or the past fifty years, Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s vision has always been far ahead of his fellow ministers. The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, which he established in 1954, represented a powerful vision because the church of Christ was more divided than political communities. His message about the Holy Spirit was not for a small isolated group; he dreamt of a Holy Spirit Association with consequences for divided believers.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit was not fashionable then. This was over a decade before Christian leadership started to link the centrality of the Spirit in the entire plan of salvation. The divided Christian community did not seem eager to accept the vision of a unified world Christianity.
We were happy to remain in our religious "sectors" arguing and invariably fighting instead of uniting and promoting peace on earth and good will to all mankind. All the essentials of Christian theology and peaceful coexistence were contained in the name of Rev. Moon’s organization. All Christians had to do was to analyze what was meant by the terms Holy Spirit, association, and unification of world Christianity. They would have realized that these were ideas of a theologian without borders. Ecumenism would have gained ground much earlier.
After World War II, the major Christian denominations were tired and not ready for new ideas. Therefore, to ask these lofty denominations to embrace theological insights pronounced by a religious leader from the small eastern nation of South Korea, where Christianity was relatively new, was a stiff challenge. He was called a "sect leader."
Rev. Moon has been promoting, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, inter-religious dialogue and dialogue among civilizations. What the world did not appreciate was that this was a voice of a prophet of God. The world did not realize that wars inflamed by religions can be as eternal as religion themselves. With ongoing wars in several regions of the world notoriously inflamed by religions, it would seem logical to turn to Rev. Moon and ask for his diagnosis and prescription regarding the antipathy between religions. Rev Moon is a real doctor of religions, and he has surrounded himself with credible thinkers and practitioners in the field of faith and practice. World leaders have every reason to learn from him and his collaborators.
In a powerful book, Eyewitness to Power, David Gergen, an advisor to many American presidents, says that good leaders must be identified with one specific cause. For example, Martin Luther King’s compelling cause was justice, Jimmy Carter’s was human rights, St. Paul’s was Christ and John Wesley’s was holiness. In the same vein, Rev. Moon’s compelling cause is world peace.
A good leader, according to Gergen, is as good as the quality of the people around him. There is a saying, "Show me your friends and I will know who you are." A person unfamiliar with Rev. Moon may need to begin by identifying his ‘cabinet’ in order to really appreciate him:. Among them are Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, that precious, gracious queen of peace; Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, his disciple and student for half a century; and Dr. Thomas Walsh, secretary general of the Universal Peace Federation, a scholar whose compassion and concern for other people is unforgettable.
Rev. Moon loves to have good, purposeful and powerful minds around him. That is what creative people like him need. With such people Rev. Moon has built lasting institutions like the Family Federation for World Peace, the World Culture and Sports Festival, universities, and now the Universal Peace Federation.
There is an African saying that builders surround themselves with imaginative minds, while destroyers love idiots who, like wrecking balls, can destroy structures in no time.
A reflection about Rev. Moon must go beyond his message and method to his mysticism. This man is a great believer in God. He loves God and he worships God, but his mysticism leads him to aspire to unite himself with the Almighty in a more intimate manner. He is in a unique union with the Absolute because of his special call from above and his rigorous implementation of it. He often talks of his encounter with God. It is this mystical dimension that is the point of controversy. His claims of closeness to God are beyond what his theological peers can accept. He claims that he is the messiah anointed by God to finish the work of building a true family based on Divine Principle.
His followers would argue that there is nothing extraordinary about Rev. Moon’s claims because religious teachers have done this from time immemorial, especially in the East. It could be argued also that in the West (and in independent Christian movements of Africa), many religious leaders claim to be in contact with the Lord and engage in enterprises to "glorify His name." The metaphysics that leads Rev. Moon to claim a special relationship with God is the same metaphysics that lead many Western and African mystics to claim a special relationship with God. Rev. Moon’s teachings about true love and true parents are principles rooted in Biblical theology, and they should be evaluated on that basis alone.
Some might argue that the claim of being a messiah anointed by God is blasphemous, because that claim is unique to Christ. To which the defenders of Rev. Moon might argue that in the Jewish tradition the idea of a messiah was not sacred; it meant someone anointed and set apart for God’s work. In English, to claim to be a messiah is not to claim to be God.
Furthermore, claims of messiahship create fear in politicians. The idea of a Jewish messiah was not embraced by the Roman officials. There should be analytic philosophers in corridors of power in the church and in the state to inquire what Rev Moon’s conception of messiahship is all about. In Biblical examples, the messiah comes to free and unite. The modern politician would ask whom this "new messiah" wants to free and from whom do they need freedom.
Rev. Moon’s mysticism is untraditional in that he does not turn away from the visible world, although he warns against some of its excesses and immoralities. Rev. Moon is very Augustinian in his acceptance of the progressive features of modernity. I invite born-again Christians, like myself, not to reject Rev. Moon but to look back at the inclusive African philosophy of St. Augustine:
If those who are called philosophers, particularly Platonists, have said anything which is true and consistent with our faith, we must not reject it, but claim it for our own use. The Egyptians possessed idols and heavenly burdens, which the children of Israel hated and from which they fled; however, they also possessed vessels of gold and silver and clothes for which our forebears, in leaving Egypt, took for themselves in secret, intending to use them in a better manner (Exodus 3:21–22; 12:35). In the same way, pagan learning is not entirely made up of false teachings and superstitions; it contains some excellent teachings, well suited for use by truth, and excellent moral values. Indeed some truths are even found among them which relate to worship of one God. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and their silver, which they did not invent themselves, but which they dug out of the mines of the providence of God, which is scattered throughout the world. The Christian, therefore, can put them to proper use for the proclamation of the Gospel.
Augustine, On Philosophy and Theology
Rev. Moon has talked about the Holy Spirit, the unification of world Christianity, professors and world peace, a world peace academy, the unity of the sciences, interreligious dialogue and alliance, an inter-religious council at the United Nations, world peace, peace TV, true love, True Parents and family federation. Let us ask what he means. Let us learn to synthesize from Augustine and take the treasures with us to the Promised Land.
Rev. Moon’s prophetic record is clean and clear; let us listen and capture what this wise man from the East has been teaching about faith, wisdom, the unity of sciences, family, goodness, truth, beauty, justice, equality and liberty.