Heavenly Parent and the God of Dual Characteristics
By Tyler Hendricks
Soon after the ascension of her husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon (for Unificationists, Father Moon), Mrs. Hak Ja Han (Mother Moon) said that God is Hanul Bumo, Korean for Heavenly Parent(s). She thus upended 2,000 years of Christian understanding as well as the normative understanding of her own movement.
Some criticized her pronouncement and used it to justify rebellion. None of those people, to my knowledge, provided a meaningful theological basis for the rejection of Heavenly Parent.
Happily, others, including Dr. Ye Jin Moon and Dr. Andrew Wilson, developed meaningful theological reflections on God as Heavenly Parent. In 2013, I published on this blog an inquiry on the subject, and I appreciate the responses to it from both Dr. Moon and Dr. Wilson. Since then, I’ve continued my exploration into the idea of God as Heavenly Parent.
My purpose here is to show that the doctrine of God’s dual characteristics in Exposition of the Divine Principle (henceforth, Exposition) supports Mother Moon’s appellation of God as Heavenly Parent.
The Ontological God and Economic God
I begin with an important distinction. I will be talking about the dual characteristics in terms of the beginning of creation, the God beyond time and space, which I term the ontological God. God in relationship to time and space is the economic God. I derive these terms from the Christian theological categories applied to the Trinity. There is the ontological Trinity, God outside time and space, and the economic Trinity, God in relation to time and space. The subject of this article is Exposition’s teachings on the ontological God, which it calls “the causal reality.” (p. 15)
I note in passing that Exposition’s counsel to call God “Heavenly Father” (p. 19) refers to God “in relation to the universe,” which is the economic God. Thus Exposition makes clear that “Heavenly Father” does not refer to the ontological God.
The Dual Characteristics of God
The process of God’s creation begins when the dual characteristics within God form a common base through the prompting of His universal prime energy. As they engage in give and take action, they generate a force which engenders multiplication. This force projects the dual characteristics into discrete substantial object partners, each relating to God as its center. (p. 24)
I believe what that explanation calls the dual characteristics in such statements includes two interdependent entities, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. By the way, I address the matter of being projected from God in an article, “Understanding Heavenly Parent: Love Is Not a Concept, but Is a Substantial Reality” (Research of Unification Thought, Vol. 18 [Spring 2020], 23-46).
Exposition identifies two sets of dual characteristics. One is Sungsang and Hyungsang, internal nature and external form. The other is Yang and Yin, masculinity and femininity. Let’s unpack both.
Internal Nature and External Form
Sungsang and Hyungsang appear in two contexts. One is within solitary entities, as internal nature and external form, or mind and body. These lead to multiplication when their internal nature guides them to be a Yang or Yin entity. Exposition gives this illustration: “Positive ions and negative ions come together to form particular molecules, because within every one of them exists a rudimentary internal nature that guides them toward that end.” (p. 18) In my theory, an internal nature-external form reciprocation does establish a unique, primordial multiplication to which this passage is not referring. I discuss this as well in the Research of Unification Thought article.
That is, an ion’s internal nature guides it to become either positive or negative, and the interaction of positive and negative ions forms molecules. So there is interaction between the two sets of dual characteristics, but it is the Yang and Yin that bring multiplication.
The other context for Sungsang and Hyungsang is that of cause and effect. This is the relationship between a creator and a created entity that, as in the previous case, leads to multiplication only if the two entities adopt a Yang-Yin relationship.
I conclude that the Yang and Yin dual characteristics in the ontological God are essential to multiplication, and Sungsang and Hyungsang in and of themselves do not multiply.
I propose that Exposition presents two categories of Yang and Yin dual characteristics, only one of which applies to the ontological God.
The one that does not apply to the ontological God is what Exposition refers to as “correlative aspects: inside and outside, internal and external, front and rear…” (pp. 16-17) This duality is essential to creation, but is not constituent of the ontological God. The reason is that these are relativities within time and space, and the ontological God is beyond time and space.
