Unification Church

Moonies

Moon, Sun Myung

{myuhng}

General Information

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, b. Jan. 6, 1920, is a Korean religious leader who in 1954 founded the Unification Church. A Presbyterian minister, Moon in 1946 began to proclaim his own version of Christianity, the doctrines of which he explained in The Divine Principle (1952). The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, established 2 years later, rapidly won converts in Korea, Japan, and, in the 1960s, the United States. In 1973, Moon moved the church's headquarters to Tarrytown, N Y, and has since lived mostly in the United States.

Many of his followers, popularly called "Moonies," regard their leader as a new messiah; the most devoted practice a rigorous discipline and communal living. Moon's critics have accused the organization of brainwashing recruits and of devoting more time to anti Communist propaganda than to religious ideals. Moon himself has been charged with financial irregularities and illegal political activities on behalf of the South Korean government. The church has been involved in frequent lawsuits, and in 1982, Moon, convicted of tax evasion by a US court, was sentenced to an 18 month prison term.

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Bibliography:
C Edwards, Crazy for God (1979); I Horowitz, ed., Science, Sin, and Scholarship (1978); F Sontag, Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church (1977).


Unification Church

Advanced Information

The original and official name of this new religious movement founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. Despite its relatively small size (less than 500,000 members worldwide), it has received considerable publicity and media attention because of its controversial beliefs and practices.

Moon was born to Presbyterian parents in Korea in 1920. He claims that on Easter Sunday, 1936, while in prayer on a Korean hillside, Jesus appeared to him and revealed that he had been chosen to complete the work which Jesus had begun. This experience was the first in a series of revelatory encounters with God in which Moon states that he received new truth for a new age. The new revelations and teachings of Rev. Moon were subsequently set forth in the Divine Principle, first published in 1957. Moon officially established his new church in 1954 with the avowed purpose of bringing salvation to the world and initiating a truly international family.

The doctrine of the Unification Church is highly eclectic and spiritistic in nature. It reflects the peculiarities of Korea's religiously fertile soil and Moon's lifelong interest in spiritualistic phenomena. The presence of much biblical and Christian terminology in Unification theology has led casual observers to conclude that Moon's church is just another variant of Christianity. However, Moon himself has admitted that his teachings are heretical from the standpoint of traditional, orthodox Christianity. He maintains that because of sectarian divisions and the inability of conventional churches to meet the needs of today's complex world, God desires to communicate a new revelation of truth which, assisted by the spirit world and the movement's loyal followers (popularly known as "Moonies"), will bring about a spiritual revolution. Such a movement will result in the true, lasting unification of the family of man and the world.

At the core of Unification theology is Moon's teaching on the fall of Adam and Eve. According to the Divine Principle, the primary theological document of the Unification Church, no one has truly understood the fall until Moon's revelation, which brought illumination and clarification to the existing biblical account. Moonies believe that Lucifer seduced Eve and that this sexual union caused the spiritual fall of mankind as well as the fall of Lucifer. Eve then entered into a sexual relationship with Adam, which resulted in the physical fall of man.

This dual aspect of the fall, spiritual and physical, requires a restoration to God (salvation) which is likewise both spiritual and physical in nature. Unificationists teach that God's original intention for humankind at the time of creation was for men and women to mature to perfection in God, to be united by God in a marriage centered on God's love, and to produce perfect children, thereby establishing a sinless family and ultimately a sinless world. God's plans were thwarted by the fall, however, and it then became God's desire to restore all things in order to bring about the earthly and heavenly kingdom of God.

In order to accomplish this, Unificationists teach that a Messiah, a Christ, is required. According to the Divine Principle, God finally found an obedient man, Jesus, who came in Adam's place to restore mankind. Moonies teach that Jesus was not God, but a perfect man without original sin. God's intention was for Jesus to take a perfected bride in Eve's place, marry, and produce sinless children. Ultimately, other perfect families would be formed and God's plan for the restoration of the whole of society would be accomplished. This is the essence of the Divine Principle, God's plan for the restoration of humanity, which once was hidden but, Unificationists believe, now has been made plain.

A central teaching of the Unification Church is that God's will was thwarted by the crucifixion of Jesus. Moonies teach that it was not God's original intention that Jesus die. In this sense Jesus failed to complete his mission; he did not marry; he did not achieve physical redemption. Because Jesus saved mankind spiritually but not physically, it is necessary, according to Unification thought, for another Messiah, the Lord of the Second Advent, to bring about physical redemption. This will occur during the messianic age (also referred to as the completed testament age or the new age), which is now upon the earth.

The Divine Principle implies that the Lord of the Second Advent will be born in Korea and that all religions will unite under him. Unification Church members feel that the Messiah is already on earth, although many are reticent about publicly declaring that Sun Myung Moon is that Messiah. Moon himself is evasive on the topic, claiming that his mission is to proclaim the coming of the messianic age and that God will reveal the identity of the Messiah, the "central figure," to the hearts of sincere seekers.

R M Enroth
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

Bibliography:
J Bjornstad, The Moon Is Not the Son; R M Enroth, Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults and The Lure of the Cults; F Sontag, Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church; J I Yamamoto, The Puppet Master and "Unification Church," in A Guide to Cults and New Religions, ed. R M Enroth.


The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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