How a God of Omnipotence and Perfection Can Suffer: A Perspective from Unification Theism

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 13, 2012 - Pages 33-72

Christianity has long taught as an axiom that God is omnipotent and perfect, and therefore cannot suffer, even though one finds that the Bible, especially the Old Testament in its account of the Exodus, Hebrew prophecy, etc., gives many indications that God suffers. Many scholars agree that this discrepancy between traditional classical theism and the biblical account exists because classical theism, while it undeniably had the Bible as a most important source, was actually developed under the strong influence of ideas from ancient Greek philosophy such as the Stoic virtue of apatheia (freedom from emotions), the Neoplatonic view of the eternal, transcendent, and unchanging God, and the Aristotelian notion of God as the unmoved mover. This axiom of classical theism, that a God of omnipotence and perfection cannot suffer, still dominates Christianity today, including both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as well as Eastern Orthodoxy.

Towards the end of the 19th century, however, a new theological trend arose in reaction to classical theism that spoke about the suffering of God, especially among British theologians. J. K. Mozley’s 1926 publication, The Impassibility of God, lists 22 such theologians, mostly British and American, from the period between 1866 and 1926, including William Temple and Horace Bushnell.[1]  With more careful research, Michael W. Brierly identifies many more such theologians (46 of them) from the same period.[2]  Since then, and especially after the Second World War, this theological trend spread not only in Britain but also in other parts and traditions of Christendom. It has involved numerous theologians of various persuasions including Karl Barth, Alfred North Whitehead, Kazoh Kitamori (a Japanese Lutheran theologian), James Cone (an American black theologian), Jürgen Moltmann, and Hans Küng. A 1986 article by Ronald Goetz in The Christian Century even describes this trend as “the rise of a new orthodoxy,” although Goetz himself is not in sympathy with it.[3]

Writing in 1988, Paul S. Fiddes, a British Baptist theologian at Oxford, refers to four general reasons why recent theology is convinced that God suffers.[4]  First, the modern meaning of love, as affirmed in modern psychology, holds that true love involves suffering as the one who loves shares in the suffering of the beloved, whereas according to traditional theology the love of God just wills and achieves the good of his objects of love without any feeling of suffering with them. Second, the appreciation of God’s relationship to the cross has led to the recent conviction that God suffers. This appreciation is first seen in Anglo-Saxon theology towards the end of the 19th century (mentioned in Mozley’s book above), which recog-nizes God’s eternal cross within the whole cosmic process. This comes to an entirely new phase, when the 20th-century German “theology from the cross” (Kreuzestheologie) focuses on the cross of Jesus as a decisive place of God’s suffering, by following Martin Luther’s theology of the cross (theologia crucis), according to which God is known most clearly in the suffering and humiliation of that cross of Jesus. Third, recent treatments of theodicy dealing with the problem of human suffering hold that a suffering (yet eventually victorious) God would be a consolation to those who suffer. Fourth, a new model of the God-world relationship has arisen, according to which God and the world are interconnected and affect each other.

In spite of the widespread popularity of the notion of God’s suffering among many theologians in the 20th century and thereafter, it seems that most of them have not adequately explained with theological rigor how an omnipotent and perfect God can actually suffer. Warren McWilliams, author of The Passion of God (1985), agrees: “More theologians are confronting the issue [of divine suffering], but many still fail to explore the issue as carefully as necessary.”[5]

Fiddes’ more careful analysis, which explains the meaning of suffering at two distinct dimensions, is available, and it can be useful for our discussion at our intended level of theological rigor. Referring to a well-received medical distinction between the experience of mental pain and the sensation of bodily pain, he holds that suffering has two dimensions: 1) an emotion of suffering within, and 2) a constraint or impact received from outside. Applying this distinction to God, he holds that “although God has no pain sensation, since he does not have a body and a mass of nerve endings, he can still suffer in a way analogous to” these two dimensions of suffering.[6]  (As will be seen later, Unification theism believes that God indeed has a kind of body, if not exactly the same as the human body, as well as a mind, given his dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang; thus Unification theism seems to be in a better position to argue that God can suffer at these two dimensions.) These two dimensions of suffering in God are usually closely connected to each other: “To feel suffering is to be under constraint from external forces, and so for God to suffer means that he is changed by the world.”[7]  The present paper will use Fiddes’ proposed two dimensions of suffer¬ing as it deals with biblical theism, classical theism, and Unification theism.

We will find that classical theism, with its definition of God’s perfection both as his impassibility (incapability of passion) and his immutability (incapability of change), denies him the first and second dimensions of suffering, respectively. Unification theism, on the other hand, maintains that God can suffer at the first and second dimensions because of its new definitions of God’s omnipotence and perfection. The fundamental difference between classical theism and Unification theism is that while the former, with the help of Thomas Aquinas’ use of Aristotle’s metaphysics, ultimately regards God as “pure form” without any “matter,” the latter asserts that God has the dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, which are roughly equivalent to Aristotle’s “form” and “matter.”[8]  While the former derives both God’s perfection (qua his impassibility and immutability) and his omnipotence (qua his infinite active power) from its view of God as “pure form,” the latter proposes newly that the divine perfection consists in the complete unity of God’s Sungsang and Hyungsang centering on his Heart,[9]  which is his “irrepressible” desire of love for the world, and from which Unification theism derives a new definition of divine omnipotence.[10]

The thesis of the present paper is that according to Unification theism a God of omnipotence and perfection can suffer at the following two dimensions: 1) God, while being always omnipotent because of his irre¬pressible Heart, can emotionally suffer within his same Heart when he fails to find his true objects of love; and 2) God, while being always perfect because of his united dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, can, through these same dual characteristics of his, receive and suffer a negative impression or impact from the fallen world where he fails to find his true objects of love. Based on this thesis, it will also be shown that God, while always suffering throughout the history of fallen humanity, suffered tremendously especially when Adam, who was supposed to realize the purpose of creation, fell in the Garden of Eden, and also when Jesus as the second Adam was killed on the cross.

To support the above thesis, we will use as helpful references the formulations of three prominent 20th-century Christian thinkers: Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, and Alfred North Whitehead. Barth is widely recognized as the most important theologian of the 20th century. Moltmann is famous for his book The Crucified God (1972), which is considered by many to be a significant turning point in the process by which the idea of God’s suffering became the new orthodoxy. Whitehead is well known for “dipolar theism” in his philosophy of organism or process philosophy, which has given rise to the school of process theology. These three theologians each developed in their own ways two essential concepts for the argument for God’s suffering at the two dimensions: 1) God’s desire of love, which somehow explains his inner suffering even as he is a God of omnipotence; and 2) God’s dual characteristics, which somehow explain his suffering from an external constraint even as he is a God of perfection.

These three thinkers, of course, do not agree with Unification theism on every point. For example, while Barth, Moltmann, and Whiteheadian process theologians agree with Unification theism in taking the death of Jesus Christ on the cross seriously for understanding God’s suffering, they do not support Unification theism in featuring the fall of Adam as a basis for knowledge about God’s suffering. Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead also naturally differ from one another. Barth’s formulation is perhaps less distant from classical theism than the other two. Moltmann’s approach is more explicitly trinitarian than Barth’s. White¬head’s philosophy of organism deals more generally with the inter¬depen¬dence of God and the world to explain God’s suffering. In spite of these differences, however, all three quite surprisingly have two things in common with Unification theism: 1) God’s desire of love, and 2) God’s dual characteristics. Therefore, in addition to marking an important departure from classical theism towards appreciating God’s suffering, they also constitute helpful references in support of the thesis of Unification theism.


Biblical Theism

According to the Bible, God is omnipotent: “our God the Almighty” (Rev. 19:6); “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). God is also “perfect” (Matt. 5:48; Deut. 32:4).

Yet many passages, especially in the Old Testament, show that God suffers in terms of the above-mentioned two dimensions: God has internal emotions such as sorrow and frustration in response to what is going on in the world, and God suffers external constraint in dealing with the world. According to Gen. 6:5-6, for example, when God “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil,” he “was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” This passage indicates that: 1) God is grieved internally; and 2) he even changes his mind, at least temporarily, about the appropriateness of his creation of human beings, after having received a negative impression from the fallen world.

There is no doubt that the wickedness of humans God saw at that time resulted from the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). If so, it is reasonable to think that God was also sorry about the creation of Adam and Eve because of their fall. This would mean that God suffered at their fall as well, although it is not explicitly indicated in Gen. 3.

More biblical passages express, or at least imply, God’s suffering. In the interest of brevity, the passages in the following list will not be technically analyzed in terms of the two dimensions of suffering. Nor is this list meant to be exhaustive.

The Exodus story shows that God suffers together with the Israelites who suffer under slavery in Egypt, and that he responds to their situation by liberating them from the slavery: “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians” (Ex. 3:7-8). Later, God is angry at the Israelites when he sees them worshipping a molten calf, and thinks about destroying them in response, but in the end he changes his mind and decides not to destroy them thanks to Moses’ plea for them (Ex. 32:7-14). During their 40-year wilderness period, God quite often gets frustrated and angry in response to the people’s faithlessness (Num. 11:1; 14:11; 20:12; 21:6). God suffers, because anger is a kind of suffering that entails sorrow.

At one point during the period of judges, God is “provoked to anger” by his faithless people (Judg. 2:12) to such a degree that he hands them over to their plunderers and enemies for their possible destruction (Judg. 2:14), but he changes his mind and saves them because “he was moved to pity by their groaning” in that miserable situation (Judg. 2:18). Then, when he is disappointed with King Saul’s disobedience, God indicates to Samuel the change of his mind about the appropriateness of his initial appointment of Saul as king: “I repent that I have made Saul king; for he has turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments” (1 Sam. 15:11).

