Reverend Moon's Early Teaching on God as Heavenly Parent

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 16, 2015 - Pages 1-26

On January 7, 2013, in the run-up to Foundation Day, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, who since her husband’s passing on September 3, 2012 has led the Unification movement in her capacity as True Mother, declared that henceforth Unificationists should refer to God not as Heavenly Father but as Heavenly Parent.[1] Many members regarded this as a controversial innovation. Some objected to what they saw as unwarranted tinkering with time-honored tradition, while others welcomed it as a step away from a sexist view of God. Disagreement on this point played out in the Moon family.[2] Nevertheless, this paper will argue that the term Heavenly Parent, along with its implication that God is the Heavenly Mother as well as the Heavenly Father, was already an established feature of Rev. Moon’s theology, especially in his earliest teaching, Wolli Wonbon (1951).

Although as a rule Rev. Moon referred to God as Heavenly Father, he occasionally gave voice to the term Heavenly Parent. In the Cheon Seong Gyeong (2008), a large anthology of selections from his sermons,[3] the term occurs more than a dozen times. For example,

That is something of a revelation about the Korean people—living with the Heavenly Parents for thousands and tens of thousands of years. (152)

By attending the Heavenly Parent, the heavenly kingdom and the heavenly ancestors, a royal domain will emerge (912)

We have not known that we have such a Heavenly Parent. (1151)

Have you shown filial piety to me as you would to your Heavenly Parents? (2225)[4] 

The Cheon Seong Gyeong also includes an excerpt of a 1977 speech in which Rev. Moon refers to the two genders of Heavenly Parent, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother:

When you go to the spirit world, you will see that there is not only the Heavenly Father but also the Heavenly Mother. Can a living being come to exist without both a mother and father? Just like that mother and father, behind Adam and Eve you can find God, who has been divided and then united as one. That is why the way to heaven comes through the mother as well as the father. (2014 edition, 719)[5]

The term also occurs once in Exposition of the Divine Principle (151), even though elsewhere God is referred to as Heavenly Father. In fact, that text is equivocal about the gender(s) of God. On the one hand it characterizes God as primarily a masculine being, “In relation to the universe, God is the subject partner having the qualities of internal nature and masculinity.”[6] That statement would seem to imply that as created beings we should relate to God as our Heavenly Father. On the other hand, it states, “God, as the subject partner, has the dual characteristics of yang and yin in perfect harmony.”[7] That statement can be adduced as supporting the notion that God is both genders of the Heavenly Parent. 

The usage of Heavenly Father is not surprising, given Unification Church’s Christian roots. The Unification movement, whatever its present-day international and interfaith reach, began as a messianic movement within Korean Christianity. The Korean churches that are seen as precursors to the Unification Church because they awaited the coming of the returning Christ to Korea prayed to God as Heavenly Father, as all Christians do and as Jesus did.  As much as they identified Rev. Moon as the returning Christ, and flocked to join his Unification Church, they continued the same tradition of faith.

Out of this context Rev. Moon made a most significant innovation by reconceiving the messianic office as one to be occupied by a husband and wife, as True Parents. They were inaugurated at the Holy Wedding of April 16, 1960, identified as the Marriage of the Lamb foretold in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 19:7). There is theological consistency between seeing the Messiah not as a man but as a couple and recognizing God not only as Heavenly Father but as Heavenly Parent.

Nevertheless, in prayers and worship God was still addressed as Heavenly Father. This is the case in all the Unification Church’s “Holy Songs”; and as we know, hymns are the core of worship. Almost all the Holy Songs were composed prior to the Holy Wedding in 1960 or are traditional Christian hymns.[8] This meant that the theology of God as Heavenly Parent of two genders was deemphasized in worship. The resulting gap between worship and theology may be contributing to the current controversy around Hak Ja Han’s proclamation that God should be addressed as Heavenly Parent.


God the Vertical Parent: A Trinitarian Soteriology

I would argue that conceiving of God as Parent is fundamental to Unification theology, in particular to its Trinitarian understanding of salvation. In its brief discussion of the Trinity, Exposition specifies that because God is a being of dual characteristics, God’s primary manifestations must be man and woman: Adam and Eve prior to the Fall, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and True Parents. (EDP, 170-172) This correspondence is strengthened in many of Rev. Moon’s sermons, where he speaks of God as the “vertical True Parent” and he and his spouse as the “horizontal True Parents.” The unity between the horizontal True Parents and God the vertical True Parent becomes the starting-point for a new world where spirit and flesh, God and human beings become one. The description of God as the “vertical Parent” in this context occurs more than forty times in the Cheon Seong Gyeong:

God has are the qualities of both masculinity and femininity. That is why He[9] is called the Subject with dual characteristics.… The one who is invisible is the plus, and the ones who are visible are the minus parents. The invisible Parent is causal, the visible parents resultant. Thus, in the position of parents, God the invisible Parent and these visible parents are to become one based on love. The latter are the horizontal parents and the former the vertical Parent (1728)

God is our real parent. How close He is to us. God as the vertical parent and True Parents as the horizontal parents together realize ideal love. (206, 1805)

Had they not fallen, the original human ancestors, Adam and Eve, would have been the perfected horizontal and physical parents, standing in the position where they could become fully one with God at a 90-degree angle. The Creator is the Parent of heart centered on true love, and Adam and Eve are the horizontal physical parents. If the Heavenly Parent and earthly Parents had united and become one, and then had sons and daughters, no one born on earth would need a religion. Everyone would naturally go straight to God’s kingdom. Heaven and humankind would be united. (CSG, 96)[10]

In other words, creation is based on resemblance, and the core resemblance in creation is between God whose essence is duality and human beings who were created male and female. This is what it means to be created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). God is one single united being, yet God’s image in creation is two: man and woman. Moreover, since the essence of God is seen in God’s parental love for the human beings as God’s sons and daughters, human beings achieve complete resemblance with God when they take on the role of parents and raise their own children. This also would have been the condition for perfect love between God and humankind, where the inner harmony between God’s masculine and feminine genders and human love between man and woman would entirely cohere. Such is the meaning of identifying God as the vertical Parent and Adam and Eve, the progenitors of humankind, as the horizontal Parents.

