"Thou didst create us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee", Saint Augustine
It has been said that every generation asks the same questions about God, man and human destiny, but that each puts them in some special form. When in 1966 the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands issued a new type of lay catechism, they expressed for the modern age some of the questions which have perplexed humankind since antiquity. Among the questions these bishops raised were: "What is the point of this world?" "How did our life begin?" "Is it an accident that things strive upward through such new and wonderful phases--existence, life, feeling, thought?" "How can we harmonize all the sickness, disappointments and cruelty of this world with an infinitely good origin?"
Such questions, of course, are not necessarily new. The prophets and priests of the Hebrew Bible wrestled with similar issues, and so have modern theologians and laymen. Earlier, Greeks from Plato to Plotinus considered them; nor were they overlooked by Hindu saints and Muslim sages. Even Karl Marx recognized the need to address these issues, and today these same questions are still being asked by Christians and non-Christians, theists and humanists, dogmatists and doubters.
Regardless of one's particular religious or irreligious faith, every individual sooner or later asks himself certain fundamental questions about human nature and destiny. A person must find his place in the society of which he is a member. He must relate himself in a positive fashion to the wider universe surrounding him. Ultimately, if the above passage from St. Augustine is correct, one must even come to terms with God.
Polarity: Creator and Creation
In asserting that the Lord has "created us for Himself," St. Augustine has touched upon the first characteristic and activity of God. He is the Creator. The Hebrew Bible, the foundation for the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, opens with the verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Similarly, in the Apostles' Creed, the first article is: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, then, God is the ever-active Creator, an infinite and invisible spirit who fashioned the universe in the light of His perfect reason and holy will. Whether we read the creation story in Genesis, the beautiful nature hymns in the Psalms or the majestic poetry of Job, we are reminded by the Biblical writings that behind and throughout everything visible, man can sense the activity of the invisible. Wherever one looks he beholds the handiwork of God.
Reflections of God
Even though God is an invisible spirit, He can be known through His creation. An artist's work is a visible expression of his invisible character. Shakespeare could only write Shakespeare; Picasso could only paint Picasso. In the same way, the universe reflects the personality of God. As we can sense an artist's character through his works, so we can perceive God's nature through His creation. If, as now asserted by scholars of body-language, our facial expressions, gestures and overall appearance reflect our inner nature and attitudes, so we may say that the universe reflects God's nature. In that sense, the universe becomes God's body. The majesty of Mount Everest, the beauty of a sunset, the power of a storm, the harmony of the cosmos--all reflect something of God. The temporal manifests the eternal. Reflecting this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote to his fellow-Christians in the first century A.D.:
"Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible nature, namely His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rom 1:20).
Beyond the natural creation, however, Divine Principle teaches there is a more direct way of receiving God. "What is mind that Thou art mindful of him?" the Psalmist asks--and answers in the same breath that this creature has been made only a "little less than God" (Ps 8:4-5). Man, we are told, was created in God's image. According to the writer of Genesis:
"So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27).
This affirmation, of course, has found considerable support in the millennia since it was written. As the Russian scholar Vladimir Lossky has pointed out, the founders of the early Christian Church devoted no little energy to identifying God's image in man, variously defining it as the soul, the intellect, and the power of self-determination. In addition, it was identified with the gift of immortality, the ability of knowing God, and the possibility of sharing the divine nature. In the modern age, Archbishop William Temple, noting that the revelation through nature is "incomplete and inadequate," has stressed that "personality can only reveal itself in persons. Consequently, it is especially in Human Nature--in men and women--that we see God."
God, then, is revealed most directly in people.
With Archbishop Temple, Divine Principle distinguishes between the revelation of God through nature and His revelation through man. While through man there is a direct expression of God, in the case of the universe there is an indirect relationship. God is expressed not actually, but symbolically. Nevertheless, both man and creation serve a revelatory function. By recognizing the fundamental characteristics inherent in both man and the cosmos, Divine Principle teaches us that we can comprehend the basic nature of God.
The eye is the lamp of the soul, the poet says, and thereby implies a fundamental truth about all humanity. Looking at ourselves we discover we are polar beings. We are both mind and body, internal character and its external form. The outer expresses the inner and the inner directs the outer. The quality of the soul is expressed in the clarity of the eye. Though our inward selves are invisible, our thought, emotion and will are reflected outwardly in our facial expressions and indeed in the whole body. To a considerable degree, each of us is what he does, because he embodies what he thinks. The outer man we see mirrors the inner man we don't.
As a man embodies an inner spirit, so does the rest of creation. Animals, for example, have internal instincts that direct their bodies. Squirrels provide for themselves in burying their nuts; spiders instinctually survive by building perfect spider webs; birds migrate across thousands of miles, seeming to know when to fly and where to go. Extraordinary new experiments reveal that even plants have emotions and memories. As everything visible is the expression of an invisible aim, we come to recognize that two dimensions, internal and external, character and form, characterize all things.
While it may seem obvious, Divine Principle reminds us of the importance of the internal dimension. A person's inward aspect gives him his value. No matter how handsome one may be, qualities of dishonesty or selfishness will severely compromise his stature in the eyes of God and his fellow man. On the other hand, even though a person's body may be crippled, noble internal qualities will gain him the admiration and love of all. Helen Keller, for example, despite being both deaf and blind, came to be both respected and loved throughout the world.
Comment: Another good example is the extraordinary german world opera singer Thomas Quasthoff, who with only 120 cm hight is still one of the worlds greatest baryton singers. Another intellectual giant is the theoretical physicist doctor Stephen W. Hawkins, who in spite of being handicaped to a wheelchair is intellectually in the same level as Einstein.
While Divine Principle recognizes that the polarity of internal character/external form permeates all the created universe, it nevertheless affirms that the ultimate inner/outer relationship is that existing between the Creator and His creation. The heart of all creation is God. He is reflected in all that we can see or hear or touch. He makes His presence known in the totality of creation which serves as His body, exemplifying His beauty and providing the outer form of His being. As St. Augustine wrote of his own experience:
And what is this God? I asked the earth and it answered, "I am not He".... I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars and they answered: "Neither are we God whom you seek." And I said to all the things that throng about the gateways of the senses: "Tell me of my God, since you are not He. Tell me something of Him." And they cried out in a great voice: "He made us." My question was my gazing upon them, and their answer was their beauty.
Male and Female
Beyond the polarity of inner and outer, there is another fundamental polarity that is "perceived in the things that have been made." This is the polar relationship of masculinity and femininity. When God created man, He also created woman; they are a complementary pair. Also, within each man there are feminine qualities and within each woman there are masculine qualities. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist, thought of these qualities as the anima and animus. In the view of Father John Sanford, an Episcopalian priest and Jungian therapist, masculine qualities of personality (the animus) include active creativity, controlled aggressiveness and psychological firmness, while the feminine aspect of personality (the anima) comprises such qualities as understanding the capacity for relationship, patience and compassion. Each person contains both masculine and feminine potentials and, according to Sanford, "no one can approach wholeness without some development in both areas."
Of course, the complementarity of masculinity and femininity is not limited to the species Homo sapiens. Within the larger animal kingdom there are also male and female creatures--stallion and mare, buck and doe, rooster and hen. Also, plants generally reproduce through staminate and pistillate parts. The world is made so that most everything exists and comes to completion through the reciprocal relationship of masculinity and femininity.
In the inanimate world these complementary elements are often expressed in terms of positive and negative. For example, atoms are formed from protons and electrons, and each atom itself assumes a positive or negative valence. Electricity flows between positive and negative charges.
The masculine/feminine polarity is also recognized in Oriental philosophy, which understands the relations of all things in terms of yin and yang. Yang includes such masculine elements as man, mountains, daytime and sun. Yin includes such feminine elements as woman, valleys, nighttime and moon.
In the Image of God
Divine Principle teaches of an intimate relationship between cause and effect. Since people and all things are composed of two sets of dual characteristics, character and form, and masculinity and femininity, Divine Principle argues that God Himself, the Source of all things, must also possess both internal and external dimensions and the qualities of masculinity and femininity. Since God as the First Cause necessarily possesses internal character as well as external form, we can understand Him as a personal being who feels, thinks and wills. He is not merely the "Unmoved Mover" of Aristotle, but the God of Love of Jesus. Indeed, while for the author of the 23rd Psalm the Lord is a "shepherd" whose "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life," for a modern Christian He is an Other who has brought "relief from tension and misery... (and) guidance that rescued me from intolerable situations. At rarer moments this Other gave a joy and fulfillment that made the whole business of life worthwhile" (Morton Kelsey).
Such is the personal, caring nature of the Creator.
Since--beyond the polarity of inner and outer--God also must possess both masculine and feminine characteristics, the metaphorical image of God as an old man with a long white beard can be only half the picture. If we try to symbolize God in this way, an accompanying grey-haired matron would also be necessary. God, an infinite spirit, is not just Heavenly Father, but Heavenly Mother also. In terms of the Biblical record, then, Adam alone does not provide a complete image of God: Adam and Eve together are God's image. Man and woman stand on a ladder of polarity which is connected to every level of creation--from humankind to animals, to plants, to the protons and electrons at the base of the realm of matter.
While it has recently become fashionable in some circles to interpret the differences between men and women purely in terms of cultural conditioning, Divine Principle would see such an interpretation as questionable. In a famous work by Switzerland's Professor Emil Bruner, Man in Revolt, for example, this scholar describes a biological difference between the sexes that is basic and deep-seated. Spiritually, he tells us, the man expresses the productive principle while the woman exemplifies the principle of bearing and nourishing. Man tends to turn more to the outside world while the woman concentrates more on the inner realm. The male often seeks the new and the female longs to preserve the old. While the man often likes to roam about, the woman prefers to make a home.
For Divine Principle, such distinctive orientations exist by divine design. Physically and psychologically, man and woman are to complete each other's inner nature and outer structure.
While the male-female polarity is evident in human society, it has been less recognized in the divine realm. The feminine aspect of God particularly has not been emphasized in Western civilization. Although other faiths have assumed the feminine aspect of the Godhead (Hinduism, for example, in worshipping the goddess Shakti has long affirmed a feminine dimension of divinity; also the Greeks recognized Zeus and his wife Hera), traditional Judeo-Christian theology has seen God as masculine.
Significantly, in the view of some scholars, there are deficiencies in a society based on the worship of an exclusively male deity. The well-known psychotherapist Erich Fromm, for example, has argued that fatherly love characteristically sets up principles of appropriate behavior and establishes laws of correct action. If the child cannot live up to such demands, he may feel a lack of love and by self-accusation cut himself off from the father's love. The result is frustration and depression.
According to From, maternal love is by contrast unconditional and all-enveloping. It does not need to be acquired, but comes as a natural gift of physical birth. The mother loves her children simply because they are hers--not because they obey her commands and fulfill her wishes.
For Fromm, an understanding of God as both a guiding Father and Mother would lead to a more rounded and stable personality in its adherents. While Fromm's distinctions might be slightly too neat, it is clear that considering God as both Father and Mother broadens and clarifies what we need and seek in God. Each aspect by itself is incomplete and one-sided.
Innumerable studies of modern culture have been done, but it hardly takes a trained scholar to detect the profound malaise which permeates much of twentieth century western society. The title of Carl Jung's well-known book, Modern man in Search of a Soul, suggests one level of this malaise while Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, a 1970s film replete with senseless violence, is a cinematic indication of the moral sickness of modern society.
Alienation, spiritual emptiness, meaninglessness and powerlessness are words which for many characterize the situation of modern man. The lack of meaning and loss of belonging strike particularly at the spiritual roots of modern city dwellers, especially in teeming, impersonal metropolises like New York, Los Angeles and London.
Divine Principle uses the concept of give and take to express one dimension of what is missing in the experience of modern secular man. The Principle explains that, for lack of proper give and take, we are missing the core relationships for which we were created. Indeed, since everything exists as part of a pair system, each aspect is created to relate to the other. This occurs through giving and taking, both in human society as well as in the natural world.
An atom, for example, exists because of the exchange of energy between positive and negative charges. Give and take between stamen and pistil creates new seeds for plant life. Zoologists speak of a vast web of life in which each part plays both a productive (giving) and receptive (taking) role. Throughout the universe, give and take provides the energy for the existence, development and multiplication of all things. It is the action whereby the polar aspects of all things can be harmonized and unified.
Beyond the interaction within the natural world, Divine Principle suggests there is a giving and taking of energy within God Himself.
When Moses asked God for a name by which He could be called, He replied, rather enigmatically, "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). Since God is the First Cause and the primal source of all that exists, we may think of His Being in terms of perpetually self-generating energy. This ultimate energy is the outer form of God, as heart is His inner character. The give and take between these polarities with the Godhead form the foundation for the Lord's eternal existence.
The late Paul Tillich is famous for having removed God from His throne in the sky and having identified Him as the "ground of being." Divine Principle would sympathize with this assertion. God's energy is the source and substance of our physical world. Causing the visible creation and operating through it, God is responsible for the infinite patterns which energy forms to make the world we touch, see and know.
If we think directionally, we may say that the source energy from God is in a vertical relationship to the world while the energy produced through give and take between different earthly polarities is horizontal. Since the energy emanating from God operates to stimulate give and take between distinct horizontal elements, there is no creation in which God's spirit is not at work. The universal law of give and take is an aspect of God's omnipresence; nothing can exist without this connection to the living, ever active God.
Flow of Love
In line with the principle of polarity, Divine Principle points out that wherever giving and taking occurs, two positions are established, one we may call the position of "subject" and the other the position of "object". Generally speaking, the subject projects an initiating and creative energy, while the object is to be stimulating and responsive. As the positions complement each other, both are needed for interaction.
Examples of subject and object relationships are many. In human affairs, these positions can be seen, for example, in the relation between director and actors in the theater, or in a family between parents and children. Husband and wife may also be thought of in terms of these categories, with the mates playing different roles at different times. In his most famous work the Hasidic scholar Martin Buber termed these two positions I and thou.
Since love requires "two" (the lover must have his beloved), the positions of subject and object ultimately exist in order that love might flow. As in the exchange of love two persons change places and alternate roles, we may think of love as occurring in a circulatory motion. Love is the power which unites. Therefore, in love the subject and object ultimately unite and become one. This can be true of man and woman, parents and children, or even an individual and God.
The Four Positions
Polarity, give and take, subject and object, God and man: do all these elements fit together? Yes; they converge in an interconnected whole which the Divine Principle terms "the four position foundation."
When a man and a woman or in fact any two entities in the role of subject and object have a relationship of give and take, they form a unit of four positions. We may think of this unit as the basis for everything which exists; indeed, it is the foundation upon which God carries on His creative work.
In the natural world, give and take between a proton and electron, for example, establishes a four position unit consisting of God as the Source, proton and electron and the resulting atom. Similarly, interaction between two atoms produces a four position foundation among God, the two atoms and the resultant molecule.
In human society, give and take between mind and body centering on God creates a four position foundation on the individual level. In a family, a four position foundation consisting of God, husband, wife and children is established. When a person enters a God-centered relationship with the things of the universe, he realizes a four position foundation on the universal level.
The ultimate in a series of give and take relationships is the exchange of love between a man and a woman, husband and wife.
For Divine Principle, the four positions on the family level, including parents and children with God in the first position, provides the natural foundation for human society. Indeed, this is the pattern for all other bases of four positions. On the community level, the four positions would be God, the leadership, the people and the community formed among them. Societal, national and international relationships are also based upon this pattern. Indeed, in the view of Divine Principle, the four position foundation provides an operative model for the realization of societal harmony. If social leaders were centered on God, embodying His heart and seeking to bring His love and truth to their people, then an ideal community would begin to be within reach.
As we all know, however, the give and take principle in action in society at large leaves much to be desired. Satisfying four position foundations are not being realized. This is the result of the quality of the relationships as well as the content. Certainly, if the content of our give and take were love, and if it were given with understanding, then a world of harmony and cooperation could result. The reason why Christianity historically has flourished, for example, is that it emphasizes the primacy of love: "so faith, hope, love abide," writes Paul, "but the greatest of these is love" (I Cor 13:13). The New Testament envisions a loving fellowship which through love binds together very disparate kinds of people:
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love...and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (I Jn 4:7-8).
Divine Principle stresses that harmony among people can be achieved when such people first love God. We may say they then have access to a warehouse of love and can pass the cargo of God's love to their neighbors. When the Apostle Paul was spreading his new faith throughout the Hellenistic world, he was well aware that, in Jesus' eyes, the commandments to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself were the most important of the hundreds in the Torah. He knew that harmony on the horizontal level was dependent on the vertical relationship with God, that give and take flows freely between people only when it flows between individuals and God, and finally that "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor 3:17).
The earnest searching question asked by a 1960's pop hit, "What's it all about, Alfie?" reflects for the present time a question that has beset men and women of all time. What is life all about? What are we here to you? Is life, as Shakespeare's Macbeth would have us believe, merely a walking shadow...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Or does it have as other poets and mystics suggest, some ultimate and sublime purpose?
For Divine Principle, as we shall see, the purpose of creation is three-fold yet one. In contrast to Macbeth, the Principle affirms there is a profound meaning in life and this meaning is connected to joy. Indeed, for the Divine Principle the very purpose of God creating the world was to produce and experience joy. God, humankind and the natural world all exist both for their own joy and to bring joy to others.
Let us think of how joy is experienced No one feels joy by himself, but only by having an object which complements or reflects his own character. If an artist merely conceives an ideal without expressing it, his joy is not fulfilled. But when his creative idea is perfectly expressed on his canvas, then he is likely to feel a joyful satisfaction . The painting serves as an object to stimulate such feelings.
On a deeper level, joy comes from love. When one has a full relationship of love, the highest joy is his. Romeo's rather exaggerated exclamation upon seeing the light in Juliet's window, "It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!" suggests the ecstatic heights truly-felt love can bring.
Divine Principle teaches that God's desire for love is not so different from that of his children. So long as God was alone and his essential self was unexpressed, the feeling of satisfaction or joy was not his. He needed an object and out of this need he created humankind. Projecting his whole nature into his work, God produced man to manifest his invisible nature in the form of a visible and tangible image. He thus created man as an expression of himself, as a being with whom he can have a relationship of love.
A specific analogy to the divine reality can be found in the human family. Because a child is the most perfect expression of his parents' nature, parents can have an abundant exchange of love with their children. In the same way, of all beings in the created world, many inwardly and outwardly expressed God most fully. Thus he is a being with whom God can have the fullest exchange of love. In the view of Divine Principle such was the hope of God when he undertook his creative endeavor. He intended to live with man forever in the highest joy through the perpetual exchange of love.
Three Great Blessings
Within the framework of this understanding, Divine Principle finds a clear expression of God's purposes in the following well-known passage from scripture:
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it: and have dominion...(Gen 1:28)
God is bestowing three blessings upon Adam and Eve: be fruitful, or unite with him; multiply, or unite with each other; have dominion, or unite with creation.
What precisely would it mean to "be fruitful", which is the first Blessing? A tree becomes fruitful when it becomes mature or when it blossoms and bears fruit. Similarly God's first Blessing to mankind is the blessing of individual perfection or maturity a state in which the individual become one with God in heart.
In the history of religious thought, man's relationship with his Creator has been characterized in several ways. The encounter between man and God is compared to a ruler and his subject, a master and his slave, a craftsman and his craft. In line with historic Christianity, however, Divine Principle affirms the validity of the most personal analogies; father and child, lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. The intimacy possible with God not only allows man to reason with God, but also to live in joyous love with him.
Ultimately, each of us is meant to establish a vital rapport between himself and God, resulting in perpetual, ever-expanding joy. "When thou comest unto my heart, all that is within me dost joy!" writes Thomas A Kempis of his relationship with God. Such was God's hope: we were to be fruitful and joyful by uniting with him.
The promise of maturity may be described from another point of view also. That is, Divine Principle would assert that the goal of individual life is achieved by getting mind and body in tune with each other, centered on God. Unfortunately, rather than possessing such a personal integration, most of us know only too well the conflict the Apostle Paul describes:
"I can will what is right, but cannot do it...I do not the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Rom.7:19
The task of spiritual growth, then, is to bring an end to this inner division, finding an inward God-centered harmony and unity. In such a state we may say one's feelings parallel God's feelings, his thoughts reflect God's thoughts and both are expressed clearly in his physical deeds. Diagrammatically, we may say this state produces a four position foundation on the individual level.
Despite the promise of this ideal, it is clear that it has not yet been realized. Individuals by and large have not achieved a God-centered integration of personality. Falling short of the goal given us by Jesus, humanity has not become perfect ("You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect." Mt. 5:48) nor have we become God's temple (" Do you not know that you are God's temple and God's spirit dwells in you?" 1 Cor 6:19). Therefore, since mankind has not yet become fruitful, neither God's joy nor man's joy has been consummated.
The Loving Family
It has been said that there is no success in the world that can make up for failure in the home, Divine Principle would affirm this as true, based on misunderstanding of God's purpose for men and women, as expressed in the second Blessing. This Blessing is the experience of an ideal family, a family in which God's love dwells. In the view of Divine Principle a man and a woman were first to attain individual perfection and then become husband and wife, giving birth to children and forming a family. As the center of love, this family would be the fullest basis for the experience of love for man and God. Had there been no fall, we may imagine that Adam, Eve and their children would have formed the first God-centered four position foundation on the family level.
For Divine Principle, love is the beginning and the end, the nearest and the farthest, the deepest and the highest. "Many waters cannot quench love, either can floods drown it" writes the author of the Song of Solomon (8:7) and the Divine Principle would agree. It would also argue, for reasons we have already mentioned, that such love can be best cultivated in the God-centered family. While it is widely accepted today that one's early experiences with his family are profoundly influential in determining his future psychological health and wholeness, Divine principle points out that the diverse relations of the family also provide the natural ground for ongoing growth in the dynamics of love. Specifically, we may identify three basic expressions of love that develop progressively in the family: L passive, mutual and unconditional.
When, for example, a person is a child he experiences love passively as he receives love and care from his parents. In marriage he is called to know love in a different way, through the mutual exchange occurring between husband and wife. Finally, in becoming a parent, one is to experience unconditional love, expressed in his relations with his par children. For Divine Principle, the family was thus to be a multifaceted sphere through which each person would come to full maturity in his capacity for love. Also, since God's love is expressed primarily through human beings, the family was to be the basis for the fullest knowledge of God. In this way are family and marriage to be sacred.
Although traditional Christianity has considered marriage a sacrament through which one receives divine grace, marriage is generally not given the central position it is in Divine Principle. Mystical religion, Eastern and Western, commonly emphasizes the individual's experience and unity with God. Divine Principle proceeds to an even higher goal, transcending the individualism of the traditional mystic and embracing the potential of the family. The Principle points to the ideal of moving from I and my Father being one to I and my spouse being one, centered on God. The greater and higher goal is the loving unity of God and the family.
The Third Blessing, "Having dominion," is fulfilled when spiritually mature men and women understand and appreciate the creation as God does.
The creation then would respond with beauty, abundance and a festive glow.
Divine Principle suggests that before He created the first person, God made all things in man's image. Therefore we share various qualities with the things of nature. The beauty of a rose is precious because it corresponds to the quality of beauty in ourselves. The majesty and nobility of a mountain are striking because they reflect something deep in the human spirit. Because things in the universe reflect the many aspects of man, we feel joy through the stimulation given by them.
God feels joy when his children are living joyfully. Therefore the Lord created the things of the universe to bring man joy. When a perfect individual has a productive relationship with the created world centered on God, a four-position foundation is established among God, man and the universe. The result is joy. According to the Bible, the creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:199). Although we may sometimes glimpse a vision of eternal beauty in and behind creation, mankind as a whole has never realized the earth's true value, nor presided over it in a true dominion. Though man was to be the lord of creation, he has often shamefully exploited his physical resources, particularly in the modern age.
Instead of a dominion of care and love, our rule over the earth has been one of indifference and waste. In return, we have suffered from a harvest of polluted air and water, ravaged landscapes and filthy cities. Again, we have abused the environment because God's image within us has not matured. Divine Principle anticipates that as we fulfill the first blessing by uniting with God in heart, we will come to have a proper dominion over the universe. Then we will be able to co-create with God a joyful and harmonious world-the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Although the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth was a central conviction of the Hebrew prophets, the hope has largely faded in the centuries since then. One reason for this is that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the developing Christian Church tended to focus its faith on the cross rather than on the Kingdom of which Jesus so frequently spoke. In addition, of course, the record of human history in the past 2,000 years has not given us much reason to hope for a promised world of justice and peace.
Regardless of the present situation, Divine Principle reminds us that the Heavenly Kingdom is still the central purpose of God. Indeed, for God to be God He must one day achieve His ideal. When people throughout the world fulfill their purpose of becoming united with Him, forming God-centered families and taking dominion of love over the creation, we may have hope for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Divine Principle, in other words, reminds us of the original purpose of God a purpose which finds clear expression in the Scriptures. The Old Testament is replete with visions of a coming age of peace and well-being. Isaiah, for example, is the author of one famous passage:
"...they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Is 2:4)
Likewise in the New Testament Jesus stresses repeatedly the promise of the Kingdom, ultimately encouraging his disciples to pray "Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Mt. 6:10). The Apostle Paul anticipated a time when God would unite all creation, "things in heaven and things on earth" in Christ (Eph. 1:10). The writer of the book of Revelation, envisioning the ultimate triumph of goodness over evil, foresaw the day of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 12:1). Today, many people feel humanity has entered a new age and that a new day will dawn in the not-too-distant future.
What will the Kingdom be like? While Jesus gave some vague hints in his parables, comparing the Kingdom to a pearl of great price or a wedding feast, Paul tells us that we mere mortals have no way of imagining what God has planned for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9). Indeed, the average person who has been ravaged by the sufferings of the real world cannot easily imagine such a Kingdom.
Nevertheless, based on our understanding of God's original ideal, some educated guesses are possible. First of all, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of one heart. In the words of one of the original innovators of the social gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch, the Kingdom of God implies the "reign of love in human affairs." Divine Principle would agree. In the Kingdom of God, each person would be one with God, triumphant in love. The citizen of the Kingdom would love as Christ loved. He would be a person of absolute value, living not just for himself, but for the whole world,. He would indeed be a citizen of the world.
For Divine Principle, the redeemed world is to be rooted in the family as the heart of life. The relationship between a mature man and woman would serve as the well-spring of love for their children and the larger society. Parents would be in the position of communicating God's love to their children and children would find in their parents love examples by which they could live. From such a family would come the society, nation and ultimately the world centered on a true way of life.
Also, in the Kingdom contrasting elements would find their point of harmony in God. Black and white, occidental and Oriental, believer of different faiths a saints and scholars would all, through higher truth and love, find reconciliation and harmony. To paraphrase Rauschenbusch, the reign of love would tend toward the progressive unity of mankind, while preserving individual liberty and national distinctiveness.
Since the standard of living for all members of a family is the same, Divine principle teaches that in the global family of God, the all-too-familiar disparities between industrialized and Third World nations will be eliminated. God's children are all to know health and well-being, both spiritual and materially.
For Divine Principle then, the Kingdom is no idle dream. The Principle perceives that throughout history God has sent such men as Moses and the prophets, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius and Krishna, as teachers of the way. In His greatest effort God sent Jesus Christ.
Will the Lord let these efforts go unfulfilled? Can He allow His children to continue to suffer without end? Definitely not. As later volumes of the Divine Principle will explain, with the advent of then new Messiah God will initiate a further effort to overcome the suffering of the world and to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Volume 1 part 6
Obviously the world we know is hardly the world of God's ideal; indeed, the proverbial description of our earth as a "vale of tears" is not far from the mark. Let us inquire how this could come to be the case.
Observing different earthly phenomenon, we note they all exist within the realm of time. Chemists recognize that in any chemical process, for example, time must elapse before a result can occur. All backyard gardeners know a summer must pass before their tomatoes can be harvested. In the case of the formation of the earth, geologists believe it took as long as four billion years to develop to its present state.
Time is also needed for movement. Each movement has a point that it starts from, a path that it follows, and a concluding point. In the natural world, a lightening bolt reaching a speed of 87,000 miles per second still needs a beginning and an ending point, a path to follow and time to occur.
"Days" as epochs
According to the Bible it took six days for God to complete His work. While indicating that time was integrated into God's creation, this teaching appears contradictory to the discoveries of modern sciences which emphasize the evolution of the earth over eons of time. Reconciling the two understandings, Divine Principle teaches the six days in Genesis does not mean a literal 144 hours. As we are told by the Second Letter of Peter that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8), so we may perhaps best understand the "six days" of creation as the ages or epochs through which God completed His creative work.
They correspond roughly to the successive ages many scientists say the earth has passed through in its development.
The French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, who is well-known for his paleontological work in China, notes that when observed in terms of millions of years, life can easily be seen to move in a definite direction. While anti-religious scientists maintain that development takes place randomly, Teilhard argues that from the lowest to the highest level of the organic world there is a persistent and clearly defined thrust of animal forms toward species with more sensitive nervous systems. For both Teilhard and Divine Principle, the divine mind behind creation is working according to a plan.
States Of Growth
"But you can, Jonathan. For you have learned. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin." -
Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Since no one or no thing becomes mature in an instant, growth is a vital dynamic in human life. If one is to fulfill his destiny, if one is to come to full maturity in the eyes of God, he must grow through time. As with all living things, to cease to grow is to die.
While the phenomenon of growth is widely recognized, it is recently coming to be understood in new ways. What Harvard's Erik Erikson did for children, and apparently what Richard Bach did for seagulls, Gail Sheehey has now done for adults; in her bestseller `Passages' she had pointed out that growth never stops: There are different phases of human growth, even in adulthood, and then emergence of advanced phases depends on the successful completion of earlier ones. While Erikson has identified these phases for children and adolescents, Sheehey has begun the task of identifying them for adults. As she points out, the phenomenon of growth is a lifelong process, often precipitated by crises and difficulties.
While recognizing that there are innumerable phases of human development, Divine Principle nevertheless suggests a three-stage model as descriptive of this process. One's movement toward maturity may be thought of in terms of formation, growth and completion. During the first years of his life a child learns how to walk and talk and how to use his personality as a self-concept are established during these formative years.
As he grows older he attains most of his physical size, develops a greater measure of independence from his parents and cultivates his own circle of friends. Thus he actualizes the growth stage of his life. Reaching adulthood he not only becomes mature physically, but, ideally speaking, during this completion stage he also gains an autonomous personality and develops a mature capacity to love and work.
Since every being develops through these three general stages, Divine Principle teaches that the number three represents the state of completion.
The Dominion of God.
Although most Christians tend to claim that from birth to death man is guided and governed by the strong love of a kind Heavenly Father, they also affirm, on the other hand, that man is the master of his state and the captain of his soul. There is thus a considerable tension for Christian believers between the faith that God rules -- and the equally strong belief that man possesses free will. Resolving this paradox has been no easy task.
