Dr. Andrew Wilson (UTS Class of 1978) is Professor of Scriptural Studies at Unification Theological Seminary. He edited World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts and World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon.
Recently, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (True Mother) has been making a point of designating herself by the title “Only Begotten Daughter.” This term designates her special status among all human beings in history by lifting up her unique relationship with God that preceded her position as True Parent.
The title is founded upon Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s words, where on several occasions he spoke of True Mother as such. Therefore, on his authority, there should be no disputing True Mother’s declaration that she is the Only Begotten Daughter.
Also, True Mother finds this title appropriate to her own life experience. She testifies in the Chambumo Gyeong that throughout her early life she felt God’s special love. When True Mother was born, her mother, Hong Soon-ae (Daemonim), had a dream in which the late Rev. Kim Seong-do, founder of the Holy Lord Church, came to her and told her to raise her with special care because she was not her own but God’s daughter. When she was six, after Rev. Heo Ho-bin, founder of the Inside the Womb Church, had been imprisoned, Rev. Heo’s mother took her aside and gave her a special blessing, saying, “You are Heaven’s bride.” From a very early age, Mother knew she had been born with a special destiny and identity.
Those experiences made True Mother who she is, long before she met True Father. Hence, when True Father first met her, he said, “Heavenly Parent, I’m so grateful that You could present to me such a precious daughter.”
During the 52 years True Parents were married, True Mother could rely on being objective to True Father. But after True Father ascended, she found it necessary to make the point that she also stands on her own foundation.
The title, Only Begotten Daughter, serves this purpose. With it, she expresses her determination to stand on her own. It also gave her strength to overcome the many trials that came upon her after she became True Mother. It is thus a fitting description of who she is.
Nevertheless, the title has stirred up a storm of controversy within the Unification movement. Therefore, it behooves us to investigate the theological issues around the term Only Begotten Son, and by extension, Only Begotten Daughter.
In Christian theology, the term Only Begotten Son is used of Jesus Christ to mean he was not begotten by a human father, but directly by God. The basis for Christian belief that God Himself begat Jesus was the virgin birth. That Jesus was conceived by God is as old as the Apostles’ Creed: “Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” The Nicene Creed goes further in making a sharp distinction between Jesus’ miraculous birth and the birth of ordinary human beings with the words, “Begotten, not made.”
Nevertheless, Unificationists believe Jesus had a human father, and that the virgin birth is rather a metaphor for the special condition that Mary made at Jesus’ conception. This means we should not rely upon traditional Christian concepts when trying to understand the meaning of the terms Only Begotten Son and Only Begotten Daughter in Unification theology.
The Principle’s Basis for Asserting Jesus is God’s Only Begotten Son and True Mother is God’s Only Begotten Daughter
The only two human beings who were directly begotten of God were Adam and Eve; God formed them of the material of the earth and breathed into them of His own spirit (Gen. 2:7). The viewpoint of the Principle is that no human beings other than Adam and Eve will ever be created directly from God. Everyone else is a descendant of Adam and Eve, and thus not begotten of God, but rather a second, third or fourth-generation descendant of God.
That is how things were meant to be had Adam and Eve not fallen. The Fall caused God to lose the origin-point of His lineage. Ever since, God has been seeking a new Adam and Eve to restore that lost starting-point.
Thus, the definition of Only Begotten Son and Daughter is the two human beings who represent perfected Adam and Eve and stand as the origin of the lineage of restored humankind. Jesus was the one who began God’s lineage spiritually, and as such, he is God’s Only Begotten Son, who can say “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
How did Jesus, a descendant of Adam and Eve, come to stand in the position of God’s Only Begotten Son? The Principle describes a measure that God took when Adam was about to commit sin. God took Adam’s original spirit back to Himself until the time when it could once again return to earth, this time in the person of Jesus. As stated in Wolli Wonbon:
Adam and Eve were supposed to grow to maturity centering on the higher mind, which is the base of God’s original self that He had initially infused into them. However, after Adam and Eve committed the sin, Adam’s original spirit self was not able to remain in the body with which he had committed evil. Therefore, God removed it.