I point out as well that the dual characteristics that multiply do so through interaction, and the correlative aspects in and of themselves do not interact. Consider a kitchen. You have hot and cold — the stove and refrigerator. If you combine them, you get nothing — the characteristics neutralize each other. You don’t turn on your heater and air conditioning at the same time, or air moisturizer and dehumidifier. So the correlative aspects dual characteristics do not lead to multiplication.
The other category of Yang and Yin dual characteristics consists of male and female or plus and minus entities. Exposition’s standard exemplification of “masculinity and femininity” is actually a list of entities that embody one or the other of the dual characteristics. These are the entities that are capable of having a plus-minus, or male-female sexual relationship: subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, stamen and pistil, male and female animals, man and woman. I would call these, “sexual entities.”
From the viewpoint of correlative aspects, entities possess both male and female characteristics. From the viewpoint of multiplication, entities are either one or the other.
Based upon this observation, let us analyze the following statement in Exposition:
Every entity possesses dual characteristics of yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity) and comes into existence only when these characteristics have formed reciprocal relationships, both within the entity and between it and other entities. (p. 16)
This statement includes both categories of Yang and Yin.
The phrase, “Every entity possesses dual characteristics of yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity),” refers to correlative aspects, as does the reference to existence through their reciprocal relationships “within the entity.” Their relationships within the entity are “reciprocal” in the sense of co-existence.
“Comes into existence” through “reciprocal relationships between …entities” refers to the reciprocation of sexual entities. That alone creates force and multiplication. (p. 16) Thus, this passage’s statement, “every entity…comes into existence only when these characteristics,” referring to “yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity),” “have formed reciprocal relationships, …between it and other entities” describes sexual entities, two independent entities, masculine and feminine, whose relationship brings “every entity” into existence.
I submit that “every entity” here includes the ontological God. God, a person, an existing entity, is not an exception. The entire premise of Exposition’s project here is that the creation reveals the nature of the Creator. It states, “everything in the created universe is a substantial manifestation of …the Creator’s invisible, divine nature,” and then lists entities that possess “dual characteristics of yang … and yin,” which list culminates with Adam and Eve: “Only after God created Eve as Adam’s female counterpart did He declare that His creations were ‘very good.’” (p. 16) Commenting on this Bible verse, Father Moon once said,
What does God look like? Genesis 1:27 says that God created human beings in His image, as man and woman. This leads us to conclude that within God there is a man and a woman. They have united and appeared as a subject partner, and this is God. (The House of Unification for World Peace, Father’s Words on the Divine Principle I [Seoul, Korea: The House of Unification for World Peace, 2003], p. 33)
This category of Yang and Yin dual characteristics is composed of entities, and these entities in the ontological God are Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. As Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother engage in give and take action, they generate a force which engenders multiplication; they “form a common base through the prompting of His universal prime energy.” “Universal prime energy” that does the “prompting” is the sexual love relationship of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, whose union is Heavenly Parent, and that is the ontological Trinity.
This primal love relationship is what Father Moon called “absolute sex,” and this term’s first appearance was in his address entitled, appropriately, “In Search of the Origin of the Universe.” (Pyeong Hwa Gyeong [Seoul, Korea: Seonghwa Publications], pp. 211ff.) To explain the origin of the universe, Reverend Moon did not talk about the correlative aspects, nor mind and body. He talked about the human sexual organs. My interpretation of Exposition’s teaching is consistent with this.
My interpretation is also consistent with Exposition’s explanation of the spiritual trinity, which it describes as “the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit in oneness with God.” (p. 172) Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, three persons in one person and one person in three, are, or is, the root of the Christian trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, Mother Moon has not introduced a new teaching. God as Heavenly Parent is implicit in traditional Christianity and, as I have shown, is implicit in Exposition’s theory of the God of dual characteristics.♦
Dr. Tyler Hendricks (UTS Class of 1978) is a theological consultant to Family Federation International, lecturer at Sunhak UP Graduate University, and member of the Cheon Il Guk Academy. He served in leadership roles with IOWC, Ocean Church, American CARP, the International Religious Foundation, and HSA New England Region before becoming President of the Unification Church of America (1995-2000) and of Unification Theological Seminary (2000-10). His podcasts, videos and articles appear on True Parents Way.