True Mother and the Work of the Holy Spirit
Dr. Andrew Wilson (UTS Class of 1978) is Professor of Scriptural Studies at Unification Theological Seminary. He edited World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts and World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This article is adapted from the author’s paper delivered before the Inauguration and Symposium of the Cheon Il Guk Academy of Arts and Sciences in August 2016.
True Mother, according to the Divine Principle, is the substantial Holy Spirit. Now that True Father is in heaven, True Mother remains on earth, like the Holy Spirit was after Pentecost.
After Jesus Christ died, the primary subject partner that guided the early church was the Holy Spirit. In this parallel period after the death of Christ at the Second Advent, True Mother can be expected to lead the church and do works that are similar to those the Holy Spirit did after the death of Christ at the First Advent.
Accordingly, one way that we can appreciate True Mother and her works during these years following True Father’s Seonghwa is by understanding her mission in terms of the mission of the Holy Spirit. It is this role that I will address.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit fulfilled a number of missions in the years immediately following Jesus’ death, including: (1) bring the disciples to internal oneness with Christ; (2) promote evangelism to grow the church; (3) raise up new leaders; (4) establish new ordinances; and (5) clarify the meaning of Jesus’ words for the church. Let’s examine these five missions of the Holy Spirit and compare them with the work of True Mother over the last four years.
- Internal Oneness with Christ
Saint Paul describes the internal work of the Holy Spirit in the 8th chapter of Romans. The essence of this work is to bind Christians with Christ. Paul wrote, it is the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15-17). The Holy Spirit brings Christians into a parent-child relationship with God.
The Holy Spirit loves Jesus spiritually. True Mother loved True Father conjugally. Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are reborn as God’s adopted children. True Mother gave us rebirth as God’s direct children. True Mother spent three years to attend True Father on our behalf (in Korean Confucian tradition it is the children, especially the sons, who are supposed to mourn their deceased father for three years).
Anyone who has heard True Mother speak from her deep heart about True Father can see that she is making every effort to bequeath that inheritance to us.
- Promote evangelism to grow the church
The Book of Acts reports that when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, it inaugurated an era of explosive evangelism, with more than 5,000 people receiving Christ in the days following Pentecost. Believers spoke in tongues and miracles happened every day. Accordingly, many Unificationists have hoped to see the day of a new Pentecost in the Family Federation. Yet, in fact we know that the early days of the church in Korea, Japan and America were filled with Pentecost-like phenomena. People were led to True Father in visions and dreams. These were periods of explosive growth in membership.
Therefore, rather than hope for some future supernatural outpouring of the Spirit, we would do well to look at our own beginnings as a church. This is precisely what True Mother began calling for in the months after True Father’s Seonghwa:
We will now make our Unification Church a living and breathing church, as it was in the early days. We will develop it into a spontaneous, creative and dynamic church, unrestricted by numbers or systems. We will make it into a church centered on the Principle and on love, which will be like a nest with the warmth of a mother’s embrace that will make us wish to go there and always remain there. (Sept. 23, 2012)
True Mother focused on bringing the membership back to the core mission of witnessing. She recognized that the church needed to return to its roots when spiritual life and soul-winning was the paramount concern. Her guidance was completely in line with the way the Holy Spirit led the early Christian church.
- Raise up new leaders
After the crucifixion, the Holy Spirit raised up a new generation of leadership beyond the original 12 disciples. This began with Stephen, whom the Holy Spirit filled with grace and power (Acts 6:4) and Paul, whose blinded eyes the Holy Spirit opened (Acts 9:17-18). Then the Holy Spirit expanded the ranks of Christian leaders by falling upon numerous Gentiles, beginning with the conversion of the centurion Cornelius (35-40 A.D.).
Likewise, one of True Mother’s goals in the years after True Father’s Seonghwa has been to raise up a new generation of leaders in the Family Federation. Further, she has restructured the movement with new organizations, such as the Wonmo Pyeongae Foundation and the Universal Peace Academy as investments in the movement’s future.
- Establish new ordinances
The early Christian church faced a number of challenges after the death of Christ, and none was more important than dealing with the growing number of Gentile converts in a church that had been entirely composed of Jews. Scholars adduce from the biblical evidence that Jesus during his lifetime conceived his mission field as focused only on the Jewish people. For example, when a Canaanite woman approached him begging him to heal her daughter, he said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24)
At first it was a huge issue bringing in Gentiles, because the first Christians, being Jews, were scrupulous in keeping the law, especially circumcision and the dietary laws regarding clean and unclean foods. Jews wouldn’t eat with Gentiles, and this extended even to fellow members of the body of Christ (Gal. 2:12). Thus, there was danger of a split in the early church between those like St. Paul who were eager to admit Gentiles into the faith and those of the “circumcision party” who adhered to ordinances that all Gentile believers had to convert to Judaism and be circumcised in order to be true followers of Christ.