God’s suffering is most strikingly seen in Hebrew prophecy. Because of his love and concern for his people, God suffers when they suffer, even though it is the result of their faithlessness, and he wants to redeem them: “In all their affliction he [i.e., God] was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them” (Is. 63:9). God agonizes over their faithlessness, but he does so because of his love: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! …My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim” (Hos. 11:8-9). The tears of Jeremiah (Jer. 9:1) are a reflection of God’s own tears over the plight of his beloved people who disobey him: “Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is smitten with a great wound, with a very grievous blow” (Jer. 14:17). The Hebrew prophets also quite often indicate that God changes his attitude or intention depending on whether his people are faithfully obedi¬ent or not: “It may be they will listen, and everyone turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the evil which I intended to do to them because of their evil doings” (Jer. 26:3; cf. 18:7-10; 26:13, 19; 42:10; Joel 2:13; Amos 7:3; Jon. 3:10; 4:2).

The Bible does not deny God’s omnipotence and perfection. Why, then, does it say that God suffers? Classical theologians usually respond to this question by saying that God’s situation is beyond our human level, and that the biblical data about God’s apparent grief and the apparent change of his mind are just anthropomorphic descriptions from human points of view meant to be intelligible to less developed minds. These descriptions, there¬fore, are not to be taken literally but only metaphorically. But is that response satisfactory? Does classical theism take the Bible seriously enough? Is classical theism so preoccupied with its own defini¬tions of God’s omnipotence and perfection that it fails to truly appreciate what the Bible says about God’s suffering?

Old Testament scholar Terence E. Fretheim, author of The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (1984), believes that as long as we do not ascribe to God very limited or ungodly aspects of human nature such as death and sinfulness, anthropomorphism is acceptable. He argues that if human beings are created in the image of God, we have “permission to reverse the process and, by looking at the human, learn what God is like.”[11]  For Fretheim the “relationship of reciprocity” between God and the world is a key to understanding God’s suffering in the Old Testament, because in that relationship God affects and is affected by the world.[12]  Jewish theologian Abraham J. Heschel, famous for his book, The Prophets (1962), also defends anthropomorphism, here more precisely anthropopathism, as an important hermeneutical key to the theology of the prophets, although he knows from Is. 55:8-9 that the level of God’s pathos is “higher” than that of human beings.[13]

Does the New Testament also show God’s suffering? This question can be answered in the affirmative when we look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through Jesus God shows his love and care for humanity (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8-9), and especially for the poor, outcast, underprivileged, and sinful, who are unusually suffering (Mark 2:14-17; Luke 7:36-50; John 8:1-11; etc.). The life of Jesus is full of tribulations because of the persecutions he receives. His life of suffering culminates in his death on the cross, which is extremely painful, although he is resurrected thereafter. If Jesus says that “I am in the Father and the Father in me” (John 14:11), then his suffering must be God’s suffering. Although this may sound like the idea of 3rd-century Sabellian patripassianism (that the Father suffers in the modality of the Son) and the formula of 6th-century Monophysite theopaschitism (that the divine Son within the Godhead suffers in the flesh), both of which were deemed as heretical by classical theism, it seems that the Bible speaks of God’s suffering without necessarily being patripassian or theopaschite. According to Moltmann, the Bible distinguishes Jesus’ suffering from God’s, thus avoiding patripassianism, and does not consider the death of Jesus on the cross as the death of God himself, thus avoiding theopaschitism.[14]


Classical Theism

Classical theism wholeheartedly accepts the biblical passages on God’s omnipotence and his perfection. It also wholeheartedly accepts the biblical passages on God’s immutability: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind” (Ps. 110:4); “For I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6); “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). But it does not accept the biblical data about God’s suffering at the two dimensions, unless it does not take them literally. It says slightly pejoratively that the biblical account is just anthropomorphic, and by doing so it admits of a great gulf between God who does not suffer and humans who suffer. Church Fathers in the tradition of classical theism such as St. Jerome even strongly criticized the 4th-century anthropomorphite group of Audians for promoting a “foolish heresy.”[15]

As mentioned above, classical theism was developed under the influence of schools of Greek philosophy such as Stoicism and Neoplatonism. Its definition of God’s perfection, however, was most clearly expressed by Thomas Aquinas using Aristotelian metaphysics. According to him, God’s “perfection” means that he is pure act, which is the “first actual principle,” being “most actual” with no “potentiality” or “matter”:

Now God is the first principle, not material, but in the order of efficient cause, which must be most perfect. For just as matter, as such, is merely potential, an agent, as such, is in the state of actuality. Hence, the first active principle must needs be most actual, and therefore most perfect; for a thing is perfect in proportion to its state of actuality, because we call that perfect which lacks nothing of the mode of its perfection.[16]

This perfect God as pure act without any potentiality is completely actualized and in want of nothing, with the following two results: 1) that he in his eternal, untroubled bliss does not have any inner feeling of suffering or even of additional happiness (thus being impassible); and 2) that he in his uncaused self-existence does not need to process any potentiality in the Godhead to receive an impression from outside, whether it is a negative or positive impression (thus being immutable). So, this perfect God without any unrealized potentiality is: 1) “impassible,”[17]  free from “passions of the sensitive appetite” such as anger and additional joy, which would imply imperfection;[18]  and also 2) “immutable,” since “everything which is in any way changed, is in some way in potentiality.”[19]  This clearly means that God is incapable of suffering at both dimensions suggested by Fiddes. Furthermore, according to Aquinas, this God is also “omnipotent” in that his “active power” as pure act unmixed with potentiality is “infinite”; the divine omnipotence thus means God’s “infinite” power to do everything (except what implies contradiction).[20]

There is one point of caution we have to keep in mind, however, when trying to understand Aquinas. When he says that God is immutable as pure act, Aquinas does not mean that God is inert and static, but rather that he acts without having to achieve anything. He acts effortlessly, because he is already completely actualized as pure act. His activity, therefore, is not an activity of passions that still presupposes potentiality, but rather “acts of understanding, and willing, and loving” without involving any effort to realize potentiality.[21]  The love of God, therefore, is passionless: “He loves without passion.”[22]

Addressing the criticism from the new orthodoxy to the effect that the God of Aquinas is static, inert, and inactive because of his immutability as pure act, Thomas G. Weinandy, a leading Catholic theologian, argues in his 2000 publication, Does God Suffer?, that this criticism misses the mark because God being pure act actually means that he is “supremely active and dynamic and cannot ontologically become more in act.”[23]  Regarding God’s impassibility, Weinandy similarly argues that it means that God as pure act is “supremely passionate and cannot become any more passionate.”[24]  Thus, according to Weinandy, God who is “supremely active” and “supremely passionate” due to his immutability and impassibility is truly related to the world as a radically active and passionate God. But his arguments seem simply rhetorical, unable to clearly elucidate the matter. Thus he finally confesses that “we cannot comprehend” it, as it is still a mystery of faith.[25]  He also admits that when he argues that God is supremely passionate because of his impassibility, he oversteps the position of Aquinas: “Aquinas does not say this.”[26]  As was noted above, according to Aquinas, God’s activity is a passionless activity.

The idea that the love of God is passionless leads to a difficult paradox in classical theism, because when God loves someone, he does not share in the suffering of the loved at all, although he may will and achieve the good of the loved one. This paradox is well expressed by Anselm of Canterbury:

But how are You at once both merciful and impassible? For if You are impassible You do not have any compassion; and if You have no compassion Your heart is not sorrowful from compassion with the sorrowful, which is what being merciful is. But if You are not merciful whence comes so much consolation for the sorrowful?[27]

Classical theism, therefore, believes that while God loves human beings in the world, he paradoxically does not suffer when they suffer or go astray. God did not suffer, therefore, when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden. And God did not suffer when Jesus Christ suffered his painful death on the cross. Even Jesus Christ did not suffer in his divinity; he only suffered in his humanity.

What is the purpose of creation, then, according to classical theism? Aquinas maintains that God creates the world because he wills to “communicate” the divine goodness to others “by likeness,” so that they as partakers in it may be ordained to him as their “end.”[28]  Creatures, which thus receive the divine goodness in likeness, are to glorify God. The glorification of God as the purpose of creation has long been accepted in Christianity: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36). But the glorification of God from creatures is understood to add nothing to his perfection because he as pure act without any potentiality is completely actualized and in want of nothing. Strictly speaking, therefore, God does not even need the created world for himself. So, he creates the world under no necessity: “Since… the divine goodness can be without other things, and, indeed, is in no way increased by other things, it is under no necessity to will other things.”[29]  This leads many theologians to confess that the purpose of creation is really unknown. According to American evangelical theologian Millard J. Erickson, “God did not have to create. He had to act in a loving and holy fashion in whatever he did, but he was not required to create. He freely chose to create for reasons not known to us.”[30]

Classical theism, while it is most clearly expressed by Aquinas, has been dominant throughout the history of Christianity, not only among Church Fathers such as Irenaeus, Augustine, and Anselm but also in the Protestant tradition. The first article of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion established by the Church of England in 1563 states that God is “everlasting, without body, parts, or passions.”[31]  And the first chapter of the Westminster Confession, originally drawn up in 1646, similarly says that God is “infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable.”[32]  These two influential documents in Protestant history strongly echo the Thomistic formulation.


Unification Theism

1. God’s Perfection as the Unity of His Dual Characteristics

Unification theism defines God’s perfection in connection with the perfection of an individual human person. According to the Divine Principle, the perfection of an individual human person consists in the unity of that person’s mind and body centering on God, i.e., the God-centered unity of that person’s dual characteristics of sungsang (internal nature) and hyungsang (external form), which thereby resembles and reflects the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang (Original Internal Nature) and Hyungsang (Original External Form). In this state, a human being is able to return joy to God.[33]  Unification Thought, a more philosophical development of the Divine Principle, explicitly states that God’s perfection is none other than this unity of his dual characteristics:

In God, the Sungsang and Hyungsang are in harmonious give and receive action in the relationship of subject and object centering on Heart, and are united in oneness. This state is perfection.[34]

The Sungsang and Hyungsang in God (or the sungsang and hyungsang in the created world) are respectively mental and physical in nature. Aristotle’s “form” and “matter” respectively are said to correspond to them,[35]  although there are fundamental differences between the two systems.

