Thoughts on Sanctuary Church, Revisited


By Tyler Hendricks

The Blog of Unification Theological Seminary

Dr. Tyler Hendricks (UTS Class of 1978) served as president of the Unification Church of America and of Unification Theological Seminary. He presently teaches online classes for the HSA-UTS certificate program, directs the online Center for Education at UTS, and conducts the weekly Holy Marriage Blessing radio ministry, which can be heard live at, Sundays at 7 am New York time.


My recent video, “Thoughts on Sanctuary Church,” elicited affirmative responses as well as detailed criticism and ad hominem comments. I’m grateful for it all and want to summarize “Thoughts” and the main criticisms, and respond to the latter.

I began with the logic of Sanctuary’s story, which Dr. Richard Panzer, Sanctuary’s president, affirmed as accurate: True Parents are doing fine; True Parents appoint Hyung Jin Nim’s couple to be their heir; True Father dies and True Mother goes off track; centering on True Father, Hyung Jin Nim’s couple restores True Parents.

I pointed out the error in this logic: If True Mother went off track, then True Parents weren’t really doing fine; if True Parents weren’t really doing fine, the appointment of Hyung Jin Nim’s couple is not valid, which means he’s not the heir of anything.

I understand why some don’t agree with the first point. By “doing fine” I meant the perfection of their marital love as True Parents, from which the Divine Principle says we cannot fall, because to believe otherwise would deny the omnipotence of God, the perfectibility of goodness itself, and the perfection of God (Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 42). Simply put, true love is eternal, so if True Mother has gone off track, then her love was temporary, and she and True Father did not have true love. This means they weren’t True Parents. True Parents is not people as much as it is a relationship.

I then worked backward from the Sanctuary premise that the appointment is valid. If so, then True Parents were fine; if True Parents were fine, then True Mother was fine; if True Mother was fine, then she would not go off track; if True Mother is not off track, then she is True Parents; if True Mother is True Parents, then Hyung Jin Nim has to attend her; if Hyung Jin Nim is not attending her, then he is off track.

I then listed characteristics of being off track, and opined that they describe the results of the Sanctuary activities: separating from one’s parents, breaking up the family, dividing the community, sowing conflict and confusion, complaint, accusation and blame. An anonymous critic said that our Unification Church itself did the first two, so it’s okay for the Sanctuary Church to do so, and blamed True Mother for the other three. These are justified on Sanctuary’s premises, three of which I addressed next in the video.

Sanctuary claims that, one, True Mother changes things; two, she’s responsible for an institution they view as corrupt; and three, she is claiming undue authority. I state my view that these premises are unfounded, and Sanctuary is actually rejecting Father, who often changed things, who created and oversaw these institutions, and who proclaimed Mother’s authority.

The Sanctuary discounts this by saying that, one, Father had a right to change things but Mother doesn’t; two, the institutions had no dysfunction when Father was on earth; and, three, Mother’s authority was conditional on her unity with Father, which, by virtue of the first two points — changing things and creating institutional dysfunction — she has broken. Therefore, to reject Mother is to follow True Father. The second contention is simply untrue. The first and third are addressed in my subsequent content, where I point out that the foundation of the Sanctuary violates two principles fundamental to the Bible and Divine Principle.

The first violation is of the fifth commandment, to honor one’s father and mother. The Sanctuary admits to this, but appeals for exemption on three counts: True Mother has violated our religious rules and traditions; like Mary with Jesus, she has denied Hyung Jin Nim’s mission; and, she is an idolater.

Regarding the first, I stood on Jesus stating that to honor one’s father and mother is more important than religious rules and traditions (Mt. 15:19ff).

Regarding the second, I point out that True Mother has not denied Hyung Jin Nim’s mission; she just differs on what the mission is. Be that as it may, the precedent of Jesus rejecting his mother does not apply, because Jesus did so from the position of Mary’s Parent, but with Sanctuary, the mother is the Parent.

