The Words of the Quebedeaux Family
I'm going to be very bold this evening. I'm going to give you the solution to human conflict, to warfare, and... another solution, in that I'm speaking to the guests here, to the Moonies here, and to Reverend Moon himself.
The title of my presentation is: "Thy Kingdom Come." But I want to add a subtitle: "Restitution, Reconciliation, and Restoration" (or "Salvation," whichever you prefer.) Another subtitle might be: "Righteousness Is Exciting."
I was brought up Fundamentalist, and we always read Paul and believed Paul, but Jesus sort of got in the back, sort of got set for the Millennium or for some impossible situation, and Paul was the realistic thinker for our age. I think Fundamentalism misread Paul. I'm going to clean up Paul right here. In fact, I think that Paul is the most radical of all theologians, and listen to what I read and tell me if you don't agree. From the 12th chapter of Romans:
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers and sisters, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him, and acceptable by Him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan for you is good, meets all God's demands, and moves toward the goal of true maturity. Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil, and a real devotion to good. Let us have a real, warm affection for one another, as between brothers and sisters, and a willingness to let the other person have the credit.
Let us not allow slackness to spoil our work, and let us keep the fires of the spirit burning as we do our work for the Lord. Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come, endure them patiently. Steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer. Give freely to fellow Christians in want. Never grudge a meal or a bed to those who need them. And as for those who try to make your life a misery: bless them. Don't curse them. Share the happiness of those who are happy, and the sorrow of those who are sad. Live in harmony with each other. Don't become snobbish, but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don't become set in your own opinion. Don't pay back a bad turn by a bad turn, to anyone.
See that your public behavior is above criticism. As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends. Stand back and let God punish if God will. For it is written. "Vengeance belongeth to me. I will recompense." And these are God's words: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him. If he thirst, give him to drink. For in doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." Don't allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive: overpower evil with good.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it, and of course we've all heard it from the time we were in Sunday school. But it hasn't worked. And why hasn't it worked? Well, we haven't done it. Why haven't we done it?
You ministers here must really have a painful experience because you really try hard, I'm sure. You really try hard, and the people come on Sunday morning at eleven and they may get inspired, and in some of your churches they may even get happy, if you know what I mean. But then they go home, and its life, comes and goes as usual. You know, "Love your enemies; don't pay them back evil for evil." But somehow, something went wrong. It's a nice ideal, and finally we come to the place to say, "Well, maybe that's the millennium, but it sure isn't now."
When Paul says, "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind," what does he mean? What is this conformity that we're not supposed to have anything to do with? What is involved in this transformation of our characters? That's what I want to talk about.
Well, I can't talk about the whole world system and what's wrong with it. But there's something badly wrong with it. Because in the world the center of the problem seems to be conflict: warfare, fighting, disunity, hatred instead of love. The family situation is perhaps the last to go, in the sense that -- I live in the San Francisco Bay area and the word "marriage" isn't even used anymore. The problem of conflict now isn't simply between nations or between communism and capitalism. It is not even between black and white. It is within each family, between children and parents, between parents and children, between grandparents. One of the most pressing problems of our day is sexual abuse of children by parents and step-parents. This is a hidden problem, but it is increasing. There's something deeply wrong, deeply wrong.
The title of my speech is about "Thy Kingdom Come: Restitution, Reconciliation, and Restoration." But the world system is based on something else. The world system is based on resentment, revenge, division, and exclusion, at every point... Resentment, I think, is the hidden basis of all human conflict.
You remember the social action movement of the sixties; you remember the Civil Rights Movement and how they started out so idealistic and so God- centered. And suddenly something became wrong; they became fragmented. The Reformation started the fragmentation of the Church, and in this attempt to purify the Church people began warring with each other. The Lutherans separated from the Calvinists, separated from the Anabaptists. And within each of those traditions we had a million denominations emerge. Strong social movements split apart. Remember the sixties, when everybody was going to love each other? There were the flower children and all these things. And somehow these little movements, these communes, they all split. What was the foundation of the split? It was resentment. I think resentment is the hidden basis of all human conflict.
God created us to be all that God wanted us to be, to be fulfilled in an infinite way. Human fulfillment is infinite. Human love is infinite. But when we are blocked from our own fulfillment by other people, what happens? We become resentful. And when we become resentful, we seek to get revenge.
What is the result of this system in God's eyes? Unification, as well as Process Theology and as well as some of the greatest theologians have said, that because of this situation in the world which Christians say came out of the Fall, God has been suffering. In most theology that I grew up with, you know, God didn't need anything. What a contradiction from the parental image in scripture! How many of you are parents? Do you need your children? Do you need their love? Tell me! What about God? Is God our divine parent? Does God need us? Does God need our love? Yes! And when God looks at what He's created and what we are doing in the world He must feel awful bad. Because this isn't what God wanted. When He sees us warring against each other, when He sees races warring against each other, He must feel very, very bad.
Now, we come to the notion of a suffering God through experience. And I want to read you a passage from a very famous theologian who was also a saint. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was incarcerated and executed by Hitler, because of his actions to bring down Hitler's empire in favor of the Jews. I mean, Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran that Lutherans can really be proud of. I'm a big critic of this "grace only" theology of Lutherans. But then I look at Bonhoeffer; he separated cheap grace from costly grace. Bonhoeffer, toward the end of his life, when he was in prison, wrote to his sister Sabina, and this is what he said:
It is a good thing to learn early that God and suffering are not opposites, but rather one and the same thing, and necessarily so. For me the idea that God Himself suffers is by far and away the most convincing piece of Christian doctrine.
He goes on to say:
The true Christian learns the reversal of what religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God's suffering at the hands of a Godless world.