Unification theism’s definition of divine perfection is very different from classical theism’s in that while classical theism points to the perfection of God as pure form only, Unification theism refers to it as the unity of Sungsang and Hyungsang in God. This is because the Sungsang and Hyungsang of God in Unification theism are “homogeneous,” thus being able to be completely united within God (so are the sunsang and hyungsang in the world, by reason of their homogeneity).[36]  On the other hand, Aristotle’s form and matter are not necessarily homogeneous,[37]  and hence are not able to stay together in the perfect God but only in the imperfect world. Hence, while Unification theism consistently sees the dual characteristics in the whole of reality including both God and the world, classical theism under the influence of Aristotle’s metaphysics does not consistently apply the theory of the duality of form and matter (hylomorphism) to the whole of reality as it exempts God from that theory. This difference is crucial, because it leads one school (Unification theism) to understand that a God of perfection can be acted upon by the world to suffer, while it leads the other school (classical theism) not to do so.

2. The Inner Suffering of an Omnipotent God in His Heart

“Heart” as referred to in the above quotation on the Unification definition of divine perfection is the core of God’s Sungsang. It is defined as his “emotional impulse to seek joy though love,”[38]  basically God’s desire to love the created world. From this Heart, God makes “a total investment” to the “grueling” process of creation in order to create the world.[39]  He then seeks to love his created objects of love to feel “joy” from them.[40]  To draw the above example of a perfected human person, God when beholding this person as his object of love is “stimulated” to feel the unity of his own Sungsang and Hyungsang reflected in this person’s God-centered mind-body unity, thereby feeling the “fullness of joy.” For God to feel joy this way is the very “purpose of creation,” although it should be noted that this perfected person, too, can experience joy.[41]  The purpose of creation based on God’s impulse of love in his Heart is such that “an object partner of love was absolutely necessary for God.”[42]

But if this human person fails to realize a God-centered unity of mind and body and instead shows a unity of mind and body centering on a purpose opposite to the purpose of creation, as is the case in the fallen world, then God in his Heart cannot feel joy and instead feels suffering and pain. This means the frustration of the purpose of creation. In this case, what usually happens is the fallen physical body’s dominion over the mind instead of the mind’s God-centered dominion over the body, resulting in a conflict between mind and body. In this case, God emotionally suffers because he cannot stay with this human person. In the words of Sun Myung Moon:

Are your mind and body in complete harmony now, so that you can detect God? You must be composed of subject and object like everything else in creation, but the problem is whether they are united… In this situation would God want to stay with you or escape from you? It is almost certain that God would like to escape from you. God is really at a loss because He desires to stay with man, but instead He is driven to escape.[43]

What is important here, however, is that whether this person as God’s object of love succeeds or fails to reflect the unity of God’s dual characteristics, i.e., whether God in his Heart feels joy or suffering from that person, his Heart of love is consistently so strong that “it is impossible to repress it.”[44]  So even after the fall of humanity, and in spite of our continuous rebellion against the purpose of creation, God has been showing his unwavering Heart of love for fallen humanity to restore them even as he has been suffering at the same time. The purpose of creation, therefore, will eventually be realized. In this sense, “His Will for the providence of restor¬ation, the goal of which is the accomplishment of the purpose of creation, must… be absolute, unique and unchanging.”[45]  In the opinion of the writer, this “irrepressibility” of God’s Heart of love gives rise to a new definition of divine omnipotence. As such, given this unique nature of Heart, there is no incompatibility between God’s omnipotence and his inner suffering.

Rev. Moon’s insight into why God’s Heart is irrepressible is to be noted here. Using the analogy of air pressure in the atmosphere, he says that God in his sacrificial Heart of “living for the sake of others” lowers himself to make a “vacuum,” so to speak, in front of them. Hence, they cannot help but eventually give back of themselves to him, just like “high-pressure air” has no choice but to flow to the area of low pressure surrounding the vacuum:

Suppose we take a volume of air where pressure is evenly distributed and create a vacuum in one place. The more the air pressure in that area approaches a vacuum, the faster the high-pressure air will rotate around the area of low pressure… When God has invested Himself over and over again in search of His objects of love, He can simply remain in His place and everything will naturally come back to Him.[46]

This analogy explains why no one can repress or resist God’s Heart. It therefore explains God’s omnipotence in his Heart.

This new definition of God’s omnipotence in Unification theism is not clearly articulated yet in the official texts of the Divine Principle and Unification Thought, as they seem to rather customarily attribute omnipotence to God without defining the term.[47]  But the writer believes that this is what the texts mean to say after all.

This new definition of the divine omnipotence derived from the nature of God’s irrepressible Heart is very different from the Thomistic definition of the divine omnipotence as the infinite active power of God who is pure act. Yet it is supported by a number of prominent theologians. In addition to Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead, who will be dealt with below, it is affirmed also by Geddes MacGregor and Abraham Heschel.

For MacGregor, who believes that a God of kenotic love can suffer, “To say that God is omnipotent can only mean that nothing diminishes his love.”[48]  Again, he says: 

The power of God is not to be conceived as an infinite degree of power understood as the ability to do everything (omnipotere) or to control everything (pantokratein)… The divine power should be conceived as, rather, the infinite power that springs from creative love.[49]

In a similar vein, Heschel remarks: “The most exalted idea applied to God is not infinite wisdom, infinite power, but infinite concern.”[50]

3. God Can Be Acted upon, While Perfect in His United Dual Characteristics

The preceding sub-section has mainly explained the inner suffering of an omnipotent God in his Heart, the first dimension of suffering suggested by Fiddes. What, then, about God’s suffering at the second dimension, i.e., his receiving of an external constraint? To answer this question correctly, we have to know how God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang and a creature’s dual characteristics of sungsang and hyungsang can affect and act upon each other.

It is easier to know how God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang can affect and act upon a creature’s dual characteristics of  sungsang and hyungsang, because according to Unification Thought, when the Sungsang and Hyungsang of the perfect God are united centering on his Heart, the “pre-energy” of his Hyungsang will be coupled with the “force of love” from his Heart, the core of his Sungsang, thus yielding “forming energy” of love, which helps to form a creature’s dual characteristics of  sungsang and hyungsang.[51]  This is how a creature (especially a human person) is inspired and moved to realize the unity of its own dual characteristics of sungsang and hyungsang to “reflect” God’s united dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang.

But the real question is: How can this reflection from a creature (especially from a human person) affect and act upon the dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang of the perfect God? The Divine Principle says that it “stimulates” the dual characteristics of God.[52]  According to Unification Thought, however, a perfect human person is “a being of heart,” and that person’s “heart” resembles God’s Heart because that person knows God’s Heart.[53]  So, when that person completely realizes the unity of mind and body centering on that person’s own heart, some kind of energy of love can issue from that person. This energy of love can affect and act upon God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang to such a dramatic degree that even the perfect God “surrenders,” according to the founder of the Unification Church:

God is invisible, but we know through Divine Principle that God has internal and external characteristics, sungsang and hyungsang. Even though God is invisible, He has two parts which work together 100 percent. When you love someone with your mind and body in total oneness, you are completely flexible and can penetrate anything. The heart of God is perhaps the most impenetrable of all things, but when a bullet of gold love hits it, even God surrenders. When true love hits the heart of God, it causes the greatest thunder and lightning.[54]

This quoted passage says that God in his Heart surrenders, but it also suggests that it happens because God’s united dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang are affected and acted upon by the human person’s God-centered oneness of mind and body.

We still have to explain, however, how God through his dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang can also suffer a negative constraint from the fallen world. When a human person fails to realize the God-centered unity of mind and body and instead realizes a mind-body unity centering on a purpose opposite to the purpose of creation, say, a Satan-centered purpose, that undesirable mind-body unity is still a unity yielding a negative kind of energy. That energy can give a negative impact upon God’s dual characteristics. According to Moon, “When these children [Adam and Eve] fell, the consequences had a direct impact on God.”[55]  He explains right away that one of the consequences of the human fall is the loss of God’s temple,[56]  which according to the Divine Principle means the loss of an individual human person with God-centered mind-body unity.[57]  So God, while being perfect because of the complete unity of his dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, can still suffer a negative impact or constraint from each individual human person in the fallen world. This is God’s suffering at the second dimension.

4. Our Social Relationships and God’s Suffering 

Thus far our discussion has only been at the individual level, only dealing with whether or not an individual human person can realize what the Divine Principle calls “God’s first blessing”[58]  or “individual perfection” with that person’s mind-body unity reflecting the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang. According to the Divine Principle, however, the purpose of creation has two other blessings of God, because Gen. 1:28, after saying, “Be fruitful” (first blessing), goes on to say, “multiply and fill the earth” (second blessing), and “subdue it and have dominion over” all things (third blessing).[59]

God’s second blessing is for a perfected man and woman to love each other as husband and wife to create an ideal family, multiplying and raising their children. “A family or society” thus formed “is patterned after the image of a perfect individual,” reflecting not only that individual person’s mind-body unity but also the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, with the result that God and also humans feel “joy.”[60]  And God’s third blessing is for a perfected human person and the natural world to “share love and beauty to become completely one.” In this case, the dual characteristics of sungsang and hyungsang in the natural world reflect that human person’s mind-body unity, and furthermore the complete oneness of love as a whole between that human person and the natural world is also considered to reflect the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, with the result that God and humans as well experience “joy.”[61]

When the Divine Principle discusses about the mind-body unity of an individual human person (first blessing), it naturally says that it reflects the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang. It is interesting to observe, however, that even when it discusses social relationships as between a perfected man and woman (second blessing), or as between a perfected human person and the natural world (third blessing), it still says that they reflect the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang and it hardly says that they reflect the unity of God’s other dual characteristics of Yang and Yin. The reason for this is that it is Sungsang and Hyungsang that are God’s “direct” attributes, while Yang and Yin, which are merely attributes of Sungsang and Hyungsang, are God’s “indirect” attributes.[62]

Unification Thought more clearly explains how social relationships still reflect God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, rather than those of Yang and Yin, by using its notion of the “Two-Stage Structure of the Divine Image.” When the inner mind-body unity of an individual human person is followed by that person’s outer unity with other persons or beings, that process is a reflection of the Two-Stage Structure of the Divine Image in which the “inner give and receive action” between “Inner Sungsang” (intellect, emotion, and will) and “Inner Hyungsang” (ideas, concepts, and laws) within God’s Sungsang is followed by the “outer give and receive action” between God’s Sungsang and Hyungsang.[63]  Strictly speaking, therefore, social relationships are considered to reflect the unity between God’s Sungsang and Hyungsang.

