The Unification Church (Moonies) – Their Teachings in Light of the Bible – Program 1

By: Rev. Tom McDevitt, Dr. Charles Carpenter, Mr. Thomas Cutts, Dr. Walter Martin, Mr. Jerry Yamamoto; ©1985
Moonies say they believe Jesus is the “perfect son of God.” But do they mean the same thing by that that we do?

What Do Moonies Believe About Jesus?

John Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you joined us tonight. We’re talking about the beliefs of the Unification Church (Sun Myung Moon) and comparing that with Orthodox Christian belief. My guests tonight are Mr. Thomas Cutts, Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Unification Church, and Rev. Tom McDevitt, a primary spokesman for the Unification Church. Sitting next to him is Jerry Yamamoto, an author; then, Dr. Walter Martin, director of the Christian Research Institute. Gentlemen, we’re glad that you’re here tonight.
The first question I’d like to ask has to do with something that, Tom, the Unification Church sent out. You sent me three or four videocassettes that I watched, as well as some booklets. This is one of them. You were primarily responsible for kind of heading up and coordinating that whole effort of 300,000 packages that went to ministers across the country. Is that correct?
Rev. Thomas McDevitt: That’s true.
Ankerberg: Okay, we’d like to define terms tonight. In this booklet one of the first titles is, “The Revitalization of Christianity.” To all Christians, Jesus Christ is supremely important. What we’d like to do in defining terms tonight, is the Jesus Christ of the Unification Church the same person as Orthodox Christianity holds? What would you say?
McDevitt: Absolutely, yes.
Ankerberg: Okay. Can I give you a quote? Mr. Sun Myung Moon says, “Many Christians have hitherto believed that Jesus is God himself, the Creator. That’s a mistake. He can by no means be God himself.” Do you think that’s a statement that reflects Orthodox Christian belief?
McDevitt: Well, I certainly think it reflects some Orthodox Christian beliefs. In other words, our view of Jesus Christ in the Unification Church is that Jesus is the Son of God, that God dwells in him absolutely, eternally, completely, and that Jesus came to earth to save mankind and establish God’s kingdom upon the earth. So our view is that we can say that Jesus is God. We can say that and truly believe that.
Ankerberg: Listen to this one here, Tom. Page 212 of the Divine Principle: “Jesus on earth was a man no different from us except for the fact that he was without original sin.”
McDevitt: I believe that. In other words, the difference of Jesus with regular people is he has no original sin and that is a mighty big difference. The point here is that Jesus is the Son, the perfect Son of God.
Ankerberg: Jerry, let me come to you. Do you believe that reflects Orthodox Christian belief, that he was a man no different from us except for the fact he was without original sin?
Mr. Jerry Yamamoto: No, I don’t believe that at all. I believe that Jesus Christ is eternal, existed before he was born of woman; that he physically and spiritually was resurrected. I believe that Jesus Christ fully has saved us both physically and spiritually. I don’t believe that the Unification Church has those same teachings.
Ankerberg: What would you say in terms of, does it make a difference, Tom, that Christianity holds that before Christ ever came to earth he was God the Son, eternally existing?
McDevitt: Not all Christianity holds that. The big question here is, if the fall didn’t occur, we would not need salvation. Consequently, there would be no need for Jesus to have come and worked to establish his kingdom, or died and been resurrected.
Ankerberg: But don’t you think it makes a difference, since the fall did take place, of who Jesus is in restoring that salvation?
McDevitt: Of course it does. In other words, Jesus comes as the last Adam, as it says in the New Testament. He comes to do what Adam failed to do. He comes to establish God’s ideal on the earth as a true man.
Ankerberg: Dr. Martin, you’re a professor of Orthodox Christianity. From that viewpoint, what do you think about this? Is it important that Jesus Christ is God the Son?
Dr. Walter Martin: It doesn’t make much difference what Tom or the Unification Church thinks, what Jerry thinks, or what I think. The difference is what the Scriptures say, because the Scriptures are the basis of Christianity, not our opinions. Now the Scripture is adamant—and I’m surprised that you quoted the passage you did, Tom, a minute ago. You said “the last Adam.” You didn’t finish the quotation. “Jehovah out of heaven.” [1 Cor. 15:45, 47] Jesus Christ is literally the Lord God Jehovah, the Word of God incarnate. That is, Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Now, Mr. Moon doesn’t believe that. Mr. Moon does not believe in the deity of Christ. Mr. Moon has gone on record stating he does not accept Jesus as God, and the whole history of the Christian Church from the first century, and the creeds of Christendom. Phillip Schaff’s great two-volume work catalogs the entire history of Christian creeds. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with it or not. In Schaff’s History he gives almost a thousand pages of documentation that from its earliest days the Christian Church believed that Jesus Christ was God the Son, eternal. All cults deny this. The Unification Church is no different. It says, “We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” but the moment they are faced with whether or not “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God; the Word was God; the Word became flesh; God became man” [John 1:1, 14], “No,” Mr. Moon says, “that’s not true.”
