Understanding the Unification Church
The Unification Church, founded and led by Korean-born Sun Myung Moon, (a) makes special appeal to educated young people; (b) conducts business, especially recruiting, under multiple pseudonyms; (c) westernises Eastern religious ideas; and (d) misinterprets scripture to persuade outsiders that its Eastern religious orientation is compatible with, and, indeed, the fulfilment of biblical Christianity. It is also characterised by forceful psychological pressure on members to remain loyal to the group at all costs.
Moon was horn of Christian parents on 6 January 1920 in part of what is now North Korea. He dabbled in spiritist practices and claims that at age 16 he was visited by Jesus Christ himself in a vision declaring that the world would be changed through Moon.
The young Moon continued independent Bible study and attended school in Japan. After World War II, Moon joined an underground Pentecostal group who claimed revelations about the coming of a new Messiah. They believed that Korea was the New Jerusalem and that the Messiah would he horn in Korea. In 1945 Moon was declared to be the one through whom the world would be saved.
After two periods in Communist jails for capitalist pursuits and/or bigamy, Moon moved to Pusan in South Korea to continue his preaching, combining his own spiritist revelations with Christian terminology. He founded his church in 1954 in Seoul, under the name "the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity."
In 1955 he was arrested by South Korean officials on charges of draft evasion and sexual promiscuity. The charges were later dropped, but the testimony of ex-members suggests that they were based on substantial truth.
Divine Principle was published in 1957. Only through this book may Moonies understand and interpret the Bible.
Moon's power grew in South Korea, aided by his secular business activities. His strong anti-communist activities won him the support of the government.
In 1972 Moon announced that God had called him to bring Unification theology to America. For this missionary venture, he took an enormous missionary fund, depositing it in a New York bank in his own name. This led the U.S. government to question the use and tax status of the money, resulting in Moon's trial and conviction of tax fraud in 1983 and an eighteen-month prison term.
Moon's theology is far removed from biblical Christianity. He says of God and man, "God either projected the full value of Himself in His object, or He created nothing at all... So man is the visible form of God, and God is the invisible form of man... Man is incarnate God." He views Jesus as "a man no different from us except for the fact that he was without sin." Salvation was not given on the cross, since "through the crucifixion on the cross, God and Jesus lost everything."
© Peter J Blackburn, 1991,1999. This material was originally prepared for Antioch School. Permission is given for the printing and use of this material by congregations and individuals.