Articles From the November 1994 Unification News
Greetings once again, from your very own part-time Unification News rabblerouser. This article is in 'first person' style for a reason. To paraphrase the famous cartoonist Charles Shultz, "Nothing is more disturbing than the challenging of a cherished belief." Religious beliefs are held more dearly than any other. Therefore, I wish to state clearly that this two-part article contains only the opinions of myself, your author.
Today we'll look at 'doctrines' and their real life consequences for the believers. This could be rather blunt, so: apologies in advance. It seems the best way to get to the crux of things. If I am incorrect in any particular, I welcome clarifications. Also, we'll look for some practical lessons for us Unificationists.
With matters Theological, scholars must be extremely precise. They have an entire specialized jargon, which cannot be understood by others. One could say, "It's all Greek to me," and really mean it! And add "Latin, Hebrew and German" to the mix. I'll try to keep it simplified and in plain English.
Ever since its founding, Christianity has hoped for 'orthodoxy,' and battled against 'heresy.' Saint Paul denounced several heresies, right there in the Bible itself! Early Christians held several famous gatherings to fix their central doctrines. Notable was the Nicean Council, where Jesus was pronounced to be 'the same as' God Himself.
Oddly, the Emperor Constantine had already announced which side he was backing! Afterward, he carried out his threat to banish those few who dared to oppose his verdict-in-advance. Thus was the three-males 'Trinity' doctrine accepted, and a woman's role was ever after confused. Also, Jesus was placed impossibly far 'above' us.
Today there are thousands of Christian denominations, many diverging from that historical view. Without the Divine Principle, this only adds to the confusion. The defenders of Nicean orthodoxy really have their work cut out for them! I understand that the other Great Faiths have gone through similar doctrine-setting and heresy-hunting episodes. However, I'm not familiar enough with them to comment.
Many denominations base their claims upon one passage or occurence in the Bible. For example, some churches note that musical instruments were used in pagan rituals, but are not mentioned at Christian meetings. Therefore they frown upon such music in churches. (But they sure are good singers!)
For another example, the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday. Why then do most Churches worship on Sunday? Of course there are good reasons. But Seventh Day worshippers (Adventists and a few others) pity and dismiss all other Christians as having 'caved in' to so-called Pagan Sun-Day rituals!
The Adventists are unusually generous about this. Few Christians see God allowing 'ignorance as an excuse.' But Adventists speak of people being saved "by their lights," that is, by the truth as much as it was known to them.
Some Christians of the older traditions divide themselves still further. They have rituals that never appear in the Bible, yet are taken with deadly seriousness. In old Russia, Orthodox worshippers once 'crossed themselves' with three fingers held together. (Thumb, index and middle.) Later, they 'reformed' and used only two fingers. Some worshippers refused to change. Ostensibly for this reason, huge numbers were slaughtered! When I visited Macedonia, they boasted of Christian roots going right back to a legendary visit by St. Paul himself. They still use three fingers. (Don't tell the Russians.) So, please don't get too annoyed at American style doctrinal mud-slinging, OK?
Many American Christians are highly analytical. A young Texan once told me that "satan will use a whole ocean of truth to disguise an ounce of poison." As a typical American, he must have tested his 'ocean' down to the parts-per-billion, finding it pure. The implication was; as well as I could "talk Bible," I was headed right for that little vial of poison!
Similarly, such believers always bring up the notion of context. Obviously, the Scriptural figures lived in long-ago times. Their customs, languages, and worldviews were very different. That's one reason we have a Unification Seminary; to understand these things.
However, these Christians are very good at selectively 'assigning' context! One Biblical passage is "obviously" literal, another allegorical, yet another purely symbolic. Thus, they can thoroughly justify almost any doctrine!
Considering the vast differences in denominational, church -not to mention individual- beliefs, that young Texan would've found himself all alone in Heaven! Fortunately for us mortals, God is a God of Heart. Suffering with and for us, and raising us up with very much patience and mercy.
Let's take a brief look at some little known but highly consequential doctrines. The first is called Eternal Security. Briefly: Can the powers of the world overcome Christ? In plainer terms, is it possible to backslide completely? Denominations are deeply divided, but quietly, on this point. Most 'fundamentalists' claim it is not possible.
I've greatly annoyed many 'negative' (vocally anti-Unificationist) Christians with this one point. You see, I was "saved by the blood of the risen Jesus" at age 17. So if it's "eternally saved," then I -the moonie- will be there in Heaven with them. They say it and wince! The Principle is very clear on this point. One can fall away. But everyone -even satan himself- will eventually be saved.
Another (even less discussed) doctrine concerns Deathbed Salvation. Plainly put, can you put off 'getting saved' until the moments before your death? Many American people are counting on it! Only a few 'Holiness' churches teach that you cannot get away with this. I've heard that some Soviet leaders had priests brought in, secretly, when they were on their deathbeds. Oh, well.
