Ronald L. Cammenga is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Loveland, Colorado.
Last time we discussed the history and basic beliefs of the Moonies. In this article we want to evaluate this popular cult, as well as consider our calling with respect to an organization like the Moonies.
Perhaps one of the most fundamental deviations of the Moonies is their teaching concerning God and concerning Jesus Christ. The Moonies deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Denying the deity of Christ, the Moonies also deny the truth of the Trinity. These two closely connected errors are sufficient reasons in themselves to classify the Moonies as a cult. This is always one outstanding characteristic of a cult—the denial of the Godhead of Jesus.
The Bible teaches, and the Christian religion has always confessed, that Jesus Christ is not only a man, but also very God, the Son of God in human flesh. This was the confession of Thomas when he beheld the risen Christ: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). This was Jesus’ own testimony concerning Himself during His earthly ministry. To the Jews He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Clearly Jesus was proclaiming His own deity to the Jews who were standing around Him. And this was exactly how they understood Jesus’ statement, because the very next verse records that they took up stones to stone Him (John 10:31). Throughout the New Testament Jesus’ deity is affirmed, as for example in Acts 20:28 andI Timothy 3:16.
The Moonie teaching concerning Christ is not new. Denying the deity of Christ is one of the oldest heresies in the church. This was the error of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ own day. This was the error at the heart of the Christological controversies in the first centuries of the New Testament church. Nor are the Moonies unique in this today. Other cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Way International, and the Hare Krishna attack the deity of Jesus Christ. No group can claim to be Christian, in any sense of the word, and deny the fundamental doctrine upon which Christianity depends, the deity of Jesus.
In close connection with their denial of Jesus’ deity, the Moonies are guilty of ascribing deity to their leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. This is often what happens. Often it is the case that a cult denies the deity of Jesus in the interests of proclaiming the deity of the head and founder of the cult. This is indisputably true of the Moonies. This is apparent just from the names by which the Moonies refer to their leader: Lord of the Second Advent, Lord of Creation, True Father. This is also apparent from the acts of worship which the Moonies render to Sun Myung Moon. Moonies are taught to pray to Sun Myung Moon and his wife in the same way that Christians pray to Jesus Christ. Moon’s writings carry ultimate authority with the Moonies, authority above and beyond any authority that they might be willing to grant to the Holy Scriptures. Moon and his followers ought to take to heart the story of Herod in Acts 12. There we are told that after Herod rendered a very stirring oration the people cried out, “It is a voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” (Acts 12:22, 23).
It is also heresy on the part of the Moonies that they regard of equal and higher authority than the Word of God a human book. This book is The Divine Principle. The Divine Principle is the 536-page book containing the visions that Moon is supposed to have received on Easter Day in 1936. The Divine Principleclaims to be the “new, ultimate, final truth.” Here, too, the Moonies show themselves to be a cult. Still another characteristic of a cult is its denial of the authority of the Bible, and its raising up some authority above or alongside of the Bible, usually the writings of the founder of the cult. In many, many ways the teachings of The Divine Principle flatly contradict the teachings of the Bible. The Christian knows only one book that is “able to make (men) wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”; only one book that has been “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:15, 16). That book is not The Divine Principle, but the Bible.
There are many other errors embraced by the Moonies which we could mention, serious errors, errors which support the charge that they are a cult, antichristian, and devilish. There is the fact that Moon himself, the great leader of the Unification Church and the one of whom every Moonie is a devout disciple, is an adulterer and a thief. There is the Moonie denial of salvation by faith alone with its teaching of salvation by works. There is the Moonie denial of the Fall and the spiritual consequences of the Fall for every man, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon included. There is the Moonie corruption of the Biblical teaching concerning marriage and the place of marriage in the life of the church. And many other errors.
It is significant that even the most liberal of Christian organizations, The National Council of Churches, refuses to recognize the Unification Church as a legitimate church. After studying the request of the Unification Church for admittance into the NCC, the NCC concluded: “The Unification Church is not a Christian church because its doctrine of the nature of the triune God is erroneous; its Christology is incompatible with Christian teaching and belief; and its teaching on salvation and the means of grace is inadequate and faulty.” The NCC concluded its study by asserting that “the claims of the Unification Church to Christian identity cannot be recognized because the role and authority of Scripture are compromised in the teachings of the Unification Church; revelations invoked as divine and normative in Divine Principlecontradict basic elements of Christian faith; and a ‘new, ultimate, final truth’ is presented to complete and supplant all previously recognized religious teachings, including those of Christianity.” Chris Elkins writes in his book, What Do You Say To A Moonie?, “For conservative Christians this pronouncement of the NCC commission is significant, for if they, the most accepting of Christian groups cannot view Moon’s theology as valid Christian teaching, how much more should conservative Christians, fundamentalists and evangelicals, resist the distortions of Christianity that the Unification Church works throughout the United States and the world?” (p. 44).
What must be our calling with respect to the Moonies? Certainly we ought not to buy their candy, or their flowers, or whatever else they happen to be selling. Since the Moonies are reluctant to identify themselves forthrightly, you’re probably going to have to ask a few pointed questions before they finally divulge their real identity. The apostle John in II John 9, 10really lays down our calling with respect to the Moonies, and others who hold to the same heresies as the Moonies. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” The Word of God is plain enough here. We are not even to receive into our homes those who like the Moonies (the Jehovah’s Witnesses would also fall into this category) deny the doctrine of Christ, deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But are we not to witness to them? This is the witness that we give to them, and it is a powerful and unmistakable witness at that. We do not allow them into our living-rooms and give them the opportunity to proselytize us. Sometimes we think that if we only set them down and argue with them, since we have such a good grasp of the Scriptures, we will undoubtedly be able to out-argue them and prove to them the error of their ways. This is the wrong attitude to assume, and not the one the Scriptures in this case enjoin upon us. When they come knocking at your door, don’t invite them into your home, but confront them with their error, warn them against the consequences of holding to their error, and shut the door in their faces.
Undoubtedly the question arises in the minds of parents and office-bearers: “What is the best protection for ourselves and our young people against an organization like the Moonies?”
Many who write against the Moonies say love; love is the way to keep our young people from joining a group like the Moonies. It is often the case that because young people feel unloved by their parents, who in many instances are wrapped up in the materialism of the 20th century, and unloved by the church and the members of the church, that they turn to the Moonies. In the closely knit organization of the Moonies they feel loved and cared for.
I think that it’s not difficult to see that this matter of love and the need to feel loved enters into the picture. The quickest way to drive our young people out of our homes and away from our churches is not to show them the love and concern that they need.
Yet, it seems to me that the matter goes deeper than this. What is the best protection for ourselves and our young people against the seductions of a group like the Moonies? Knowledge, solid, doctrinal knowledge of the Scriptures and the Reformed Faith. How is it possible that so many young people are swept away by the Moonies? It is possible because they do not any longer know the Scriptures, even the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures. Not knowing the Scriptures, they err. They are not spiritually mature men and women, but fickle “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). Our young people, and we with them, must be grounded and settled in the truth. This is our protection against the appeal of the cults. We must know the truth, be convinced of the truth, and be determined to stand on the truth. This will arm us against the fiery darts of the Wicked One hurled at us through an organization like the Moonies. This is why you young people must go to catechism, and learn your catechism, and receive the instruction at catechism. This is why you must go to the preaching services of the church, and this is what the preaching must do for you. This is why you ought to go to Young People’s Society, read the Beacon Lights and Standard Bearer, as well as other good Christian books and magazines. In this way you are fitted with the whole armor of God and equipped to stand in the evil day.