McDevitt: The counterpoint to that is that, “The Word was with God in the beginning.” I believe that. The Divine Principle, the teachings of the Unification Church, teach that. But even your point, Dr. Martin, doesn’t say that Jesus Christ was a physical man before Adam was created.
Martin: Well, the point that we’re trying to deal with here is that the Word of God, the reason the eternal wisdom of God became flesh, he existed as an entity before he took upon himself human flesh.
McDevitt: Well, then, if Adam had not fallen, would Jesus have had to come? Would there be a need for a Messiah? Wouldn’t it be that Adam would be “the Living Son,” Adam would have been a true man, there would be no need for salvation?
Martin: The genealogy of Luke calls Adam the son of God, which means that he came into the world, was created by God to live in finite perfection. He chose not to do so and he fell. That does not alter the fact of the eternal deity of Christ. In fact, in your book that you passed out here, the Outline of the Principle, Level Four, dealing with the subject of Christ, the person that was writing the particular section goes out of their way to deny the deity of Jesus Christ. In fact, in terms nobody can misunderstand, if I can quote: “Some try to identify Jesus with God on the basis of the quote in John 8:58 in which Jesus said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ But Jesus didn’t mean that he was God.” Now, that’s a flat-out lie.
McDevitt: Well, I take issue with that. That’s up to interpretation, and your interpretation as an Orthodox Christian thinker is different than mine.
Martin: Let me ask you a question then. You have your Bible there. God spoke in Exodus 3 to Moses and he identified himself. Moses said, “Whom shall I say has sent me?” He said, “This is my name forever, my memorial to all generations. I AM hath sent me unto you.” [Ex. 3:13-14] Jesus in John 8—it’s not interpretation; it’s exegesis—in John 8:58 said, prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi: “I tell you, before Abraham even came into existence, I AM the eternal God.” The moment he said that, verse 59 says, “The Jews reached for stones to kill him, “Not for your good works but for blasphemy, that you being a man make yourself to be God’.” The Unification Church, it’s not a matter of interpretation, it’s a matter of flat-out denial of what Jesus said. He specifically said, “I AM the eternal God.”
Ankerberg: Let’s move on to something that might help clarify this, okay? Mr. Moon has said, “Jesus’ original mission supposedly was to be married, father sinless children, and be received as Messiah by the world. But because of the faithlessness of John the Baptist and the Israelites generally, his mission was thwarted and he was crucified. Since the time of Jesus until the present, no one has been able to reveal this heavenly secret.” Again, let me come to either one of you. Do you think that statement accurately reflects what the Christian church has held concerning Jesus’ mission, that he was to come and get married and to start a new race?
Mr. Thomas Cutts: You have to realize that there are other Christian viewpoints. I think I’d like to take issue with the idea that, in fact, there is no room for opinion, even in the last question. Because we find there was room for opinion even in the first century of Christianity, and that was why they had the Nicene Council. In fact, that was where the decisions were made as to whether or not Jesus was God.
Ankerberg: But weren’t the decisions of the Nicene Council made on the basis of what the apostles and Scripture said to us?
Cutts: No, they were made on very political grounds. If you study the history, you’ll find that the emperor at the time had a very important role to play in the decision of the councils. But the point I’m making is, there is difference of opinion even in the early Church.
Ankerberg: I think we ought to talk about that. First of all, Dr. Martin, do you think that in terms of the decision of Nicaea and Constantinople that the emperor was decisive in deciding what those men thought?
Martin: First of all, what he said is incorrect. The Council of Nicaea wasn’t in the first century; it was in the fourth century. Secondly, the Council of Nicaea did not decide the divinity of Christ. The Council of Nicaea argued against the Arian heresy which was challenging the already accepted deity of Christ. The Arians were teaching that Christ was a created being. The Council of Nicaea only pronounced what the Church had said in the first and second centuries, namely that he was God from God, light from light, very God from very God, begotten not made, one substance, homousios, with the Father. That’s the Council of Nicaea. It had nothing to do with establishing the deity of Christ; it simply excommunicated the Arian heretics from the Church. So, in the first, second, and third centuries of the Church there were heretics that arose—we could list twenty or thirty of them that were common—but the Church rejected their doctrines and maintained the eternal deity of Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Please speak, both of you, to the fact of Mr. Moon’s statement “It was not God’s plan for Christ to die on the cross. Jesus did not come to die on the cross.” This idea that Jesus came to get married instead of dying on the cross.
