The Providential Significance of True Mother’s Leadership

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 17, 2016 - Pages 1-18

An earlier version of this article was published in 참부모 신학 연구 [Research in the Theology of True Parents], Cheongshim Graduate School of Theology, February 2016, pp. 173-214.

On September 3, 2012 (3.7.17 by the Heavenly Calendar), the Unification Church and movement entered a new and critical phase in its development. Long foretold by sociologists of religion and new religion watchers, the Seonghwa (ascension) of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification movement, was accompanied and followed by anguish, confusion and realignment on various levels. [1]

Even a brief review of the history of major religious movements shows that, in each case, the passing of the founder occasioned a fundamental transformation of the religious movement. Those movements that successfully transformed were able to survive and develop; those that did not have disappeared. The crisis of succession, or what Max Weber termed the problem of “the routinization of charisma,” would seem to be an inevitable turning point in the history of all religious movements. [2] The Unification movement is not an exception; this crisis and transformation was also unavoidable.

The Unification movement is now in a very new stage of the providence, beyond what has been charted in previous understandings of the Principle and of Rev. Moon’s teachings. However events might have unfolded after his passing, the novelty of the situation and its challenges would have been present nonetheless. The sources—especially the Divine Principle books, but also Rev. Moon’s speech volumes from earlier days— do not give direct accounts of this time, although they do contain needed insights. So there is the necessity for members to pray, study, and discuss together seriously and respectfully.

This essay is presented in the midst of the process of controversy and sorting out that has continued since the ascension of Rev. Moon, who is known to Unificationists as True Father. Its purpose is to describe some elements for a case that the leadership of the Unification movement at this time by Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, known to Unificationists as True Mother, is a providential necessity.

True Mother’s leadership role is unprecedented in the history of world religions. For each of the male central figures, including Confucius, the Buddha, the Greek philosophers, Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad, no spouse held a leading role in the ongoing development of the religious community. [3] This fact is one of the reasons why True Mother’s leadership has become controversial, and why it needs to be defended. There has naturally been some unfamiliarity and some opposition. In this situation, the opposition has provided an opportunity as well as a necessity to proclaim her leadership clearly in providential terms.


The Meaning of Providential Necessity

Care must be taken when referring to “necessity.” The concept here is not one of logical, mathematical or causal necessity in a narrow sense. Events surely could have unfolded differently than they did, and nothing here intends to deny that fact. According to Unification theological sources, the providence of God has unfolded according to specific patterns of restoration, filtered through the degrees of fulfillment of the human portion of responsibility on the part of innumerable known and unknown contributors.

The Divine Principle explains that the actual fulfillment of God’s will is based on a combination of God’s predestination of the Will and human fulfillment of the human portion of responsibility, according to the specific case. Nevertheless, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Will remains assured due to God’s unchanging determination to accomplish divine purposes.

The whole of Unification theology is built on the premise of the providential necessity of True Parents (True Father and True Mother). On the premise of True Parents, Unification theology is distinguished from traditional Christian theology. From the viewpoint of the Principle of Creation, “When Adam and Eve realize the ideal of love and stand as the Parents in God’s direct dominion, God’s Will is fulfilled and the ideal of creation is completed.” [4] Furthermore,

In relation to God, who is the vertical Parent, Adam and Eve were supposed to stand at a perfect ninety-degree angle. They were to have become the True Parents of humankind by attaining perfection centered on original true love. [5]

Rev. Moon emphasized innumerable times that the true parenthood of the original human couple, Adam and Eve, was the core expectation and goal for which God created them, and indeed the whole creation.

Likewise, in terms of the Principle of Restoration Rev. Moon explained, “What was God’s ultimate purpose in guiding the history of restoration? It was the advent of the True Parents.” [6] The concept of the providential necessity of the advent of True Parents implies that their coming is necessary for salvation, restoration and recreation. Moreover, the status and role of both of them in the establishment of Cheon Il Guk, the Nation of Cosmic Peace and Unity, is unique and irreplaceable. Recognizing that True Mother’s leadership fulfills a providential necessity means also acknowledging that if events had unfolded differently, there would have been a major providentially necessary step missing. 


