A brief critical examination of the Divine Principle theory of history
A Pilot Study by Jane E.M. Williams & Allen Tate Wood
Note: This diagram is based on one produced by the Unification Church / FFWPU. It has been modified and a photograph of Kim Baek-moon has been added. This has been done based on the fact that several members of the 36 couples, who were formerly followers of Kim Baek-moon’s Israel Monastery, openly stated that Kim devised the ‘parallels of history’. The couples said that Moon was the person who took the Divine Principle to the world level, and that was what mattered. Kim, as a young man, studied with Baek Nam-ju in Wonsan in North Korea. Kim may have got some of his ideas for the parallels from Baek who wrote about three providential eras. Kim’s theology was much more developed than that of Moon. Kim Baek-moon claimed to be the messiah, and wrote his books to demonstrate that he was.
In the introduction to the Divine Principle(1) it is stated that “Knowledge comes from cognition, and man cannot today cognize anything which lacks logic and scientific proof. To understand something, there must first be cognition. Thus internal truth (religion) also requires logical proof.” (page 9) For the purposes of our inquiry into the credibility of the Divine Principle as a serious hypothetical exposition of the laws of history, we have taken the authors of the D.P. (Divine Principle) at their word. We have made a preliminary study of the applicability of the D.P. theory of history, the “Providence of restoration.” Our method has been to test the D.P. hypothesis, which claims that a discrete, discernible series of repeating cycles characterizes the history of the Jews from the time of Adam until the birth of Christ; and that this same pattern of cycles is recapitulated in a point for point correspondence in the history of Christianity from the death of Christ to the birth of Moon. If we can not find serious grounds upon which to discount the D.P. hypothesis, we shall be forced to concede that Sun Myung Moon might be the Messiah. However, should we uncover in our research substantial grounds for rejecting the D.P. hypothesis, we shall be forced to dismiss the conclusion that Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah. In testing this hypothesis, we have concerned ourselves with its criteria for establishing the dates of a particular cycle. We have paid attention to the rigor, or lack thereof, with which the definitional terminology and concepts are employed.
Ref. 19, page 9
(1) Suggests a criterion against which “time periods” may be tested: “according to statistical understanding + or – 2.5% can come from meaningless random factors.”(2)
Our research (hypothesis testing and examining source material) has revolved around the “Chart of the Age of Providential Time-Identity”*, specifically the age of image time identity* and the age of substantial time-identity*, from the D.P.(3) And Miss Kim’s correlations of historical periods.(4)
First assumption – The D.P. History Charts are comprised of a series of consecutive time periods. In reading the charts, it is clear that there are no hard and fast dates established for the beginnings and endings of the periods, although the duration of the respective periods is rigidly established by means of mathematically derived periods of “vertical indemnity.”(5) In order to investigate the validity of the D.P. View of history it is necessary to fix precise dates, not only for the duration of the period but also for the beginning and ending. The division between two historical periods is sometimes indicated by the presence of a “central figure.”* Generally it is unclear whether the central figure’s birth, death, active life, or work marks the division. The D.P. does, however, make explicit the dividing point between the period of the “Christian Churches under the Patriarchal System” and the period of the “Christian Kingdom.” The significant event is the enthronement of the Emperor Charlemagne in 800 AD. We use this date and the stated durations of the periods on the D.P. Chart to establish precise demarcation between periods. Chart “X” above
(1) Ken Sudo, chief lecturer for the Barrytown “120-Day training session” chosen by Moon to educate UC leaders
(2) Ref. 25, page 293a
(3) Ref. 19, page 403
(4) Ref. 18, page 169
(5) Ref. 19, page 381 see Glossary for the D.P. definitions.
Second assumption – Our research has been largely confined to the D.P.’s picture of history from the time of Abraham to the birth of Moon. The first line of the D.P. Chart gives us the “history of restoration” from Adam through Abraham to the departure for Egypt. By their own admission the authors of the D.P. state that this period is one of indeterminate length. They state that the duration of the periods is symbolic. We find ourselves unequipped within the parameters of our research to test the D.P. against symbolic time periods and will therefore confine our investigation of this period to a brief comparison with the Book of Genesis.
