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God as Our Heavenly Parent (Father and Mother)

David Hanna on our Heavenly Parent

New insight into the concept of God – our Heavenly Parent

Heavenly Parent

Part 1 of a lecture given by Dr. David Hanna, head of the North European sub-region of the Family Federation, at an international prayer meeting by Zoom on 27th March 2024.

Jin-su Hwang
Jin-su Hwang, professor of theology at Sun Moon University, Asan, South Korea. Photo (2023): Screenshot from video by 신통일한국 평화포럼

See part 2, part 3

This is the second in a new set of seven lectures, and the title is “Heavenly Parent”. It has Jin-su Hwang, professor of theology at Sun Moon University, as the original author and presenter.

This lecture deals largely with the shift from referring to God or addressing God as “Heavenly Father” to “Heavenly Parent”, what this means, and why we should do it. It doesn’t set out to present a comprehensive view of God as in Unification Theology.

I have to say, as a rule, I don’t give other people’s lectures, but I can try here to give a summary of what I consider to be the most important parts of this presentation and then add, if I may, some of my own thoughts or comments at the end. So my apologies in advance to Professor Hwang for what I’ve done to his presentation.

Actually, there’s really nothing in this lecture that you will find difficult to accept, I believe, and at points the arguments are rather, shall we say, academic.

But I’m very happy that these lectures in general introduce us to some of the professors of the higher-level institutions that the True Parents have founded. They have all made great efforts to fulfil their brief.

Professor Hwang starts by expressing his interest in how we teach our children about Heavenly Parent, and how we educate them about the historical development in religious understanding that takes us from Jehovah to Heavenly Father and then to Heavenly Parent.

There are five main points addressed in this lecture. The first is taking us back to Mother Moon‘s words, the second, reminding us of God‘s dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity, as explained in the Exposition of the Divine Principle. The third point is making clear that our view is not a form of dualism, the fourth is looking at the reasons why God has been addressed historically as Heavenly Father. And lastly, the final point provides some reasoning as to why the “Era of the Heavenly Kingdom” (“Cheonilguk era” in Korean) is the era of the Heavenly Parent.

Mother Moon 4th Feb 2020
Mother Moon 4th Feb. 2020. Photo: FFWPU

Here is Mother Moon speaking just prior to what we call Foundation Day in 2013,

“We must now change how we address God. When we pray, we will change [the Korean word] ‘Hananim’ to [the Korean expression] ‘Haneul Bumonim’. This is ‘Heavenly Parent’. It is smooth in English and is also meaningful in Korean. Therefore, when you pray, the very first words you utter should be ‘Heavenly Parent’ […]. (Speech by Mother Moon 7th January 2013 in Gapyeong, South Korea)

Dr. Hwang refers to a further passage from Mother Moon, from 15th July 2019,

God created a man and a woman. What you need to know is that God, our Creator, exists as God the Father and God the Mother, and that is the starting point of the creation of the heavens and the earth. God created our first ancestors as a man and a woman, in the divine image. This was the principle of creation by which our Creator made heaven and earth.”

Divine Principle
Exposition of the Divine Principle, published 1996.

The Exposition of the Divine Principle shows its roots in oriental philosophy with reference to the yang and yin of God that is manifested in all created beings, culminating in human beings as male and female.

The explanation of the pair system is basic Divine Principle that I believe we’re all very familiar with. The yang and yin principle gives rise to gender distinctions in the natural world.

Personally, I don’t find the Unification Thought examples of this that are given, to be so helpful. So allow me to inject an explanation.

Masculinity is associated with yang qualities such as strength, assertiveness, and activity, while femininity is connected to yin qualities like receptivity, nurturing, and intuition.

It’s important to note that these definitions, they’re not fixed and can vary depending on cultural interpretations and individual perspectives within Oriental philosophy.

Father Moon
Father Moon. Photo: FFWPU

Now, Professor Hwang provides a quotation from Father Moon that describes this process in the following way,

“Why do we marry? It is to resemble the image of God. God is a being with dual characteristics, possessing both an invisible male nature and an invisible female nature. In one body with dual characteristics, these characteristics are in complete harmony and unity. God is a being that is whole and united. However, these complementary individual natures within God are different from each other. If the male and female characteristics of God were the same, then one would be an exact copy of the other. But they’re different. Being male and female, they must become one, become like seeds, and return to the position of God‘s original nature.” (A speech Father Moon gave 18th February 1998)

And Dr. Hwang has two more quotations from Father Moon,

“We say that God is the masculine subject, don’t we? God appears as a masculine subject, but also has a feminine aspect. God is masculine in the front, but just behind there is the feminine character. God created what can be divided into inside and outside, or into left and right, or as upper and lower. As this unfolds, what emerges is man and woman. Do you understand?” (A speech Father Moon gave 31st July 2000)

“If we go to the root of the universe, we come to God, and we need to be aware that God has two natures, a masculine and a feminine nature.” (A speech Father Moon gave 15th September 1995)

So the fact that God is a being who has a masculine aspect and a feminine aspect, is already well understood. […]

New Essentials of Unification Thought
The latest version of Unification Thought, published in 2006.

Professor Hwang gives a complete definition [of God’s masculinity and femininity], which does sound very much like Unification Thought to me. He says that God exists with a masculine aspect, having internal nature and external form of masculine yang- yin, and with a feminine aspect having internal nature and external form of feminine yang-yin. Therefore, God exists not only with a masculine aspect but also with a feminine aspect.

Hwang adds that this can be clarified inductively through all things of creation, which is, of course the argument that Divine Principle puts forward in line with that of St. Paul in Romans 1;20.

“Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made, so they’re without excuse.”

This exercise charts a course to the same conclusion as the Divine Principle. It reveals God as a being of personality, which Yang-Yin philosophy alone falls short of doing, and God has both masculine and feminine personality.

Father Moon in his Wolli Wonbon, the original text that he completed in 1952, but which is yet to be published in English, apparently talks of man as the substantial entity of Heavenly Father and woman as the substantial entity of Heavenly Mother. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that these terms are used by Father Moon so early on.

Continued in part 2, part 3.

Featured image above: Dr. David Hanna lecturing in Oslo, Norway on 13th November 2022. Photo: Knut Holdhus

More about our Heavenly Parent: Teachings Make Great Strides in New Version

Yet more about our Heavenly Parent: In a Nutshell

Still more about our Heavenly Parent: Brief about the Teachings

Even more about our Heavenly Parent: Unification Principles

And yet more about our Heavenly Parent: Peace Messages

And still more about our Heavenly Parent: Cheon Seong Gyeong

And even more about our Heavenly Parent: Exposition of the Divine Principle

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