True Mother, Her Position and Person

Since their marriage in 1960, the Unification movement has celebrated Rev. and Mrs. Moon as True Parents. Pictures of them together are the visual focus of its devotional piety and prominently displayed at public occasions. There are countless passages in Rev. Moon’s sermons which speak of the uniqueness and irreplaceability of True Parents, which of course includes True Mother as well as True Father. To explain True Mother’s position fully, the details of the preparation for her birth, her early life including participation at a young age in the Inside the Womb Church, and her course alongside True Father would all be essential aspects. [7] Since the focus here is on True Mother’s leadership, I would like to briefly offer a reflection on the concept of “only-begotten daughter” before turning to True Mother’s preparation for leadership, her role as Queen, and her leadership style.

Reflection on the Meaning of “Only-Begotten Daughter”

In expressing the uniqueness of True Mother, the concept of the “only begotten daughter” (독생녀, 獨生女) has become a central issue. True Mother’s announcement of her status as the “only-begotten daughter” of God is one of the points of debate and division in the Unification movement at present. Although there are important precedents for the use of this term in Rev. Moon’s speeches as early as 1959, it is also true that the concept is novel in terms of typical expressions of Unification theology and polity. Therefore, it requires a careful process of theological exploration and explication. [8]  

The clearest precedent for “only-begotten daughter” is the Christian use of the term “only-begotten son” (독생자, 獨生子) with reference to Jesus. [9] Of course, Unification theology can learn much from the development of Christianity, but there is no necessity for us to duplicate the choices of the Christian theological tradition. If we were to interpret the terminology of “only-begotten” solely within the existing framework of Christian theology, we would be led or even forced towards a primordial interpretation, as the early Christian theologians were. For them, the creedal statement referring to Jesus Christ as the “only begotten son” became “begotten before all worlds.” If Unification theology were to develop along the same lines, the downside of this development would be to make True Father and True Mother into ontologically distant beings, and lead toward the kind of Christological confusions and controversies which have beset Christian theology.

Fortunately, we have the resources of East Asian religious thought to work with as well as the resources of the biblical and Greek traditions. If we utilize the resources of East Asian religious thought, which are primary background sources for True Parents’ teachings, then other possibilities for interpretation emerge. I would like to mention some thoughts about the “only” (독, 獨) in “only-begotten” from the viewpoint of Buddhist and Confucian religious thought.
According to traditional Buddhist sources, at the time Siddhartha Gautama—who would become the Buddha—was born, he took seven steps and spoke the following words:

In heaven and on earth, I alone am the honored one.
(천상천하 유아독존; 天上天下 唯我獨尊).

It sounds like a self-centered claim, but it couldn't be so, because according to the tradition, the Buddha has no self. Therefore, this statement cannot be the result of individualistic self-consciousness or self-promotion, which would be a problem. For Unification theology also, a perfected person is not always asking “what about me?” Instead, such a perfected person asks what he or she can do for the sake of others.

The famous first words of the Buddha, which include독, 獨 (alone, only, solely or uniquely), were often quoted by Rev. Moon. In fact, the Divine Principle text quotes this saying in the section on the value of a person who has fulfilled the purpose of creation:

Every person who has completed the purpose of creation is thus a unique existence in the cosmos. We can thus affirm the truth in the Buddha’s saying, “In heaven and on earth, I alone am the honored one.” [10]

We can say that the term독(獨) in 唯我獨尊means that Buddha is the uniquely awakened one, who then sets out to awaken others. Perhaps True Father as only-begotten son (독생자, 獨生子) and True Mother as only-begotten daughter (독생녀, 獨生女) can be understood in a similar way.

Another significant passage in East Asian religious thought that has the term “only” (獨) is the first chapter of the Confucian Doctrine of the Mean (中庸), which contains the concept of 慎獨 (Ch. shen du) as a characteristic of the noble or profound person. [11] Literally, shen du can be translated as “watchful and careful when alone.” The contemporary Confucian scholar Tu Weiming explains shen du more fully as “vigilant solitariness” even when one is surrounded by others. [12] This Confucian concept of “vigilant solitariness” can also shed light on the nuances of what it means to be “only-begotten” (獨生). Though she has had very little time physically alone since the beginning of her mission, True Mother’s life has been characterized by careful alertness and lonely solitariness.