Consequently, if social relationships of unity are realized as God’s second and third blessings, they give a positive impact upon God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, with the result that God feels joy in his Heart. But, if these social relationships are realized centering on a purpose entirely opposite to the purpose of creation, they give a negative impact upon God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, leading him to suffer at the second dimension, with the result that he also suffers in his Heart at the first dimension. For example, when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, they realized their relationship of love centering on the purpose of Satan, and this Satan-centered social relationship between a man and a woman, as well as the loss of an individual human person with God-centered mind-body unity, had “a direct impact on God.”[64]

5. The Fall of Adam and Eve and God’s Suffering

Rev. Moon describes God’s tremendous suffering at the fall of Adam and Eve as follows:

How sorrowful God was when Adam and Eve committed the Fall and sank away from Him! They were to have been the ideal partners for God, who embodies the pure essence of love. God’s sorrow exceeded that of any person. He grieved so very deeply. The deeper and greater the value of what was lost, the deeper the sorrow.[65]

Perhaps Moon more than any other theologian teaches such a great degree of God’s agony and sorrow over the fall of Adam. Needless to say, theologians of classical theism entirely deny God’s suffering. Even those theologians who teach about God’s suffering do not take the fall of Adam as seriously as Moon does, either by negating the historicity of the fall of Adam, or by denying the social nature of the fall even if they believe in its historicity. The fall of Adam and Eve, if it happened historically, has traditionally been believed to have consisted in the voluntary act of disobedience on the part of each individual involved rather than in any wrong social relationship of love between them. Belief in the individualistic or atomistic, rather than social, nature of the fall generally seems unable to much appreciate the gravity of God’s suffering, for it usually fails to recognize the value of what was lost through the fall, i.e., the value of what the Divine Principle calls the second blessing, ideal families centering on God’s love. This perhaps gives classical theism still another reason why it denies God’s sorrow over the fall. By contrast, the Divine Principle teaches that the fall consisted in a social, and more precisely, premature sexual relationship of Adam and Eve centering on the purpose of Satan,[66]  affecting and acting upon God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, with the result that he was truly grieved in his Heart.

But there is something more to be mentioned about the value of what was lost. According to Moon, the second blessing, which God expected the first human ancestors to realize, was supposed to be the most intimate substantiation of God’s own Heart of love, because it was to be realized through the God-centered intimate love relationship between Adam and Eve—to God’s joy and to the joy of Adam and Eve as well:

[Adam] would have loved his wife [Eve] as God loved her and Eve would have loved her husband as God loved him. Therefore, Adam and Eve united in perfection would have been the walking God, living God’s way of life, God’s life itself. It was the Principle of Creation that Adam and Eve feel the joy of God. When they feel joy, God feels joy; when God feels joy, they feel joy.[67]

God lost that precious opportunity, however, because it was taken away by Satan’s love which entered the sexual union of Adam and Eve, establishing the “lineage” and “sovereignty” of Satan.[68]  This indeed explains the unspeakable suffering of God.

By the way, it is helpful to note that the Divine Principle’s sexual interpretation of the fall, while mostly unheard of in the Christian tradition, is not entirely alien in that tradition. At least two famous early Church Fathers (Clement of Alexandria and Ambrose) accepted the idea of the sexual fall,[69]  although they, adhering to classical theism, did not believe that God suffered due to this sexual fall of Adam and Eve.

6. The Cross of Jesus Christ and God’s Suffering

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, God has been continuously suffering throughout history because of fallen humanity’s sinful social relationships under Satan’s sovereignty. But especially when Jesus was killed on the cross due to the faithlessness of the Jewish leaders, God suffered tremendously again, and his suffering at that time was no less great than at the fall of Adam. For although he expected Jesus as the second Adam to restore the second blessing lost due to the fall of the first Adam, nevertheless Jesus was killed on the cross before restoring it.

In other words, God suffered because he again could not see the realization of the second blessing, which at that time was to create an ideal family with “Jesus and his [human] Bride as the first ideal husband and wife and to multiply sinless children in “God’s direct lineage.”[70]  God also suffered because he saw the sinful social structure of Jewish leaders and Roman leaders under the sovereignty of Satan working strongly to destroy Jesus.[71]  And God also suffered when he saw his beloved Son, with his perfect mind-body unity, suffering and dying on the cross: “In the end, when Jesus was crucified, how deep [was] the grief in the heart of God as He watched His beloved son, Jesus, miserably dying!”[72] 

Although Christ’s death on the cross based on his sacrificial love at that time brought forth what the Divine Principle calls “spiritual salvation,” spiritually restoring the second blessing with the resurrected Jesus and the Holy Spirit as spiritual parents of humanity, it was not “full salvation,” which is supposed to come “both spiritually and physically.”[73]  So, God’s suffering continues to exist until Christ comes back in the Last Days to completely restore the second blessing as well as the first and third blessings here on the earth. The day on which the Christ of the Second Coming and his Bride completely realize the second blessing is the day of God’s joy. According the Divine Principle, the Last Days are at hand.[74]

At this juncture, it would be appropriate to mention something about the Unification doctrine of the Trinity.[75]  God’s Heart, Sungsang, and Hyungsang are the three indiscrete members of what is called the “inner Trinity,” being respectively equivalent to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of that Trinity, while God, perfected Adam, and perfected Eve are the three discrete members of what is called the “outer Trinity,” being respec¬tively equivalent to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of that Trinity in the divine economy. The latter as the outer manifestation or realization of the former is to constitute an ideal family of perfected Adam and Eve centered on God’s love, completely reflecting the former to return joy and glory to it. But the latter failed to be realized when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden and when Jesus Christ as the second Adam was killed on Golgotha. This is why God suffered tremendously over the fall of Adam and the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. What was realized after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection was only the “spiritual Trinity” of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the divine economy, and the outer Trinity, therefore, is to be realized substantially by the Christ of the Second Coming.


God’s Dual Characteristics in Other Theologians

1. Karl Barth

In criticizing Thomas Aquinas’ view of God as actus purus (“pure act”)[76]  and even suggesting that “In God all potentiality is included in His actuality and therefore all freedom in His decision,”[77]  Karl Barth proposes a doctrine of God’s dual characteristics of “freedom” and “love.”[78]  According to Barth, while God in his “freedom” is absolutely free from anything, thus being impassible and immutable (unconditioned), he in his “love” reveals himself through Jesus Christ to seek and create fellowship with us in the finite world, thus becoming even passible and mutable (conditioned). God in his love has thus “limited Himself”[79]  to be a suffering God.

The point of connection between divine freedom and divine love exists when God absolutely freely chooses to love and suffer with us. For Barth, this connection or unity between God’s freedom and love means divine perfection: “God’s being consists in the fact that He is the One who loves in freedom. In this He is the perfect being.”[80]  From this perfection of God are derived various divine perfections (traditionally called attributes) classified under two groups: perfections of the divine freedom such as holiness on the one hand, and perfections of the divine love such as grace on the other. God’s perfection itself consists in the “complete reciprocity” of these two different sides in him, in which “each of the opposing ideas [i.e., perfections] not only augments but absolutely fulfills the other.”[81]  This is somewhat similar to the Unification definition of divine perfection as the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, although how much God’s dual characteristics of freedom and love in Barth’s theology correspond to God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang in Unification theism needs to be studied more carefully.[82] 

It is in the context of this divine perfection that Barth discusses divine omnipotence. Divine omnipotence, as one of the perfections of the divine love, is not the same as the “omnicausality” of God which would automatically make him the cause of everything above and apart from us.[83]  Rather, it is “the omnipotence of love” only in his fellowship of love with us in which he even allows for our freedom.[84]  Barth’s discussion of omnipotence in relation to love is again somewhat similar to the Unification notion of Heart of love, wherein the divine omnipotence lies. In fact, Barth couples “constancy” with the omnipotence of God’s love,[85]  and in this it is like Unification theism, which attributes “irrepressibility” to the omnipotence of God’s Heart.

God, who is thus omnipotent and perfect, chooses in his freedom to suffer for us in Jesus Christ: “For the sake of this choice and for the sake of man He hazarded Himself wholly and utterly. He elected our suffering… as His own suffering. This is the extent to which His election is an election of grace, an election of love.”[86]

Perhaps the following two quotations from Barth can be taken to mean that God can suffer at the two dimensions proposed by Fiddes, because they respectively refer to God’s passibility and conditionedness in spite of his initial impassibility and unconditionedness:

He is absolute, infinite, exalted, active, impassible, transcendent, but in all this He is the One who loves in freedom, the One who is free in His love, and therefore not His own prisoner. He is all this as the Lord, and in such a way that He embraces the opposites of these concepts even while He is superior to them.[87]

God has the prerogative to be free without being limited by His freedom from external conditioning, free also with regard to His freedom, free not to surrender Himself to it, but to use it to give Himself to this communion and to practise this faithfulness in it… God must not only be unconditioned but, in the absoluteness in which He sets up this fellowship, He can and will also be conditioned.[88] 

This does not mean, however, that Barth distinguishes clearly enough between God’s passiblity and God’s conditionedness to speak of them, as Unification theism does, in the context of God’s omnipotence in his love, on the one hand, and God’s perfection in the unity of his dual characteristics, on the other.