Third assumption – In critically examining the D.P. time periods, we have entertained each period as discreet from the preceding period, regardless of whether or not the previous period conforms to the criteria established for it with respect to historical content and duration.
Within the framework of these assumptions we compared and contrasted the D.P. hypothesis about history with the findings of recognized scholars in the field of biblical research, the history of Jews, and the history of Christendom. A detailed list of references used is included in the Bibliography section.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In this section we present the results of our investigation into the accuracy and validity of the D.P. “Theory of History.” This is in effect, our attempt to cognise logically and scientifically their claims.
The results of our research, comparing the D.P. picture of history with historical records, are summarized by Chart “Y” on the following pullout page. Chart “Y” can be studied alongside Chart “X” to expose discrepancies between the D.P. picture and the actual historical record. The points listed under each section on Chart “Y” (a), b), c) and so on) are essential for determining whether or not “periods” as such exist, and whether or not they have discreet beginnings and endings.
These points also indicate some of the actual, as opposed to ideologically determined, content of the “periods.” Each point is supported by several references as listed in the appendix. We have been able to identify six main types of errors in the D.P. view of history: The authors of the D.P. rewrite the calendar of Genesis to fit their a priori notions. Their treatment of history from Adam to the departure for Egypt bears little resemblance to scientific methodology or logic.
The authors of the D.P. admit that this period is one of indeterminate length. Why then in the next breath do they state that between Adam and Noah there elapsed ten generations and 1600 years? A simple tabulation of “begats” from Genesis gives us 1056 years between Adam and Noah, not 1600 years. There are three other such notable instances of arbitrary alteration of time in the D.P. picture of history from Genesis.
The D.P. states that between Noah and Abraham 400 years elapsed. Again a simple tabulation of “begats”, from Genesis 5:32 to 11:26, shows that the time from Noah to Abraham was 770 years and not 400. Also the D.P. states that Noah built the Ark for 120 years. A careful reading of Genesis (5:32 and 7:7) reveals that he built the Ark in less than 100 years. Not 120. Lastly the authors of the D.P. state that Jacob spent 21 years in Haran. In Genesis 31:38 and 41 we read that he spent twenty years in Haran. In elaborating their hypothesis, the authors of the D.P. fail to establish consistent ground rules for determining the beginning and ending of the time periods. This type of error isn in accordance with our first assumption as discussed in the Methodology section page 2.
Often the names of important historical figures are placed on the D.P. charts to indicate the beginning and ending of periods. The authors of the D.P. never clearly state what it is in a man’s life that fixes the dates of the periods. Is it his birth, his death, his active life, his writings, or another event? For example:
Moses is used to mark the division between “Slavery in Egypt” and the “Period of the Judges.” Presumably the time of the Exodus is the turning point.
The crowning of King Saul is used to mark the beginning of the “United Kingdom.”
The death of Solomon is used to mark the beginning of the “Divided Kingdom.”
The proclamation of the Emperor Theodosius is used to mark the end of the period of “Persecution under the Roman Empire.”
Augustine is used to indicate the beginning of the period of the “Christian churches under the Patriarchal System.” We are not told what it is about his life that contributes to the ending of one period or the beginning of another. The persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire stopped long before Augustine was born. Church patriarchs existed about 200 years before Augustine.
Jesus’ birth and death appear to be used to divide “Preparation for the Coming of the Messiah” and the “Persecution of the Christians under the Roman Empire.”
Charlemagne’s coronation in 800 AD by Pope Leo is used to inaugurate the period of the “Christian Kingdom.”
Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg is used to delineate the end of the period of “Papal captivity and return” and the beginning of the Preparation for the second coming of the Messiah.“
3. The D.P. fails to demonstrate a cause and effect relationship in its exposition of historical progression. Let us consider the transition from the period of the “Divided Kingdoms of East and West” to the period of the “Papal Captivity and Return” as one example of this type of error. According to the D.P. History Chart, the period of “Divided Kingdoms” should end around 1320 AD, although the D.P. proposes that it ends in 1309 when the Vatican moved to Avignon.(1) The two kingdoms, Germany and France, had been politically distinct since the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD. They remain divided, today. There is no evidence that the period of division came to an end in 1309 AD. There is no logic, here. There is only the declaration by the authors of the D.P. that it is so. The D.P. presents nothing concrete in the history of France and Germany to show how these nations failed to establish the foundation to receive the Messiah of the Second Advent.(2) nor is it made clear how failure of these two nations can be recouped by the Pope’s sojourn in Avignon. The D.P. states, “God in order to work anew his providence of restoring the foundation, allowed the Pope to be taken captive and suffer slavery.”(2)
(1) Ref. 19, page 400
(2) Ref. 19, page 419
Even were we to discover a hidden causal link between the “Divided Kingdoms” and the Pope, the D.P. scenario in which God allowed the Pope to be taken captive and suffer
slavery is an invention, which cannot be entertained in the face of historical records. In discussing the papacy during the period of the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy, Paul Johnson in his book A History of Christianity states:
“It worked far more efficiently than the old Roman curia. It was far more centralized. Avignon generated more missionary activity than Rome, and a great deal more diplomacy. It was a brilliant court, with up to thirty cardinals in residence, each with his palace.”
“During the Avignon regime the central machinery of the church turned itself primarily into a fundraising organization.” “Two years later, the Papacy moved from the disorders of Rome to the tranquillity and comfort of Avignon under the umbrella of French power.”
The authors of the D.P. lump together historical figures and circumstances in a muddled attempt to give substance to the “Providence of Restoration.”* This substance can be countenanced only by keeping one’s eyes closed.
When the divergence between the Divine Principle paradigm and the historical record becomes severe the authors, in an attempt to extend the applicability of their hypothesis, introduce new definitions and terminology which contradict their original proposition. For example: The proposition advanced on page 409 contradicts the thesis stated on page 405 of the D.P.:
“In the period after the coming of Jesus, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been leading Christians directly, so God has not set up any one person as the central figure of the whole providence, substituting for God, as He did in the previous period of providence.” (2) This is not a logical corollary to the hypothesis which states that: “The purpose of the Providence of Restoration is to establish the foundation to receive the messiah.”?
“in order to establish the foundation to receive the messiah, first, the central figure in the providence of restoration must set up the foundation of faith by
offering symbolic sacrifices, acceptable to God, by using certain conditional objects, during certain periods of time; second, he must establish the foundation of substance by offering substantial sacrifices acceptable to God, after laying the condition of indemnity *to remove the fallen nature*.” (3)
Ref. 17, page 221
(1) Ref. 19, page 409
(2) Ref. 19, page 405
* see Glossary for D.P. definitions
b) The magical use of words like accordingly to set up syllogisms would be excised in an elementary course in logic:
“Therefore, as the vertical* conditions of indemnity increase with the prolongation of the providence of restoration, the conditions of indemnity to be set up horizontally become heavier and heavier. Accordingly, the age of the providential time-identity will also become different in its content and extent. This is the reason the forms of the respective ages of providential time-identity are not exactly the same.”(1)
The relationship between “heavier and heavier” and a difference in “it’s content and extent” is nowhere made plain. The corollary being developed here is a transparent attempt to sidestep the painful fact that the historical record does not conform to the D.P. fantasy image of it.
c.) the period from Abraham to the departure for Egypt on the time line of the “Age of Symbolic Time-Identity.” This same period is included on the next line of the chart, the “Age of Image Time-Identity.” It is clear from the charts that this has been done in order to set up in the mind of the naive observer of the charts the D.P. proposition that the age of image time-identity precisely parallels the age of symbolic time-identity and that each period is recapitulated in later Jewish history, and again in the history of the Christian era. There is no provision for this period to occur in both time lines. To include the period in both lines in this manner constitutes a violation of the hypothesis.
Divergence between the duration of D.P. “periods” and periods which can be Identified in historical records. Divergences between the historical record and the D.P. picture of history are evident in every one of the so-called periods.