Preparation for Leadership

As detailed in numerous sermons and public talks, Rev. Moon deliberately raised Mrs. Moon to fulfill her providential and public role as True Mother. He speaks particularly of preparing her during the crucial first seven years of their mission together as the True Parents, from 1960 to 1967. [13] She began her indemnity course from the position of servant of servants, just as Rev. Moon had done earlier. She followed the course laid out for her, and did so consciously, willingly and with determination, even when Rev. Moon scolded her.

To restore the original position of Eve was a world-historical task. According to the patterns of the providence of restoration, there is first the restoration of Adam’s position, and then Eve’s. Since Eve was involved in the more fallen act as well as the less fallen act, [14] there is naturally an asymmetry between the positions of Adam and Eve during the course of restoration.

The complex course walked by True Father and True Mother since 1960 is a theme for careful, extensive and thorough study, beyond the scope of this paper. [15] However the process of restoration is understood, the key point is that True Father and True Mother have stood in equal positions since the time of the 30,000 Couples Blessing in 1992. Rev. Moon explained:

The Blessing of 30,000 couples was an international Blessing. With Father and Mother standing as equals for the first time, this was the formation-stage International Holy Wedding Ceremony for the purpose of planting True Parents’ victorious authority in nations of the world. [16]

From this point about the equal status of True Father and True Mother, many other implications follow. It becomes clear that the victory of an only-begotten daughter, along with the victory of an only-begotten son, was necessary for the True Parents, unique in history and in the cosmos, to be fully established. In that sense, it can be said that True Mother has enabled True Father to complete his messianic mission, which would have been impossible if there had been no one able to fulfill the role of True Mother.

True Mother as Queen

True Mother is not a successor to True Father in terms of leadership; on the contrary, True Mother’s leadership is the continuation of True Parents’ leadership. That continuation was even more edified on Foundation Day, when True Mother appeared in royal robes with crown and scepter. Understanding the providential necessity of True Mother's leadership requires investigating not only her status as True Mother but also as True Queen.
Rev. Moon clearly explained the importance of the position of True Mother as Queen, in the following words:

This daughter [True Mother], who was 17 years old when she was blessed to me, must become the queen (여왕). She must advance to the position of the Queen of the Heavenly Kingdom (하늘나라의 여왕). Therefore, after our Holy Wedding she had to go through the positions of wife, mother and grandmother, and rise up to the position of queen. When I refer to her as True Mother, it is because she is the mother who represents the heavenly nation. When I say she is my wife, it means that she represents the king and therefore must be attended as if attending the king (아내라고 하면 그 아내는 왕 대신의 아내이므로 왕으로 모시는 것입니다). [17]

As is clear from this passage, the title True Queen is not simply an honorific term for the wife of the True King. The concept of True Queen includes within it the qualifications for leadership. In other words, it is providentially important that the Queen (여왕) be able to demonstrate and realize her leadership in actual practice.


Aspects of True Mother’s Leadership

In practice, True Mother’s leadership has ranged over several different areas, such as economics, politics, education, and health. In terms of the traditional three aspects of the messianic mission as prophet, priest and king, her leadership activities can be grouped into three areas: educational (prophetic), ritual (priestly) and executive (king/queenly). Each of these aspects calls for detailed study that is beyond the scope of this paper; they will simply be briefly sketched here.

True Mother’s educational leadership (prophetic)

Rev. Moon often spoke of leadership in terms of fulfilling the Three Great Subject Partners: True Parent, True Teacher, and True Owner. By the time of True Father’s Seonghwa, True Mother had already taken on a central public role of teacher and educator. She proclaimed True Parents’ message in hundreds of cities and countries around the world, beginning in Japan in 1991 and then around the world in 1992. True Mother was thus well prepared by those public speaking tours to be the main spokesperson and teacher for the movement. True Mother has also focused on education-related projects, especially for the second generation. She initiated the Universal Peace Academy and numerous Top Gun workshops for young leaders, and founded the Won-Mo Pyeong-Ae Foundation to sponsor new educational opportunities for the advancement of the second generation. [18]

One of the most important projects in the educational (prophetic) category of leadership has been True Mother’s commissioning of a new publishing endeavor for Cheon Il Guk scriptures. She authorized a committee to undertake revision of the Cheon Seong Gyeong, which developed into the project to publish the three-volume set of new scriptural texts. Rev. Jae-seok Lee describes the beginnings:

On 7.5 in the second year of the heavenly calendar (August 22, 2012), True Mother summoned some early first-generation members. She earnestly explained the need to compile scriptures that contain the teachings, lives and work of True Parents and instructed that the bequeathal project to offer praise and glory to our Heavenly Parent and Rev. Moon start immediately. She asked Chairman Kim Young-hwi to take charge of the project to compile the Cheon Il Guk scripture. [19]

Despite some opposition to this project, now all three Cheon Il Guk scriptural texts have been published in Korean, Japanese and English.