McDevitt: I realize that is a very hot statement and it is very tough for people like yourselves to deal with such a statement. I want to preface my answer to it by making this issue: that we’re dealing in an age that is changing and that in my heart God has spoken in a new way. So, everything I share tonight, everything we share tonight, like the others, is on the basis of prayer.
Ankerberg: Tom, I really appreciate that. Let me just ask a real sensitive question. We really appreciate your being open to us on what you personally hold, but other people are saying that they hold some things. The question is, I think that you have admitted right there that it’s divergent from Orthodox Christian teaching.
McDevitt: Absolutely, yes.
Ankerberg: At that point, why is that you would try to match up Unification thought with Christianity? Why not just separate them at that point?
McDevitt: The reason why it’s important, John, in my heart, is because it’s historically necessary that the Orthodox Christian tradition and the Unification traditions see each other as an elder brother and a younger brother. In other words, there’s a linkage that has to occur. God has spoken in a new way. Let’s take the point about Jesus: “Jesus didn’t come to die.” It’s absolute heresy from the point of Martin, from the point of Yamamoto.
Martin: The Church. The Church.
McDevitt: From the point of the Church from the way that you see things. But let’s remember when our Lord came 2,000 years ago, the chosen people of Israel were confronted with a whole new view of reality that Jesus brought. He didn’t come speaking the same words that they had heard for thousands of years. I believe that’s happening today. Get back to the point that Jesus did not come to die. The issue here is that it’s not that Jesus did not fail; Jesus accomplished his mission by dying on the cross to save us spiritually, but he did not establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. Our view is simply that the people of Israel had the responsibility, representing all of us, to accept him as their Lord and Savior when he was on the earth. It’s very simple. Because they rejected him, then he died and rose again. If they had accepted him, which was their portion of responsibility, a different course of history would have occurred. It’s very simple.
Ankerberg: Jerry, what do you think about that?
Yamamoto: Well, first of all, I think that there’s more involved here than the fact that we have an “elder” and a “younger” set of beliefs in which perhaps we can work together at some goal in history according to God’s plan. I think that what is being said by the Unification Church is a displacement of the Christian religion. Let me give you one example, and that is marriage within the Unification Church. This is an elevated, exalted sacrament within the Unification Church, and marriage itself displaces communion and baptism. Marriage is such an important sacrament that it is essential for a person within the Unification Church to be married in order to fully rise to the point of divine spirit. Now, we’ll probably cover that a little later.
Ankerberg: Mr. Moon says that if you are not married you can’t get to heaven.
McDevitt: Another way of saying that is, to the Unificationist, marriage is the essential channel to salvation in this dispensation. In other words, the kingdom of God upon the earth will be based upon families—God’s love shared in a true family, where original sin does not exist in the husband and the wife and the children. I know it’s radical, and I’m happy that you’re not throwing rocks at me. But it’s a new idea and we’ve got to be open in the spirit of Christ to pray and ask Jesus and God if it’s possible.
Yamamoto: But it’s not only just a matter of being open to new ideas. These ideas are displacing the Christian faith…
McDevitt: I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree that it’s just a matter of being open.
Yamamoto: …and Jesus Christ himself.
McDevitt: Let’s go to the Scripture, and when Jesus himself tells us how to judge a false or true prophet.
Ankerberg: Tom, in the booklets that you sent out to 300,000 Christian ministers across the country, you made a statement right in the front pages here, saying, “The Divine Principle [that’s this book written by Sun Myung Moon], along with the Old and New Testaments, serve as the scriptures of the Unification faith.” Here’s the question: If the Bible teaches one thing and your book, the Divine Principle, teaches something completely different on the same point, which book is right? What is God’s truth that we should follow?
McDevitt: It’s a great question, but I haven’t found that dilemma in my own life of faith. In other words, as I’ve said before, to me the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Unification theology is an elder brother, middle brother, younger brother.
Ankerberg: Can I help you out then? Let me just give you an example, because you said you didn’t find anything like that. I’ll give you four examples. The Bible states, “For in Jesus all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form,” Colossians 2:9; while the Divine Principle states that Jesus can by no means be God himself. The Bible states that Jesus was delivered up by the pre-determined plan and foreknowledge of God, Acts 2:23; the Divine Principle plainly states that it was not God’s plan for Jesus to die. The Bible states that Jesus rose bodily from the dead—Jesus said, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have,” Luke 24:39; the Divine Principle said, “Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead but is a spirit man only.” The Bible states that, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven,” Acts 1; while the Divine Principle states that Jesus will not return physically to this earth to set up his kingdom. Got a conflict there. You say that you hold to both. What is it really?
