Unification View of History
History as Providential
Unification thought sees history as a theater in which God works voluntarily constrained by self-imposed principles that accommodate human free will, in order to complete God’s providential purposes for the world. Unification thought sees God at work in history seeking to guide and influence human decision-making toward a mutually beneficial end. Therefore history is not a series of accidents or merely the story of human achievements, successes and failures. History is to be understood from three perspectives—that of the original purpose of creation, that of the Fall, that of restoration (or re-creation). Since the first human couple, (sometimes called Adam and Eve), sinned and spoiled God’s original ideal and plan of creation, God has worked in history to guide the recreation of human beings in our shared effort to restore the world to perfection. History, therefore, is interpreted "providentially." God’s aim is to restore ideal, "God-centered" families. When pure, true love obtains between each individual and God, extends itself to manifest between husband and wife, among parents and children, among siblings and from there to one's clan, tribe, neighbors and all ever expanding levels of social organization. And, when the "family of humankind" engage nature in a mutual and loving relationship, the work of restoration will be complete and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will be fully present on Earth. As human beings naturally pass into "eternal life," this "Kingdom of heaven" expands to the "Kingdom of heaven" in the spiritual world as well. Unification thought acknowledges the multi-million year historical and fossil record, but speaks theologically of a 6,000 period of history during which God has been searching for the true family. Restoration history is the period, God is longing to enter a truly loving relationship with humanity, whose purpose is to become the “object partner of God's heart” (Exposition of the Divine Principle 402).
The Goal of History
The goal of history is restoration or "re-creation," namely reversing the "Fall" in order to enable the realization of the original, ideal world of creation. The first requisite is for a "chosen" person to make a successful offering, as Abel did in the Genesis account. After this, the person (or even family, all the way up to nations) must help dissolve the pain and resentment of those who do not stand in this blessed position. When individuals or even nations co-operate with God both in the chosen position blessed with faith, and in the position of pained and rejected, history moves towards its goal. But when people (of either sort) put their own interests first, history fails to progress and may even digress or regress. Successes or failures, and progress or regress hinge upon actors with "providential" roles unique to both men and women respectively. Unification thought analyzes history by categorizing nations and prominent personalities as Abel-like and as Cain-like, as well as occupying Adam's or Eve's position in recapitulating the narratives of "Fall" and restoration. The influences of fallen nature, Satan, and of God’s Angelic and Archangelic servants, are also be read into historical events. According to Unification views (as with many other traditions) enmity arose even between genders, as a result of the Fall. This enmity too affects history. History therefore is a drama of the cosmic struggle between good and evil. The ultimate goal is unification—of men and women, different races and religions and of the human family within a single world and "cosmos" descended from the "lineage of God" and the original human ancestors. The concept or "power" of 'give and take' is also important—it is a generate energy capable of serving the cause and expanding the realm either of good or evil. The aim is restoration of what humanity lost at the Fall. It requires the harmony of “spiritual and material civilization” (Exposition 406), and the harmony of all humanity with the natural world. The end of history will thus see “all of humanity...become one people...establishing a global nation under God” (Exposition 411). According to Unification thought, the self-identification as Messiah announced by Sun Myung Moon in 1992 inaugurated the “completed testament age,” which represents the penultimate stage of progress towards realization or restoration of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. In this age, all previous religious dispensations can be fulfilled, and manifest fully without hindrance.
Unification Historiography and Historical Dialectic Approaches
Unification historiography shares common elements with such approaches as Marxist and Hegelian in what has been called a ‘law-governed’ understanding of history. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) understood history in terms of the process of ‘thesis,’ ‘antithesis,’ and ‘synthesis' through which humanity would progress towards the triumph of reason over irrationality. Freedom, in his view, would be the end of history. Karl Marx (1818–1883) believed that dialectic is at work in history, whereby the ideal human society in which all own the means of production will be achieved by a process in which those who are oppressed become conscious of their condition and rise up against their oppressors. Unification thought presents the laws of recreation and restoration as the true laws of history. It replaces Marxist inner dynamic of material struggle as the mover within history with the principle of "give and take action" centered on God, hence 'Godism' is sometimes used as a description of Unification thought.