When Paul came to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council and asked the assembled leaders to make room for Gentiles in the church, it was by their attentiveness to the work of the Holy Spirit that they made new ordinances for their sake (Acts 15:38). The council decreed that Gentiles in the church would not be required to be circumcised or eat kosher food or follow any of the Jewish laws. These new rules were the work of the Holy Spirit:
…it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. (Eph. 3:5-6)
It should be noted that in bringing about new ordinances to welcome the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit did not demand it directly, but guided the elders to discuss the matter together and come to an agreement.
True Mother also has been forthright about the need to establish new ordinances, in particular the Cheon Il Guk Constitution. Like the work of the Jerusalem Council, the CIG Constitution was promulgated amid dangers of schism. As with the work of the Holy Spirit at the Jerusalem Council, True Mother did not dictate its contents, but set up a committee of qualified elders to meet and come to a consensus about it. They considered different opinions and looked with sincerity to design a constitution that would best meet the needs of the providence. These consultations continue.
- Clarify the meaning of Jesus’ words for the church
Jesus’ untimely death caused great confusion among his followers. Having been raised in the Jewish messianic expectation that the Messiah would be a king to deliver them from the Romans, they found it hard to make sense of Jesus’ death by those oppressors (Luke 24:19-21). Many expected Jesus to return quickly, based on sayings like, “You will not have gone through all the towns in Israel before the Son of man comes” (Matt. 10:23), and “henceforth you will see the Son of man seated on the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 26:64). They believed that he would soon come in power, defeat the oppressors and establish God’s Kingdom.
This sort of apocalyptic Christianity did not survive; its believers could not bear with the continued delay of Christ’s return. For the Christian church to survive, believers needed guidance to understand Jesus’ words in a different way, which could support the church for the long haul. Accordingly, one of the names that Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit was the “spirit of truth” and prophesied to his disciples that it “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12). For the first Christians, “all truth” meant to elucidate the meaning of Jesus’ words. Thus, “The Holy Spirit… will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Many of the words of Jesus revealed by the Holy Spirit found their way into the four Gospels. These include sayings of Jesus that he couldn’t possibly have uttered during his lifetime. They spoke to a time when Jerusalem already had been destroyed (70 A.D.): “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… behold, your house is forsaken and desolate” (Matt. 23:37-38), and when the cross was no longer a scandal but had become a badge of honor: “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). These were words of the resurrected Jesus that were revealed through the Holy Spirit to those in the early church with the gifts of prophecy and wisdom (Eph. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:4-11). Later, the compilers of the four Gospels interspersed many of these words among the original sayings that Jesus uttered during his earthly life. Yet the New Testament confirms the words’ authority as scripture because it was the Holy Spirit that inspired them (2 Pet. 1:21).
This illuminates the work that True Mother has done in compiling and publishing the three Cheon Il Guk Scriptures. She spoke of her desire to “cut and polish” the Cheon Seong Gyeong in order to make Father’s words shine:
True Father’s teachings and life’s work are like gemstones. No matter how precious a gemstone is, it must be cut and polished so that it glitters. Briefly stated, a gemstone is a gemstone, yet it starts out unrefined. I want to bring glory to Heaven by preserving these teachings permanently… I alone can do this. Isn’t that true? Who else could do it? (Jan. 7, 2013)
True Mother said that compiling the Cheon Il Guk Scriptures was a mission that only she could do. We can clarify that one reason she could do it — indeed was obligated to do it — was because True Mother is the substantial Holy Spirit.
The work of the Holy Spirit in the early church during the years after Jesus’ ascension illuminates True Mother’s work during the years after True Father’s ascension. As these parallels show, True Mother’s ways of leading the Family Federation during the last four years are entirely consistent with the flow of God’s providence in the first decades of the Christian church when it was led by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit guided Christianity through its turbulent beginnings to become a worldwide church that endured for 2,000 years. Even so, we can be confident that True Mother, who is working as the substantial Holy Spirit on earth, is taking measures to establish the Family Federation to endure for thousands of years to come. As the early Christians had confidence in the Holy Spirit, we Unificationists need to have confidence in True Mother’s leadership and uphold her authority.♦