Fulfilling the prophetic and educational aspects, True Mother’s teaching authority is a central feature of her providential leadership. In the exercise of that teaching authority, she has quite naturally provided new clarifications and also new insights into the development of God’s providence in the past, present and future. Under her educational leadership, there are some new emphases, which stimulate and require a measure of adjustment to the ways that Unification theology is thought about, and even to the ways that Divine Principle is taught. Some in the Unification community find these new emphases unsettling or even disturbing, while others find them refreshing and inspiring. This is one of the signs of the major new phase that the movement is in. The community’s understanding of these new emphases will take time to develop and ripen. However, without such new emphases, there would be no clear sign of True Mother’s teaching authority, and so her leadership in this aspect is providentially necessary.  

True Mother's ritual leadership (priestly)

In the category of True Mother’s ritual leadership, we can include her presiding over the Blessing ceremony, making changes to the Family Pledge and to the Blessing Vows, and revising the official Unification holiday calendar to focus on Foundation Day and True Father’s Seonghwa anniversary. All of these actions have affected the general Unification membership widely. She also performed remembrance rituals for True Father on a daily basis, throughout the traditional three years’ mourning and remembrance period. In addition, True Mother conducted the Blessing (Holy Wedding) of the two youngest True Daughters. Although that ceremony was conducted in the presence of a relatively small number of Unification leaders, it has profound implications for the worldwide membership, in the sense that it indicates the ritual embrace of not only all of True Family but all of the Unification family as well.

In her role as ritual or priestly leader, True Mother has conducted the main providential events of True Father’s Seonghwa ceremony and Foundation Day, as well as anniversary celebrations of those key events. In addition, True Mother has been officiating as True Parents at many other rituals, such as the opening of the International Peace Education Center (IPEC) in Las Vegas.

There is background controversy in the Unification movement over the significance of Foundation Day as it was actually celebrated, since the presumption for many years was that Rev. Moon himself would be the main officiant at that ceremony. This issue is linked to the question of whether his Seonghwa was “timely” or “premature.” Some believe that Rev. Moon’s ascension happened at just the right time, and offer all kinds of numerological proofs. Others say that it came too soon, and happened due to specific failures. Both views have merit and supporters. But however members might imagine that Foundation Day would have proceeded with the physical presence of True Father, the undeniable fact is that it did not. The more important point is to ponder the significance of the way in which True Mother actually conducted Foundation Day.

The ritual changes made by True Mother have had the effect of sharpening the debate over her leadership. But new leaders always make changes; it’s natural and unavoidable. Making ritual changes, such as in the wording of the Family Pledge, are acts of True Mother in exercising her leadership, and calling upon the worldwide Unification family to accept those changes is to thereby establishes her leadership in fact. These innovations are a natural expression of her leadership, and a specific call to recognize it by participating in ceremonies led according to True Mother’s ritual standard.

True Mother's executive leadership (king/queenly)

The third main area of True Mother’s leadership, the executive or queenly, has already been touched upon in section three above. Moreover, her initiatives in the educational/prophetic and ritual/priestly areas also entail executive leadership. Beyond those, the principal executive leadership functions that are recognizable at all levels of organization would include visioning, planning, staffing, organizing, and investing resources. True Mother has demonstrated vital leadership in each of these functional domains, centered on her proclamation and consistent advocacy of “Vision 2020” as the direction for the worldwide Unification movement.

Although True Father had initiated many plans for the future and spoken prophetically of events to come even hundreds of years later, his focus on the upcoming Foundation Day as a major watershed in the providence had led some members to think only of short-term goals until that time. Expectations for Foundation Day and its aftermath were so wide-ranging that some members had developed an “interim ethic” mentality, thinking that Foundation Day would change the world in ways that can only be called miraculous, or even apocalyptic. Given that situation, it was highly necessary for True Mother to articulate Vision 2020, a measured vision of the next few years, in a way that could guide the worldwide movement through a period of confusion, disappointment and disorientation.

