The Divine Principle or Exposition of the Divine Principle (in Korean, Wolli Kangron, hangul: 원리강론, hanja: 原理講論) is the main theological textbook of the Unification Church. The text presents itself as a new revelation from God, given through the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The term "Divine Principle" is also used by Unificationists to refer to a metaphysical concept of divine truth, of which the text is only an imperfect human expression.
The Divine Principle follows the format of systematic theology, basing its insights on exegesis of the Bible. However, it is held by some believers to have the status of scripture itself. The content starts with God's purpose in creating human beings, the Fall of man, and redemption—the process through history by which God is working to remove the ill effects of the human fall and restore humanity back to the relationship and position that God originally intended.
According to its preface, The Divine Principle expresses universal truth; it inherits and builds upon the core truths which God revealed through the Jewish and Christian scriptures and encompasses the wisdom from the Orient. Aside from its first chapter, the Principle of Creation, which is replete with Eastern concepts such as Yin and Yang, the greater part of the book relies almost entirely on the Bible. Yet a close reading shows that the text approaches the Bible from an Eastern sensibility, informed by such Confucian concepts as filial piety and the centrality of the family.
The words "Divine Principle" are a direct translation of the Korean term wolli, which literally means "original principle"—'original' in the sense of God's original plan for creation. While some Unificationists speak of the "Divine Principles," plural forms are not normally used in Korean, and there is a sense that these principles fit together into a unitary whole.
Unification Church members sometimes refer to the Divine Principle (or simply "The Principle") meaning not only the specific translation of Wolli Kangron, but an eternal truth already existing in the universe before the books were written. Indeed, many believe the Divine Principle's overt attitude toward the Bible also applies to itself, namely: "[It] is not the truth itself, but rather is a textbook teaching the truth."
For several decades he wandered through the spirit world so vast as to be beyond imagining…. Through intimate spiritual communion with God and by meeting with Jesus and many saints in Paradise, he brought to light all the secrets of Heaven.
Moon would write down notes of his insights and revelations in the margins of his Bible. These notes reportedly formed the basis of the original concept of the work that later became known as the Divine Principle.
The earliest manuscript of the Principle was purportedly lost in North Korea during the Korean War, where Reverend Moon spent 28 months as a prisoner for his religious teachings and practices. Upon arriving as a refugee in the southern city of Pusan, Reverend Moon wrote a still-existing but unpublished manuscript referred to as Wolli Wonbon (meaning "the original text of the Divine Principle"), dictating the last chapter to Won Pil Kim, his first disciple. He then guided Hyo Won Eu, the first president of the Unification Church of Korea, to prepare more systematic presentations of his teachings with biblical, historical, and scientific illustrations.
Moon reportedly gave Eu special instruction regarding the content of these texts and then checked them over meticulously before approving them. These efforts resulted in Wolli Hesol (Explanation of the Divine Principle), published in 1957 (but not translated into English), and Wolli Kangron (Exposition of the Divine Principle), published in 1966. Since then, Wolli Kangron has been the official basic text of Reverend Moon's teachings.
The first English translation of Wolli Kangron was made by Mrs. Won Pok Choi in 1972 and revised in 1973 under the title Divine Principle. This book went through numerous printings and was widely distributed both among Unification Church members and the public at large.In 1996 the book was completely re-translated with the title, Exposition of the Divine Principle. This is currently the official authorized version.
Before the publication of the 1973 edition of Wolli Kangron, various versions of the Principle were published by the first three Unification Church missionaries to the United States. Young Oon Kim (first missionary to the U.S. and considered the premier Unification theologian) published several editions in the late 1960s, the most well known being Divine Principle and Its Application (1969). David S.C. Kim (an early missionary and later the first president of the Unification Theological Seminary) wrote Individual Preparation for His Coming Kingdom, and Bo Hi Pak (then working as military attaché at the Korean Embassy in Washington, DC) also published a version in the late 1960s. In San Francisco, Sang Ik Choi published a teaching based on the Divine Principle under the title Principles of Education. This secularized version of Reverend Moon's teaching was used as introductory lecture material in his Creative Community Project movement, where recruits were introduced to the Divine Principle in subsequent lectures. All of the above versions were officially abandoned in favor of the 1973 translation, which was initiated shortly after Reverend Moon's own American ministry began in late 1971.
