The founder and leader of the Unification Church is Sun Myung Moon. Moon was born in Korea on January 6, 1920 during the period when Korea was ruled by Japan. During his early years his parents followed Confucianism, but in 1930 converted to Christianity and became members of the Presbyterian Church.
Moon claims that in 1935, Christ appeared to him on a mountain and told him to finish the work of establishing God’s kingdom on earth – a task that Jesus had failed to complete. After repeated requests by Jesus, Moon finally accepted the task.
In 1944, Moon married his first wife but left her when she became pregnant. Rather than settling down in a normal life, he wanted to go preach his new doctrine in North Korea. By 1945 he had written down the precepts of his new system in his book, Divine Principles. He later returned to South Korea and spent several months with a Korean cult figure named Paik Moon Kim. Moon was heavily influenced by Kim’s theology which, along with some of his non-Christian activities, led to his excommunication from the Presbyterian church.
In 1948, while back in North Korea, Moon was put into prison. He claims that it was for anticommunist activities, but many say that it was because of ritual sex practices with members of his communes.
He escaped back to South Korea in 1954 and established the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. That same year his wife divorced him. The following year he was again arrested on morals charges involving sexual, church-related rites, but this time escaped conviction.
As his following grew, he began to amass an enormous business empire. This empire began in Korea and continued with his expansion into America. Along with his religious empire, Moon currently has over 300 business institutions all over the world including publishers, jewelers, and clothing stores.
In 1960 Moon married an 18 year old woman named Hak Ja Han. Indications are that he had another wife before Ms. Han making her his 4th.
There have been several very significant controversies surrounding the movement over the years. These controversial elements involve:
∙ Mass weddings (There have been numerous very high profile mass arranged weddings where literally thousands of people have been married, many of whom had just met),
∙ Recruiting techniques (There have been frequent reports of brainwashing techniques being used),
∙ Financial improprieties (Moon was convicted of tax fraud in the U.S. and spent a year in jail. There have also been accusations that Moon built much of his empire using his followers as free labor), and
∙ Claims that Moon is the messiah. (Moon claims to receive revelations from God and is the returned Christ. He has been known to be involved in seances and other occult practices.)
After achieving success with his new religion in the Far East, especially South Korea, Moon came to America at the end of 1971. It was in America that the term Moonies was coined by the New York newspapers. Current estimates indicate that there are approximately three million adherents worldwide.
Basic Beliefs and Practices
Unification theology rests on three events in history: (1) Creation, (2) Fall, and (3) Restoration.
Concerning the creation of the world, Moon teaches that God created the world in six days as described in Genesis 1, though the days are not taken to mean literal twenty-four hour days. Rather, they are seen as periods in God’s creation.
But even the creation itself is not considered to be a creation out of nothing. Rather, God used himself as the materials for the creation. All elements of the created order, then, spring out of God’s own being. So, when it says in Genesis 1:27 that “God created man in his own image – male and female he created them,” the Unification Church believes that the dual characteristics observed in creation are actually the results of the dual nature of God himself.
In the creation, God had a particular design for his relationship with man. He created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, without sin. Mankind is considered to be the closest among all creation to God’s heart. God desired that there be a give-and-take relationship with human beings in which God and man would relate perfectly to one another. In this situation man would reflect God’s divinity and relate perfectly to the rest of mankind as well.
This perfect interaction was to be accomplished through three blessings. The first blessing is that of becoming perfect. Once man became perfect, he would have God’s character and interact in a perfect give-and-take relationship with God. The second blessing consists of the ability of man to have an ideal marriage. In this blessing, a relationship is formed between God, the man, the woman, and their children. The perfect man and woman will produce perfect and sinless children. The third, and final, blessing brings man dominion over all of creation. It is after the third blessing that the kingdom of heaven on earth is established.