Barth’s doctrine of God’s dual characteristics of freedom and love can be traced back to Martin Luther’s insightful distinction between the deus absconditus (hidden God) and the deus revalatus (revealed God). And it, following the Reformer’s basic position, constitutes quite a big step towards understanding God’s suffering. It goes well beyond classical theism’s assertion that God cannot suffer at all. According to Hendrikus Berkhof, “This fresh formulation of Barth in the doctrine of God has exerted a greater influence than any other part of his theology… Even many who in no way follow him know that on this point they cannot disregard Barth.”[89]

But there seem to be at least three difficulties in Barth’s formulation. What follows may be a lengthy explanation, but it is important to know them well in order to see how different Barth’s theology is from Unification theism.

A first difficulty in Barth’s formulation is that God in his absolute freedom could have chosen not to seek and create fellowship with us, staying alone as a God without love. In Barth’s own words, “He could have remained satisfied with Himself and with the impassible glory and blessed¬ness of His own inner life.”[90]  This would be a contradiction to God’s love Barth is talking about as an “overflowing of His goodness.”[91]  This is exactly the issue Jürgen Moltmann raises: “Is this concept of absolute freedom of choice not a threat to God’s truth and goodness? Could God really be content with his ‘impassible glory’?”[92]  In criticizing Barth, therefore, Anna Case-Winters goes so far as to say that “although Barth does make efforts in the direction of modifying the scope of divine power, he leaves the [traditional] meaning for power … unaltered.”[93]

Second, Barth in a very christocentric manner holds that God in his absolute freedom decides from eternity to elect Jesus Christ (who is eternally one with him in the unity of the Godhead) for the creation of the world[94]  and also for the salvation of sinful humans.[95]  In doing so, he mingles creation, fall, and redemption together to attribute their occur¬rences to the eternal election of Jesus Christ. If God so decides, all humans are to be created through Jesus Christ, all are to commit sin equally, and all without exception are to be redeemed by Jesus Christ. This entails three things, with which some people may take issue: 1) since all humans are to sin, the fall of Adam is not necessarily a historical event but merely a “saga” which generally points to how every human equally sins;[96]  2) God’s suffering at the fall of Adam, therefore, is not to be considered at all as a particular historical experience of seriousness for God, although God’s general suffering starts from the moment of creation and culminates in the suffering of the Son on the cross; and 3) the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is part of the eternal election within God’s freedom of decision. All these three things are basically unacceptable to the Unification tradition.

Critics such as Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar observe that Barth’s idea of God’s eternal election of Jesus Christ for creation, fall, and redemption may have resulted from his own reading of the Bible from his undeniable background of German Idealism, in spite of his desire to avoid bringing in any philosophical system to theology.[97]  If so, Barth may be guilty of distorting the biblical message.

Third, although for Barth “the purpose and therefore the meaning of creation” is so that God in his love may have fellowship or “covenant” with us,[98]  he does not believe that the realization of that purpose of creation gives any additional joy to God. While Barth calls the world, created by God as a finite world, “an object of His joy,”[99]  this divine joy is already within God’s own inner life even before the creation of the world. God simply shares it with the world, if to a limited degree, at the time of creation, to “affirm” the world as a world of “benefit.”[100]  Hence, even though our relationships of love, whether between an individual human person and God or between different humans, are each a “copy” or “reflection” of the inner “reciprocity” between the Father and the Son in the unity of love which is the Holy Spirit in the immanent Trinity within God,[101]  they do not give any additional joy to God. Even the economic Trinity, which, according to Barth, is very distinct from the immanent Trinity but which mirrors the latter because the redemptive obedience of Jesus Christ in the former “reflects” and “corresponds” to the obedience of the eternal Son in the latter,[102]  does not add any joy to the latter’s inner life of blessedness.

In spite of these difficulties, however, Barth should be appreciated for going beyond classical theism to present quite a serious theology of God’s suffering.

The third point about the purpose of creation, above, shows Barth talking about the polarity of the Father and the Son within God as still another kind of dual characteristics within God besides his dual characteristics of freedom and love. This is somewhat confusing. Moltmann, however, addresses the confusion by opting for the polarity of the Father and the Son as God’s dual characteristics. It is to him that we turn next.

2.  Jürgen Moltmann

In criticizing classical theism’s idea that God cannot suffer, Jürgen Moltmann says that such a God is completely insensitive and even loveless:

A God who cannot suffer is poorer than any man. For a God who is incapable of suffering is a being who cannot be involved. Suffering and injustice do not affect him. And because he is so completely insensitive, he cannot be affected or shaken by anything. He cannot weep, for he has no tears. But the one who cannot suffer cannot love either. So he is also a loveless being.[103]

This shows that Moltmann seriously believes God to be a God of love who can suffer.

It is from this perspective that he criticizes Barth’s idea, described above, that God in his absolute freedom of choice could have chosen not to love and suffer with us. According to Moltmann, if God is a God of love, then “he does not have the choice between being love and not being love,” and “his liberty” only “lies in doing the good which he himself is, which means communicating himself.”[104]  Moltmann thus sees no tension whatso¬ever between freedom and love in God, while Barth’s view of the unity of freedom and love in God may still suggest the priority of freedom over love. This leads Moltmann to come up with two significant ideas.

First, he comes up with a new understanding of God’s love as his undeterred desire for his objects of love. It is “God’s longing for ‘his Other’ and for that Other’s free response to the divine love.”[105]  Thus when God decides to communicate himself to his Other, he does so “out of the inner pleasure of his eternal love” and not out of any arbitrary freedom of choice or out of any compulsion.[106]  God, therefore, needs his objects of love: “God ‘needs’ the world and man. If God is love, then he neither will nor can be without the one who is his beloved.”[107]  When God’s love is responded to by the Other, “it finds its echo, its answer, its image, and so its bliss in freedom and in the Other.”[108]  Hence God’s “joy” in the fulfillment of his love.[109]  Until his love is fulfilled, however, God continues to “suffer”; and according to Moltmann, God’s suffering is there even at the time of creation because his act of creation involves his “self-limitation” and “self-humiliation” out of love.[110]  This new understanding of God’s love, developed under the influence of Nikolai Berdyaev,[111]  is very similar to the Unification notion of God’s Heart of longing, in which God can emo¬tionally feel joy or suffering depending on how his objects of love respond.

Moltmann couples this new understanding of God’s love with a new definition of divine omnipotence. According to him, when God’s love involves his self-limitation and self-humiliation for the sake of his objects of love, even by withdrawing his omnipotence in the traditional sense of the term, he is paradoxically so powerful that “he has confidence in the free response of men and women.” In this sense, “God is nowhere greater than in his humiliation.”[112]  Giving this new meaning to the divine omnipotence, Moltmann rejects the traditional view of divine omnipotence that has nothing to do with suffering.[113]  His understanding of divine omnipotence based on God’s love is similar to the Unification idea that God is omnipotent because his Heart of love is so sacrificial for the sake of others as to be irrepressible.

The second new idea of Moltmann for this discussion is his criticism of Barth’s doctrine of God’s dual characteristics of freedom and love, which he replaces with his doctrine of God’s dual characteristics of the Father and the Son. It is trinitarian in the tradition of Western Christianity because Moltmann believes that the Father and the Son are united by love which is the Holy Spirit. But it is still primarily about the relationship of the two poles of God: the Father and the Son. According to Moltmann, “divine perfection” consists in the “movement” of love in God’s united dual characteristics of the Father and the Son.[114]  Moltmann’s definition of divine perfection as the unity of the Father and the Son in God is similar to the Unification view of God’s perfection as the unity of his dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, although whether or not the Father and the Son in God in Moltmann’s theology correspond to God’s Sungsang and Hyungsang in Unification theism is a different question which needs to be addressed through a more careful study.[115]

Moltmann believes that God, through his unified dual characteristics which constitute his perfection, can also be affected and acted upon by the world just as he affects and acts upon the world: “Just as God goes out of himself through what he does, giving his world his own impress, so his world puts its impress on God too, through its reactions, its aberrations and its own initiatives.”[116]  In what Moltmann calls “the history of the triune God with the world,”[117]  God affects and acts upon the world, especially when he, through his dual characteristics of the Father and the Son, creates the world, has the Son incarnated for the redemption of humans in the world, and pours out the Holy Spirit after the Son’s death and resurrection to transform the world for the eschatological kingdom of God. The world, in turn, affects and acts upon God, when its creation has God “rejoice” over it and “have pleasure” in it because it is “good”;[118]  when the incarnate Son redemptively has humans assume the “image of God” and “gathers them into his relationship of sonship to the Father”;[119]  and when the Holy Spirit renews the world and brings about the “new solidarity and fellowship” of humans to partake of the “inner-trinitarian life” of God, giving “joy” and “bliss” to God.[120]  What is important here is that the image of God is none other than his inner-trinitarian image,[121]  which is the relationship of love between the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit within God, and that when this relational image of God is realized and reflected in human relationships in the world as a result of the external works of the Trinity, God becomes happy. According to Moltmann, the glorification of God, which has traditionally been referred to as the “purpose of creation,” really means that “the world [reflecting this image of God] becomes the bliss of God the Father and the Son.”[122]

Since the very time of creation, however, the world has never fully reflected the image of God. Hence, God has always been receiving and suffering a negative impact from the world. Even God’s creation of the world through his love involved his suffering because it involved his acceptance of the finitude of that world as an impact that resulted in his self-limitation and self-humiliation in his dual characteristics of the Father and the Son: “Creative love is always suffering love as well.”[123]  God’s suffering reached its peak at the time of the incarnate Son’s death on the cross. Moltmann’s explanation of it is again trinitarian, using God’s dual characteristics between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.[124]  In response to the sinful world which needs to be redeemed, the Father forsook the Son on the cross. Thus the Son experienced the agony of being forsaken by the Father, who in turn experienced the suffering of separation from the Son. But the Father and the Son, by surrendering to this painful situation, experienced a new unity with each other in the Holy Spirit. And “What happens on Golgotha reaches into the innermost depths of the Godhead, putting its impress on the trinitarian life in eternity.”[125]

