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Rev. Sun Myung Moon:

His Life and Works

Rev. Moon & Mrs. Moon in Harlem

WHAT RELIGIOUS SCHOLARS SAY ABOUT HIM

Dr. Ninian Smart
Professor of Comparative Religions
The University of California at Santa Barbara, US 

It is remarkable how open and free the conferences he sponsored were. He fully appreciated, as seen by his actions, the nature of science and scholarship. This was true both of the way he attempted to implement his vision of the unity of science and his God at the conferences, likewise at his meetings on world peace and the family. So the first main achievement would be his dedication to an open society of scholars and religious people. This combined with an undoubted ecumenism. He was always eager to attract Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and many more to his gatherings. Though he and his followers assert the veracity of their worldview, this has in no way prevented his giving the utmost freedom to those whose traditions differ from his ideas.

Perhaps I can interpret his generosity and openness from the point of view of my own convictions, as a person who has been friendly with many members of his Church, and who has been happy to work with them and Rev. Moon; I do not share his theology but I admire his work and contribution to the world. I regard myself as a loyal Anglican, and therefore believe in Trinity, and therefore in the Holy Spirit, which is among other things the Light that lightens every person. Too often the Holy Spirit is neglected by Christians; it is relevant to Rev. Moon’s achievements.

So it can be that Rev. Moon’s vigorous engagement with the contemporary world supplies emphases which are important to other religions. They can be neglected by the inward-looking nature of Buddhism, and other-worldliness of mainstream Christianity. His early experience of Stalinism imprinted itself indelibly on his consciousness, and resulted in a strong belief in the future which had rid itself of Communism’s repressive system. The point was that Communism failed to give a reverence to the individual human being. There were, of course, other Christians who shared this perception with Rev. Moon, notably Pope John Paul II. For Rev. Moon it was both fortunate and unfortunate that his main engagement with America occurred in the 1970s, when many well-meaning people had accepted the part-truth of Marxism, often naively, as a result of their opposition to the Vietnam War. But Rev. Moon’s opposition to the Soviet Union and its system was based on religion, and on the form of Christianity in particular. He was unfortunate in that many American liberals opposed his message because they had missed essential importance of humanity, and this is integral to the Christian message. His theology was a complement to much contemporary Christian theology.

One of his inspiring visions has to do with his married followers: not invariably, but most frequently, they share races, share nationalities. And this trend is growing in the world. It undermines our racial distinctions. He has paved the way for this diminution of such categories. Indeed, as the Census in America will sooner or later have to acknowledge that people of mixed marriages cannot simply be assigned to one category or another. We are all children of the same humanity; and from religion’s point of view are rooted in the Transcendent.

The question of the family makes our attitude to sex serious. In many ways, our modern knowledge about sex makes us more relaxed than in older Christian days. I respect the vision of Rev. Moon and Mrs. Moon of a vast congregation of those who acknowledge his mission and who join him in a single family, which embraces many families. The people of this world who have reared families and who live together in amity and joy should recognize that vision of his as a vital ingredient in true happiness. But again as with religions, people differ in their interpretation of the divine will; but those diverse interpretations ought in the new world to live together in harmony. And the vision of the family implies too a vision of education. The parents need to bring up children in love and knowledge. This implies the stability of the family.

He has stamped a mark on our epoch, from before the Korean War till the present age and after the year 2000. But already his achievements are immense.


Dr. Harvey Cox
Protestant Theologian, Harvard Divinity School, US

Here is a movement which manages to combine religious universality, Pentecostal immediacy, a warmly supportive family and a program for allegedly building the kingdom of God on earth. Such a potent admixture cannot be dismissed lightly.

 

Joseph Fichter, SJ
Late Jesuit priest and sociologist of religion, US
Author of the book The Holy Family of Father Moon

From his article Marriage, Family, and Sun Myung Moon in America magazine:

While marriage counselors and parish clergy are wringing their hands over the breakdown of modern family life, the Unification Church proposes a solution. The God-centered family is not merely a nice slogan or a spiritual ideal suggested by the churches leaders. It is the essential core of community among the faithful of the church. It is also a deeply motivated system for restoring marital fidelity and family stability to modern society.