Without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other, he must live a secular life and thereby share in God's suffering. To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man, not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the suffering of God in the secular life. This is conversion, not in the first place thinking about one's own needs, problems, sins- and fears, but allowing oneself to be caught up into the way of Jesus Christ, into the messianic event, thus fulfilling Isaiah 53.
"Being caught up in the messianic event." Isn't that interesting! So God is suffering. God is weeping, and must be in agony when He sees what's happening to this world, when He sees the nuclear dilemma, and the fact that everything God ever hoped for could be wiped out with the push of a button. The real Armageddon could be around the corner, but let me tell you something: with nuclear Armageddon there will be no winners, and God Himself will be the big loser.
But what's the solution? Well, I have to tell you I think Unification has the solution, in a central doctrine that it teaches. That doctrine is called "indemnity." What is indemnity? Well, it's a tough one. In fact, I understand that Unification is going back to the Korean word, because the American word is much more like an insurance term. I would say that indemnity in fact is very much akin to notions of compensatory justice, restitution, and if you really want to be radical, "reparations."
So let me just give you an example of personal indemnity or indemnification that you yourself can try out, and see if it doesn't work. Unification teaches that when the right relationship that God created us to be in, a loving, harmonious oneness with each other, in a kind of family setting, when that is broken there has to be some restitution to bring it together again. When a relation is broken between two people, somebody has got to pay a price to bring it together. Now this is what I mean.
If you have a bad relationship with a minister in your town, and you want to test this out. Maybe you've simply had a vocal fight. Or he's a conservative and you're a liberal. Or your church is small and poor but he's doing very well and you're jealous, and he knows it. Go home, and invite him out to the best restaurant in town, one that even you have never been to, and tell him how sorry you are and that you want to make restitution. You'd be surprised what can happen.
I used to try to get evangelical ministers to have lunch with liberal ministers they despised. I would have to work at it for four or five months, but when at last it happened, things would change! This is indemnity at the personal level. If you don't think it works, just try it. It works so well that empirical scientists, behavioral scientists, if the movement were to do this uniformly, could measure the change of attitude and affection between people.
The prime example of this sort of indemnity is the death of Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, took all the sins of the world on his shoulder. That's indemnity.
Now let me go on and conclude. I'm saying these things because 5, 6, or 7 years ago I had given up. I was one of those idealists that got burned out. And then I met the Moonies. I went to a conference at the Seminary in Barrytown. I was kind of rooked into going there: I met this Moonie in a class I was teaching in Berkeley, and he pushed me. I needed to get back east, and I needed somebody to pay my way. I wasn't that interested in going to the Unification Seminary, quite frankly, but this Moonie friend of mine was a nice guy and so I went.
Something happened to me in the course of three days because there was something very unique about these people. First of all, I discovered they were all normal. Now, that was something of a shock; I had thought my friend in Berkeley was something of an exception. Something also happened to me because they weren't just normal, they were better than normal. In fact, they were people I had always wanted to meet but had finally come to believe didn't exist. And when I met them, I said, "My God, these are true Christians. They really practice the Great Commandment. I can't agree with a lot of their politics, I can't agree with a lot of their theology. But they are really caring, good people." In fact, they were so good that it became exciting for me, and for everybody else at that little conference.
Reverend Moon has built a church that is built entirely on the doctrine of indemnity. If you read the Divine Principle you will discover that indemnity is the only way to restore the world.
The doctrine of indemnity is fundamental to Divine Principle. Indemnity is compensatory justice. It is based on sacrifice and service. It's so interesting: there's never been a heresy trial for not loving your neighbor. It's heresy if you don't believe this, but don't believe that. But what you do is your own business. Nobody wants to pay indemnity. But indemnity is powerful. Why? Because of this. By initiating service and sacrifice, based on love for other people and particularly for the enemy, those who have oppressed you, as the Moonies have done -- if you could see how this money is raised, that has got you here today, and if you could see how some of your colleagues in your churches have treated these people, and what they have preached about them, you would know something of indemnity.
I think there's only one thing the Moonies expect of you. If you were to ask them what you could do to pay them back for what they have done for you, they would probably tell you, "Love God more." That's what Reverend Moon would tell you. And how do I love God? There's only one way to love God and that's by loving my neighbor. And my neighbor is the person next door, my neighbor is the person in my congregation, my neighbor is, particularly, the person in need. God is the God of the oppressed. That's the preference of God, whether we like it or not. And when %k e do that in our congregations, it's going to make a difference. The world is sick and tired of words. They're sick and tired of the preachers who preach love and the members who talk about love and fellowship, and then cut each other's throats behind their back. There is only one authority in this world that's going to make any difference in secular society, and that's the authority of persistent, exemplary behavior. The world is going secular because the church has failed. We have failed Jesus Christ, Jesus hasn't failed us.
So I'm going to close and say that I have found in the living example of Moonies, of Unification people, something I never found, quite frankly, anywhere else. I have found true goodness. And what is true goodness? True goodness is the practice of love.
And at the heart of this goodness is respect. You may have noticed no matter how much you disagree with a Moonie, they're going to respect you. And that's rare in today's world. I can't go to any other group. If I'm a conservative Republican and I go to a left-wing Democratic group, they say, "Get out of here. Shut your mouth. I don't want to see you." This is a real problem, of both the left and the right, of both fundamentalists and liberals, of both blacks and whites, of both Gentiles and Jews. It's resentment. It's bitterness.
The world system: resentment, revenge, division, and exclusion. God's way: restitution, reconciliation, restoration, salvation. There is no reconciliation without restitution, without indemnity.
Thank you very much. I hope you'll think about what I said.