Unification historiography also resonates with a World history approach. World history seeks to avoid a Euro-centric view of the world that locates all human achievement in the West and seeks to construct a holistic view of what was happening in the world at any given time. World history also identifies tendencies and parallels, such as the birth of the city at about the same time in China, Central America and Mesopotamia, or the simultaneous flourishing of philosophy that occurred during the axial age in different parts of the world. In Unification thought, such parallel developments were not accidental but can be seen as examples of history progressing providentially towards restoration. Unification history identifies such parallels as those between the Hebrews four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, and four hundred years of Christian persecution under Rome, or four hundred years of rule by the Judges of Israel and four hundred years of the church patriarchs (see Exposition 302–303 and 307–308) as parallel time periods. These particular parallels describe the "prolongation" of restoration. This can result from "providential failures." In order to restore opportunity for progress that is lost through such "failure," indemnity must "be paid." This and other parallels of differing time-lengths make up what known as ‘ages of providential time-identity.’ Unification sees the founding and arising of all true religions as related to God. Thus God stands behind all history (not exclusively behind that of a particular nation or religion). “God,” says the Exposition of the Divine Principle, “has founded religions and worked through them to elevate people's spirituality by internally purifying people of satanic elements” (98). Each religion was divinely established to suit different regions and cultures (327). In Unification thought, the “evolution of cultural spheres” which included the absorption of “lesser cultural spheres” [into] the more advanced spheres” is providential, moving towards the emergence of a single culture and “the restoration of one united world” (Exposition 85 - 86). Specifically, the cultural spheres of East Asia, of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and Judaism are said to be converging, to form one global cultural sphere based on the “lineage implications” implied by unique aspects of Jesus' teaching.
Unification Historiography and World History
In Unification thought, parts of the world may be especially blessed at specific times because human beings have accomplished a portion of responsibility centered on God. In such conditions God’s purposes can be advanced. Thus, Britain’s colonial possessions, though riddled with (harmful and unnecessary) behavior offensive to God, are nevertheless interpreted as serving God's greater purpose. God blessed England, allowing industrial and commercial development, which was spread widely throughout her Empire. Thus, “the mass production born of the Industrial Revolution led England to claim vast colonies as sources of raw material and markets for goods. In so doing, the Industrial Revolution opened up a vast territory for the propagation of the Gospel (though even this was often done in harmful ways). Accordingly, it contributed to both the internal and external aspects of the providence of restoration” (Exposition 363-4). While occupying other people’s territory by force is unacceptable, the legacy of the British Empire was not entirely negative. The spread of Christianity was providential according to Unification thought—teaching love of enemies and a life centered on God and this was greatly aided as a result of Britain’s imperial achievements. Britain’s development as a ‘Christian nation’ was providential, and the cultural link with Rome is also important as part of the process by which achievements that promote unity and peace (the Pax Romana) are preserved and passed on for future generations.
An example of how this providential view of history sheds theological light on an historical event can be illustrated by an analysis of World War Two. In World War Two, the nation "on God’s side" (England), occupies the position of ‘restored Eve nation’ in opposing Germany understood as the "Adam nation on Satan's side." Unification thought sees significance in the fact that Britain was blessed with prosperity during the reign of several queens, again supporting this notion of restored Eve. As an island nation, Britain was well suited providentially to establish an empire. Her spirit is "feminine," that of a mother (feminine-type). In this position it is understood that she "gave birth" to the providentially significant "Christian nation" United States of America (an "archangelic type nation"). Of course, the U.S. has had a highly significant role to play in world affairs given its historical responsibility to lead the world towards unity. In World War Two, God protected England because her providential role and responsibilities. British democracy is considered an 'Abel-type' democracy because it was “founded by sincere Christians, the fruits of the Abel-type view of life [and was] born out of their victorious fight with absolutism to win religious freedom” (Exposition 360). It is taught in Unification thought that the U.S. had the mission to bring about world unity following the Second World War, but failed to do so in allowing misguided negotiations with the communist Soviet Union. These led to the division of Germany, Soviet occupation of the Eastern bloc, and especially the tragic division of the Korean peninsula and its people.
The period of the Cold War is viewed in Unification thought as a contest between the democratic world centered on Christian thought on the one hand, built by the Abel-type individual, family, nation and world, and the communist world on the other. Korea divided with a strong communist north, and a passionately religious, democratic south was providentially placed as the True, or Restored Parents' birthplace as a nation where East met West and where many of the great religions of the World, such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity encountered each other. Sometimes, the great civilizations of the World are termed as different 'Israels'—the first Israel was the Hebrew nation, the second was the Christian world, which has shifted from Europe to the U.S.A. while the third Israel is Korea. Unification thought teaches that there has been a providential flow of culture, starting with the river civilizations of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates, moving to the Mediterranean basin, then to North Europe (especially to the island nation of Great Britain), from there to the Americas and beyond due to colonial expansion and Christian missionary endeavor and that this process is now moving to Asia, bearing fruit in Korea (Exposition 407).
