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Religious Truth as Progressive Revelation

David Hanna on progressive revelation

A warning not to get stuck in our current understanding – truth has historically come as progressive revelation

A talk given by Dr. David Hanna, head of the North European sub-region of the Family Federation, at an international prayer meeting by Zoom on 8th May 2024.

Good evening, everyone.

Over the last seven weeks we have heard summaries of the lectures disseminated by the Family Federation International Headquarters.

When I heard that this material was being offered, my first thought was, “Is this going to be useful or helpful in getting our message out to the wider world, especially the Christian world?” – that was my real hope, and it still is.

Wolli Kangron
First published in 1966 in Korean: the official version of the Unification Principles, Wolli Kangron. First English version, Divine Principle, appeared in 1973, revised version, Exposition of the Divine Principle, in 1996.

In my opinion, The Divine Principle rescues Christianity from being increasingly regarded as irrelevant; it rescues religion generally from being side-lined and ignored; and, of course, fundamentally it brings the greatest news – the gospel of gospels – that total salvation is available through the already realised Second Coming. To prepare for this was Christianity’s primary purpose of existence and is the fulfilment of the hopes and expectations of other world faiths as well.

Mother Moon is emphasising that the time is not too late, even it is “ripe” to see a worldwide spiritual awakening and have the immense and rich foundation of worldwide Christianity, especially European Christianity, come metaphorically to the feet of the True Parents.

We are, however, from one perspective, bringing a whole bunch of “heretical” ideas to the Christian world, parts of which have a historical reputation for being “heresy hunters”, avidly clinging to what in their minds is a settled orthodox view.

How then to bring the message of Divine Principle to a wider Christian audience, quickly and successfully – that is the challenge.

I am quite often called to share the Divine Principle content with ministers. I am keen to learn how to do that better and more effectively. Currently, I always begin by saying: “We totally respect your ministry, and God’s calling you to that ministry” – we do not seek to interfere with that in any way. […]

I also state emphatically – at some later point, when already some key ideas have been shared – that in no way am I saying that those precious and particular ideas we have believed in until now are wrong, indeed they have served us remarkably well and the living proof is that Christianity has grown to be the largest world religion, work that can only be as a result of God’s guiding hand and with Heavenly Parent’s support.

encounter with Jesus in 1935
Sun Myung Moon in prayer on Wednesday 17th April 1935, when Jesus first appeared to him. Painting by Shigeyoshi Watanabe from 1982. Photo: FFWPU

However, the Divine Principle is a new, clarifying and developmental message that has come through Father Moon’s own encounters with the risen Jesus – and through combining revelation and reason – for the benefit of all and for the time we are living in now; it is being spread widely and is bringing extraordinary spiritual revival the world over as part of God’s preparations for us to meet the Lord at the Second Coming beyond denominational, religious and cultural barriers.

I may then say that central to this understanding is that the Messiah is most helpfully to be considered as a New Adam, bringing forward these ideas that, under the Christology chapter were topics left to a seven-day workshop in the past. And just as there was Adam and Eve, the messianic, saving work is ultimately to be completed by a couple – a New Adam and New Eve. So the Holy Spirit was given as a counterpart to Jesus, making them the Spiritual True Parents giving rebirth to all humankind.

Well, you can fill in all the blanks. The point is: I never tell a believer (by words or by implication) that what they believe is wrong. Mainly because I do not consider it to be wrong – it is just their belief, and it has served them and countless others well in the past as an anchor for our faith, with God’s approval and blessing. But now we are in a new era, and God is sending us some important words of clarification – we need to become new wineskins.

Jesus preaching
Jesus preaching. Illustration: Biblical illustration of Gospel of Mark Chapter 3 by Distant Shores Media / Sweet Publishing / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 3.0 Unp

Jesus, of course, faced as a major obstacle to the success of his mission, the stubborn adherence of Jewish religious leaders to the letter of the law.

There are six famous sayings of Jesus that all share the same pattern: They take the form – “You have heard it said […] but I tell you”.

