The Unification Church: Moonshine for the Soul
In 1980 former Unification Church member Chris Elkins wrote, "The Unification Church is one cult that will be around for a long while, not only because of its current campaign to achieve respectability and recognition by Christian churches, but also because of its financial holdings. What many people don't realize, and what I didn't realize in 1973, was that the bulk of the Unification Church's resources comes from the fund raising efforts of its individual members. It has been estimated, conservatively, that those Moonies [Unification Church members] on the street corners, in shopping malls, and in supermarkets, selling candles and flowers, yield for the Church over a million dollars every five days" (Heavenly Deception, p. 60).
During the 1970's many people in the United States began to encounter what Elkins portrays in his writing - a growing number of young people soliciting donations for the Unification Church. Typically, a donation was requested in exchange for an item such as candy or flowers, to aid some endeavor or organization, often fictitious, which they allegedly represented. These fund raising tactics, still used today on an unsuspecting public, continue to help fund the efforts of the Unification Church, allowing it to continue to thrive, even as Elkins correctly predicted.
"To understand the Church one must understand the man and the culture from which it comes. Its founder, Young Myung Moon (he later changed his name to Sun Myung Moon) was born in 1920, in the province of Pyungan Buk-do, in what is now North Korea. Moon was reared in a Presbyterian family, however, despite his Christian upbringing he developed an interest in spiritism which was evident from his early childhood. Unification Church leaders have claimed that while in his teens Moon had a visitation from Jesus on Easter morning, 1936. During this encounter Jesus supposedly "revealed that he was destined to accomplish a great mission in which Jesus would work with him" (Young Oon Kim, The Divine Principle and Its Application, p. viii). Some claim Jesus actually told Moon he would be the "completer" of man's salvation, the "Savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah" - a claim Moon made himself (Today's World, September 1992, pp. 20-21).
That this alleged visitation stems from his involvement in spiritism is evidenced in Moon's book, God's Warning to the World, in which he states, "Early in my life God called me for a mission as His instrument...I committed myself unyieldingly in pursuit of truth, searching the hills and valleys of the spiritual world. The time suddenly came to me when heaven opened up, and I was privileged to communicate with Jesus Christ and the living God directly. Since then I have received many astonishing revelations" (p. 10). Further insight is gained from the introduction of the Unification Church manual, Outline of the Principle - Level 4. Referring to Moon, it states, "Only God really knows the kind of path he traveled. He freely communicated with Jesus and the saints in Paradise" (p. 2, 1980 ed.).
It is evident from Moon's life that his "searching of the spiritual world" was an involvement with spiritism that would set the course for his continuing "revelations." This is revealed in his association, about a decade later, with a group in North Korea which was deeply involved in mystical revelations and awaited the impending arrival of a new messiah. They believed Korea was the new Jerusalem and that the messiah would be born in Korea. This apparently made an impression on Moon as these elements would later be found in his theology and in the Divine Principle.
In 1965 Moon and his close advisor, Bo Hi Pak, participated in a seance with famed spirit medium Arthur Ford. Fordchanneled a spirit he called "Fletcher."In this seance "Fletcher" described Moon: "He is one of those who will be the human instrument through whom the World Teacher will be able to speak...Jesus of Galilee will not return - it is not necessary...the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, can speak through Moon more clearly - more completely - than he is able to speak through any one individual today...There is but one Christ. He may wear different names, because men speak different tongues, but there is but one God, one Christ, on Spirit of Truth....Remember to make the distinction between the Spirit of Truth, which is the Christ, and any individual with a human name...The Spirit of Truth didn't begin with any man - it ends with no man - it uses men. Right now it is using in a very remarkable way the man who is in your presence" (Arthur Ford, Unknown But Known, pp. 131-41). This makes it easier to understand Moon's claim to fulfill the second coming of Christ, while not claiming to be Jesus Himself.
Moon's involvement with spiritism is still evident today as he "continually receives 'new revelations,' practices a form of soul travel whereby he allegedly projects himself into the spirit realm to see Jesus and the saints, and claims to be an 'expert' on the spirit world" (James Bjornstad, The Moon Is Not The Son, p. 30).
From July 20, 1984 to August 20, 1985, Moon was incarcerated in the Danbury Connecticut Federal Prison for income tax evasion. This was not, however, his first imprisonment. While still in North Korea, Moon was imprisoned by the communist government. Officially, the authorities charged him with bigamy and adultery. However, Moon and his followers consistently and uniformly maintain his arrest was due to his stand against communism.
Upon being released from this first imprisonment he moved to South Korea where, in 1954, he founded a Church in Seoul called the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. It was during this same time period that his first wife left him. According to Bjornstad, Moon claims it was because "She did not understand my religion" (Sun Myung Moon & The Unification Church, p. 11). Apparently his current wife, Hak Ja Jan Moon, doesn't have this problem as she is prominently involved in Moon's work and holds a central position in Unification theology.