In addition to providing an empowering vision for the movement, True Mother has developed a careful planning process, based on concise and frank reporting from field leaders. She has been conducting innovative leadership conferences to promote the sharing of views and the fuller participation of young leaders. Indeed, True Mother has been highly proactive in promoting young leadership to insure the vigorous continuation and advancement of the movement. At the same time, she strategically deploys well-trained and seasoned elder leaders in such a way that their skills and talents can be effectively employed and passed on.

It can be said that the ad hoc structure of the Unification movement during the lifetime of Rev. Moon was a combination formed by two distinct elements. On the one hand, it was a collection of temporary expediencies under Rev. Moon’s direct, charismatic leadership, on the way of the realization of the movement’s large-scale vision of the transformation of existing societies. On the other hand, there was also a pragmatic effort to protect Rev. Moon from direct legal liability for the actions of the organizations that he was guiding. The latter element resulted in a complex network of institutional structures that were clearly under Rev. Moon’s authority and direction, but in which he held no official position. This ad hoc structure became unsustainable after Rev. Moon’s passing, and so it was necessary to create a new structure and organization for the movement going forward. The outline of this new structure is found in the Cheon Il Guk Constitution, about which Rev. Moon spoke many times.

Drafting and promulgating the Cheon Il Guk Constitution represents one of True Mother’s most important leadership initiatives. The Cheon Il Guk Constitution outlines six governing bodies: a Supreme Council and five organs or Wons (원, 苑), representing the executive, legislative, judicial, informational and financial functions for the governing of Cheon Il Guk. The nature of the Constitution and the ongoing process of amending and implementing it would be a topic for another investigation. The point here is that True Mother has been presiding over and sponsoring the process of constitutional development and implementation, appointing the first Supreme Council and leaders of the five Wons. It is noteworthy that the Cheon Jae Won, which is responsible for the financial management of the assets of Cheon Il Guk, is one of the constituent branches of governance. Bringing this crucial aspect of the movement into and under the governing structure should provide many benefits in the ways that the movement’s assets are invested in the future. Overall, the Constitution with its governing bodies represents a major step forward in the process of the routinization of charisma mentioned in the introduction to this paper. It also demonstrates True Mother’s wisdom and capability to fulfill the providentially necessary executive role.

True Mother’s Leadership Style

Because True Mother’s leadership has now been demonstrated, Unificationists in the present and the future can know about her leadership style. True Mother’s leadership style is quite different from that of True Father; many Unification members may need some time to get used to it. True Father’s style was very hot and warm, and also earthy. He would draw people to be close to him, to listen to him and watch him for many hours. By contrast True Mother’s style seems cool, and even formal. Yet she is very clear and wise. As the biblical tradition puts it, knowledge or wisdom is feminine. True Mother tells leaders that she wants to know and understand situations clearly, and asks them to report precisely. They must include problems as well as successes, so that she can make a proper decision. Her style is very helpful and beneficial for the movement, but some may not be accustomed to it. At the same time, True Mother leads with deep compassion.


Challenges—an Interpretation

Many factors can be identified as contributing causes to the direct challenges that True Mother’s leadership has faced. Here I will focus only on two conceptual issues, filial piety and the Korean royal tradition, as possible causal factors.

The Problem of Filial Piety (효, 孝)

One of the background issues at this time concerns the strength as well as the limitations of the concept of filial piety (효, 孝). The centrality of filial piety in East Asian culture is widely recognized. [20] Moreover, there are many passages in Rev. Moon's teachings that emphasize the father-son relationship, particularly in relationship to God as Heavenly Father.

A specific Confucian example of filial duty that is relevant to understanding the present controversies in the Unification movement is that a filial son should not make changes to his father’s ways for three years after the father has passed on. According to Confucius, “If for three years he makes no change from the ways of his father, he may be called filial.” [21] According to this tradition, it is a son’s duty not to make changes for at least three years. Thus, from a son’s point of view, objections to changes made during the three-year mourning period for Rev. Moon would have the backing of centuries of Confucian moral sensibility.