Moltmann is often criticized for disregarding the immanent Trinity in favor of the economic Trinity because his book The Crucified God (1972) does not talk about the Trinity apart from the historical event of the cross.[126]  But his later, more mature work, The Trinity and the Kingdom (1980), tones down this initial approach and makes a distinction between the two kinds of the Trinity by mentioning the eternal “inner-trinitarian love” as distinguished from the processes of the world.[127]  By this, however, he does not mean that the immanent and the economic Trinity are two discrete sets of the Trinity, like the inner and the outer Trinity in Unification theism. They are rather “the relationship of the triune God to himself” and “the relationship of the triune God to the world,” respectively, referring to only one and the same Trinity in God from two different perspectives. And these two have a mutual relationship: “The economic Trinity not only reveals the immanent Trinity; it also has a retroactive effect on it.”[128]  In the last days in which “everything is ‘in God’ and ‘God is all in all’,” however, the economic Trinity is completed and perfected to be “raised into and transcended in the immanent Trinity.”[129]

Another related criticism frequently directed at Moltmann is that he tends to be tritheistic because he regards members of the Trinity as three subjects or “distinct centres of consciousness and action.”[130]  But he is not a tritheist, as he does not understand them to be three different individuals. He simply wants to treat them relationally and dynamically in a “social doctrine of the Trinity” because he is critical of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity for tending to treat the members of the Trinity merely as three modes of being. That is, he views its idea of una substantia–tres personae (one substance–three persons) as having disintegra¬ted into “abstract monotheism” that is able to explain neither their relationships of perichoresis (mutual indwelling) nor their dynamic activities in the divine economy.[131]  Moltmann’s understanding of the three members of the Trinity as three centers of conscious activity, as the writer argues elsewhere, is a “healthy development in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity” from the perspective of Unification theism, which pursues the completion of the divine economy in which the three members of the “outer Trinity” (God, perfected Adam, and perfected Eve) are discrete self-conscious beings but unite with one another to completely reflect the “inner Trinity.”[132] 

Moltmann’s theology of God’s suffering is an important development from the thesis of Luther’s theology of the cross (theologia crucis) that “God is not to be found except in sufferings and in the cross.”[133]  He reports that Luther’s theology of the cross is more or less accepted ecumenically among 20th century Catholic and Protestant theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Barthasar, H. Mühlen, Hans Küng, Karl Barth, Eberhart Jüngel and H.-G. Geyer.[134]

Yet there seems to be at least one major problem in Moltmann’s influential position. It is that he mingles creation and redemption together to attribute the occurrences of both of them to the immanent Trinity in the Godhead. It is fine to attribute the occurrence of creation to it, because God is the creator anyway. But it would be problematic to attribute the occurrence of redemption to it, as Moltmann does, when he says: “the Son’s sacrifice of boundless love on Golgotha is from eternity already included in the exchange of the essential, the consubstantial love which constitutes the divine life of the Trinity.”[135]  A God of love would not want his created objects of love from the beginning to sin for their redemption. As was shown above, Barth has the same problem. The difference is that while Barth believes that the eternal election of the Son in God’s freedom makes all these occur, Moltmann argues that the close relationship of the two sets of the Trinity makes whatever is in the immanent Trinity happen in the economic Trinity as well. This problem in Moltmann yields three undesirable corollaries, as in Barth: 1) all humans are to sin for their redemption through the Son, which is also to occur, so that the fall of Adam does not have to be singled out as a particular historical event but rather has to be treated as a “saga” or “myth”;[136]  2) God’s suffering at the fall of Adam, therefore, does not have to be considered at all; and 3) the tragic death of the Son on the cross, which causes the Father to suffer, is already planned within the immanent Trinity.

In spite of this, Moltmann’s formulation, which is much more innovative than Barth’s, should be appreciated for its deep theological insights into God’s suffering, consistent with an important biblical theme.

3.  Alfred North Whitehead

While Barth and Moltmann have their particular Christian perspectives on God’s suffering, Alfred North Whitehead has a broader philosophical system to explain it. According to his philosophy of organism or process philosophy, God and the world are interconnected with each other and affect each other because of the dual characteristics of mental and physical poles that can be found in the whole of reality including God and the world. Basic units of reality are called “actual entities.” Each actual entity in the world is “essentially dipolar with its physical and mental poles.”[137]  God, who is an actual entity “not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles” but as “their chief exemplification,”[138]  is therefore also dipolar, having “primordial” and “consequent” natures, which are respectively mental and physical.[139]  This is very similar to God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang in Unification theism.[140]  

Whitehead also has a notion of God’s “appetition” or “Eros,” which somehow resembles the Unification notion of God’s Heart. God’s “appetition,” belonging to his primordial nature, constitutes his “purpose” or “aim,” which is to seek “intensity” or “depth of satisfaction” in each actual entity in the world eventually for “the fulfillment of his own being.”[141]  Thus, his appetition is also called his “subjective aim.”[142]  God’s “Eros,” another name of his appetition, is defined as “the living urge towards all possibilities, claiming the goodness of their realization.”[143]  In short, it is God’s desire of love for the world.

When God’s two natures are “integrated” centering on his subjective aim,[144]  his input for unity applies as an “initial aim” for each actual entity in the world.[145]  Hence each actual entity, using that input from God as well as its own self-creativity, may realize a unity or integration of its own mental and physical poles[146]  as well as its unity with other actual entities in its process of “concrescence” to reach the final phase of “intensity of satisfaction” promoted by “order” among these components.[147]  Each and every actual entity finally “enjoys” this “self-realization,”[148]  and thereafter avails itself to be “objectified” for other actual entities.[149]

Intensities of satisfaction thus created in the world constitute values of beauty, and they are received by God through his two natures centering on his subjective aim. The manner by which God receives these values is this: first God physically feels them in his consequent nature, and then he integrates them with his primordial nature.[150]  If the world shows him its values of beauty which reflect the unity of his two natures centering on his subjective aim, God experiences his own satisfaction and enjoyment. If, however, the world creates “disorder” among its components, which “enfeebles” the intensity of satisfaction in each actuality entity,[151]  God may not experience as much enjoyment, but he still receives it with “infinite patience”[152]  and “love.”[153]  It is in this context that Whitehead says: “God is the greatest companion—the fellow-sufferer who understands.”[154]  It can be said, therefore, that God can emotionally suffer in his appetition or Eros, and also he can suffer an external constraint from the world through the dual characteristics of his primordial and consequent natures. Hence God’s suffering includes the two dimensions.  

But is this God omnipotent and perfect? Whitehead does not think so in classical theism’s sense of the terms. Maintaining that God is not “coercive” but “persuasive,”[155]  Whitehead criticizes classical theism’s idea that omnipotence is a monopoly of power: “the deeper idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained. The Church gave unto God the attributes that belonged exclusively to Caesar.”[156]  He also critiques classical theism’s view of divine perfection as “eminently real” that comes from Aristotle’s notion of God as the unmoved mover.[157] 

However, according to Whiteheadian scholar Charles Hartshorne, the God of Whitehead is omnipotent and perfect in a new sense. First, God is omnipotent because his creative power is “all-inclusive” and “all-surpassing” in the whole of reality in which all self-creative actual entities are interconnected in give and take.[158]  God’s power is “all-inclusive” in that it influences all other self-creative actual entities under any circumstances; and his power is “all-surpassing” in that it is greater than the power of all other actual entities because all other actual entities may be unable to influence others as much under some circumstances. This kind of omnipotence, in the judgment of the writer, seems to be derived from God’s penetrating love from Eros.

Next, Hartshorne gives a new definition of God’s perfection. According to this new definition, God is perfect by reason of his “dual transcendence,”[159]  which means that God as a God of the dual characteris¬tics of primordial and consequent natures is the supreme and chief exemplification of each pair of metaphysical contraries such as infinite/finite and absolute/relative, providing his vision of unity to the world based on the complete unity of his own two natures.

From the above, it can be understood that in Whitehead’s thought God’s omnipotence and perfection are respectively derived from his Eros and his dual characteristics, and that God, who is thus omnipotent and perfect, can suffer at the first and second dimensions, respectively.

Whitehead is not a theologian, strictly speaking. But by applying his process philosophy to Christian theology, process theologians have developed their views of sin, Christ, redemption, Trinity, church, etc. Process theologians believe that God suffered at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross,[160]  thus being in agreement on this point with Barth and Moltmann. But they do not believe, as Barth and Moltmann do, that the cross of Jesus Christ was foreordained. In this regard they agree with Unification theism. For process theologians, Jesus is genuinely a human just like all other humans. But he as the Christ is different from all of them in that he feels God’s initial aim to a “full”[161]  or “unsurpassable”[162]  degree while they only feel it to lesser degrees because of their imperfection. The salvific work of Christ, therefore, means that he encourages them to feel the divine initial aim more, by having them unite with him, so that they may be transformed. Thus salvation is Incarnation-oriented rather than crucifixion-oriented. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place because other humans unfortunately rejected him against God’s ideal: “Process theology understands the cross in relational terms as the result of human decisions rather than divine necessity, sacrifice, or coercion”; and

God also experienced… the stark realities of Jesus’ encounter with Pilate and the Jewish leaders. Like us, these religious leaders and political leaders could have chosen differently; they could have welcomed God’s vision of Shalom embodied in Jesus’ words and deeds.[163]

Hence God’s tremendous disappointment and pain was there, even though through the cross of Jesus Christ the divine love, even stronger than the power of death, was still shown to continuously transform people.[164]

However, process theology as it developed based on Whitehead’s philosophy has at least three difficulties. First, while this school of theology quite profoundly understands God’s suffering at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, it is silent about God’s suffering at the fall of Adam, unlike Unification theism. The reason is that process theologians do not accept the historicity of Adam’s fall at all, as they follow Whitehead’s idea that human beings are already naturally imperfect because they inherit the imperfections of their antecedents in a very long evolutionary process from lower-grade actual entities to higher-grade ones and organisms, although this process of evolution is generally guided by God’s initial aim. Thus the fall of Adam is a “myth.”[165]  This does not mean that process theologians have no theory of sin at all. On the contrary, according to them, sin is related to our imperfection, and it is to volitionally turn away from God’s aim for us to realize values of beauty in our lives.[166]  And when God sees us sinning that way, he suffers.