A Divine Principle lecture manual by Reverend Young Whi Kim (then president of the Unification Church in Korea) was subsequently authorized by Reverend Moon and was widely used in the U.S. during the early 1970s, while Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak (then International Director of Education of the Unification Church) published a series of lectures manuals in the late 1970s. One of these, Outline of the Principle: Level 4, gained wide popularity because of its concise language and colorful charts. A version designed for people of non-Christian backgrounds, especially Muslims, was first published in the early 1980, written by Thomas Cromwell. Several other versions have also appeared, some official, some by individuals without official backing.
The Divine Principle book follows systematic theology in its structure: God's creation, the human fall, human redemption (called "restoration" in Divine Principle.")
The book is comprised of two parts, totaling of 13 chapters. The first part deals primarily with theological concepts, such as the nature of God and His creation, the human fall, the coming of the Messiah, and others. The second part deals with the historical process by which God continues to work to eliminate the ill effects of the human fall and restore humankind to the original "Ideal of Creation" that would have existed if the fall had not occurred.
The purpose of the book is explained as helping human beings understand God and God's divine plan of creation. All human beings want to achieve happiness, but without a clear understanding of the true nature of reality, they cannot achieve highest fulfillment. The twentieth century contains seemingly incompatible understandings of internal (religious) truth and external (scientific) truth and a higher expression of truth that can unify the religious values of people of different cultures with modern science is required for happiness and peace. This book is revelation received by Reverend Moon for this purpose.
God, the Creator, reveals his character in the Creation. God thus has "dual characteristics" corresponding to the attributes expressed in the Creation: masculinity and femininity, internal character and external form, subject and object.
God is referred to as "he" for simplicity and because "masculinity" is associated with God's role as "subject" in relation to humankind. God is omniscient and omnipotent, but is bound by his own principles and the logical consequences of human freedom. In order to experience a relationship of love, God created human beings as his children and gave them freedom to love him or not as they choose. The purpose of creation is a mutually experienced joy between God and human beings.
A fundamental teaching of the Principle is that the most substantial expression of God is to be found in a relationship between a fully perfected man and a fully perfected woman, living in accordance with the will of God in the family unit. This love can then grow between parents and children and expand to the world. This is expressed in the Bible through the blessing given by God to Adam and Eve in Genesis, 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." The family unit thus is a crucial foundation for the establishment of God's ideal for human beings.
Although the Divine Principle does not insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis in terms of when the first human beings might have existed, it portrays the Fall of Man as an actual historical event (rather than an allegory) involving an original human couple, who are called Adam and Eve. The elements in the story, however, such as the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the forbidden fruit, the serpent, etc., are interpreted to be symbolic. They represent, respectively, ideal man, ideal woman, sexual love, and Satan.
The essence of the fall is that Eve in an immature state was seduced sexually by an angelic being (Lucifer). Eve then seduced Adam. Although Adam and Eve were intended to be husband and wife, their love was consummated through sexual intercourse prematurely, based on the self-centeredness inherited from the archangel, which was not a part of the divine plan of God. Divine Principle emphasizes that the human fall took place before Adam and Eve had achieved spiritual maturity.
Adam and Eve's son Cain killing his brother Abel is regarded as a literal event which contributed to humankind's fallen state. Unificationists teach that since the "fall of humanity," all of human history has been a constant struggle between the forces of God and Satan to correct this original sin (cf. Augustine and lust, concupiscence). This belief contributes to their strict moral code of "absolute love" and sexual purity, and the need for "indemnity."
The Divine Principle view of Jesus and his mission follows logically from its teaching about the Principle of Creation and the Fall of Man. The Messiah's role is essentially to fulfill the role of Adam, a doctrine also taught in the New Testament by Saint Paul, who referred to Jesus as the "second man." (1 Cor. 15:47) The Principle thus affirms that Jesus' original mission was to restore the understanding of Adam's mission, to perfect himself, marry, establish a God-centered family, and expand this foundation to a clan (his disciples), the nation of Israel, and eventually the entire world.
