The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” John 19:30
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12
For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. Matthew 24:5
(Most of the history in this article comes from Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin; Revised, Updated and Expanded Edition, October 2003, with General Editor Ravi Zacharias.)
The founder and leader of the Unification Church is North Korean-born Sun Myung Moon, whose parents were Confucian farmers. Moon was born January 6, 1920 as Yong Myung Moon (Shining Dragon Moon). When his family converted to the Presbyterian Church in 1930, Yong retained his Confucian veneration of his ancestors, and in his early teen years he attempted to contact then in the spirit world.
Moon reportedly had a vision of Jesus when he was 16-years-old on Easter morning, April 17, 1936. This “first vision” story has some discrepancies like the LDS “first vision” story of Joseph Smith. While 16 is the generally accepted age, some Unification authorities place the vision anywhere from 15 to 18 years of age. A major problem with the claim is that April 17, 1936 was a Friday and not a Sunday, so it could not have been on Easter. Additionally, depending on which calendar one uses, in 1936 Easter was either on March 30th or April 12th. Apparently, the Unification Church has not addressed this problem.
Moon was first married in 1945 in North Korea to Choi Sun Kil and had a son. After World War II, Moon was involved with various “Pentecostal” groups where he participated in “séances, spiritism, ancestral spirit guidance, and a host of occult practices.” (KofC, p.374)
Moon was excommunicated from the Presbyterian church in 1948, the year in which Moon was also first arrested for “irresponsible sexual activity.” In February 1949 Moon married Kim X while still married to Choi, which resulted in the pair being sentenced to prison for bigamy. (There is some possibility that Moon had four marriages by this time.)
In October 1950, during the Korean War, Moon’s prison was bombed by United Nations forces, freeing the prisoners, and Moon traveled south to Pusan, South Korea. It was in Pusan where he wrote his Divine Principle during 1951-1952. On May 1, 1954, Moon established the Unification Church in Seoul, the official title being The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. (“The phrase "Holy Spirit Association" has the sense in the original Korean of "Heavenly Spirits" and not the "Holy Spirit" of Christianity.” Wikipedia) By the end of 1955 there were 30 churches in South Korea.
“Again, he was arrested on July 4, 1955, for irresponsible sexual activity that caused a scandal at Ewha Women’s (Methodist) University in Seoul. … Moon was released October 4, 1955, because the eighty women involved in the incident exercised their right of silence in court. It was also reported by the Church of the Nazarene Korea Mission that Moon’s church was involved in an unusual sexual ‘blood cleansing’ rite where a woman was to have sexual intercourse with Sun Myung Moon to cleanse her blood from Satan’s lineage. The ‘cleansed’ woman could then cleanse her husband through sexual union with him. This ritual was based upon the Unification doctrine that Eve fell by having intercourse with Satan; therefore, a woman having intercourse with Moon, who is the Lord of the Second Advent, would be cleansed. Just as Eve passed Satan’s tainted blood lineage on to Adam, likewise the cleansed Unification member passes purification of blood on to her spouse.” (KofC, p.374-375) The church ceased this practice after a period, most likely as a result of the increasing membership.
In 1958 Moon sent missionaries to Japan, and the following year he sent them to the United States.
In March 1960, at the age of 40, Moon, known by his followers as “Father,” married his current wife, Hak Ja Han, who was 17-years-old; she is referred to as “Mother” by members of the Church. She and Moon had thirteen children, all who are supposedly “sinless,” and the two are called “True Parents.” Additionally, their wedding was considered to be the “marriage of the Lamb” of Revelation 21:9. “To Unification members, this monumental event ushers in the ‘New Age, the Cosmic era.’ Moon and his wife are the first True Parents and have the power to bless other marriages with pureness and ‘sinless’ offspring. Incidentally, this is why the Unification Church conducts massive weddings, with up to three hundred thousand couples at a time. These blessed couples supposedly are sinless families on earth.” (KofC, p.375) Since his marriage, it has been reported that Moon has had numerous affairs.
In 1964 Moon sought out spiritist-medium Arthur Ford and discussed his mission with a disincarnate spirit. The Unification Church published the events of the séance until they realized Christians considered such things as abhorrent to God, and they have since suppressed all references to Moon’s entire history of occultic practices.
Moon moved to the United States in 1971. He said, “I came to America primarily to declare the New Age and new truth…. This is why God appeared to me and told me to got to America to speak the truth.” (KofC, p.375)
In 1976 Moon held a rally in Washington, DC, at the Washington Monument, attended by 200 to 300 thousand people. Moon told the audience “that his work had broken down all the walls of the spirit world, and spirits were descending rapidly upon the earth.” (KofC, p.376)
During the mid-1980s Moon was convicted of income tax evasion and spent thirteen months in federal prison. As with so many other cult leaders, Moon’s private wealth has reached millions of dollars.
In 1994, Moon changed the official name of the church to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
In April 2008, Sun Myung Moon appointed his youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, to be the new leader of the Unification Church. However, Moon was still active at 90 years old when, in February 2010, he blessed about 7000 couples in a mass wedding is Seoul.
Currently, the Unification Church is making an emphasis to appear more mainstream, and has instituted a new outreach called, Lovin’ Life Ministries, which is intended to become the new church in America. Membership in the church is accomplished through a 21-day course.