God’s design for Adam and Eve, then, was for them to first attain this perfection. God did not, however, force Adam and Eve to carry on in this process. Had they obtained the three blessings, they would have lived in a perfect world in which everyone and everything would exist in complete harmony. When their bodies perished, their complimentary spirit would go on to the Kingdom of Heaven and live eternally in God’s perfect love.
Technically, there were two ways that mankind fell away from God – one physical and one spiritual. Both falls were sexual in nature.
The spiritual fall happened when Lucifer was able to seduce Eve into an illicit sexual relationship. It was ultimately God’s intention for a sexual union to take place between Adam and Eve, but this was not to happen until after they had perfected themselves. Eve’s first indiscretion occurred before this perfection took place.
Feeling shameful about what had happened, Adam and Eve then went ahead and consummated their marriage. This union, a part of the second blessing, was not supposed to happen until after they had perfected themselves. Through this act, mankind experienced a physical fall in addition to the earlier spiritual fall.
As a result of the Fall, the second blessing could not be established. Instead, a false foundation was established with Satan taking the place of God. Thus, Satan became the spiritual father of mankind. Man’s initial status in creation was higher than the angels, but because of the Fall, man became lower. Since there was a dual aspect of the fall, a dual redemption also became necessary – a spiritual and physical one.
God’s plan for Adam and Eve was frustrated by the Fall, but God continues to try and work his plan. According to Moon, God will establish his Kingdom of Heaven on earth and provide for the restoration of mankind. This restoration can only occur through someone accomplishing the process originally designed for Adam and Eve – to attain perfection, marry, raise a sinless family, and propagate this perfection throughout the earth until the Kingdom of Heaven is established.
So God needed someone else to initiate the world into the Kingdom. He needed True Parents for mankind. This was to be accomplished through the sending of a Messiah. The Messiah’s role was to restore humanity both spiritually and physically by reversing the effects of the Fall. Before the Messiah was to come, however, God needed to prepare mankind for his coming.
The Fall had destroyed the Foundation of Faith and the Foundation of Substance. Restoring the Foundation of Faith required making restitution for Adam and Eve’s failure and demanded someone in the position of the archangel Lucifer to humble himself in respect to someone in the position of Adam. This would correct the relative status of the angels and mankind, which had been turned upside-down in the Fall.
God tried to restore the foundation through Cain and Able, through Noah and his family, through Abraham and his family, and through Moses. However, in every case their unfaithfulness kept the messiah from coming. God then tried to use John the Baptist, but he also failed. So Jesus had to try and take up some of the slack.
Jesus accomplished what he could and achieved the spiritual part of salvation. As a result, Jesus became the Spiritual Messiah and provided spiritual salvation for believers. Unfortunately, he died before he could marry and start the perfect family, so was unable to complete his entire mission. A second Messiah became necessary to accomplish physical redemption. It was never intended by God that this second Messiah be necessary. But since Jesus was not able to finish the job, another one was needed.
Since the founding of the Unification Church, followers of Reverend Moon have believed him to be the Lord of the Second Coming. For many years, this teaching had not been officially stated, though the church had hinted at the idea. But finally, in July of 1992, Reverend Moon did pronounce himself to be the prophesied Messiah. As a result, the Unification Church believes that through Reverend Moon, both physical and spiritual Restoration will be achieved.
It is Reverend Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, that are the True Parents of mankind. They have come to complete the mission started by Jesus of restoring mankind to a state of ultimate union with God. The Kingdom of God will be one in which all peoples, cultures, races, and religions will be united together as well as united with God.
God is seen to be impersonal, with both an external and internal expression. The external element creates, develops, and sustains the cosmos. His internal part relates to personhood – motivation, purpose and identity.
Unification theology asserts that God has both masculine and feminine qualities. As a being, God possesses within himself the dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity which are perfectly expressed and fully harmonized in His nature. God is, thus, understood to be a duality rather than a trinity.