(1) Ref. 19, page 374
*See glossary for D.P. definitions. These discrepancies are summarized in the table at the bottom of this page. The smallest variation in the duration of a “period” is 12.5% in the period labeled “preparation for the Coming of the Messiah.” If Malachi existed (and there is significant evidence to suggest that “Malachi” was actually a literary tradition rather than a person) then this “period” was 450 years and not 400. The largest variation is 64%, relating to the “period of the Christian Kingdom.” The kingdom under Charlemagne was divided in 843 AD only 43 years after Charlemagne was crowned ( not 120 years after he was crowned).
Summary of divergence, calculated as percentages:
“Slavery in Egypt” -46.3% to +28.8%
215 / 400
515 / 400
“Period of the Judges” 50%
200 / 400
“United Kingdom” 18.3%
98 / 120
“Divided Kingdoms of North and South”
North 119 to 212 / 400 47% to 50.3%
South 324 to 336 / 400 16% to 19%
“Jewish Captivity and Return”
Captivity 61 / 70 12.9%
Return 100 / 140 28.6%
“Preparation for the Coming of the Messiah” 12.5%
450 / 400
“Persecution under the Roman Empire” 34.8%
261 / 400
“Christian Churches under Patriarchs” No identifiable period
“Christian Kingdom” No identifiable period
43 / 120
“Divided Kingdom of East and West” No identifiable period
“Papal Captivity and Return” No identifiable period
140 / 210
“Preparation for the Second Coming” No identifiable period
All these errors converge in the glaringly apparent lack of identity or Parallelism between the periods correlated on the Chart of the Age of Providential Time-Identity.
From our research we are not able to discover any correlation between the Hypothetical periods enumerated by the authors of the D.P. The more deeply one delves into the existing literature pertaining to the peoples, times, regions and events, organized by the authors of the D.P. into a coherent pattern, the more seriously one finds oneself doubting their claim that the D.P. can be logically proven and scientifically tested. If, for example, we take more than a casual glance at a representative sample of the historical time period correlations on chart “X” and compare them with our research findings tabulated on chart “Y,” the D.P. picture dissolves in a mist of imprecision, ambiguity and inconsistent definitions.
By way of illustration, the D.P. chart, X, gives us a correlation between the period of the Jews’ “Slavery in Egypt” with the period of the Christians’ “Persecution Under the Roman Empire.” Both periods, according to the D.P. chart, endure for 400 years.
It appears unlikely that the Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. Chart “Y” indicated that the Patriarchs probably arrived in Egypt between 1900 and 1885 BC; and slavery did not begin until 75 years after Joseph’s death, around 1730. The Exodus is dated either in 1446 BC or between 1250 and 1215 BC. If the earlier date is accepted then slavery lasted for 284 years, if the later date is accepted then slavery lasted between 480 and 515 years. Neither of these is 400 years. If we accept the mid-thirteenth century date for exodus, it throws the subsequent D.P. “Period of the Judges” off by at least 200 years. These deformations in the time-line are unaccounted for by the “providence of restoration.” On chart “X” the “Four Hundred year period of Slavery” is framed on one side by Abraham and on the other by Moses. In terms of “time-identity” Jesus and Augustine are placed respectively in the positions of Abraham and Moses. There is no manifest correspondence between Augustine and Moses, nor between Jesus and Abraham. Their positions on the D.P. time line do not constitute proof. Augustine, in fact, had nothing to do with ending the persecution of Christians by Roman authorities. Persecution of the Christians actually ceased before Augustine was born. Persecution of the Christians by the Roman authorities began in 64 AD, when Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome. Our findings on chart “Y” indicate that the persecution of Christians by Roman authorities came substantially to an end between 313 and 325 AD. In 320 AD Roman coins were manufactured bearing Christ’s monogram. The council of Nicaea, which established the Nicene Creed, was convened by the Christian Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. If we date persecution from the death of Christ to 313 AD, it endured for 283 years; if we date it from the first official persecution in 64 AD to 325 AD, it is 261 years. The authors of the D.P. choose 392 AD, proposing this, the year in which Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity the state religion of Rome, as the end of “Persecution under the Roman Empire.”