Divine Principle addresses this question by reference to the direct and indirect dominions of God. According to Divine Principle, God's rule over man before he reaches maturity is indirect, a relationship which can be explained by analogy to the natural world. During the period of growth each thing of the material creation operates by the autonomous power of natural law.
The snow and rain come, the seasons change and day dawns and night falls, all because of the prearranged law of nature, created by God.
God relates to immature man in a comparable way. We may say that men and women who have not reached a spiritually mature state are guided by spiritual law. Thus, the period of growth is the time of God's indirect dominion of mankind.
We should note that this indirect dominion can often be a period of difficulty and instability. Physically, if we do not live in accordance with the rules of good health we may injure or destroy our bodies. Likewise spiritually, if we ignore the principles of God, or if we engage in spiritually unhealthy activities, we are likely to suffer as a result. By aligning ourselves with God's principles and laws, we can grow to full maturity and health, both spiritually and physically. In this way our growth beyond the indirect dominion becomes possible. On the other side of the indirect dominion, we enter the direct dominion of God's love.
In the same way that plants and animals have to reach a certain level of growth before man can harvest or have full use of them, so human beings are to mature spiritually before God can "harvest" us.
Such maturity is achieved as man becomes one with God's heart; when man fully responds to God, God bestows on him His love and His power. This is called Direct Dominion.
Divine Principle teaches that the promise of the Direct Dominion is in living heart to heart with God as matured persons. In this union, God governs by love, and laws and commandments become unnecessary. Under the direct rule of God man is completely free-liberated to be who he was meant to be. Direct Dominion, Therefore, should not be confused with a one-sided domination, but rather understood as a mutual loving companionship. It is the crowning jewel in one's interior life, opening immense new vistas of love, joy and beauty.
In one of the most memorable works of Feodor Dostoyevsky, the story of the Grand Inquisitor, Christ has returned to earth. He has embarked again on a ministry of healing and charity and, to his surprise, is subsequently whisked off to prison. Here he confronts the Grand Inquisitor. Christ is told he must again face death, for he is again guiding people in the wrong direction. He is leading people to freedom and self-responsibility, "fearful burdens" too great for man to bear. It is better, Christ is told, for individuals not to confront self-responsibility to the Church, they are given what they need: bread and other symbols of security.
While it is no doubt overstated, Dostoyevsky's story makes its point. There is a tendency in all of us not to take responsibility for our own lives. On occasion we would like to give that burden to God, to the church, or to any figure representing strength and authority.
Despite such tendencies, Divine Principle, with much of contemporary thought, affirms the critical role individuals must play in shaping their own destiny. we cannot pass off responsibility to someone else. Each of us is the captain of his own ship.
Of course, this is not to say that we are alone. For Divine Principle, God is on our side. There is an organic partnership between man and God. However, God's efforts on our behalf become effective only when we do our part. In the course of growth, of achieving the Direct Dominions, of building the Kingdom, God does His part and we must do ours. Until our portion is completed, God's efforts are futile. The Lord helps those who help themselves because He can only help those who help themselves.
In light of this principle certain habitual practices of Jesus become more understandable. When Jesus healed the sick he first asked if they believed in him. When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes saying, "According to your faith be it done to you (Mt. 9:28-29)."
Faith was the condition that allowed God's healing energy to work. Without that faith, no healing was possible. Likewise Matthew tells us that Jesus promised people seeking for answers that they would find them, but urged them to first do their part.
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Mt. 7:7-8)."
If we ask why it is we have been given this portion of responsibility, two reasons suggest themselves. First, each of us is created as a child of God. We are given the freedom to make choices and the obligation to take responsibility for them. In this way God allows us to participate in the creation of our own selves. In a sense, we thus become co-creators with Him.
Secondly, Divine Principle explains that God wanted man to be lord over all the world as His representatives. However, a person can rightfully have dominion only over what he has made- and none of us made the world. Therefore, we must make some condition whereby we can become creators ourselves. By taking responsibility in our own self-creation, Divine Principle tells us, we qualify to inherit the Lord's right of dominion.
Naturally, compared to the care God takes for our growth, our own responsibility is minute. The two cannot actually be compared. Nevertheless, we can figuratively say that God's portion of responsibility is 95 percent while ours is 5 percent. Five percent of the job, however, cannot be fulfilled by 5 percent effort. Even though we are responsible for only a small part of the total task, we need 100 percent effort to fulfill it.
We may say then that God is like a master stone mason building a magnificent stone wall. He has laid almost all the stones Himself, heaving just one unplaced. We are asked to lay the final block. As co-workers with God, we are then to take part in the glory of the finished product.
Because historically humankind has not fulfilled its 5 percent, God has had to wait for adequate human action. No matter how long it may take, this principle of co-responsibility has remained unchanged. We live in a world of suffering, not because God's lack of concern, but because humanity has not fulfilled its responsibility. We shape the destiny of the world by our actions, and our decisions determine not only our own success, but that of God as well.
In a very memorable scene of the popular theater, the dream sequence in Fiddler On The Roof, the cornered Tevye invokes the spirit of his wife Golde's late grandmother in order to extricate himself from a very problematic situation: he has promised his Daughter to the wrong man. Tevye reports that the grandmother has come to him in a dream warning against this almost finalized match. His wife's agitated yet believing response, referring to her grandmother Tzeitel's coming all the way "from the other world" to impart her needed guidance, tells Tevye his ruse has worked.
While merely a fictional, construct acted out in the cultural setting of the Russian Jews, this scene nevertheless reveals something universal in human consciousness. From Plato and the early Greeks, through Jesus and Paul, through most African and Oriental cultures, to spiritualists of the 20th century, a belief in some kind of survival of bodily death has been unequivocally affirmed. Jesus' assertion that in his Father's house "there are many rooms," would seem to be justified by the fact that this common belief is held by such divergent peoples.
While many traditional believers tend to shy away from the topic, testimony to the existence of a spirit world actually permeates the Bible. Prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah report powerful spiritual visions, as does the writer of the book of Revelation. In the Gospels, angels speak(Lk 1:28) and on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus talks with the long-dead Moses and Elijah.
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them upon a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him (Mt. 17:1-3)."
Today, perhaps the most dramatic testimony to the existence of the spiritual dimension comes from those who have had what are commonly called "near death" experiences. These individuals, who were pronounced clinically dead but who were later revived, recall remarkably similar experiences while they were "dead."
While many people, if not most, are prepared to admit belief in some kind of life after death, few are willing to accept the proposition that even during our physical lifestyles we are existing in two realms at once-a material one and a spiritual one. Yet this is what Divine Principle teaches. There is an invisible spiritual world that surrounds this physical one and that is inhabited by those who have passed on.
Because the two realms do interpenetrate each other, the spirit self of a person near death can float on out of his body and then return later on. For this same reason the spirits of Moses and Elijah could appear to Jesus.
To begin to understand how we could simultaneously live in two realms and, for the most part, be unaware of it, we must remember that there are many things, even in the natural world, that exist beyond the range of our five physical senses. For example, we can't see infra-red light or x-rays, or hear sounds above or below certain frequencies. Nevertheless, x-rays and high and low frequency sound vibrations do exist. In the same way, even though we cannot perceive a spiritual world through our physical senses, it does exist all around us.
The discoveries of modern science lend credence to this prospect. Whereas in prior times scientists thought of the material world as constructed of solid, though minute, blocks of matter, they now believe this is not the case. Rather what we think of as the material world seems to consist of invisible patterns of energy.
As Professor Raynor C. Johnson of the University of Melbourne has pointed out in The Imprisoned Splendor, "The world of hills and rocks, tables and chairs is for the ordinary unreflective man the one real world. There may have been some excuse for the materialistic philosophy of the nineteenth century which supported this, but the discoveries of modern physics...have undermined that outlook. The solidity of the material world has proved illusory....
The implications of this new theory with regard to the possible existence of a spiritual dimension are clear. Indeed, it is probably such a discovery as this that gave rise to Albert Einstein's celebrated remark that his work was spiritual, involving the discovery of where matter ended and spirit began.
By applying the principle of polarity, we can conclude that a counterpart to the physical world must exist. As previously stated, God created all things in subject-object relationships. Man as subject has both spirit and body; therefore, his object-the world-must also have a two-fold nature. Just as the physical world was created as an environment for man's physical body, so the spirit world was created as an environment for his spirit.
As man has five physical senses for perceiving the physical world, so he has five spiritual senses with which to perceive the spiritual world. These spiritual senses make possible such experiences as those discussed above and others such as hearing voices, having prophetic dreams and seeing visions.
The spirit is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body there is a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:44).
Existing in both worlds, each of us consists of both a physical self and a spiritual self. Just as the physical body and a physical mind (which functions similar to instinct in animals), in the same way man's spirit has a spirit body and a spirit mind. The spirit body is the body of the spirit self, just as the physical body is the body of the physical self. As the spiritual form is identical to that of the physical self, people are recognizable even in spirit. When Jesus saw Moses and Elijah he saw them in their spirit bodies. The spirit mind is the central part of a person's being, the source of his emotion, intellect, and will. Here our personality and self-awareness originate. Through the spirit mind God is able to communicate with us, inspire us, and guide us in our growth.
In order to survive physically, each of us needs physical nourishment. In a similar manner, Divine Principle teaches that our spiritual selves need spiritual nourishment. Such nourishment consists of two components - the "Life Elements" that come from God, which include love and truth, and the "Vitality Elements" which have their origin in the physical body.
These Vitality Elements flow from the body to the spirit as the individual lives in accordance with God's Word and acts according to the principles of service and love.
As the spirit receives Vitality Elements from the body and Life Elements form God, it becomes vibrant and beautiful. Reciprocally, our spirit selves project spirit elements to our physical bodies. A spirit filled with a divine ideal, hope and love imparts health and power to the physical self. For this reason, people filled with spiritual life often need less sleep and food, and generally have more enthusiasm about life.
The character of one's spirit self is thus dependent on the quality of his physical actions. If a person for example has wronged another, or stolen property or exploited someone weaker, he will inevitably be called to rectify such matters during the course of his spiritual growth. If one fails to right his wrongs while he is on earth, he will enter the spirit world in a damaged state. Jesus' encouragement to us to straighten out our difficulties with our fellow man before we offer our gifts at the alter (Mt 5:21) is thus not to be ignored.
But, if one neglects to do this, he will be sent to "hell"? The Principle stresses that after physical death we continue life in the spirit world at whatever level we have attained during our lifetime. No one is "sent" to heaven or hell; rather one enters the spirit world at the level of spiritual growth he has attained on earth. We are the ones who determine our destiny.
The difference between heaven and hell has been suggested by one Emmanuel Swedenborg, a remarkable 17th century Swedish scholar and scientist who in his later years had an extended series of experiences in and with the spirit world. For this spiritual giant the distinction is clear cut:
The attitude that causes a drift toward heaven is in the feeling that there is a higher power...(and in the striving) to relate to it. This same spirit of humility and respect for the greatness of creation goes with an effort to be with others and to be of some use. By this a person faces toward heaven... The opposite attitude is to put down creation and elevate the self. The one bound for hell serves himself first, last and foremost. By this he is cut off from the opening-out possibilities of heaven and becomes enclosed in concerns for himself over and above others.
Since out spirit selves grow in conjunction with our physical bodies, our experience of love, beauty and joy on earth conditions our ability to experience them in the spirit world. Life in the spirit world is initially determined by whatever degree of love we have experienced on earth. Since, as we have seen, love is to be experienced most profoundly in the family, Divine Principle affirms it is through our families that we are meant to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, both on earth and in the spirit world.
Professor Charles Whitehead, twentieth century philosopher and theologian, is reported to have once complained that too many Christians think of God in terms of an absolute, autocratic, Roman emperor. Perhaps so. In any event, a special aspect of the Divine Principle revelation is its understanding of the heart of God. For Divine Principle, God's heart is tender, sensitive - and grieving over a lost relationship of love.
Divine Principle underscores the fact that the almighty God is not only the source of energy, the origin and preserver of life, but also the Father of Heart. Man was to be one with his Creator, forming intimate relationships of father and child, friend and friend, lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. However, as man's relations with his fellow man have been ridden with conflict, so have his relations with his Creator been badly crippled. Although He is a God of love, the Almighty God cannot express His heart of love as He wishes; He is limited by the capacity of human beings to receive and respond to it.
While for much of the Old Testament God is portrayed as a strict judge or powerful monarch, there are nevertheless flashes of a God of tender heart and supreme sensitivity. The story of the prophet Hosea, a man whose wife was faithless is a case in point. Hosea's knowledge of his wife's infidelity, coupled with his continuing love for her, was a heart-breaking experience for the prophet.
What then must be the experience of God, Hosea asked, whose love for us is so much deeper and more sensitive? In the most profound and revealing of man's relationships, Hosea found a metaphor for the relationship between a faithful God and a faithless nation. For the prophet, his own experience became a living parable of the suffering heart of God.
The truth then is that God has been hurt more than man. God feels crushed by the historic betrayal of His loved ones - as any lover would be. The injured heart of God, the suffering of the Heavenly Father, is beyond measurement and human comprehension.
It has been said that it is not so much we who seek God as it is God who seeks us. While humankind has walked a tortured and searching path through history, Divine Principle suggests that the same is true of God. The Lord's call to Adam, "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9) expresses an inquiry directed to all humanity. Ever since man's fall, God has been seeking His lost family with a grieving heart. Reflecting the difficulties of this search, Isaiah writes:
Hear, o heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: "Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owners, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know. My people do not understand." (Is 1:2)
And Hosea describes a similar situation: the more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baal, and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I too, them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them. (Hos 11:2)
On the other hand, alienated from God, humanity has also walked a torturous path. Separated from the love of God, humankind has hungered and thirsted in spirit. The Psalmist writes:
As a heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God. My tears have been my food day and night. (Ps 42:1)
I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Ps 69:3)
For Divine Principle, man's separation from the love and wisdom of God has prevented the human family from functioning at its optimum level. At its worst humanity's alienation from its Creator has brought spiritual death to man and has caused the sorrow and tragedy within man and the world.
Since the time of man's fall, many religions have developed in human society; to seek God through Jesus, or for that matter, through any historical religious path, is man's attempt to restore the original relationship of love with God. If man had not fallen, he would now be living in the bosom of God's love, walking with Him, creating with Him.
For Divine Principle, then, the central goal of the person who would be a mature son or daughter of God is the alleviating of the divine sorrow and the comforting of God's heart. This can be done as we realize God's hope for us, step by step fulfilling the three Blessings and doing our part toward realizing the Kingdom of God on earth. God has been longing for His children and they, like orphans, long for Him. Only when the meeting between this eager Father and these suffering children is sealed can restoration begin. The Lord is looking with great longing to the time of reunion, the day He and man can at last become one, as was the original intention. Then the great suffering of God, man and the universe will come to an end.
The Origin of Conflict and Suffering
In the "Principle of Creation," God's ideal for our world was presented. There it was explained that God originally created man to see His own nature expressed in a tangible, visible being, with whom He could share a give and take of love. He thus created men and women who were intended to grow to perfection, form families and establish with God and each other the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
We don't have to look very far to realize that this ideal has not been realized. We have experienced what is perhaps the most violent century in all of history. Images of Dachau and Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Gulag, homeless boat people and starving Cambodians, remind us dramatically of how far we are from anything resembling a truly human society.
Beyond these global catastrophes, there are the far too frequent sufferings of individuals and families. As families many suffer from conflict where there should be harmony and from resentment where we want there to be love. As individuals we often find ourselves struggling against ourselves, torn by inner conflict. We can all identify with apostle Paul's lament:
I can will what is right but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7:18)
Or even with the embattled comic strip character Pogo's discovery: "I have found the enemy, and he is us!"
It is no wonder that most religious scriptures contend that there is an infinite gulf between God and men.
According to the Jewish Talmud, two rabbinical schools prominent just before the time of Jesus debated over whether it would have been better if man had never been created, in the light of his subsequent sins and tribulations. After two and a half years of argument, the majority of rabbis voted with the famed Rabbi Hillel that the creation of man was a tragedy!
Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the gap between the ideal and the real has been explained by the story, the first parents of humankind disobeyed God, separating themselves from Him and also bringing about the separation of all their future descendants from Him. This separation from God has caused further separations between people and within the individual heart of each person. Today we are separated from God, from ourselves and from others, and thus it may be said that we live in a state of sin.
Myth or History?
In the twentieth century the idea of a human Fall has encountered no little skepticism. The issues raised by Charles Darwin have had a particularly significant influence on scholarly and popular literature and have widely affected modern thinking concerning human beginnings.
Also, rather than think that the Genesis account of the Fall represents any particular event in history, a number of modern thinkers prefer to interpret it as a description of an inner process shared in by all men. The well-known psychologist Rollo May, for example, believed the Eden story describes the coming of age of every individual, involving an inevitable loss of innocence and the painful dawning of self-awareness symbolized by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Influenced by the insights of such men, today we question ideas of a first man and woman, forbidden fruits and original sin. Perhaps with others we recognize that interpretations such as May's seem inadequate to addressing such problems as the contradiction between a God of goodness and love and a chaotic world of suffering. By the same token, we may believe with many scholars that Darwin's theories do not exclude the possibility of divine guidance in the process of evolution. Nevertheless, we still are not content with traditional interpretations of the Fall of man. We need something new.
Any new insight into the Genesis story must incorporate the strengths and address the shortcomings of both traditional and modern interpretations. At the same time, it should point to a solution for remedying the effects of the Fall, thereby offering the hope that God's original ideal might yet be fulfilled. Happily, for many people these needs are met in the Divine Principle explanation of the Fall.>
Tales of Origins
Before we discuss the Divine Principle understanding of the Genesis story, let us note that all cultures have provided us with conceptions of the origins of evil, many of which display a remarkable similarity.
In Egyptian tales, for example, we hear of a lost golden age, of death caused by the "ancestress of women," and of a serpent. In Greek heritage, the woman Pandora's curiosity allowed evils and woes to escape into the world. Indian legend teaches that Brahma was tempted by Siva into thinking that a blossom from the Tree of Knowledge would give him immortality.
The significance of these stories is not that they are literal recordings of events. They are legends that perhaps can be viewed as reflections of vague racial memories which share common themes because they reflect something that actually did happen. In the revealed story Genesis, we have perhaps the fullest indication of what that "something" is.
As you read the material you may discover familiar ideas that gain your immediate understanding. In the alternative, you may meet ideas that are so new and different that they take some getting used to. Such reactions are normal, for the Divine Principle view of the Fall will lead you on unfamiliar terrain.
The Bible tells us that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, telling them they could enjoy everything in the Garden. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. For on the day you eat of it you shall die." (Gen. 2:17)
We may imagine Adam and Eve followed God’s commandment for awhile. Soon, however, a serpent came to the woman and tempted her to sample the fruit. Beguiled by him she ate of it and gave it to the man:
"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:7)
In this act, Adam and Eve separated themselves from God, bringing about their own fall and the Fall of all humankind from a state of blessedness and grace.
If you have ever gone to Rome, you may have had the opportunity of seeing the magnificent Sistine Chapel. On the Chapel’s walls and ceiling, the great Italian painter Michelangelo depicted the history of God from the Creation to the Resurrection, covering the Bible from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation. Michelangelo worked on this project for four years, from 1508 to 1512.
Included in this panorama is a scene depicting the Fall of Man. Michelangelo depicts a fruit tree, with a man-like serpent offering what many think to be an apple to a reclining, naked Eve.
For Michelangelo, as sell as for millions of people before and after him, this action is what initiated the Fall. Indeed, this is exactly what Genesis describes, although it does not specify the fruit was an apple.
The question is, how are we to understand the Genesis passage? And in a larger sense, how are we to understand the Bible? Are we to think that its writers meant every word to be taken as literal truth or are some things to be understood symbolically? Specifically, is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to be understood literally or symbolically?
For Divine Principle, the Bible is the inspired word of God. It is the book in which the word of God among His people has been recorded. It is a storehouse of God’s truth and wisdom, intended to enable us to find the true way of life, to construct God’s Kingdom on earth and ultimately to gain our own salvation. Thus, the Bible is a mediator between God and man.
Nevertheless, the Bible must be properly understood. Whether its passages are accepted literally or symbolically, it is important to understand the message they are trying to convey. For example, in the Book of Jonah, the prophet is described as being swallowed by a great fish and living inside it. We now know that ancient Middle Eastern cultures often described a person who was in trouble as being "in the belly of a fish," much as today we might say he was "in a pickle." Thus, to think of Jonah as being literally in the belly of a whale would be to miss the point. In fact he was in trouble because he was disobeying God.
Likewise, throughout the Bible spiritual truths are frequently presented through the use of metaphor or symbol. The parables of Jesus are an obvious case in point.
With regard to the story of the Fall, even those who claim to take the Bible literally often make an exception with the Adam and Eve narrative; both the ancient Jews and early Christians treated the narrative as pure allegory. Augustine, who was perhaps the most influential of all Christian theologians and a man who was particularly important in working out the traditional doctrine of original sin, argued that the Eden account should be taken both literally and symbolically; that is to say, taken partly as historic fact and partly as spiritual truth.
Whatever the sin of Adam and Eve was, it has affected the whole human race. Even today we suffer from its consequences. Therefore it must be an inherited sin. Could such a sin be caused by one’s eating a fruit? Science proves that substances taken into the mouth do not have hereditary effects. Along the same lines, Matthew reports Jesus as saying:
"...not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." (Matt. 15:11)
One’s eating a fruit will not affect the spiritual state of his children. It is impossible. Therefore, the fruit must be symbolic of something else.
Of course, for many people whether the fruit is symbolic or not is not the important issue. The very act of disobedience is the problem. God was angry when man disobeyed Him, and therefore quickly cast him out of the Garden.
But let us think. Would God be interested in testing the obedience of His children, particularly at the possible cost of their lives? Would any parent place some poisonous food in front of his children with the intention of testing their obedience? The answer is obvious.
By the same token, God is the caring Father/Mother of all people. As with any parent, God did not conceive His relationship with His children to exist solely on the basis of obedience. It is rather a matter of love. Disobedience is no doubt one component of the Fall, but it is not its cause.
If the fruit is not literal, let us examine what it represents. The Book of Genesis states that the fruit grew on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet if the fruit is symbolic it cannot grow on a literal tree. The tree, then, must also be symbolic.
In the Garden there were two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There were also, of course, two persons, Adam and Eve.
The Tree of Life is a rich symbol that appears throughout the Bible. In addition to the Genesis passage, it appears in the Book of Proverbs:
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (Prov. 13:12)
It also appears in the last book of the Bible, Revelation:
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates." (Rev. 22"12)
For the writers of these books the image of the Tree of Life represented something highly desirable. It was the hope of people both of the Old Testament and the New Testament ages.
From reading Genesis, we can conclude the Tree of Life also represented Adam’s desire. Genesis 3:24 states that God,
"....drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, the guard the way to the Tree of Life."
Because of his sin, Adam was prevented from reaching what he wanted, the Tree of Life.
As stated in the Principle of Creation, according to God’s ideal the destiny of each person is to grow to full maturity and oneness with God. For this reason each of us is continually seeking higher degrees of happiness, self-expression, and love. By the same token, people of both the Old and New Testament ages and Adam himself must have had the hope to grow to maturity and full personhood, realizing their own ideals and the ideals that God had for them.
Adam and the Tree of Life.
If this was indeed Adam’s desire, it is logical to conclude that the Tree of Life in the Garden symbolizes a man who has reached full maturity, the state of true life. Thus the symbol of the Tree of Life represents Adam as he would be in perfection. If Adam had not fallen from God, but had accomplished the ideal of creation, he would have become a Tree of Life, giving birth to children of life.
Developing from this, his descendants could have established the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as a garden surrounding the Tree of Life. However as Genesis relates, Adam fell and his way to the tree of Life was blocked.
Volume Two, Part Three
Genesis tells us that in the Garden of Eden, God created Adam and then created Eve to be his spouse. If the Tree of Life standing the Garden symbolizes Adam, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which stood next to the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9), must symbolize Eve.
It is not unusual for the Bible to use the symbol of a tree to represent a human being. Jesus at times spoke of himself in such terms:
"I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
In Romans 11:7, Paul refers to Jesus as an olive tree:
"....and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree...
In a similar fashion, Adam and Eve are represented by two trees.
To assert that there was a Tree of Life and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden does not mean that there are two literal trees in the geographical center of a literal garden. Rather, the symbols mean that the two people, Adam and Eve, were to be the center and nucleus of God’s ideal of creation.God’s entire ideal of creation is to be fulfilled through man and woman.
When we see that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents the woman, Eve, we can also imagine that the fruit of this tree is somehow related to Eve. A real tree would multiply by its fruit, which contains the seed necessary for producing the next generation. Comparably, mankind multiplies through the fruit of love-specifically Eve’s love. Thus Eve was represented by the Tree of Knowledge; and eating the fruit represents experiencing Eve’s love.
The Serpent as Adversary
In addition to the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis tells us of a serpent that came to Eve in the garden and tempted her. According to the scripture, he was a talking animal, more clever than any other beast of the field, who subsequently became a crawling creature as a consequence of his temptation of Eve. Again there is the question of how this serpent is to be understood. Is it literal or symbolic?
Obviously, this was no ordinary serpent. First of all it was capable of tempting and lying to a human being. In addition, it was aware of the existence of God and of the commandment He gave Adam and Eve. Genesis reports him as saying:
"Did God say, "You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" (Gen. 3:1)
In other words, this serpent had the ability to comprehend God and His will.
As we know, snakes are not recognized for their spiritual capacities. An actual snake, which has no spiritual comprehension, could not be capable of such spiritual knowledge as was displayed by this particular "serpent". We must then conclude that the serpent is a symbol of a spiritual being who successfully tempted Eve to sin.
The Serpent and Satan
The Book of Revelation reveals who the "serpent" symbolizes: "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him." (Rev. 12: 9)
This passage brings together the last book of the Bible and the first. According to it, the ancient serpent, the tempter of Eve, was "Satan," and this has been the commonly accepted view within the Judeo-Christian tradition.
But the question is, "Who is Satan?" The word itself comes from the ancient Hebrew, where it meant "the adversary." It signifies the Biblical affirmation that there is a force in the universe which is in active opposition to God.
Since we know that in Genesis the "serpent" represents Satan we can discover who the "serpent" was by discovering who Satan is.
According to the passage just quoted, Satan was once "thrown down to the earth." If we contrast earth and heaven, Satan must have been originally in heaven before being thrown down to earth. Thus, the "serpent" must at one time have qualified for heaven. We may also surmise, in light of the principle of growth, that although this being was created good, later he fell and became Satan.
What type of entity was Satan? Since Adam and Eve were the only man and woman, Satan had to be another kind of being. As is widely known, the Bible makes references to two kinds of creatures who posses spiritual capacities and who also ultimately fell from God. Besides man, God created angels, who also have sinned (Jude 6-7). If Satan is not a man, he must have been an angel. That Satan comes from the angelic world is consistent with the thought of the Book of Revelation, which indicates that Satan was "thrown down from heaven."
How could an angel be Satan? It is a long-held assumption within the Christian faith that at one time some residents of the angelic world rebelled against God. The second Letter of Peter, for example, refers to the fact and tells of the consequences of the angels' sin:
"God did not spare the angels when they sinned but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment.." (II Peter 2:4)
Complementing Peter's reference, the New Testament Letter of Jude describes the content of the angelic transgression:
"And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains... just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 6-7)
This passage indicates that the sins of the angels and those of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were similar, both involving immoral behavior and "Unnatural lust."
Satan's crime must, therefore, have had to do with "unnatural lust."
The Forbidden Fruit
Let us examine the actual nature of Adam's and Eve's sin. We are told that originally: "the man and his wire were both naked, and were not ashamed." (Gen 2:25)
After eating the forbidden fruit, however, they felt and acted differently:
"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:7)
Obviously during the period between these two verses, something happened. After committing sin, our ancestors suddenly felt shame for their nakedness. This shame was not related indiscriminately to all areas of their bodies, but specifically to their genital areas. They didn't cover their faces or feet; they covered their sexual parts.
One's natural impulse is to hide evidence of wrongdoing. For example if a little child is caught in the act of stealing a cookie, his first reaction is to put one hand over his mouth and the cookie behind his back. In so doing he wants to cover up his wrong. Likewise, a thief or murderer will conceal any evidence which might lead to his detection.
If the sin of Adam and Eve involved eating fruit, they would have covered their mouths or their hands, the two parts of their bodies directly involved in the crime. This was not the case, however; Adam and Eve covered only the lower parts of their bodies.
"...and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:17)
This indicates their transgression involved the concealed portion of their bodies-their sexual parts. From this we may conclude the crime of our first parents was one of fornication.
Evidence of a Sexual Sin
That the Fall was sexual in nature is suggested by other evidence also. For example, in referring to their sexual actions, the Hebrews (as well as men of other cultures) commonly spoke of eating or picking a fruit. In the Bible and elsewhere "To know" a woman means to have sexual relations with her. In the fourth chapter of Genesis, for example, it is said of Cain that he knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch" (Gen. 4:17) and of Adam that he "knew his wife again, and she bore a son."(Gen 4:25)
Of course such an interpretation is not without support among other Jewish and Christian scholars. Cardinal Jean Danielou, an expert on early Christian literature and member of the French Academy, asserts that "a majority of critics underline that fact that the sin has a sexual character."
Nor should we ignore the unusual merit attributed to the practice of religious celibacy. Not only did the apostle Paul encourage chastity but Jesus pointed out that there are some who are eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed a commitment to chastity, along with commitments to poverty and obedience, is an essential part of one's becoming a monk, nun or priest within the Roman Catholic Church.
Similarly, some branches of Hinduism and Buddhism have taught that for the true seeker the highest path involved sexual abstinence. Such practices imply that marriage as we know it does not have the complete sanction of God but is a compromise for those who are unable to realize such a path. Such religions hint that there is something fundamentally problematic with sexual desire as commonly experienced.
Even the rite of circumcision can be related to the Fall of Man if one sees its deepest meaning. According to Genesis, Abraham instituted this ceremonial act as a visible sign of the covenant binding the children of Israel to their God. The most obvious significance of the act is to distinguish Hebrews from others. Furthermore, however, something about sex is felt to alienate man from God. Cutting of the male child's foreskin indicates the Hebrew's determination to cut off many attachments he has which separate him from God. For Divine Principle, circumcision represents symbolic restitution for the original sin of Adam and Eve.
It should be made clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with sex. After all, Adam and Eve were originally to "be fruitful and multiply." In the view of the Divine Principle, they were to grow as brother and sister, and after reaching maturity were to marry, have children and create a God-centered family. Marital love was thus intended to be sacred, and in fact, the highest blessing given by God. When a man and woman unite in perfection, they are in a sense a new higher being even closer to God. If Adam and Eve had reached this state, they would have been the son and daughter of God and true husband and wife to each other.
In some way, however, the first parents forsook God. The sexual relationship they ultimately engaged in was somehow in violation of themselves and God's principles. It is obvious that their sexual action must have taken place outside of marriage and this action constituted the Fall. Let us see how this occurred.