Whatever one may say in criticism of the Unification Church as a social and religious movement and even as a purveyer of theological heresy, one has to recognize its systematic program for the restoration of “old-fashioned” morality, its emphasis on chastity before marriage, prayful preparation for marriage, a readiness to accept guidance in the choice of a spouse, marital love reflective of love of God, transmission of spiritual perfection to children. The Unification Church insists that religion is the moral bond of family solidarity and that the family is the moral basis of society.

 

Professor Cromwell Crawford
Professor of Religion, University of Hawaii, US

Rev. Moon is one of these select multi-cultural individuals. It is now well-known that for the past 20 years or so he has been performing international marriages. Thousands of individuals of every race, culture and nation have been united by him in holy matrimony. The full impact of these crossover marriages will be fully felt in offspring of the second and third generations. Already the bonding of individuals who, otherwise, would have perpetuated traditional divisions, has produced profound changes, because the foundations of love and peace have been laid on the most basic foundation of society, namely, the family.

I have personally witnessed three of these international ceremonies, and though they have been described in the media as ‘mass marriages,’ I have found the exchange of vows to be uncommonly elevated by the element of the miraculous, because, if it were not for the Blessing of one man, they would surely not be husband and wife together. Each one of these couplings is a mediated marriage. While other leaders talk of “family values,” Rev. Moon creates them.

The image of Rev. Moon as a mediating man is best exemplified in the area of religion, for it is his love of God that animates all of the activities we have mentioned, and many more. Moon is not a missionary; he is a mediator. His goal is not to convert but to convince, to reason, and to respect. As a scholar in the field of Comparative Religion, I find it safe to say that there are few, if any, who have done more for the cause of inter-faith dialogue than Rev. Moon. He has generously sponsored hundreds of international conferences in which people freely discuss matters of faith. I have been honoured to serve as moderator on numerous occasions, and am therefore able to testify to the true ecumenicity and openness of these conferences.

What I have learned through international, inter-religious gatherings is that we cannot claim there is some common “core” in all religions, so that Hindus and Christians are referring to the same “Reality.” Simultaneously, the Hindu need not reject the insights of the Christian, because he may have equally valid truth. Therefore, the task of truly understanding and appreciating other religions makes demands upon us to be sensitive to what others are saying and to evaluate it without presupposing that, on some deep level, they are really saying what we are saying. Having this open attitude, when the Hindu and Christian encounter each other in these conferences, they are indeed mutually enriched, because they learn from one another without surrendering their uniqueness. This has been my observation of academic meetings sponsored by Rev. Moon, and though there are no pretensions to find precise correspondence with his stated teachings, Liberation Theology has taught the value of praxis, and I bear witness to the genuine ecumenicity of all such gatherings. Christians always leave as better Christians for having dialogued with Buddhists, and so forth. There is no presumption of “anonymous Christians” because the spirit these meetings communicate is that each faith has a unique slice of life, which is worthy of respect, and perhaps, emulation.

The celebration of Rev. Moon’s 80th birthday is more than a glorious day in the life of a man; it is also the celebration of new types of individuals he has inspired--mediating men and women, who can act as links between diverse cultures, races and religions of the world. For the demands of the 21st. century, the role of such persons is no longer nice, it is necessary.

 

Dr. Juergen Redhardt
Professor Emeritus of Theology, psychologist, Giessen, Germany

In my opinion, Sun Myung Moon can without doubt be included in this extensive catalogue of characteristics of "saints". Under the precondition that every saint without exception is only able to objectify and demonstrate a single perspective on the truth of the gospel, one may well state: Sun Myung Moon belongs to the lineage of those who, in terms of biography and life content, in a particularly vivid and unforgettable way represent that which all Christians demand: to take responsibility for the initiating nature of God's love. He establishes here markers and directional constants, which one ought to take seriously. Sun Myung Moon is in full accordance with the most essential and unmistakable characteristic of saintliness: to bring strongly into focus again a socially predominant, diffuse, but currently dying relationship to God.

 

Irving Hexham
Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Canada

And who is the Reverent Moon? Frankly, I am unable to give an answer to this question. Like Gamaliel in the Acts of the Apostles, 5:34 -39, I can only council caution. Clearly, the Rev. Moon is a great religious visionary who ranks among the greatest religious figures of history. Clearly, he is a very gifted, far sighted, individual who has a keen sense of history and God’s providence. Clearly, he is a charismatic figure who attracts followers by his example, lifestyle and teaching. Equally clearly, his works cannot be judged from the perspective of the present time if only because he has not yet completed his mission.

