What the Unification Church Teaches about Salvation

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1999
Unification Church salvation involves men and women undoing the results of the Fall through a complex symbolism under the leadership of a Savior, Moon, who prepares the way.


What the Unification Church Teaches about Salvation

Salvation, Works and the Principle of Indemnity

Unification Church salvation involves men and women undoing the results of the Fall through a complex symbolism [discussed elsewhere] under the leadership of a Savior, Moon, who prepares the way. Moon’s concept of salvation centers around the family, which is ironic because wherever Moon and his teachings predominate, many families are damaged or destroyed.

Since Jesus was crucified before He could marry, He was unable to establish the Four Position Foundation. After two millennia of much travail and agony on the part of God, Moon finally appeared on the scene. He allegedly succeeded where Jesus failed: he married and produced sinless offspring. He has perfected the individual and the family, and, supposedly, his followers will eventually restore the world. By becoming one with Moon and his wife (The True Parents), his followers may continue the process he has implemented. It is hoped by the UC that if Moon gains more power, eventually the world will unite under him and satanic blood will be purged from the race.[1] People will then die natural deaths and, since the physical and spirit worlds will be one, their minds will become their spirit bodies, and God will become their minds. The original purpose of creation will have been fulfilled, and God will then be happy. (Incidentally, the claim to have begotten sinless children was perhaps possible when his children were toddlers. Now that they have grown up it is a different story entirely. For example, one of Moon’s sons, according to his former wife, enjoys pornography, uses cocaine and threatened to kill his unborn child.

The Principle of Indemnity is a central doctrine in Unification theology, and it has placed extreme physical, emotional and spiritual hardships on UC members. To achieve salvation and restoration they are responsible to pay back to God whatever Moon says they owe Him. God takes care of the remaining deficiency, whatever is lacking. Although the percentages are, supposedly, man 5 percent, God 95 percent, practically speaking it is more 99 percent man, 1 percent God. “There must be a law, The Law of Indemnity. God cannot forgive man who rebelled against Him, unless he [man] sets up the conditions to come back to God, denying Satan.” [2]

It is sad indeed to read through the Master Speaks publications and reflect upon the extreme bondage that members are placed under. They must work and work, and then work and work even harder. Condition after condition must be met. After all, the fate of the universe rests on their shoulders. Thus, they must sacrifice everything now—not 99 percent, but 100 percent—everything must be sacrificed, even their lives if necessary, or all is lost. In line with the Principle of Reversal, since people fell by exalting themselves rather than God, they must be saved by debasing and sacrificing themselves and thereby exalting God. [3] If members do not attain perfection in this life, or even if they fail at one level, all that God has worked for in the last 6,000 years will be lost. One can imagine the guilt and fear that this brings, and the emotional and spiritual bondage as they work to save everything.

Further, special sins may cause the UC member to bear an even greater load of guilt and fear. For example, fornication (the UC sin of the Fall) is held to be a sin “worse than [physical] murder,” because you are not just killing one person (spiritually) but all of your descendants (thus critics charge that detailed accounts of one’s sexual history have been submitted to Moon [4]) Moon asserts that fornication is unforgivable, in spite of the fact that many in the Unification Church have committed it. In fact, one is thereby “doomed to Hades.” (This is one reason why mixed fellowship and marriages are strictly controlled.) “As I said before, it is worse than murder. If you murder a person, you are killing one person; but by doing this thing, you are killing your descendants and your lineage…. The law to punish this kind of act is going to be the severest…. So, once you commit that kind of mistake, there is no way for me to save you and there is no measurement of how to be saved. You will be doomed to Hades. Then you will have no excuse even in the spirit world when you pass away.” [5]

By contrast, Moon himself is exempt from sexual temptation: “I have the iron law in myself and no woman can ever tempt me…. So, in me, there is no temptation possible, and I am not vulnerable to it…. Regarding this problem, I am not a forgiving type of person. I feel rage in me if I find that kind of thing happening here.” [6]

