Founder’s Address to the Fourth God Conference and the Youth Seminar on World Religions
Sun Myung Moon
August 11, 1984
Read by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak. [Rev. Moon was unable to attend. He was in Danbury prison]
Honorable Chairperson, distinguished scholars and clergy, participants in the Youth Seminar on World Religions, ladies and gentlemen:
I welcome you to Korea, the site of the fourth conference on God: The Contemporary Discussion, and the final destination of the third annual Youth Seminar on World Religions.
It is natural and appropriate for the God conference and the Youth Seminar to be convening together here in Korea. Korea has historically been a unique meeting place of the world’s religions. Here, Buddhism and Confucianism took deep root, maintaining harmony with each other in the context of the native Korean Tan-gun tradition and Korean folk belief. This year of 1984 marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Catholicism, and the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Protestantism and the flourishing of Christianity in Korea.
Within our culturally homogeneous society, tremendous religious coexistence and cross-fertilization have occurred, and the precepts of these diverse religious traditions are embedded together in the people and society of the “Hermit Kingdom.” From this soil has sprung the Unification movement, a movement seeking this unity-within-diversity on the worldwide level, striving to establish a world of love, sympathy and harmony based on the religious affirmation of the familyhood of all people under our common parent, God.
Blueprint of an Ideal World
To create the world of this ideal we must have an overall model or blueprint. An important Unification image is that of a mature or perfected person with unity of mind and body. The highest ideals and purposes spring from the mental and spiritual life of a person centered on God. The nervous system transmits the directives of the mind to the cells and relays information from the physical body back to the mind. When this exchange occurs smoothly we say that the individual is in harmony. The mental and spiritual life of humanity can be likened to the mind, and the economic life of humanity to the body. The spiritual ideals, aspirations, and love of God manifest socially through religion, and around this religious essence theology, philosophy, art and all culture revolve; their material base is the substantial reality, the life of all people. Religious thinkers and theological and philosophical thinkers, then, are a central nervous system, transmitting, interpreting and developing impulses from God for the whole body of humanity.
I view religious leaders and scholars as being of crucial importance for the betterment of the world and for the creation of a new cultural revolution. Throughout history such leaders have always been the vanguard of culture in the rise of Christianity and the world of Islam; with the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment.
Today, however, along with the unprecedented success of science and technology we also have unprecedented modern problems. Religion often fails to speak to the realistic problems of the modern world, and those taking the lead in social change are often under the anti-religious banner of communism. But communism welcomes violence as the means for change; it ultimately denies God, turns against religions, and tries to restrict our perspective to the material world.
I know that many supporters of communism have high ideals and are working beyond the scope of nation, race and culture; but their energy and idealism must be complemented by God-centered thought and action. Accordingly, the world needs religious leaders and scholars as sacrificial pioneers. The God Conference, the Youth Seminar on World Religions, and all the activities of the International Religious Foundation exist as a forum and structure for the fulfillment of this ideal.
As individuals, you are called to a renewed dedication of yourselves and your disciplines to the world. As representatives of the world’s religions, you are called to bring your churches, mosques, synagogues, shrines and temples into a cooperative unity for the sake of world peace and human freedom, centered on God. Many people ask what religions can do in this secular age. I answer. The world’s religions must provide a stable, universal foundation of values upon which governments can build true peace and harmony, science and technology can be fully utilized for the happiness of mankind, and the world’s cultures can be purified, shared and exalted.
Truly, the ideal I am espousing is nothing other than the Kingdom of God on earth. I see it as a realistic goal toward which we can realistically work. People have been telling me that I am too utopian. I recognize that I am extremely idealistic, but I have no alternative: God has called me directly, personally, to this task and responsibility.
I have been concentrating not only on teaching people about the ideal of God, but also on promoting the accomplishment of that ideal on earth. It is for this purpose that I have dedicated all of my activities, such as missionary work, education, challenges to communist ideology, the ecumenical movement, social services, etc. Among these, I put greatest emphasis on the ecumenical movement.
A major problem that humanity faces today is the lack of spiritual unity, both within Christianity with its various denominations, and among and within each of the world’s religions. Despite all efforts to the contrary, division and animosities among various religious groups continue. Religious wars are still waged, as they have for centuries. In spite of the various movements toward ecumenism, it remains true that religious arrogance, intolerance and bigotry are still prevalent among devout believers. Thus, although most religions have professed the same God and often even the same views for centuries, followers of those great religious traditions have continually persecuted and warred with one another.
We must realize that God is beyond denominationalism, doctrinalism and factionalism. God’s purpose is, and always has been, to save the entire world, and not merely a certain race, nation or religious group. As religious people, we cannot help God in the task of salvation when there is fighting and animosity among ourselves. Many religious leaders are aware of this, but for numerous reasons it has been difficult to change that reality.
The essence of my teaching is that inter-religious harmony is a necessary condition for world peace. Since no single religion has manifested God completely, diversity and differences of religion have been inevitable. Yet, as many great religious leaders have taught, because we are all children of the same Heavenly Parent we are all brothers and sisters in the one great family, and inter-religious conflict and divisive hatred are unnecessary.
In my years of spiritual search and struggle I encountered God many times, and I also spiritually encountered the founders of all the world’s great religions. I feel the continual presence and inspiration of God every day of my life. Without God, how would it have been possible for a man born in an isolated farming village in a small, oppressed and destitute nation to now be able to sponsor and address this august assembly of the world’s religious leaders? I testify that the teachings of the Unification movement, its goals, and all its projects, are the result of God’s direction to me. They are not my personal theory and activity; they are God’s.
Parliament of World Religions In 1993
The International Religious Foundation is planning to sponsor a Parliament of World Religions in 1993. That Parliament will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1893 World Parliament of Religion held in Chicago in conjunction with the first World’s Fair. Prior to the 1993 event, two preparatory meetings will be convened, one in mid-November 1985 near New York City, and the other sometime in 1989. Each of these gatherings will bring together more than 700 spiritual teachers, scholars, lay leaders, artists and young people. It is hoped that the three planned events will lead to other such programs in the future.
The 1993 Parliament of World Religions and the two preparatory meetings are designed to provide a new environment for global ecumenical contacts. The objective is to move toward disclosing the universal principles that underlie all life throughout the world and to promote with equal vigor the fullest diversity of its possible expressions. In so doing the Parliament will seek to advance and develop the aims of international peace and harmony for which the world yearns. Participants will be offered an opportunity to share their perspectives on our present spiritual condition and on the challenges of our present age.
The purpose of the Parliament will not be to legislate, either politically or doctrinally, but to promote mutual respect among the world’s religions and to foster inter-religious cooperation on projects initiated by them. The overall theme will be the renewal of spirituality and the establishment of world peace under God, and a variety of other questions will also be discussed.
I thank you for coming. I hope this conference will be centered not on human thoughts about God but on God’s original ideal. I truly believe that your study and discussion will bring about tremendous progress in bringing God’s ideal into reality upon the earth.