Filial piety is indeed a strong cultural virtue in East Asia, especially in Korea. On the other hand, the classical Confucian tradition offers only the vague and problematic “distinction of duties or functions” (별, 别) as the key virtue of the husband and wife relationship. [22] Very little is said in Confucianism of the emotional content of the husband-wife relationship. At best, the ontology of East Asian philosophy supports a concept of reciprocity between husband and wife, based on the yin-yang model, but reciprocity by itself can be emotionally cold. The Buddhist tradition also, with its emphasis on celibacy as a path of spiritual discipline, is lacking in persuasive accounts of relational love and virtue between husband and wife. The way that True Parents teach about the relationship between husband and wife, emphasizing true conjugal love, is the missing ingredient for both east and west.

A lack of attention to the married couple relationship, coupled with a one-sided emphasis on filial piety toward the father (instead of toward both father and mother), produces the well-known patriarchal pattern in East Asian culture. The gospel of True Parents, with its emphasis on the fulfillment of true love in the oneness of husband and wife, is desperately needed. Based on that gospel, when the husband-wife relationship is properly placed at the center, filial piety will also be adjusted to its proper position. Interestingly in this regard, it was actually True Mother, rather than any of the sons, who performed the graveside ceremonies at True Father’s Bon Hyang Won, as well as other remembrance rituals during the three-year mourning period specified in traditional Confucian texts on filial piety.

The Problem of the Royal Model

Another powerful and relevant component of East Asian culture is the royal tradition. In the royal traditions of Korea, as elsewhere in the world, the kingship passed to the crown prince when the king passed on. The traditional royal paradigm of succession—from father king to crown prince—generally bypasses and sidelines the queen. The queen is primarily the mother of the heir (note the precedence of the lineal over the spousal relationship, which could be minimal). As mother-of-the-heir, she may have some status, but is not supposed to meddle in the affairs of governance. This is essentially the view held by some who have been opposed to True Mother’s leadership. [23]

This royal tradition has been so firmly entrenched in the culture of Korea that its re-enactment in the Unification movement seems to some to be a matter of natural succession. If so, any resistance to that succession would be seen as lèse majesté, a crime of violating majesty. Thus, the fundamental point of the objections voiced by some to True Mother’s actions (changes to the Family Pledge, new scriptural compilation, etc.) is not at root the specific actions that True Mother has taken, but the very fact that she is taking actions at all. Arguments over specific actions may tend to obscure this fundamental point.

But the entrenchment of that traditional royal paradigm is precisely the point at issue. That paradigm has been in existence for thousands of years. If the True Parents brought nothing new in this regard, if they were simply refilling the old model by seeking to replace older royal families with a new one, that model of messiahship would be seriously flawed.  By contrast, once the providentially essential point of the unity of True Father and True Mother in absolute true love is recognized and upheld, we can see that True Mother’s leadership does not represent a succession at all. It is the continuation of True Parents’ fulfillment of one true kingship.

If there had been no period of True Mother’s actual leadership of the providence, then Unificationists could very well have misunderstood this aspect of the significance of the True Parents. In most kingdoms within the fallen world’s history, only the king really counts, and the reign passes from father to son to grandson under the best of circumstances or otherwise to another male heir. That fallen system is already well-represented in the kingdoms of this world. Instead, the true model for true kingship is the one found in the original ideal of the Principle of Creation:

Adam and Eve would then be elevated to the heavenly palace and heavenly throne where God would dwell in their hearts as the King and Queen (왕 과 왕후) to rule over (통치, 統治) the earthly and incorporeal worlds. In other words, God’s kingdom is established. This kingdom is the kingdom of love. [24]

This model is so clearly expressed in True Parents’ teaching that it is surprising to find it being challenged at this time.


Some Consequences and Significance

As demonstrated throughout this paper, there are many reasons for describing True Mother’s leadership at this time as providentially necessary. The argument here is not based on a shallow politically or ideologically motivated insistence that women should be in leadership as a matter of “fairness” or “equality,” but rather on True Mother’s personal preparation and providential capability. On the other hand, Rev. Moon predicted (or perhaps proclaimed) the age of women’s leadership, including but not limited to the Women’s Federation for World Peace. The following is an example from Rev. Moon’s words:

We live in a time when women can move the world for God’s providence of restoration. This indicates that the time has come when Eve can emerge to restore the world. This Eve is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit and the representative of all women on earth. She must become a true wife and a true mother; then she must become a true queen. Therefore, she will be equipped with the qualities to become such a person. Her character will be such that she can take responsibility for all three of these roles, and more. God has sought for such a woman, who can become a true mother, a true wife, a true queen, and more. [25]

Even so, many Unification members apparently did not expect women’s leadership to happen in fact, and therefore were not expecting a woman to lead the movement.

