world views our True Parents.

How can the Messiah or a God-centered person extend God's territory? There are two ways. One is aggressively to witness and live a sacrificial lifestyle, laying conditions of Tang Gam for the world. Another way is through keeping a sincere attitude while receiving persecution. The person who does the accusing ultimately will lose power.

If we nurture a pure mind, and completely dedicate ourselves to lay conditions of Tang Gam with a heart of gratitude, we expand God's and True Parents' territory and stabilize our faith.

Our individual course centers on the True Parents' 21 year course. They have already established a foundation of victory in laying conditions of Tang Gam on the levels of the individual, family, nation and world. It is up to us individually to inherit this foundation. In 1981 we started the Children's Course, but even before that, our way to inherit the victorious foundation of True Parents has been through the avenue of Tang Gam.

We Cannot Escape

This channel remains open to us, regardless of whether we have failed in laying conditions of Tang Gam or made mistakes in previous conditions we offered. We cannot escape walking the path of Tang Gam. It is a condition absolutely necessary for our own restoration.

Sometimes people beg me to change their central figure. Occasionally a member claims to want to dedicate him or herself to God's will but feels blocked because of the central figure. In some instances, a central figure may have made a mistake or perhaps does not have a proper attitude and therefore it may be beneficial for the member to change central figures. However, in some cases, the member in Cain position needs exactly that kind of central figure for his or her condition of Tang Gam. When a member in such a circumstance obtains a different central figure, in many cases, the new central figure is the same type of person as the old one. Therefore, the same type of difficulties await the member.

This is one simple example of our way of faith. We each have a certain destiny, but this is not the negative meaning of destiny. According to Heavenly Father, we are destined for total salvation. Therefore, while traveling this restoration course, all of us need to offer certain conditions of Tang Gam. Don't try to protest or escape. Two or three years later, the same difficulties will confront you again. If that is the case, you will have lost two or three years of precious time. If you meet a certain challenge, try your best to overcome it at the moment and don't try to run or hide from it.

There are many kinds of Tang Gam. All people must at minimum lay conditions of Tang Gam on the individual level. Yet the Tang Gam offered on the family level also depends on your spouse. After the Blessing, God and True Parents no longer look upon you as single individuals, but as a couple. As a couple, you need certain conditions of Tang Gam. Some members lay many conditions of Tang Gam before the Blessing. Some do not offer many. The family level Tang Gam you extend to God depends on how much you and your spouse invest. You absolutely need your second messiah! If you stay on the family level and enjoy your life, you will become ashamed in front of True Parents and God, because of their sacrifice and God's heart. Couples must inherit True Parent's lifestyle of laying conditions on the national and world level.

Another point: don't count the amount of your Tang Gam, or you will become very tired. Personally, I have decided that until my physical life is finished, I will go in the same direction, following the tradition of God and True Parents. Then there will be no problem. Also never compare your Tang Gam with another's Tang Gam. Your ancestry is naturally different.

Tang Gam is absolutely necessary for your foundation to receive the Messiah. After meeting the Messiah, based on the foundation of faith and the foundation of substance, salvation will occur. All details in your daily life relate with meeting the Messiah in heart. It is a daily life relationship. Father is waiting for us to lay Tang Gam conditions in our daily lives. Our mission itself is not important. What is most important is our relationship with God and True Parents. 

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