Had there been no Fall, the three of them—God, Adam and Eve—would have constituted the original Trinity. However, Adam and Eve failed to establish this resemblance.

Consequently God the vertical Parent has sought for a new set of human “horizontal parents” to manifest the fullness of God’s self within this Trinitarian structure. Jesus was the incarnation of God’s masculine Self, and he was to take a Bride as the incarnation of God’s feminine Self. Yet Jesus died on the cross before achieving this purpose. Then, with his resurrection, he began his spiritual mission, and for that he was given the Holy Spirit, a spiritual counterpart with feminine characteristics.  The resurrected Christ together with the Holy Spirit could re-establish with the vertical God a semblance of the original Trinity. Yet the fullness of the original Trinity in the flesh would have to await the return of Christ and his taking an earthly bride at the prophesied Marriage of the Lamb.[11] Thus, Rev. Moon conceived his mission in Trinitarian terms: to take a bride, conduct the Marriage of the Lamb, and establish the True Parents on earth in unity with the invisible Parent in heaven.

Rev. Moon saw the establishment of this Trinitarian union between the Heavenly Parent and earthly parents as the foundation for uniting spirit and flesh, heaven and earth. Until now, there has been a huge diremption between religion—the life of the spirit—and day-to-day life—life in the flesh. This has led to untold human suffering as people’s hopes and ideals, conceived in the mind of God and communicated to the human conscience, have been continually dashed by the realities of hatred, betrayal and violence. Although Christianity correctly places the root cause of this diremption at the Human Fall, Rev. Moon’s theology clarifies exactly what went wrong and how it disrupted the original Trinitarian relationship between God and humankind.

Rev. Moon discovered that the Fall disrupted the core experience by which the divine Parent and earthly parents were to become one in love.[12] This is the moment sexual union, the very moment of conception where parents’ love and God’s creative power come together to create new life. Conjugal union was to be the moment when God’s dual characteristics completely participated in the love-making of man and woman, uniting divine love with human love in all its dimensions.

Where do God’s absolute love and human beings’ absolute love meet? …It is where the sexual organs unite on the wedding night. Did you ever think about meeting God there?

Where else would you unite with Him? If the base on which the absolute God can settle and base for the ideal love that Adam and Eve desire are not the same base but two different ones, then there would be two different directions and purposes for love. This would mean that human beings could never form a relationship with God’s absolute love, and consequently it would be wrong to say that God created for the sake of love.

Is that not the place where our existence began? Men and women are born there. They did not come into being through kissing, did they? Therefore, would it not be desirable for the male and female sexual organs to unite absolutely? Do husbands and wives long to unite absolutely or moderately? To receive God’s love through that organ, a woman needs to stand in the position where she attends not only her husband, but also God spiritually. Externally, Adam’s sexual organ is his own, but internally, it is God’s. Externally, the woman’s sexual organ is Eve’s own but internally it is God’s. What is invisible is vertical, and what is visible is horizontal. That is how the vertical Parent and the horizontal parents attain oneness. (CSG 1734)

The Fall defiled the love of Adam and Eve’s conjugal union, and as a result human sexuality has careened into places of darkness having little to do with God’s love. Humankind lost the original ideal of sexuality, which was to be profound union with God.

Not only did the Fall sever the central human experience of love from God’s love, since God could not be fully present at the moment of the conception of new life, it separated God from the human lineage. This made that single event the original sin, because it was not limited to Adam and Eve’s single relationship but had far-reaching effects that have been inherited by their descendants ever since.  The resulting severing of spirit and flesh, mind and body, and God and the world has damaged the entire cosmos.

Human beings who sought to climb out of that hell and return to God advocated purity in various ways. If they were Roman Catholics they practiced abstinence, and if they were Jews or Muslims they circumcised the male organ as a way to give its ownership to God. Despite these efforts, they all fall short of God’s original ideal of love, which must be celebrated in a Trinitarian manner. The fullness of God’s love cannot be found by separating from the world or a celibate life, which only perpetuates the fundamental diremption. It can be found only by recovering God’s presence in the core activity of human life that is generative of family and linage. 

Thus, Rev. Moon’s soteriology is Trinitarian. It defines the goal of salvation as the restoration of the original wholeness of creation. And it declares that the starting-point for this wholeness is the original Trinity of God the vertical Parent with True Parents as horizontal parents. By establishing their union as the God-centered True Parents and securing that position on every level from family and tribe to the world and cosmos, Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han made it their mission to establish that Trinitarian starting-point. 

The salvation that arises from that starting-point requires that human beings be reborn as the direct children of God.  As Christian rebirth is effected by the operation of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rebirth as God’s direct children is effected by the operation of this more substantial Trinity—the vertical Parent and the horizontal True Parents:

Only when the vertical Parent and the horizontal parents harmoniously join together centered on true love can this, the place of convergence of firmly established love, become the origin of life and the connection to God’s lineage. People born from that place are sons and daughters born in God’s love, who can live for eternity with God’s lineage. (CSG 791-92)

The “place of convergence of firmly established love” is the True Parents in their oneness with God the vertical Parent. The rebirth they offer, through the Holy Marriage Blessing, enables couples joined in matrimony to become true parents and participate in that Trinity. The Blessing removes the original sin and engrafts the couple into God’s direct lineage. For Blessed couples there is no essential impediment to God fully participating in their conjugal and family life. This salvation, rebirth into God’s lineage, is freely offered to all humankind.


Trinitarian Christology: Oneness of God and True Parents

The Trinitarian union of God the vertical Parent and the human True Parents is also the basis for understanding Christology—the union of the divine and the human in True Parents. Since God has two genders, no individual of one gender can incarnate the full image of God. This means Jesus as the male Messiah is not the full incarnation of God, but can be only a partial incarnation. It takes True Parents as a couple to fully embody God in the flesh. In keeping with this, Rev. Moon understood that the core of Jesus’ unfinished mission was to take a wife and establish True Parents.