Regarding the third, King Asa removed his grandmother from the throne because she worshiped false gods (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chron. 15:16). The Sanctuary Church argues that Heavenly Parent is a false god. In my video, I cited Wolli Wonbon regarding this, but since it is unpublished, I will make other references.

Exposition of the Divine Principle explains the male-female essence of God as the source of the universe’s plus-minus, yang-yin, male-female character. It states, “In recognition of God’s position as the internal and masculine subject partner, we call Him ‘Our Father.’” Thus the text justifies calling God “Our Mother” to recognize God’s position as the external and feminine object partner.

Father Moon said, “There have been many religions which believed in Heavenly Father but don’t have a concept of Heavenly Mother. That has been a shameful fact” (Abel Women’s UN Inauguration speech, transcript of PeaceTV recording, July 16, 2012). The Mosaic Law calls all people to honor both father and mother; prophets such as Hosea depict God’s motherly heart, and Paul refers to “the Jerusalem above” as “our mother” (Hosea 11:4; Galatians 4:26). Principle agrees with the Christian tradition that God as three persons — one of whom we view as female — is one. So to call God the one “Heavenly Parent,” a sex-inclusive term, is to worship the true God.

In sum, the Sanctuary Church is not exempt from the fifth commandment.

The second principle is not to put a married couple asunder. Jesus stated that husband and wife are no longer two — they are one, and what God has joined together, let no one put asunder. When True Father ascended, True Parents were one, and True Mother has not divorced True Father since then. So their separation is solely the Sanctuary’s attribution, which means the Sanctuary Church has put them asunder. By putting asunder what God put together, the Sanctuary is violating the principle of eternal true love marriage.

I concluded with a discussion of Paul’s teachings on marriage (Eph. 5:23ff): “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Many take this to mean the wife is inferior to the husband. I disagree, for to deny the value of the body is to deny the purpose of creation culminating in the physical world, culminating in the woman, Eve. Denial of the goodness of the physical world was a Christian heresy, called Docetism, which ended up denying that Jesus came in the flesh.

Paul also said, “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:23). This is True Mother’s reality — she relates to Father as to God and, going beyond the New Testament, Father relates to Mother as to God, and God indwells in them both equally.

Then comes my reflection. I believe Father challenged Mother more than he did the disciples or children. When everyone went home, she stayed with Father, she carried the cross of True Parents with Father. Everyone had a hard time with Father at some point. Everyone I knew, once in a while, would vent about what Father was doing when he or she was beyond his hearing. But who was never outside Father’s hearing? Who knew everything, absorbed everything, wrestled with everything and brought unity on everything, for 52 years, from age 17, bearing 14 children, at the cost of her life? One woman.

True Father loves True Mother and she loves him. They are bone of bones, flesh of flesh. Together they have the victory. It is the victory of every husband and every wife. Because they did it, every man and woman can do it. To deny their oneness, which True Father proclaimed, is to deny that the image of God is made flesh in true husband and wife.

Going beyond the video, it strikes me that the Sanctuary has not accepted the closure of the Unification Church, the end of traditional religion and advent of the family age. The group apparently is a church, a fundamentalist church to boot, in which salvation hinges on their orthodoxy — the exact right texts, creeds, vows, anthem, chair and theological diagrams. The Unification Church was not like that, nor is the Family Federation.

The Sanctuary is generating a self-fulfilling prophecy. By this I mean that the credibility of True Parents rests in part on the oneness of their family, for which parents and children share responsibility. By breaking family unity, three sons are undermining True Parents’ credibility altogether.

This bleak outlook is mitigated in four ways. One, we observe growing oneness between Mother and her daughters. Two, in the author’s hearing, Father Moon stated that even if only three of his Abel-type children succeed, his mission is successful. Three, the global ministry of the Jubilee Years established the three-generation True Family oneness once and forever; no subsequent boundary-building can change that.

Finally, True Parents have tens of thousands of Cain-type children through the Blessing, some of whom align with the separated sons. The degree to which the Cain-type children remain as one family under God will be a major determinant of the history that unfolds from now. Let’s join our hands.♦