History: Moral Lessons
From a Unification perspective, the study of history is not primarily concerned with politics or imperial expansion or with wars and military exploits, but with the unfolding of providence, strictly following the principles of restoration through indemnity. Visible history is the fruit of an inner history. For the vast amount of history that transpires outside the central providence, the questions to be asked of an historical period are—were people living righteously, did they obtain the three blessings based a loving relationship with God, a loving family in the context of peaceful, safe and secure societies and a balanced, harmonious and respectful relationship with the created order (the natural environment)? Unification history, unlike political history but in common with such approaches as the Annales School (see Historiography) is concerned with the contribution of culture, the arts and scholarship towards realizing the goal of history. Unification history is interested in how families, communities and societies experienced life as well as in the achievements of gifted individuals. It is interested in how easy it was for people to live morally good lives, to establish secure families, in whether sexual fidelity was encouraged or whether infidelity was condoned. Taking the view that peace cannot be achieved through war (but that war is sometimes necessary), Unification history wants to celebrate the example of people who have brought beauty into the world through music, art, and industry, and those who, through scholarship, have helped to show that non-violence, justice and removing causes of conflict are more noble ways of working to achieve the hope of all ages, a unified world of peace. For Unificationists, the end of war is integral to the promised Kingdom of Heaven and Earth, a unified world of peace. Helping to restore balance in the world, between the ugly and the beautiful, the good and the bad, is also an indemnity payment towards restoration of the lost original - an ideal world.
In addition to this general type of analysis that utilizes concepts and categories from the ideal of creation, there is also the more important analysis of "central" providence that requires an understanding of the complex laws of restoration through indemnity. Unification historiography tends to focus more closely on this unique thread of history, the one that reveals the central providence of restoration.
In Unificationist perspective, the value of an individual's moral contribution to history would center on whether they united people of different races or religion, or divided them, whether they filled the world with beauty and learning, or made it a darker, more fearful, more ignorant place, whether they enabled people to enjoy secure family lives centered on God or contributed to the break-up of marriages and to the alienation of parents from their children. Did the societies in which they played an influential or leading role honor or dishonor God, were they moral or immoral? Was marriage honored or dishonored? Were these societies sexually permissive or was sex outside of marriage regarded as illicit? Nonetheless, someone whose life was of historical significance but whose main contribution was violent, or who was not blessed with a happy family, may still be judged to have played a positive role if, as a result of their actions, the world became a more stable place, or people of different races were brought together, or an even more Satanic force or power in the world was defeated. Thus, “although there have been times when evil seemed to prevail, in the end the relatively evil social forces and political forced declined and were absorbed by the more godly forces, [so] the wars which have shaped the rise and fall of nations [were] unavoidable during the course of the providence to re-establish the reign of the good” (Exposition 99).
Unificationism regards gender harmony, not only a goal of history, but also operative in the history of restoration through indemnity. While men and women are said to have equal value in the eyes of God, history has more frequently recorded the actions of men, which does not reflect the true nature of history.
Grounded as it is in Biblical narrative as a foundation for interpreting the principles of historical progress, historical analysis places high stakes on the decisions of women who are central to the historical providence of restoration through indemnity. Such women include the Biblical Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Tamar, Mary, mother of Jesus and others. These are not merely isolated women of heroic character, rather they are women placed in positions to restore through indemnity historical failures related to "The Fall" of the first human ancestors.
The "victorious" lives of these women not only move the entire human race towards the final goal of fully restoring the original ideal, but further, simultaneously serve to bring about the restoration of perfect gender parity as operative in the Godhead, and expressed perfectly throughout creation, most magnificently in human beings.
Additionally, as humanity expands to evermore-complex social units from family, clans and tribes, eventually even to nations, the same role for the woman's side obtains. In the final stages of restoration, entire nations function with the same historical mission of restoration through indemnity in Eve's or the "mother's" position. This role is ascribed to such nations as Great Britain and Japan, for example.
Beyond Left and Right: Headwing Ideology
Much historical writing uses a 'left-right' analysis to interpret ideas and values that leaders, political parties, social movements or cultural trends represent. In this analysis, 'left' means liberal—stressing liberty, free choice, equality of opportunity and often advocating some form of wealth re-distribution. 'Left' may be associated with “big government,” with state owned health care, for example. 'Right' is associated with social conservatism. It tends to support capitalism and private enterprise, arguing that 'small government' costs less, so needs to tax less, leaving people with more money in their pockets to buy services, such as health care, for themselves. Communism represented the left, democracy the right. In this analysis, left-wingers would usually support women's right to abortion, while right-wingers would support the embryo's right to live.