A second difficulty in process theology is that it has no clear doctrine of the Trinity. Although several process theologians have developed their views of the Trinity, they have not reached a consensus regarding the identities of the three members of the Trinity in relationship to the two natures of God.[167]  Everyone in the process school seems to agree that Jesus Christ is a discrete human being who fully feels God’s initial aim, and who therefore could well be a member of the so-called economic Trinity. But they do not address the question of whether the Holy Spirit should eventually be discrete from God just like Jesus Christ is. Adding to this lack of clarity, John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin are reluctant to develop a process doctrine of the Trinity because they believe that there are only two natures of God, i.e., his primordial and consequent natures, and not three: “process theology is not interested in formulating [three] distinctions within God for the sake of conforming with traditional Trinitarian notions.”[168]  For this reason, process theology has not yet developed any argument to say that the immanent Trinity is reflected by some kind of the Trinity in the divine economy (one of whose members could be Jesus Christ as a discrete human being) to receive joy from that reflection.

A third difficulty concerns Whitehead’s idea that the world exists from all eternity without any beginning in time: God “is not before all creation, but with all creation.”[169]  Whitehead rejects the traditional doctrine of creation ex nihilo, and asserts that God creates the world only in the sense that he provides his initial aim to the existing world in its evolutionary process from simpler forms of order to more complex forms to enhance values of beauty for enjoyment:

He does not create the world, he saves it: or, more accurately, he is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.[170]  

Although this appears to explain the purpose of creation in the name of God’s initial aim, it cannot explain why God had to bring the world into existence with that purpose of creation. Furthermore, if there is no beginning of the world, there is no final end of the world either, as the process of evolution continues for eternity:

Process eschatology, or the vision of the ultimate future of human and planetary life, is open-ended. Following Whitehead, process theologians do not envisage any predetermined terminus point for planetary history.[171]

Perhaps this problem is related to Whitehead’s other problematic idea that God himself is not the ultimate cause of creative power but merely an exemplification of that creative power which he believes is located outside of God as the “ultimate metaphysical principle.”[172]



The present study has shown that Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead, unlike classical theism, understand God’s suffering, if in their own ways: Barth, by having God in his freedom choose to suffer; Moltmann, by bringing God’s longing love to the fore; and Whitehead, through his philosophical system which affirms the interdependence between God and the world. Among them, perhaps Barth is the least distant from classical theism while Whitehead is the most distant. Moltmann is the most trinitarian while Whitehead (together with process theologians) is the least trinitarian.

In spite of these differences, however, the three thinkers have two things in common: 1) God’s love, because of which he is omnipotent, but in which he can suffer internally; and 2) God’s dual characteristics, because of whose unity he is perfect, but through which he can suffer an external constraint from outside. The first thing in common, which is referred to by Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead as God’s love, desire, and Eros, respect¬ively, is very different from God’s “passionless” love in classical theism. And the second common point mentioned by the three thinkers is God’s unified dual characteristics, conceived of as freedom and love, as the Father and the Son, or as his primordial and consequent natures, respectively. This is very different from classical theism’s concept of God’s “simplicity” as pure spirit or pure actuality. Thus the three disagree with classical theism and converge with the thesis of Unification theism that: 1) God suffers emotionally in his irrepressible and therefore omnipotent Heart; and 2) God suffers an external constraint from outside through his perfectly unified dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang.

It is interesting to note that this convergence exists despite the fact that Rev. Moon developed Unification theism entirely independently from the three, who in turn established their formulations entirely apart from Moon. Also, Whitehead developed his philosophy entirely separately from Barth and Moltmann. This might be taken as proof that these two common points, although unacceptable to classical theism, should be taken seriously as important and promising conceptualities in theology. Furthermore, with these two conceptualities in common, these thinkers and Unification theism may be more appealing than classical theism because they can more adequately explain the biblical notion of God’s suffering.

Unification theism, however, takes God’s suffering more seriously than Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead do. For it talks about God’s unspeakable suffering at the fall of Adam, while they are entirely silent about it. Unification theism understands the importance of the purpose of creation, especially of the second blessing, which is for Adam and Eve to create an ideal family that God can rejoice over as his abode of love. Unification theism understands, therefore, that when God lost that ideal family through the sexual fall of Adam and Eve centering on Satan, it caused him devastating suffering. By contrast, Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead do not see the purpose of creation that way, and they even ignore the historicity of Adam’s fall in the name of the universal sinfulness of humanity—whether due to the eternal election of Jesus Christ for redemption (Barth), what happens in the immanent Trinity (Moltmann), or the evolutionary process of the world (Whitehead).

Further, although Barth, Moltmann, and process theologians estimably understand God’s suffering at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, they do not believe, as Unification theism does, that God suffered because the chance of creating an ideal family was lost again due to the death of the second Adam on the cross. They limit their scope to a focus on God’s own choice to suffer with Jesus Christ (Barth), the Father’s inseparable love for the Son (Moltmann), or the philosophical interdependence of God and Jesus Christ in the world (process theologians). Also, Barth’s and Moltmann’s knowledge of God’s suffering at the cross of Jesus Christ might be somewhat jeopardized by their idea that the cross was foreordained by the eternal election of Jesus Christ (Barth), or by the immanent Trinity (Moltmann), although process theology might not have this problem.

The knowledge of God’s suffering is one of the striking characteristics of the Unification Church. It is not just a doctrine. It is also a part of praxis in Unification spirituality, and Unification members are encouraged to work hard to become God’s sons and daughters in his ideal family in order to comfort God and liberate him from his suffering. In this context, Moon explains what kind of prayer we should offer to God:

We will say to God, “For the first time in history You have sons and daughters who truly understand Your suffering. Heavenly Father, please be comforted by us, because we understand Your broken heart. God, take comfort and rest because Your sons and daughters are determined to gratefully go over greater suffering than You have.” That is our prayer.[173]

It seems, however, that the notion of God’s suffering has not been theologically articulated enough in the Unification tradition. While God’s Heart of suffering has always been talked about,[174]  the omnipotence of his Heart of love behind that suffering has not explicitly been referred to in connection with it. Regarding the unity of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang centering on his Heart, while this has been clearly identified as God’s perfection by Unification Thought, it has not been explicitly articulated anywhere, if implicitly discussed, as the channel through which God can suffer an external constraint from the fallen world or receive a delightful impact from an ideal world giving him joy in his Heart. The present paper is an attempt to address this need. Interestingly, we have realized that the study of Barth, Moltmann, and Whitehead can help address this need in Unification theism.



[1] J. K. Mozley, The Impassibility of God: A Survey of Christian Thought (London: Cambridge University Press, 1926), ch. 2.

[2] Michael W. Briely, “Introducing the Early British Passibilists,” Journal for the History of Modern Theology 8 (2001): 218-33.

[3] Ronald Goetz, “The Suffering God: The Rise of a New Orthodoxy,” The Christian Century 103 (1986): 385-89.

[4] Paul S. Fiddes, The Creative Suffering of God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 16-45.

[5] Warren McWilliams, The Passion of God: Divine Suffering in Contemporary Protestant Theology (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985), p. 5.

[6] Fiddes, The Creative Suffering of God, pp. 47-49.

[7] Ibid., p. 63.

[8] Unification Thought Institute, New Essentials of Unification Thought: Head-Wing Thought (Tokyo, Japan: Kogensha, 2006), p. 11. This book is henceforth abbreviated as NEUT.

[9] NEUT, p. 244. 

[10] The “irrepressibility” of God’s Heart is explained in NEUT, pp. 23-24.

[11] Terence E. Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), p. 11.

[12] Ibid., p. 35.

[13] Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 276.

[14] At least this is what Jürgen Moltmann says about his own interpretation of the Bible. See his The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology, trans. R. A. Wilson and John Bowden (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), p. 243.

[15] St. Jerome, “Letter to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem.”

[16] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 4, a. 1. summa/1004.htm.

[17] Ibid. I, q. 25, a. 3.

[18] Ibid. I, q. 20, a. 1.

[19] Ibid. I, q. 9, a. 1.

[20] Ibid. I, q. 25, a. 2.

[21] Ibid. I, q. 9, a. 1.

[22] Ibid. I, q. 20, a. 1.

[23] Thomas G. Weinandy, Does God Suffer? (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), p. 123.

[24] Ibid., p. 127.

[25] Ibid., p. 145.

[26] Ibid., p. 126.

[27] Anselm of Canterbury, “Proslogion,” in Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, trans. Brian Davies and Gillian Evans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 91.

[28] Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 19, a. 2. 1019.htm#article2.

[29] Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles I, 81, 2. ContraGentiles1.htm#81.

[30] Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed., ed. L. Arnold Hustad (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), p. 122. Italics mine.

[31] “Articles of Religions.” articles.html.

[32] “The Westminster Confession of Faith A.D. 1647” schaff/creeds3.iv.xvii.ii.html.

[33]Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), pp. 33-34. This text is henceforth abbreviated as EDP.

[34] NEUT, p. 244.

[35] NEUT, p. 11.

[36] NEUT, pp. 9-11.

[37] NEUT, p. 11.

[38] NEUT, p. 23.

[39] NEUT, p. 251.

