Date: Aug 27, 2007 12:44 AM
Subject: The issue of the Holocaust, Islam and the causes of suffering
Thank you for your e-mail and I apologize for not replying sooner.
You are right in that I am not an official spokesperson of the Family Federation for World Peace or any other official Unificationist entity. The opinions expressed on my web site Unification.net and the World Ties mailing list are my own and not necessarily representative of the church, or Unification movement. I speak and write based on my understanding of Rev. Moon’s teaching, and based on my understanding of God and life and the Bible. However, I have been a disciple of Rev. Moon for 30 years as of this month, and I have read a great deal of the writings of Rev. Moon, and heard him speak first hand on numerous occasions. Still, it would appear that I owe you and my readers an explanation.
For one thing, I was shooting from the hip when I referred to Islam as a “barbaric religion”. What would more closely represent the truth, in my opinion, is that Islam has been hijacked by an extremist element which is barbaric, who seek to kill innocents whom they regard as “infidels and crusaders”, enemies of their faith. But there are millions of well meaning civilized decent Muslims in the world. Similar barbarism and shameful acts have been committed in the name of Christ in Christian history, with sordid episodes like the Spanish Inquisition, the burning of heretics and witches, the Crusades, and the selling of indulgences to build palatial monuments to the faith. Islam in the past had a golden age of civilization in which art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy flourished, and religious minorities were permitted to live in their midst without fear. The Islamic world had noble and enlightened rulers, such as the great Salah al-Din Yusuf (Saladin), who was a Kurd who just happens to come from the same home town as Saddam Hussein, namely Tikrit in modern day Iraq. The status of religious minorities in Islamic society today is certainly a cause for concern, and they appear to be second class citizens or even persecuted minorities in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and many other Islamic countries.
Going back to your follow up question, you ask, “What historical act of barbarism that has ever happened in history was not “permitted” by God?”. You are right. God permits humans free will, so as a result, humans do good and evil unimpeded by God. If you look at the history of Israel for example, there are many examples of God abandoning His people to their enemies when they did evil in His sight, and when they did well, He raised up a champion to rescue His people. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, Philistines and others were perennial foes. When the Israelites lost their faith in God and pursued idolatry and other pagan ways, then they were defeated at the hands of their enemies. But when they lived righteously, then heroes like Samson, Gideon, David, and others, were raised up to defeat their foes.
I would say that there are at least two ways one can look at personal and national suffering. In one case, we are paying a price for our sins or those of our countrymen and ancestors. That is what one would say is atonement for past wrongs. The US Civil War would fall into this category. It was atonement for the sin of slavery. 618,000 people died in the US Civil War, more than all the other wars of the United States combined, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. The Holocaust would also fall into this category. While the people who died in the Holocaust were not personally guilty, they bore the price of the sin of their ancestors and countrymen, who killed Jesus, who was God’s ultimate champion to usher in God’s Kingdom on Earth. Jesus died because of the sins of others, and on their behalf. He loved and forgave his enemies and showed such an example of love that, according to Rev. Moon, even Satan grieved when this love was gone from the world, even though Satan was the one who brought about his death.
Once the Jewish people paid the ultimate price of the Holocaust, God raised them up as a nation once again in 1948, after 2000 years of wandering in the wilderness as a people. God loves Israel and the Jewish people.
Then there is another case where God allows good people to suffer, because he wants them to develop a deeper heart and understanding so that they can help others. This case would be suffering on behalf of others, for the sake of a greater mission. I would say that the suffering of Korea and of Rev. Moon fall into this latter category. Jesus also suffered in his life, not for his own sin, but for the sake of the world. The book of Hebrews says:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Jesus was made perfect through his suffering and his obedience, and became a source of salvation for others. The book of Proverbs tells us that God disciplines the ones He loves, as a father who loves his son:
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12
The same applies to us. If I have suffered a great deal, and take that suffering with a good attitude, and learn to have compassion and empathy for others as a result, then I become able to help others who go through suffering in a way that nobody else can. So, it is often the fate of Godly people to suffer for the sake of others. And through their suffering, they become a source of healing for all suffering people. God allows those whom He loves to suffer, because He trusts them to use that experience to help others. Only through suffering can we understand God, because His concern is always with those who suffer the most, as a father whose concern naturally goes to those of his children who are suffering the most.