Unification thought seeks to unify these two tendencies reflecting partial views of the world based on one's own location in society, and not as a larger view reflecting God's perspective. It seeks to unify thought in a larger perspective that goes beyond narrow and often selfish interests—"Head-wing" ideology. It develops a view in which all people can achieve the three blessings. All people are God's children, and none can be viewed as expendable for the sake of some lower purpose. Perfect people are responsible adults centered on God and require freedom for their happiness in pursuing a godly life. They will naturally act like true parents and care for others. However, those who are dependent or in unfortunate circumstances often as a result of the selfishness of others, must be assisted—not by handouts, but by parental-type support that enables them to reach perfection.
Unification history is interested to see how “Head-wing” type thought, drawing on spiritual as well as on other material or ideological resources, contributed to any time period or culture that the historian studies. The unfolding of God's providence seeks co-prosperity and common cause. In the modern world, "the maturation of religion, politics, and the economy" has been advanced by Abel-type historical movements. The Reformation challenged the policies of the church that were oppressive and based on the ignorance and greed of leaders. It promoted the concept of personal responsibility and accountability directly to God, rather than other human beings. Priests were to aid people in obtaining their salvation rather than meting it out at their own pace. Personal autonomy, rooted in religious freedom, or internal freedom, paved the way for developments in politics and the economy. Democracy was a form of organization that requires personal freedom and responsibility to succeed and this is built on the moral responsibility taught by religious consciousness. Similarly, the modern economy provides prosperity when each person takes responsibility for producing more than he consumes, and freely trades with, and provides aid to, others. Such activity led to the development of larger industries aimed at the mass production of goods and services that can lead to a blessed life for all humanity. Again, this requires financial stewardship and a work ethic based on one's relationship to God, and greed will undermine economic well-being and the modern economy.
The End of Religions
Unification thought anticipates that the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, brought about by the true fidelity to God of blessed families, will transcend all present religious boundaries. Even Unificationism itself will have completed its providential role. William Ernest Hocking (1873-1966) the American philosopher of religion similarly advocated a "Coming World Civilization" in which all religions, like single upper rivers, would join a united lower, single stream. Drawing on a Hindu analogy, he commented that the place where streams join is especially sacred, because all the rivers have realized their "full being." Nor can the lower, united stream be called by the name of either single stream. "Retaining the symbols of their historic pieties, the great faiths will grow in their awareness of a unity more significant than the remaining differences," he wrote.
Because false families resulted from the fall, religion has been a proxy institution for developing people's connection to God. Should religion enable all families to create a natural connection to God in their children, religion would "do itself out of a job." The concept is somewhat similar to Karl Marx's idea of "the withering away of the state"—a time when everyone so naturally lives in accordance with the ideal that no physical force is required. It is perhaps people's unwillingness to concede that religion has a limited purpose, or they have grown dependent upon it, which encourages enmity and rivalry rather than cooperation and harmony between people of different faiths.
Development of the Unification View of History
The foundation of the Unification Theory of History is developed in Divine Principle, which was first published in English in 1973. Further development has been carried out by others since that time.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification movement, asked Sang Hun Lee (1914-1999) to systematize his teaching, which the latter did calling his effort "Unification Thought." Included in this extensive review of almost all philosophical categories, Dr. Lee also attempted to render the Unification theory of history. As described above, it was formulated against the backdrop of the Unification critique of Marxism, in particular historical materialism. Dr. Lee had been a student of Marxism earlier. Dr Lee's books include Explaining Unification Thought (1981) and Essentials of Unification Thought (1992). He also had written Communism: A New Critique and Counter Proposal in 1975. Marxist history is moved by productive and material forces; Unification history is moved by a combination of divine and human forces. Marxist history will inexorably move towards its goal, independently of peoples' will. In Unification thought, history progresses towards its goal when people choose to fulfill their portion of responsibility.
Reverend Moon also asked Col. Bo Hi Pak to develop a “head-wing” thought called "Godism" for leadership seminars in the Americas that he sponsored in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the geopolitical contest between communism and democracy was at its climax. The CAUSA Lecture Manual (1985) was developed by Dr. Thomas Ward and William Lay for CAUSA, an organization aimed at promoting “Godism” rather than communism in Latin America, contains a systematic presentation of "Godism.”
Ongoing development of the Unification view of history is found in The Journal of Unification Studies and other publications from a number of individual authors.
- Exposition of the Divine Principle. New York, HSA-UWC, 1996. ISBN 0910621802
- Hocking, William Ernest. 1956. The Coming World Civilization. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0837168511
- Lee, Sang Hun. 1992. Essentials of Unification Thought: The Headwing Thought (ch. 8, “Theory of History”). New York, Unification Though Institute. (http://www.unification.org/ucbooks/euth/index.html)
- Moon, Sun Myung. 1998. The Way of Unification (Vol. 1) (Ch. 3, sect. 1 “The Second World War”). New York: The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. ISBN 1892163020 (http://www.unification.org/ucbooks/HDH/WU1/)
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