Accordingly, when Rev. Moon began his ministry as the Lord of the Second Advent in 1945, his first order of business was to fulfill Jesus’ unfinished mission by taking a Bride and holding the Holy Wedding in 1960. This inaugurated one couple on earth as the True Parents; yet to fully manifest the divine image they had to reach the level of perfection where they could fully unite with God the vertical Parent. First they went through a course to perfect True Parents on the family level, celebrated by the inauguration of God’s Day on January 1, 1968. Yet Jesus’ mission was more than to perfect his own family; it was to establish the Kingdom of God throughout the world. God’s sovereignty must reach the world; the world is God’s object of governance and care; hence for True Parents to become the embodiments of God they too would need to reach that far. Since humankind had long since multiplied into millions of people on earth, Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han in their position as True Parents would need to reach the level of world-wide recognition and acceptance.

Thus, Rev. and Mrs. Moon worked to expand the scope of their work, first throughout Korea and then worldwide, going through what he termed the eight stages: individual, family, tribe, people, nation, world, cosmos (heaven and earth) and God.[13] Each of these levels was represented by a Marriage Blessing. Thus the Blessing of 36 couples represented the family level, the Blessing of 72 couples represented Jesus’ tribe, and the Blessing of 430 couples represented the people of Korea with their 4300-year history. Since this was a course for True Parents to walk together, Mother participated at each level; for example by making speaking tours to 120 nations. Concurrently True Parents officiated at ever-larger Blessing ceremonies, including the Blessing of 400 million couples on earth and Blessings of millions of couples in the spirit world. By 1997, having completed all of this work up to the cosmic level (cosmos means heaven and earth), True Parents declared that they are the “Parents of Heaven and Earth.”[14]

True Parents completed this ascent prior to the Coronation of God’s Kingship on January 13, 2001. Two years later, on February 6, 2003, True Parents celebrated their Holy Wedding for a second time. This event was the “Enthronement Ceremony of the Parent of the Cosmos and the Parents of Heaven and Earth Who Reign over the Blessed Families as the King and Queen of Peace and Unity,” where Rev. Moon declared the unity of the Parent of the Cosmos (God) and the Parents of Heaven and Earth (True Parents). In other words, their union as husband and wife on earth was now on a higher level—totally one with the incorporeal God who is sovereign over the universe. At that point, True Parents as man and woman stood in the central position to represent the incorporeal God on earth. The three positions—God the Parent of the Cosmos, and Father and Mother as the Parents of Heaven and Earth—had become one. 

In many of his late speeches Rev. Moon referred to True Parents as the “embodiment” (shilchae) of God, literally the “substantial being” of God. Yet it should be clear from the above that the basis of their embodiment is not a simplistic identity, as if Rev. and Mrs. Moon were made of some kind of divine substance, but rather oneness in heart and love, position and authority. It takes nothing away from their humanity. Hence, their union with God is fully in accord with the Creedal statement that Christ is “fully God and fully human.”

Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). If so, then what kind of God do we see in True Parents? If God’s embodiment is Father and Mother together as True Parents, then the nature of God the Parent must also be as both Father and Mother.

In this regard, the Korean language is helpful because it does not normally distinguish between singular and plural. Its word for parent, or parents, is the same: bu-mo (부모), composed of the words father (bu, 부) and mother (mo, 모). In English we typically distinguish singular and plural in translation, thus when bumo refers to God we translate in the singular: jongjeogin bumo (종적인 부모) is “vertical Parent,” haneul bumo (하늘 부모) is “Heavenly Parent,” etc.; while when bumo refers to earthly parents we translate in the plural, thus cham bumo (참부모) is “True Parents.” Both “parent” and “parents” fit within the ambiguity of the Korean language. The decision of singular and plural is an artifact of English, because when it comes to God we wish to maintain the divine unity. Nevertheless, the term bumo itself contains within it two positions: father and mother.

In sum, we have seen based on the teachings in the Cheon Seong Gyeong that God is essentially a being of dual genders who is manifest in creation as the True Parents. The unity of God and True Parents, the vertical and the horizontal, is the fundamental foundation for fulfilling God’s purpose of creation. Its structural integrity depends on the fact that God is a being of dual genders having masculinity and femininity as the Heavenly Parent.


Heavenly Parent in Wolli Wonbon

Reverend Moon’s first manuscript of the Divine Principle is titled Wolli Wonbon (원리원본) or The Original Text of the Divine Principle. According to Jin-Choon Kim, former president of Cheongshim Graduate School of Theology, Rev. Moon began writing Wolli Wonbon at the end of April 1951, just a few months after he arrived in Pusan following his escape from North Korea. According to an official history,

Around the end of April 1951, during the six months while Rev. Moon was staying at Mr. Kim [Won-pil]’s home, a special event took place. One day Rev. Moon started writing Wolli Wonbon. He titled the first section, “From the One to All Beings.” This was the beginning of the Divine Principle on earth.[15]

Despite the historical importance of this work, to date it has not been published, either in Korean or in English. Difficulties in understanding its condensed and complex thought, as well as deciphering the script which in some places is faded and in other places covered with corrections, has made the publication of Wolli Wonbon a forbidding task. The Unification Theological Seminary library was able to obtain a photocopy of the original manuscript, written in Rev. Moon’s own handwriting and consisting of some 695 pages.

We also obtained a photocopy of the handwritten copy made by Won Pil Kim, but it is only 185 pages long and is missing numerous sections. Efforts to transcribe and translate these manuscripts began in 2003 and are ongoing.