This formula is an ingenious one. It avoids having Jesus look as though he is ignoring the Torah, the traditional Jewish teaching, and just bringing in his own teaching – rather it shows him as one who is respecting the Torah and bringing a new seriousness to the core beliefs of the people.

These so called “Antitheses” demonstrate how Jesus approaches the task of interpreting and applying the Torah.

Using this formula, Jesus refers to a commandment, provides a common understanding of that commandment, and then provides an interpretation which strengthens the force of the commandment. These sayings are really ‘intensifiers’, and I don’t think “Antitheses” is a good name at all, they are not opposites. They build on the traditional understanding rather than oppose it. Thus, it is not enough “not to kill”, or “not to commit adultery”. It is not enough just to love your neighbour, while still having hatred for your enemy.

Jesus is saying that true righteousness, a person in God’s image, does not even consider doing any of these things, but forgives wrong and loves enemies freely.

It is God who must guide not only the deeds of believers, but also their motivation and emotions, their genuine, unseen self. Such striving for perfection signals the breaking dawn of the Kingdom of God, the first light of the new age of righteousness and justice breaking in upon the earth.

True Parents' Status and Value
A pre-publication version of “True Parents’ Status and Value from the Viewpoint of Heaven’s Providence”. Photo: Screenshot from video published by FFWPU.

Why I mention this is because I believe the reception of the new material – concerning the “Status and Value of True Parents”could have been greatly assisted by this approach. As it is, there is really no reference to what has been our understanding in the past, or what has been taught, even by Father Moon himself, and I can see that it leaves thinking, faithful members wondering what has changed and why – worrying less about the status of True Parents, ironically, and more about the status of the accepted truth.

Without the connection to the “You have heard it said,” it seems to imply that what we thought before was wrong, but I don’t think it is intending to say that at all – rather it is making us aware of just how serious is the understanding upon which we base our faith, and how much the world needs this intensification of understanding and should grasp the full implications of the truth already revealed, but perhaps imperfectly, or not fully shared up until now.

We must not be stuck with one way of understanding, or eventually we will become unstuck – like the Jews in Jesus’ day, or a faithful Christian whose rigid beliefs might become an obstacle to understanding how God is working today. And as Unificationists, we are not immune from the same tendency. You will remember how the introduction to the Divine Principle speaks of history as a history of progressive revelation.

However, we do have to be very careful as to how we address the beliefs and understandings that underpin a person’s life of faith.

My purpose here is not to criticise the material we have been given but to stimulate YOU into putting the important knowledge that we hold in our hands into a form that can have real, positive, and rapid results – this is our job; it is your job and it’s my job.

Let us therefore think carefully about how best to deliver the truth that God has given us for our use today, and in such a way that there are NO CASUALTIES.

Let us work to make our wonderful bundle of “heresies” the new orthodoxy.

Thank you and God bless you.

Featured image above: Dr. David Hanna. Photo: FFWPU

“Religious Truth as Progressive Revelation” – text: Dr. David Hanna

Related to progressive revelation: Unchanging Truth and Its Changing Expression

Also related to progressive revelation: The 3 Blessings and the Process to Fulfil Them

Also related to progressive revelation: Essential Motherly Part of Messianic Mission

Also related to progressive revelation: God as Our Heavenly Parent (Father and Mother)

Also related to progressive revelation: History of God: from Yahweh to Father to Parent

And also related to progressive revelation: In-Depth Look at the Fatherly and Motherly God

More, related to progressive revelation: The Meaning of History from Viewpoint of God

Yet more, related to progressive revelation: Failure of Key Persons Related to Jesus

Still more, related to progressive revelation: Amazing Parallels to Jesus and Holy Spirit

Even more, related to progressive revelation: Key Role of Christianity the Last 2000 Years

And yet more, related to progressive revelation: The Unification Principles

And still more, related to progressive revelation: Brief about the Teachings

And even more, related to progressive revelation: The Teachings in a Nutshell

And even more, related to progressive revelation: God and Human Beings

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