The Words of the Pople Family
Next to Father at lunch (left to right): Dr. Mary Carman Rose, Dr. M. Darrol Bryant, Dr. Herbert Richardson and Dr. Richard Quebedeaux.
The continuing series of theological conferences sponsored by the Unification Theological Seminary recently gave rise to the NEW ERA (New Ecumenical Research Association). Its 21-member advisory board met October 3-5 in New York City to determine the future direction for work with theologians.
During the past several years, a considerable number of theologians have participated in dialogues on topics of the Principle or have attended Divine Principle workshops, but there was no on-going structure for them to contribute to. This spring, the NEW ERA was organized and an advisory board chosen.
During its October meeting, the board decided to solicit membership from those who have attended the theological conferences, publish a newsletter and offer an advanced Divine Principle seminar in Puerto Rico next January.
In order to reach out to more theologians and offer a variety of activities to ERA members, the board designated six regions: four in the United States, one in Canada and one in the British Isles. Regional dialogues and workshops will promote the goals of the association.
The theologians on the board expressed great interest in meeting with Father. When the word came that Father had invited them to lunch with him at East Garden on October 4, they became quite excited.
Near the end of the lunch, Father said, "You came here for more than lunch. You came to see me. But if you just look at me, it is not useful. You need to understand my thought. But before I explain my thought, you have to become like primary school students. Until now, your mission has been teaching, but if you want to understand me, you have to have the attitude of primary school students'
"I have attended many meetings between Father and important people," Rev. Kwak observed, "and I am always amazed at how he deals differently with each person. This was the first time Father met with theologians, and the group represented North American religious leaders."
Rev. Kwak reported that Father began by talking about God's love. God's main purpose, hope and desire was love; therefore, Father emphasized the importance of God's love for the purpose of creation. "I know you have published many works," he told them, "but have you explained about God's love through your works? If not, they are of no use."
The fall was not something simple, Father continued. Because of it we lost God's love and became enemies of God. It is not simple to restore ourselves from the position of enemy of God to that of His children. The beginning step of the process of restoration is that of servant of servant. Restoration means to be raised up from the position of enemy to that of servant of servant, then servant, adopted son or daughter, real son or daughter and finally parents. There is only one process. The Bible mentioned this, but nobody understood it clearly.
Father went on to explain his main mission as restoring God's love. Satan conquered our ancestors by using God's main ideal -- love. Although Satan is a false master, he used God's method -- love.
Father is the only person who understood the process of the fall. Based on this explanation, Father urged them to focus on becoming the servant of servants.
When Father invited questions, one theologian said, "I have no doubt about you or about the Unification movement. I want to support you and the Unification Church activity. But what should I do?"
Maybe he wanted Father to answer that he should write a book supporting the movement. But Father's answer was, "If you want to support me, you have to become a servant of servants and receive persecution -- until you die. Then someone will bring flowers to your grave."
Of course, the theologian was shocked. The others as well. But he accepted Father's direction.
"Then I thought about our situation," Rev. Kwak commented. "This was the first meeting with them. He could have given them some general ideas. But actually, he gave them historical teaching. He never spoke only about things which they could easily accept.
"I wondered if he asked this of a theologian, what must he want to say to us? What must he want to teach us? Many times since that meeting, I have been thinking about servant of servants."
To another scholar Father said, "Maybe you thought you were the best scholar, because you interviewed me and researched about me. But you don't know God's love. Actually, you are not an easy person; if you bite once on something, you never give up. I liked this kind of nature in you. Also, in your eyes I see that you think deeply. That is why I let you interview me in the past."
The theologians were with him from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. They became like not only primary school students, but even kindergarten students. They asked questions like, "Do you still receive revelations?"
Father does not just give simple answers. He explained the process of revelation: "If you can taste God's love, your daily life is a revelatory life. God works on the foundation of love. My talk about God's love is not fanciful. I have been to the spiritual world many times. In the higher levels you find only those people who express or seek God's love. There are no scholars! If you doubt this now, you will clearly understand after you die."
"Furthermore," he said, "in the future, you will have to think about me when you are in difficult circumstances. No matter what the obstacles may be, I will always continue in the same direction of God's love."
"If we become the servant of servants," someone questioned, "how can we love the enemy?"
Father answered, "Your enemy is an extension of your relatives. When you meet an enemy, think of him as your brother, or son or uncle -- someone in your family. Then you can understand how to love him."
Another scholar observed that Jesus witnessed to the poor people when he was trying to gain disciples. "Why are you so interested in scholars?" he asked.
"When those people recognized him," Father replied, "Jesus' next stage would have been higher level persons. Actually, Jesus needed leaders, not followers."
A further question probed Father's plans for uniting people of different denominations.
"Of course, we teach the Divine Principle," Father replied. "But the most important factor is spiritual phenomena. Without the help of the spiritual world and Heavenly Father, we could never survive. The Unification Church was started not by man, but by God."
In concluding his report on this historic meeting, Rev. Kwak advised our members to maintain the position of servant of servant, and not focus on other stages. Actually, nobody likes the position of servant of servant, because we were created to be the son or daughter of God. But if we keep that position, he concluded, everything is solved.
John Maniantis, conference coordinator at Barrytown, had been nervous about the meeting between the theologians and Father. "It was amazing," he exclaimed. "After meeting with Father, these staid theologians were bubbling over like kids who had just seen their father and had been told what to do! Father handled them like a master -- like the master he is."
One African theologian, trained as a revolutionary by the Russians and Chinese before he converted to Christianity, told John after the meeting, "Reverend Moon is truly a revolutionary, more than anybody else. You Unification Church members don't understand him."
October 4 commemorates the release of Father from prison in South Korea. "It was the South Korean Christians who caused Father to be put in jail," John observed. "It must have been comforting to Father to be able to talk so freely to these theologians on the anniversary of his release from prison and have them listen with so much attention."
The theologians ended their meeting, planning for the advanced Principle seminar in Puerto Rico in January, which will delve into three topics: Unification lifestyle, the Principle of Creation and revelation.
The previous advanced seminar on the Principle was held in the Bahamas last February for 33 guests. Discussion topics included Unification lifestyle and hermeneutics (how to interpret the Principle, and how the Principle interprets the Bible). After this conference, Rev. Kwak proposed the establishment of an on-going structure. This proposal resulted in the formation of the NEW ERA and its advisory board, associated with the Unification Seminary in Barrytown.