Tagged: Unification Church

The Unification Church: An Overview

  Download this article and a chart comparing Christianity to the Unification Church

On Easter Sunday 1936, 16-year-old Yong Moon claims he saw a vision of Jesus Christ. “In that vision, Jesus asked him to continue the work which he had begun on earth nearly 2,000 years before. Jesus asked him to complete the task of establishing God’s kingdom on earth and bringing His peace to humankind” (Unification.org). Moon reluctantly accepted the challenge, changing his name to Sun Myung Moon (Sun Shining Moon) and eventually launching a new religion that blends Eastern faiths, occult practices and Christianity. Moon’s church began as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in 1954, and today is officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

From prisoner to self-proclaimed prophet

Raised in the Korean Presbyterian Church since his family converted to Christianity in 1930, Moon says he was spiritually tested as a prisoner of war during the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II. By the time of his release, he claims he spent nine years in the world of the occult, consorting with the spirits of Jesus, Confucius, Mohammad and Buddha. He says he confronted Satan and forced him to reveal the real reason for the fall of man, namely that Eve had sexual relations with Satan and then passed sin on to mankind through sex with Adam. By 1946 he had adopted a peculiar set of new doctrines and began to preach them boldly. That same year he was charged with sexual immorality and heresy and expelled from the Presbyterian Church. Two years later the North Korean Communists took him captive until Allied Forces liberated him in 1950. Within a few years he released The Divine Principle, considered the authoritative scriptures for the Unification Church (UC).

The next 50 years were characterized by divorce and charges of cruelty by his first wife; remarriage to Hak Ja Han in what the UC calls the “Marriage of the Lamb,” establishing “The True Family;” a growing following throughout Asia and in the United States; charges of psychological, spiritual and labor abuse by “Moonies;” charges of tax evasion and 18 months of incarceration in U.S. federal prison; the establishment of The Washington Times newspaper; a tell-all book alleging sexual infidelity, family abuse, and illegal drug use; and several family tragedies.

Messianic claims

Through it all, Moon preached the doctrine of his “True Family” as the model for all people, insisting that his children would reinstitute a pure and perfect godly line of humanity. He also grew emboldened in his claims to be the Messiah. In 1985 Moon revealed for the first time his grandiose self image, boasting in a public speech, “With my emergence as the victorious Lord of the Second Advent for the world, a new order has come into being.” In 2004 he and his wife were crowned by the church as the world’s “Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parents.”  The event was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.; it was attended by several members of Congress and local D.C. church leaders.

The church is less prominent today than when it burst upon the U.S. scene in the 1970s, yet it retains considerable investments in U.S. property and business, and Moon continues to yield absolute authority over his followers, estimated to number between 1-2 million worldwide. There likely are fewer than 30,000 Unification members in North America.

 

Key teachings

Authority. The main tenets of UC doctrine are featured in a number of books, most significantly The Divine Principle and Master Speaks, a collection of Moon’s sermons. Other messages by Moon also are considered authoritative. The UC makes reference to the Bible only to justify its doctrines, even though its doctrines clearly are unscriptural.

The Fall. Borrowing from the Yin-Yang dualism of Taoism, Moon’s worldview embraces the “give and take action” of creation. God, according to the UC, is the “Universal Prime Energy” who constantly interacts with the universe in what Moon calls the “Four Fold Foundation” of human history. All creation had its origin in God, who then made a division in his creation by making Adam (masculine) and Eve (feminine) according to the “give and take action,” which through sexual union would produce a divine bloodline of pure perfect children. In other words, the God-Adam-Eve-child union would complete the four fold foundation.

However, according to the UC, before Adam and Eve could produce their perfect offspring, Satan deceived Eve into having sexual intercourse with him. She then had sexual relations with Adam, resulting in a Satanically sired human bloodline through Cain. Later, with Adam, Eve bore the godly line through Abel.

Jesus. Because the human race was now corrupted, God must send a redeemer to restore people to their proper state. The UC says Jesus was sent to “pay indemnity” (suffer) to redeem the human race from spiritual death and to restore the pure godly bloodline of humanity. According to the UC, Jesus accomplished only spiritual redemption – the first phase – of his mission. He failed to complete the second phase (physical redemption) because he was crucified before he could marry and have children. Thus, another redeemer (Moon) would need to come about 2,000 years later to finish the divine mission. Like Jesus, he would suffer – as Moon did as a prisoner of war – but then live a long life, marry a perfect mate, produce perfect children and thus complete the “Four Fold Foundation.”

