Insights from the Bible for a Scripture of True Parents
By Andrew Wilson (March 18, 2019)
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.
I recently returned from a conference in Korea that asked, “What should be in a scripture that testifies to Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon as True Parents?”
In considering this question as a biblical scholar, there is no better starting point than to examine the Bible and its testimony to Jesus Christ. The elements of that testimony made the Bible an effective witness, which spread the faith of Jesus to the more than two billion Christians throughout the world.
There are many elements to that testimony which make it effective. For example, the Gospels make effective use of narrative, present Jesus’ words as short, pithy sayings, and convey his teachings through parables and incidents that are short and easily impress themselves on the mind. Words of Jesus are interspersed with his actions, creating a dramatic narrative.
There are also conversations between Jesus and his disciples that convey his teachings. Finally, there are theological assertions about who Jesus is. Through these literary devices, the four Gospels in little over 100 pages convey a clear impression of Jesus and his work.
I would like to see a scripture of this sort written. I envision it would not be an extensive anthology like Chambumo Gyeong, our current scripture of True Parents. To keep it concise, it would have to be selective rather than comprehensive. Designed to move the heart, it would be short enough to be easily digested by all people of the world.
However, I leave aside this issue of style and form, although it deserves attention in its own right. Rather, I explore certain issues of content, focusing on three points: 1) The historical context of the advent of Jesus and its significance for True Parents; 2) the lack of historical context for the advent of True Mother; and, 3) the issue of endings.
The Historical Context of the Advent of Jesus and Its Significance for True Parents
The Bible includes as historical background the providence in the Old Testament that culminates in the Jewish messianic expectations and prophecies about the Messiah. These it weaves into its accounts of Jesus.
Currently, Chambumo Gyeong does not do this. It covers True Parents’ life course beginning from their lineage and birth, with little regard for the fact that True Father is the Second Coming of Christ. Rather, it leaves that task to Exposition of the Divine Principle. Since Chambumo Gyeong is mainly an internal book for Family Federation members who have all studied the Divine Principle, there was no thought that it needed to cover this material. Yet I envision that the future scripture of True Parents should stand on its own and give a complete picture of their life and mission.
The Bible’s presentation of Jesus offers lessons about what should be included in the content of the scripture of True Parents. If the testimony to Jesus includes the record of the providence of restoration in the history of Israel, and its prophecies, that was the foundation for Jesus’ coming, should not the scripture of True Parents include a record of God’s foundation in Christianity for their coming?
Elucidating this historical background would also explain why Christianity did not receive Rev. Moon as the Lord of the Second Advent, just as the people of Israel did not receive Jesus as their Messiah. The people of Israel misunderstood Jesus because they had erroneous expectations about him, and the same situation repeated itself with regard to the Returning Lord in his day.
The current Chambumo Gyeong presents a theological approach to True Parents’ identity and mission that focuses on their position as the ancestors of humankind and their mission to give humankind rebirth as God’s true children. This is surely their real significance in this age, the Cheon Il Guk era, when the toil of the providence of restoration has been completed.
Yet, only to present True Parents that way would be like the New Testament presenting Jesus only according to his significance to Christians who know him as the Savior through Paul’s letters, while leaving out the background of Old Testament prophecy and Israel’s messianic hope. The New Testament does not do that, and neither should the scripture of True Parents.
To present the True Parents properly, it will not do to present their life and ministry apart from their position in Christianity as the Messiah, Savior, and Lord of the Second Advent. That would be to present True Parents as springing up from nowhere, when in fact they came on the foundation of Jesus’ promise to return, Christian hopes for Jesus’ return, and the labors of faithful Christians to prepare for his return.
In fact, True Father’s root is Jesus. His ancestors are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus. Those who laid the foundation for his birth were believers, Jews and Christians, who attended God and sacrificed for 4,000 years. Likewise, True Mother’s root includes the matriarchs of Israel and the good women of Christian faith who laid the foundation for 4,000 years in order that she could be born. Behind all of them is God, who called countless saints to His service and grieved at the suffering they had to undergo for the sake of the Will. The scripture of True Parents, I believe, should present this background.
The Lack of Historical Context for the Advent of True Mother
The Bible has a huge problem in that it lacks any content about the providential foundation for True Mother. The same is true of Exposition of the Divine Principle. In fact, currently there is no textbook in the Unification Movement that discusses the historical background of True Mother in providential history. There was no Christian expectation about True Mother, or even that Jesus would need to take a bride.