Jesus has a central place in Unification theology, but he is considered to be only a man and not divine. The Divine Principle explains that Jesus is one body with God, and may be called a second God (image of God), but he is not God himself. When Christ came to earth, He was supposed to redeem mankind both physically and spiritually, but He failed in His mission because he was killed before he could complete it. His death on the cross was not part of God’s plan for redeeming sinful man, but represented his failure to fulfill God’s plan. Jesus accomplished the spiritual salvation of mankind, but now waits in Paradise until another completes his unfinished task of bringing the kingdom to earth. Moon is supposed to pick up where Jesus left off and redeem mankind physically.
The Holy Spirit is not a separate entity different from God the Father. Rather, it is simply a concept which refers to God’s redemptive activity. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is manifested as feminine, masculine and impersonal, like God Himself.
God wanted a being with which he could have perfect harmony and fellowship and created mankind for that purpose. Since God’s essence contains both male and female expressions, he created males and females in the physical world to fully express his being in order to allow for complete fellowship.
Since there was a dual aspect of the fall, spiritual and physical, there also needs to be a dual aspect of redemption. Jesus accomplished the spiritual part, but another Adam and Eve was necessary to bring physical salvation. This “third Adam” would provide physical salvation by marrying and producing sinless children. Then, those who have paid restitution will also be able to marry and bear sinless children. Moon claims to be this “third Adam” who provides physical salvation through a perfect family. His twelve children are considered sinless and Moon is able to extend this perfection to his followers through their obedience to him.
1. What is the most fundamental reality? (Ultimate reality)
There is an impersonal, dualistic God who has an external and internal aspect. The external part is referred to as the Universal Prime Energy. It creates, develops, and sustains the cosmos. The internal expression deals with the personal aspect of reality and relates to personhood, motivation, purpose and identity. The duality is expressed as Father God and Mother God, male and female, light and dark, yin and yang, spirit and flesh. The characteristics of God are not limited to objects of creation, but instead they spring out of the Creator himself.
2. What is the nature of our material reality? (Material reality)
God’s creation springs out of himself, rather than him having created everything out of nothing. Since nature is one of the outward expressions of a dualistic god, nature itself is expressed in the same dualistic manner – male and female, positive and negative, external and internal.
3. What is a human being? (Humanity)
Man is seen to be the visible form of God, and God is the invisible form of man – God and man are one. Man is said to be created in the image of God, and this means that the dual characteristics observed in mankind are results of a dual nature of God himself.
4. What happens to a person at death? (Death)
A person’s destination after death depends on his spirit’s “quality of life on earth.” The works that one does for Moon and the Unification Church play a key role. Heaven is seen to be a realm of the spirit world. Hell also exists, but is understood to be unimportant because it will pass away as heaven expands. Ultimately all of mankind will be redeemed. Moon teaches that in the afterlife his followers will experience the same desires, dislikes, and aspirations as before death.
5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? (Knowledge)
Humans were created by God, out of his substance. Humans, therefore, have the very same characteristics of God which includes knowledge.
6. How do we know what is right and wrong? (Morality)
Morality is known by the teachings of Moon.
7. What is the meaning of human history? (History)
Material reality was created to fulfill the purpose of God, and history is unfolding in a way that fulfills that purpose.
The holy book of the Unification Church was written by Moon and is called the Divine Principle. The Bible is still considered important, but has “lost its light” because the period of its mission has passed. The Divine Principle is known as the Completed Testament because it contains the present truth for this age which had never been revealed before. It is considered to be divinely inspired scripture. The book is not, however, seen to contain the entirety of truth. Thus, Reverend Moon’s speeches are also considered authoritative.
Evidence for the Authority
The only justification for accepting Moon’s Divine Principle as an authority is because Moon has declared it so. There is no other corroborating evidence to back up his claim to authority.
As far as its worldview foundation, it uses the Bible as a primary source for its instruction but rejects the personal God that the Bible teaches. It substitutes that with a Far Eastern dualistic model which literally contradicts the basis it uses for its content.
© 2006 Freddy Davis