In 1955 Moon was again arrested, this time in non-communist South Korea, and charged with draft evasion. Later, charges of adultery and promiscuity were added. Again, Moon and his followers maintain these sexual charges were unfounded, arising out of rumors that developed as a result of his meetings being held in homes and often extending late into the evenings. They allege that rumors began to circulate that these meetings were actually affairs. The government failed to prove its case and Moon was released (Ibid.).
Regarding his most recent incarceration in Connecticut, Moon and his followers again maintain his innocence. Three countries, three different governments, three imprisonments, and in each instance Moon plays the part of the innocent victim.
The year 1957 was important for the Unification Church in that the Divine Principle, the church's theological interpretation of the Bible, was published. This work by one of his closest disciples sets forth Moon's teachings and claims to be, not the totality of truth, but part of that truth (Divine Principle, p.16). This is not intended as an affirmation of Moon's limitations but provides room for additional truth/revelation from Moon and other areas.
Shortly after this, in the 1960's, Moon began to launch various business endeavors to fund his church. The wealth amassed through these efforts would eventually enable the church to branch out even further. In conjunction with this, Moon began an all out speaking assault on communism which would further advance the Unification Church by bringing him a valuable political ally in Park Chung Hee, South Korea's leader. Through this, whether by design or by accident, Moon discovered the usefulness of aligning himself with prominent political figures in order to advance his causes - a practice he continues today (see "Unification Church Influence in America," p. 8).
A defining point in Moon's work came on January 1, 1972 when he claims God again appeared to him and told him to come to America. Based upon this "revelation," the Church purchased a large estate in Tarrytown, New York, establishing a base of operations in the United States. This facility would not only provide an American base but an elaborate training center and family mansion, as well.
In America Moon began to apply what he had learned in Korea, namely, the value of joining popular political efforts to advance one's cause. He began to speak out strongly on behalf of America and, especially, for then President Nixon. Rather than remaining some obscure religious leader, he gained increasing exposure through holding a pro Nixon rally on the steps of the Capitol and through the many similar rallies held by his followers in other cities. This first political venture would not permanently gain a successful ally for him, as Nixon would soon resign. Later alliances, however, such as that with former President and Mrs. Bush, would prove to be invaluable in recruiting and establishing credibility (See "Unification Church Influence in America," p. 8, and "In the News," p. 23).
Perhaps many in the 1970's thought the Unification Church would not be around for long in this country. However, it is not only still here, it continues its commitment to mainstream itself into American culture. Korea remains the spiritual center for the church, but the United States has become a major catalyst for propelling its efforts and influence into other countries.
Ultimately, Moon's goal is to be able to completely disregard the Bible. His followers are taught, "Until our mission with the Christian church is over, we must quote the Bible and use it to explain the Divine Principle. After we receive the inheritance of the Christian, we will be free to teach without the Bible" (Master Speaks, March/April, 1965, MS-7, p. 1).
Until that day Moon and his followers, like many other cults, must be content with attempts to blur the distinctions between Unification theology and biblical Christianity. One way they accomplish this is by using biblical words and terms, such as sin, salvation, born again, etc., but altering the meaning by applying their own definitions.
Another method Moon's followers use to blur the distinctions is their practice of "heavenly deception," which permits and encourages followers to engage in lying or intentional deception to further their causes. While this abuse has been particularly notorious as it relates to fund raising, it may also be practiced regarding doctrines, policies, history, etc.
Because of their redefining of terminology and the practice of heavenly deception many are deceived and lured into the group, believing the organization is just another Christian church. These deceptive practices also cause problems for those who recognize the Unification Church is not Christian and try to engage its adherents in a discussion.
With no knowledge of Moon's divergent definitions, speaking to his followers about Bible doctrine is like speaking to someone who speaks another language - except that one may not know different languages are being spoken or that communication is being distorted. And given the practice of "heavenly deception," the Unification member, whose goal is not merely to convert the Christian but to make the Unification Church acceptable to society and Christians generally, has no reason to clear up the confusion of terms. For this reason, it is important to become familiar with and understand some of the central teachings of the Unification Church.
The God of Creation
The god of the Unification Church is not the God of the Bible. In fact, though Moon appeals to the Bible to proof text God, the Bible does not shape his understanding or definition of God. Instead, Moon and his followers look to the created, both nature and man, to examine the nature of God.
"Divine Principle asserts that God is perpetual, self-generating energy, the first cause and the primal source of all that exists...Causing the visible creation and operating through it, God is responsible for the innumerable types of patterns which energy forms to make the world we touch, see and know" (Young Oon Kim, Unification Theology and Christian Thought, pp. 11).