The Origin of Human Conflict and Suffering
Volume Two. Part Five.
Thus far we have seen that the Fall somehow involved not just Adam and Eve, but also the angel Lucifer. Yet who was this angel, Lucifer? And what are angels? Let us look at the angelic realm.
Belief in friendly, invisible spiritual beings has been a part of human culture since time immemorial. Their presence is recorded in the early chapters of Genesis (two angels ate with Abraham) and recently Billy Graham has written a best-selling book on the topic, called Angels.
In this area also, however, we must distinguish fact from fiction. We have only to look at much religious art to discover what is the traditional belief regarding the angels' appearance. They have been portrayed as being glorious man-like beings with huge swan's wings, often times carrying harps or hymn books.
Is this really how they appear? Genesis 19:1-5 makes reference to a time when Lot was visited by two angels, and the people of Sodom mistook the angels for men. Similarly, the Gospels of Luke and Mark refer to the angelic visitors to Jesus' tomb as "men" (Mark 16:5, Luke 24:4).
From such Biblical accounts we can conclude that the angles appear differently from what most medieval paintings would have us believe. In fact, man and angels look alike. The difference is that angels are created as pure spirit, whereas human beings are both spiritual and material.
The Mission of the Angels.
Angels in the Old and New Testaments serve three distinct purposes. The first was to be servants to God: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?" (Rev. 1:14)
Beyond being created to minister to God and man, the angels also serve as messengers. Throughout the Old and New Testaments there are reports of God sending His angels to communicate with men.
For example, angels appeared to Abraham telling him that Sarah would have a son named Isaac (Gen. 18:10). It was also an angel who told Mary of the coming birth of Jesus (Luke 1:31).
More than act as servants and messengers, however, angels praise and give glory to God. Their function here might be compared to a military honor guard paying formal tribute to a nation or its flag.
John of Patmos, the writer of the Book of Revelation, records: "Then I looked, and I heard around the throne..... the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands and thousands, saying with a loud voice, `Worthy is the lamb who was slain...."' (Rev. 5:11-12)
Servants not Children
What is the difference between man and the angels? Beyond the fact that angels exist only as spiritual beings, there is also a difference in roles. God created the angels as His servants and messengers, but He created mankind as His children. The ultimate joy and purpose of creation was manifested in man.
Since God created man as His child, His servants, the angels were intended to serve not only God but His children as well. As God's child, man was intended to rule over the angels.
To say that man was to rule over the angels many seem to be a radical statement. After all, within the Christian tradition angels have always appeared to be glorious and superior beings. Reinforcing this view, there is the famous Psalm: "What is man, that Thou are mindful of him...Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels."(Ps, 8:4-5).
According to Divine Principle, man was actually created on a higher level than any of the angels and now exists on an inferior plane only because of the Fall. The roles which scripture ascribes to angels would indicate that they were created as servants of God, whereas men were designed to be His children.
The true relationship between men and the angels is more accurately reflected in the apostle Paul's famous assertion: "Do you not know that we are to judge the angels? (1 Cor. 6:3)
Eve and Lucifer
The book of Genesis indicates that man was the first of God's creations. We are told that first God created "the heavens and the earth," and successively, day and night, sky and water, land and vegetation, fish and animals, and finally, man. In this process the spirit world-the world where the angels dwelled-was created before man.
After the completion of the angelic world, God placed an archangel to rule over the entire angelic kingdom Just as God gave a blessing to Israel through one man, Abraham, so God's love for the angelic world was given through one angel. According to the traditional understanding of many within the Judeo-Christian faith, this archangel's name was Lucifer.
Before the creation of man, Lucifer was the supreme, being in the heavenly hierarchy and was the greatest singular recipient of God's love. He appeared to be closest to God and even seemed to be God's favorite.
According to Divine Principle, Lucifer was placed in the Garden with the young Adam and Eve to serve them and guide them in their growth. As he pursued this mission, he noticed that something had changed. He began to realize that Adam and Eve were receiving more love from God than he.
His situation can be compared with that of a child who is suddenly displaced by a newborn baby. Until the new infant arrived, the older sibling was the sole recipient of his mother's love. Now, however, he may feel that his mother's love for him has decreased and he may become burdened with feelings of rejection and envy.
Such was the feeling of Lucifer after the creation of man. Because Adam and Eve were created as God's children, not His servants, they received more love from God than Lucifer did. Lucifer was unaware that God loved him as much as He always did but that He simply loved Adam and Eve more.
Lucifer was jealous of God's attention to His children and felt particularly envious toward Adam who was male as was Lucifer. Lucifer knew that when Adam reached his full maturity, Adam would have dominion over himself.
Other holy books ascribe such feelings to Lucifer. In the Koran, for example, the angel says "What should I serve them? They are but of dust while I'm of fire." Why, he thought, should God degrade a servant who had always been faithful?
At the same time Lucifer saw Eve as a very beautiful and attractive figure. Since the source of beauty of God is His love, those who receive more love from God reflect the most beauty. As Eve grew, she became more and more beautiful and Lucifer was naturally attracted to her. In addition, feeling a loss of love, he sought to receive more love from Eve.
The more Lucifer was with Eve, the more their relationship grew. Wanting to preserve his supremacy, Lucifer sought to win Eve's heart. From her side, Eve was attracted to the angel. As the "angel of light" he was wise beyond anyone, and she was flattered by his attention.
Even though Lucifer knew his intent was absolutely against the will of God, Lucifer's desire for Eve began to grow beyond the fear of law or death. Finally he was determined to defy even God, if God stood between him and the object of his desire.
Because of God's warning to her, Eve initially rebuffed Lucifer's advances:
"And the woman said to the serpent. "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God said, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die." But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:2-5)
As her initial resistance crumbled, Eve became confused by Lucifer's words. God had given Lucifer to Adam and Eve to guide their growth; yet now he was telling her something that was absolutely opposed to God's direction. Instead of attempting to get further advice from God, or even consulting with Adam, Eve allowed herself to be wooed.
Her love grew and her desire for Lucifer's promised knowledge increased as well. At last she allowed herself to be persuaded that God was misleading her and she consented to a sexual relationship with Lucifer. This sexual union between the spirits of Lucifer and Eve brought about the initial spiritual Fall of Man.
A number of ancient Jewish and early Christian writings agree with the Divine Principle interpretation of the Fall. Several Jewish thinkers claim that Satan thought, "I will kill Adam and take Eve to wife." Another rabbit explained that Satan intended to rule the earth with Eve as his spouse.
Professor F.R. Tennant of Cambridge University, who did an exhaustive study of the Fall, notes that legends "concerning the monstrous intercourse of Adam and Eve with demons, and especially of Eve with the serpent, or Satan, were widespread" in ancient sources.
However well-documented this explanation of the Fall is, can one seriously believe that an angel could have sexual intercourse with a human being?
To throw light on the question, let us examine the beliefs of the Hebrews and Christians recorded in the Bible. Both the Old and New Testaments take it for granted that spiritual beings can and do lust after mortal women. One key passage is a short account to be found in the sixth chapter of Genesis; in it, "sons of God," traditionally understood as angels, descended from heaven and successfully "took to wife" certain fair women (Gen 6:1-2).
We might dismiss this story as primitive myth if it did not reappear in two different parts of the New Testament. In the Epistle of Jude (6-7) and in II Peter (2:4), the story is revived and given the authority of Christian scripture. Obviously, for the Christians, it was assumed that spirits and human beings could and did have sexual relations with each other.
There are other times in the Bible when angels had direct contact with people or things in the physical world. For example, an angel wrestled with Jacob so vigorously that he dislocated the patriarch’s thigh joint (Gen 32:25).
When two angels visited Lot at Sodom to warn him of the coming destruction of the city, he invited them into his home and they had a meal there.
When Mary saw an angel near the tomb of Jesus, she thought he was the y see that angels gardener (John 20:15).
From this we can readily see that angels not only possess powers of sensual perception similar to humans, but also possess a form which can on occasion be perceived.
Nor is there a lack of evidence of this phenomenon on what we might call the satanic side. Satanists have long maintained that in their mystic rites one could experience sexual union with their master or his supernatural associates. During the Middle Ages down to the seventeenth century and even today, they have confessed as much to clerical and secular authorities, not as an admission of guilt, but as their belief and experience.
Of course, a spiritual sexual experience is not within the realm of the ordinary person’s experience. Nevertheless, it is a fact of existence, even in the twentieth century.
The Fall Complete
How was the Fall of Lucifer and Eve extended to Adam? Love unites two beings, bringing a reciprocal influence. Having united with the archangel, Eve received two elements from him. First, she experienced fear. The archangel knew in his heart that in uniting with Eve he would violate a clear principle of God, yet the power of his love for Eve led him to do so. In rebelling against the Almighty God, he became frightened. When the unprincipled union between Lucifer and Eve took place, his fear was extended to her and became a part of her. She came to feel the same fear Lucifer did.
Also, when Eve at the forbidden fruit, her eyes were opened as the Serpent had predicted. At that moment Eve understood that Lucifer was never intended to be her mate but that God had created her for Adam. Deep regret and repentance came to her. This realization, in conjunction with her sense of fear, made her turn to Adam for comfort and help.
Loathing her previous act, Eve was willing to do anything to regain her former sense of well-being. Recognizing that God had intended Adam to be her rightful mate, she erroneously thought that by having a sexual union with him, she might rectify her prior error. Acting on this idea, she tempted Adam to behave as her husband.
Heretofore, Adam and Eve had lived together in a brother and sister relationship. It had been intended that they would grow in this way to perfection and then receive the blessing of marriage from God. In the state of mature love with God, they would be in the proper position to have a Godly love with each other. Any union with each other before reaching this stage was in violation of God’s design.
Nevertheless, Adam responded to Eve’s advances and two united sexually. This union between Adam and the spiritually fallen Eve constituted the physical Fall of Adam and Eve. Since God created man in both spirit and flesh and Eve had already fallen spiritually, from the moment of their physical union, their Fall became complete.
What She Might Have Done
Rather than tempting Adam as she had been tempted, Eve should have confessed her mistake to him and begged him to intercede for her with God. Through Adam, God could have restored Eve. When Eve led Adam to have a sexual relationship with her and he consented, they only repeated Eve’s first mistake. Now they both were cut off from God and without hope. There was no one to intercede with God on their behalf.
Sunk in their shame and guilt, Genesis records that God Himself ultimately had come looking for them, calling "Where are you?" They were lost, spiritually and physically.
If our first ancestors had not eaten the fruit of god and evil, they would have established an ideal family by producing children of goodness. Eve’s love would have been a good fruit and she would have been likened to a Tree of Goodness. But before she could achieve perfection, Eve fell and led Adam to fall, thus giving rise to a family lacking God’s love and stained with a satanic heritage. Therefore, the fallen Eve was likened to an evil tree and her love to an evil fruit.
Immediately prior t the Fall, Eve was thus in a position to become either a tree of goodness or a tree of evil. For this reason she was symbolized by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of the tree, which was her love, could have been either good or evil.
Volume Two - Part Seven
The question may be asked: How could God’s plan go wrong like this? he created the universe. He must be almighty. Lucifer, Adam and Eve were all His creatures.They must have existed in accordance with his plan. How could things turn out so badly?
In the view of Divine Principle, God created in such a way that His universe may be compared to a train running on a track. The train represents God’s creation and the track is comparable to His law. As a train is guided by the track, so God’s creation develops automatically within the context of His law. But if the train is struck by another power greater than the holding power of the track-for example, a landslide or an intersecting truck-the train will be derailed.
Similarly, if some power in the universe greater than law struck Adam and Eve, then they could be knocked off their original course. Such a power-greater than all the law and principle of God-is the power of love.
Love, Not Law
As was explained in the Principle of Creation, God created to experience the give and take of love. his ideal is not a world of law or regulation, but a world of love.Therefore, God made the power of love greater than every other power. Love is the supreme force in the universe. God made the power of love so absolute that even His principle does not preclude expressing love in a way which violates His will. Adam, Eve and Lucifer fell because of the power of love.
Literature and history alike pay tribute to the omnipotent reign of love over the human heart. Freud and other psychoanalysts point out that in this fallen world the erotic impulse by itself is strong enough to disregard all the moral conventions which society and conscience ascribe to the will of God. Shakespeare has immortalized how love drove Romeo and Juliet to suicide, how Hamlet’s uncle was driven by passion to kill his brother in order to marry his sister-in-law, and how Lear became literally insane because he made a mistake about how much his daughters loved him. In our time, King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne for the sake of love.
Love of God, Love of Man
Since God created love supreme, once man attains maturity and becomes united with God in love, nothing can break this relationship. In perfection, no corruption is possible because a person is one with the love of God. However, before man reaches perfection, his desire may be misdirected. For this reason, according to Divine Principle, man and woman should experience a full union of love with each other only after their love for God has crystallized. To achieve this, God knew Adam and Eve needed protection and special guidance. For this purpose, He gave them the commandment: "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat" (Gen 2:16-17).
The sexual interpretation of the Fall has signal merit precisely because it points the finger at the one sin which is rooted in the biological structure of man. In one sense and apart from details of his theories, Freud correctly traced the human tragedy to the sexual drive.
As long as our ancestors had faithfully kept the commandment, they would not have become over involved with the archangel. Under these circumstances, the love powerful enough to cause Adam and Eve’s deviation would not have come into existence. However, since they did not keep the commandment and instead formed a close reciprocal relationship with Lucifer, an immoral love developed and caused them to deviate from the track of God’s principle.
How long would God have required Adam and Eve to keep the commandment not to eat of the "fruit"? If Adam and Eve had perfected themselves, they would have entered the direct dominion of God’s love. Then, with God’s blessing, they would have free to develop their love with each other as husband and wife. If they had done so, there would have been no possibility of their love being broken. Having perfected themselves individually, they would have been capable of developing a mature love with each other. Accordingly, obedience to God’s commandment was necessary only as long as Adam and Eve were still growing toward perfection.
Free Will and the Fall
In the Principle of Creation, it was shown that God gave free will to man to allow us to participate in His creation, thus becoming a co-creator with Him. Therefore, God’s giving a free will to man was necessary and good, as traditional Judeo-Christian theology has asserted. Free will is the greatest gift God gave man.
If man were simply forced to serve God, there would be no beauty or life in man, and no joy or glory for God. It is most beautiful and precious when man serves God voluntarily and loves Him wholeheartedly, in free will. The flower turns its face to the sun because there is no alternative open to it; man’s free will gives his existence a special dimension. From this, man is supreme in all creation, validating his lordship.
Some believe that Adam and Eve fell because they had free will. Of course, their free will made it possible for them to fall. If they had fallen because of their free will, however, there would always be the danger of falling, even after they had become perfect. Insecurity would exist even in the Kingdom of God, where man is to have complete freedom. Such insecurity would then exist forever, and the promised attainment of perfection would be impossible.
Volume 2 - Part 8
Though free will did not cause the Fall, Adam and Eve lost their freedom because of their sin. The reason is that freedom exists only within the confines of God's law.
Outside of God's law, there is no freedom.
To understand this apparent paradox, think of the freedom which we enjoy our society. This freedom exists only so long as we abide by the laws of the nation.
To take a simple example, if one chooses to run a red light, he may lose the privilege of driving. Similarly, our freedom of motion exists within the law of gravity. If we try to walk out of a fifth story window, we will quickly find the limits of our freedom! When such limits are ignored and freedom is misused, disharmony, chaos and destruction result.
In the case of Adam and Eve, the illicit love of Lucifer shattered God's law and destroyed the freedom of man. Because of this, man has lived under a Satanic bondage.
Spiritually man does not have complete freedom to do what is right and good in God's eyes. He is inextricably enmeshed in voluntary and involuntary captivity; this has been brilliantly analyzed by such thinkers as Augustine, John Calvin and Reinhold Neibuhr, as well as portrayed through our greatest novelists.
On this point the apostle Paul lamented: "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate...Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:14-15,25)
Hence it is necessary man to restore his original liberty before he can build the Kingdom of God in his midst; though man may have free actions, those actions may not be the result of inner freedom. One of the signs, it is felt, of growth in the spiritual life of mankind is that in present times there is a universal demand for liberation on every level, whether it be in racial, national or theological terms.
In history, free will from a religious perspective is best illustrated in the lives of those who chose God and the spiritual liberty at great risk or even at the cost of their lives, for example, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Cardinal Mindszenty and numerous Christian martyrs.
By and large most believers assume that God knows everything and can do anything; there are no restrictions on His power and no limitations on His knowledge. He is seen as omniscient and omnipotent.
On the basis of such belief it follows that God could foresee the possibility of the Fall of man. Actually, some traditional Christian theology goes even further, arguing that God knew that the serpent would seduce Eve and that she would successfully tempt Adam even before these events took place. In such theology God is said to see in His mind past, present and future as an instantaneous "now."
According to such thinking God knew beforehand of the coming Fall with its calamitous effects on human history yet did not prevent the monstrous transgressions. Whenever this sort of theology is taught, sooner or later some genuinely troubled believer will ask, "Why did not God intervene? Why didn't He prevent the Fall?"
Confronted with this kind of dilemma, many sensitive and thoughtful people have concluded that God is either not all good or He is not all-powerful; with our kind of world as evidence of His workmanship, He cannot be both.
This problem has been struggled with before. For example, when the devout Christian philosopher Liebnitz sought to defend God, he argued that ours was the best of all possible worlds; Voltaire demolished the argument with ridicule in his novel Candide. The classic Book of Job wrestles with the problem of God and the existence of evil without coming to a generally accepted solution. This where the situation remains. Within the Christian faith, many theologians have been content to declare that Christianity did not come to solve the problem of sin but rather to overcome the fact of sin.
Why then did God allow the Fall? In the Divine Principle view, God created man as His child to whom He could send His limitless love and from whom He could receive a full response. Thus God wanted man to live in the highest expression of love. If God's principle controlled man's love, then it could not be absolute. After reaching the state of perfection, man is no longer under God's principle, but under His direct dominion, where the bond between them in unconditional and inseparable.
Divine Principle suggests that God could foresee the possibility of man's fall; but though almighty and all-knowing, He would not intervene directly in Adam and Eve's affairs until, in accordance with His principle, they had grown to perfection. Adam and Eve, though warned, fell when they were immature. Had God intervened, He would have violated His own perfect system and usurped His children's responsibility.
Furthermore, God created man to be lord of all creation. To assume that position, Adam and Eve had to pass through a process of maturation; in this they were given a large measure of responsibility to develop self-initiative and self-discipline. They had to grow to a state worthy of trust by God, by their children, as well as by creation.
For this reason, God did not explicitly forewarn Adam and Eve of the archangel's temptation. They had to use their judgment in all situations. If God had exercised direct dominion over Adam and Eve, He would have been recognizing them as mature, which they were not. Also, it would have been an indication that Adam could not be trusted to reach perfection.
For these reasons God sought to preserve the personal integrity of man. However, there is another side also, having to do with God's own integrity. Christian theology has always been determined to avoid a dualistic world view in which God and Satan are co-creators and co-rulers of the universe.
As a Being of perfect goodness and utter holiness, God could not recognize evil as part of His plan of creation. Therefore neither the sin of Adam and Eve nor the non-principled act initiated by Satan could be related to His divine creation. The Fall was man's affair alone. God is in no sense a responsible participant. If God had interfered with the Fall, He would have been automatically recognizing it as part of His creation. Since the Fall was initiated by Satan, He would in essence be recognizing Satan as another creator, virtually the equivalent of Himself. This God could not do.
What are the consequences of the Fall of Man? How has is affected our world? Certainly we can say that with Adam and Eve's failure to establish a true parenthood, throughout history their descendants have been unable to live as true brothers and sisters.
In other words, without true parental love we have not had true brotherly or sisterly love. but why is this so? What are the specific effects of the Fall? Let us examine some of the most basic ones.
If Adam and Eve had reached perfection, forming a four position foundation with God, they would have been able to love each other as husband and wife with God's love, and they would have borne children as expressions of that love.
But because our first parents fell, forming a four position foundation with Satan, God's love was not realized on earth. Adam and Eve created a family centered on false "love", and initiated a satanic lineage based on self-centered love.
Reflecting this reality, the gospel of John reports Jesus as telling the people: "You are of your father the devil." (John 8:44)
In another passage from the New Testament, Paul deems Satan as the "god of this world." (II Corinthians 4:4)
To state that the world is under satanic dominion is to suggest that there are negative spiritual forces operating in our lives.
Although this reality is testified to almost unanimously by such spiritual teachers as Jesus, Paul, Buddha and Mohammed, it is questioned by some in the modern age.Ever since the Age of Reason there have been fewer and fewer educated Western people who have accepted the existence of malevolent or benevolent spiritual beings other than God and the immortal souls of departed humans.
Satan as deceiver
Someone, perhaps C.S. Lewis, has quipped that since Satan is the father of lies, his most effective deception has been to tell people he doesn't exist.If we are no looking for him, he can do his work without much fear of discovery. If physical objects can skip our notice simply because we are preoccupied with other matters, how much more difficult it is to perceive spiritual reality which we cannot easily see, hear or touch. This is particularly true in the modern age in which Western man has largely restricted his attention to the temporal rather than the eternal, the material rather than the spiritual, the human instead of the divine. Regardless of our awareness of spiritual forces, they are still realities.
It is nevertheless imperative to distinguish the actuality of Satanic forces from popular misconceptions handed down to us from folklore. For example, Satan is supposed to have horns and a tail, yet otherwise look like a human being. If we actually conceive Satan in such terms it would be highly unlikely that we will ever receive a visual confirmation of his existence.
It is important to recall that Satan is an expert of disguise and appears in a variety of ways depending at least in part upon what we expect. Baudelaire, the poet--and for a time a confirmed Satanist--reminds us, "The devil's first trick is his incognito." If he sometimes manifests himself in a manner which makes his identity crystal-clear, more often he appears masked in an attractive form.
Ultimately, the best teacher in these matters is experience itself. As one begins to walk a spiritual path, he will frequently encounter all kinds of disturbances, obstructions and temptations. It is such experiences as these which have led those who have gained a certain spiritual enlightenment to conclude there are satanic forces that work against individuals and that have contributed to the destructive nature of human history.
Satanic influences can affect a person only as long as he cooperates with them. Man is influenced by Satan only when he makes a base for him. Ultimately, each person is responsible for his own feelings, thoughts and actions.
Claims that "the devil made me do it" are futile. If one were to rid himself of the negative, destructive or evil elements he has within himself, Satan would become powerless.
What is good?
the argument may be made that since the actions of Lucifer, Adam and Eve were based on love, then they should have been all right. After all, love is good, isn't it?
From the point of view of Divine Principle, nothing is good or evil itself. All things are created neutral and their goodness or evilness depend on their purpose.
A person, for instance, may pursue a great deal of money. If, beyond providing for his personal needs, his goal is to use the money to provide for his family, serve his community, or help his nation, this is a good act. On the other hand, if his goal is purely selfish or even destructive--for example investing in a drug ring--then this action is evil.
This principle applies to human nature itself. For instance, human ambition is often considered evil, but in fact, is part of the original nature given to us by God. Without ambition, human history would be barren of great men and great events. Moses would never have led his people out of Egypt. Lincoln may never have seen his divided country united again. Edison may never have invented the light bulb.
All too often, however, human ambition has been directed to less public-minded purposes. Ambition directed toward selfish ends has led people to steal, dominate others and even to kill.
In this same way, man's capacity for love is neutral. When used in accordance with Godly ideals and principles, it is the most creative and constructive force in the world. Apart from such principles love can be selfish, destructive and merely and expression of lust.
The problem then is in defining what is good, or in arriving at a universal standard of goodness. However, ever since the Fall standards of good and evil have been relative.
At one time the values of one group predominate while at another time another party with entirely different values sets the standard.
Two hundred years ago in the United States perhaps the credo "all for one and one for all" expressed the dominant ethic. Today "doing your own thing" seems to be what is sanctioned by society's opinion leaders. Politically, for the communists, state ownership of all means of production is good. For capitalists, private ownership is what is most desirable.
As a result of such conflicts in standards, history has been filled with struggle. These conflicts will continue until a universal standard of goodness is found, restoring the standard that would have been established if the Fall had not occurred.
The emergence of sin
Although scholars and theologians have identified different types of sin, the sin of Adam and Eve is almost unanimously regarded as the primal, original one--the root all sin. For Divine Principle, it is the cause of the spiritual death that has beset humanity from time immemorial.
But what is sin? For different people, the word has slightly different meanings. The ancient Hebrew understood sin in terms going astray or missing the mark. Others stress that sin is an act separating a person from God. People wander from the path of righteousness, breaking the covenant binding God and mankind together. For Divine Principle, sin may be thought of as any act or thought which violates God's law and which inhibits negatively our own growth to perfection. Sin is thus never simply against God. It is also against ourselves, in that it violates our own deepest essence.
Even though we may not identify it as such, in one way or another, we all have the experience of sin. This fact is proclaimed in the apostle Paul's famous words "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) In a similar vein, Jesus' disciple John writes to the early Christian Church:
"If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (I John 1:18)
Volume Two - Part Ten
Many people acknowledge the fact of individual sin, but they are reluctant to trace it back to a primal source. Both theologian and lay Christian alike have wondered how a single sin, whatever its gravity, could corrupt the entire human race.
To answer this question, different analogies have been offered. The original sin has been compared to one puncture of the eye which causes permanent blindness or to a single perforation of the heart which brings life to an end for the whole body. Several rabbis compare it to a poison whose effect is passed on from one generation to another.
Psychoanalysts have often traced severe mental disturbances back to a single psychic shock. One could further say that it is like the contamination of a water supply at its source which inevitable affects an entire city, or like a disease that enters the roots of a tee and gradually infects every branch and leaf. In the family tree of mankind, Adam and Eve were the roots.
In addition to original sin, we may mention hereditary, collective and individual sins. Hereditary sin is passed on from our ancestors and is conveyed to us, the descendants, through our blood lineage.
Collective sin is neither one's own sin or hereditary sin, but it is the sin for which all members of a particular group are responsible; for instance if a group of people lynch an innocent man, every member in the group is responsible for the action.
Finally, individual sin is the sin committed by each individual in his daily life. For Divine Principle, it is god's will that we ultimately be liberated from all sin. even while we are on earth. However, we cannot be cleansed of sin without first removing original sin, the root. Such a task is one aspect of the mission of the messiah, a mission that will be discussed in the next section.
God created everyone and everything to be good, including Adam, Eve and Lucifer. While Adam and Eve were still growing to fulfill this ideal, the fall took place.Through the fall, the personality and character of Adam and Eve were corrupted, changed from what God had originally intended. In a word, Adam and Eve inherited a fallen nature. Throughout history, this fallen nature, or, as it is termed in Roman Catholic though, "second nature," has been passed on to Adam and Eve's descendants.
Divine Principle identifies four major aspects of humanity's fallen nature. Let us look at them briefly.
1. God's viewpoint, our viewpoint
One dynamic contributing to the fall was the failure to see things from the standpoint of God. As we have said, before the birth of Adam and Eve, Lucifer was the major recipient of God's love.. If, after their arrival, Lucifer had loved Adam, and Eve in the same way as God loved them, he would not have fallen. If he had struggled to stand with God, loving what God loved instead of submitting to his own self-centered feelings, he could have overcome his jealousy and avoided his tragic error. Instead, however, what God loved, Lucifer hated, This tendency to see things form one's own self-centered perspective was transmitted to Adam and Eve, and this nature has been passed down to us throughout history.
A well-known example of this inherited tendency was displayed in the lives of the twelve sons of Jacob. Of all his sons, Jacob favored his eleventh son, Joseph, which the ten older sons knew. Had they truly loved their father, they would have struggled to see his point of view, accepting Joseph and remaining confident that their father loved them, too. Rather than striving for this response, however, they became jealous of Joseph, hated him and sold him into Egypt.
We may see something of this same tendency in our own lives today,. Students may feel jealous of another student who because of his diligence seems to be the teacher's favorite. In a job situation, people may feel jealous when a co-worker gets a raise or promotion for excelling in his work. In these instances, we may say such jealous individuals, like Lucifer, have failed to appreciate things from God's point of view. The task is to appreciate people for their own merit, regardless of how their position relates to one's own personal status.
2. Improper position
We have also inherited the tendency to leave a position that has been given us. In God's original creation, a position was ordained each creature. Angels, for instance, were created as servants of god while Adam and Eve were created as His children. If these positions had been maintained, order and harmony would have emerged. Sadly, they weren't. Reflecting this, a New Testament author writes: "And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal judgment . . ." (Jude 1:6)
Similar phenomena occur today. In each of our lives there are proper roles which, when fulfilled, lead to happiness and satisfaction for ourselves and for God. When the proper relationship is established between parent and child, or student and teacher, or husband and wife, for example, both parties can be pleased and contented. Apart form working out these roles, however, no larger order or individual peace is possible.
3. False dominion
Another aspect of fallen nature that we inherit today is the tendency to reverse dominion. As was previously indicated, there was a certain order of authority in the creation: God, Adam, Eve, followed by the angels, and finally the things of creation. When the Fall took place, this order was reversed. The archangel successfully enticed Eve to sin. bringing her under his servitude, and Eve, in turn, led Adam to sin. Ultimately God was left entirely out of the picture.
The tendency to reverse dominion has been passed on to us, often originating in a Lucifer-like desire to receive more love. We tend to want to climb over others, even those who are properly in authority over us. We may pursue a false ego trip, seeking to subjugate others to our own desire for glory and recognition. Ultimately, of course, such efforts are doomed. We need to remember that the only way ultimately to receive love is to give it first.
4. Multiplying evil
A final quality we tend to inherit from the original dynamics of the fall is the tendency to want to get other people involved in the wrongs that we have done. Eve appropriated to herself the archangel's unrighteous desire and then further multiplied her wrong by tempting Adam. If Eve had not multiplied her crime Adam could have remained pure and ultimately could have restored his mate. However, Eve multiplied her wrong in Adam, and the fall was completed.
Our tendency today is also to get others involved in our wrongs. In this way we seek to protect, support and justify ourselves. Perhaps in gaining the external support of others, we seek to defend ourselves against our own internal sense that what we have done is unacceptable. As we do, however, we spread the evil we have done. The fact that in our present world evil is more rapidly multiplied than good is a manifestation of the reality of this original fallen nature.
Throughout modern society all of these fallen nature have practically become a way of life. It is common to feel jealous of someone who receives more love than we do, and common to see disloyalty in families, betrayal among "friends", and grabs for power and recognition. Finally it is common to see evil passed from person to person more rapidly than goodness. The entire society has become a reflection of the fallen nature that originated with Lucifer, Eve, and Adam.
Adam and Eve were meant to be the link between God and all of their descendants, up to the present day. Thus, through our first parents a world of happiness and joy was to have come about--the Kingdom of God on earth. However, because of the fall, Adam and Eve were disconnected from God, severing the link between God and all their children. Ever since the fall, both God and mankind have been seeking happiness and peace. Yet, apart from each other there has been no way for either to reach these goals.