The Principle holds this entire point moot. The Holiness churches agree with us here, that 'mental salvation' -a fifteen second rote prayer- won't really ensure salvation anyway.
A much-heralded but barely considered doctrine is that of 'Renewal.' Assuming that, at the Ressurection, Christians will instantly be relieved of their earthly sins. Christianity -and all the Great Faiths- believe in 'free will.' But at such a point, God would have to violate our free will, once and for all!
People are just not built like curcuit boards, from which sins and fallen nature can simply be unplugged, to be replaced with some unspecified 'angelic' nature. Many also believe they will have immortal 'ressurection bodies,' something that defies all physical laws. Mormons (of the Utah LDS branch) even teach that God Himself (and Jesus) have such immortal, 'bloodless' yet quite physical bodies. Principle tells of a much more desirable Spirit World awaiting us.
Various faiths entertain vastly different notions of the 'afterlife.' (Though such beliefs usually set them apart from the fatalistic secular belief-systems.) Even within Christianity there are different notions.
The late evangelist Keith Green made pamphlets depicting a tearful cloud-borne Christian. He was crying because his favorite TV show was on-and Heaven had no TV's. (Harps only, presumably.) "Learn to Praise now, that's going to be it for all eternity," was the point. C.S. Lewis wrote -far more accurately- of an 'intense' Heaven, more 'real' than anything found on this physical plane.
Some less savory religions have always tied 'salvation,' or a place in the 'heavenly elite,' with membership in a certain race or civilization. With the advancement of the Age, these faiths are either changing-or fading away. It was only in 1978 that Utah Mormons began to allow Blacks into their higher ranks. (With the little-known exception of their founders' personal Black friends.) Some faiths are still being restrictive.
The Mormons, to their credit, are now sending missionaries into Black Africa. Other churches make a big point of their missions to Third World societies. They speak of the '10-40 belt.' (No, not cars!) It's the Earth's mid-latitudes; the barely evangelized, largely Moslem, Buddhist or Hindu nations.
I once heard a talk by a Baptist missionary to Central America. He painted a vivid picture of a jungle area practically swarming with missionaries. Almost like there were three of them chasing after every native Indian. Bragging about their primitive converts. While -a few miles away- there were teeming, growing cities-with few if any missionaries. In fact, new tracts were being laid out with no room for churches to be built!
Some faiths barely evangelize, if at all. To join certain ones, you have to go and bother them! Many 'witness' primarily to friends and neighbors, while others (such as Jehovah's Witnesses) have organized 'cold call' programs. I don't have to say which ones we would prefer to resemble!
Ever since the Cruxifiction, there has been talk of Jesus' Second Coming. Many times, someone 'discovers' that He is just about to return. These days, such ideas are spread in comics and over the airwaves. I've heard of a nifty -and quite legal- contract intended for such preachers. It assigns all their possessions to you, effective on the day after the End of the World. See if they'll sign it! There is a darker side to this. There are ministers in jail right now, for bilking their flocks out of their (they thought) soon-to-be unneeded worldly goods.
Many believe the world will suffer first. There are doctrines of 'Pre, Mid or Post-Tribulation Rapture.' The 'Pre-Tribs' think Jesus will snatch them up first. (It's never made clear to where exactly.) They will get to look down on a 'deservedly suffering' world. But the 'Post-Tribs' believe that they'll be tormented for seven years before Jesus comes for them.
I'm truly sorry to mention this, but I did hear it in their own official doctrinal classes. The Seventh Day Adventists are 'Post-Trib' believers. They see the American government, under eventual Sun-Day Pagan (particularly Roman Catholic) domination, as the very instrument of this Tribulation. Hence their unfortunate little offshoot, the Branch Davidians of Waco, had every reason -from their historical doctrine- to fear and resist the government. Even, as it turned out, to the death. And our 'humanist' Administration proved all too eager to oblige them . . .
Many faiths are arguing over the idea of giving leadership to women. This is their right, but these same faiths are now struggling to maintain themselves. While Principle does say 'men are the subject,' the reality of True Parents gives women more heavenly honor than they've ever had!
There are many styles and doctrines of marriage and divorce. Worldwide, too many to even list here. Within Christianity, it goes from super-liberal churches allowing homosexual or 'informal' marriages, to ultra-strict 'Holiness' churches that allow divorce under almost no circumstances.
Wiser churches are now suggesting (even requiring) counseling and waiting periods for newly engaged couples. Our own church frowns upon divorce, but does not forbid it. Because of the example of the True Family, the compatible beliefs and experiences of our members, and our guiding elders, divorce is not common.
Even more significantly, due to our (often misunderstood) post- Blessing 'separation periods,' things have tended to 'shake out' before kids come along. So, divorces involving children are extremely rare! Few other peoples in the world can say that.
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