Greg Bahnsen’s Critique of the Unification Church

Notes from Greg Bahnsen’s lecture series, A Biblical Introduction to Apologetics, as well as assistance from my friend’s transcript.

History of the Unification Church
The Unification Church was founded by Sun Myun Moon. He was born in January 1920 in a small village in Korean. He had parents who were Presbyterian. His birth name was Mun Young-myeong, but he changed his name to mean sun and moon. In high school he went to a Penecostal Church, but he claimed that on Easter Sunday on a mountain top he had a vision. In this vision, Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him to carry out the task on Earth that Jesus failed to accomplish–salvation. Jesus asked Moon to be the new Messiah. During WW2, he attended a Japanese university and married. He started preaching to build a following, and returned to South Korea in 1946. He met a man named Pak Moon Kim, he was also a self-proclaimed messiah. In 1946, because of what Moon was preaching, the presbyterian church excommunicated him. In 1948 he was imprisoned in North Korean, but he escaped in 1950. He claimed that he was imprisoned because of his anti-communist activities. However, those who knew him said that he was imprisoned because of his sexual activity. They said that Moon taught that blood cleansing could only be obtained through sexual intercourse with him. In 1954, he established Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity also known as the Unification Church. In the same year is wife divorced him. In 1955, Moon was arrested again regarding his sexual activity again. Three years later you published Divine Principles, which would be the most authoritative book for the Moonis. In the late 50s he became successful financially. In the 1958 he had at least 15 and 20 million dollars.

In 1960 he married an 18 year old, however, people claimed that he had other wives in his six year interval after his first divorce. He said that he and his new wife formed the nucleus of the human race. After gaining a big following, he said that God was leading him to the United States and he brought hundreds of followers with him. One of the reasons why Moon is so wealthy is because he convinces his followers to work for him for nothing. He had thousands of people who worked for him in factories and street corners.

Theology of the Unification Church
The final authority in the Unification Church is not the Bible, but rather the writings of Sun Myung Moon. He considered himself to be a Christian minister even though he’d been excommunicated. Though he called his church the Unification Church of Christianity, he was actually very hostile to Christianity. In the book “The Master Speaks”he wrote, “Our group is of a higher dimension than the established churches, and naturally there’s a vast difference between what we are and what the Christian people are. The Christianity that God has been fostering for 6000 years is doomed. Up till the present God has been with Christianity, but in Christianity things have stalemated.”He goes on to say “God is now throwing Christianity away, and is now establishing a new religion and this new religion is the Unification Church.” Moon regarded himself as the most important man alive, and the prophet of the new age, saying ”I am the foremost one in the whole world”, and again “Out of all the Saints sent by God I think I am most successful one.”He also said, “I have talked with many many masters, including Jesus, and questions of life in the universe. They have subjected themselves to me in terms of wisdom. After winning the victory, they surrendered.” Moon told his followers to be open to the new truths that he revealed because he said that one day the truths that he revealed would make the New Testament unnecessary. He is basically saying that Bible has a place in his church as long as it is interpreted in accordance with his teachings. He claimed that there are three Adams and three Eves, or three divine couples, however, one Eve got lost along the way.

1st Adam & Eve Story
The first Adam and Eve were created by God to become the parents of a perfect humanity, but God told them not to have sex until a period of spiritual maturation was completed. However, this was messed up because Lucifer, the Archangel, deceived Eve into having sex with him. As a result, Satan then became Satan the demon. This marked the spiritual fall of both Lucifer and Eve simultaneously. Now Eve who is sexually experienced and fallen, tempts her husband, Adam, and this led to the physical fall of the human race. So Eve’s sex with Lucifer brings the spiritual fall of the human race, and her having sex with Adam before their time of maturation was complete brings the physical fall of the human race. This contradicts what the book of Genesis says about the fall of the human race. The sin performed by Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. According to Moon, Eve had a baby by Lucifer, and this baby was Cain, and Moon says that Cain symbolizes Communism from the very beginning. Eve also had a child by Adam, Able, who symbolizes democracy.