To solve this problem, God's strategy has been to establish a mediator between Himself and mankind, this is the role of the Messiah.
Volume 3 - Part 1
As the Divine Principle sections on "The Creation" and "The Fall of Man" have explained, God originally created man and woman in His image. They were intended individually to grow to full emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity, and on this basis form families that could fully embody and express God's love. Such families would then be the well-spring of God's love for larger levels--the society, nation and world.
The first couple chosen to achieve this ideal, however, the Biblical characters Adam and Eve, failed to do so. Their fall occurred through an unprincipled expression of love between Eve and the archangel Lucifer, and between Eve and Adam. With the loss of love at the beginning of history, all humanity has since suffered the deprivation of love. For Divine Principle the original separation from God's love has thwarted the realization of the divine ideal and has given rise to the tremendous pain and suffering that make up the record of human history.
History on the Horizon
Divine Principle explains that, beginning with the tragic separation of humankind from its Creator, God has sought to restore men and women to their original state, no longer crippled by the catastrophic events involving the first human couple. God wishes to elevate us to the status of His True Children and to lead us to live in love, justice, and brotherhood.
To realize this stage, prophets and holy men have appeared, directed by God, at various points in history. The coming of men such as Abraham and Moses, Buddha and Confucius, St. Francis and Martin Luther expresses God's redemptive activity in human society. However, the central manifestation of God's work was the advent of Jesus of Nazareth. For Divine Principle, Jesus was the man anointed by God as His Son to realize the original ideal on earth. He came in Adam's place to restore the lost Garden of Eden--the Kingdom of God on earth.
The New Testament offers an inspired and beautiful account of the life of Jesus and has served as the very well-spring of the Christian faith. Over recent decades, however, the New Testament--and, indeed, the entire Bible--has come to be understood in very different terms than has been the case in centuries past.
The critical catalyst in this change has been the advent of modern biblical scholarship, particularly as it has been focused on the four Gospels. While as devotional material the Gospel accounts are awesome, it is now widely considered that as historical documents they fail to provide reliable data on the human Jesus and his actual teachings.
The problem as most scholars see it is that the writers of the Gospels--writing anywhere from thirty to seventy years after the death of Jesus and writing with their own purposes in mind--freely embellished earlier oral and written reports that up to then had been the sources of information on the life of Jesus.
In the words of Father Raymond Brown, of New York's Union Theological Seminary: "Primarily the Gospels tell us how each evangelist conceived of and presented Jesus to a Christian community in the last third of the first century. . . they offer only limited means for reconstructing the ministry and message of the historical Jesus."
Recognizing such realities has led to extensive re-examinations of the life of Jesus. In recent decades, scholars have looked again at the Gospel accounts, questioning orthodox understandings and expressing radical dissatisfactions with traditional thinking about the Son of Man. The very fact of the volume and intensity of debate on this issue points to the problematic nature of the traditional New Testament picture of him.
Hero, prophet or zealot?
The arguments presented by different theologians have ranged over a broad spectrum. A pivotal book in this debate was written by none other than the famed Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who, among his other great accomplishments, was a highly regarded theologian.
In his Quest for the Historical Jesus, Schweitzer demolished a number of his predecessors' views of Jesus and advanced his own understanding of Jesus as an apocalyptic hero. He sees Jesus as believing in the imminent, supernatural appearance of the Kingdom of God, complete with the subjugation of all evil forces.
In Schweitzer's view, at one point in his ministry Jesus expects the arrival of this Kingdom even before the next harvest. Only when his hopes are dashed does Jesus start thinking of the cross. Schweitzer concludes that Jesus finally went to the cross believing that this act would precipitate the apocalyptic arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth.
In The Prophet from Nazareth, on the other hand, Professor Morton Enslin argues that Jesus must be understood simply as a man fulfilling a prophetic role. Enslin argues that the later Church paid tribute to the Nazarene Carpenter by bestowing him with such titles as Christ, Son of god and Lord, but that his original disciples thought of him simply as "a prophet mighty in deed and word." (Luke 24:19). Indeed, for Enslin, this is all Jesus thought himself to be.
Another view of Jesus is presented by England's S.G.F. Brandon, of the University of Manchester. For Dr. Brandon, Jesus was a Zealot, striving for the political overthrow of the Roman tyranny. Jesus' primary interest was political, and this is why he was ultimately crucified. According to this view, a careful reading between the lines indicates the authors of the Gospels "rewrote early Christian history in order to remove Roman suspicions concerning the Church."
Such is a partial view of the debate on the life of Jesus. Many opinions have been offered, but many questions remain. As Brandon's theories indicate, even extreme views have gained a hearing.
In the opinion of many people--both theologians and laymen--the Divine Principle has shed a very helpful and clarifying light on some of the vexing problems surrounding Jesus. As a revelation received by Reverend Moon through his spiritual communication with God and Jesus, the Principle has the advantage of being able to penetrate the New Testament ambiguities and present a clear understanding of Jesus and his mission--one that has profound implications for the contemporary church and one that will help Christianity complete the spiritual revolution begun two thousand years ago.
Historically it has always been understood that Jesus came for the salvation of humankind. As Paul writes: "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him." (1 Thess. 9:10).
Despite such understandings, the actual meaning of salvation has for many remained somewhat vague. Does salvation simply refer to the afterlife? Is it limited to individuals? What does it mean to be saved?
If someone who was dying were to be saved, we would understand that he was restored to life and health. The same is true of a person drowning; to save him would mean to pull him form the water and return him to the shore. In these instances, "saving" a person means restoring him to his prior state of well-being.
By the same token, Divine Principle teaches that spiritual salvation means restoring fallen man to his original state of goodness and wholeness--the state he enjoyed before the Fall. This means restoring him to the position where as an individual he can fulfill the original purpose of life.
Must be perfect
When Jesus came two thousand years ago, he unequivocally stated the goal of the individual life: "You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."(Mt. 5:48)
In Greek, the language in which Matthew wrote his Gospel, the word "perfect" (Greek: tellios) means "end" or "goal." It may be thus understood as describing one who has reached the end, or has achieved maturity in the image of God. For Divine Principle, such an ideal, challenging though it may be, reflects God's goal in His original creation and His goal in salvation. His first task is to create individual who are full reflections of Himself.
Let us recall, however, that the process of salvation is meant to go beyond individuals. When John writes in his Gospel that "For God so loved the world that He gave his only son" (Jn. 3:16). he was reflecting the ultimate extent of God's goal. God is not just interested in individuals; He also intends to save families, races, nations and the world.
If we think of what a saved world would be, we must think of a world free form what John F. Kennedy called the "common enemies of man--tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself." Speaking positively, we may envision a world where the strong are generous and the weak secure, where, in the words of Amos: ". . . justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream." (Amos 5:24).
It would be a world in which humanity's ancient hope for peace was realized, and our desire for material well-being met. It would be in effect a Garden of Eden that had been restored on a global scale.
To Be Accomplished
Of course one may wonder if such a world could actually be realized. The record of human history is not promising. Nevertheless, Divine Principle points out that such a vision relies not primarily on man--although man has his part to play--but on God. And for God to be God, He must one day realize His original ideal.
Those who have followed God have on occasion been blessed with insight as to His ultimate purposes. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote of the day when God would "unite all things in (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph 1:10). Similarly, the prophet Isaiah writes of the Lord's proclamation: "I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass, I have purposed it and I will do it." (Is. 46:11).
In the fullness of time, God will surely accomplish His purpose. As the God of love, He could never leave fallen man in his current state, for man was created as His child.
By what steps would a restored world have to be approached? If Adam and Eve originally had managed to become marriage partners who reflected God's love, and if they had raised their children in this spirit, their family could have been the origin of an enlightened clan, society, nation and world.
In other words, as the children of a perfected Adam and Eve matured and started their own families, their original family would have gradually expanded, finally developing into one world family. At the core of this global family would have been one set of true parents, perfected Adam and Eve, representing God's parental love to all their descendants. Centered on this family, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth would have emerged.
Divine Principle teaches that throughout history God's purpose and method are consistent. The goal of salvation is thus a restored world expressing God's original ideal and centered on perfected man an woman. It is for this purpose that God sends the messiah. He comes to stand before God as the true individual and to establish a true family--a family that embodies and expresses God's love. On this foundation the Messiah is to build an ideal nation and world, thus fulfilling the originally intended Kingdom of Heaven of earth.
For this reason Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew writes: "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom . . ." (Mt. 9:35).
In the next section we will look more specifically at what the Kingdom meant for Jesus.
Volume 3 Part 3
Jesus’ work on earth is dominated by a central, all-pervasive theme: the Kingdom of Heaven. "Repent," Jesus says, "for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt. 4:17)
In proclaiming this message, Jesus is announcing the fulfillment of a hope which God had long instilled in the Jewish people. At least since the seventh century B.C., the Hebrew people had looked forward to the arrival of the millennium, a golden age of peace and well-being for all. This Kingdom was to be inaugurated by the Messiah.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore."--Is. 9:6-7.
Isaiah’s view is that the Messiah was to govern his people with justice and righteousness. From the throne of David, he was to reign with wisdom, as Wonderful Counselor, with power, as Mighty God, with love, as the Everlasting Father. In his Kingdom, peace would endure. And not only the Messiah’s human followers, but all nature was to dwell in his peace.
Isaiah writes: "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them... They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the water cover the sea."--Is. 11:6-9.
Isaiah further prophesied the glorious days the Israelite people would see in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you...Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried in their arms...Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall become a clan and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it."--Is. 60
In the Hebrew mind, this is the glory and joy that the Israelites were to share upon the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. Their blessing would reach throughout the world, and earth would be the Garden of Eden.
"He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore."--Is. 2:4
In all these passages we may see the promise of God’s ideal being realized. The world was to be restored and the Messiah was the catalyst.
An urgent message
Anointed by God for the mission of restoration, Jesus was consistently concerned to teach others of the coming Kingdom. His moral and ethical teachings, his exhortations, even his prayers all relate to this topic. His Sermon on the Mount, it has been said, may be likened to the constitution of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is also the subject of many of Jesus’ parables. He compared the Kingdom to sowing good seeds in various soils; to a tiny grain of mustard seed which would grow into a large tree; to leaven hidden in a meal; and to a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found with joy and then bought at the cost of everything he had.
Just as significant as these repeated references to the Kingdom was the apparent immediacy of its advent. There is a definite now quality to Jesus' references. Because the Kingdom’s foundation had to be laid during Jesus’ lifetime, its establishment was imminent and urgent. Therefore Jesus directed his followers to seek his Kingdom and righteousness first, without giving undue thought to what to eat or wear. His disciples were told to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.
Some of the passages from Luke vividly illustrate just how urgent matters were. To a man who wanted to go bury his deceased father, Jesus retorted, "Leave the dead to bury the dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:60) On another occasion he said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Lk. 9:62) In teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus’ first petition to God was "Thy Kingdom come."
Finally, as we have indicated, Jesus made the point that to enter the Kingdom, one had to be spiritually mature. In his words, "You, therefore, must perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48)
A Kingdom on Earth
An important distinction must be drawn here between the earthly nature of the Kingdom, as conceived by prophetic Judaism and early Christianity, and spiritualized, ethereal version envisioned by the later Christian Church.
In proclaiming the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven which was substituted because of Hebrew restrictions on the use of the word "God") many Christians believe either that Jesus was referring to the fate of his followers after death or their individual spiritual fulfillment. However, this cannot be the case. As God envisioned a Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the beginning, starting with Adam and Eve, He would naturally envision a Kingdom of Heaven on earth in the end. His intent and will are constant.
Most scholars would agree that envisioning a purely spiritual or personal Kingdom entirely misrepresents the intent of Jesus’ message, ministry and mission.
Professor Frederick C. Grant typifies scholarly opinion: "Jesus’ conception of the Kingdom of God is absolutely and unequivocally and exclusively a religious conception: pure and simply religious, but religious in the sound ancient sense, as embracing all of life, society, politics, the labor of men, as well as their inner feelings, attitudes, and aspirations."--The Gospel of the Kingdom.
The early Christian Church, being closer in time to the earthly life of Jesus, knew that Jesus envisioned an earthly Kingdom and eagerly awaited Jesus’ return to complete his work.
Reflecting this fact, the Apostle Paul is on occasion at pains to placate the early Christians who were hoping for a quick return of Jesus.
"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word...to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."--II Thess. 2:1
It was only later that the return of the Lord would be viewed as indefinitely postponed. With this postponement, the concept of the Kingdom was gradually deflected away from earth and toward heaven.
We may say in summary that the kingdom that Jesus attempted to bring was a literal, physical kingdom, a restored world based on God’s original ideal. Jesus was to become the spiritual and ethical archetype, the model individual of the Kingdom. Achieving this himself, he was to show all people the way to individual and collective maturity. Based on the example and the inspiration he furnished, an ideal family, society, nation and world would have come into being. In this way, the long-sought Kingdom would be established.
Clearly, however, the ideal of the Kingdom was not realized. "What happened?" In the next section, the Principle will pursue the answer by first looking at the work of Jesus’ forerunner.
Volume Three - Part Four
From the time of the early Church, Christianity has always held an elevated view of John the Baptist. Even its best modern thinkers, for example the German, Gunther Bornkamm, persist in identifying John as a heroic figure eternally testifying to the Risen Christ:
"...he signifies for the Christian...the returned Elijah who was to prepare the people of God for the coming of the Messiah...The Church recognizes him to be the one who will be forever preparing the way for Christ...(in Jesus of Nazareth)
Despite each noble testimony, a close look at the New Testament record raises many questions about the Baptizer. Let us look more closely at John’s role and activities.
An Elijah-like figure
Certainly Bornkamm is correct in describing John as an Elijah-like figure. In the Hebrew mind, Elijah had always been expected as a forerunner to the Messiah.Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, has prophesied: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." (Mal. 4:5).
To this day, at Jewish Passover seder, a cup of wine is provided for Elijah in the anticipation of his arrival prior to that of the Messiah.
Living in the ninth century before Christ, Elijah is famed for his dramatic victory over four hundred and fifty prophets on Israel’s Mount Carmel. (I Ki. 18:20-40).Through his obedience and faith, he is thus regarded as having purged Israel of satanic influences. However, perhaps due to the subsequent spiritual lapses of the people, his work had to be redone. Only after this task was accomplished could the Messiah come; therefore, as Malachi predicted, another Elijah had to arise.
John as Elijah
According to the New Testament, Jesus regarded John the Baptist as the anticipated Elijah. Matthew reports Jesus saying:
"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come." (Mt. 11:13-14)
The New Testament records that John had been chosen even in the womb. Luke tells us that the angel Gabriel had announced to Zachariah that his wife Elizabeth, would bear a son who would prepare his people for the Anointed One.
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." (Lk. 1:16-17)
The entire course of John’s life was subsequently a preparation for his later task of witnessing to the Messiah: his lonely period in the desert, his time of meditation and study and his exercise in ascetic piety.
According to Mark and Matthew, John modeled his lifestyle--including his clothing--after Elijah. He adopted as his own the rough camel hair garb and leather belt which were the marks of the prophetic office ever since ancient times. Like Elijah, the Baptist poured fiery judgment on the society around him. Everyone felt the effect of his withering denunciations.
In addition to all this, John was apparently aware that he was a forerunner of a greater one yet to come. We are told by Luke how John replied to those who thought that because of his spiritual might John himself must be the long-awaited Deliverer.
"I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Lk. 3:15-16).
Regardless of such demurrers, all four Gospels, and other ancient historical sources as well, agree that John attracted large crowds and developed a substantial following of his own.
The strategy upset
Divine Principle teaches that coming in the role of Elijah, it was John’s mission to unite with Jesus and give clear testimony to him. However, according to the Gospel of John, when the question of his identity was put to the Baptist, he denied that he was Elijah.
"And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" And he answered, "No." (Jn. 1:19-21)
In light of the fact that in the Hebrew mind Elijah had to arrive before the Messiah would come, such assertions by John were extremely damaging to Jesus and the role he was trying to fulfill. Because of John’s prestige, any major statements of his concerning Jesus carried great weight, more so than did the words of Jesus, a man of apparently less significance in the opinion of the people.
Jesus was an obscure young man raised in a humble carpenter’s home and was not known to be experienced in spiritual disciplines. Yet, contravening established authority, Jesus proclaimed himself "lord of the Sabbath" (Mt. 12:8), was known as one who was abolishing the law (Mt. 5:17), and had put himself on an equal footing with God. (Jn. 14:9-11). Disturbed by all this, Jewish leaders claimed that Jesus was working by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. (Mt. 12:24).
John, on the other hand, displayed much more impressive qualifications. He was the son of a prominent family, and the miracles surrounding his conception and birth wee known throughout the country. (Lk. 1:5-66). Living on "locusts and honey" in the wilderness, he was regarded by many as leading an exemplary life of faith. In fact, John was held in such high esteem that the high priests, as well as the common people, asked if he were the Messiah (Lk. 3:15, Jn. 1:20).
Under these circumstances, we may imagine the people of Israel tended to believe John more than Jesus. Jesus’ view of John as Elijah seemed untrustworthy, said only to make believable Jesus’ claims about himself.
While there is dispute over the exact relationship that existed between John and Jesus, the gospel record also reveals a certain inconsistency in the Baptist's behavior toward Jesus. The Gospel of John indicates a definite recognition and affirmation by John of Jesus' role: "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (Jn. 1:29).
Matthew indicates, however, that later John vacillates. After he has been imprisoned by Herod for criticizing Herod's second marriage, John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask: "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (Mt. 11:3).
Jesus retorts sharply: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." (Mt. 11:4-6).
In light of the enormous difficulties faced by any messianic movement in first century Palestine, the chances for success were greatly diminished if the forces for reformation remained divided.
If John had affirmed his own Elijah-like role and consistently testified tot he messianic status of the Nazarene, Jesus' way could have been opened wide and the Kingdom established on earth. Given Jesus' messianic role, we may imagine the ideal situation would have been for John to unite with Jesus even becoming one of his chief disciples. Since John himself had disciples, this would have enormously aided Jesus' cause.
Tragically, even though Jesus was eagerly searching for followers ("Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers") (Lk. 10:2), John and his group remained apart. There are even indications that tension existed between the two groups. Matthew, for example, reports a dispute between the disciples of Christ and those of the Baptist over fasting. (Mt. 9:14). And according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the Fourth Gospel seems to contain a polemic against the disciples of the Baptist (John 1:6-8) which suggests that they existed as a separate group, distinct from the Christian Church, even up to the end of the first century.
While John was in prison, Jesus is recorded as assessing John's role. On the surface, his paradoxical statement is quite puzzling. " . . . among those born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist, yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." (Mt. 11:11).
John was born at the ;most important time in human history and had the unique privilege to serve Jesus directly by testifying to him. John should have brought everything he had--his experience, his knowledge, his large following--and offered them to Jesus.
Because of his great influence and popularity--an influence that extended to the religious establishment--John could have thus led many influential people to Jesus. Jesus therefore described John as "the greatest born of women" because the opportunity before him was such a great one. but the sad fact is that John failed to grasp that opportunity and so was less than the "least in the Kingdom." Because John failed to fulfill his glorious place in the Kingdom to the most humble believer.
Reasons for the failure
One may ask why it was that John didn't follow Jesus. The reasons seem to be multifaceted--psychological, sociological and spiritual.
For one thing, John apparently saw a conflict between his own interests and those of Jesus. He felt that if Jesus prospered, then he would decline. In John's words, "He must increase, while I must decrease." (Jn. 3:30). Feeling that supporting Jesus would involve giving up his own following, he failed to see that if he were truly united with Jesus, as Jesus' star ascended so would his own.
John may also have had doubts about some of the things that Jesus espoused: the sayings of Jesus were quite out of the ordinary, such that he was accused of undermining conventional Hebrew morality and Mosaic teachings.
Observing Jesus' background and achievement, John may have gathered that the long-awaited Son of Man could not be as commonly human as was Jesus--of questionable birth, dubious education, a mere carpenter, and without a well-developed following.
In addition, John may have compared himself to Jesus and found the comparison quite unflattering to this alleged messiah. While John was the son of a Temple priest, Jesus was formally uneducated and frequently seemed to contradict the Hebrew scriptures. Also, Jesus' disciples were men of little education and competence. John lived a very ascetic life while Jesus ate, drank and stayed with tax collectors, prostitutes and others considered undesirable by society.
The prevailing conception
Finally, we must understand the prevailing conception of the Messiah-to-come at the time of Jesus. Generally speaking, the expectation was a apocalyptic one. It was a period of eager anticipation of imminent dramatic events, a time which combined both a sense of despair about history and yet a hope that God would act dramatically to change things utterly and forever.
Influenced by the Book of Daniel, many sincere believers expected the Messiah would come on the clouds of heaven. Daniel had written:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him." (Dan. 7:13-14).
Short of such a cataclysmic event, other Israelites felt the ;Messiah would come as a mighty deliverer, raising the standard of national freedom and driving the Romans into the sea. After all, their immediate concern was liberating themselves from the Roman tyranny. Thus their concept was essentially temporal and militaristic.
Perhaps even John could not help being influenced by some of these assumptions about the coming Son of Man. How hard it must have been to accept a mere carpenter like Jesus as the Promised One!
Whatever the reasons, John's support of Jesus clearly did not go as far as it might. With no clear Elijah, with Malachi's prophecy unfulfilled, Jesus' task was rendered incalculably more difficult.
Vol. 3 - Part 6
The perfection which Jesus attained was to expand from him to his family and disciples. From there the nation of Israel and the entire world were to gradually evolve into higher and higher levels of moral and religious consciousness, modeled upon Jesus' example. We know, however, that this did not happen. Not only did John fail to support him, but, because of this, most of Jesus' fellow Jews failed to support him as well.
Indeed, when Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah finally came to the people, he was most sadly treated, particularly by the religious leaders. Some of the people listened to Jesus and often marveled at him, but their response was often focused on his miracles and healing rather than the truth he brought.
A few came to recognize him by the truth of this words, but the priests, scribes, and Pharisees, perhaps threatened by Jesus' works, consistently criticized his teaching as being contrary to the law of Moses. They viewed his miracles as coming from Beelzebub, the devil. (Mt. 12:24). they denied his Messiahship by saying that he blasphemed in referring to himself as the Son of God. (Jn. 12:33). By their frequent condemnation of Jesus, this leadership element alienated the people from him. Ultimately they bribed one of his disciples to betray him.
How can you believe?
In this hostile context, Jesus was clearly not able to disclose all that he wanted.
"We speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" (Jn. 3:11-12).
We may imagine that the "heavenly things" Jesus wished to share consisted of advanced knowledge concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. However, he could not convey such information to the people, because they did not believe in him.
The Gospel records indicate that Jesus did virtually everything possible to persuade his people to recognize and believe in him. He had preached about the Kingdom of Heaven he had come to establish. He frequently performed miraculous works in the hope that the people might see who he was. He had loved them with his whole being. Nevertheless, critical elements of Hebrew society failed to accept him as the Messiah, and repudiated his words and works. Matthew reports and angered Jesus rebuking them for their unbelief: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." (Mt. 11:21).
Jerusalem, the city of the Temple, had rejected Jesus, the true temple. He wept: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you!How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate." (Mt. 23:37-38). "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes . . . because you did not know the time of your visitation.") Lk. 19:42-44).
Jesus endeavored to make his fellow countrymen recognize him by his words, his works, and his prayers, but it was all in vain. In this context, Jesus began to speak of the return of the "Son of Man." Jesus did not mention a Second Advent from the beginning of his ministry. He did so only after it became apparent that his primary intention--that of inspiring the construction of a physical and spiritual Kingdom on earth--could not be realized.
Jesus was denied and crucified by God's chosen people--the very people who had fasted, prayed, offered tithes, prophesied, served God faithful, and longed for the Messiah throughout their suffering. However, let us be hesitant to blame the Jews of those times. If we had lived then and seen Jesus with our own eyes, quite possible we would also have denied him. This is particularly true in light of the fact that for many Jews there was apparently a missing element--Elijah--in the messianic formula.
The course changed
With the slowly developing conviction that his primary task of Kingdom-building was becoming less and less possible, Jesus was forced to change his course. A critical event in this transformation was Jesus' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke reports that at one point Jesus went upon a mountain to pray, with Peter, John and James accompanying him. During his prayer, Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, and his inevitable suffering was revealed to him.
"And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem." (Lk. 9:30-31).
Peter and the other disciples were heavy with sleep and were not fully aware of what had transpired. Peter's exclamation: "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for the Elijah." (Lk. 9:33) reflects his excitement at the spiritual manifestation of these two great figures, but he had missed the whole point.
The Gospels indicate that about this time, Jesus began to intimate to his disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem and be killed. Significantly, the disciples were shocked. Matthew tells us that Jesus' chief disciple Peter was so alarmed as to exclaim, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (Mt. 16:22). Peter, as an intimate of Jesus, would probably have known what Jesus' intentions were. The obvious implication is that Jesus' remarks concerning his suffering were upsetting because such statements were in complete contrast to everything Jesus had taught up to then.
Although to the outer circle of followers, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God only in parables, to his intimate disciples he revealed more. Luke records Jesus as telling his disciples: "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables . . . " (Lk. 8:10)
Taught by Jesus, his close followers knew that Jesus was working to establish the Kingdom of Heaven. With this knowledge, John and James once asked Jesus: "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." (Mk. 10:37) Regardless of such petitions, on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, Jesus had resolved to confront the imminent crisis. He had to take an alternative path, the path to the cross. Thus he was diverted from the victorious course prophesied by Isaiah.
We are told that just prior to the crucifixion, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wept and prayed three times that the cup of suffering might pass from him -- that he be spared from death. (Mk. 14)
In view of Divine Principle, the reasons for Jesus' tears are several. For one, Jesus understood that through him God had wanted to fulfill the original ideal He had in creation. As one with a unique communion with God, we may imagine he knew clearly of the sorrow in God's heart over His broken creation. Jesus has sought to relieve that grief, but with his own rejection he realized that the Divine will was being frustrated again. God's sorrow would only intensify. Unable to succeed completely in his mission, Jesus must have felt sorrowful himself.
At the same time, Israel had undergone repeated trials and had suffered long in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. By rejecting him, Jesus recognized the likelihood that Israel would lose God's blessing and her long suffering would become meaningless. Deeply loving his people, Jesus may have sensed a bleak destiny facing them.
Jesus may also have foreseen that his followers would suffer as he had suffered. He was going the path of the crucifixion. Could their fate be any better? Furthermore, since the establishment of God's Kingdom was postponed, humanity's suffering in this Satanic world would also inevitably continue.
Filled with thoughts of these things, Jesus must have felt great pain and anguish. Certainly such feelings are suggested by the Gospel reports:
"And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful even to death; remain here, and watch with me.' And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, 'My Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as though wilt.'" (Mt. 26:37-39)
Some paradoxes resolved
For a moment, let us look at this Gethsemane scene from the other side of the argument. If we thing that the crucifixion was God's predetermined course of saving mankind, why was Jesus so sorrowful in accepting it? Why would he pray that the cup of suffering pass from him? The argument has been made that the Gethsemane scene simply reflects the emergency of Jesus' "human weakness."
Nevertheless, it is a fact that numerous martyrs have gone to their to their deaths joyfully and serenely. The first martyr, Stephen, who died by stoning, went to his death with a joyful heart. (Acts 7:54-59). Likewise, it is said that Peter, faced as Jesus was by crucifixion, reacted simply by requesting he be allowed to be crucified upside down.
Beyond the religious sphere, the revolutionary war patriot Nathan Hale was sorry he could die only once for his country. Could Jesus be less heroic than these? Could Jesus, the Savior of mankind, have less faith than others when he prayed to have the cup taken from him? Certainly not. He desperately prayed, even three times because he knew his death on the cross was not God's primary will. In his agony he sought some possible way to fulfill the divine mandate.
We may also note that if Jesus' crucifixion had been God's predetermined plan, the role of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, should have been vital in God's sight. If Judas' action had helped to accomplish God's will, why did he hang himself afterward?
The action of Judas was rebellious, and Jesus is reported as clearly displaying his anger at Judas' treachery: "...but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it would have been better for that man if he had not been born." (Mt. 26:24)
From this and other reasons given above, Divine Principle stresses that the cross was not the primary intention of Jesus, although it quickly became the preoccupation of the early Church. Jesus came to fulfill God's original ideal. He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly.
Had Jesus been able to gain acceptance by his people, world history would have developed along very different lines that it did. Following Jesus, we may imagine the people of Israel would have become the enlightened center of a glorious new world. The subsequent split between Judaism and Christianity would never have occurred.
The early Christians would never have had to confront their terrible sufferings and the pain and conflict which humanity has faced over the past 2,000 years would have been avoided. Also, since the mission of the Messiah would have been completed, there would be no need for the prophesied Second Coming.
To understand Jesus' mission in terms of a defeat, however, would be an error. As we have indicated, God is seeking both the physical and spiritual salvation of humanity. As a result of the crucifixion, however, the physical selves of mankind are still subject to satanic invasion. Reflecting this reality, Paul writes to his fellow Christians in Rome: "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate....For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind." (Rom. 7:14-23)
Despite the frustration of God's primary intention for Jesus, Divine Principle affirms that the secondary course adopted by Jesus salvaged a victory. Though the crucifixion was a defeat, the resurrection was a victory opening the way to spiritual salvation for all people. Through the resurrection. God opened the way to a realm free from Satanic accusation.
While it is true that no physical body, including that of Jesus, can survive biological death, spiritual bodies are not affected by the end of physical existence. Therefore, Jesus' body was resurrected. This resurrection gave a new religious life to those who had united with Jesus in spirit. Because God had sacrificed the son He loved the most for the sake of those who rejected him, Satan no longer had a base from which to accuse God. The cross was Satan's victory, but the resurrection was God's.Through it, God could begin a new dispensation of spiritual salvation through the resurrected Jesus.
Even after Jesus' appearance on earth, the world continues to suffer under the power of evil. Complete redemption, both spiritual and physical, thus awaits the Second Advent. Through the word of the new Messiah, the prospect of the liquidation of humanity's sin and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth will be offered again.
Volume 3, Part 9
Much of Christian thought has been devoted to the vexing problem of the Nature of Jesus. For centuries, his own question, "Who do men say that I am?" (Mk. 8:27) has been debated heatedly by both theologians and laymen alike. Was Jesus really God Himself in a human body? Was he only man? If the former, how could God so limit Himself? If the latter, how did Jesus differ from other men? Did he exist before his birth? What is his relationship to the Holy Spirit? The Principle sheds light on these age-old questions and clarifies them.
Divine Principle explains that Jesus is best understood by reference to God's original ideal for man. On several levels a person who fulfills this ideal has special value and significance.
