After Sun myung moon
Can the unification Church be rescued?
Not unless God intervenes in miracu-
Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church, passed away on Sept. 3 at 1: 54 a.m. (Korean time). His death led to worldwide
media coverage as did his funeral service on Sept. 15,
with 30,000 mourners in attendance at the huge Unification Palace northeast of Seoul. Moon’s passing had been
expected since his hospitalization in August. He died of
complications from pneumonia.
September was a brutal month for Moon’s family and
followers. Shortly after his death Unification members
found out Moon’s daughter In Jin, who led the American
church, gave birth in April to a child out of wedlock. On
Sept. 6, ex-members posted images of the child’s birth certificate on the Internet, confirming rumours that In Jin’s
marriage had fallen apart. Hak Ja Han, Moon’s widow,
ordered In Jin to resign from leadership. In Jin had been
very popular with most church members and the scandal
has left many in shock.
Unification Church members also face an ongoing feud
between Hyun Jin Moon, onetime heir of the movement,
and his mother and siblings over control of Unification
assets. Three years ago Hyun Jin (b. 1969) was cast aside as
Moon’s successor in favour of younger brother Hyung Jin
(b. 1979), now head of the international movement. Hyun
Jin rebelled against his family and argued he was the true
follower of Unification principles. So far he has retained
control of many Moon-based enterprises, but there is litigation over ownership in both the United States and Korea.
Most Unificationists are aligned with Hyung Jin, the
younger son. He has already brought some stability to the
Unification Church, reeling from his sister’s infidelity (and
related cover-up) and his older brother’s rebellion. Hyung
Jin is clearly favoured by Mrs. Moon (True Mother), who
is now in the top position in the Unification movement,
at least this side of heaven. Unificationists believe Sun
Myung Moon (True Father) will lead his church through
revelations from the eternal realm.
What makes all this drama ironic is that Moon has
predicted the arrival of heaven on earth by Jan. 13, 2013.
His followers have been working furiously over the last
few years to restore our fallen planet by that “Foundation
Day.” Moon himself had a special focus in his later years
on restoring Las Vegas. The Unification Church promised
a new day for Sin City and the rest of the globe. This seems
rather barren in light of Moon’s own family troubles, not
to mention realities connected to Syria, the European
Union, Libya, the U.S. economy, the Iran-Israel nuclear
Can the Unification Church itself be rescued? Not unless God intervenes in miraculous ways. Moon built a false
religion by totally ignoring his Christian roots and turning his back on the plain teachings of the Bible. Among
his more obvious errors, he taught that (a) Jesus was not
supposed to die, (b) Jesus was the product of a relationship between Zacharias (father of John the Baptist) and
Mary, (c) Moon himself is the Second Coming of Christ,
(d) Jesus is a servant to Moon in heaven, and (e) Moon’s
life is the ultimate source of redemption. He even started
a campaign to have Christian pastors take down crosses
in their churches.
If this is not enough, Moon had no limit to his ego
and wild theories. He said in one sermon that God did
not know what sex was like until Moon made love to his
wife. Moon announced he had found a bride for Jesus
and performed the marriage in the early 1970s. Moon
claimed a few years ago Satan had repented of his rebellious ways and recognized Moon as Saviour and Lord.
Moon claimed to be sinless in spite of fathering a child out
of wedlock in the 1960s, a fact now emerging in troubled
Moon was a powerful leader, inspiring vast business
holdings, media enterprises in Japan, South Korea and the
United States (including The Washington Times), educational institutions and charitable foundations. Based on
three decades of studying Moon and hearing him twice
in person, I also think he really believed his own message.
Post Sun Myung Moon, we can pray that his son
Hyung Jin will discover the Biblical gospel and turn Unificationists to Jesus Christ. In the world of false religion,
miracles can happen. Hye Sung Gehring was a second
generation follower of Moon. Five years ago he started
serious study of the Bible and realized that Moon had
misled him and all of his followers. Hye Sung accepted
Jesus as Saviour and Lord. He also founded a blog (how-
welldoyouknowyourmoon.tumblr.com) that offers a voice
to ex-members as well as expose the corruption in the
Unification Church. He is now in first year at Calvin College in Michigan, preparing for Christian ministry. FT
JAmES A. bEVErLEY is professor of Christian
thought and ethics at Tyndale Seminary in
Toronto. His PhD thesis examined the
sermons of Sun Myung Moon.