McDevitt: Well, let me go down each of the four points. First of all, the Scripture that you referred to there mentioned that God was full in a bodily form. I believe that. Jesus was God in a bodily form. I have no problem with that. If you look closely in the chapter on Christology in the Outline of the Principle, Dr. Martin, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the second part of the Trinity.
Ankerberg: I’ve got it right here. Divine Principle, page 210, though, says exactly opposite.
McDevitt: It does not.
Ankerberg: It says, “Jesus can by no means be God himself.” It’s a straight statement.
McDevitt: What we are trying to define there is the relationship which Rev. Moon calls the “central relationship of the universe between the Father and the Son.”
Ankerberg: I think, Tom, we understand what Mr. Moon is saying. I agree Mr. Moon is saying that, but I would think that you would have to admit that Orthodox Christianity is saying completely different.
McDevitt: Right. You’re right. Here’s where I think Christians have got to be humble and prayerful. I’m going to say something here that might be tough to digest. I think that God is speaking in a message through the Rev. Moon. And the key point here is that he is defining the original purpose of creation, which Orthodox Christianity has not defined clearly. In other words, we’re in a time when we can now realize what was God’s original intent with Adam and Eve. Jesus was the personification of that original intent.
Ankerberg: But, Tom, when the Bible says that Jesus Christ is, “The same yesterday, today and forever” [Heb. 13:8], we don’t get the idea that there are going to be any new manifestations or new truth at that point. What are we supposed to do with the statement that Jesus and the apostles gave us first time around? Because if we’re Christians, we’re stuck. He’s the Boss, see? That’s our problem. He said it.
McDevitt: He said in John 16:12 and in 25, “I have many things to say, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. I have spoken…”
Martin: Did he say he would contradict himself?
McDevitt: Well, of course not.
Martin: That’s exactly our problem.
McDevitt: And the problem with contradiction is the smallness of our mind, I think.
Martin: Well, let’s get back to plain language; never mind the slowness of our minds. There is contradiction. Flat out contradiction. Now, if God is the same God, he will speak consistently. If he gives new revelations, they will not contradict what he said previously.
McDevitt: Absolutely.
Martin: That’s exactly what takes place in Unification theology, as John just pointed out. For instance, you are saying, “We’ve got to be humble and pray about this.” I would suggest you be attentive to what Christ already told you, because Christ is greater than Sun Myung Moon, isn’t he?
McDevitt: I can accept that.
Martin: Is Christ greater than Sun Myung Moon?
McDevitt: Are you going to put me on the defense stand here?
Martin: I want to know, is he?
McDevitt: Christ is greater than Sun Myung Moon. Christ is greater than all of us.
Martin: He’s the creator of Sun Myung Moon, isn’t he?
McDevitt: That Jesus Christ is the creator?
Martin: Absolutely!
McDevitt: No.
Martin: Good. That’s my point.
McDevitt: God the Father…
Martin: Stop right there. That’s all I want to know.
McDevitt: You people. You know, for twelve years I’ve been in wrestling matches with so-called fundamental Christians…
Martin: I’m not a fundamental Christian. I’m an Orthodox Christian.
McDevitt: Whatever you are. You’re an Orthodox Christian. You know, I had a dream about him the other day. This is true. It was a dream about Dr. Martin. He’s standing in front of a big castle throwing arrows and holding shields against a lot of people in the village. Later on when people went into the castle, it was empty.
Martin: Well, I’m sorry I can’t interpret your dreams in a Freudian context, but I can…
McDevitt: Let me share where I’m coming from.
Martin: Just let me finish my sentence.
McDevitt: I’ve got the stage now.
Martin: You interrupted me.
McDevitt: I started off.
Ankerberg: Okay, Tom, let him finish and then you can come back.
Martin: You made a statement that Jesus Christ is not the creator of Sun Myung Moon, and I said, “Alright, wait a minute. The Scripture says in Colossians 1:16 that “by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created.” Moon is a “thing,” a degenerate, lost sinner, desperately in need of salvation just like every one of us. Now, he created Sun Myung Moon. Moon is a creature. “He created all things, visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. All things are created by [Jesus Christ] and for him” [Col. 1:16], including Sun Myung Moon. And Moon kneels before Jesus Christ. We don’t put him on the same plane.
McDevitt: Well, then, why does Jesus Christ, the Son of God, pray to his Father?