In other words, God removed the one spirit of Adam, who before he committed the sin had stood at His right hand. Then, He sent that spirit to the one in the position of the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, Romans 5:14). That was Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God. Based on this reasoning, the meaning of the term “God’s only-begotten Son” becomes evident. (p. 54)
This is how Jesus could stand as the only-begotten Son: his spirit was united with the very spirit of Adam whom God had begotten at the creation. With this understanding of how Jesus came to be the Only Begotten Son, it was not necessary that he be born that way. He simply inherited Adam’s God-begotten birth.
What of Eve’s spirit? God took the same measure to safeguard her original spirit; it was likewise taken up by God when she was about to commit the sin. It descended at the First Coming in the form of the Holy Spirit, which was only a partial manifestation of what should have been her embodiment in Jesus’ actual Bride. This is how Wolli Wonbon describes this hoped-for outcome, the embodiment of the spirit of original Eve in the Only Begotten Daughter:
Had there been a woman who restored the position of Eve centered on Jesus, she would have reached Eve’s level of growth prior to the Fall. Then Eve’s spirit, which is the Holy Spirit, would have dwelt in her. Then she would have continued growing under Jesus’ dominion and attained oneness with him. This is the reason the Holy Spirit in heaven has been looking forward to the day of his return, when she can relate to Jesus on earth. (p. 657)
Here we have more specifics about when the spirit of Eve would have entered into Jesus’ Bride—at which time she would have become the Only Begotten Daughter. It would have been when she had “reached Eve’s level of growth prior to the Fall.” It is based on this text that I asserted that Adam’s spirit would have likewise entered Jesus when he had reached that level.
Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon addresses the Inaugural World Assembly of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) in Seoul, Korea, February 4, 2017.
This passage from Wolli Wonbon, written in 1951, looks towards the time of the Lord of the Second Advent and the woman who would become his Bride—True Mother, the substantial Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, we can deduce from this passage that True Mother inherited the spirit of unfallen Eve just as Jesus’ Bride would have done, when she was at “Eve’s level of growth just prior to the Fall.” That would be when True Mother was 16 years old, already at the top of the growth stage and preparing to meet the Lord of the Second Advent. In other words, she was already the Only Begotten Daughter prior to the Holy Wedding in 1960. Afterwards, for the seven years from the Holy Wedding in 1960 to God’s Day on January 1, 1968, True Mother grew through the completion level under the tutelage of True Father, or as this text puts it, “under Jesus’ dominion.”
Thus, we can understand that True Mother is the Only Begotten Daughter by the same logic that Jesus, and True Father as well, is the Only Begotten Son. It is because they became the very embodiments of Adam and Eve before the Fall, whose spirits God infused into them. Since this refers to lineage and not birth, the question of whether they were born that way fades to the point of irrelevance. Dwelling on that question is unfruitful because the actual date when God the Father begot them was 6,000 years ago.
On the Matter of Being Born without Original Sin
Having clarified the Principle viewpoint on the Only Begotten Son and Only Begotten Daughter, next we need to address the concept that the Messiah and True Parents were born without original sin.
In Christian theology, Jesus is without original sin for the same reason that he is the Only Begotten Son: he was begotten directly by God. However, in Unification theology, it is helpful to distinguish these concepts and treat them separately.
The Divine Principle’s concept of original sin is disorder in the sexual realm of life. Its locus lies in Adam and Eve’s relationship with Satan that has been passed down through lineage to all their descendants. Therefore the removal of original sin requires a change of lineage.
I realize Exposition of the Divine Principle affirms that Jesus is without original sin (p. 168). Yet, it also affirms that Jesus has “completed the purpose of creation,” “realized the ideal of creation,” and is “a perfect human being” (p. 166). However, it is not possible for a single individual to attain the ideal of creation, not even Jesus, because God’s ideal is a creation that realizes His original duality of masculinity and femininity. Hence, a single individual cannot fulfill God’s purpose of creation, which is true love. That requires a man and a woman to manifest God’s duality in conjugal union.
True Father and True Mother each had the condition of sinlessness, in that they had the potential to resolve the original sin by their marriage. It does not mean they were born having totally resolved original sin itself. That required both of them coming together to resolve it.
Thus, the sinless lineage that True Parents set up through the Holy Wedding is not True Father’s lineage or True Mother’s lineage; it is True Parents’ lineage—God’s lineage. That lineage did not exist before the Holy Wedding because neither True Father nor True Mother by themselves could solve the original sin. It could only be solved by both of them together.♦