However, as mentioned earlier, if the movement did not have this period of True Mother’s actual leadership, then the nature and strengths of her leadership would not be known. Moreover, the long-established pattern in both religious and political spheres of the domination of women by men and the assumption that women are not capable or deserving to be leaders, would not have been broken through and transcended. We would be stuck with something like the ancient Hindu Laws of Manu, wherein a woman is controlled by her father, then her husband, and then her son. [26]

As Rev. Moon said many times, one of his major providential accomplishments was to raise and establish Mrs. Moon as True Mother. Would it make sense now to try to undo that accomplishment, to set us back into the New Testament age, or even the Old Testament age? The point of today’s providence is to establish a different platform, one which is not based on the consequences of the Fall.

In this respect, as well as many others, the Unification movement at this point is better off under True Mother’s leadership than it would be under any of her sons’ leadership, as capable as they may be. It has to be so, for otherwise there would be an essential dimension of the teaching and example of True Parents that would be missing. Just as in a nuclear family, so in the universal family encompassing heaven and earth (천주대가족, 天宙大家族), with the passing of one parent the other parent picks up the responsibility, solely and fully. We should all be very grateful that True Mother is still with us, healthy and strong.

It is time for the Unification membership to develop “personal” relationships with True Mother, just as they did with True Father. Many of those personal relationships with True Father were not built on direct physical contact, but rather on spiritual or heartistic contact through study and prayer, which also led to dreams and other manifestations of spiritual connection. Members’ personal relationships with True Mother may be of a different quality than relationships with True Father, because their personal styles are very different. However, the point is to experience aspects of divine love in and through both True Parents. The more fully we are able to do this as a spiritual community, the more smoothly we will pass through the current turbulent period in our history.



True Mother’s leadership, as she explains, fundamentally consists in embracing everything:

My life has been like an ocean. The ocean can generously embrace and unite with the sky and resemble its color. It is in the lowest place, where it accepts all the water of the world. The ocean embraces everything and conceives all life. In the ocean all varieties of living things are born and raised in abundance. Its tides ebb and flow in response to the pull of the moon and the changing seasons. It responds to the rays of the sun, creates water vapor and influences the weather. A calm ocean is peaceful on the surface, but deep inside enormous currents that move the ocean are constantly surging. When waves of a tsunami rage, they can swallow everything.

People cannot see the whirlpool beneath the surface. Heaven’s providence has surged like a typhoon, and my life has unfolded in the midst of it. There are so many circumstances that cannot be spoken of, which only I understand from the center of the providence. Crossing over that whirlpool, not allowing it to pull me down, I joined Father in the work to complete the providential history of restoration. [27]

True Mother’s description in this passage can be likened to a Taoist understanding of leadership, which explicitly recommends leaders being like the ocean, excelling by taking the lower position and receiving the waters from all rivers and valleys. [28] Perhaps it was prophetically said of True Parents by the author of the Tao Te Ching, “The entire world delights in promoting them, and never tires of doing so. Is it not because they strive without contentiousness (무쟁, 無爭) that no one in the world is able to contend with them?” [29]

True Mother has said not to worry about issues with the True Children, but rather to become more loving families and communities, and become active Heavenly tribal messiahs. In this way, she expresses her most basic and enduring leadership role as True Mother of Heaven, Earth and Humankind. The opportunity provided by the current challenges to her leadership can stimulate the Unification community as a whole to proclaim True Parents all the more vigorously and effectively. In the process, True Mother’s providentially necessary leadership will be recognized and fulfilled.



[1] For an account of True Father’s Seonghwa, see True Family and the Seonghwa Ceremony by William P. Selig, published through (ISBN 1300715413, 9781300715412).

[2] For an explanation of Weber’s notion of routinization of charisma, see Richard Swedberg and Ola Agevall, The Max Weber Dictionary: Key Words and Central Concepts (Stanford University Press, 2005), p. 31.

[3] Only one major world religion was led, in part, by a member of the founder’s family, namely Islam. The Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali became an early central figure of the developing Muslim movement, and his partisans (Shi’ites) felt that he should have been in leadership directly after the prophet’s passing. Comparison of early Muslim dynamics with those currently in the Unification movement would be a fruitful topic for exploration. As for the other traditions, leadership passed to a prominent disciple. In no case among the major religions was there a wife who assumed the leadership, nor a son or daughter as immediate offspring.