Martin: Well, if you had read carefully the New Testament, John 1 that I quoted before, you would know that the Word became flesh, emptied himself of his right to act as God, lived as a man, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead [Phil. 2], which Mr. Moon denies. Mr. Moon says that Jesus Christ lied.
McDevitt: He does not say that. He has never said that Jesus Christ lied.
Martin: Are you ready?
McDevitt: I am fully ready.
Martin: Mr. Moon states that Jesus Christ came back from the dead as a spiritual man or a spirit man. He denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Now, you have your Bible. You brought it along with you, right?
McDevitt: Yes.
Martin: I want you to open it to John 2, and just look at it for one second.
McDevitt: I know the area.
Martin: Can you quote the verse? John 2.
McDevitt: I’m in a Bible class now.
Martin: Right. You sure are, because Scriptures are authority, not Divine Principle, because the Bible is older than Divine Principle. Christ antedates Rev. Moon.
McDevitt: How can you say that the Divine Principle is not from God?
Ankerberg: We’ll hold on to that one. Let’s answer the first one.
Martin: Let’s just answer this one. This is the key right here, because if Moon lied about Christ, he’s a false Messiah.
McDevitt: Where do you want me to go?
Martin: John 2:19-21. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “It took 46 years to build this temple; you will build it in three days?” What did John say?
McDevitt: “But he spoke of the temple of his body….”
Martin: Whose body?
McDevitt: Of Jesus’ body.
Martin: And Jesus said, “I will raise my body up,” didn’t he?
McDevitt: Yes.
Martin: The Greek word is soma, “body,” right?
McDevitt: So you’re taking issue with the whole question of the physical resurrection of Jesus.
Martin: I am taking issue with Mr. Moon’s statement that Jesus did not rise in his own body when Jesus said he would. Now, that makes Jesus a liar, or Mr. Moon was; one of the two.
McDevitt: Just a minute. The point here that we’re talking about is the meaning of resurrection. The meaning of resurrection means “to come back to life.”
Martin: No, it doesn’t.
McDevitt: Until now, the original meaning of the word meant “come back to life.”
Martin: No, I’m sorry. The word anastasis in Greek means a physical resuscitation. Aphthartos and athanasias are descriptive of that.
McDevitt: Let me go back this way.
Martin: Let’s go back to the Greek.
McDevitt: Let’s go back to the fall of man which caused that spiritual death for which resurrection is necessary. In other words, the essence of the fall of man resulted in a death. That death was not a physical death. The purpose of resurrection, the purpose of all of God’s providence is to re-bind us back to God.
Martin: Let’s get back to Jesus.
McDevitt: Let me finish my point. Jesus came in order to be the link from God to us.
Martin: Did he rise in his own body?
McDevitt: Jesus rose in his own body.
Martin: Mr. Moon says, “No.”
McDevitt: He does not. He says, “He rose in his own body.” It’s your problem, not understanding the spiritual world, sir.
Martin: Wait a minute, now.
McDevitt: That’s where the divergence comes from. Remember, we’re dealing here with two paradigms.
Ankerberg: Let me just give you the one from Divine Principle, which is what we read. “Even in the spirit world, after his resurrection, he (Jesus) lives as a spirit-man.” That’s what we’re talking about. That’s a direct contradiction of Scripture.
McDevitt: How could it be? If Jesus is a physical man, where in the universe, in what point in time and space is Jesus located?
Martin: Not “if.”
McDevitt: Where is he? Where is he, Dr. Martin?
Martin: That’s the error I’m talking about.
McDevitt: The error is on your side.
Martin: You’re saying “if.”
McDevitt: Where is Jesus physically?
Martin: Jesus said. It’s not “if.” Jesus said, “I will come back in my own body.” Now you want to know where he is?
McDevitt: Where is he right now?
Martin: He ascended into heaven—another dimension of reality which Mr. Moon says exists—to the throne of his Father. That’s where he is right now. You want a geographical location?
McDevitt: Yes.
Martin: It’s other-dimensional.
McDevitt: It’s other-dimensional. So, he doesn’t live in the physical world as we know it.
Martin: Not in this world here.
McDevitt: Alright, so how can Jesus appear to me in my prayer, which he does, and I’m sure he appears to you in your prayer?
Ankerberg: Okay, that’s a good question. We’ve got to hold it because we’re running out of time. Please join us next week and we’ll pick it up right there. Thanks.

Read Part 2


  1. […] The Unification Church (Moonies) – Their Teachings in Light of the Bible – Program 1 By: Rev. Tom McDevitt, Dr. Charles Carpenter, Mr. Thomas Cutts, Dr. Walter Martin, Mr. Jerry Yamamoto […]

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