The centrality of the Principle of Indemnity lays a basis for the Moon doctrine of requisite sacrifice and suffering. One must pay, and one must pay dearly, just as Moon has. As Moon tells it, “You must exceed even the spirit of Jesus.”[7] “We have to be more serious than Jesus.” [8] “You must be resolved to bear the cross ten times as much as many [other members] have done.” [9] “I will not let you eat or sleep, I will drive you all the time onto the battlefield…. The fiercest one history has ever known…. There will be no excuse. You all belong to me.” [10] Even the spirit world enters the picture at this point. (In light of UC spiritistic involvement historically, the Principle of Indemnity would permit the spirits to afflict whomever they wish behind the scenes, having it interpreted as indemnity.) As Dr. Jack Sparks, author of The Mind-Benders, points out, “Moon has set up a complicated system by which such evil spirit people can torment sinful people now living on earth, thereby ultimately gaining salvation for both.” [11]

Death for Life

In the following quotations we see self-degradation and the glories of martyrdom emphasized as part of the work. Members are told how “satanic” they are and that the only way to serve God is to “kill” themselves in service to him. Devotion must be one hundred percent and then some:

Then, whose blood is it which is running in you? Satan’s. Your body, whom does it belong to? You hate to say it, but it belongs to Satan. Your eyes, your mouth, your ears—everything you have belongs to Satan. Can you ever desire to belong to God, if you are going to leave those as they are?… It is well said that the Word will either kill you or bring you into life again. What I am saying is not from me, it is the Word of Truth from God. If you obey me you have obeyed God…. Then, are you ready to put your flesh into trial or not? Are you ready for difficulties and hardships? Do you want me to drive you out into the field of death?[12]

Moon emphasizes the importance of dying, if necessary, and of having one’s blood shed to advance the cause of the Unification Church:

If God would allow you to be forgiven by cuffing one of your arms or one of your legs, would you not be thankful? Furthermore, when you realize that when your human ancestry has been that of murderers, then would you not be willing to kill yourself to save your past ancestry and your future descendants? Would you not be willing to give your life? You cannot but answer affirmatively.

If you are in the position to follow God, follow our Master as God’s agent, can you complain on the way? (NO!) Can you say: “I am exhausted, I cannot go any further.” (NO!) Never…. So, are you going to complain? (NO!)…. In the world under God, even though you may have to go through untold difficulties and bloodshed, if you live and die for God’s cause, you are honored and your future generations will be honored as well.[13]

Moon teaches that those who martyr themselves on earth are guaranteed a “more glorious” position in the spirit world. Whether they are “martyrs” by suffering hardships for Moon’s cause, or whether they actually commit suicide to keep themselves from sin (because some future sins cannot be forgiven), they are promised a better life afterwards. This teaching is similar to that in numerous other religions and sects that teach that martyrdom guarantees one salvation, as in Islam, certain Japanese religions (kamakazi pilots) and, in a different form, early Mormon theology. Moon thus counsels a suicide martyrdom for the commission of “dirty sins”:

You must know clearly that those who are near to God’s throne in the spirit world are the martyrs…. The more they suffered difficulties and hardships on the earth plane, the more glorious their position is in the spirit world…. If, after knowing all these facts, after studying the Divine Principle, you commit a dirty sin again, you have no way to be forgiven of that sin. If you may have to be stained in some way or another, it is better for you to kill yourselves than to remain alive. It is a grave matter.[14]

In addition, members must be willing to be geographically separated from their spouses and children, to forgo sexual relations, even when together, and to be paired in reversal, for example, a masculine woman to a feminine man. [15]

How many have actually physically died for Moon is unknown. But given the fear, the exhaustion, the never-ending battle with Satan and the despair inherent to Moon’s theology, not to mention the influence of the spirit world, the numbers could be more than expected. What is known is that life is cheap in comparison to the necessity of world unification:

So Master’s mission is to establish new tradition, new morality, new ways of life, so even if he loses thousands or millions of people, even risking those lives he has to establish new tradition, new culture.[16]

When you have gained three spiritual children, you must be able to raise them till they become so dedicated to you that they will be willing to die for you—or else your mission will not be a success in the real sense. [17]

You may have to die or be killed. There may be casualties by tens of hundreds and thousands. But if you are not ready to die for the cause, you cannot live and save the world. [18]

You must keep yourselves pure. If you may have to be stained in some way or another, it is better for you to kill yourself than to remain alive.[19]