Nevertheless, True Mother appeared based on God’s strivings to establish a woman who could restore the position of Eve. Therefore, we should elucidate even the traces of God’s effort for that purpose. These days, when many Christians are interested in the femininity of God, there would be much interest in learning this history. Elucidating it will give valuable context to the advent of True Mother as the only begotten Daughter.
The Principle describes the Old Testament as the course of God’s portion of responsibility to set up a model for Jesus and the Holy Spirit (i.e., True Mother) to fulfill in their day. Specifically, the courses of Jacob and Moses are singled out as the model courses for the Messiah to fulfill. Yet, the Old Testament pays little attention to the role or position of the women in Jacob’s course or Moses’ course. This patriarchal bias in the Bible has become a burden in our own day, contributing to people’s lack of appreciation and respect for True Mother.
As there was no Jewish expectation in Jesus’ day that a female counterpart would accompany the Messiah, there was also no Christian expectation of a woman with that status at the time of the Second Advent. How can a scripture of True Parents explain the providential foundation for True Mother alongside that of True Father, when that foundation left almost no traces in history? The absence of this foundation is truly a sorrowful matter.
We have True Mother’s statements that the entire 2,000 years of Christianity was preparation for her coming as the Bride of the Lord and the only begotten Daughter. We have True Parents’ words giving various theological explanations for the necessity of True Mother. Perhaps also we could develop a description of the rising status of women in the world in the 20th century as God’s preparation of a new foundation for the arrival of True Mother.
The position of True Mother should figure prominently into a presentation of True Father as the Lord of the Second Advent. After all, the center of the mission of Jesus that the Lord of the Second Advent came to complete was to receive his Bride at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and establish the True Family. The presentation of True Father as the Lord of the Second Advent will certainly include his mission to find True Mother; and in that context, God’s efforts in the Old Testament Era and New Testament Era to prepare for True Mother can be presented as well.
Options for an Ending
Third, it is necessary to investigate the issue of endings. The four Gospels each have different endings, and the Old Testament can be construed as having several different endings. In this regard, the biblical record was edited and re-edited several times. Based on those models, we can ask the question: what is the best way to end the scripture about True Parents? Should it end at True Father’s seonghwa? At True Mother’s seonghwa? At the hoped-for victory of national restoration at 2020? Or when? This issue is worth our consideration.
In this light, the current scripture of True Parents has some unresolved issues regarding its ending.
First, it does not end with a clear victory, and Foundation Day is poorly attested to. The penultimate chapter on True Parents’ lifestyle probably belongs somewhere in the middle of the book; it is not fitting for a rousing conclusion. The final chapter on the life of faith of citizens of Cheon Il Guk is not about True Parents, hence it better belongs in the Cheon Seong Gyeong, which is more pastorally oriented. All in all, the ending chapter is anticlimactic. It lacks the spirit of hope or a sense of finality. To end the scripture with victory, I suggest the ending be written after 2020, with words about the successful completion of national restoration.
The current scripture ends with True Father’s seonghwa while True Mother is still alive. It lacks True Mother’s victorious course to 2020, including global rallies, such as in Africa, where she demonstrates her power and authority before the world. At minimum, the final chapter needs to cover True Mother’s post-Foundation Day ministry. Perhaps it could include True Mother’s seonghwa as well.
The form of the Chambumo Gyeong published in 2015 is not fixed for all time; how could it be when True Mother is still working on earth and striving to fulfill even more of God’s Will? As with the Bible, the scripture of True Parents will no doubt be revised several more times before it reaches its final form. It is inevitable that in its final form the scripture of True Parents will have a victorious ending, giving them proper recognition and praise for their substantial victories.
I offer two recommendations for the scripture of True Parents, specifically for the beginning and end.
First, I propose a new opening chapter centered on True Father’s identity as the Second Coming of Christ. This issue, so full of detail relating to the Bible and Christian belief, deserves considerable development in a chapter of its own. It should begin with True Father’s encounter with Jesus and his call to fulfill Jesus’ mission. It should explain the true purposes of Jesus’ original mission, which Jesus taught True Father and asked him to complete on his behalf. It should cover in detail Father’s considerable efforts to fulfill the mission of Jesus, to overcome the opposition by the established churches, and finally his victory winning the support of Christian leaders.
My second proposal is to revise the concluding chapter after 2020 to describe the path to victory that True Mother has pursued since True Father’s passing. Her exploits include liberations in Africa, rallies around the world, and efforts for the unification of the Korean peninsula. It should conclude with the victory of 2020 in whatever form it takes, from the multiplication of tribes to the emergence of restored nations. It should end with the exhortation to readers to build upon the work of True Parents as their own responsibility, with the mottoes “Let us be filial children” and “Peace starts with me.”♦