It is evident that Wolli Wonbon is not merely an early draft Exposition of the Divine Principle but a far greater work. Much of it is concerned with the Principle of Creation, or as it is phrases it, “the Principle of the Ideal,” and its coverage of topics in the Principle of Creation is far beyond what is found in Exposition. Wolli Wonbon spends nearly twenty pages discussing universal prime energy, in contrast to Exposition which devotes only one paragraph to its description and less than a page to explaining its action. Another topic elucidated in great detail is the Principle of the Object Partner, which Exposition condenses into one short paragraph called the “Three Object Purpose” (EDP, 25). Then there are scientific topics, including evolution, gravitation, formation of the solar system, electricity and magnetism.  It also includes an extensive critique of Marxist dialectical materialism, which would become the nucleus for Sang Hun Lee’s writings on the subject. Also, and a propos our topic, there is considerable emphasis on the genders within God and God’s position as Heavenly Parent—Heavenly Mother as well as Heavenly Father.


The God of Dual Genders

Wolli Wonbon in its treatment of God discusses the dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity, which it calls the two “genders” of God. There is no mention of God as having the dual characteristics of Internal Character (sungsang) and External Form (hyungsang).  That God is a being of dual genders is a major theme from the very outset. The God of gender made the creation to exhibit gender, thus:

God is the One Being, but exists with dual genders.… The creation, the cosmos, is where God’s attribute of dual genders, namely masculinity and femininity, or positivity and negativity, unfolds as individual beings from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. This is the actual state of the cosmos, and it can be seen in the arising of all things everywhere. This is evidence in natural law that all beings were set up by the Will of the Origin. (6-7)[16]

Human beings were created in separate genders, divided from God’s dual genders, so that they can unite in perfect love and dwell in joy. When a man and woman unite in love there comes to be a complete correspondence between God’s love and human love, bringing perfection to both:

When God created human beings, He expressed Himself by dividing His genders—male and female, or yang and yin. God created them this way to have them dwell in perfection through their give-and-receive action with each other. (26)

God wants human beings to have perfect love. For this reason, He gives each person an object partner of the opposite sex and wants to express His precious love to each person through their partner. When a man and a woman give and receive such love in oneness of heart and body, then in heaven the genders of God’s love—masculine and feminine—completely manifest the form of God’s Principle of Creation. That is when God can finally bestow His infinite love upon human beings as He has purposed. (31-32)

The division of God’s dual genders into man and woman and their subsequent unity in conjugal love is as much for God’s ideal of love as it is for human love:

God created human beings in order to realize His ideal of utmost love. That is why God, who exists as harmonious duality, manifested Himself by dividing His original form into male and female when He created human beings and all things. God divided His own genders because He wanted to realize His utmost love through them. (36)


God’s Genders Manifest in Creation as Trinity

In a fascinating section called “The Principle of the Ideal from the Perspective of God’s Duality of Creation and Its Restoration,” we have a discussion of the Trinity explicitly named as such and identified as the unity of God, man and woman. We can see in this explanation a precursor to Exposition of the Divine Principle’s concept of the four-position foundation, which had not yet been elaborated when Wolli Wonbon was written. The duality of God is manifested as genders in the creation so that in their conjugal union they can “realize God’s duality together.”

I am supposed to become a perfect object partner to God, and at the same time to fully accomplish the same with my partner of the opposite gender. When I do this in union with the Original Being, I move in an orbit with the positions of a trinity: God, my object partner and myself. This is what is meant by the duality-principle in the creation. (342)

To understand this, first we must grasp the unique meaning of “object partner” in Wolli Wonbon. The term “subject partner” is nowhere to be found; hence an object partner is not a position that one takes in relation to a subject partner, as is the case in Exposition.  It is not about the order or hierarchy of relative positions. Rather, in Wolli Wonbon the concept of object partner (daesang, 대상) speaks to the quality of a relationship with the other where there is unity in heart and purpose. Its contrasting element is counterpart (sangdae, 상대), which signifies the position in a relation¬ship where unity of heart and purpose is lacking or not yet attained. Simply to take a position to relate with another is to become a counterpart. Likewise, that other to whom you are relating is your counterpart. Then, as the two counterparts give and receive and come into unity, they rise from counterparts to become object partners. 

A typical example is the journey from engagement to marriage. When the young man and young woman first meet and are attracted to each other, they engage in giving and receiving but each on his or her own terms, as counterparts. But after they commit to one another in marriage, as they grow together as husband and wife sharing the same purpose and placing their partner’s happiness ahead of their own, they become object partners to one another.

When we find a counterpart, we begin to fulfill the purposes desired by both parties, although centering on ourselves. Yet this begins an action to whose purpose is to form an object partner relationship with the other, in which we no longer center on ourselves.

Therefore, once we find someone to be our counterpart, we seek to be qualified to become his or her object partner. Thus, a counterpart is a beginning position, but to be an object partner is to move beyond the stage of pursuing one’s purpose centering on oneself to the stage of fulfilling it centering on the other.

Accordingly, all beings want to have someone or something in the position of their object partner, as the measure of their own happiness. A person who does not have a counterpart cannot manifest the value of his or her existence. It is because only by having a counterpart can we advance from the position of its counterpart to the position of its object partner. The more we do so, the more we manifest our value and expand our circle in a world of happiness. (340)

It is incumbent upon every individual to find a partner. Then it is incumbent for each partner to make effort to become the other’s object partner, and also to strive to win the heart of the other and make that person his or her object partner. Being an object partner and having object partners gives value and meaning to our life. It is through such object partner relationships that human beings find happiness.

By the same token, this principle requires that we establish a relationship with God whose quality also should not be merely as a counterpart but as an object partner. This leads us beyond simple faith in God to provide, to wanting to know God’s heart and purpose. God is not so distant and inscrutable that we cannot know His heart because we are created to become His object partners.

To become God’s object partners, we should manifest His likeness:

In this regard, every existing being needs to establish the relationship of object partner to the Original Ideal Existence, as likenesses that reflect His ideal state. This is an absolute requirement. (340-341)

A man by himself or a woman by herself is may be an object partner to God to some extent (although Wolli Wonbon advocates for the importance of following one’s conscience, it does not discuss resemblance to God in Exposition’s terms of the mind-body duality of sungsang and hyungsang), but not completely because his or her oneness with God is not complete. Since God is a being of dual genders, an individual by him or herself cannot fully manifest the value of God’s object partner. This is only possible as a couple, because when they fulfill an object partner relation¬ship with someone of the opposite gender they can become “likenesses that reflect the ideal state” of the God of dual genders.

