Sun Myung Moon

by jptanabe

The controversial Korean founder of the Unification Church. Who is Sun Myung Moon?

Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in what is now part of North Korea. He became an extremely controversial figure in the twentieth century with his claims of being the returned Christ, his mass weddings, and the way many young people flocked to join his Unification Movement.

Jailed in his home country of Korea by Communist authorities, and later in the United States convicted of tax evasion, Sun Myung Moon has continued to be controversial and at the same time inspired people all over the world with his teachings and efforts to promote world peace. He passed away on September 2, 2012 in Korea (September 3rd in Korea).

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Why is Sun Myung Moon Controversial?

Sun Myung Moon's church, the Unification Church, spread to basically every country in the world from its founding in South Korea in 1954. His teachings, known as the "Divine Principle," are an interpretation of the Bible taken together with other religious understandings. This is certainly threatening to many Christian churches, bringing a new, possibly heretical, understanding which attracts lots of young people!

Sun Myung Moon taughts that God's ideal, the human family, was shattered by the Human Fall. In order to accomplish the restoration of ideal families, after finding his own bride, Sun Myung Moon became the world's most prolific matchmaker! Matching people from all over the world to each other, often people who had not and would not have met, he then blessed them in holy marriage at "mass weddings." Some of the couples don't speak a common language, and it's not quite the romantic wedding one imagines when there are rows and rows of identically dressed brides and grooms lined up to take their vows all at once!

Sun Myung Moon was not just the leader of a controversial new religion, he was also active in numerous arenas of life. These range from fervent anti-Communism (he was imprisoned in a Communist prison camp in North Korea until its liberation at the end of the Korean War), through media activities (he founded the Washington Times among other prominent newspapers), to the arts (the Little Angels dance troupe has delighted audiences around the world) and numerous speaking tours to promote world peace.

To the world, Sun Myung Moon is either a great man, or maybe more importantly, together with his wife and family he is a True Parent, or he is a dangerous cult leader and charlatan. Many may be afraid of his teachings (that doesn't make him evil though, for the truth can be hard to swallow!), and others may be afraid of his practices (reaching out to people of all faiths, races, nationalities and asking them to love each other is challenging for sure!). But for others, he brought new hope to a world that certainly needs hope.

Loving Tribute to Reverend Moon

Narrated by his son, Kwon Jin Moon

Three reasons to learn more about Sun Myung Moon

First, Sun Myung Moon taught of a loving God, one whose creation follows scientific principles, whose heart was broken when human beings failed to achieve the ideal family, and whose providence of restoration is both logical and filled with love for human beings. These teachings transcend race, religion, and culture and invite us all to become one family in a world of peace. What could be better?

Second, Sun Myung Moon matched and married hundreds of thousands of couples, large numbers of whom, although they had never met before, have experienced the greatest happiness and established wonderful families. In an age of divorce and family breakdown, this is a wonderful thing!

Third, Sun Myung Moon said that he is the Messiah, the one who fulfills the prophecies of all religions concerning the consummation of human history and the establishment of God's kingdom. If this is true we'd better listen to what he said!

"As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen"

Sun Myung Moon's Autobiography

If you want to know more about Sun Myung Moon's life, his faith, and his work in his own words, this is the book to read.


So what did Sun Myung Moon Teach?

The basic teachings of Sun Myung Moon have been published as the Divine Principle, although he gave numerous speeches throughout his life that contain many additional points. The Divine Principle text is essentially an interpretation of the Bible, with influences from Confucianism and Daoism. This is not surprising for someone born and raised in Korea in a family that had converted to Presbyterianism.

Sun Myung Moon's teachings can be broken down into three major components:

The Principle of Creation, which describes the nature of God, His creation of the spiritual and physical world according to the principles of dual characteristics, and the principles by which human beings grow and develop to take responsibility as God's children and become co-creators of the cosmos. A key feature is the "Three Blessings" which God gave human beings: to develop a mature character as individuals; to establish harmonious families; and to have creative and loving dominion over the environment.

The Human Fall, which explains how the first human ancestors failed to keep God's commandment and to achieve the first true family centered on God's true love. Instead, they came under the dominion of Satan, living selfish lives and establishing a family in which the first murder was committed. The results of this failure are evident in the conflicts that have occurred between people throughout human history, the greed and exploitation that selfish people have manifested, and the inhumanity of people that continues to this day.

The Way of Restoration, which describes God's work throughout human history to reverse the problems resulting from the human fall and to re-establish His loving dominion over the world. A key aspect to this process of restoration is the need for human beings to make reparations for the evil that they have committed, and thus the need for a true man, a messiah, to emerge and take responsibility for human failures. The goal of this process is to restore human beings to a state in which they are free to live lives of goodness based on true love, establishing families of true love which will be the cornerstone of societies that constitute a world of peace.

Sun Myung Moon videos

What's with the Arranged Marriages and Mass Weddings?

Sun Myung Moon is famous for his arranged marriages between followers who often come from opposite sides of the world, didn't speak the same language, and met only hours before their wedding which took place "en masse" with thousands of other couples. Actually, it's no wonder he's a controversial figure!

So what is the deal here? Are these real marriages that develop into happy families? What happens to these couples after their great wedding day? And why do they agree to it at all?