Therefore, Divine Principle teaches that Jesus' death on the Cross was not a preordained necessity. Rather, it was a secondary course made necessary by disbelief in his teachings and rejection of his role as Messiah while he was alive on Earth. Like traditional Christianity, however, Divine Principle teaches that Jesus' death served to accomplish the redemption of humanity's sins for those who believe in him. Unlike traditional Christianity, however, Divine Principle teaches that Jesus' resurrection was spiritual, not physical. It further teaches that the Trinity represents a spiritual manifestation of the original trinity of God, Adam, and Eve, with Jesus in the position of father and the Holy Spirit in the position of mother. Christians are thus seen as the spiritual children of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, through whom spiritual rebirth is given. If Jesus had lived, the Holy Spirit would have incarnated in his wife, in a similar way to the incarnation of the spirit of Christ/Adam incarnated in Adam.
Divine Principle's understanding of the mission of Elijah is a key to understanding its conception of Jesus' course as the Messiah. Elijah had the role of being the Messiah's harbinger or forerunner (Mal. 4:5). He was to reveal to Israel and the world the identity of the Messiah. The person fulfilling Elijah's role was also slated to work directly with the Messiah to usher in the kingdom of Heaven. John the Baptist was to play the role of Elijah in relation to his kinsman Jesus. The prophecies concerning John's ministry ("in the spirit and power of Elijah" and "make ready for the Lord a people prepared"—Luke 1) are cited by the Principle in support of this view. Divine Principle strongly criticizes John for failing to provide active support for Jesus and asserts this as the primary reason why the Jewish leaders of that time could not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
History is viewed as God’s work to bring about the realization of his original ideal. Divine Principle outlines a basic principle by which this work was to be accomplished and then applies it systematically to Old Testament history, concentrating especially on the Book of Genesis and continuing on through the history of Israel until the coming of Jesus, and then through Christian civilization in the New Testament Age.
The process of restoration involves the reversal of relationships; beginning immediately in Adam's family. Cain and Abel's relationship was meant to restore the position of Lucifer and Adam. Just as Lucifer as a servant was supposed to humble himself from the position of Archangel and approach God through Adam; Cain had to experience the humiliation of his offering being rejected by God, while Abel's was accepted (Gen. 4). According to Divine Principle, the next step (reversal of relationship) was for Abel to win Cain's heart and bring him, too, to God. This would have accomplished the "foundation for the Messiah" allowing the Messiah to be born as Abel's descendant, probably in the very next generation. The murder of Abel by Cain, however, prevented this.
The next attempt at restoration came ten biblical generations later in the family of Noah. A righteous man in a wicked generation, Noah restored Adam's position by his course of faithfully building the ark and saving his family from The Flood. His sons Shem and Ham then had to restore the positions of Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, Ham failed to inherit Abel's position when he responded shamefully to Noah's nakedness and spread this attitude to his brothers (Gen 9). Thus, the providence of restoration in Noah's family, too, ended in failure.
The foundation for restoration was finally accomplished through the work of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together with their wives. The basic outline of this process is that Abraham stood in Adam's position but failed to set up a successful foundation of faith during his first symbolic offering (Gen 15). If he had succeeded in this offering Abraham's sons Ishmael and Isaac would have stood in the position of Cain and Abel. Because of Abraham's failure in this offering, this providence failed. However, when Abraham was willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, he restored the foundation of faith, and Isaac also inherited the position of Adam from Abraham. Isaac then had two sons, Esau and Jacob, and these two together succeeded in restoring the position of Cain and Abel. This occurred after Esau lost both his birthright and Isaac's blessing when given to Jacob instead (Gen 27). Like Cain, Esau desired to kill his blessed younger brother, but eventually overcame his rage when Jacob returned after 21 years in exile and won his heart through acts of humility and generosity (Gen 33). This successfully established the foundation for the Messiah and is the reason why God sent the Messiah to the Jews as Jacob's descendants.
The Messiah could not be sent immediately, however, as a national foundation was necessary. In the cases of Adam's and Noah's families, the Messiah could have been born immediately because no other nations existed at the time, but by Jacob's time a national foundation was essential.