In terms that prefigure Exposition’s concept of the four-position foundation, Wolli Wonbon declares that a Trinitarian relationship—God, man and woman—must be established as the “foundation” for human beings to fulfill the Principle of Creation:

Every human being must reach perfection as an individual by taking the position of an object partner to God. Further, he or she must relate with someone else in the position of his or her counterpart on the physical plane and fulfill the purpose to become another object partner, this time to an actual person. Then, the person and the object partner take a path together, positioned as if on a circular orbit. This is how human beings can be in accord with their original value as God’s object partners.

In other words, I am supposed to become a perfect object partner to God, and at the same time to fully accomplish the same with my partner of the opposite gender. When I do this in union with the Original Being, I move in an orbit with the positions of a trinity: God, my object partner and myself…

Therefore, each of us must first direct our body based on our conscience. Next, each man must choose a counterpart of the opposite gender and make her his object partner; they must unite conjugally in order to become totally one. This is what is required to take the track of the Original Principle.

This is the foundation for manifesting the Principle of Creation, the foundation upon which God can dwell. To realize this foundation is the highest ideal a human being can attain…. This is the peak of the Principle. It is where everything is fulfilled, and it is the basis upon which everything begins: happiness, joy, and more. (342)

Phrases like “the track of the Original Principle” and “the peak of the Principle” indicate that the godly union of man and woman is the purpose to which the Principle is pointing. Indeed it was so in 1951, when the most important mission in True Father’s life was to find his Bride and establish the four-position foundation. Although the latter terminology wasn’t developed, we have the terms “foundation” and “foundational point” with the same meaning:

An individual who establishes this foundational point centering on the Original Being starts out as a counterpart and then perfects him or herself as an object partner to someone of the opposite sex. It is on this foundation that he or she establishes the track of the Principle and, together with his or her object partner, fulfills the purpose of the Principle. In that position they manifest the fundamental Principle of Creation, which is good. There they become a foundational point of happiness, where they can realize God’s duality together. (345)

What comes into focus here is that the four-position foundation, conventionally diagrammed as God, man, woman and children, logically originates from the duality within God. God having dual genders is the reason the creation manifests as dual genders. God’s dual genders manifesting in creation naturally prompt men and women to form conjugal relationships with a counterpart of the opposite sex and grow to become object partners to one another.  Moreover, the logic of the Principle implies that for people to become fully the object partners to God, who is of dual genders, they need to be living in conjugal relationships. It is in giving and receiving love with one’s spouse that one is in a position to fully resemble God and understand the love and heart of God.


God as Heavenly Parent—Heavenly Father and Mother

In Wolli Wonbon, the principle that God is the union of the two genders naturally leads to the identification of God as Heavenly Parent, and more, to distinguishing within God’s parental position the dual aspects of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Let us look at some of the relevant passages.

Our original Father is the Eternal Father. He is looking for us because He loves us. When we come to know this Being and attend Him as our Father, and likewise when we know this Being and attend Her as our Mother, that is the time when the ideal of re-creation will commence on earth. We must know when this time is. We must have the experience of finding our Father and Mother once and for all. (55-56)

Just as most people have two parents, a father and a mother, God the Heavenly Parent has two aspects as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

Wolli Wonbon states that knowing God as our Father and Mother is the gateway to knowing the fullness of God’s love—as divine fatherly love and divine motherly love. It can open us to be receptive to the love that God wishes to give us in both genders

That we have not known God as both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother is an indication that our relationship to God has been imperfect and our connection to God’s love has been incomplete. Wolli Wonbon laments that humankind’s insensibility to God as both our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother has been a source of tremendous pain and bitterness to God. Even the progress that Jesus made in bringing to light that God is our Father only brought humankind part-way towards resolving this problem. God the Father is deeply pained that people do not know God the Mother, because it means that human beings do not really know God and cannot fully become children of God. It stakes out Rev. Moon’s mission and responsibility to resolve this problem:

We human beings must know why throughout human history we have related to God only as our Father and not as our Mother. We have not even thought about why God had to become the Father, but not the Mother. Further, we have not even considered that the fundamental meaning of God is as our Parent—our Father and Mother. How can we even fathom the pain and bitterness of God the Father, who has had to face such children? Human beings have endured all manner of suffering throughout history, yet still they do not grasp this fundamental issue, which is at the root of their difficulties. What a tragedy! 

God must be inaugurated as the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Only then can we begin the ideal family as God’s children… The one who will have to realize this ideal on earth is the Lord of the Second Advent. (278)

This last statement speaks directly to the Enthronement Ceremony for the Kingship of God, which True Parents held on January 13, 2001. At that ceremony two white thrones were employed, representing Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Fifty years earlier in Wolli Wonbon, Rev. Moon already envisioned such a ceremony, bringing God into His/Her complete manifestation on earth as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.


Attending God as Heavenly Parent and Attending Our Earthly Parents

Wolli Wonbon explicitly discusses what it means to relate to God as our Heavenly Parent. It links what is expected in our relationship to God, our Heavenly Parent, with the standard of filial piety to our earthly parents. Here we need to reckon with Rev. Moon’s deep roots in Korea’s Confucian culture. As a boy he was raised at the feet of the village schoolmaster in his hometown of Jeongju with the ethic of hyo, filial piety. However, in learning the Principle he came to realize that the ultimate basis for the ethic of filial piety to our earthly parents is because they manifest the image of God the Heavenly Parent, and as such are His representatives:

In order to unite with God, we must accept that God is our Heavenly Parent, and that the way to return to God’s bosom is by filial attendance to Him. This is how we can fulfill the Principle of the Ideal of Creation, ideal goodness.