[40] NEUT, pp. 23-24.

[41] EDP, pp. 33-34.

[42] NEUT, p. 24.

[43] Sun Myung Moon, “Where God Resides and His Course,” Tarrytown, N.Y., March 19, 1978, 780319.htm.

[44] NEUT, p. 24.

[45] EDP, p. 155.

[46] Andrew Wilson, ed., World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon (Tarrytown, N.Y.: Universal Peace Federation, 2007), pp. 51-52.

[47] EDP, pp. 10, 42, 76, 81; NEUT, pp. 1, 22, 164, 253.

[48] Geddes MacGregor, He Who Lets Us Be: A New Theology of Love (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), p. 128.

[49] Ibid., p. 15.

[50] Heschel, The Prophets, p. 241.

[51] NEUT, p. 8.

[52] EDP, p. 33.

[53] NEUT, pp.164-67.

[54] Sun Myung Moon, “Thanksgiving to God’s Will,” Tarrytown, N.Y., July 8, 1979.

[55] Sun Myung Moon, “The Pinnacle of Suffering,” Tarrytown, N.Y., June 26, 1977.

[56] Ibid.

[57] EDP, p. 34.

[58] EDP, pp. 33-34.

[59] EDP, p. 32.

[60] EDP, p. 34.

[61] EDP, pp. 35-36.

[62] NEUT, p. 13.  Cf. EDP, p. 19.

[63] NEUT, pp. 49-52.

[64] Moon, “The Pinnacle of Suffering.”

[65] Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Cheon Seong Gyeong: Selections from the Speeches of True Parents (Seoul, Korea: Sunghwa Publishing Company, 2006), p. 138.

[66] EDP, pp. 53-78. These pages are the chapter on “The Human Fall.”

[67] Sun Myung Moon, “Renewed Pride,” Washington, D.C., December 4, 1977, 771204.htm.

[68] EDP, p. 68.

[69] For the sexual interpretations of the fall by Clement of Alexandria and Ambrose, see Theodore Shimmyo, “The Unification Doctrine of the Atonement,” Journal of Unification Studies 12 (2011): 36, n. 14.

[70] EDP, p. 284.

[71] EDP, pp. 122-31.This idea that the social structure of evil under the reign of Satan killed Jesus is also echoed in J. Denny Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Berdmans, 2001).

[72] NEUT, p. 257.

[73] EDP, pp. 118, 171-72.

[74] EDP, pp. 96-103.

[75] For a more detailed discussion of this, see Theodore T. Shimmyo, “The Unification Doctrine of the Trinity,” Journal of Unification Studies 2 (1998): 1-17.

[76] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/1(Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, 1957), p. 264. His criticism is that the Thomistic view of God as actus purus lacks the particularity of each revelatory act of God in the world. He, therefore, suggests to replace this insufficient description with actus purus et singularis (“pure and singular act”).

[77] Ibid. I/1, p. 157.

[78] Ibid. II/1,  pp. 257-677.

[79] Ibid. II/1, p. 518.

[80] Ibid. II/1, p. 322. Italics mine.

[81] Ibid. II/1, p. 343.

[82] In Church Dogmatics II/1, pp. 340-41, Barth shows quite a substantial list of those theologians who have suggested God’s dual characteristics in various ways from the 17th to 20th centuries, including the orthodox Lutheran theologians of the 17th century (of attributa negativa and positiva, or quiescentia and operativa, or interna and externa, or absoluta and relativa, or immanentia and transeuntia, or primitiva and derivata, or metaphysica and moralia), the older Reformed theologians (of attributa incommunicabilia and communicabilia), R. A. Lipsius (of metaphysical and psychological attributes), Wichelhaus (of Elohim and Yahweh), O. Kirn (of formal and material attributes), and E. Troeltsch (of holiness and love). After showing the list, he comments: “In spite of all the differences of nomenclature, basis and arrangement in this classification, and in spite of all the doubts which we can and must feel almost everywhere in matters of detail, it is impossible to overlook or deny the fact that in the last resort it is the same thing which is here perceived and meant with greater or lesser acuteness, so that we have a certain broad consensus of Christian theological opinion at this not unimportant point.” One can guess that he would probably have included the Unification doctrine of God’s dual characteristics of Sungsang and Hyungsang, if he had lived long enough to learn it.

[83] Barth, Church Dogmatics II/1, pp. 527-28.

[84] Ibid. II/1, pp. 598-99.

[85] Ibid. II/1, p. 522.

[86] Ibid. II/2, p. 164.

[87] Ibid. IV/1, p. 187.

[88] Ibid. II/1, p. 303.

[89] Hendrikus Berkhof, Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith, revised ed., trans. Sierd Woudstra (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 119.

[90] Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2, p. 166.

[91] Ibid. IV/2, p. 346.

[92] Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), p. 53.

[93] Anna Case-Winters, God’s Power: Traditional Understandings and Contemporary Challenges (Louiville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1990), p. 97. Italics hers.

[94] Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2, p. 94.

[95] Ibid. II/2, p. 116.

[96] Ibid. IV/1, p. 508.

[97] Hans Urs von Balthasar, The theology of Karl Barth: Exposition and Interpretation, trans. Edward T. Oakes (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), pp. 218-19.

[98] Barth, Church Dogmatics III/1, p. 42.

[99] Ibid. III/1, p. 102.

[100] Ibid. III/1, p. 331.

[101] Ibid. III/1, p. 185.

[102] Ibid. IV/1, pp. 200-4.

[103] Moltmann, The Crucified God, p. 222.

[104] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, pp. 54-55.

[105] Ibid., p. 106.

[106] Ibid., p. 58.

[107] Ibid.

[108] Ibid., p. 59.

[109] Ibid., pp. 59-60.

[110] Ibid.

[111] Ibid., pp. 42-47.

[112] Ibid., p. 119.

[113] Moltmann, The Crucified God, p. 223.

[114] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, pp. 45-46.

[115] As will be seen a little later, Moltmann’s later work, The Trinity and the Kingdom, recognizes the immanent Trinity as distinguished from the economic Trinity. I have argued elsewhere that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the immanent Trinity respectively correspond to God’s Heart, Sungsang, and Hyungsang in the inner Trinity in Unification theism. See Shimmyo, “The Unification Doctrine of the Trinity”: 1-17.

[116] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, p. 99.

[117] Ibid., p. 97.

[118] Ibid., pp. 58, 112.

[119] Ibid., pp. 117-18.

[120] Ibid., pp. 126-27.

[121] Ibid., pp. 198-200.

[122] Ibid., p. 113.

[123] Ibid., p. 59.

[124] Ibid., pp. 80-83.

[125] Ibid., p. 81.

[126] Moltmann, The Crucified God, p. 207: “Anyone who really talks of the Trinity talks of the cross of Jesus, and does not speculate in heavenly riddles.”

[127] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, pp. 58, 106.

[128] Ibid., p. 160.

[129] Ibid., p. 161.

[130] Ibid., p. 146.

[131] Ibid., pp. 16-20.

[132] Shimmyo, “The Unification Doctrine of the Trinity”: 13-15.

[133] Martin Luther, Luther: Early Theological Works, trans. and ed. James Atkinson (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), p. 291.

[134] Moltmann, The Crucified God, pp. 200-3.

[135] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, p. 168.

[136] Moltmann, “Justice for Victims and Perpetrators,” Reformed World 44 (March 1994).

[137] Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, corrected ed., ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (New York: Free Press, 1985), p. 239.

[138] Ibid., p. 343.

[139] Ibid., p. 345.

[140] Regarding the similarity between God’s “primordial” and “consequent” natures in Whitehead’s thought and God’s Sungsang and Hyunsang in Unification theism, see Theodore T. Shimmyo, “Dipolar Theism in Process Thought and Unificationism,” in Unification Theology: In Comparative Perspectives, ed. Anthony Guerra (Barrytown, N.Y.: Unification Theological Seminary, 1988), pp. 35-48.

[141] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 105.

[142] Ibid., p. 344.

[143] Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Macmillan Co., 1933), p. 381.

[144] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 345.

[145] Ibid., pp. 244, 344.

[146] Ibid., p. 266.

[147] Ibid., pp. 84-85.

[148] Ibid., p. 51.

[149] Ibid., pp. 23, 25, 41.

[150] Ibid., p. 345.

[151] Ibid., p. 84.

[152] Ibid., p. 346.

[153] Ibid., p. 351.

[154] Ibid.

[155] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 213.

[156] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 342.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1984), p. 44.

[159] Ibid., pp. 45-47.

[160] Daniel Day Williams, The Spirit and the Forms of Love (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 166-67. See also Bruce G. Epperly, Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: T & T Clark, 2011), pp. 51, 73-74.

[161] Marjorie Suchocki, God, Christ, Church: A Practical Guide to Process Theology (New York: Crossroad, 1982), pp. 95-96.

[162] David R. Griffin, A Process Christology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1973), p. 216.

[163] Epperly, Process Theology, pp. 73-74.

[164] Suchocki, God, Christ, Church, p. 106.

[165] Suchocki, “Original Sin Revisited.” showarticle.asp?title=2817.

[166] Epperly, Process Theology, pp. 87-90.

[167] Lewis S. Ford, for example, identifies the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit as God himself, his primordial nature, and initial aim, respectively in his The Lure of God: A Biblical Background for Process Theism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), pp. 103-4. But Joseph A. Bracken tends to identify the three as God’s primordial nature, consequent nature, and initial aim, respectively in his The Triune Symbol: Persons, Process, and Community (New York: University Press of America, 1985).

[168] John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), p.110.

[169] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 343.

[170] Ibid., p. 346.

[171] Epperly, Process Theology, p, 132.

[172] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 21.

[173] Sun Myung Moon, “The Pinnacle of Suffering,” Tarrytown, N.Y., June 26, 1977.

[174] See, for example, NEUT, pp. 252-57; EDP, pp. 8, 81, 196; and Cheon Seong Gyeong, pp. 132-43.