Firstly, with much of historic Christian theology, Divine principle affirms that every person is created as a child of God. When a person matures according to the image of God within him, we may think of him as embodying true personhood; in Jesus' words, he is "perfect as (the) heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48) He becomes a person in whom the spirit of God dwells, a visible manifestation of the invisible God. In this sense we may even say he becomes God's body.
Secondly, since all human beings resemble the universal aspects of God, we all share a common nature. However, each person also embodies unique characteristics from God. No two people are the same. Ultimately, a person who fulfills the ideal of perfection can never be duplicated, throughout all of eternity. He has his own eternal uniqueness.
Same value as the cosmos
Thirdly, Jesus once asserted that a person's life was more precious than the whole world. As the Principle of Creation explains, each human being is a microcosm of the cosmos. His spirit encapsulates the elements of the spirit world, and his physical body those of the physical world. For Divine Principle, since each person encapsulates the cosmos, he has the same value as the cosmos.
Thus understanding a true person's value, let us address an issue that had bedeviled the Christian church for 2,000 years: Is Jesus God himself, or is he simply a human being?
Divine Principle affirms Jesus is an example of a true person - a person who has fulfilled God's original ideal for man. He was a visible expression of the invisible God, a man of unique individuality and a person of cosmic value. As we may imagine, his significance is thus hardly to be compared with that of ordinary fallen man. Jesus was the man for others, the man who, as Emerson put it, plowed his name into the history of the world. He was a true man, and although all of us are meant to be like him, none of us yet is.
The Principle does not simply deny the conventional belief that Jesus is God, because, as we have indicated, a true person is one with God, However, Jesus was divine precisely because he was fully human.
None of Jesus' contemporaries and disciples appeared to have thought he was God Himself. The evidence before them indicated otherwise. Even his own brothers, for example, failed to recognize his identity. And although the Apostle Paul did not meet Jesus during his life-time, his proximity in time to him and his disciples led him to write:
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)
"For as by one man's disobedience mane were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19)
"For as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man )Jesus) has come also the resurrection of the dead." (I Cor. 15:21)
Nevertheless, many Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus is God, the Creator. In support of their belief, these believers point to several passages from the New Testament, especially from the Gospel of John. One of the most common citations is the fourth gospels' famous prologues:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made," (Jn 1:1-3)
Although it has been the practice of some to interpret the Word as referring to Jesus himself, it is thought by others that the author of the fourth Gospel did not necessarily intend it this way. Historically, the concept of the Word, or Logos, originates in the Greek mystical tradition. The author of the fourth Gospel adapted it to express his won understanding of Jesus' significance.
For Divine Principle, the Word or Logos, was God's ideal for his creation. That the Word was with God in the beginning does not mean Jesus, the man, had pre-existed his birth. It means that the Word, God's ideal of the perfected person, had pre-existed its expression into human form. Jesus existed from the beginning, nut only in the sense that he was the fulfillment of the Word.
Similarly, when the disciple Philip once asked Jesus to show him God, John reports that Jesus replied:
"He who has seen me has seen the Father: how can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (Jn. 14:9-10)
Again, such a passage has frequently been interpreted to mean that Jesus was God Himself. Nevertheless, this is not the case. As explained above, Jesus was a visible manifestation of the invisible God and is one with God in heart. Therefore, one who has seen him has seen the Father. As the person who realized the original ideal of God for man, Jesus was simply the visible, human expression of the invisible God.
For many the belief that Jesus was God Himself is an expression of a general tendency to deify our heroes. Recently, for example, Professor John Hick's The Myth of God Incarnate, argued that the only way the early Christians could express their adoration and devotion to Jesus was to make him the equivalent of God.
Asserting a similar point, the well-known scholar Dr. Joseph Campbell has noted that not only in Christianity has the original humanity of the founder been obscured, but in Buddhism, as well, "the biography of Gautama was turned into a supernatural life."
Paul referred to Jesus as the last Adam. (I Cor. 15:45) for the Divine Principle, this is one of those brilliant insights which quite regrettably was never taken up and elaborated upon by succeeding generations of Christian thinkers. Nevertheless, its importance is clear. In becoming the new Adam, Jesus was to fulfill the divine mandate given to his original ancestor. Because Adam, the first man, did not fulfill his divine mission, another man as to come in his place -- as a man.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus at one point asserted his humanity, not his deity. I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. (Jn. 14:28) By saying that the Father is greater than he, Jesus made clear distinction between himself and God.
At another point Jesus is reported as drawing a sharp distinction between himself and God, exclaiming, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Lk. 18:19)
The Man Jesus
Beyond such statements, Jesus was in appearance no different from other men. Even his brothers failed to see anything unusual about him. One of them, James, did not join the Christian movement until after the crucifixion. Because of his very human qualities, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan.
According to the earliest Gospels, he often retired to a lonely spot to pray because, as a man, he needed strength from God to continue his exhausting ministry. Like anyone else, he was hungry and sleepy at times. More than once, the Evangelists tell us, he broke down and wept.
Jesus also became disheartened by the opposition encountered from the Pharisees and the disbelief of his fellow-countrymen even in his hometown of Nazareth. He was filled with distress when his inner circle betrayed, denied and then abandoned him to his fate.
For proof that Jesus was thoroughly human consider his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and his lonely cry from the cross, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Mk. 15:34)
The early Christian theologian Athanasius of Alexandria argued that Jesus could be of help to us and could be our Saviour only if he were one of us in every respect.Divine Principle would agree adding that if Jesus were not subject as a human being to temptations similar to those facing the rest of us, he could never liberate us from Satanic dominion. If Jesus were not human, his life, his teaching, and his example would have no significance for us.
The Divine Mission
Nevertheless, Jesus is different. In addition to being a man who fulfilled the ideal of creation, Jesus is set off from other people by his mission. Jesus is described by John's Gospel as the true vine and his followers as its branches; only as part of the tree could they bear good fruit.
By being spiritually reborn through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, a fallen person can be restored as a spiritual child, and can ultimately come himself to resemble Jesus. If Jesus was the first fully human man, others were to achieve their own full humanity in relation to him. Jesus was the temple of God, and all others could become temples by uniting with him. In this divine mission Jesus was unique; but this mission he was to fulfill as a man.
New Life, New Birth
One of the most famous statements in the New Testament is Jesus' assertion to a stunned Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of God, one must be born anew. (Jn. 3:3)
Regardless of the historical age, ever since the remark of the concept of rebirth has been a core doctrine within the Christian faith. In light of the Principle, let us investigate why humanity is called to rebirth.
As we have suggested, if Adam and Eve had fulfilled the original ideal of God, becoming true human beings, true partners and True Parents, then the Kingdom of Heaven on earth could have been realized centered on them.
However, because of the fall, Adam and Eve became false parents, giving birth specifically to children stained with sin and generally to a world we can call the Kingdom of Hell. In this world, fallen, conflicted men and women can never find liberation unless they are released from sin and born again into new life and new love.
As we know, however, we cannot be born without parents. To inherit God's love and grace, fallen persons need parents who can represent God to them. In this sense, Jesus came as the True Father to impart new life to all humanity. He is called the last Adam (I Cor. 15:45) and the Everlasting Father (Is. 9:6) because he was to be the True Father in the place of Adam.
But what of the mother's role? Just as for physical birth, for spiritual birth to occur there must be not only a True Father, but also a True Mother. Consequently, after the crucifixion, God gave Jesus the Holy Spirit as a mother spirit, or feminine spirit, to work with the risen Christ in Eve's place.
Making restitution for Eve's part in the Fall, the Holy Spirit inspires and comforts the human heart, leading us back to God.
Reflecting her feminine essence, the Holy Spirit is traditionally known as the comforter. As children are born through the love of parents, so through the give and take of love Jesus and the Holy Spirit give spiritual rebirth to all those who follow them.
We may thus understand Jesus and the Holy Spirit as spiritual True Father and True Mother. Being born again through Jesus and the Holy Spirit means that one's spirit is made new through the love of the spiritual True Parents.
Beyond this, however, Divine Principles emphasizes that complete restoration requires not just spiritual rebirth, but physical rebirth also. The division between spirit and body so poignantly described by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 7) is to be healed. This further dimension of rebirth will take place through the Second Coming.
One doctrine bearing the scars of centuries of debate and controversy within the Christian faith is that of the Trinity. Although Trinitarian speculations were hardly at the center of Jesus' message, the Christian Church of the fourth and fifth centuries found such concerns to be crucial.
Church councils were held at Nicea in 305 A.D. and Chalcedon in 451 A.D. to define how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the same Being and yet different. To explain it, the Church Fathers borrowed complicated concepts from Greek philosophy and beat down all objections to them. Today, Church historians recognize that the political maneuvering occurring at such councils would far out do most any Machiavellian scheming at a modern-day political convention. It is quite a remarkable narrative.
Let us look at the Trinity from the point of view of the Principle. It is commonly recognized that if the Fall of man had not occurred, God would not have needed Jesus and the Holy Spirit for the salvation of man. If Adam and Eve had perfected themselves as God's son and daughter, each becoming an embodiment of God's character, they would have been "...perfect as (their) Heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt. 5:48) and they would have attained the ideal of union with God in heart. (Jn. 14:20)
As God's true son and daughter, Adam and Eve could also have become true husband and wife, centered on God. If they had achieved all this, becoming the True Parents of humankind, together with God they would have formed the original Trinity, a Trinity centered on God's love and ideal.
However, because of the Fall, Adam and Eve became the false parents of man. We may say they formed a Trinity but it was centered on Satan. As a result, since God is still determined to fulfill the purpose of the creation, He called Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the second Adam and second Eve. Together with God they form a spiritual Trinity in the place of Adam and Eve.
As we have suggested, in establishing the spiritual Trinity centered on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit accomplished only the mission of the spiritual True Parents. For this reason, the Second Coming became necessary.
The purpose of the Lord of the Second Coming is thus to marry and establish the Trinity both spiritually and physically. Reflecting this fact, the Book of Revelation intimates a divine marriage at the close of the age. This is the Marriage of the Lamb, the marriage of True Adam and True Eve, and event which Divine Principle promises will hold great hope for all humanity.
"Let us rejoice and exult and give (God) the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready...(Rev. 19.7)
Although it has the support of much of modern scholarship, the Divine Principle assertion that Jesus' primary intention was other than the crucifixion departs from much traditional belief. Certainly for some, the Divine Principle revelation will be seen as heresy.
Nevertheless, one need not look far to realize that new understanding is needed. There is widespread agreement that if Christianity is to remain relevant to the modern world it must reinterpret its message in the light of intellectual, cultural and political changes going on all about us.
When in the 1960s certain theologians like Thomas J. Altizer of Emory University shocked everybody by announcing that "God is dead," they meant in part that the old theology had become completely irrelevant for modern man. Certainly the spiritual illness' of contemporary society--divorce, crime, drug abuse and the like--are hardly being adequately addressed by conventional teaching.
Nor have the assertions of traditional Christian thought been sufficient to avoid the rise of such pernicious secular religions as fascism and communism. Something different, something new, is required if the void is to be filled and Christian religion is to make a positive contribution toward a new, progressive civilization.
A well-known representation of Christ within the Roman Catholic faith depicts the "sacred heart of Jesus." The image shows him with his heart exposed, penetrated by an arrow and bleeding. It suggests that out of his love for humanity Jesus is bleeding, bleeding for the sin of man, bleeding for the pain of the world. He had come to relieve that pain, to lead the world back to God, but he was tragically rejected. His heart, and God's heart, will bleed until the time when the wheel of history leads mankind to full salvation in a restored Kingdom of God on earth.
Before such a day could ever be realized, of course, some people anticipate the "end of the world." Certainly a number of prophetic utterances in both Old and New Testaments indicate such an event will occur. We hear of the "sun being darkened," of the "stars falling from heaven," and of "a new heaven and a new earth." What do they mean? Are they relevant to us today?
Also, it has been said by many that we are now living in a new age in history. It is an age of vast change, of global interdependence, of cultural convergence. It is an age when man can truly reach to the stars, or destroy himself with the weapons of his own making. It is an age when the most dire prophecies of the bible could come to pass, or its brightest promises fulfilled. Which will it be?
The next section of the Home Study Course, Consummation of Human History, examines the meaning of the Biblical prophecy in light of God's ultimate goals in history, and looks at our modern age in terms of God's historical providence. Ultimately, Divine Principle promises a bright future for humanity.
Volume 4 - Part 1
In the Autumn of 1921, as he sped westward on the fabled Orient Express and gazed out on the moonlit Turkish countryside, the young British scholar Arnold Toynbee was inspired to jot down a list of topics on a half-sheet of paper. Little could he have known at that time, but thirty years later, having ranged over all recorded history and having examined the rise and fall of twenty-six civilizations, Toynbee had developed that list into his classic twelve-volume A Study of History.
Among his other conclusions, Toynbee came to feel that underlying the turbulent progress of human affairs was a divine purpose. "History", he wrote later, "is a vision of God's creation on the move."
Despite the extensiveness of Toynbee's research, there are many who would disagree with him. Karl Marx, for example, sneered at the spiritual dimension of existence and insisted that economic and class tension hold the real key to history and universal truth. Charles Darwin would no doubt argue that history simply express an evolutionary struggle whose solitary meaning is to be found in the survival of the fittest.
What can we look forward to in the future? A few centuries from now will our descendants be living in the Marxist materialist ideal of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"? Or may we more properly anticipate the prophetic, spiritual vision of the earthly Kingdom of God, such as Toynbee suggested?
On the other hand, perhaps we should envision no glorious fulfillment of history at all - whether it be proletarian or divine.
Certainly realities such as the atomic bomb, overpopulation and global resource depletion suggest the prognosis for the human family is not good. Supported by such grim realities, more than a few individuals cite the Bible to proclaim the final destruction of the earth and the end of time.
The second Letter of Peter, for example, states that at the end of history the heavens will pass away and the elements will be dissolved by fire (II Pet 3:10).
Likewise the Gospel of Matthew presents us with the vision of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from heaven.
With the combination of ancient prophecy and modern crisis, it is no accident that such books as Hal Lindsay's The Late Great Planet Earth have made such an impact with certain segments of our society.
Paradoxically, while apocalyptic Biblical references foretell the ultimate demise of our planet, other Biblical writers assure us it will endure eternally. The preacher of Ecclesiastes, for example, writes that "A generation goes and a generation comes, yet the earth remains forever." (Eccles. 1:4)
How then are we to understand the meaning of our past, and the prospects of our future? How is the God who is traditionally regarded as the Lord of history working in the present day? How may the apparently conflicting strains of Biblical prophecy be reconciled? Section Four of the Divine Principle Home Study Guide examines some of these issues of the "Consummation of Human History".
The Universal Ideal
Traditionally those from the Judeo-Christian heritage affirm that an almighty God created a first man and woman, placing them in a earthly paradise called by the author of Genesis the "garden of Eden". Since the original meaning of the Hebrew world for Eden is "delight" or "joy", we may surmise the Biblical belief is that man was originally intended to live a life of joy and delight.
For Divine Principle, such an ideal vision reflects the original hope of God. If the untoward event known as the Fall had not occurred, the spiritually mature Adam and Eve would have discovered true love and joy in living and would have multiplied descendants who would have inherited their spiritual blessing.
As these descendants multiplied, forming families and clans, we may imagine this mini-society would have overflowed the original garden, ultimately forming a society, nation and world centered on God. Had Adam and Eve attained oneness with God, the world itself would have become a global Garden of Eden. The Kingdom of God on earth would have been a substantial reality.
The idea that the world was originally intended to be harmonious, loving and beautiful is an assertion that is likely to play on the deepest layers of our cynicism. There is little in our experience that suggests human society could ever be this way. Nevertheless, we must recall we all experience life from a jaundiced perspective.
Had there been no disturbance at the essential core of human origins, had we ourselves been raised in a just and loving society, had, in many cases, our family experience been more nourishing than it was, we would be likely to see things from a quite different perspective. Perhaps then we would be able to see the possible reality of an ideal human society.
The question is with what spirit could this ideal have been achieved? For Divine Principle, it was to start with the loving individual and his family. And there was originally to be a complete unity between God and each person. Apostle Paul urged the early Christian at Ephesus to "be imitators of God" and to "walk in love." (Eph. 5:1-2) so all the people and families were to embody God's spirit, loving as He loves, had this spirit originally penetrated the earth, a history of goodness, peace, and prosperity for all people would have existed. In short, the world would have been a literal Garden of Eden, a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Some modern sage has observed that life is like an onion: a person unpeels it one layer at a time, and he cries a lot. Such is the life we have come to know in a fallen world, separated from God's love.
In response to this sad reality, the vision of a just and loving society has recurrently emerged at different time and places throughout human history. Even such a figure as Charlemagne, no ingenue in human affairs, is said to have slept with a copy of St. Augustine's City of God under his pillow and to have sought to realize its promise in the vast kingdom he governed.
In medieval times the popular legends of the exploits of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round table, in the idyllic realm of Camelot bespoke this universal yearning for an ideal. In modern times the Camelot legend has been recalled in descriptions of the hope and vision John F. Kennedy brought to the American presidency in the early 1960s.
Sometimes the vision of an ideal occurs in the unlikeliest of places. In the eyes of those unacquainted with pre-revolutionary Russian piety, the proclamation by Feodor Dostoyevsky of his country's messianic, historical role comes as shock or even a cruel joke. But in June of 1880, during the dedication of Pushkin's statute, the literary giant announced a Russian mission to usher in the brotherhood of all humanity, based on religious, not political ideals. Far from exploding into laughter, his distinguished audience listened with rapt attention. He was greeted with shouts of genius!, saint! and prophet! Something in the deepest layers in the Slavic soul passionately responded not only to Dostoyevsky's love affair with his native Russia but also to his call for a universal religious, socio-economic order inspired by Russian spirituality and social ideals.
Not off the mark
Although such visionary dreams as those of Charlemagne and Dostoyevsky have not yet been realized, Divine Principle teaches their idealism is not far from the mark. Since God originally intended a world of good, sooner or later He must do something to remedy the existing situation. God is absolute, eternal and unchanging. If God is therefore to be God, He must achieve His original ideal. A defeated God is no God at all. Thus God intends to restore man to the uncorrupted state he had before the Fall and finally eradicate evil and suffering from human existence.
Reflecting this determination, Isaiah writes in the spirit of the Lord: "I have spoken and I will bring it to pass: I have purposed, and I will do it." (Is. 46:11)
The process of history then is the process of realizing this original ideal. Since human history began with evil and suffering, it became a history of God's efforts to restore the original, but lost purpose. The ultimate goal of history is thus to supplant the chronicle of suffering we have known with the story of goodness which God originally intended.
In their own way, there are other modern thinkers who also recognize that one day humanity is destined to achieve some type of universal ideal. The eminent Jesuit thinker M.C. D'Arcy, for example, suggests that the things that have worked against us can come actually to work for us: "Historians, for the most part, are prepared to admit a kind of spiral movement ... towards a universal society ... without his willing it, man has been forced to unite to form into nations and leagues, through the pressure of events ... and what with economic and social interdependence and the threat of nuclear arms, and international society is in prospect."
In the same vein, well-known Jesuit scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin sees the universe being inexorably led to union with God. He foresees a day when humankind will reach what he calls the Omega point. At this point man becomes united with God, each individual is Christlike, and the world becomes divine.
Another French scientist, Lecompte duNuoy, has written a similar process in his book, Human Destiny. He concludes his book by asking all men to remember that the destiny of man is incomparable, but that we must collaborate in the transcendent task.
With Chardin and duNuoy, Divine Principle affirms a historical process of humankind's movement toward God--a movement inspired by God Himself. Goodness marches on toward its goal in spite of numerous obstacles. From Moses to Jesus, from Buddha to Confucius, from the early disciples to our own times, God is working to transform the world according to His dispensation of restoration. Indeed He has been working to spark a fire wherever the heart, mind and soul of man have been so inclined to receive it. Ultimately then, the suffering history we have known will be supplanted by the creative and joyful history God originally planned.
If we think pictorially, we may thus say the line of history is no straight but circular, bringing us at the end to what history should have been at the beginning. The end of history is thus the fulfillment by God of His original ideal
Divine Principle, Volume 4 - Part 3
Divine Principle points out that if history had started from a source of goodness, it would be eternally good as God is eternal good. Therefore, this history would have no end. However, because man fell away from God human history began apart from Him and thus, as it is, has no eternal foundation. In some way, the history we know must eventually end. Such a time is known in the Bible as the Last Days.
Seeing the Last Days only as an end, however, is to miss the point. The Last Days of one era are simultaneously the first days of a new one. It is not a literal end, but a time of transition.
A historical example may illustrate this point. It is commonly said that in 410 A.D. the Roman Empire fell. To state that the vast empire collapsed, however, is not to assert that the land and its people were destroyed but rather to point out that Roman power and governmental authority had come to an end. The nation itself continued under new rule.
By the same token, the destruction of Hitler's National Socialism and the Third Reich in World War II did not mean the elimination of the German state. Germany today, succeeding Nazi totalitarianism has become a leading member of the democratic alliance. In the same way, even though the world will go through a radical transformation in the Last days, when this period ends, it inevitably will be succeeded by a New Era.
As we have indicated, since God has been working to restore humankind back to goodness, humanity's history will progressively be a history of goodness. That this is the case is due both to the fact that God has labored for this ideal and to the fact that we ourselves seek it.
In the Last Days, then, a tremendous change from the satanic domination of humanity to the beginnings of the Kingdom of God on earth will develop. Instead of expecting a string of frightening, cataclysm, physical events, including annihilation of the earth, we can instead anticipate a new age with great joy and hope.
Reflecting this reality in symbolic terms, the Book of Revelation promises the magnificent, ultimate union of heaven and earth, of God and man:
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with me. He will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them'" (Rev. 21:2-4)
Last Days Past and Present
The coming transformation of human history will not be the first time that such endeavor, change in all areas is the pattern rather than the exception. Both geological and historical records reveal periods of great transformation. Geologically, the ice age, for example, altered the entire landscape of the earth and affected our global climate. Earthquakes and volcanic eruption have had similar effects.
Because of His heart and love, God has constantly worked for a transformed world. However, to accomplish this goal two things are necessary: God must do His part and His children must do theirs. Unfortunately, each time God has ventured a try to a new history, human beings have failed to complete the effort. Since God's purpose can never be fulfilled by Him alone, history has continued in its tragic ways. To achieve the goal of a just and loving society, God needs our cooperation.
The Bible tells us tow times that divine efforts toward radical alterations of society were frustrated by human foibles. The first involved the massive flood reported in Genesis. Here we are told the Lord "determined to make an end of all flesh" (Gen. 6-13), but spared Noah and his family to "establish [His] covenant" with them and inaugurate a new beginning.
Through Noah, God sought a new world. Obviously, since evil and tragedy still flourished thereafter, something went awry with the plan. God's hopes were disappointed by man's actions.
The second Biblical account of God's struggle for a new beginning lies in the story of Jesus. Approximately, 400 years before Jesus came, the prophet Malachi prophesied of events to take place with the coming of the Messiah:
"For behold, the days comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble: the day that come shall burn them up" (Mal. 4:17).
Such was the purification Jesus was to bring. Evil was to be eradicated and a new era was to dawn. Indeed, the "Kingdom of Heaven [was} at hand" (Mt. 4:17).
Jesus was coming to separate good from evil and to inspire a world in which the good might prosper. Yet when he came, he was crucified by the very people whom he hoped to transform. Coming with a revolutionary vision, he was seen as a blaspheming against God, as violating the Mosaic law, and as undercutting traditional Hebrew morality.
Threatened by the power of this young upstart, the established religious powers, the scribes and Pharisees, united against him and had him killed. Again God's efforts were frustrated by the failure of His children.
Since Jesus was unable to bring about the end of history, he promised another "Last Days" when he would return to accomplish his original purpose.
Historically, then those of the Christian faith have awaited another—and final—"end". For Divine Principle, as we shall see, society is now approaching that end which is at the same time a beginning.
Before we examine the significance of the present days, let us quickly look at some historical expectations of what the Last Days will be like. The Bible is replete with apocalyptic prophecy pointing to a cataclysmic end to the earth and all its works. If we accept the Divine Principle view of God's ultimate purposes in history, however, we must be sure of literal interpretations of such apocalyptic imagery.
Although dramatic cataclysmic events could well attend the transformation of this world from a sovereignty of evil to a sovereignty of good. Divine Principle suggests that as a general rule biblical apocalypticism is best understood spiritually and symbolically.
Divine Principle avoids the violently literal apocalypticism fashionable in fundamentalist circles for much the same reasons that Origen of Alexandria rejected it 1,000 years ago: He, who had emphasized the perfection of divine love, could not bring himself to believe that the wrath of God was a final expression of that love.
If God in His wrath
According to the Principle, if God in His wrath devastated the earth (along with a number of other supernatural cataclysmic actions) as envisioned by some millenarians, this would either mean that God had given up His plan for the reconciliation of mankind or that He had made a bad mistake in the first place. For Divine Principle neither option is viable.
Then how shall we interpret apocalyptic material? The Principle would agree with Professor William G. Doty of Rutgers University, for example, who has pointed out that apocalyptic writing "...is largely figurative language, richly textured with the language forms of symbols, images and metaphors" (Contemporary New Testament Interpretation).
The prophecy in Revelation 21 of "a new heaven and a new earth" is a case in point. Exiled on the Mediterranean island of Patmos, the author of this fascinating and much-discussed book writes of his vision:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (Rev. 21:1).
A new kind of world
For Divine Principle, this passage may be best understood as referring to the transformation of the earth as we know it, with all its hatreds and wars and sufferings, into a new king of world characterized by justice, peace and well-being. Only in such a fashion will the "first earth" pass away. Since God's Kingdom is to be eternal, and the earth is the place where He will establish His Kingdom, then the earth must be eternal also.
Similar to this famous passage from Revelation, the second Letter of Peter also suggests the demise of our world. In writing of the second coming day of the Lord, II Peter 3:12 warns us that "the heavens will be kindled and dissolved and the elements will melt with fire!"
Again, we must avoid a literal interpretation of such a dismal forecast for God's creation. For God to permit such an event would be a negation of His original purpose in creating humankind. As a parent, He seeks to have His children dwell in love and happiness on earth.
In addition, as we have mentioned, such dire forecasts contradict other Biblical insights, such as the Book of Ecclesiastes' promise that: "a generation come, and a generation goes, but the earth remains forever" (Eccles. 1:4).
Judgment by fire
In all probability the fire referred to in II Peter 3:12 indicates a type of judgment. In Luke 12:49, for example, Jesus exclaims that:
"I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled!"
Jesus, of course was no arsonist. However, as the prophet Jeremiah suggested, the word of God has the same purifying effect as does fire (Jer. 23:39). Rather than igniting a literal fire, Jesus brought a purification which was symbolized by the image of a fire. This purification took place not by fire but by the Divine Word.
God's Word confronts people with their own corruption and their own limits. "How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" asks Peter (Mt. 18:21). And Jesus replies not seven times, "but seventy times seven." In this encounter Peter's inner limits are exposed and challenged by Jesus' words. The Master's words both judge and purify the disciple. By the same token, the idea that in the Last Days the earth is to be consumed by fire suggests how it will be cleansed. The earth will be purified by the Truth of God.
Another spectacular sounding and familiar prophecy is found in Paul's first Letter to the Thessalonians. Here the Apostle promises the faithful that they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air:
"For the Lord himself will come down with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
While this statement has been a source of hope for conservative believers the world over, we must see it in perspective. For one thing, Biblical scholars note that Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians is the first of all his letters and thus reflects only the thinking of his early public ministry. While we cannot see into the mind of Paul, it seems that at that point he him-self, with the great majority of the early Christian church, was anticipating the early return of Jesus in some supernatural way.
With the long delay in Jesus' return, Paul's thinking seems to have undergone an evolution, such that in later letters he no longer seems to wait Jesus' return on the clouds. In Philippians 1:21-23, for example, Paul writes that he looks forward to his own death, for it is through that event that he will finally meet Christ.
From another point of view also we may be doubtful of taking the Thessalonians passage literally. Regardless of the intellectual development of Paul, in light of the Principle, which emphasizes that God's ideal is to be realized on earth, not in the skies, we must regard his early Thessalonians statement as figurative on the face of it. In the Bible "heaven" usually refers to the holy and exalted real under the sovereignty of good, while "earth" other refers to the unholy or sinful realm dominated by evil.
The phrase "Our Father, who are in heaven", for example, does not primarily mean that God is located in the sky, but rather refers to the holy and exalted realm of God's existence. Thus to "meet the Lord in the air" should not be understood as referring to the physical elevation of Christians to meet Christ in the sky; perhaps rather it can be best seen as referring to the development of inner spiritual qualities such that Jesus' followers are elevated to become one with Christ inwardly.
Through the leaders of Israel had been faithful to God, as they understood him, and eagerly awaited the Messiah, they were unable to accept Jesus when he came.In his common humanity, he did not conform to their own extravagant preconceptions. How can faithful, spiritually conscious people today be sure that they also, like the ancient Jews , will not fail to recognized God's new dispensation when it arrives? Perhaps it too will arrive in a wholly different manner than expected.
The danger of this happening is increased greatly by the character of the language in much of the apocalyptic material in the Bible. Apocalyptic material by its very nature is difficult to understand, so that a variety of interpretations, many of them bizarre, are possible. Failure to take a proper approach to it can result in a narrow-minded blindness and even a tragic rejection of God's continuing revelation to man. One must be open, then, to new understanding.
In summarizing its view of apocalyptic, Divine Principle would support the view of Germany's Professor Jungen Moltmann, well-known as the architect of the "theology of hope". Moltmann stressed that the world should not be viewed as the waiting room of the soul's journey to heaven but rather as a battleground for freedom and the arena for creativity. Both Moltmann and Divine Principle would agree with a remark by Walter Rauschenbusch, the Baptist father of the Social Gospel:
"Ascetic Christianity called the world evil and left it. Humanity is waiting for a revolutionary Christianity which will call the world evil and change it."
Volume 4 - Part 5
It was not without reason that after the crucifixion the disciples of Jesus expected the quick return of their lord. Jesus had indicated that they should. Matthew reports him telling his disciples:
Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste my death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom (Mt 16:28).
That the hopes of the early Christians were dashed has never dissuaded the generations of their successors. Churches of every age have believed that their time was the Last Days and therefore the time for Christ's return.
The Millerites, for example, the forerunners of the modern day Seventh-Day Adventists, were born in the expectation that Christ would return between March 1843 and March 1844. Their conviction was so strong that in anticipation of the great day many of the faithful disposed of their material goods. In the 20th-century the Jehovah's Witnesses initially proclaimed Christ return in 1914 to inaugurate his Kingdom. Even though he did not return physically. Witnesses nevertheless still affirm that Christ returned spiritually at that time.
Clearly, if one is to assert a certain time as the Last Days, he must have sound reason to do so. Mere speculation, dreams, intuitions and astrological wonders can hardly be a persuasive basis upon which to proclaim the actual arrival of the end of the age. More sound and rational criteria must be found.