Also, we human beings who exist in the flesh have our physical parents as the image of the Heavenly Parent, the being in the first position. When these physical parents stand in front of the Will and attend the Heavenly Parent with all of their sincerity, their children should unite with their own parents as if one body. This is the fundamental viewpoint of the Principle of Creation.

It is because we must honor our physical parents as representing our Heavenly Parent according to the Principle of Creation that we must be filial to our own parents. The root of the Confucian teaching of filial piety is thus based on the Principle. (364)

This way of reasoning places a condition on the parents, that they be worthy of their children’s attendance because they are truly attending God “with all of their sincerity” in order to properly represent Him. The fact that many earthly parents do not so attend God presents a flaw in Confucian ethics that opens the door to abuse. Nevertheless, the advent of the True Parents allows for the restoration of true filial attendance. For the first generation of converts to the Unification Church, it meant attendance to True Parents in lieu of their physical parents, who often disapproved of their religious choice. Even so, as the world progresses towards the original ideal, everyone must reckon with their obligation to be filial to their parents.

Thus, Wolli Wonbon sees that the purpose for maintaining the Confucian ethic of filial piety down through history was to prepare for the time of the Second Advent, when it would be perfectly fulfilled: “God has been educating human beings throughout history with the Three Bonds[17] by Confucius… because they would be helpful for fulfilling this point of the Principle of Creation at this time.” (364-65) It envisions that in God’s ideal of creation, when all families are living by the Principle, God the Heavenly Parent, our earthly parents, and we as their adult children will be on the same line, each manifesting God’s duality of male and female, husband and wife:

Heavenly Parent, physical parents, and their children as husband and wife are to unite in inseparable oneness and manifest the ideal form of object partners, as partners of God’s duality of creation. This is the original Principle of Creation. (365)


Loving One’s Spouse to Manifest God’s Gendered Self as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother

According to Wolli Wonbon, it is in married couples that God’s dual genders as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother become fully manifest. Each husband is a “second self” of Heavenly Father, and each wife is a “second self” of Heavenly Mother. It is the basis for a passage on the duties of husbands and wives that is comparable to Ephesians 5:21-33:

Husbands! In order to receive love from God, your first duty is to stand before Him as a person of beauty. When you receive God’s love, return beauty to Him and attain goodness. Next, stand as “love” before your wife, your second object partner, while representing God in the position of the Father of love. Only if you do that will you become a man of the Principle, who is qualified to have dominion over your wife.

Wives! Manifest beauty when relating to your husband who treats you in that way. Thereby, as the second self who represents Mother God, in oneness of love with your husband, perfect the second goodness and create the original circuit of goodness. Only then will you realize ideal goodness.

In this way, a couple represents Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and each spouse, standing as an object partner, is extremely precious to the other. Each respects and attends the other as they would Heavenly Father and Mother. The children of such couples will be honored as Heaven’s children, for they manifest the image of the Original Being, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Since children represent their father and mother who love each other, their parents regard them as precious. (368)

This passage is noteworthy in several respects. First, just as the Principle grounds the Confucian notion of filial piety described above based on the parents’ position to represent God, here the traditional obligation of a wife to be faithful and supportive to her husband is grounded in the husband’s obligation to stand with God.  Hence, the first duty of a husband is to receive God’s love and return the “beauty” of devotion to God and obedience to His Will.[18] The goodness generated by that circuit of giving and receiving with God then makes him a “man of the Principle who is qualified to have dominion over his wife.”

Second, the giving of love and the returning of beauty denotes a specific order: from God to the man and from the man to the woman. Implicit here are the positions of subject partner and object partner as described in Exposition of the Divine Principle, even though the term “subject partner” is not used in the text. Beauty is returned from the objective position in the form of filial piety to one’s parents, loyalty to one’s superior, and fidelity to one’s husband. Yet it is significant that Wolli Wonbon makes the quality of relationship—the giving of love and returning of beauty—the governing principle, rather than the positions that do the relating.

Third, this text explicitly refers to Mother God, Heavenly Mother. Every woman is called a “second self who represents Mother God.” There is an implication, though unstated, that she has established herself in her relationship with Heavenly Mother prior to relating to her husband. Due to her direct relationship with Heavenly Mother, she can manifest the quality of beauty to her husband that will enable her to “perfect the second goodness,” the first goodness being her husband’s goodness in his relationship to Heavenly Father.  In this way, the husband and wife “create the original circuit of goodness” centered on the love of God that manifests through them both.

The passage concludes by describing the ideal quality of love between husband, wife and children, which stems from the love of God whose fundamental nature is as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and as the Parent of humankind. Thus, it states that a husband should attend his wife bearing in mind that she represents Heavenly Mother, and the wife should attend her husband always bearing in mind that he represents Heavenly Father. Each spouse should cherish the other, very much aware of God dwelling in him or her. Likewise, they should cherish their children, whom they created out of their love. Echoing Genesis 1:27, they should cherish their sons and daughters because they manifest the image of God, “Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.”

Family roles are one thing, but Wolli Wonbon does not apportion all public responsibility to Heavenly Father and the sons who manifest His nature, while limiting God the Mother’s role and the missions of Her daughters only to the private sphere of family and child-rearing. As the Heavenly Parent of the whole universe, God calls His/Her children of both genders to take up public missions. It is a call coming from the heart of both genders of the Godhead:

Heaven’s purpose is to build up the entire world into the ideal nation, where there are no distinctions among peoples because united with Heaven they are all brothers and sisters.  Therefore, believers who know the Principle are responsible to make effort until the entire world fulfills this purpose. We are called to missions for this purpose by our Heavenly Father and Mother. In order to become His, Her filial children and loyal subjects, we must do our best to accomplish our missions. (583)

This implies that just as men receive love from God as Heavenly Father and return beauty in order to attain goodness, women are meant to receive love from God as Heavenly Mother, understand the Will through Her, and then return beauty to Her and attain goodness. If we recast the language for husbands, “representing God in the position of the Father of love,” in the above passage from p. 368, it means that women too may establish their own circuits of love and beauty directly with God to “represent God in the position of the Mother of love.”