[4] Cheon Seong Gyeong (Seoul: Seong Hwa Publishing, 2013), p. 137. [Here abbreviated CSG]

[5] CSG, p. 139.

[6] CSG, p. 141.

[7] There is a wealth of material on these topics in the newly published Chambumo Gyeong (Seoul: Seong Hwa Publishing, 2015). Dr. Jin Choon Kim recently prepared a summary of these topics as a helpful reference, scheduled to be released shortly.

[8] See Andrew Wilson, “The Only-Begotten Daughter,”, as well as the comments his blog article has generated.

[9] John 3.16:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (KJV). See also John 1:18, John 3:18, and 1 John 4:9.

[10] Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, 1996), p. 164. The footnote says, “The first words attributed to the Buddha after his birth. Ch’ang A-han ching, T 1.1.4c1-2; Mahapadana Suttana, Digha-nikaya ii.15.”

[11] The full phrase in Chapter 1 of the Doctrine of the Mean is 故君子慎其獨也.

[12] Tu Wei-ming, Centrality and Commonality: An Essay on Confucian Religiousness (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989), p. 109.

[13] Among other sources, see particularly Chambumo Gyeong 1.2.3., pp. 88-96.

[14] See the account of the Human Fall in two stages in Exposition of the Divine Principle, pp. 63-65.

[15] The topics to be researched and considered would include ways to reconcile the accounts of this period that have been given by True Father and by True Mother.

[16] CSG, p. 522. This passage also appears in the old Cheon Seong Gyeong (Seoul: Seong Hwa Publishing, 2006), p. 1322: “The year I conducted the 30,000 Couples Blessing was the year that Mother stepped forth as a public figure. This was an international Blessing. For the first time, the True Parents were able to stand on an equal footing and hold the international Blessing in the formation stage, so that it could spread out to all nations in the world.”

[17] Chambumo Gyeong, p. 206 (Book, 593-216, 2008 06 16)

[18] According to its website, the Won-Mo Pyeong-Ae Foundation has five main functions: awarding merit scholarships for Unificationist undergraduate and high-school students, creating educational support programs, carrying out commemoration projects including the Sun-Hak Peace Awards, making social contribution awards, and sponsoring scientific research on the topic of peace.

[19] Lee Jae-seok, “Cheon Il Guk Scripture Project,”, accessed October 26, 2015.

[20] Virtually any account of East Asian culture, especially in Korea, will discuss the importance of filial piety. For a comparison of the Confucian concept of filial piety with the Four Great Realms of Heart model of human relationships found in True Parents teaching, see my article, “Confucianism on America’s Sacred Ground” in Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America's Sacred Ground, edited by Barbara A. McGraw and Jo Renee Formicola, (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2005), especially p. 50.

[21] Analects 1:11. See Edward Slingerland’s translation with commentary in Analects: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett, 2010), p. 5.

[22] According to Mencius’ description of the five basic human relationships in Mencius 3A.4, the idea of 夫妻有别 is something like division of labor between husband and wife. For a discussion of this passage, see Chenyang Li, The Sage and the Second Sex: Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender (Chicago: Open Court, 2000), p. 14f.

[23] A ceremonial event in the Unification movement that appears to fit this traditional royal paradigm was held three times in January 2009. It is clear from the fact that the event was held twice on the same day (January 31) on two different continents that True Parents placed great significance on this ceremony. The issue is not with the fact of the ceremony, but rather with the interpretation of its meaning.

[24] The older Cheon Seong Gyeong, p. 58; Korean, p. 50 (143-93, 1986.3.16).

[25] Chambumo Gyeong, p. 45 (Book

[26] Many similar examples from religions around the world can be found in Serinity Young, editor, An Anthology of Sacred Texts By and About Women (New York: Crossroad, 1993).

[27] Chambumo Gyeong, 13.4.28, pp. 1577-78, “The Settlement of Cheon Il Guk and Our Path,” given at Cheong Jeong Gung, Dec. 6, 2013.

[28] See Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapters 28, 61 and especially 66.

[29] Tao Te Ching, chapter 66, in Roger Ames and David Hall, Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation (Ballantine Books, 2010), p. 181.