Let us now look at another aspect of the Divine nature. In the Old Testament, Judaism emphasized the importance of an individual’s ties to his family and his nation. No one, the Jews insist, comes into God’s presence alone. When you find yourself with God, you discover that you are always with other people. Hence, God is never a private God. When He is your Heavenly Father, He is always “Our Father” at the same time. In other words, man lives in togetherness with others. No one is supposed to exist in isolation. Ultimately, God is not really interested in us as individuals. He is primarily interested in us as part of a larger community. As persons we constitute a unique network of relationships. We discover God in and through those relationships. In relating to one another on the most personal level we also encounter God. We should never think, I am what I am. Actually, I am because of you. All that I am is determined by what others are. We have our being in community.
Nevertheless, Unification theology goes far beyond a religion based upon social solidarity. Even though God is always our universal Father, it is possible to have a very private relationship with Him. A theology of polarity makes love central. Reinhold Niebuhr insisted that love is and has to be limited to direct person-to-person contacts. We simply cannot relate to a whole group with the closeness experienced toward specific individuals. 28 So our fellowship with God can be and should be based upon heart-to-heart contacts. That is why our likeness to God has been compared to the oneness of a husband and wife.
Look at this problem from another angle. When we first define the nature of God we usually describe Him as the Creator. He is God because He is the maker of heaven and earth. Or to quote Divine Principle, God is the universal prime energy. For this reason Tillich defines God as “the ground of being.” He is the creative source of everything which exists. According to Unification theology, God is more than simply the perpetual, self-generating energy which brings the whole creation into existence and is responsible for its maintenance.
Unification theology specifically reaffirms the very personal nature of God. When seen from the inside, our universe reveals the existence of a God of heart. God is not just “a Power that makes for righteousness,” 29 Not simply “the unmoved Mover” of Aristotle’s metaphysics. Not omnipotent Will. Not cosmic orderliness and natural law. Even if all of these terms tell us something about God, they do not point out His most important characteristic: the divine heart.
In our time, many religious people find it difficult to accept the idea that God is personal. “Isn’t that too anthropomorphic?” they ask. Because we are persons we try to remake the whole vast universe in a human image. Surely the nature of the cosmic process is as far superior to men’s understanding of it as an elephant’s view is different from that of an ant. What right then do we have to measure the universe by our petty human standards?
Suppose we grant that God’s nature is far more exalted than our own. We still have to measure Him by the highest we know. When we describe God as a person, we are admitting that He is like the best we can imagine. 30 By contrast, those who deny the personality of God often tend to explain His nature in less than human terms: as an impersonal cosmic force, for example.
Once we decide to ascribe to God qualities like our own, we face another problem. What human characteristics are the best? Since the time of the ancient Greek philosophers, man’s nobility has been defined in terms of his reason. Reason makes us akin to the gods, it was said. But this is a highly intellectualist definition of the self. Isn’t there something greater about man than his ability to think?
Divine Principle claims that the heart is more fundamental than the mind. It is not so much what we think but how we feel that makes a man truly human. We are praised or judged by the depth and range of our emotions rather than how much we know. For this reason, the New Testament puts love at the top of the list of virtues, even higher up than faith.
Of the great modern Protestant theologians, Schleiennacher stressed the religion of heart. For him faith is not doctrine as the Lutheran scholastics claimed, nor is it simply ethics as Kant maintained. Faith is a warm living relationship between man and God. Religion is the intuition and feeling of absolute dependence, the experience of God-consciousness and becoming one with the infinite in the midst of the finite. 31
If the heart symbolizes the inner core of human personality, then God should be thought of in similar terms. Above all else, He is a God of heart. What does this mean? It means that our understanding of God must be based on an appreciation of human feelings. God feels at least as deeply as we feel. He is at least as sensitive to what goes on in the world as we are. If He is a God of heart, then He experiences the whole range of emotions from loneliness and intense grief to wonderful joy. If He is forgiving, He is also wounded by pain. God can love and express righteous indignation. Consequently, because God is a God of heart, He must be profoundly affected by everything which takes place in His creation.
This explains why Unification thought, like process theology, refuses to define God as simply almighty and all-knowing. 32 The conventional meanings of these attributes ignore the fact of polarity. God is not omnipotent. His power is far greater than man’s but it is limited by His own nature and His cosmic laws. God is not free to violate His essential relatedness because that is part of His very being. Also, man was created in such a way that he can restrict God’s purpose. Our responsiveness can determine the effectiveness of God’s acts in history. As Jesus showed, if a man does not have faith even God cannot heal his sickness. Man’s response to the divine initiative can either frustrate or bring to fruition the intent of God. God’s will can be hindered for a time when we do not act responsibly. However, we can be certain that God will ultimately triumph. His method of persuasion will eventually win men over to His side so that the purpose of creation will be realized.
Nor is God completely all-knowing. His omniscience, like His omnipotence, has to be qualified by man’s free will. God does not know everything that will happen because even though He wills some result it cannot take place if we do not cooperate. Yet God is omniscient in one very important respect. He knows all possibilities. Nothing we may do ever surprises Him. 33
Most of the world’s great faiths have given some recognition to the heart of God. One can find it expressed in Hasidic Judaism, Sufi Islam, bhakti Hinduism and some forms of Mahayana Buddhism. At the same time modern religions have often opposed belief in the God of heart in the name of reason or divine transcendence. Therefore by highlighting the centrality of heart in our understanding of God and man, Divine Principle makes a profound contribution to modern theology.
About the Author, Dr. Young Oon Kim
Dr. Young Oon Kim was born in 1915 on Hwang-Hae Island in Korea. After she graduated in Theology from Kanzai University in Japan she became professor of Christology at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul. In 1948 she received a Master’s degree in Theology from Emanuel College, Toronto University and in December of the same year an Honorary Doctor’s degree in Humanism from Richard College.
From 1975 on she taught Systematic Theology at the Graduate School of the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York [and later at the Sung Hwa Theological Seminary in Korea]. Some of her most important publications are: Unification Theology and Christian Thought, Divine Principle and its Application, World Religions Volume I, II, and III, Unification Theology, An Introduction to Theology, and The Types of Modern Theology.