2nd Adam & Eve story
The second Adam was Jesus Christ. Moon denies the virgin birth and the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. He says that Jesus was not the God-man, but rather He was merely a man. Though Jesus was the first man to be obedient to God since the first Adam fell, a number of failures marred the mission of Jesus. For instance, the three wise men were supposed to rear Jesus until the day He would take a wife, but they didn’t. John the Baptist failed because he didn’t recognize that Jesus was the Savior. Jesus didn’t unify all the world religions and cultures, and Israel finally rejected Him and murdered Him on the cross before He was able to do what He was sent into this world to do, and that was to find the second Eve. If He had found that perfect woman, the second Eve, then He would’ve had sex with her, and they would have begun the physical restoration of the human race. Moon claimed that Jesus was the bastard offspring of Zachariah and Mary, who had been seduced by Zachariah, her brother-in-law. He went on to say that Mary Magdalene had been Judas Iscariot’s lover, but she fell in love with Jesus, and that’s why Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas hung himself, according to Moon, not out of remorse but because Mary turned on him for betraying Jesus. He went on to claim that the Holy Spirit is a female, he denied the resurrection of Christ, he denied the second coming, and said that the kingdom of God and the unification of all people and religions will be brought about through human effort, not through the work of Christ, but by following Sun Myung Moon. In this story Jesus failed to accomplish His mission of physical and spiritual salvation. According to Moon, Jesus was not sent to die on a cross, and His crucifixion was contrary to the will of God. You might say “But the Old Testament prophesies this, and so much of the New Testament claims that it’s a fulfillment of the old testament”, but according to Moon what we have in the Old Testament is the presentation of two possible destinies for the Messiah, and they did not have to be fulfilled. According to Moon, Jesus was an imperfect image of God who, with the Holy Spirit, brings about spiritual, but not physical, salvation. When Jesus saw that He couldn’t accomplish His mission of finding the most beautiful and perfect woman with whom to start the new humanity, He began to preach about His second advent. After Jesus died on the cross He rose again spiritually, but not physically. He did not ascend to the heavenly kingdom, but Jesus instead waits in paradise until another will come along who will complete His unfinished task of bringing the kingdom of God to earth.

3rd Adam & Eve story
So with the first Adam and Eve having their part, and with the second Adam and Eve failing,the world has been waiting for the third Adam and Eve, who will now bring physical salvation.The third Adam, according to Sun Myung Moon, is the Lord of the second Advent. Who do you think that might be? He won’t come right out and say that it’s him, but he’ll say things like, based on the numerology that he applies to biblical prophecy, and other prophecies as to geography and the Bible, that the third Adam, the Lord of the Advent, was born in Korea in 1920. Well, Moon was born in Korea in 1920. He says that the new Messiah will become the physical father of the new human race, and he requires his disciples to address him and his wife from the 1960s as “the true parents”. He does say a number of things about himself that would suggest that he was the incarnation of God. He says, ”The time will come without my seeking it, when my words will almost serve as law. If I ask a certain thing it will be done. If I don’t want something done it will not be done.” He says, ”The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world.” He says, “I am a thinker. I am your brain.”And again, “There is no complaint or objection against anything being done here until we have established the kingdom of God on earth. Up until the very end there can never be any complaint.”Yet another quote, “Up until now Jesus has appeared in the spirit world to His followers. From now on I will appear.” He considered the United States to be God’s chosen kingdom along with Korea, claiming that the East and West have to be unified. According to him, the Roman Empire failed and now it comes to the United States and Korea to do it, but they will need a guiding light for the new civilization. They will need the teachings of Moon. He said that the churches are doomed and that the United States is in need of spiritual revival and will soon fail if it doesn’t turn to him. Moon claimed that his followers can reach a level of sinless perfection through him and that they have no need to turn to Jesus Christ. In fact, the forgiveness of sins is not necessary because you can indemnify yourself against judgment for your sins by doing good works. Not only can you build up through good works, indemnity for your own sins through human effort, but you can do so for your ancestors’ sins this well. And a great deal of pressure is put on Moon’s followers that if they question him or are disobedient in any way, then their ancestors, including their parents, may suffer many more thousands of years in hell. Moon said that God is to be pitied and this is a sad being because He is surrounded by the forces of Satan, and is now isolated from His children. God is imprisoned and is now looking to Moon for hope and restoration. We won’t go in to the practices of the Unification Church and the way in which Moon used his disciples.

I want to point out a few things about Moon and also about other pseudo-messianic religions.

First of all, I want you to notice that Moon must give his credence to the Bible. He must defer to the Bible, and he does so, provided it is interpreted according to his own teachings. Secondly, Moon wants to defer to Jesus Christ as a great religious leader, but claiming that Jesus failed. I want you to notice that Moon must, in some way, acknowledged the Bible and Jesus and their importance. You will find the very same thing in virtually every pseudo-messianic cult. They always have got to, in some way, bow down to Jesus in show deference to the Bible, and then of course they write their revisions and say “But, of course the Christians are wrong about this that and the other”, or”Well, we can’t follow Jesus in everything.” But you will be hard- pressed to find one that just comes right out and says “The Bible’s wrong. Jesus was wrong”, and I think that calls for some reflection. Why not? Why do we feel this tug of the Bible and Jesus? Why can’t we just cut it off altogether and say “It’s fraudulent?” Do you know why? Because they’re true, and they grip the heart. Many people might want to piggyback on Jesus’ reputation, but not many of them dare reject Him outright. But what did Jesus say about those who disagree with Him? He said they are all wrong. He said that if a man doesn’t follow Him, then that man cannot approach the Father. Other people would defer to previous teachers, Jesus would say “I say unto you”. He didn’t say nice, courteous things about a Confucius, or a Gautama, or any of these others. Jesus didn’t bother to give deference to any other religions of the world. All the other ones want to include Jesus in their team somehow. The Bible has got to be there among their respected books, but the Bible doesn’t bother with any of the others. Jesus doesn’t either. In fact, as I said at the beginning of this lesson, He warned that there would be false Christs and false prophets that would come in His name, claiming that they are the Messiah. So, if a follower of Moon were here, I think I would really want to stress that antithesis. Moon wanted to incorporate Jesus into his religion somehow, but He doesn’t want anything to do with Moon’s religion. In fact, Jesus warned us not to believe anyone who claims to be the Messiah.

