THINK: World Religions
Roy R. Robson
July 18, 2010
Published by Pearson
$60.00; 336 pages
Imagine that you are a pastor of a Unificationist congregation and you are looking for concise definitions of the following terms for a membership class: “Holy Blessing”; “Holy Wine Ceremony”; “Chastening Ceremony”; the “Separation Period,” and the “Three Day Ceremony.” Could you deploy these?
The Chastening Ceremony:
Husband and wife chasten each other three times. This represents the acceptance that all humans err, but also that all humans forgive. God looks kindly on all who seek forgiveness for their faults.
The Holy Wine Ceremony: Holy wine is given to the woman, who bows and drinks half of it. She then gives it to the man who also bows and drinks the remainder. This marks the transition from false parenthood (started by Adam and Eve, the first dysfunctional family) to True Parenthood, free from original sin.
The Holy Blessing: This is the official marriage ceremony. Couples are sprinkled with holy water, recite vows, and exchange rings.
The Separation Period: For 40 days following the ceremony, couples maintain sexual abstinence. This reflects Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert.
The Three-Day Ceremony: To signify the transition to True Husband and True Wife, the couple consummates their marriage through a ritual of rebirth. The woman acts as both mother and wife, "rebirthing" and receiving the man as a husband. The man does the same, "rebirthing" his wife and also receiving her as wife.
The interesting news is that the church did not write these definitions. They came from a new college textbook on world religions, entitled Think: World Religions by Roy R. Robson, a professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Even more interesting is that Robson writes respectfully about Unificationist faith and practice: “By following these steps, a young couple learns to communicate with each other and to commune with God. Eventually, they hope, they will begin their own True Families.”
A New Path for Christianity
Robson refers to this as “A New Path for Christianity,” rooted in Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s “vision of Jesus, who instructed the young boy to lead a new kind of Christianity and unite nations in peace.” His account of the Founder’s early life is also serious and accurate: “he lived like an early Christian monk — penniless in a hut made from mud, stones and cardboard. There, he began to write down his Divine Principle, the guiding force for his new church.”
Think: World Religions makes clear that the world knows what Unificationists believe. People can fit our various claims together; they are no hidden secret. This is another sign that the world is taking Unificationists on their own terms. Some Unificationists may lament that a college textbook provides no spiritual context for the information -- no human touch associated with the word. That’s where the living, breathing church comes has a role to play. Yet, compared to biased and inaccurate accounts in bygone years, this book is commendable.
The book takes a conversational tone and glosses jargon gracefully. Take this summary of Divine Principle theology of God’s original creation:
“Because it comes from God, all creation follows [a] dualistic path and shares its attributes with God. Some of them include: • True Love • Beauty • Truth • Goodness, Justice and Freedom • Eternity • Creativity • Order and Harmony • Absolute Values.” After an explanation of the human fall, Robson concludes that “By not allowing the Holy Spirit into their life through a ‘divine marriage in Perfection,’ Adam and Eve missed the chance to create a Holy Trinity with God. It should have worked this way: Adam + Eve + Divine Marriage = Holy Trinity, but instead it turned out like this: Satan + Eve + Adam = Damnation.”
The book explains that Jesus came to create a true family, but as a result of social rejection “realized he would have to face crucifixion and lead his followers toward redemption by suffering.” Through the agency of the Christian church, “Christians could become spiritual children of God through the interaction of Jesus (Male) and the Holy Spirit (Female). This created a new equation: Christ + Holy Spirit = Spiritual Rebirth.
Finally, “On that fateful Easter Day in 1935, Jesus spoke directly to Sun Myung Moon. He was to become a new messiah, a third Adam (or the ‘Lord of the Second Advent’). The Unification Movement believes that Rev. Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han have created the True Family, finally realizing Adam and Eve’s original potential for a Holy Trinity with God.”
The book includes a graphic illustration that lays out in plain terms the constitution of the Kingdom of Heaven: “ God = Spirit + Energy, which produce Creation.  Creation is made up of Male (Adam) + Female (Eve) which produce the True Family.  The True Family is made up of the True Father + the True Mother who produce their True Children.  True Sons + True Daughters produce their own True Families, which in turn brings about...  The New Age: God’s kingdom on Earth.”
Robson brings readers up to date by explaining that “the Unification Church has begun its transition from the charismatic leadership of its founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, to his children.” He includes a brief excerpt of the Easter Sunday, 2010, message of Rev. In Jin Moon, the new president of the Church: “When the Bible says that there has to be a Second Coming, we understand that the mission of Jesus Christ was left unfulfilled, and therefore, somebody must come to stand in that position as the perfected Adam, as the True Parent, having found and raised up a perfected Eve.”
There are minor inaccuracies in the text, and it lacks photos of the new generation of leadership. The focus is entirely on Unification beliefs and lifestyle, with no more than a closing paragraph that “Rev. Moon has fought back against claims of tax evasion and that his church brainwashes its members, forcing them into mass marriages and giving up their incomes.” Think: World Religions concludes that the movement is gaining acceptance, is influencing public opinion through media holdings, and is developing a range of business ventures. His closing comment is arguably an apt summary: “Through these activities, Unificationists hope to guide the world toward a divine order on Earth.”
That’s who we are, at least from the perspective of a new book on world religions. Learn it well if you are taking a course on World Religions this year — you might be tested.
Contributed by Dr. Tyler Hendricks, Assistant Professor of Church History and Ministry at Unification Theological Seminary.