From the book Understanding Cults and New Religions

 

Dr. Paul Schwarzenau
Professor Emeritus of Protestant Theology and Comparative Religion,
University of Dortmund, Germany

Summary of a four-page tribute:

I have always been interested in certain ideas in the Divine Principle, which the Christian churches cannot afford to ignore. Irrespective of, or indeed because of my standpoint as a Protestant theologian, I am of the opinion that Christianity has reached a point at which it must further develop through a relationship with the great world religions and the great non-European cultural spheres. Christianity must find the courage to free itself from the limitations of the western cultural sphere.

According to the teaching of the distinguished psychologist C. G. Jung, Jesus appeared proclaiming the Kingdom of God, which should naturally dawn on earth, but his life ended on the cross and, instead of the Kingdom, arose the church and the separation between the church and the world. In the history of Christianity, there have been very few attempts to overcome this split. The Divine Principle, however, researches this in detail. According to the Principle, in the perfected universe, God is fully perfected and fulfilled only through perfected human beings. This is a theory of the Divine which at last accords with the dignity of man. Further, it is a theory appropriate for modern man, who is bound to partnership and democracy.

In each of us, as well as in the churches, there is a bit of "Second Coming", a subconscious striving for a more perfected philosophy of man, embracing both the spiritual and the physical realms. There is therefore a renewed emphasis on apocalyptic matters in today's churches. There is a search for the realisation not only of things spiritual, but also of the ideal, "as in heaven, so also on earth". In striving for such a reality, we could enter into brotherly dialogue with the Unification movement, by mutually stimulating each other and strengthening our powers of expectation.

Dr. Richard Rubenstein
Historian of Religion, President Emeritus, University of Bridgeport, US 

I must confess that as a historian of religion who received his scientific training at Harvard University, your explicit and unambiguous sharing with us of your understanding of who you are is one of the most extraordinary moments of my entire career. Indeed, you yourself have described the announcement of your calling as "astonishing and fearful". For myself and for many of my peers whose vocation is the scientific study of religion, awesome religious inspiration is something that happened, if at all, long ago. We are most comfortable studying derivative accounts of religious inspiration and revelation in books and manuscripts. Engaged in this labor, we are interested in our subject matter; we are calm; we are dispassionate and without inner disturbance. The situation is radically transformed, indeed it is, as you say, truly "astonishing," when we are confronted by an inspired religious leader whose vocation is in the process of unfolding in our own times and even before our very eyes. We are not accustomed to such a manifestation of spiritual power and charisma. Our scientific and professional training has not prepared us for the encounter. Hence, we guard ourselves against it by inventing psychological categories to neutralize its potency as well as our discomfort before it. Nevertheless, the spiritual power is there, and, whatever may be the religious tradition in which we are rooted, we feel it. Of one thing concerning your messianic vision I am certain: all of your works, from which the world has already derived so much benefit, have sprung from your messianic vision. Without it, there would be no ICUS, no PWPA, no Washington Times, no Assembly of World Religions, no Little Angels School, no revivified University of Bridgeport ; without your messianic vision, your original tiny church in Pusan would never have become the worldwide religious force for human betterment you now lead.

That statement expresses much of what I feel about Rev. Moon and his mission. To repeat, no person in my adult life apart from my family has had a greater impact on my adult life.

Rev. Moon, the task you have set for yourself and for us requires the cooperation of every segment of humanity…Someone must bring them together. Someone must provide the structures and the leadership with which such cooperation becomes possible. It will assuredly not happen by itself. No one has reached out so extensively , consistently and universally to bring intelligent men and women together in shared endeavor as have you. It is for this reason that men and women of many faiths and traditions can turn to you and accept your leadership.

J. Gordon Melton
Executive Director, Institute for the Study of American Religions at the University of California, Santa Barbara, US

"The most successful new religion of the past century?
"Probably Scientology," Dr. Melton said. Other successful movements include the Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon..."
New York Times article. "Seeking Entry-Level Prophet: Burning Bush and Tablets Not Required." August, 2006.


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