"We will determine what God's nature is like by finding the characteristics which are common to all entities in his Creation" (Outline of the Principle - Level 4, p. 10). "From man and nature, which both contain the polarity of internal character and external form, we can see that their Creator, their Cause, also exists in polarity" (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, p. 6).
This theology is so akin to Taoism that it is not uncommon for Unification manuals to use the yin-yang symbols to illustrate various aspects of Moon's theology. As Bjornstad points out, while there are some differences between Unification theology and Taoist philosophy, "the overall system and framework is identical" (Sun Myung Moon & The Unification Church, p. 54).
The God in Creation
Such a view of God naturally lends itself to Pantheism. Moon redefines the biblical account of creation inserting the pantheistic view that God is all and in all. In God's Warning, Moon states, "What is Creation? Creation means nothing more than the Creator, God, projecting Himself into a substantial form...When God takes form, this is creation...Genesis gives us the impression that God's creation is accomplished through some magic of His words...But now it has been revealed that it was not this easy at all. God invested Himself in creation. He did not reserve even one ounce of power. Creation was...His total effort of giving all of Himself" (p. 18).
Such a view of God and the created order naturally leads to a belief of man's oneness, not only with his Creator, but with all the creation, as well. What logically follows is that nature becomes one's teacher. Moon continues in God's Warning, "We must learn the lessons of love from nature. The holiest of people have always been on intimate terms with nature. You should naturally want to go out every day and look at the sky and the birds and the animals in order to perceive new lessons in love...All the creatures, including the insects, will want to become a part of your 'love orchestra'" (p. 19).
The God in Man
This Taoist / New Age view of lowering the person and position of God, naturally flows over into Moon's teachings about man, elevating humanity to the place of God. According to Moon's teaching, man's creation grows from an insufficiency or incompleteness in the person of God. "If there is a God, He definitely needs human beings, and He will do everything possible to develop this relationship" (Ibid., p. 2).
"Even Almighty God cannot experience the values of love, life, and His ideal when He is alone. That is why God created His object, His image, man and woman...So man and woman together are the visible form of God, and God is the invisible form of man and woman...Human being is incarnate God...So man and woman, the object of God, is as important in value as God Himself" (Ibid., p. 4-5). "God desired to substantiate Himself in the world, and He finally approached that point with the birth of the original parents, Adam and Eve" (Ibid., p. 12).
Here, in his theology of Adam and Eve, one gets an even clearer picture of Moon's erroneous view of man. He continues, "God is the father of Adam and Eve, and naturally He must have some resemblance to them...Before Adam and Eve fell they were the walking, physical God here on earth. As the visible form of God, they were to take over Lordship of the physical world, whereas God remained the invisible Lord of the entire spirit world...Why did God create human beings? God wanted to assume tangible form and the day Adam and Eve were born was almost like the day of God's own birth. As Adam and Eve grew to completion, God spiritually grew into a greater fulfillment together with them. God and his children were one and the same person actually..." (Ibid.).
Adam, The Failure
According to Rev. Moon, "Adam and Eve were God's first children" and were placed in the garden to mature into perfection in God. Moon teaches it was God's intent to "make Adam and Eve one in heavenly matrimony" at which point "they would have borne sinless children and become the mother and father for all humankind. They would have been the 'True Parents,' establishing the heavenly Kingdom on earth" (Ibid., p. 37).
According to Unification doctrine, however, they failed in this mission as Eve succumbed to the seduction of the archangel, Satan, having sexual intercourse with him. Her eyes were then opened and, realizing what she had done, she attempted to correct this by having relations with Adam, prior to God's appointed time. Eve successfully seduced Adam and, after having sexual relations with her, his eyes were also opened and he felt fear and shame over what he had done (Unification Theology and Christian Thought, pp. 60-63). Adam and Eve having failed to "set the criteria of perfection on this earth," God would have to send the Messiah (God's Warning, p. 37).
Jesus was this Messiah, the second Adam. Concerning Jesus, Moon teaches he is not God but a man in whom God is incarnate. Moon states, "Jesus came to this earth to be the true, everlasting father of humankind" (Ibid.), thus fulfilling that which Adam failed to accomplish. He further teaches Jesus did not come to earth to die; it was not God's plan for him to go to the cross. However, man, in his lack of faith and because of his sinfulness, crucified Jesus and thwarted God's original plan (Ibid., pp. 122, 129-35).
Jesus, The Failure
Moon teaches it was God's plan for Jesus to marry and for he and his wife to become the True Parents, succeeding where Adam failed. According to Unification theology, it is God's ultimate desire to give a physical bride (not just the symbolic church) to His son.
