Divine Principle

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Divine Principle

Divine Principle is the name given to translations of the basic teachings of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon (1920–), the founder of the Unification Church. These consist of Moon's interpretation of the Old and New Testaments and of history from the time of Jesus up to the period following the Korean War, and are arguably one of the most comprehensive of the theological systems to be found among the present wave of new religious movements. They contain a cosmology, theodicy, soteriology, Christology, historical interpretation, and eschatology with messianic and millennarian features. Scholars have pointed to the influence of Eastern (Confucian and Taoist) thought.

According to the Divine Principle, God created Adam and Eve so he could enjoy a loving relationship with them. The plan was that, once they had reached the stage of perfection (having first achieved a level of responsibility), they would be blessed in marriage, with their offspring eventually populating the world. This would enable the "Three Blessings" to be fulfilled: First, the individual would perfect himself or herself. Second, the ideal or true "God-centered" family, as the basic unit for a true society, would be created. Finally, humanity's dominion of love over the whole of creation would be the realization of God's Third Blessing to man. However, the Archangel Lucifer, whom God had given the task of looking after Adam and Eve until they reached sufficient maturity to marry, was jealous of God's love for them and entered into a spiritual sexual relationship with Eve, who then persuaded Adam to have a premature physical relationship with her. The result was that their liaison was not God-centered, and their children and subsequent generations were born with original sin and a "fallen nature." Thus the Fall is seen as the misuse of the most powerful of all forces: love. History is understood as the struggle of certain key persons and nations to restore the kingdom of heaven on earth and to establish the ideal, God-centered family and thus end the suffering that God has been experiencing since the Fall.

Jesus was, the Divine Principle teaches, a perfect man who was meant to marry and establish such a family. However, due partly to John the Baptist not unambiguously proclaiming him to be the messiah, Jesus was murdered before he could get married. Subsequent history is seen as a series of parallels between the period between Abraham and Jesus and the past two thousand years. Calculations based on the Divine Principle's numerology reveal that the Lord of the Second Advent would have been born in Korea between 1917 and 1930. Members of the Unification movement have long believed Moon to be this Messiah, but it was not until August 1992 that he made a public announcement that he had achieved this status and that he and his wife were the "True Parents."

A number of scholars have translated, interpreted, and/or developed the Divine Principle. It has been expounded and placed within a wider context of both Eastern and Western ideas by some academic Unificationists (e.g., Dr. Sang Hun Lee's Unification Thought [1973] and Dr. Young Oon Kim's Unification Theology and Christian Thought [1975]). It has also been presented in response to non-Christian perspectives (e.g., Introduction to The Principle: An Islamic Perspective [1980] cites passages not only from the Bible, but also from the Qur'an, and Introduction to the CAUSA World-view [1985] poses "Godism"—the Divine Principle—as an alternative to communism). The movement has, furthermore, published a score or so volumes in which non-Unificationist scholars discuss the teachings, either between themselves or with students from the Unification Theological Seminary.

The Divine Principle does not, however, encompass all of Moon's teachings. Important developments of Unification theology have been Moon's less widely publicized but ongoing revelations that center around him and his immediate family, explaining the crucial role they have been playing in the restoration process, one of the earliest and most important events being the 1960 marriage of Moon and his present wife. These teachings also include explanations of the significance of rituals such as the Holy Wine Ceremony, which takes place before the marriage blessing, ensuring that the new generation of "blessed Children" will, like Adam and Eve, be born without original sin. Since the mid-1990s, the possibility of having one's marriage blessed has been extended not only to millions of living non-Unificationists (who may be unaware of the Unification understanding of the phenomenon), but also to many more who have passed into the spirit world—a blessing that, we are told, has embraced both saints (such as Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad) and sinners (such as Hitler, Stalin, and Kim Il Sung). In the implementation of such significant events, Moon's mission is, according to the teachings, now being extended within the spirit world by his son Heung Jin, who died in 1984, and by Mrs. Moon's mother, Dae Mo Nim.

Transcribed versions of Moon's recorded speeches have appeared in more than 230 volumes, and many of these are now available on the Internet (www.unification.net/teachings.html). Edited selections have been published as the Gathering for Teaching and Learning (Hoon Dok Hae) Series (15 volumes, 1996–1998), from which members are enjoined to study for about an hour each morning.

See alsoBelonging, Religious; Bible; Church; Korean-American Religions; New Religious Movements; Practice; Religious Communities; Religious Studies; Ritual.


Beverley, James A. "The Religious Teaching of Sun Myung Moon in the English Version of His Sermons and Related Esoteric Unification Documents (1965–1993)." Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto. 1994.

Kim, Young Oon. Unification Theology. 1980.

Moon, Sun Myung. Exposition of the Divine Principle. 1996.

Eileen Barker

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