Salvation. According to the UC, all people may receive the benefits of Moon’s suffering and triumph as Messiah by joining his “true family.” One completes the “divine adoption” process by joining Moon’s church, pledging total obedience to him, and entering into a marriage relationship blessed by Moon to a mate personally selected by him. Over the years, Moon has conducted mass weddings with thousands of couples taking their vows before him. In most cases, the brides and grooms did not even know each other before their wedding day. To make matters more difficult, after their wedding ceremony, UC couples are required to observe 40 days of celibacy, followed by three days of consummation and then three years of celibacy.

Financial support. The UC uses “heavenly deception” in its fund-raising efforts. For example, healthy will solicit funds from wheelchairs. As Moon explains, lying to advance the UC is not a sin because “even God tells lies very often.” The annual income from the UC in Japan, the U.S. and Europe in charitable donations is estimated at more than $150 million.

Believe Not Every Spirit: An Introduction to the Cults (1 John 4:1-4)

What is a cult?

We are defining a cult as: a religious organization whose members claim to be Christians, and who use the Bible and Christian terms, yet who deny the central beliefs of historical Christianity. Simply put, a cult is counterfeit Christianity.

The Bible cautions us to beware of false messiahs, false prophets and false teachers who “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” and promote “doctrines of demons” (see Matt. 24:23-27; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:1-4).

What are some words and concepts related to the word “cult”?

False religion/false belief system. From a New Testament perspective, a false religion is any system of belief that opposes the central teachings of the Christian faith. While all cults of Christianity are false religions, not all false religions are cults, because not all religions claim to be Christian. Islam, for example, is a false religion but not a cult, because Islam does not claim to be Christian.

Occult. The occult generally is classified in three ways: 1) spiritism or spiritualism – the view that spirit is a prime element or reality, or a belief that the spirits of the dead can commune with the living, usually through a medium; 2) fortune telling or sorcery – divination by the assistance of evil spirits; and 3) magic– the use of means such as charms or spells believed to have power over natural forces. Although cults should not be confused with the occult, some cults and cult founders, such as Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith, do engage in occultic practices.

Heresy. This may be defined as a teaching that directly opposes the essentials of the Christian faith, so that true Christians must separate themselves from those who hold to that teaching. Examples of heresy include a denial of Christ’s deity, full humanity, virgin birth, or bodily resurrection.

Sect. Within Christianity, a sect is a distinctive, persisting and separately organized group of believers who reject the established religious authorities, but who claim to adhere to the authentic elements of the faith. So the term may refer to genuinely Christian groups that have distanced themselves from established churches or denominations – and to some degree the predominant culture they represent – in order to emphasize one or more beliefs or practices they feel have been lost. Example: The International Church of Christ, which adheres to a Biblical view of God and Christ but claims to be the only movement proclaiming the true message of salvation today.

How many people are in cults?

It’s difficult to know with certainty the number of people engaged in cults because of varying definitions of the term cult. But if you consider only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses – the two largest cults that fit our definition – the number of cult members totals nearly 20 million.

What are common characteristics of cults?

While cults vary widely in beliefs and practices, some common threads run through them, for example:

A single charismatic leader or authority figure apart from Jesus Christ.  Examples include Victor Paul Wierwille (now deceased), founder of The Way International; and the Unification Church’s Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah who came to complete Jesus’ failed mission.

Belief in “new” revelation, which often contradicts and always overrides previous revelations.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), for example, is led by a president who is called “prophet, seer and revelator.” He receives and passes down new revelation – such as the “new” and unscriptural revelation that humans are essentially “gods in embryo.”

Acceptance of new written authority, which either supercedes the Bible or is necessary to “properly understand” scripture.  For example, Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is the Christian Scientist’s way to interpret the Bible.  And The Book of Mormon is one of several “inspired” writings considered authoritative by Latter-day Saints.

Changed theology, which redefines Christian terms, remakes Jesus Christ and reforms His finished work at Calvary.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, claim Jesus was once Michael the Archangel, a created being; and Latter-day Saints believe that men may become gods. Key theological characteristics of the cults include:

  • A denial of the Trinity.
  • A denial of salvation by grace alone through faith.
  • Denial of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.
  • Reduction of the absolute authority of Scripture.
  • Rejection of the doctrine of eternal punishment.
  • Emphasis on experience over doctrine.
  • Emphasis on direct revelations and visions from God.
  • Unhealthy fixation on the end times.
  • Over-emphasis on minor points of theology.

To boil it down, cult leaders consistently counterfeit Christianity in three ways, according to the apostle Paul: They preach “another Jesus … a different spirit … a different gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4). By masquerading as “servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15), they twist the doctrines concerning the person and work of Christ; the Holy Spirit and the spiritual realm; and the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith, apart from human effort.

Additional Resources

Download this Powerpoint presentation:

Beloved, Believe Not Every Spirit

 

Copyright 2008 Rob Phillips