"Jesus knew that God was looking forward to having his only begotten daughter, so Jesus looked forward to restoring a woman in that position" (Ibid., p. 38). "God intended him [Jesus] to bring forth upon this earth his own sinless children. Then Jesus and his bride would have become the True Parents for humankind, and all humankind would have found life by grafting onto them" (Ibid., p. 42).
Since he was crucified before marrying, Jesus did not complete this "important mission." and thus, like Adam and Eve before Him, Jesus failed. His death on the cross only effected a partial, incomplete salvation. He only accomplished salvation in the spiritual level, leaving salvation in the physical realm yet to be accomplished (Ibid., p. 78).
This teaching concerning the "True Parents" is the central tenet of Unification theology, for it is through this alone that mankind will be restored to God. "By the restoration of True Parents we will be reborn as children of our heavenly Father, God. This will mean full salvation as His true children, not merely salvation as the adopted children..." (Ibid., p. 42). "All people will be made new through the True Parents. All people will be empowered to bring sinless children into the world...This is the day when God's original ideal will be realized for the first time...His own son as perfected third Adam will initiate an entirely new history upon the earth. On that day, we shall become living images of God. God will bring His kingdom to earth" (Ibid., p. 43).
Adam failed to accomplish this task. Jesus, the second Adam, also failed in this mission. Thus, according to Moon, full salvation requires a "completer." When Jesus failed to accomplish his purpose "it became God's desire to send another Messiah, a second son here on earth" (Ibid., p.135). This is the third Adam, the Lord of the Second Advent (Ibid., p. 145).
Moon, "The Completer"
While the Divine Principle does not proclaim Moon to be the Messiah, the Lord of the Second Advent, nor does Moon make it a habit of publicly proclaiming himself as such, there is no question that both he and his followers believe he fulfills this role. His teachings provide very definitive requirements for the Messiah and these requirements are clearly met in his person (J. Isamu Yamamoto, The Puppet Master, pp. 80-2; J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. II, p. 321; McDowell and Stewart, Handbook of Today's Religions, pp. 99, 103).
Dr. Tyler O. Hendricks, President of the Unification Church of America, writes, in the Unification News of December 1995, "The Messiah is the incarnation of God, the Creator who deserves our infinite gratitude because he bestowed upon us infinite love" (p. 29). He continues, in the same article, "...the UC is the church which demands continual sacrifice of its members, centering on the fate of one individual, the Messiah, Reverend Sun Myung Moon" (p. 29). Moon, himself states, in his speech given on True Parent's Day, April 18, 1996, "Within this world there is no individual whom God loves more than Reverend Moon. There is no one else who knows God more than Reverend Moon" (Unification News, June 1996, p. 3).
Clearly Moon and his followers believe, and teach: he is the third Adam, he and his wife are the True Parents, his is the True Family; it is only through accomplishing his mission that salvation can be completed. In his "Message from Prison" he states: "The ideal of God is to restore the first perfect God-centered family on earth. With this one model as a center, all the rest of the world can be adopted into this family" (God's Warning, pp. 145-46). Through this "restoration," he asserts, "True ancestry from God will be established and heaven on earth can then be literally achieved" (Ibid., p. 147-48).
Contrary to the Biblical teaching that none come to the Father except through the Son and that there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5), the Unification Church teaches salvation is dependent upon Moon and his family. "We cannot enter the Kingdom of God without the Parents' grace. We have to follow in their footsteps. By doing so we will be engrafted into true family's lineage" (Unification News, June 1996, p. 2).
The Coming Son is not Moon
Jesus did not claim to be a partial way, half the truth, or some of the life. He did not leave room for others to complete or fulfill his work. Jesus stated in no uncertain terms, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). From the cross he did not say "Wait for the 'completer.'" He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30)! He did not promise to send another to come for us, but in very personal terms said, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3; emphasis added).
The Outline of The Principle - Level 4 concludes with: "Let us humbly listen to the voice of our original mind and search for the announcement of the Messiah. Let us calm our mind and pay attention to the hope-giving news that announces the New Age" (p. 214). In stark contrast to this, and the teachings of Rev. Moon, Jesus says, "And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect... then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect¼" (Mark 13:21-22, 26-27).
Many years ago the gospel group, the Imperials, had a hit song entitled "Old Buddha." The chorus of this song ended, "And we're going to see the Son, not Reverend Moon." As the words of the song portrays, believers do not await the enthronement of Sun Myung Moon, but, rather, the glorious return of their King and Savior, Jesus, the Christ.
The clarion call of the saints, throughout the history of the Church has been, "Come Lord Jesus!" and so must it ever be until His return. Reverend Moon and his followers may think he is Christ returned, but they would do well to heed the words of the angels who spoke to the apostles at the ascension of Christ: "..this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11; emphasis added).