Well, as outlined above, one of the core teachings of Sun Myung Moon is the establishment of ideal families of true love centered on God. His followers believe that God has prepared ideal partners, their "soul mates," for each of them, and that Sun Myung Moon had the ability to recognize these partners. Therefore, many asked him to "match" them. Since the followers number in the hundreds of thousands, and are spread throughout the world, many were not surprised to find that their ideal spouse came from another country, nor were they surprised to be married in one mass ceremony with all the other couples matched at that time. The ceremony itself is actually considered a "blessing" on the marriage, although if the correct forms are completed it can also be a legal wedding. Thus, these blessing ceremonies have not been limited to couples arranged in this way but also to already married couples who wish to rededicate their marriage and renew their vows.

Why have so many accepted these arranged marriages? Well, looking at the divorce rate among those who choose their own spouses gives a good enough reason. In this time of so many failed marriages people are quite unsure about finding their own spouse, many turning to online dating websites in hopes of finding their perfect match. In my youth it was bars and dance floors where we met our potential mates! Maybe prayer and faith that God can work through a religious figure is not such a bad idea after all!

And what about the children of these arranged marriages? Well, there are quite a lot of children by now. Many have also had their marriages arranged in similar fashion. But more commonly in recent times the parents have been doing the arranging, seeking children of other families and suggesting matches to their children. And these couples also attend large ceremonies of many couples of their peers to receive blessings on their marriages.

So, yes, a bit unorthodox maybe! But the trend is toward something that actually makes good sense. Parents working together, praying and asking God to guide them to find the best partners for their children. In an ideal world, who would be best prepared to find a good spouse - I reckon God first and our parents second!

What about all those Organizations?

"Front Groups" or really building world peace?

In the 1980s or so it was common for people to accuse the many organizations founded by Sun Myung Moon as "front groups" designed to lure people into his sphere of influence, and then "brainwash" them or take all their money or something. But looking at the situation today that argument seems a bit spurious. There are so many organizations in so many areas of life, and in so many countries around the world, founded by Sun Myung Moon. These cover a range so broad that the common goal does seem to be to improve human society and work toward a world of peace, harmony and prosperity for all.

With earlier organizations dedicated to fighting Communism, often called something like "Victory Over Communism," the names of these groups have come to include the title "World Peace." There is a Federation for World Peace, a Women's Federation for World Peace, Federations of Island, Peninsular and Continental Nations for World Peace, a Mongolian People's Federation for World Peace, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and the Universal Peace Federation.

But this is only a small sample, there are organizations in the arts like The Little Angels of Korea and the Universal Ballet; educational organizations like the International Educational Foundation, Unification Theological Seminary, and the World University Federation; media organizations like the World Media Association, Middle East Times and The Washington Times; service organizations like the International Relief and Friendship Foundation, Isshin Hospital, and Aewon; and sports programs like the World Cultural and Sports Festival and the Peace Cup International Football Tournament.

In his statements about these organizations Sun Myung Moon claimed the goals of advancing international understanding, helping bring people closer to God and each other, and building lasting peace in the world.

Books about Sun Myung Moon

There are numerous books written about Sun Myung Moon and his worldwide Unification movement.


The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon

"Inquisition is not just about the trial of Sun Myung Moon; it puts on trial our judicial system in the context of religious liberties." --Christianity Today

New Truth in the Last Days

A thoughtfully considered and researched explanation of the teachings of Sun Myung Moon, Dr. Shirley Stadelhofer explains twenty elements of Moon's revelations in New Truth in the Last Days. Thoroughly documenting their biblical basis, Stadelhofer demonstrates how Moon's teachings affect us and our daily lives. She also paraphrases material from the main topics in the Moon teachings and presents them comprehensively for theologians and laymen alike to understand.

Stadelhofer's sources include events, workshops, and missions in which she participated, and twenty-one journals she kept as an active member. 

Reflections on Unification Theology: Revealing the World of Heart

Dietrich Seidel dedicated much of his life to studying and developing Unification Theology, which is based on revelation received by Sun Myung Moon. His colleague, Jennifer Tanabe, edited his lectures, which form the foundation and framework for this book, which is a journey to see the world through the eyes of the heart, and in so doing to experience the true love of God.

Mother of Peace

"Mother of Peace" is the memoir of Hak Ja Han Moon, the wife of Sun Myung Moon, who worked by his side for fifty years and has continued his work since his passing.

Married at a young age, she is the mother of 14 children, 4 of whom predeceased her. 

Her life began in Japanese-occupied Korea in 1943, and she grew up as war came to her country, forcing her and her mother to flee south. Upon meeting Sun Myung Moon her life took an astonishing turn, and she joined him in the daunting task of building a global interfaith movement to fulfill God’s will for peace in the 21st century.

Her story is one for the ages.

More about Sun Myung Moon

Updated: 01/13/2024, jptanabe
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jptanabe on 10/27/2015

Well, incendiaryAmerican, I don't think you can actually read all of this on Wikipedia! I did offer some commentary in this article - did you read it all? If what you are looking for is a testimony about life in the Unification Movement, that would be a separate article....

incendiaryAmerican on 10/26/2015

We think it would be great if YOU, the writer, were more a part of this piece than to just provide standard information. We could go to Wikipedia for all of this. Right?

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