Unlike the Past
Without particular reference to the concept of the Last Days, a number of people have sensed that something new is happening in our time. Former Cornell Professor Alvin Toffler, for example, in his classic analysis of change in today's world, vividly affirms the fact that we have entered an age totally unlike the past:
"By changing our relationship to the resources that surround us, by violently expanding the scope of change, and, most crucially, by accelerating its pace, we have broken irretrievably with the past. We have cut ourselves off from the old ways of thinking, of feeling, of adapting. We have set the stage for a completely new society and we are now racing toward it." (Future Shock)
In addition to Toffler, others also see that we have entered a new age. Speaking from his own vast experience, the late Indian Prime Minister Nehru argued that humankind was "leaving the age of religion and politics, and...entering the age of science and spirituality".
Canadian media-guru Marshal McLuhan has stated that we have left the age of communication through print and are living in an electronic age in which "a totally new environment has been created'. This, he says, is changing man's consciousness, social structure and culture and is hurtling him toward a coming "global village".
As an alternative to the global village, of course, we have the potential of nuclear holocaust. Such modern films as Dr. Strangelove and On the Beach have reflected only too well the popular awareness of this prospect facing humankind.
Arnold Toynbee, among others, has recognized such cataclysmic prospects, yet affirms that this very threat can be the source of a radically new and higher world order:
"We are now moving into a chapter in human history in which our choice is going to be, not between a whole world and a shredded up world, but between one world and no world. I believe that the human race is going to choose life and good, not death and evil. I therefore believe in the imminence of one world, and I believe that, in the 21st century, human life is going to be a unity again in all its aspects and activities". (New York Times)
New spiritual trends
Beyond there more or less secular commentators, there are many new spiritual trends now abroad which suggest something special about our age, For one thing, more people are striving for self-realization by seeking inward truth.
The eminent Berkeley sociologists Robert Bellah and Charles Glock document the rise of a new religious consciousness among idealistic youth, beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The entry on the scene of the New Religions and their phenomenal growth a decade later, testifies to a new spirituality afoot in the land. Moreover, evangelical Christianity is prospering. This has even extended the charismatic experience and "gifts of the spirit" to formerly conventional, nominal Christians. Much of this has developed since 1960.
Despite these provocative assertions and hopeful stirrings, can we say our day is indeed the period of the Last Days? Jesus said that we could know by the sings around us:
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates".
What kinds of signs would indicate that he is "at the very gates", that in fact we are in the dawn of the Kingdom? What things would make sense as indicators of the advent of the Kingdom?
Volume 4 Part 6
The goal of human history is the establishment of God's original ideal, which is the world based on the three blessings of individual maturity, multiplication through true marital love, and creative dominion over the universe. If our era is the Last Days, therefore, we should be able to see signs that these three promises are being realized.
Let's examine our era with this idea in mind.
The first blessing involves the attainment of spiritual maturity, or "perfection". A spiritually mature person is one who enjoys fully his freedom of thought and action, who embodies and expressed God's love to others and who has a heart of love for God's creation. Such a person, of course, was Jesus. He lived the life that is lived in the Kingdom of Heaven and was the model for us all.
As we know, because of the Fall, humanity could not realize this quality of life. One day, however, we are meant to achieve it. Indeed, the period of the Last Days if the final stage in God's progressive effort to restore each person to this state.
At the present time many people are thirsting deeply for greater spiritual advancement. This inclination is evident in the recent worldwide interest in new faiths as well as in movements toward universal love, liberty, equality, and human rights and dignity.
In addition, we may point to the modern development of man's spiritual sensibilities. According to Divine Principle each person is created to become one in heart with God and to be able to communicate fully with Him. However, because of the Fall, our first ancestors and all their descendants fell into a state where they were insensitive to the presence of God. For this reason, the Heavenly Father is felt by many to be remote, if not even incommunicado.
As the Bible indicates, however, communication with God and the spirit world will be restored in the Last Days:
"...in the last day....I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my man-servants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my spirit". (Acts 2:17-18)
Recent increases in spiritual experiences and psychic phenomena worldwide reflect the phenomena mentioned in Acts. Such events as the well publicized experience of Bishop James Pike with his deceased son, the publication of such books as Dr. Raymond Moody's Life After Life, and the emerging awareness of the reality of extrasensory phenomenon suggest a coming breakthrough in communication with the spirit world.
This emerging restoration of our heart and spirit indicate that humanity is in the initial stages of restoring the first blessing.
God's second blessing to man—the blessing of multiplication- involved the ability of Adam and Eve to become godly parents and on this foundation to create an ideal family, and then a true society and world centered on that family.
In other words, this second joy is the ability to create a true family and, growing out of this, to foster the realization of one global family throughout the world.
However, as we know, Adam and Eve fell, resulting in a tragic corruption of their parental role. All of humankind inherited their distorted character, thus realizing a world under an evil sovereignty.
As a result, the process of restoration became necessary. God has had to work through religion and through different aspects of civilization to guide man toward the establishment of His original ideal—a unified global culture based on familial love.
If we take a glance at history we can see how God has struggled to realize this original goal. Historically, many different cultures have come into existence. Through time, however, as Arnold Toynbee has pointed out, higher cultures have emerged centered on rising new religions. Through a process of absorption of the varied and numerous lower cultures by the higher and more universal ones, a consolidation of cultures has taken place.
As a result, there are only four major cultures remaining: Judeo-Christian, Moslem, Far Eastern (based on Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism) and Hindu. This convergent flow of history shows the trend toward man's establishing one world culture—and that God's second blessing is being restored.
It was not without reason then that such scholars as the D'Arcy and McLuhan, as well as Toynbee himself, anticipated the present-day emergence of a universal society.
In addition to these long-term developments, short-range trends also point toward a coming world unity. Since World War II, the human community has to an unprecedented extent become aware of the need for international cooperation and world government. This awareness has given rise to the United Nations and other international commissions and organizations, all concerned with international cooperation.
Everything from food reserves to the use of ocean resources, from atomic power and ecology to trade are now matters of international concern and action. The establishment of such organizations as the International Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the world Bank all reflect the increasing convergence of life on planet Earth.
Also, because of the tremendous advance in transportation and communications, the world has "shrunk" to such an extent that we can travel to almost any part of the world in a few hours. Travel to other countries has increased tremendously, bringing about unprecedented intention and understanding among different peoples. We find ourselves living in a world community where the races, nationalities, customs, cultures, and products of the world intermingle and harmonize as never before.
In the view of Divine Principle, all of those hopes and trends will reach fruition when the final gifts of history arrive, the Lord of the Second Coming and the new universal ideology that he brings. It is through the new Lord that the one world lost at the beginning of history, will finally be restored.
The third blessing given by God to mankind involves the right and ability of a mature person to have dominion over God's creation. Originally, dominion was to be both spiritual and physical, internal and external. That is even though man was to dominate the physical world through his physical facilities, he was intended to do so with an inward heart of love. While this heart was lost through the Fall, it is now being restored.
Our moral consciousness has evolved through history, leading us into a new sense of responsibility vis-a-vis the physical universe. We are aware we may no longer abuse our environment; we must care for it, if it is to care and provide for us. In the new age, therefore, instead of the exploitation of new resources, humanity will love and care for the creation. We will think of our new dominion over creation in terms not of power alone, but of love.
Evidence of the restoration of humanity's love for the creation can be seen in the ecology and conservation movements, in societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, in drives to restore polluted areas, and in organizations and clubs formed for the appreciation of nature.
Beyond this internal dimension, man is restoring his external dominion as well, primarily through science and technology. Tremendous scientific progress has taken place in this century. Through this humanity has been gaining control over the land, sea, air and even outer space. Despite significant problems that face us, through such things as mass production, high yield crops, transformation of deserts to farmlands, and environmental control we have the hope of being able to create an ideal standard of living for all people.
Use of the ocean floor and even both polar caps are also examples of man's ability to turn the creation into an ideal home. V.C. Ferkiss, in his Technological Man: The Myth and Reality, predicts that in the very near future our control over the environment is to be incredibly expanded. In particular, the oceans will provide a wealth of resources undreamed until now and, according to Ferkiss, "will become as domesticated as the land surface of the planet."
The advent of the computer has also been a powerful factor in the expansion of man's dominion. Regarding the latest step in computer development, the arrival of the smart machines that can think for themselves, Newsweek magazine reports we are at the dawn of an era that is comparable to the industrial revolution and that will "change forever" humanity's way of life. According to Newsweek sources:
"The new technology offers potential solutions to humanity's most intractable problems—the allocation of energy resource, food enough for all, and the worldwide improvement of health care" (June 30, 1980)
Evidence that the present is the End of Time, and therefore the stage just prior to the restoration of God's third blessing, can thus be seen in the developing concern and love for nature and in the tremendous development of science and technology. As we can see that the three blessing are in the process of being restored to humankind, so we can anticipate we are entering the age of realization of God's Kingdom. The establishment of God's ideal world is upon us. Indeed, we are in the Last Days.
Much as been written in recent years of the "existential movement"—a decisive moment in time when to act is to bring liberation and growth, and to falter is to promote stagnation and death. In the providence of God, humankind has now entered such critical time.
Grasping the promise of such a moment makes no small demands on the internal freedom and spiritual insight of any person. To remain abreast of the developing flow of God's providence, one must be willing to search, to find and to evolve. Let us look at some of the principles involved in aligning one self with God's new dispensation.
History teaches that whenever God is inaugurating a new work, He always sets up a central figure as His instrument in the transition. Such men were Noah, Moses, and Jesus. With the arrival of each new person, however, the spiritual presence and authority of the old passes to the new. It was insufficient, for example, at the time of Jesus for the God-seeking person only to be obedient to the law of Moses. Rather, God's grace and power came to those who actually united with Jesus.
In our age likewise, the task of the person who would serve God most fully is to find the new central instrument of God's endeavor. Achieving that requires no small degree of open-mindedness. One must be free from undue attachment to established concepts and prejudices, for God often works in surprising ways. Perhaps, as Jesus suggested, the openness of a child is what is called for:
"Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 18:3)
While possessing the openness of a child, we are nevertheless called to the autonomy of an adult. As men like Saint Francis and Martin Luther discovered, following the Lord is not something one does with a lot of company. One's family, peers—even one's prior religious mentors—may be totally unaware of the new calling from God.
St. Francis, for example, perhaps the greatest saint the Christian Church has ever known, was disinherited by his family. Martin Luther was anathematized by the Christian hierarchy. Both men had to walk a solitary pack, relying not on prior authority but solely on God and their won resources.
Similarly, in the Last Days, one who responds to God's new call may find little support among his family, friends and prior tutors. It is not given to all, at first, to see the light.
A further lesson of the past is that the new age does not start after the hold had ended, but begins in its midst. Therefore it grows in an environment of opposition and conflict. Inevitably, established beliefs, institutions and powers are threatened by the new. For this reason virtually all God-inspired people from the Apostle Paul and Christian Church to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the modern American civil rights movement have tread a path of persecution. Such is the price a privileged few must pay in order to advance the cause of God on earth.
I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (I who have died am alive again today and this is the sun's birthday.) E.E Cummings.
It may be said that the story of religion is the story of life and death. Certainly the joyful and triumphant verse above reflects this theme for the twentieth century, and other literature reflects it for all time. The Bible records that in the beginnings of human life of our first ancestors were told that they should not eat of the forbidden fruit for "in the day you eat of it you shall die." While through their wayward act, we may assume, some kind of death made its grim appearance, in the saving work of God death is overcome and life is won. Within the Christian faith, this is most clearly portrayed in the Gospel of John, where Jesus is characterized as the harbinger of life. Releasing humanity from the deathly Genesis curse, Jesus proclaims:
I came that they may have life, and have abundantly (Jn 10:10).
Webster's tells us that the passing from death to life is resurrection. From having "died" to being "alive again today" then, such a person as E.E Cummings has in some way been resurrected.
The process of resurrection has many facets, and in this section of the Divine Principle we will examine them. We will enter the controversy over the physical versus the spiritual interpretation of resurrection. up-dating some antiquated thoughts on the matter. We will examine humanity's ascendance toward true life as both a historical process affecting all people and as a particularly real hope for individuals today. Finally, we will look at some issues related to resurrection, such as reincarnation and religious unification and offer some unusual suggestions as to how resurrection may affect us, even after death.
Inner Death, Inner Life
Traditionally we are told that three days after his crucifixion Jesus rose and conquered death. Through his victory all those who follow him can themselves inherit eternal life.
Accordingly, the traditional teaching of the Christian Church -- and the firm belief within fundamentalist circles today -- is that all those believers who have previously passed away will, with the return of the Lord, be redeemed from the dead.
Early in his ministry, for example, Paul settled a burning issue of order among the eager Christians by declaring who it was that would be the first to meet Jesus.According to Paul, with the Second Coming of Jesus "the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thess. 4:16). Perhaps taking its cue from such affirmations as these, the Nicene Creed, recited even today in most Catholic masses and many Protestant services embodies a belief in the resurrection of the flesh.
A Spiritual Understanding
If we think of the process of resurrection as actually being physical however, we are involved in immediate problems. Are we to believe, for example, that with the advent of Christ, long-buried and decomposed bodies are to be reconstructed? Such notions do little to enhance the credibility of religious faith.
Modern scholars, somewhat embarrassed by such a materialistic connection of eternal life, have thus tried either to substitute for it the Greek view of the immortality of the soul or explain that the doctrine of the bodily resurrection is a symbolic way of insisting that God cares for the total human personality.
Divine Principle's view of resurrection reflects a spiritual understanding of the meaning of life and death. Luke tells us the story of a young disciple who comes to Jesus to pledge his active loyalty but who requests to first return home to attend his father's funeral. Jesus' reply is apparently paradoxical:
Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you go and proclaim the kingdom of God (Lk 9:60).
In these words of Jesus we find two different concepts of death. The person to be buried is physically dead while those who are doing the burying are, at least in Jesus' view, dead in a spiritual sense.
The concept of spiritual death is ancient within the Hebrew tradition. Ezekiel, for example, compared the return of the exiles from Babylon to a resurrection from the dead (Ezek 37: 1-14). The Psalmist writes not infrequently of such things as being "brought up" from Sheol and "restored to life" (Ps. 30:3) and of the hope that having been in the "depths of the earth" the Lord will "revive" him again (Ps 71:20).
Reflecting a parallel idea, the New Testament author of the book of Revelation writes scornfully to the Church at Sardis:
"I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead" (Rev. 3:1).
Also in support of this view of inward resurrection, the Gospel of John reports Jesus teaching his disciples that
"He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (Jn 11:25).
Here we are told that whoever is connected to God's dominion through Christ is alive, regardless of whether his physical body is functional or not. In John's view, life is essentially a spiritual quality, not a physical state, and one acquires it through his relationship with Jesus.
For all these Biblical writers death also is a spiritual state, a state of the heart. It is characterized by feelings of despair, lack of love and separation from God, the Source of life. By contrast, one who possesses spiritual life is empowered by his relationship with God to feel hope and express love. He is a person who is reconciled with God and with himself and who can share the life he has found with others in need. In the words of Paul Tilich, he is a new being.
"Resurrection...is the power of the New Being to create life out of death, here and now, today and tomorrow... Out of disintegration and death something is born of eternal significance?"
Belief In Physical Resurrection
Against the spiritual interpretation of resurrection is the remarkable phenomenon reported on the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew. Here we read of events occurring immediately following Jesus' death on the cross. Among other dramatic happenings, we are told
"The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after (Jesus) resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Mt. 27:52).
Certainly if such an event actually transpired it would led strong support to a belief in physical resurrection. However, if all this had actually taken place, what happened to the risen saints? Should we not read of their subsequent exploits, perhaps in such places as the Book of Acts or the Letters of Paul? Should they not have been able to dissuade their fellow Jews from persecuting God's new work? It is perhaps because of such obvious problems with the story that so few people today take Matthew's account literally.
Divine Principle assumes that since resurrection does not involve bringing corpses back to life, there were in fact no physical bodies that arose from the grave at the time of the crucifixion. Rather, the spirit selves of the deceased saints were seen at that time, such as Moses and Elijah were seen with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. It must be recalled here that in addition to a physical body, each person possesses a corresponding spiritual form that he continues to inhabit eternally. For this reason, Moses and Elijah were recognizably themselves when they appeared with Jesus centuries after their deaths.
The Day You Eat Of It
A further assertion made by many faithful is that had our first progenitors not separated themselves from God none of us would have ever known physical death. In support of such a tenet, these believers cite Genesis 2:17, where the author quotes God as forbidding Adam and Eve to eat of the Fruit of the tree of knowledge for, as the Lord says, "in the day you eat of it you shall die." If they had been obedient, the argument runs, they and all their descendants would have lived eternally.
Divine Principle teaches that such an interpretation is incorrect. It was never God's intention that man would live eternally on earth. Our physical bodies are destined inevitably to age, to die and return to the soil. Indeed, Divine Principle points out that if God had intended us to live eternally in our physical bodies He would have had no reason to create the spiritual world for our spirit selves to go to. Rather than being the product of some retrospective thinking on the part of God. the spiritual world was created from the beginning to receive our spiritual selves/ The death that Adam and Eve inherited as a result of the Fall was thus not physical in nature, but, again, spiritual.
In addition, of course, we see from the account in Genesis that despite the promise of death, even after Adam and Eve ate the fruit they continued to be active and alive; they sustained themselves and gave birth to children. Indeed, Genesis tells us they lived over nine hundred years (Gen 5:5). Clearly their death "in that day", was something other than physical.
In the New Testament writings of John, we read that "He who does no love abides in death.' (1 Jn 3:14). Such was the fate of Adam and Eve, Separated from God's love, they knew no love. Thus they encountered death.
Volume 5 Part 2
The famed Jewish scholar Martin Buber once described the goal of life by reference to Hasidic legend:
"When God created man, he set the mark of his image upon man's brow and embedded it in man's nature, and however faint God's mark may become, it can never be entirely wiped out. According to Hasidic legend, when the Baalshem (the founder of Hasidic Judaism) conjured up the demon Sammael, he showed him this mark on the forehead of his disciples, and when the master bade the conquered demon be gone, the latter prayed, 'Sons of the living God, permit me to remain a little while to look at the mark of the image of God on your faces.' God's real commandment to man is to realize this image."
If the death caused by the Fall is spiritual, then the transformation of that death must also be spiritual. Resurrection does not thus refer to the revival of decomposed bodies, but to resuscitation of inert spirits. It is the process of restoring the image of God within.
One may ask how this process can best take place. To lead man to new life, God gives us His Word. The Law, the Books of Wisdom, and the histories of the Old Testament are given us to teach us and guide us. Likewise, the ethical teachings and the incomparable life of Jesus given in the New Testament are given to lead us to new life.
In addition, in various scriptures (Jn 16:13, for example) we are promised yet a further revelation of God's truth with the return of Christ. The Lord gives His word in order that man might be resurrected.
As we learned in the fourth volume of the Home Study Course, both purification and growth take place through God's Word. The Word is a two-edged sword; not only does it effect judgment it also brings new life. Reflecting this power, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John: "…he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." (Jn 5:25)
Resurrection, then, begins from the point of hearing the Word. It is not a matter for the future, but for the present. As Paul Tillich has noted, "Resurrection happens now, or it does not happen at all."
Dynamics Of Resurrection
Resurrection may be thought of in terms other than just life and death. Since it involves restoring fallen man's nature tot he standard originally created by God, for example, the process of restoration may also be thought of as restoration. From another point of view, resurrection is re-creation—God's re-creating that which was broken and lost.
However one conceives this process, Divine Principle affirms that there are definite principles according to which it proceeds. First of all, the saying "God helps those who help themselves" is more than a well-worn moralism. God's will is not accomplished unilaterally; the purpose of creation is fulfilled only when His efforts are complemented by ours. We need to do our part by understanding and following the Word.
Secondly, although resurrection is a spiritual process, it cannot occur apart from the physical body. As we learned in the Principle of Creation, each person's spirit self is created to grow and attain maturity only through its relationship with the physical self.
Consistent with this principle, resurrection also occurs in conjunction with one's physical self—thus while one is living on earth. The body is like soil in which the spirit may grow.
Finally, Divine Principle notes that resurrection is a historically cumulative process, advancing in accordance with the accomplishments of each age. An analogy may be found in the realm of science.
Today science is highly developed on the basis of the continuous research and discoveries of men and women throughout history. Generally speaking, the present generation has benefited greatly from scientific advancement, even though we had very little to do with it. We benefit simply because we live in a scientific age.
This is also true in the spiritual realm. Since the earliest times in man's history, God's servants have been laying foundations for the ever-higher spiritual advancement of humankind. As we will discuss more fully later, we of the present day stand on foundations laid by the prophets and saints of prior generations.
It is not our task, for example, to discover as Isaiah did that the Lord did not seek sacrifices and burnt offerings from His children, but rather justice, love and compassion (Is 1:11-17).
Because of such previous developments, we start at an advanced level. Not only are higher spiritual attainments therefore within our grasp; we are also contributing to the spiritual conditions inheritable by those yet to come.
Auguste Compte, the founder of sociology, theorized that man progressed through three stages: the theological, the metaphysical and the positivist. This doctrine of progress, adopted since the time of the French Revolution, details a cultural ascent of humanity similar the physical evolution identified by Darwin. For many, this rational approach to history parallels (though often not taking into account) religious evolution, and resurrection.
Like judgment, resurrection has been going on since the dawn of history; and like revelation, it has a progressive nature. Humanity's religious ascent is from a primitive superstition and savagery to a greater sophistication and awareness. Students of the history of religion claim that mankind slowly turned from animism to polytheism to monotheism. God could shed only as much light as man could understand and constructively employ.
Divine Principle points out that the religious evolution of humankind may be thought of as proceeding through a succession of stages comparable to a person's life. If Adam and Eve had remained true to their instructions from the Lord, they would have proceeded through the steps of formation, growth and completion to true personal maturity and a fully mature relationship with God. Similarly, the evolution of humanity's spiritual consciousness can be seen as moving through three stages.
While God no doubt began striving for humanity's resurrection immediately following Adam's fall, there is little we can point to in the events recorded in the first chapters of Genesis that would suggest that the Lord had gained a secure foothold with man. Such developments as Cain killing Abel, Noah cursing his son Ham and the construction of the tower of Babel offer us little hope.
With the arrival of Abraham, however, some foundation seems to have been established. He is the individual with whom God initiates his covenant with mankind. He is the person who the Bible depicts as faithfully offering his son Isaac on the altar; also his grandsons Esau and Jacob succeed in reversing the animosity of Cain and Abel by overcoming their enmity and accepting each other.
For Divine Principle, then, Abraham and his family constitute the starting point of universal resurrection, and the two thousand years between Abraham and Jesus comprise the formation period of humanity's return to God.
Although Abraham was an anointed man of the Lord, during his time even such chosen people were so distant from God that they normally approached Him through animal sacrifices and vegetable offerings. After some spiritual advancement had occurred, God gave the Ten Commandments through Moses. Later the Hebrew prophets arose and elevated the spiritual life of the Israelites by teaching additional ethical and spiritual aspects of God's nature and the religious life.
In general, however, individuals who lived during this time could do their part in returning to God by faithfully obeying the Mosaic law, which we may think of as the initial stage of the revelation of God's Word. Overall, we may think of this period as a time when man's relationship to God was governed by law.
On the basis of this formative stage of resurrection, God sent Jesus of Nazareth with the mission to raise humankind's spiritual status to virtual completion. However, because of the failure of the people of his time to accept Jesus, such noble aim was not achieved. Rather the period from his death to the present became simply a second major stage in human religious evolution.
Whereas the Old Testament Word was the initial guideline for the Hebrews' approach to Yahweh, the New Testament fulfilled this role during the years following Jesus' death. We may thus think of the New Testament as the growth stage of the revelation of God's Word, and the New Testament Age in general as the time of justification by faith in the New Testament Word.
In accordance with this pattern, we may readily anticipate the next step. The Second Advent is to be fulfilled on the foundation of the previous stages. In our day the mission of the Messiah is to bring the Completed Testament, which is to fulfill the promises of the Old and New Testaments and complete the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth.
Men and women of this time can be resurrected to the completion stage by accepting and embodying the new expression of the Word and by accepting and supporting God's new Messiah. Therefore, while the previous age was the age of justification by faith, the Completed Testament age is a period of justification by service to the new Lord.
Divine Principle teaches that an individual attains completion when through the messiah he rids himself of the original sin and enters into full relationship of love with God. Completion does not mean that spiritual growth stops. On the contrary, it continues forever. Whereas the Apostle Paul portrayed the early Christians as "groaning inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons" (Rom. 8:23), in the final stage of resurrection men and women are to evolve from the position of being true sons and daughters of God. We may thus hope that the great promise of the writer of the Book of Revelation will ultimately be fulfilled:
Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself will be with them (Rev. 21:3)
In his very thoughtful Dreams: God's Forgotten Language, California's Father John Sanford, an Episcopalian priest and Jungian counselor, tells of a remarkable dream his worried father had after a series of illnesses and at an age when he knew death could not be far off. He reported it to his wife, who later recorded it. In the dream the father goes through different scenes from his life and
"Finally he sees himself lying on a couch back in the living room. I (Mrs. Sanford) am descending the stairs and the doctor is in the room. The doctor says "Oh he's gone." Then, as the others fade in the dream, he sees the clock on the mantelpiece; the hands have been moving, but now they stop; as they stop, a window opens behind the mantelpiece clock and a bright light shines through. The opening widens into a door and the light becomes a brilliant path. He (Mr. Sanford) walks out on the path of light and disappears."
To the author, the son of the dreamer, the meaning of the dream is clear. It is saying that having passed through the many phases of his life, time has now run out for the elder Sanford (the hands on the clock have stopped). However, this event is not the end, but the beginning of something else. On the other side of earthly time, a new dimension of life is opening up. The dream reassures Sanford's father that he will proceed into another world, one beyond space and time.
The idea that human beings survive physical death has been expressed in so many places that it is foolhardy to ignore it. In a number of Plato's dialogues, for example The Republic and Phaedo, we encounter this master thinker's idea that after death the soul continues to exist in another realm. Dante, the greatest poet in Italian history, devoted his three part epic, The Divine Comedy, to describing his travels through the spiritual realms of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. While we don't know how firm Shakespeare's convictions were, we do find him depicting Hamlet conversing with the revengeful spirit of his murdered father. And in the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth century Swedish scientist and mystic, we find voluminous records and thoughtful analysis of his experiences with the spirit world and its residents.
Nor should we overlook the Bible. Both Isaiah (26:19) and Daniel (12:2) write of their expectation of life after death, while both Jesus (Lk 9:30-31) and Paul (Acts 26:13-26) are reported as encountering non-physical beings. Indeed, in 1 Corinthians Paul goes to some length to describe the characteristics of the "spiritual body" in which the Apostle asserts that believers will be resurrected. (1 Cor. 15:35-50).
What is it like?
As was explained in the Principle of Creation, Divine Principle unequivocally affirms the continuation of life after physical death. Since God is eternal, He created His counterpart—His children—to exist eternally also.
The question is what will be our experience on the "other side". Although within the Roman Catholic tradition the dichotomy between heaven and hell is muted by the concept of purgatory, the historic position of the Christian faith is that the alternatives facing one upon his death are only these two: heaven or hell.
If one has followed God and accepted His son, eternal salvation in the Kingdom of Heaven is promised. If on the other hand one has strayed from the path, the torments of hell will be his. In ages past the horrors depicted in such pronouncements as a famous sermon preached by Colonial America's Jonathan Edwards’, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, have been sufficient to cow even the most intrepid into trembling obedience to the Law. The eternal terrors of the regions below, we have been told, are hardly to be taken lightly.
For Divine Principle, such expectations are the product of an incomplete religious awareness. The spirit world is not simply limited to heaven and hell but is differentiated according to many levels. One's position after death determined by his spiritual attainment during life. In contrast to traditional notions of heaven as a reward and hell as an imposed punishment, one's position in the after-life is a natural result of the quality of one's life on earth.
The Principle would firmly agree with Oxford University's John Macquarrie, who, in writing on the subject of heaven, argues sensibly for an organic connection between the stages of one's life before and after death:
"Heaven is not a reward that gets added on to the life of faith, hope and love, but it is simply the end of that life, that is to say, the working out of the life that is oriented by these principles. Understood in this way...the symbol (heaven) stands for fullness of being."
Just as the religious evolution of humanity may be thought of as proceeding through three stages, so may the spiritual growth of any person. Accordingly, Divine Principle asserts spirit persons at the different levels may be distinguished.
A person who has grown through the formation stage of resurrection may be said to have become a form spirit. After his physical death, he would live at the form spirit level of the spirit world. Similarly, we may use the terms of life spirit and divine spirit to describe those persons who have grown through the growth and completion stages, respectively, on earth. At the growth stage in the spirit world one enters the region called Paradise, while at the completion stage he enters the Kingdom of Heaven.
Traditionally, those of the Christian faith have understood Heaven and Paradise to be the same. Divine Principle, however points to a distinction. The Kingdom of Heaven emerges as the dwelling place for those who have fulfilled the purpose of God's creation.
Although Jesus came as the Messiah to fulfill this ideal and foster the salvation of humanity, he was prevented by the crucifixion from doing so. Therefore, since the three blessings and the Kingdom were not realized on earth, we may understand that the Kingdom of Heaven in the spirit world remains vacant. Jesus and his followers remain in Paradise, the region in the spirit world equivalent to the growth stage of resurrection. Their own resurrection to the Kingdom of Heaven is to take place through the ministry of the Second Advent.
Volume 5, Part 5.
Countless numbers of people have already passed on to the spirit world, with the great majority no doubt falling far short of having attained complete resurrection.Since a person needs his physical body in order to grow, we must inquire as to the fate of these persons who now possess only their spirit selves. Can they continue to be resurrected?
In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung recounts his conversation with a highly cultivated elderly Indian, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi's. In discussing the different ways in which education took place in India, the Indian answered in reply to a question by Jung that his own guru was a man named Shankaracharya. Jung replies:
"You don't mean the commentator on the Vedas who died centuries ago?"
"Yes, I mean him," he said, to my (Jung's) amazement.
"Then you are referring to a spirit?" I asked.
"Of course it was his spirit," he agreed....
"There are ghostly gurus too," he added.
"Most people have living gurus. But there are always some who have a spirit for a teacher."
As Jung records, his conversation is an enlightenment to him, for over a period of time he had a similar experience, but he had not been able to explain it. Through his Indian acquaintance, he comes to understand people on earth are frequently guided by those on the spirit world.
For Divine Principle, the phenomenon experienced by Jung and his associate is an example of activity by spirit persons who are pursuing their own continuing resurrection. Since these spirit people did not complete the process during their lifetime on earth, they return to earth in spirit form to fulfill the task they left unaccomplished. They do this by helping and guiding people who are still on earth. As the spirit person assists the growth and achievement of such people on earth, he himself is spiritually benefited and progressively resurrected.