Although Moon goes by the title of “Reverend,” there is no history of him being ordained in any denomination, and the Unification Church does not ordain, so it is apparently a title he took for himself. He also claims the title, “Lord of the Second Advent,” and is referred to as the “Messiah.”
Besides the mass wedding, another distinguishing feature of the Moonies is their fund-raising tactics. They sell flowers at many public venues, including street intersections. Tactics for fund-raising include what Moon calls “heavenly deception” - lying. Moon has stated, “Even God tells lies very often.” (KofC, p.377). This “heavenly deception” includes pretending to be wheel-chair-bound to gain sympathy while selling flowers, and giving names of false charities.
The Unification Church owns many large corporations, as well as the Washington Times newspaper.
Doctrine: “The Unification Church is one of the best cults at disguising its unusual, nontraditional beliefs from the unsuspecting secular world.” (KoC p.371) Most of their doctrine is based on Taoist philosophy, and, in fact, Moon claims the Taoist Book of Changes (I Ching) is a key God provided for Moon to interpret the Bible. Since the Unification Church is so far removed from any semblance of Biblical teachings, rather than spend a lot of time on their many doctrines we will look at highlights from just a few.
1. God: “God is viewed as the creator, whose nature combines both masculinity and femininity, and is the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness. Human beings and the universe reflect God's personality, nature, and purpose. ‘Give-and-take action’ (reciprocal interaction) and ‘subject and object position’ (initiator and responder) are ‘key interpretive concepts,’ and the self is designed to be God's object. The purpose of human existence is to return joy to God.” (Wikipedia) God’s characteristics in Moon’s theology are based on Yin and Yang dualism. Unification theology denies the Trinity.
2. The fall of Adam: Prior to writing Divine Principle, Moon supposedly personally faced Satan and questioned him about the Fall until Satan told him the truth about it. “When man was created, Lucifer became extremely envious of God’s love for man. He also saw Eve’s great beauty and lusted after her. At this time Lucifer had not fallen himself, but because of jealousy and lust he entered into an unlawful relationship with Eve. Their sexual intercourse constitutes the spiritual fall of man as well as the fall of Lucifer. When Eve participated in an illicit relationship with Lucifer, she received spiritual insight and realized that she had violated the purpose of creation. She knew then that her intended spouse was not Lucifer but Adam. Subsequently she had intercourse with Adam in an attempt to restore her position with God. Adam, however, was still spiritually immature. Consequently they entered into a relationship which constituted they physical fall of man. So there is a dual aspect to the fall: a spiritual fall and a physical fall. Both of them have to do with sexuality.” (A Guide to Cults & New Religions, by Ronald Enroth & Others, p.157)
3. Jesus: Unification teaching deny the virgin birth, and say that Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, was Jesus’ father. They also deny that Jesus is God, and that he is an ordinary man but without original sin. Moon claims it was Christians who claimed that Jesus is God. Jesus was supposed to marry and raise sinless children.
4. The atonement: According to Moon, when he met Jesus as a teen, Jesus told him that his crucifixion and death were not supposed to have happened, and that they caused him to not complete his mission of marrying and raising a family. This was because his disciples failed to find him a bride. Because of this, Jesus could not save man physically, but only spiritually. Therefore, Moon was to complete mission by raising a perfect family as a model for the world. (Apologia Report, Vol. 15:8, 3/3/10, p.2) As an aside, in addition to meeting Jesus, Moon also claims to have met Moses and Buddha.
5. The Bible and revelation: “It is stated in their history that Moon struggled for nine years (the original Divine Principle says seven) to discover the truth of Divine Principle. The Divine Principle is authoritative scripture in the Unification Church and is considered superior to the Bible. ~ Through Divine Principle, in its latest version, Moon’s followers understand and interpret the Bible. … It must be explained by the organization and God’s prophet for today: Rev. Sun Myung Moon.” (Kingdom of the Cults, p.373)
There is a debate as to the origin of Moon’s Divine Principle. Unification writers are divided as to whether it was “discovered” or came as revelation. Most likely, the origin of this work came from Moon’s former teacher, Klder Baik Moon Kim, who taught similar “principles” to Moon in 1946. It was under Kim’s tutelage that Moon changed his name to Sun Myung Moon (Shining Sun and Moon). Moon’s Divine Principle was published six years later.
Moon said, “The Bible, however, is not the truth itself, but contains the truth.” Moon then claims that new truth comes from God through Moon. The introduction to Divine Principle says, “This truth must appear as a revelation from God himself. This new truth has already appeared! God has sent his messenger …. His name is Sun Myung Moon.” (KofC, p.380)
Moon says his Divine Principle is the “Complete Testament,” becoming the third testament of the Scripture after the Old and New Testaments.
6. Marriage: Those couples married in the Unification Church become part of the sinless mankind which will bring physical salvation to the earth. Moon’s blessing on these mass weddings guarantees their children will be sinless. After the wedding, the couples remain celibate for 40 days, after which they consummate the marriage for three days and then remain celibate for three years.
How to Witness: The best way to witness to Moonies would be to start with the reliability of Scripture and then undermine the prophet by comparing his teachings with the Bible.
I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing resembling biblical Christianity in the Unification Church. The Moonies are deceived by the same evil behind all the other cults - Satan.