I stress that in the hopes that some followers of Moon will begin to see that they can’t have it the way it’s been fed to them. They can’t have a synthesized religion; a little bit of Christianity and whole bunch of sexual ritual weirdness from Moon making up the new physical race and salvation. They’ve got to make a choice. Why is it that the false messiahs and false teachers, be it a Joseph Smith or a Sun Myung Moon, always require God’s people to give up their Bibles, and filter the teachings of the Bible through the individual leader? That should make you suspicious. When the claims of the new messiah are not publicly verifiable, then we must suspect that those claims are not objectively true at all. By “publicly verifiable”, I mean that anyone can come along, look at the documents and the evidence and see that that’s why the person is the Messiah. That’s what Jesus said. Jesus always challenged those who opposed Him to go to the Scriptures and disprove Him. He said “Read Moses. If you read Moses you read about Me.”He didn’t say “If you read Moses the way I tell you to read Moses, you’ll find Me”, He just said “Go read Moses. You’ve all got it, you’ve all heard it.”Jesus did things which were publicly verifiable. He worked miracles, arose from the dead etc. He does not send His followers into the world to tell people “If you just had the very special translation of the Bible that we have, then you could see that we’re right.” In fact, some of the leading experts in textual criticism of the Bible are not even Christians, and that’s fine, because what they are doing in terms of looking at the documents and the grammar, etc., is open even to unbelievers to see. You don’t need some kind of special grammar, or special insight, or special interpreter to filter the Bible to you. There were things written down on pieces of paper throughout history, and when you go find those things, one way or another, even with the slight differences between the documents, your going to see the message of Christianity for what it is. Now, you may not like it, and you me reject it, but it’s publicly verifiable; it’s objective. Not so in the case of the pseudo -messiahs. It always comes down to the pseudo-messiah telling people to trust him because he said to. When it’s pointed out that the Bible says things against the pseudo-messiah, he says to (1) trust him that the Bible’s wrong, or (2) that our reading of the Bible is wrong, or both. Up to this point we’ve been talking about the nature of authority. But now, in the case of Moon in particular, I want you to notice what kind of God he is talking about. Look at the nature of his God. Moon said that God is helpless and is to be pitied. He’s surrounded by the forces of Satan right now and is hoping Moon will come to His rescue. Did Jesus say “God is in a bad state, and I came into this world to help Him out”? No. In fact, Jesus turned His life and fate over to the hands of the Father, and declared that He only spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Jesus made big claims for Himself, but always subjected Himself under the Father, whereas Moon comes not only to be better than Jesus, but to save God. What kind of God is worth following if He needs to be saved? These religions always end up contradicting themselves. If God is not sovereign, and God needs to be saved, then in the end God is not God. Who is God then? Ultimately it would be Moon. Moon wouldn’t only take the place of God the Son, but in the end, by inference, he would have to take the place of God the Father as well. Once you buy into the theology that God is less than God, you don’t need the theology of Moon. If God’s in bad shape, He wouldn’t be worthy of worship. Why not just start our own cultist religion and start our own new human race? Why Moon? What’s so special about him? The fact that Jesus appeared to him and chose him? Do you see the dialectic problem here? Every positive claim is countered by the negative of what they’ve already claimed. Jesus chose Moon? So what? The Jesus of Moon’s theology is a loser who already failed. What good is it to be chosen by someone who couldn’t do the work that God gave Him to do in the first place? It just doesn’t make sense. People try to put together another theology, but the pieces just don’t fit together. Jesus performed miracles and was raised from the dead. What did Moon do? He went to prison for ritual sex practices. Look at the life of this man. Is this what you’d expect from someone who’s supposed to be virtually God incarnate?

You have to be able to do a little bit of, not just reductio ad absurdum, but also playing a facetious role when talking to followers of a cult. If you’re talking to a disciple of Moon, I think you need to say….

Christian:Why Moon and not me?

Moon’s Disciple: Jesus appeared to him.

( or this, that and the other. But you see, every one of those claims are unverifiable, and not open to public scrutiny. So with the facetious approach, every time someone makes an arbitrary statement, you counter with your own facetious, arbitrary claim )

Christian: Oh, Jesus appeared to him? Jesus appeared to me too. Jesus told him there’s a third Adam? Jesus told me there’s a fourth, and I’m the fourth.

Moon’s Disciple:You’re just making it up as you go along.

Christian: And what makes you think Moon wasn’t making it up as he went along?

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