Forces of Good.
That spirit persons cooperate with those on earth is an assertion which tends to raise eyebrows. However, as Notre Dame's Morton Kelsey has pointed out, such skepticism is restricted mainly to the perhaps too-rationalistic West. While Kelsey's argument is too complex to repeat here, in his Encounter with God he explains that spiritual forces generally have not been given proper recognition in Western civilization, due largely to the influence of one famous Greek:
"There is another view of man, however, found wherever the influence of Aristotle and nineteenth century Western thought have not been felt. In most cultures from primitive ones to the developed cultures of China, India, Islam and of Byzantine Christianity, nonphysical realities have been seen as a more powerful influence on man's destiny than the physical world."
Nor is the fact of spirit cooperation without documentation in the Bible. Jesus' assertion, for example, that John the Baptist was Elijah clearly suggests a spiritual relationship between the two. Although Elijah was in the spiritual world, Divine Principle holds that he was responsible to complete his own earthly mission working with John the Baptist as his successor. Along the same line, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews suggests that earlier prophets and other servants of the Lord will find their own final salvation only through the present generation:
"And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised since god had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11: 39-41)
Divine Principle points out that both the period of Jesus' life on earth and the period of the Second Advent are special times when the possibilities for a spiritual advancement for the faithful on earth are especially great. After all, these are times when God's recreative Word appears anew, opening new avenues for spiritual growth and stimulating people of all backgrounds to new heights. Therefore we may expect the earthly activity of spirit persons to be particularly acute during these times.
The twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew, for example, tells us that when Jesus died on the cross many saints arose from their tombs. As we have previously discussed, such reports should not be thought of literally, but rather should be understood as describing a spiritual reality. The passed-away prophets and saints were actively assisting God's new dispensation, seeking to elevate themselves to higher levels of spiritual attainment. Since this was the case in the past, Divine Principle would argue we may anticipate similarly intense spiritual activity at the time of the Second Advent.
While the relationship between the Indian acquaintance of Jung and his spiritual acquaintance of Jung and his spiritual guru was obviously an elevating one, this is not always the case. Many spirit persons, having lived unenlightened lives here on earth, proceed to the spirit world in a confused or even destructive state of mind. When this is the case, and such spirits relate to people here on earth, their influence is not a benign one.
Without discounting the psychological, emotional and even chemical factors involved, Divine Principle suggests that the presence of such dark spirit forces around vulnerable individuals can contribute to a number of different tragic experiences.
In the New York "Son of Sam" murders for example, a man who killed a number of young New York women said he was commanded to do so by an invisible voice belonging to a person named Sam. Also, although clearly an extreme account of spirit possession, the well-known film The Exorcist was in fact based on a true story.
It is perhaps in the area of mental psychosis, however, that the possibility of harmful spirit interaction is clearest. In his book The Presence of Other Worlds, Dr. Wilson Van Dusan, a clinical psychologist who labored for sixteen years at California's Mendocino State Hospital, described his own discovery of what he calls the "presence of spirits in madness." Van Dusen had been vaguely familiar with the writings of Emmanual Swedenborg on the interaction of spirits with people on earth but only through his own experience with psychotic patients did he learn what the seventeenth century Swedish scientist was talking about.
Just as Swedenborg had discovered that spirits representing forces of both light and dark, good and evil, were in communication with people on earth, so Van Dusen discovered his patients both vocally and visually were in touch with forces they regarded, as autonomous spiritual beings. Describing the influence these beings can have, Van Dusen writes:
"I learned to two orders of experience...called the higher and the lower order. Lower order voices are similar to drunken bums at a bar who like to tease and torment just for the fun of it... They find a weak point of conscience and work on it interminably..... All of the lower order are irreligious or anti-religious...In direct contrast stand the rarer higher order (spirits)...(who) respected his freedom and would withdraw if it frightened him.... The higher order is much more likely to be symbolic, religious, supportive, genuinely instructive...."
Presence of Other Worlds
Centuries ago, of course, concepts of spirit influence and spirit possession were prevalent. The New Testament, for example, clearly reflects Jesus' belief in spirit influence. On more than one occasion Jesus is described as casting out demons (e.g. Mt. 8:15-16, Mk. 5:1-20). Also, the Apostle Paul, after his long experience with the spiritual path, writes to his fellow believers in Ephesus of the reality of invisible powers acting on the striving devotee:
"Put on the whole armor of God...For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:11-12)
All these assertions tend to be dismissed by our materialistic West as reflective of an antiquated world view. In light of modern discoveries such as Van Dusen's however, and in light of modern psychiatry's acknowledged inability to heal much mental illness, perhaps a new openness to such perceptions as those of Jesus and Paul is merited.
Despite the potential power for good or evil that spiritual forces may have, Divine Principle holds that the ultimate responsibility for an individual's state of being and behavior rests with himself. It is we who make the bases which determine what kind of spirit influence we may attract.
Chevy Chase's famous dictum "the devil made me do it" may be an amusing out, but such a denial of one's own ultimate responsibility doesn't square with the way God made the world.
Belief in reincarnation has been with us since the earliest days of human life. Hindus and Buddhists have held to the belief for many centuries, and the Western world has become familiar with it through the channels of Oriental influence in the last fifty years. Let us examine it in light of the Divine Principle.
According to the doctrine of reincarnation the soul has successive bodies of flesh and, therefore, many lives upon the earth. Through these many lives, the individual soul is able to evolve. What a person does not work out or achieve in one lifetime, he completes in the next.
Assuming this is the case, the theory of reincarnation purports to answer questions such as the following: Why is one person so well placed in life, given every advantage that money and culture can confer, while another person is born into very difficult circumstances, where it seems impossible to make any advance in life?
Why is one child born a cripple, or born blind, while another child arrives in this world with a healthy body? Why does one child live to a ripe old age, while another child dies after only a few days or years? Men and women are not born free and equal but start this life like horses in a handicap race, no one two bearing an equal burden.
How can this be, the reincarnationist is likely to ask, if indeed God is loving, just, and all-powerful? The reincarnationist answer is that we are reaping today, for good or evil, the results of the seeds we have sown during the course of many previous lives. Many times we have been a man, and many times a woman. Some of those at the bottom of the social ladder today have walked the earth as kings, presidents, generals, admirals and high priests; and some who now sit in the seats of the mighty have toiled as simple peasants in days gone by, pulled at the oar of a galley, or worn the chains of a slave.
Despite these arguments, Divine Principle objects to the theory of reincarnation on several grounds. First of all, the idea is contrary to the Principle of Creation, which teaches that man was originally to become fully mature in one lifetime. Afterwards, he was to pass on to the spiritual heaven and to live with God in the utmost joy and glory.
Human beings were thus not designed to take a physical form again and again, however imperfect one is at the end of his life on earth. Assuming one can progress only on earth, the doctrine of reincarnation ignores God's design for the blessed eternal spiritual heaven, in which there are innumerable spheres and regions for man's evolution and where he has great opportunities for improvement.
Within the Hindu tradition, the Karmic Law of cause and effect states that the consequences of every act must be discharged in this or some future life on earth.
Divine Principle affirms that the law of cause and effect operates in the creation and that no one can escape it. However, the consequences of all our actions will be discharged not in another incarnation but in this life and the spirit realm. Therefore, it is important to realize what we think, love, and do now determines our life and character in the eternal spirit world, for we are forming our spirit self here on earth.
Nor can we be persuaded by the fact that the doctrine presumes to explain apparent worldly injustices such as why one man is poor and another rich. Such states cannot be simplistically attributed to one's prior goodness or evil.
As most people would agree, material wealth, physical comfort, prestige and power are not true blessings of ultimate spiritual value. Moses gave up an easy and comfortable life in Pharaoh's court and became a shepherd to be closer to God. Gautama Buddha left his palace, forsaking his position as a prince, in order to seek enlightenment. In our day, Albert Schweitzer chose to serve the primitive Africans with Christian love, giving up a good position and a high standard of living. Also, Helen Keller, though blind, deaf, and dumb, achieved the highest academic goal and spiritual light and peace. Many people turn to God and for the first time find inner joy and high purpose in life after a serious illness or accident. Why? Because an easy life and luxurious environment are often hindrances to one's spiritual growth.
Regardless of such argumentation, there are nevertheless many cases cited of people who, while reading ancient history or tales of other lands and times, "remember" the events about which they are reading. In the view of Divine Principle, a "memory" of this type occurs when cooperating spirits strengthen the mental images invariably created while reading.
Swedenborg, the great psychic and revelator of the seventeenth century, once explained that if a spirit were to speak from his own memory with a man, the man would not know otherwise than that the thoughts then in his mind were his own, although they were in fact the spirit's thoughts. Thus, startling ideas and thoughts can be influxes from the memories of cooperating spirits.
Finally, if reincarnation had been a fact throughout the ages, should we not find evidence of it in a goodly portion of perfected souls among us? Surely by this time we should see many mature and advanced spirits among the wealthy, the beautiful, and the powerful on earth. But is this true? On the contrary, in many instances such people seem to be just as immature and imperfect as the rest of mankind, if not more so!
In conclusion, Divine Principle teaches that a spirit person can reach maturity only in conjunction with physical body. Because of this principle, discarnate spirits are destined to return to contact earthly people in order to advance to the state of completion. Discarnate beings do come back as spirit persons to be invisible teachers, to guide and help humanity. They more they serve others, the more they progress.
This is especially so at this time. By serving and cooperating with those who work for the Lord of the Second Advent, those in spirit world can advance more rapidly than at any other time in history.
Volume 5 Part 7
The eighteenth century British novelist Henry Fielding, in his famous satire Tom Jones, uses the pontifications of a Christian minister to illustrate a classic religious arrogance. The minister declaims:
"When I mention religion, I mean the Christian religion, and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion; and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England."
Although Fielding's portrait is a comic exaggeration of religious bias, it is nevertheless reflective of a type of bigotry not uncommon to many believers, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or whatever. Such has been the religious fragmentation of the human family.
Divine Principle teaches that the time for such a divided state is nearly up. In an age when we are seen, in Archibald MacLeish's words, as "riders on the earth together," the future of the religious faiths is necessarily an interdependent one.
For Divine Principle, an integrated religious vision is the very tool necessary to bring the human family into a healthy wholeness. If religion fails to play this role, some other power, perhaps even a totalitarian force like communism, is likely to attempt to fill the gap.
Therefore, our age calls for a religious unity. A practical harmonization of the world's faiths will both release new energies against the problems facing humankind, and realize fully the spiritual values common to the religions themselves.
At the time of the Second Advent, Divine Principle teaches, traditional religious barriers are to be overcome. This process will no doubt be aided by input from the spirit side, perhaps even by the founders of the different religions themselves.
As was previously explained, spirit persons who have remained in Paradise are inevitably to return to earth and cooperate with the faithful at the time of the Second Advent, thereby to advance their own spiritual growth.
Through this intervention, sincere seekers on earth can be led by spirit persons to the Lord of the Second Coming. The time and type of guidance that a person on earth receives from a spirit person vary depending on a person's attitude, faith and disposition. In any event, Divine Principle suggests that through such guidance the unification of religions will gradually occur.
For Divine Principle, all religions have arisen through God's providence and have enlightened the consciousness of man. Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Shinto and Hinduism have all contributed to the spiritual development of man. These religions have laid the foundation for the fulfillment of the last dispensation, the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
At the center
However, while all great religions are thus based upon certain degrees of truth from God and have served His purposes in various ways, Divine Principle sees the Judeo-Christian revelation as the central revelation from God for humankind. Christianity is thus not a religion for Christians alone. Rather, it is the central religion whose insights enable it to be the core around which other faiths can make their own contributions most fully.
Accordingly, messages concerning the Second Advent are likely to come not only from Jesus but from founders of all other religions as well. These religious founders will fulfill their own missions and complete their own resurrection through the sincere participation of their followers in the ministry of the Second Advent.
Since the Second Advent of the Lord is universal in scope, its effects are not to be confined to the Christian world. Eventually all mankind will participate in this cosmic event in order to bring about the resurrection of each individual and the restoration of the universe.
For the first time in history, then, divergent religions will be harmonized, thereby leading mankind into one universal brotherhood. Ultimately, Divine Principle anticipates that the unity of the two worlds, the invisible and the visible, will be accomplished. Matured men and women will serve as the mediators between them, resulting in complete harmony and communication between the two worlds.
Consequently, the new world of perfection will be highly spiritual; it will be the Garden of Eden or heaven on earth. The life God has planned for all of His children will have been established and God's ideal of creation fulfilled at last.
For Divine Principle, the deepest meaning of resurrection lies in the triumph that spiritual life can eternally have over spiritual death. Like the mythical Phoenix bird, which dies consumed by fire and yet rises again out of its own ashes, humanity is also destined for eternal spiritual life. Such has been the work of God since the dawn of history.
This work is to be consummated in the return of Christ, the actual fulfillment of the Second Coming. Christ comes as the manifestation of perfected humanity, the exemplar of love on the individual, family, national and world level. He thus comes to transform the world according to God's purposes and to facilitate he establishment of His Kingdom.
"Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." In this incantation, recited daily at Catholic masses throughout the world, lies the promise of our age.There are, however, many unanswered questions regarding the cosmic event of the Second Coming—questions which have been debated within the Christian faith for centuries. When will the Second Coming take place? Where? How can we recognize the new Lord? How can we participate in his work?
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand...
And what rough beast,
Its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
William Butler Yeats
Ever since the tragedy of Golgotha, the central hope of the Christian faith has been the return of Jesus. Many of the immediate disciples of the Nazarene expected that he would return in their lifetimes. John of Patmos records in his Book of Revelation that as Jesus left him, the Master promised "Surely I am coming soon."
John's response—"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus"—has been the watchword of millions of sincere believers since. Seldom has an era passed in which the imminent return of Christ was not hoped for by many and anticipated by at least a few.
Today, however, this hope is not as crystalline as it once was. For example, when in 1954 the World Council of Churches took as its theme "Christ, the Hope of the World," the delegates at the Illinois general assembly were forced for the first time at an ecumenical conference to consider the question of Christ's return. A very impressive committee of Christian theologians and churchmen, including such luminaries as Karl Barth, T.S. Eliot and Emil Bruner, was assigned to prepare a report on the main theme.
When this distinguished group had finished its deliberations, however, the result was a disheartening and uninspiring compromised. What emerged was not a clear affirmation of the hope of Jesus' return, but instead a string of stuffy, stereotyped phrases asserting "the guarantee of God's promise that in good time His victory will be manifest to all. His kingdom will come in glory, and He Himself be known everywhere as King."
While, as some have suggested, such vagueness on the part of institutional Christianity may well undercut its own strength, it is at the same time understandable.
Despite numerous times at the plates, prophets of the Second Coming remain hitless.
Dr. L. Berkhof, president emeritus of Michigan's Calvin Theological Seminary, has chronicled some of the strike-outs; Christ was to return in 1000 A.D., as was hoped during the Dark Ages, in 1260 A.D. as predicted by the disciples of Joachim of Fiore, during the 16th century Reformation as preached by the German Anabaptists of Munster, in 1843 as the Adventist founder Miller prophesied and in 1914 as anticipated by the founding leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
With such a record as this, it is no wonder the modern institutional Church is wary of investing itself too deeply in any substantial anticipation of the return of Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom. Also, that the most ardent exponents of Second Coming theology today are frequently either Biblical literalists or dogmatic sectarians does not help the situation. Few thinkers in our liberal and scientific age seriously expect a supernatural return on the clouds of heaven by a majestic, airborne Jesus.
The prevailing hope, instead, at least among those Christian liberals who still believe in the coming of God's Kingdom, is that it will gradually evolve as humankind progresses. Walter Rauschenbusch, for example, the founding theologian of the Social Gospel, urges us "to see the Kingdom of God as always coming, always pressing in on the present, always big with possibility and always inviting immediate action" (A Theology for the Social Gospel).
While Divine Principle in one way supports such a view, it nevertheless argues that the Kingdom can never be realized merely as an effect of human progress. As we have learned from the two world wars in our century, the advance of history does not inevitably lead to universal redemption. Beyond the blessings which the progressive development of civilization can bring us, therefore, the coming of the Kingdom requires something else—a messianic catalyst.
Rule of self
Confucius is reported to have said that before a man can rule the world, he must be able to rule his country, that before he can rule his country he must be able to rule his family, and that before he can rule his family he must be able to rule himself.
Divine Principle would wholeheartedly agree with this, and argue therefore that the hope of the world is one man of perfected individuality. The re-creation and re-ordering of our chaotic and confused world must begin with the re-creation of one man as the center of goodness, wisdom, power and love. This person is the Messiah—the person who can provide the vision, inspiration and leadership necessary to the reconstruction of the fragmented human family. He is the person who is to enable the divine ideal of God's creation to be realized. And because that divine ideal is to be realized, Divine Principle affirms the Messiah must indeed return.
But how is such a person to come among us? Will he arrive, as has been frequently thought, with a blast of angelic trumpets accompanying his descent on the clouds of heaven? And what of the timing? Despite prior failures to anticipate properly when the moment was at hand, is there a way to know correctly the hour of the Second Coming? As two thousand years ago Jesus was born at Bethlehem, is the Second Coming also to occur in Israel? Is it indeed Jesus himself who is to return?
Next we will discuss such questions as these in the light of Divine Principle.
Part 2 Supernatural Savior?
Because of the prophecy in the 26th chapter of Matthew, the historic position of the Christian Church is that Jesus' return will be effected spectacularly: he will arrive on the clouds of heaven, accompanied by myriads of angels trumpeting his momentous arrival. At that moment, all true disciples—both dead and alive—will be caught up to him in the heavens and be taken away to dwell with him eternally in joyous bliss.
For Divine Principle, as for much of modern scholarship, such a scenario is improbable in the extreme. As prior volumes have indicated, the Messiah is the one who comes to restore the lost ideal of God and fulfill the original purpose of God's creation. Since this divine ideal is to be fulfilled on earth, it is inevitable that the Messiah will do his work with his feet on solid ground.
The Second Coming will therefore take place much as the first coming. The Lord will arrive not announced by angelic trumpets, but born of woman on earth. He will establish a kingdom which, in the words of Jesus, is coming not with wondrous signs to be observed (Lk 17:01), but which is to be an earthly reality founded among the peoples, races and nations of the world.
Regardless of such logic, the supernatural arrival of Christ is still the expectation of many conservative faithful today. Many are the stories of the fundamentalist believers who wake every morning with their eyes toward heaven, anticipating that this might be the day.
It can hardly hurt us to be aware that this was also the anticipation of many Jews at the time of Jesus. The cause of their assumption was a prophecy in the Book of Daniel: I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man. (Dan. 7:13)
As we know, Jesus did not arrive on the clouds. Not only did literalistic interpretations of the prophecy in Daniel thus not prove helpful, they actually had the opposite effect. Influenced to expect a supernatural manifestation of the long-awaited Son of Man, pious Jews rejected the actual Messiah who came in a much more terrestrial manner.
Less dramatic prophecies
It is interesting to note that there were other, less dramatic Old Testament prophecies concerning how the Messiah would arrive. Given the apocalyptic atmosphere of the times, however, they were perhaps not so appealing. One such prophecy is that of Micah, where we learn that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem—on earth. Micah writes: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient days. (Mic. 5:2)
Regardless of the manner of the first coming, not a few people today still insist that the prophecy of Daniel 7:13 should still be taken literally—but only with reference to the Second Coming. We are told that the author of Daniel was looking beyond the first advent to the second, and this is the one which will take place on the clouds.
While such a line of argumentation is somewhat ingenious, it collapses quickly under serious consideration. Prior to the advent of Jesus, no one even thought of a second coming. Indeed, the Gospels tell us that Jesus himself mentions it only at the end of his ministry. No Israelite at the time of Jesus would have thought that Daniel's prophecy applied to anything other than the advent of the Messiah. As Jesus indicated (Mt. 11:13), all the prophecy of the period prior to him was to be fulfilled through him.
A symbolic expression
That the writer of the Book of Daniel had the vision he described is not in question. However, Divine Principle advocates that such a vision be understood as a symbolic expression of spiritual reality. As we have mentioned previously, heaven is frequently used as a metaphor to connote great value, sacredness or goodness.
Representing and embodying these qualities, we may say the messiah would come on the "clouds of heaven" or, in other words, with the power and presence of God.
Contemporary research on dreams and visions is pertinent to all of this. Whereas Freud understood dreams as cloaked expressions of human drives and instincts, many thinkers since him, including his disciple Carl Jung, see both dreams and visions as efforts of the subconscious to communicate with the conscious ego, using its own language—the language of visual symbols.
The key to understanding the meaning of these spiritual, psychic events is to understand the symbolism that their various images possess. The inner meaning of a dream or a vision, whether it be from the subconscious or from God Himself, is thus carried in its visual symbols. Its significance is often not to be gained without thoughtful reflection.
When Jesus came two thousand years ago, it seems there was great faith—of a sort—among the Jewish people. Some prayed day and night in the temple. Many memorized the Mosaic Law. Most made honest efforts to keep the commandments and laws which had been handed down to them. In addition, they honored fast days and offered tithes. In all these behaviors they demonstrated sincere faith in God.
Yet in some critical way the devotion of the Israelites went askew. When the Messiah came, he went unrecognized. Because many of the chosen people anticipated that the Messiah would arrive supernaturally, they failed to recognize Jesus as the Promised Deliverer.
By relying on this same apocalyptic expectation, conservative Christians today may make the same mistake. When the Lord comes again, he will appear as a man on earth, not a divine figure descending from the skies. Such an awareness is critically important for, as the philosopher George Santayana has said, if we do not know our history, we may be doomed to repeat it.
Throughout the course of history it appears that God has never used the same person twice to fulfill a certain task. While Moses' mission, for example, was to lead his people into the promised land, once he proved unable to do that, he was not given a second chance. His mission was passed on to Joshua. King Saul also failed and his mission was taken up by David. By the same token, Adam's mission was passed on to Jesus.
In light of Divine Principle, such a pattern is understandable. The Principle teaches that the physical body is created by God to function a certain number of years on earth. Once that period has passed, and once the body has returned to dust, it is not to be reconstituted. Accordingly, if the work a certain person does while on earth is left unfulfilled, its completion must be achieved by a different person at a later time.
In accordance with this pattern, Divine Principle raises the question of whether the Second Advent will be fulfilled by a person other than Jesus of Nazareth. As the late Paul Tillich was apparently fond of pointing out, "Christ", meaning "anointed one," is an office or role, not a person. Two thousand years ago it was the man Jesus of Nazareth who fulfilled the role of Christ. We must ask then if today God could choose another man to continue the same role and complete the work that Jesus began. While such an idea will for many be exceeded in its novelty only by its radicalness, one has nothing to lose by admitting it as a possibility.
Let us look at a prior example of a "second coming." God promised through the prophet Malachi to send Elijah before the Messiah would arrive. We read in Malachi:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." (Mal 4:5)
A literal interpretation of this passage led many people at Jesus' time to anticipate the return of Elijah before the advent of the Messiah. As we have seen in earlier chapters, however, it was John the Baptist who came to fulfill the office of Elijah (Mt 11:24, 17:13). Through the ministry of John the Baptist, then, Elijah "returned". It was not Elijah himself, but another person fulfilling his mission. The mission was the same, but the person was different. Divine Principle teaches that this "second coming" of Elijah may be viewed as a model of how the Second Coming of Christ is to be fulfilled.
Just as God sent not Elijah himself, but some other person in his mission, so with regard to the Second Advent He will send a different personage. Jesus will not return in his original physical body. As with all other men, he lived once on earth and now lives eternally in the spirit world. While he and the Holy Spirit are continuing their work spiritually, in the present day another individual will come on earth to complete Jesus' unfinished mission. Our challenge, like that of the Hebrews two thousand years ago, will be to be sensitive, open-minded and intelligent enough to recognize him.
The Messianic Task
According to the Principle of Creation, God's purpose for Adam and Eve was to be realized through their fulfilling the Three Blessings. They were to perfect themselves as mature individuals, become as true parents the origin of a Godly family and, as God's representatives, they were to rule the creation in love. However, because they fell, Adam and Eve failed in all these works; they never became mature persons, true parents or authentic lords. The history they initiated, far from being the intended one of rejoicing, was a corrupted history of sorrow and suffering.
The Apostle Paul tells us Jesus came as the "last Adam" (1 Cor 15:45). Coming in the position of restored Adam, Jesus was to transform history, ultimately fashioning the ideal world that had been planned at the time of the first parents (Mt 4:17). It was he who was to realize for the first time the Three Blessings. Since he was rejected and crucified, however, he was prevented from doing so. A new messianic figure must therefore still come. In effect, the new Messiah will come as the Third Adam whose mission is to realize fully the long-vacant Blessings of God.
Since the Messiah is to be the example of perfected individuality--a person who in growing to true individual maturity fulfills the first Blessing--he must be born on earth as a substantial physical being. He can only carry out his responsibility in the flesh. Also, since he is to realize the ideal family that God has desired, he is to marry and have children. Beyond his own family, the Messiah is to facilitate healing and wholeness among all races and nations, ultimately producing a harmonious global family.
He is thus to fulfill the second Blessing and become the True Parent of humankind, one who has effected the kind of world Adam was meant to initiate. Finally, as a perfectly matured person, the Messiah is to be a lord who governs the spirit world and physical world in perfect love, fulfilling God's third Blessing. As others become united with him by accepting and assisting him, they in turn will find the way to true maturity and love; they will become persons who themselves come to know the three great joys God intended.
The Kingdom of Heaven on earth which Christ is to build is thus not a kingdom of fantasy. It is to be founded, rather, on the solid accomplishment of the Three Blessings. Rather than being realized by supernatural miracles, the Kingdom is to be established by humankind's fulfilling its original destiny. As by God's grace the Three Blessings are fulfilled by ever expanding numbers of people, we may anticipate the world will be transformed and its problems solved in a practical, realistic way. "Then" the Kingdom will come.
Two thousand years ago, the mission of Judaism was not only to receive Jesus but also to help him fulfill his task after he came. Likewise, the mission of Christianity, in addition to establishing the worldwide foundation for the Second Coming, is to help the Lord accomplish his mission when he comes.
For Divine Principle, then, Christianity must reexamine its historical focus on salvation, which has tended to center only on the individual. As Walter Rauschenbusch has pointed out, a salvation confined to the soul and its personal interests is an "imperfect and only partly effective salvation." Since God's ideal for the creation is not completed by the perfection of an individual's character, so God's efforts toward healing and wholeness do not end with the individual. Salvation ultimately is to embrace the family, national and worldwide levels. Once this has been fulfilled, the glorious biblical promise of universal redemption will be realized.
In the same way that esoteric, apocalyptic imagery and symbolism has proved enigmatic, the issue of the historical moment of the Parousia has also been a question for believers throughout the centuries. As we have indicated, the occasions of hope and subsequent periods of dismay have been many. The Gospel of Matthew's warning that "of that day and hour no one knows" (Mt 24:36) perhaps should have been given more heed than it has.
On the other hand, there is reason to believe that the climactic time can be known. In Amos 3:7, for example, we are told that "Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets." Consistent with such a reassurance, instances of Yahweh's revelation of His purposes and plans to Old Testament figures abound: God revealed the coming of the Great Flood to Noah; He told Lot of the imminent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; He indicated to the family of John the Baptist and others that Jesus would be born.
In like manner, although two thousand years ago no one did know the "day or the hour," Divine Principle affirms that at the appropriate time God will make known the moment of the Second Advent. Indeed, given the importance of such an event to the Lord's own purposes, it is virtually inconceivable that He would not.
In their discussion of Israelite history, "Judaism, Christianity and Islam" by Janet O'Dea "et alia", we are reminded of the special relationship between God and man, because of which God is given to communicating His intentions and activities: "Yahweh had revealed himself in history to his people and had determined their historical destiny. The Israelites...were partners with Yahweh in carrying out his plan for mankind."
The Hebrews' relationship with God thus centered around a concept not only of law but also of covenant. Such a covenant is at the basis of Yahweh's revealing His will to Noah, Lot, and the family of John the Baptist. As He announced His ways to them prior to significant Old Testament events, in a similar way God will communicate His purposes today. After all, the cooperation of partners requires it.
Before we proceed to discuss the present day, those historical patterns which suggest the significance of the twentieth century should be noted. While Divine Principle affirms that we are living today in a time of unparalleled importance, it nevertheless recognizes that this is possible only on the basis of prior spiritual developments. Let us examine them.
Patterns in History
Since the restoration of God's creation is to be consummated through the Messiah, we may imagine that this person is the center of God's hopes. Accordingly, God's work in human society has focused on preparing a foundation for his coming. The foundation was originally established through the Israelite people and their Jewish faith. As we know it, it is in Hebrew culture that the idea of a universal messianic figure first emerged.
When the Hebrew people failed to recognize the Anointed One when he came, however, they missed their chance to serve as the soil for the new messianic civilization. As Jesus indicated, their privilege was passed to a new nation (Mt 21:41-43). History would subsequently show that this was to be the multi-racial Second Israel, consisting of the devout of the Christian faith.
As we will demonstrate, in studying the histories of Israel and Christianity a certain parallelism in the developments of these two Israels can be detected. For Divine Principle the reason is clear. Since God is a God of principle and law, the history of the Second Israel, Christianity, must both follow the same pattern for preparing for the Messiah. The history of the two societies differ in terms of their historical eras, specific events, geographical settings and cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless, as both of these dispensations were to prepare for the foundation for the Messiah, the purpose underlying them was one and the same.
The history of Israel from Jacob to Jesus was divided into six major sub-periods those of slavery in Egypt, of Judges, of the United Kingdom, of the Divided Kingdoms of North and South, of Jewish Captivity and Return, and of Preparation for the Messiah. These six sub-periods actually comprise one dispensational age of 1930 years, a period in which God sought to consummate His salvific efforts. When through the crucifixion of Jesus the goal remained unattained, however, the time was unavoidably extended into what we now know as the Christian era.
This era, from Jesus to the Second Coming, may also be divided into six major frames the periods of Persecution in the Roman Empire, of the Patriarchs, of the United Christian Kingdom, of the Divided Kingdoms of East and West, of Papal Captivity and Return, and of Preparation for the Second Coming. These six sub-periods also span a time totaling 1930 years. Let us look at these stages in greater detail, both in order that the specific parallelism of these two histories may be made evident and so that the probable timing of the Second Advent may be substantially identified. We will begin with Israel's period of bondage.
Egypt and Rome
Divine Principle points out that the periods of suffering by the Jews in Egypt and the Christians under the Roman Empire are distinctly comparable. After the spiritual accomplishments of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jacob's twelve sons and seventy kinsmen entered Egypt. Here their descendants were enslaved by the Egyptians.