The Perfection of God as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother

Rev. Moon in Wolli Wonbon teaches that that this complete manifestation of God as Heavenly Parent, having distinct persons as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, is linked to the appearance of True Parents, who are God’s embodiments on earth. It will only happen when the Lord of the Second Advent brings the era of restoration to a close. That is because the Fall was the failure to achieve a perfect loving union between God and Adam and Eve. As result the cosmos was made doubly imperfect: human beings have been unable to become true parents, and God has been unable to fully manifest to human beings as Heavenly Parent. Indeed, the fact that humankind has known God only as Heavenly Father and not as Heavenly Mother is an indication that we are still imperfect. Consider this striking statement:

The perfection of the whole can only begin when God and human beings are united as one body. However, this purpose was not realized due to the Fall. As a result, although the primary goal of the Original Will for the creation was that God be the Heavenly Parent, thus far He has been only Heavenly Father. Hence we must consider that the purpose of creation is not yet complete….

As long as God remains as only the Heavenly Father in relation to human beings, it means they are not yet fully mature. It means that God’s purpose according to the Principle, which He intended to realize by uniting with the first human couple on earth in body centering on His love, has yet to be realized. It means that the Heavenly Parent and the earthly parents are not yet established.

As a result of the Fall, Heavenly Parent was rendered imperfect. Parents on earth as well have faced an unprincipled state of existence. The fact that God still remains only as the Heavenly Father to us human beings is an indication of our present condition: we are still as immature as at the time of Creation. (631-632)

God’s condition of imperfection is regarding His position as the Heavenly Parent of human beings, not regarding His position as the Creator of the universe by the perfect Principle. But God never intended to remain only as the God of the Principle; His purpose has always been to be our Heavenly Parent. His purpose has always been to participate in loving union with His earthly embodiments, perfected Adam and Eve.

Perfection was to have begun at that original point—when perfected Adam and Eve become one with God in love. God was to have participated in that loving union, forging an eternal connection of love. Then as human Parents they would resonate in perfect oneness with God as Heavenly Parent. This is what Wolli Wonbon terms the “Origin,” the original point of creation. In the language of Exposition of the Divine Principle, it is the point of establishing the four-position foundation. To “perfect the Origin” means to fulfill the four-position foundation for the first time.

The perfect human beings, Adam and Eve… must become one with God in body, and by so doing, inaugurate the perfection of God as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. In other words, they must perfect the Origin. (632)

Wolli Wonbon declares that with Adam and Eve’s perfection will also emerge the perfection of God. It is the Origin point where God emerges from just the Creator to being the Heavenly Parent to His children, who relate to both genders of God. The same point is made in the Cheon Seong Gyeong:

Originally, when Adam reached perfection, the Heavenly Father would be perfected, and when Eve reached perfection, the Heavenly Mother would be perfected. (CSG, 294)

It goes without saying that a key mission of the True Parents has been to re-create the perfected Adam and Eve and thereby establish the Origin point of creation, which was not done at the time of the first Adam and Eve.  What is less commonly recognized is that the emergence of the True Parents also brings about the emergence of the Heavenly Parent.

Wolli Wonbon indicates the profound correspondence between the True Parents and the Heavenly Parent with the ambiguous term Haneul Bumo (하늘  부모), which depending on the context can mean either “Heavenly Parent”—God, or “the Parents from Heaven”—True Parents.  Consider the following passage:

God purposed that human beings become ideal husbands and wives, and we can only become people who fulfill this fundamental purpose when we are united with the Parents from Heaven [True Parents]. However, because the Parents from Heaven were not established, human beings thus far, whether in heaven or on earth, are imperfect. Accordingly, it is natural that they do not have ideal object partners. Therefore, at the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the fulfillment of Heaven’s Will requires that we attend the Parents from Heaven. Then, people on earth who attend the Parents from Heaven can be perfected as eternal husbands and wives. (632-633)

Translating Haneul Bumo as “Parents from Heaven,” meaning True Parents, seems to be the meaning that the text calls for. Yet it would not be wrong to translate it “Heavenly Parent,” because in the absence of True Parents can be no perfection for God as Heavenly Parent. The close connection between True Parents and God the Heavenly Parent continues in Rev. Moon’s speeches and proclamations throughout his life, as was already touched upon in the Christological discussion, above.

Why is Wolli Wonbon so much more explicit about elucidating the nature of God as Heavenly Parent than Exposition of the Divine Principle?  First, Wolli Wonbon was written as a complete blueprint of the Principle. It was not for public consumption, but as an internal guide to senior members of the church. Therefore, it did not mince words about the Principle or the purpose of the Lord of the Second Advent in order to meet Christian sensibilities. Exposition of the Divine Principle, on the other hand, was written as a teaching textbook for Christians. Therefore it used measured language meant to convince its audience and left out more “advanced” concepts that Christians would find off-putting. The notion of God as Heavenly Mother would have fallen into that category.

Second, when Rev. Moon wrote Wolli Wonbon in 1951, he still conceived the possibility that significant leaders of Korean Christianity would receive him fully as the Lord of the Second Advent. It was prior to the beginning of the 40-year “wilderness course,” from 1954-1994. Hence he would have felt free to provide a complete explanation of the Lord of the Second Advent’s purposes from beginning to end. However, once the rejection of Christianity became fixed, Rev. Moon established the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity as a church that could represent faithful Christianity. It was during this period that Exposition of the Divine Principle was written as a text for evangelism and instruction within the context of HSA-UWC. This is another reason why Exposition presents only a limited expression of the Principle that avoids transgressing Christian norms of expression for God.

In conclusion, Wolli Wonbon is explicit in stating that the Christian concept of God only as Heavenly Father is incomplete.  Yet even though God would wish that humankind knew Him/Her as Heavenly Mother as well as Heavenly Father, that concept could not really emerge into human consciousness until the establishment of True Mother on earth.