Perhaps William Jeffrey Daley had committed the unforgivable sin of fornication or perhaps he was just tired. We do know that he saw no reason to continue living. One day after a UC training session, Bill Daley took off all his clothes, laid his head on a railroad track, and was decapitated. His mother could only wonder, “What did they do to my boy? He was a normal human being. What did they do to my boy?”[20] Unfortunately, there have been similar cases. But Moon promises converts that when they die, they will receive their full reward. He woos them, “I have many secrets to tell you in time. If you could see the place where you will spend eternity.” [21] Incidents such as Daley’s lay bare the spirit of false religion. Considering the hundreds of similar religions and cults existing today, such consequences can hardly be considered isolated.

Moon’s God is impotent in so many areas; it is not surprising he is also impotent in salvation. “Therefore, we must clearly understand that God cannot save me. How ever much He may love me, it is impossible for God to save me by Himself…. God by Himself cannot do anything at all…. He just hears our cries, but He cannot do anything at all to save us.” [22]

The emphasis on works-salvation is so predominant in Unification theology that one is reminded of another spiritistic religion, Mormonism. Thus in the UC:

A man is no more justified by faith alone than he is saved by faith alone.[23]

When you stand at the gate of heaven, you must have met the conditions for entrance. No individual can enter heaven, but [only] as a family. In order to be a family, you must have three [spiritual] sons and daughters…. Paying indemnity and helping the restoration is very hard work. Christians believe that they can simply believe in Jesus and go to church in order to go to heaven…. No one can take you there, you must do it yourself.[24]

Many people have been following this road: “If I believe in Jesus, I will go to paradise”—but that doesn’t work. [25]

Our Leader [Moon] had to pay the indemnity for the entire world, but you are required to pay only the indemnity for your own life. Our Leader worked for the salvation of the world; you are only required to work for your own salvation. He paid the world’s debt, but you pay just yours.[26]

In supporting works-salvation, Moon condemns himself as the bearer of a false gospel and thus under God’s curse (Gal. 1:8-9; cf. Eph. 2:8-9).



  1. Divine Principle (Washington, D.C.; HSA-UWC), pp. 179-180.
  2. Master Speaks, December 14, 1971, p. 3.
  3. Master Speaks, January 11, 1972, p. 17.
  4. Ken Sudo, The 120 Day Training Manual (Barrytown, NY: International Unification Church Training Center, n.d.), pp. 127-128.
  5. New Religious Movements Update, Vol. 1, nos. 3-4, pp. 45-47, 57-58, a reproduction of Master Speaks, 369, May 20, 1973, second 100-day training session. See Frederick Sontag, Sun Myung Moon—and the Unification Church (Nashville: Abingdon/Parthenon Press, 1977), interview.
  6. Ibid., p. 51.
  7. Master Speaks, 4, p. 7.
  8. Master Speaks, December 22, 1971, p. 10.
  9. Master Speaks, December 29, 1971, p. 10.
  10. Master Speaks, January 11, 1972, p. 11.
  11. Jack Sparks, The Mind Benders (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977), p. 135.
  12. Master Speaks, 318, January 18, 1973, pp. 4-5; Master Speaks, 319, January 19, 1973, pp. 1-4.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Master Speaks, 430, p. 5.
  16. Master Speaks, December 29, 1971, p. 7.
  17. New Religious Movements Update, Vol. 1, nos. 3-4, (Dialogue Center, April, 1978), p. 56.
  18. Special Report, The Unification Church: Its Activities and Practices, Unofficial Transcript Government Panel, Citizens Appearing; Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senate Caucus Room, Washington, D.C., February 18, 1976, Part 1, p. 9.
  19. Time, June 14, 1976, p. 49, from Master Speaks.
  20. Special Report, Part I; also reported in the media.
  21. Master Speaks, 3 (2), p. 7.
  22. Sudo, 120 Day Training Manual, pp. 39-40.
  23. The Way of the World, March, 1978, p. 47.
  24. Master Speaks, 2, pp. 10-12.
  25. Master Speaks, January 9, 1972, p. 4.
  26. Master Speaks, 1 (2), p. 6.

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