Observing what Rev. Sun Myung Moon has been doing, I am immensely impressed at the great scale and variety of activities he has energetically been carrying out for world peace.
He is, of course, a great religious leader, an extremely original thinker and theologian. Though I, as a mediocre man, do not understand him fully, he seems to have an extraordinary ability to communicate with the spiritual world. Though it is essentially a matter of faith rather than a scientific fact, he may be a Messiah. And history teaches us how difficult it is to accept a living person as a Messiah, or even as a saint.
As a social scientist, I am much impressed by the deep involvements of Rev. Moon in the affairs of the secular world or the things which many religious leaders may consider to be Caesar’s. I have read many biographies of the greatest men in history, and when I learned what Rev. Moon had been doing, I thought of Alexander the Great. As Alexander the Great conquered the world including Persia, Rev. Moon conquered the world. Incidentally, I remembered that Alexander the Great caused his high officers to marry Persian women, which reminded me of the intercultural exchange marriages that Rev. Moon has been promoting.
But after I saw Rev. Moon in person, I decided to compare him to Genghis Khan, who founded the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in history. While Genghis Khan conquered most of the Eurasian continent by military force, Rev. Moon has conquered the world by spreading the message of peace. It is amazing to witness that his disciples are working hard to make peace all over the world, including in former socialist countries.
We read in history about multi-talented great men such as Leonardo da Vinci, who was celebrated as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and scientist, and Julius Caesar, who was simultaneously a great general, statesman, administrator and writer. The great and multiple talents of our contemporary, Rev. Moon, overwhelm me. If he had chosen to do so, he could easily be a great general, statesman and public administrator in the secular world. He is a great businessman and uses his business talent to raise the necessary funds for various activities on behalf of world peace all over the world.
His vision is very far-reaching, and he addresses the most serious problems that mankind is facing. His choice of means to solve these problems is very impressive. He selects the most strategic and effective means for solving these problems. His solutions are based upon a deep understanding of the messages of God, and, unlike many liberal leaders, he does not shy away from what may be labeled old-fashioned.
Though there is a long list of important activities that Rev. Moon has been energetically carrying out, I would like to focus on the promotion of interreligious harmony. As a student of human history and a Christian who was baptized by the Southern Baptist Church during my middle school days, I am fully aware that there have been many brutal and prolonged wars fought among religions and among different sects of the same religion, including Christianity.
There were sweeping military campaigns in the Middle East and North Africa in the name of Islam. Crusaders marched to Jerusalem to take back the land. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were bloody wars between Protestant and Catholic rulers. The Spanish Inquisition was notorious for burning people alive for minor differences in religious beliefs. Today the clash of civilizations is much discussed, and religious factors are very important in the international conflicts in various parts of the world. Many fundamentalists carry out suicide bombings under the name of their God, and brutal retaliations are made under the name of another God.
After being baptized by the Southern Baptist Church, I studied catechism in a Catholic Church and attended many different Bible classes at the International Christian University, where I received my undergraduate training. I studied many different interpretations of the Bible by famous theologians such as Emil Brunner, who joined the founding of International Christian University, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Kanzo Uchimura. Uchimura was very influential among Japanese intellectuals and unique as a Christian who advocated a non-church movement, and there were many disciples of Uchimura among the professors of the International Christian University.
I also attended meetings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, read many books on Zen Buddhism, and studied the teachings of Shinran, a very famous and influential Buddhist monk of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries in Japan. Reading many books and attending meetings of different religions and sects of Christianity, I became more and more convinced that it was wrong for different religions and sects to fight for a monopoly on salvation, truth and justice.
The practice of interreligious harmony that Rev. Moon is promoting is very impressive and revolutionary. Many religious leaders tend to be dogmatic and try to monopolize salvation, truth and justice; they exclude other religions and sects, accusing them of wrong and evil ways and leading believers to hell. How many people have been persecuted and brutally executed in history in the name of God? Even today, bitter wars are fought among different religions and sects.
World Scripture, a comparative anthology of sacred texts, compiled and published under the leadership of Rev. Moon, is indeed an epoch-making work. The book clearly demonstrates that all religions give essentially the same teachings.
I have attended many conferences sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation and its predecessor, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, and witnessed religious leaders of different religions and sects embracing and reconciling with each other for the promotion of world peace. Prayers are made in the fashion of different religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism and others.
Secular leaders live in the world of imperfection and relativity and are quite ready to make all kinds of compromises in order to reach a consensus, often deliberately ambiguous. In economics, rational decisions are made in the comparison of marginal cost and marginal benefit. Both benefits and costs are relative in nature. But the essence of religion seems to be an absolute value, making it much more difficult to tolerate the differences of other religions and sects. Sometimes fundamentalists want to monopolize salvation, truth and justice and even massacre believers from other religions and sects under the name of God.
To accept other religions and sects as equally important for salvation, truth and justice requires a revolutionary change of mind. The power and influence of a religion and a sect is usually proportionate to the size of its following. To gather as many followers as possible, religious leaders are tempted to make a dogmatic claim that only their religion or sect, and none other, can save people. But unless religions abandon such dogmatic and self-righteous claims, real peace will never be achieved and the massacres of believers of other religions will continue in the name of God. I think Rev. Moon has taken a revolutionary step in interreligious harmony, and its promotion is critically important in achieving lasting world peace.