This insight can give a better appreciation of True Father’s task to find and establish True Mother. Anticipated here are Father’s efforts to find and establish True Mother at the Holy Wedding on April 11, 1960 and then to erect her in the highest position at the Coronation of the King of the Blessed Families in the Peace and Unity of the Cosmic True Parent and the True Parents of Heaven and Earth on February 6, 2003. The following passage speaks to this effort:

God’s earnest desire is to realize this purpose, the completion of the Origin. Therefore, to this day He is seeking for the Mother. There must be a Mother from Heaven as well as a Father from Heaven, because there are earthly fathers and mothers. Only when the Mother from Heaven is established can God become the Original Being and can the earth become the second being, His object partner. This is in accord with what God revealed in the Bible, that the earth is a shadow of heaven (Heb. 8:5).  Yet it is here on earth that the entire Principle must be fulfilled. (633)

Thus, the record of Rev. Moon’s usage of the term Heavenly Parent to refer to God is well attested in his words and in his theology. He consistently conceives of the divine-human relationship in terms of a Trinitarian structure rooted in God’s dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity, reflected in and revealed by the perfection of True Parents on earth.  In particular, Wolli Wonbon, which he wrote at the very beginning of his ministry, provides a comprehensive explanation of his core theology of God as both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.



[1] Douglas Burton and Lymha Kim, “Hak Ja Han: Address God as ‘Heavenly Parents,’” FFWPU website, January 8, 2013., accessed May 22, 2015.

[2] Yejin Moon, the eldest daughter, wrote a ringing endorsement; see Yejin Moon, “God as the Heavenly Parent of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother,” Applied Unificationism, January 20, 2014; On the other side, Hyungjin Moon, the youngest son and claimant to the throne, initially adopted the term Heavenly Parent; see “True Parents are Offering Tearful Devotions, February 17, 2013; However, since founding the Sanctuary Church he has instructed his followers to address God as Heavenly Father; see Richard Panzer, “8 Key Differences between FFWPU and Hyung Jin Moon’s Unification Sanctuary,” April 18, 2015; Hyunjin Moon, the eldest surviving son, continues to speak of God as Heavenly Father; see “Letter to All Blessed Central Families on the Meaning of Foundation Day,” February 6, 2013;

[3] Cheon Seong Gyeong: Selections from the Speeches of True Parents (Seoul: Sunghwa Publishing Co., 2008) translated from the 2006 Korean edition. [CSG] Many of the same passages are found in the 2014 edition, translated from the 2013 Korean text that was revised under Mrs. Moon’s auspices.

[4] Cf. CSG, pp. 96, 1194, 1470, 2141, and 2523.

[5] Cheon Seong Gyeong: An Anthology of True Parents’ Teachings (Seoul: Seonghwa Publications, 2014).

[6] Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996), p. 19.

[7] Exposition, p. 18

[8] See “History of the Holy Songs of the Unification Church,” Blessed Family Department USA, 2007., accessed April 16, 2015. Among the 40 major holy songs, 10 are traditional Christian hymns or Korean songs. Most were composed in the 1950s; only two were composed after 1960. Interestingly, neither of those contains the words “Heavenly Father.”

[9] Korean does not employ pronouns that distinguish gender, so the use of “He,” “His,” and “Himself” as pronouns for God is an artifact of translation into English, which has yet to develop a vocabulary adequate to the task of representing God who is both masculine and feminine. Although this translation conventionally signifies God the Creator by the masculine singular pronoun “He,” it should not be taken as imputing that God’s gender is masculine.

[10] Other passages from the Cheon Seong Gyeong:

What is our hope? God is the vertical parent, and Adam and Eve, the horizontal parents. We should be the sons and daughters who can receive love at the point where the vertical and horizontal parents can be one and rejoice. (180; cf. 1730)

Originally, human beings, as horizontal parents, were supposed to make a joyful beginning of love with God as the vertical parent. (236)

The term True Parents means God as the vertical parent and True Parents as the horizontal parents. God, the vertical parent representing the spirit world, and True Parents, the horizontal parents representing the physical world, are united into one. These worlds are united through true love. The core essence of these two worlds is True Parents. (937)

God is standing in the position of the vertical Parent (413, 598, 732, 962)

Once you establish a horizontal position that can represent the vertical Parent centering on God’s love, Satan is eliminated. That is the realm of direct dominion. (1111)

What kind of God does the Unification Church speak about? We say that He is the vertical Parent of true love. (1135, 1512)

Externally, Adam’s sexual organ is his own, but internally, it is God’s. Externally, the woman’s sexual organ is also Eve’s but it is His internally. What is invisible is vertical, and what is visible is horizontal. That is how the vertical Parent and the horizontal parents attain oneness. (1734) Cf. CSG, pp. 821, 1414, 1512, 1518, 1550, 1729, 1735, 1740, 2247, 2281, 2418, 2448 and 2535.

[11] Jesus also alluded to this marriage in the parables of the marriage feast, Matt. 22:1-10 and the wise and foolish bridesmaids, Matt. 25:1-13.

[12] See Pledge 8, “the ideal of God and human beings united in love.”

[13] CSG, pp. 1181-84

[14] Chil Pal Jeol on August 9, 1997 (7.7 by the lunar calendar) was the day of declaration of the “Realm of the Cosmic Sabbath of the Parents of Heaven and Earth;” see CSG, pp. 1326, 1395, 1397.

[15] Jin-choon Kim, “A Study in the Formation and History of the Unification Principle,” Journal of Unification Studies 2 (1998): 54.

[16] Refers to page numbers of the original manuscript

[17] The Three Bonds delineates the responsibility of the minister to serve his king, the son to attend his father, and the wife to be faithful to her husband.

[18] This follows the traditional Confucian concept of beauty as discussed in Exposition, in which the highest forms of beauty are children’s filial piety to their parents, a wife’s fidelity to her husband, and a subordinate’s loyalty to his ruler; see Exposition, p. 38.