Piper Meets the Moonies

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Last week I spent an hour and a half with the five-state district leader of the Unification Church and three of his friends. We met in my office at the church and Tom Steller joined us. The meeting came about because for about five weeks three to six followers of Sun Moon have been coming to our worship services. Here’s what I learned firsthand and why I think the Unification Church is guilty of the Galatian heresy.

First, the Bible is a secondary authority after the Divine Principle, which contains the teaching of Moon. This is regarded as divine revelation. The reason I say the Bible is secondary is twofold: 1) The Divine Principle purports to carry God’s revelation further and thus give the decisive climax of God’s plan more fully than the Bible; 2) the Divine Principle provides the lens through which the Bible must be viewed to get the right interpretation. This is a diminishing of God’s word (see Jude 3) and, as we will see, a rejection of the finality of Christ. The leader says he believes the Divine Principle is God’s word because he senses God speak to him in his heart when he reads it.

Second, the “lord of the second advent” is not Jesus but Sun Moon. They are very subtle here. They say, “Christ is coming back.” But if you ask, “Do you mean Jesus?” they say, “Christ is an office, not Jesus’ last name.” Moon, they believe, fulfills the office of the returning Christ. He is the second coming. And his task is to complete the work Jesus failed to do, namely, gather a pure family of God on the earth. (Read Matthew 24:23-27 to see how their view is warned against in Scripture.) Jesus Christ is not pre-eminent in Unification theology. He is not God’s final and decisive word. He is superseded by Sun Moon, the “lord of the second advent.”

Third, the cross of Christ was not necessary as a substitutionary atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus came to restore what was ruined by the fall, a perfect human family of God. He was to marry and have children and so spread a new race of people. But death cut him short and that’s why a second advent of Moon is required to finish the work Jesus failed to do. The cross, therefore, is not a central and predestined work of God to propitiate God’s wrath and atone for sin.

Fourth, when a person dies who has not attained perfect union with God, his spirit is given the opportunity to grow into salvation. The way it works is that the spirit of the deceased finds an embodied person at the same spiritual level at which he died. Then, to the degree that he can assist this embodied person on to spiritual union with God, to that degree he himself makes progress toward God. It’s not surprising that the Moonies thus end up with salvation not by grace but by works. Christ did not purchase redemption on the cross, we attain it by our own efforts whether before or after death.

In summary, then, Jesus Christ does not have the place of honor in Unification theology. His word is not final or decisive; his promised return is usurped by another; his cross is not atoning; and our salvation is by our merit more than his. This is a contemporary form of the Galatian heresy. I told my visitors that in no uncertain terms. Their reaction is typically a smile and a lamenting statement that they wished I wouldn’t focus on our differences so much but on our similarities. That is the essence of Moonie strategy: all smiles and graciousness and glossing over of glaring chasms of theological difference.

I am persuaded that the best defense is a good offense: know your Scriptures and exalt Christ at every turn. Pray that in our services they will see their folly and take refuge in the cross. Be assured the “Moon” will set and the “Son” will rise.

Awaiting the lightning,

Pastor John