The first course of national restoration began after 400 years of slavery in Egypt by Jacob's descendants, the Israelites. They then left Egypt and eventually conquered Canaan under the leadership of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and Joshua. The crucial factor in establishing the national-level foundation for the Messiah was for the tribes of Israel to unite centering on the Ten Commandments and the Temple of Jerusalem. The Divine Principle traces several unsuccessful attempts to accomplish this, culminating finally in the successful establishment of the foundation for the Messiah during a 400-year period after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and rebuilt the temple, faithfully upholding the tradition of the Mosaic Law.
On this foundation, Jesus of Nazareth was born as the chosen Messiah. His mission, as explained above, was to restore Adam's position, find his bride in the position of Eve, raise a family, and establish the physical and spiritual kingdom of God in his lifetime. Because of the failure of John the Baptist and other key figures, however, Jesus could not gain the acceptance of the religious and political leadership of Israel. Instead, he was accused of blasphemy and treason, and died on the Cross without ever establishing a family. After his resurrection, however, his disciples absolutely united with him in spirit and faith, even to the point of being willing to give their lives for his cause. On that foundation, Jesus could lead what the Principle calls the "spiritual course of restoration" until the time of the Messiah's Second Advent.
The followers of Jesus henceforth would form the central people of faith in the providence of restoration, much as the Israelites had done in the previous age. Thus the Christian Church and the civilization it spawned are seen as the "Second Israel" in the New Testament Age. Divine Principle presents an analysis of the history of western civilization showing direct parallels between the providence of restoration in the ages of the Old and New Testaments, progressing from family level, to national level, and so forth. For example, the coronation of Charlemagne is seen as initiating a potentially messianic period parallel to that of King David; while the great saints of the Middle Ages perform a parallel role to that of the earlier prophets. The historical age of Reformation in Europe and its aftermath are seen as parallel to the previous age of the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem and the establishment of the post-exilic Jewish tradition prior to the coming of Jesus.
The 400-year period from the beginning of the Reformation until the early twentieth century is thus seen as the period of "Preparation for the Second Advent," and the current era is the time in which the Second Coming of Christ is to be fulfilled.
Divine Principle makes a case, supported by biblical exegesis, that the prophecy of Christ's Second Advent will not be fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, but be another person born as a normal human being on earth. He will not be the reincarnation of Jesus, but a new person with a new identity, who takes up Jesus' unfinished work. He will be born in the first part of the twentieth century in an Oriental nation that has a strong Christian foundation, and which is divided between communism and democracy—in other words, Korea.
While Rev. Moon's identity as the Messiah is only inferred in Divine Principle—where he is presented primarily as the messenger who has brought the teaching to humanity—nearly all Unificationists view him as such.
Divine Principle takes great care to define the term "messiah" so as not to portray Reverend Moon as a supernatural being or "God" in the same way as many traditional Christians understand Jesus and the term Messiah. The preferred Christological term among Unificationists is "True Parents of humankind." Reverend Moon is called "True Father" and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, is considered as the True Mother. Their messianic role is as the new Adam and Eve, who are to be the head of a redeemed humanity that can live in the Kingdom of God on earth. While the Moon couple's role was not publicly declared when Divine Principle was first published, since 1992 it is openly proclaimed.
The Divine Principle neither claims to be a perfect expression of truth, nor to be a complete rendering of the teachings of Reverend Moon:
The words proclaimed on these pages are only a portion of this truth. This volume is merely a compilation of what his disciples have hitherto heard and seen. We believe and hope that when the time is ripe, more profound portions of the truth will be published.
Unificationists have looked to Rev. Moon's published sermons to gain additional insights into his teaching.
The 2006 publication of Cheong Seong Gyeong (Heavenly Scripture), a compilation of excerpts from the speeches Reverend Moon organized topically, may be that complete representation of his thought and legacy. In 2006 Reverend Moon began giving series of "peace speeches," presented as having the Divine Principle's level of imprimatur and status.
In 2014 (after Reverend Moon's passing), a revised version of Cheong Seong Gyeong was published, with two additional volumes, Pyong Hwa Gyeong (Peace Messages) and Cham Bumo Gyeong (True Parents Messages), together comprising the Holy Scriptures of Cheon Il Guk.
And yet, none of these recent works provide a systematic presentation of Moon's teachings the way the Divine Principle does.
All links retrieved March 22, 2018.
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