Even in the midst of their suffering and deprivation, however, the Hebrews maintained their faith. They performed the rites of circumcision, offered sacrifices and kept the Sabbath. Similarly in the centuries immediately following Jesus' death, the Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire. It is said that Nero's palace grounds were once lit by the burning bodies of crucified Christians. Regardless of such atrocities, the Christians also preserved their faith.
After the 400-year period of slavery in Egypt had ended, the Book of Exodus tells us that God chose Moses to subjugate Pharaoh and lead the Israelites to the new land of Canaan. In a parallel development, at the end of the period of martyrdom in the Roman Empire, Jesus influenced the Emperor Constantine to recognize Christianity publicly, which he did officially in 313. In 392, approximately 400 years after its inception Christianity became the state religion.
Having led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Moses brought them the Ten Commandments. Similarly, after the period of oppression by the Roman Empire, the early Christian Church developed a stable core of doctrine to guide its faithful. The New Testament was canonized and certain affirmations of faith, such as the Apostles' Creed, were formulated. Both accomplishments were possible only on the basis of the 400 years' indemnity paid by persecution, first in Egypt for the Hebrews and later in the Roman Empire for the Christians.
Judges and Patriarchs
A comparison between the Old Testament judges and the patriarchs of the early Christian Church is also evident. During the age of the judges, which began after Joshua had led the Israelites into Canaan, the tribes of Israel were governed by a series of administrators and military heroes known as Judges.
Just as the period of Egyptian domination lasted a reported 400 years, so we are told by the Hebrew scripture the period of rule by the Israelite Judges lasted an identical period. While both numerical figures may be symbolic, for Divine Principle they nevertheless indicate distinct phases of God's dispensation.
Leadership functions for the early Christian Church were fulfilled by Patriarchs. A patriarch was the bishop of one of the chief cities of the Roman Empire, primarily Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch or Jerusalem.
In some cases a patriarch's influence extended well beyond his immediate domain. At the height of his power, for example, the patriarch of Antioch governed the Christians of Syria, Lebanon, southern Asia Minor, Cyprus, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, and South India. In general, just as the Jews were governed by judges, Christians looked to patriarchs who represented for them wisdom, power and authority.
An historic parallel exists between the eras of the Old Testament United Kingdom and the United Christian Empire. Both periods lasted for a total of 120 years each.
The Old Testament monarchy started with Saul, who was anointed as the first king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. He was succeeded by his former armor-bearer and son-in-law, David, who made the newly captured Jerusalem his capital. Henceforth this city became the epicenter of Hebrew religious and cultural life.
David in turn was succeeded by his son, Solomon, who is credited with building the royal temple which came to serve as the center of Jewish activities. At the same time, however, Solomon took wives from foreign nations, allowing them to worship their own gods. From the standpoint of the Hebrew historian (I Ki 11:1-13), such tolerance was a heinous sin.
Divine Principle looks at the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon in terms of their dispensational importance. The ultimate purpose of this period was to build a Temple which was to foreshadow the coming Messiah. In a mystical sense the Temple, which was the center of Jewish life, was a symbol of Christ who was to come as the restored center of human society. That David was willing to build the Temple, and that Solomon finally achieved it, was of understandably significant import in the historical providence of God.
Corresponding to the Old Testament United Monarchy, the United Christian Empire also lasted for approximately 120 years, beginning in 800 A.D. Just as the Hebrew united monarchy was begun by Saul, who was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, so the United Christian Empire was inaugurated by Charlemagne, who managed to have himself crowned by Pope Leo III. With his coronation, effected at St. Peter's Church on Christmas Day of 800, Charlemagne became the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
Now a theocratic stamp had been placed on the empire, and Western Christendom was at last united in a kingdom of God of which Charlemagne was the earthly head.
After both the Hebrew United Kingdom and the United Christian Empire had been established, both kingdoms became beset by conflict and division for periods of roughly 400 years. When Solomon compromised his devotion to Yahweh both by allowing his foreign wives to worship their own deities and by neglecting to fulfill his other obligations, the seeds were sown which destroyed the United Kingdom. The kingdom was subsequently divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
According to Divine Principle, because Solomon had united with Satan, God split his kingdom in order to separate the good from the evil. The northern kingdom of Israel was in a position comparable with that of Cain, somewhat alienated from God, and the southern kingdom of Judah was in an anointed position similar to Abel's.
Accordingly, several notable ethical and spiritual advances took place in Judah. For example, great prophets arose who emphasized the moral and ethical components of religious faith, concern for the weak and the oppressed. Beginning with Amos, these men were the first to realize the place of morality in religion. Yet, in spite of the emergence of these Hebrew luminaries, the division of the United Kingdom continued. Just as Cain had failed to respect the status Abel apparently had in the eyes of God, so Israel failed to respond to the spiritual influence of Judah. The Lord's efforts were being rebuffed.
In the Christian era a similar disunity afflicted the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne, largely because of disagreements among his grandsons. Gradually, the kingdom was divided into three parts--the kingdoms of the East Franks, the West Franks and that of the middle--Italy. Italy ultimately came under East Frank control, and so the division became one between the kingdoms of the East Franks or the Holy Roman Empire, and the West Franks or the kingdom of France. According to Divine Principle, the eastern kingdom, containing the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, now became the primary object of God's dispensation; it occupied an Abel position, as had Judah during the time of the Hebrew kingdom.
A significant further parallel between the Old and New Testament divided kingdoms is that generated by the rise of certain Roman Catholic monks and saints. These spiritual giants correspond to the Hebrew prophets mentioned earlier. As Israel and Judah were warned by the prophets to repent of their sins, so monks and saints of the Catholic Church attacked the vices of powerful churchmen. For example, Dominic, a Spaniard (1170-1221), founded the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) to reform the Church through preaching and teaching. Likewise, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) formed the Minor Brethren to preach repentance to all and love for the oppressed.
Following the Divided Kingdoms, the periods of exiles, first of the Hebrews and then of the Roman pope, provide a further comparison between the Old and New Testament epochs. Because both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah failed to repent, and thus failed to establish the foundation for the coming of the Messiah, they were taken captive into Babylon. This exile lasted for 70 years. Likewise in the Christian era, a corrupted papacy was moved to France, also for 70 years.
Let us first examine the Old Testament exile. The northern kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians and destroyed in 721 B.C. The southern kingdom was invaded by the Babylonians in 597 B.C. Mass deportations were ordered, beginning a whole new period in Israelite history. It is said over 10,000 Jews were carried off to exile in Babylon.
Corresponding to the Babylonian exile, the papacy experienced a comparable captivity. When the medieval popes did not correct their errant ways, the papacy was exiled to France and remained there under the control of the French king. It was a period of confusion and humiliation for the Vatican and the Church.
When the period of papal captivity was over, the papacy was divided between Rome and southern France; later a further subdivision was made. These parties were finally integrated, and the papacy was revived in Rome. The papacy was thus reconstructed through a three-stage process. Including the times of captivity and return, the period lasted for 210 years.
After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews also returned in three stages, which developed over a period of 140 years. Combined with the 70-year exile, this meant that 210 years had elapsed after their Babylonian captivity began, matching the 210 years of the papal exile and return.
Period of Preparation
The last historical parallel between the Old and New Testament ages involves the final years of preparation for the Messiah, first for Israel and later for Christianity. Both periods lasted 400 years.
After the Hebrews' return from Babylonia, they rebuilt the Temple and repented. Centering their worship on the Temple and the Law, they progressively celebrated their spiritual lives. The prophet Ezra helped to generate much of the revitalization of Judaism during this time and is generally regarded as having helped build the foundation for the whole of post-exilic Jewish devotion. Ezra planted the seeds for the type of Judaism which was normative in the time of Jesus and which continues today. He also helped to prepare his people's descendants for the Messiah.
Corresponding to the 400-year Old Testament preparation for the Messiah described above, a similar period of 400 years existed during the Christian era from the time of the Reformation to World War I. As with the Old Testament epoch, this parallel age was a time of specific preparation for the Promised One; therefore, we will describe its major developments in some detail. The period begins with one particular German monk.
Martin Luther was the culmination of various trends emerging during the late medieval period, some of the more significant being those deriving from the influence of the Renaissance. Such Renaissance poets and literary masters as Petrarch and Boccaccio had celebrated humanist values with their emphasis on the glory of man and nature. Moreover, freedoms of thought and action all were stressed. Scholasticism, for example, emerged as a major factor in the dynamically changing new world. Intellectual life in general was enriched, especially by the rise of universities and the desire of the common man to read and to make his own decisions. These and other influences acted as a catalyst for the religious upheavals which followed.
The Renaissance witnessed the primacy of humanism, individualism and realism. Religiously, stress was laid on rational judgment rather than blind faith in the authority and competence of the Pope. The Renaissance was in many ways a response to an antiquated and authoritarian world view which had been championed largely by medieval Roman Catholicism and which tended to advocate the merits of asceticism, otherworldliness, obedience and collectivism. While itself the Renaissance was hedonistic and excessively worldly, its effect in the religious domain was to open the eyes of many to the failings of an increasingly corrupt and outdated Church.
The temper of the time did not fail to influence Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, this Augustinian monk posted on a church door in Wittenberg the famous Ninety-Five Theses, a detailed attack on the selling of papal indulgences. Articulating preexistent popular discontent, Luther's challenge to the Church's authority quickly swept through Germany; entire sections converted to Luther's position. By the time of his death, his reforms had spread beyond Germany into other northern European countries.
It is important to realize that Luther's revolt reflected an effort to recapture the living tradition of early and especially Pauline Christianity. For Luther, this was the hope of the Church. Advocating a return to the scriptural sources of the Church and an application of them to the Church in his own time, Luther sought to lead the Church back to its original pristine state.
In terms of God's dispensation, Luther's reform was a revolutionary step forward even though it was based on a "return" to an earlier religious vitality. Because Roman Christianity had lost much of its early fervor and strong messianic consciousness, it had lapsed into decline. It was thus necessary that reforms, culminating in the Protestant Reformation, took place. Such men as Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, William Farel and others were called to reshape Western Christianity in preparation for the Second Advent.
Great reforms took place not only in Protestant Christianity, however, but also in Roman Catholicism as well. For example, the Catholic Counter reformation enlisted the support of significant saintly figures, among them Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits. France, Spain, Italy and Poland remained loyal to the Pope only because of the efforts of reform-minded bishops and the zeal of the new Catholic orders such as the Jesuits.
Also contributing to the Catholic revival, the missionary movement pushed the frontiers of Catholicism into the Americas, Asia and other parts of the non-Western world. This helped to prepare all of humanity for the Second Advent. Brilliant missionaries in the sixteenth century made possible the spread of Christianity not only among common folk but also among scholars and societal leaders. Many of the Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans were remarkably skillful and devoted men. The Catholic scholar H. Daniel-Rops tells us that a missionary to China named Mattes Ricci, for example, adopted the exotic dress of a Chinese scholar and even a Chinese name in order not to thrust cultural barriers in the way of the Asian reception of Christ.
Further revitalizing movements developed among Protestants in the eighteenth century. To help offset the Enlightenment, the Pietist movement arose led by Philip Spener and Herman Francke. Such a movement, emphasizing a personal mystical encounter with God, may be seen as a revival addressed to those forms of Protestantism which two centuries after their birth had become arid and devoid of charity, warmth and human feeling.
Also in the eighteenth century, additional movements rekindled the declining fervor of an increasingly austere Protestantism. One of these derived from the work of John Wesley. Daniel-Rops, writing of this exemplar of Protestant piety, pays him the ultimate Catholic tribute:
"In England the revivalist who attempted to drag high churchmen from their routine and the Puritans from their hypocrisy bore a famous name John Wesley.... The man was indubitably made of the stuff from which the Catholic Church fashions her saints." ("The Church in the Eighteenth Century")
Along with the influence of Wesley, the work of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, George Fox and Count Zinzendorf further advance the spirituality of countless individuals, converting many through electrifying revivals and preaching.
Since the Protestant Reformation, therefore, we see a continuing renewal of personal piety and the Judeo-Christian social ethic in preparation for the Second Advent and the messianic New Age. The Lord was not inactive when segments of Protestantism lost some of their original zeal. Rather, He continually reignited Protestantism's early regenerative spirit through an unending stream of spiritual giants and charismatic reformers.
Divine Principle teaches that the providential purpose of the Industrial Revolution was to improve conditions and provide an ideal physical environment in preparation for the New Age. Beginning in Great Britain, this development also aided European colonialism and imperialism, the effect of which was to propel Christian missionaries throughout the world to educate all peoples about God's nature, work and plan as revealed in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Europe and America were transformed by the Industrial Revolution from stable agricultural societies to modern industrialized cultures. The social abuses which accompanied these changes should have provided churches with opportunities for social activism on behalf of the urban poor. Unfortunately, relatively few churchmen responded.
Nevertheless, as in the case of imperialism and the missionary activity which accompanied it, God was able to use morally flawed instruments to attain His purposes; thus, even the social ills generated by unmitigated and unrestrained capitalism were, from the point of view of the dispensation of restoration, offset by compensating benefits. Primary among these was the material preparation of the world for the Second Advent; vast improvements in transportation, communications and general technology have helped to bind together different cultures, develop new understanding and to transmit new truth.
In contrast to the eighteenth century, which saw the emergence in Christian lands of Protestant luminaries who were able to re-inspire large numbers of lukewarm Christians, in the nineteenth century the advances were made by missionaries sent out to non-Western lands to introduce the Gospel and make new converts. These evangelists were particularly active in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Christianity was being extended and the nineteenth century, as we shall see, was its crowning moment.
Through this century, the time matured at last. President Henry P. Van Dusen of Union Theological Seminary has written of this period, affirming the nineteenth century as Christianity's greatest epoch:
"By any appropriate calculus number of conversions, increase in membership, adventure into new areas, launching of new enterprises, founding of new churches and societies this (the 19th century) was the epoch of Christianity's greatest vitality and most valuable advance. Christianity had become, at last, a world religion...." ("World Christianity")
Christianity now has a wider geographic spread and is more deeply rooted among more peoples than any other religion in the history of mankind. For Divine Principle, of course, such a development is in keeping with a recognition of the centrality of Christianity in God's providence.
Christianity's growth in the global arena is not accident. The Church of Jesus has been God's primary instrument to educate the people of the world as to His ways and purposes. Through it, He has sought to establish a foundation for His coming Kingdom a Kingdom which is to be precipitated by the universally significant event of the Second Advent.
The advances made by the Church in the late nineteenth century were critical preparations for the messianic age dawning in the twentieth. Consequently, we live today in the most important moment in human history: the coming of the Second Advent. In the vast span of human history, including this multilayered process of preparation, we are now at the point at which God's ideal is to dawn.
As already detailed, the periods of the Hebrew and Christian eras when totaled add up to nineteen hundred and thirty years. Accordingly, one may anticipate that the year 1930 was the year of the Messiah's birth. Is that in fact the case?
Divine Principle explains that the year cannot be pinpointed so exactly. After all, differences of several years were often observed throughout the dispensational history. The period of persecution in the Roman Empire, for instance, was to be four hundred years, but actually lasted only until 392 A.D.
As a matter of fact, another date is also suggested by the timetable we have been describing. The period of Preparation for the Second Coming began with the Reformation in 1517 and was to end four hundred years later. Based on this, we may expect the Second Coming to have occurred in 1917.
Without placing undue emphasis on a specific date, Divine Principle does assert that the historical processes determining the time of the Second Advent have been completed. Therefore, the moment is at hand. As a pinpoint of light within a dark globe, the messianic age now is dawning.
While it is natural, of course, to want to see and meet the new Messiah, such a privilege may not be widespread at first. Two thousand years ago Jesus did not immediately proclaim his messiahship. There was an unseen and unheard, yet steady, preparation period during his private life when very few people knew who he was. After this period, he struggled during his public ministry to prepare the foundation for fulfilling his messianic purpose. During this time also he was very cautious about disclosing his role. Mark tells us in his Gospel, for example, that when Peter identified Jesus as the Christ, the Master instructed him to "tell no one" (Mk 8:30).
At the Second Coming, the new Deliverer must also go through a similar course of preparation during his life. Just as Jesus was initially recognized only by a comparative few--by those who had ears to hear and eyes to see--so the Lord's mission is likely to be perceived at first only by a limited few and to develop gradually thereafter. His role and work thus cannot be immediately made manifest. As was the case with Jesus, his identity will be revealed through time to humanity at large. It is, in a sense, only the chosen few who are likely to recognize him early in the process.
The Messianic Theater
If Christ is to return in our day, let us ask where this is likely to take place.
In the parable of the vineyard, Jesus indicated that he would not come again to Israel:
"When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons." ... "Therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it" (Mt 21:41-43).
Some may say that the Jewish race is eternally chosen, and therefore Israel must be the center for the Messiah's activities. As we have indicated, however, Divine Principle takes exception to this position. When Jacob prevailed over the angel, he received a new name: Israel. The name signifies the person or nation which triumphs by faith. It is thus a spiritual designation and does not necessarily mean the physical descendants of Abraham and Jacob. As John the Baptist pointed out, one should not base one's identity overly much on one's physical ancestry. "Do not presume to say to yourselves 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Mt 3:9).
Even the Apostle Paul, himself a Jew, attested to the fact that the true Israel was no longer Jewish:
"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but 'Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.' This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants" (Rom 9:6-8).
It is plain, then, that the role of the chosen nation was shifted to the Gentiles. The Christians have become the Second Israel. The problem is identifying which nation of the Christian world is the one to which the Messiah will come.
Coming From The East
For reasons which we will explain, Divine Principle teachers that the new chosen nation of God is the land of Korea. While this assertion is novel, it is, as we shall show, nevertheless reasonable. God's actions are not haphazard; He does not do things without cause. If a nation is to be chosen by Him for His purposes, there must be a rationale behind it. Let us examine possible explanations.
There is, first of all, biblical evidence to support the idea of the chosen nation being from the East. In the Book of Revelation (7:2-4) we read that an angel would ascend from the rising of the sun--in other words, from the East. It is true that all great spiritual movements have started in the East; it is therefore quite logical that the new Messiah would come from the East.
A further reason that the universal God would send the Messiah to an Eastern nation is not far to seek. Even though Christians have played the central role in God's providence, all people are God's children and are eventually to be members of the Kingdom. Buddhists, Jews, Shintoists and members of all other world religions are to participate in the reconstructed world established through the ministry of the Second Advent.
Upon his coming, therefore, the Lord is to unite both Christians and non-Christians into one family, centered on God. As the new Messiah is thus to harmonize and unify the world's religions, he is to fulfill the purpose not only of Christianity, but also of other major religions. It is necessary, therefore, that the Messiah come from a land where both Christianity and Eastern religions are deeply entrenched.
Since there are no Western countries in which Oriental religion is deeply established, but there are Asian nations in which Christianity is widely practiced, it would make sense for the Lord of the Second Advent to come from the East. One reason, therefore, that Korea forms the core of God's new dispensation is that it is a nation bearing the fruits of many religions. Many of the world's great spiritual and ethical traditions, particularly Buddhism and Confucianism, have flourished in this land. Also, Christianity itself is deeply established there. Indeed, before the communist takeover of northern Korea, its capital city, Pyongyang, was known because of its many churches as the "Jerusalem of the East."
Secondly, the new chosen land is to be a cosmic altar representing the entire world. As the human family was divided originally by Cain and Abel, so today it is divided globally by communism and democracy, or Cain and Abel on the worldwide level. Representing the world, the chosen nation itself is to be divided, as Korea is between the communist North and the more democratic South. In this way, Korea symbolizes the world.
In the view of Divine Principle, the face-off at Panmunjom is a microcosm of a spiritual and political macrocosm. For God's providence to be accomplished, however, the murderous outcome of the original split between Cain and Abel must be redeemed. Centering in God, North and South Korea are to unite. Of necessity, the atheistic totalitarianism of the North must give way to an ideology which gives proper recognition to the spiritual dimension of man and the living reality of God.
Divine Principle suggests that the Korean War of 1950-53 was an event of special providential significance. North Korea attacked the unsuspecting South in June 1950. The South Koreans fought back, assisted by sixteen nations of the United Nations. In this first major confrontation between communism and democracy, nations not concerned with the immediate issue thus participated in a conflict against a satanic, godless regime. In the eyes of God, such an event can have no small significance. Indeed, in light of Divine Principle, one may say that in a moment of crisis the world came to the aid of a stricken instrument of God. Remarkably enough, such an action on the part of sixteen UN member nations could only be sanctioned by that body because of the deliberate absence of the Soviet delegate in the Security Council, making the USSR's veto impossible.
Divine Principle advances a third reason for the chosen role of Korea. Ever since the fall of man, God has grieved over His broken creation. He has not been relieved from His grief, nor has He rested from His unceasing labor of restoration. As long as mankind rebels, His grief and suffering will persist.
Because of humankind's continual rebellion, the servants of God historically have been persecuted and have suffered with Him. Until God rests, His servants cannot rest. Parallel to the suffering of God, then, the chosen people are destined to go through a course of suffering themselves.
Korea is a nation which, like ancient Israel, has been tried through unmerited persecution and foreign oppression, most recently by Japan. For forty years, from 1905 to 1945, Japanese imperialists oppressed and persecuted the people they had subjugated. Koreans were deprived of their freedom, and countless numbers were jailed and slaughtered. Christians, who by and large refused to pledge their loyalty to the Japanese emperor, were particularly persecuted. It was part of a price to be paid for Korea's modern role. In the Last Days, the turmoil within this nation is likely to become even more intense. Through such events the Korean people will continue to pay a necessary price for their crucial task in the New Age.
Although Korea has been warred against many times, let us note that the reverse has not happened. Since the chosen nation is to serve as a kingdom of priests, it should be innocent of aggression throughout its history. In fact, this is the case with Korea: it has never initiated an attack itself.
Fourth, beyond the indemnity Korea has paid, it has special and unique spiritual traditions which help qualify it as the central object of God's concern. For example, just as the Israelites knew through the prophets that the Messiah was to come to save the, so also have the Korean people believed for centuries that one day a king of righteousness would come to Korea. This strong messianic expectation is largely a result of a Korean book of prophecy written over five hundred years ago.
In addition, the Korean people are known for possessing inner qualities which we must say could serve them well in their role as a chosen people. The unique history of this homogenous people has strengthened their character and deepened their faith. On the basis of this heart, Christianity was received beginning in the eighteenth century. In the view of Divine Principle, when God sent Christianity to Korea, He made His final preparation for the Lord of the Second Coming.
Despite all these understandings, the assertion that Korea is the new chosen nation of God will nevertheless strike many as quite surprising. However, let us recall that the God of history has often acted in surprising ways. Who would have expected, for example, that a shepherd boy named David would be called by God to be a king of Israel--and perhaps the greatest one at that? In the same vein, how likely would it have seemed that the son of a humble carpenter, rather than a high priest or distinguished rabbi, would be called by God as the long-awaited Messiah? With such precedents as these, it becomes clear that we cannot expect the Lord to be guided by conventional human anticipation and norms. It seems the requirement placed on us, rather, is to be continually open to new possibilities.
In any event, let us keep the role of the chosen nation in perspective. All people are God's children and all are loved by Him. The purpose of God's choosing a nation is thus not to exalt it over the world, but rather to use it to serve the world. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant," says Jesus, "and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (Mk 10:43-44). With such a principle being the guiding ethic of one's anointment, the task of a chosen people is, at least initially, neither glorious nor easy. Theirs is the sacrificial role of a servant nation.
There are several major parallels between our time and that of Jesus which give one pause for thought and which should be noted. First, these two time periods reflect a similarity in God's apparent strategy. Divine Principle asserts that the Creator's original intention was to have His dispensation expand from Jesus to the Israelite nation, from Israel to Rome, and from Rome to the rest of humankind. Rome, as the hub of the ancient world, was thus a critical factor in the divine battle plan. If the new work of God could strongly impact Rome, the world could be turned to God's way.
Assuming that the central tool of God's providence, in terms of world religion, is Christianity, and that the new Israel is Korea, let us ask which country now is in the position of the ancient Roman Empire. Clearly, that nation is the United States of America.
In the view of the Divine Principle, the vast land of America has been prepared by God to play a special role with reference to the Second Coming. The spiritual motivation of the Puritan settlers, the religious traditions of America (for example, every day its Congress is opened with prayer, the president's oath of office is sworn on the Bible), the fact that the United States is in some way consecrated to God (the national motto is "In God We Trust") all suggest America's special--almost covenantal--relationship with the Lord. Indeed, throughout its two hundred years, many Americans have felt their nation had a special mission for God.
The relationship between Korea and America is thus similar to that between Rome and Israel at the time of Jesus. Rome was to help expand Christianity through Rome's relatively advanced civilization and imperial power; the United States has a similar mission today. As the dominant world power in the twentieth century, as an exemplar of democratic freedoms, as a center of technological advance and global communications and as a defender of free world values, the United States has a unique opportunity to facilitate the spread of God's new dispensation.
Secondly, let us remind ourselves once again of the challenge facing contemporary Christianity. During Jesus' lifetime, members of the Jewish religious elite were unable to accept his authority. Consequently, they rejected his message and failed to develop the providence of God. A comparable problem may afflict the leadership within present-day Christianity. Clinging to dogma and institutions, in many cases Christianity has become conservative--even reactionary--and unable to provide the vision necessary to constructing a just and loving global society global society. If it is to survive as a significant force as it approaches its third millennium, Christianity must be revitalized by connecting with God's new dispensation. Failing that, it could become little more than a vestigial relic, reminding future generations only of a hope that failed.
Christians and people of all backgrounds throughout the world must now awaken to the fact that God has begun a new work. He has obtained His foothold on earth, the foundation of His dwelling with men. Through this pivotal foundation, He is to turn the spiritual axis of the universe unwaveringly in the direction of eternal good. If Christians and all peoples can become aware of this new development in the Lord's ongoing work on earth, and if they can participate in it, continued blessing will be theirs.
Today, then, the time is full. The old heaven and the old earth are now passing away and a new heaven and a new earth are being established. God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of His people; neither shall there be mourning or crying, nor pain any more. With the Book of Revelation, we exclaim:
"Hallelujah! for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory...." (Rev 19:6)
The New Age is now dawning. The Lord of the Second Advent will reign over heaven and earth with divine truth and parental love, and his Kingdom will live forever.
God has been described as the One who "changeth not." And perhaps the greatness of the Divine Principle lies in its particular recognition of this fact: the Lord is still intent on fulfilling His original purpose of creation; He has never wavered from this ideal. Everything else in the Divine Principle message derives from this simple point. That history is directed toward the Kingdom of God, that the Cross was a frustration of God's original intent, that a new Messiah must inevitably come on earth--all these insights are linked to the fact of God's faithfulness to His first purposes. "Great is they faithfulness" writes the prophet (Lam 3:23). And so it is: God will fulfill His original ideal.
That this ideal cannot be realized without human cooperation, however, was movingly suggested by one well-known German, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian who in the 1930s was imprisoned by the Nazis for his leadership in the resistance movement. He suffered in a German prison camp and ultimately was martyred there. Despite his own suffering, this modern saint once called upon his fellow believers to "stand by God in the hour of His grieving." It is a call that both suggests his own sense of God's heart and raises the issue of what humans can do about it.
While Bonhoeffer clearly had in mind the horrors of the Nazi regime, Divine Principle reveals that the suffering of God is long-standing and multifaceted. As any parent is pained by conflict and suffering among his children, God Himself is grieved over the tragedies, major and minor, of our globe. Only universal reconciliation of the individual with himself, of man with his fellow man, and of man with God, can diminish the suffering of all parties concerned. And, as Bonhoeffer suggested, such reconciliation cannot be effected by God alone. The Lord needs us to stand by Him.
The great opportunity of our time is to participate with the Lord of the Second Coming as he seeks to re-form the world according to God's ideal. Unbelievable as it may seem, something that humankind has been awaiting for thousands of years is to occur in our time. As it is a moment which is likely to be remembered for eons to come, blessed are those who share in it!
The promise of Divine Principle is that each person can grow to become individually united with God, can become a true husband or wife to his mate and a true parent to his descendants, and can be a mature lord of God's creation. As we have indicated, the catalyst of all this happening is the new Messiah and the new expression of God's Word that he brings. To understand the Word more fully, we encourage your continued study of Divine Principle. There is much more to be learned.
Your spiritual progress depends entirely on you and the choices you make. Of course, it always has, but perhaps it's more obvious now. May God be with you, filling you with His love and inspiration; and, living in faith, hope and love, may you fulfill in your life your own hopes and those of the divine Lover above.
How well do you understand your study of The Second Advent? To test your knowledge, you can try the following questions:
1. Which of the following does Divine Principle offer as a reason for its assertion that the Second Advent will not be fulfilled by Jesus?
A. John the Baptist was not Elijah himself.
B. God never uses the same person twice to fulfill an assigned task.
C. The physical body is created to exist on earth only one time.
D. All of the above.
2. According to Divine Principle, the concept of the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven may be best understood
B. as referring to the first coming.
C. as referring to the sacredness and goodness of the Messiah's coming.
D. as descriptive of apocalyptic atmospheric conditions.
3. What is the central purpose behind the development first of Israel and then of Christianity?
A. To establish many synagogues and churches
B. To prepare for and declare the crucifixion of Jesus
C. To establish a foundation for the advent of the messiah
D. To educate the faithful as to God's principles and laws
4. Why is there a parallelism in the histories of the Israelite people and the Christian Church?
A. It is mere coincidence.
B. Christianity succeeded Israel as God's central instrument for preparing for the messiah.
C. God works according to principle and law.
D. Both B and C.
5. The reception by Moses of the Ten Commandments is paralleled by what development in the Christian era?
A. Constantine's recognition of Christianity in 313 A.D.
B. The guidance of the Church by powerful bishops
C. The canonization of the New Testament
D. The anguish of the early Christian martyrs
6. In the view of Divine Principle, the purpose of the Jewish Temple was
A. to provide a house of worship for the faithful Hebrews.
B. to serve as a testimony to the glory and grandeur of God.
C. to foreshadow the coming of the Messiah.
D. to differentiate between the Hebrew faith and the faith of Solomon's wives.
7. One providential reason for the Industrial Revolution was
A. to improve the lot of agricultural workers.
B. to initiate the proper use of natural resources.
C. to show how God could use a morally flawed instrument to attain His purposes.
D. to prepare the material environment for the coming of the New Age.
8. In the view of Divine Principle, the timing of the birth of the new Messiah will be determined by
A. the stars.
B. the bringing to completion of certain historical processes and preparations.
C. nothing. Consistent with God's sovereignty, He will make the decision on His own.
D. the yearning of humanity for salvation.
9. Which of the following is "not" a reason for Divine Principle's assertion of Korea as the chosen nation?
A. Korea's background of suffering
B. The need to unite the Judeo-Christian and Oriental religious traditions
C. Korea is a geographically small nation, as is Israel.
D. Korea is a microcosm of the global political situation.
Answers: 1-B, 2-C, 3-C, 4-D, 5-A, 6-C, 7-D, 8-B, 9-C.