When reading the pronouncements of Korean Unificationists, it is important to keep in mind that misunderstandings sometimes occur due to language and cultural barriers. I hope my clarification is of value to you. I am sorry I took so long to respond, but I find that I have to be in the right frame of mind to write.
On July 9, 2007, WJ wrote:
Thank you for your response.
Look, I am not an antagonist to the Unification Church. I have, in fact, in the past, participated in a few of your programs. But this speech is an absolute killer to all your efforts to bring peace, in the middle east, and in all areas. Most civilized people in today’s world, would consider this speech to be anti-semitic toward both Jews and Islamics. And in fact, if this speech were made public I doubt that any Jew or Islamic person would have anything at all to do with you. Yet there you all are holding peace conferences in the middle east, etc. Looks like duplicity.
Perhaps you are not the person I should be corresponding with, though you maintain an expansive and helpful web site, and are quite obviously sincere. I assume you are not a spokesperson for FFWPI. Still, perhaps you can help me to understand.
I would ask: what historical act of barbarism that has ever happened in history was not “permitted” by God? How about the Korean war, for example, millions died (mostly Koreans), was there not an historical basis for that? Was this tragedy not “permitted” by God? There must have been an historical failure by the Koreans associated with that, right? Would it not also be true that the reason Rev. Moon was tortured and imprisoned was due to a historical failure of some kind on his part? Otherwise, why did God let it happen? Surely God would not have permitted this to happen if he had not done something wrong, right? Please distinguish his case from the Jews, if you can.
On July 8, 2007 Damian J. Anderson wrote:
Rev. Moon is saying that because the Jewish people killed Jesus, there was an historical basis for evil to attack them, and even God could not stop it. God permitted it. God sent Jesus on a mission to start a world of God’s ideal and from him could have come an advanced civilization of goodness, justice and prosperity. Instead he was lynched by his own people, and they had a liability due to that. The Holocaust was barbarism in return for barbarism. The Jewish people went from being the chosen people to hounded vagabonds due to their crime.
As for Islam, if Christianity had done its job in spreading the teachings and practices of Jesus, a barbaric religion like Islam would not have come about. The failures of Christianity gave rise to Islam in the 7th century and to Communism in the mid 19th century, and we see it manifested today as widespread unbelief, materialism and socialism under the misnomer of liberalism.
There is nothing so despised as a religious hypocrite. So if people espouse high ideals, but the example of their lives is shameful, then they become the butt of anger, ridicule and even violence. Sadly, that is the way of the world.
So sorry, but I am not willing to repudiate what Rev. Kwak or Rev. Moon said.
On July 7, 2007, WJ wrote:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I did a web search recently and ran across an article on a Unification Church web site which greatly offended me, and which I have no doubt would offend about every other person who reads it.
This was a speech given by the current President of FFWPI, Chung Hwan Kwak, who, according to Wikipedia, is also the president or director of virtually every organization associated with the Unification Church. I reproduce below the offending language, and I would ask your organization to issue an express public repudiation of it.
Thank you for your response.
The Meaning of the Nation of the 4th Israel (1)
Chung Hwan Kwak
November 10, 2003
… At the Seoul Declaration, Father gave a speech of encouragement titled “The Owner of Re-Creation.” It is the internal and essential speech focusing on the center of the providence.
In particular, it includes many difficult contents for religious leaders to accept. For example: 1) Judaism committed a historical sin in front of Jesus, so Jewish people experienced the Holocaust under Hitler. Without God’s permission, would it really have been possible for Hitler to do such a massacre? 2) Islam is a religion which originally should not have come into being. 3) There are a lot of things which Christianity could not fulfill their responsibility for. 4) God’s marriage registration and God’s birth registration, etc. There was a splendid array of world leaders at Father’s speech. I felt that no one would have stayed quietly upon listening to Father’s speech which nobody ever understands. However, even if they could not understand details, they understood Father’s general idea and achievements, and they yielded to Father’s achievements.
(from October issue of the monthly magazine, “Tongil Segye” in Korea)