If however, we grant 392 AD as the date for the conclusion of persecution under the Roman Empire (although there is no salient reason for doing so), then persecution endured either 362 or 328 years. Neither 261, 283, 328, nor 362 are equivalent to 400.
This is but one example of the faulty correlations. Further examination of our revised history chart, “Y,” exposes similar discrepancies and deformations of the proposed parallelism between all the periods.
In following the D.P. picture of historical development through its presentation of the “parallels” between the periods of the “Age of Image Time-Identity” and the periods of the “Age of Substantial Time-Identity,” we encounter no concrete systematic evidence in favor of their hypothesis that:
a discrete, discernible series of repeating cycles characterizes the history of the Jews from the time of Adam until the birth of Christ. And that this same pattern of cycles is recapitulated in a point for point correspondence in the history of Christianity from the death of Christ until the birth of Moon.
Since the duration of every “time period” varies considerably more than + or – 2.5% error accounted for by Ken Sudo’s “meaningless random factors,” we are compelled to reject the D.P. hypothesis. Hence it is logical to conclude that the Divine Principle cannot be used to prove that Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah.
Throughout our research We encountered, with increasing frequency and monotony, the almost mantra-like repetition of the D.P. hypothesis complete with definitions and terminology. It is almost as though the authors believed the divergence between the historical record and their hypothesis could be overcome simply by repeating this hypothesis. In this respect the D.P. lends itself to analogies with sympathetic magic, primitive animism and Voodoo. In all these, repetition plays an important part in the production of psychological transformation.
For the uninitiated, a large part of the psychological force of the D.P. picture of history derives from the contrived “identity” between “time periods” in the Old Testament age and “time periods” in the Christian era. The seductive appeal of symmetry is a commonplace. In our research we have laboriously examined the “parallels” and the “identities” between the time-periods in the Old Testament times and the Christian era. This research is leading us to conclude that the orderly, lawful picture of history presented in the D.P. is not a revelation of God’s will, but the construction, the fabrication of men. If we entertain the claim of the D.P. that “This new, ultimate, final truth, however cannot come either from any man’s synthetic research in the scriptures and in literature, or from any human brain,” (1) we must ask what kind of a brain does it come from?
(1) Ref. 19 page 15
From our research we can speculate on the nature, the character of the human consciousness which has acted as the vehicle for this “new, ultimate, final truth.” The Divine Principle ideology is a psychic artifact. It is an objectification of the heroic struggle of a defiantly innocent and untutored mind to wrest order from chaos, to find a solution to age-old problems and questions which are part of the fabric of human existence. In analyzing the D.P. Theory of History, in meditating on its meaning, in wading through its labyrinth of faulty syllogisms, sweeping generalizations, contradictory hypotheses and outright distortions of the facts, we began to get a sense of the intelligence, the personality struggling among these fragments for meaning. It is one that is interested in but incapable of order. Its hunger for order has led it to manufacture a beautiful dream image of history. It believes that history cannot only be rewritten but actually transfigured by the procrustean superimposition of one image; it is at war with what exists; it believes in the efficacy of deception; it is unacquainted with the conventions governing scientific methodology.
In psychiatric language we would say it is an obsessive-compulsive character whose paranoid ideation has produced an elaborate fantasy image as a defense against the intrusion of a hostile and unpredictable world. In short, the primitive magical consciousness of a frightened child. Voegelin, in his article “Wisdom and magic of the extreme,” gives us the type of Moon when he says, ‘the philosopher is confronted with the phenomenon of a diseased consciousness which understands its own deformation as the possession of a magical power to transfigure reality.’(2)
(2) Ref. 26. Page 244
Glossary of the Divine Principle definitions, marked with a * in the text.
The Divine Principle introduces and employs a complex set of definitions and terms. These terms frame the D.P. picture of history. A full appreciation of the definition of these terms in context is necessary for any real penetration of the “theology” of the Unification Church and its resultant psychology. In the glossary which follows we have included a D.P. terminology with abbreviated definitions, which will allow the layman to follow the text. For an exhaustive definition of the terms we have included page references from the authorized 1973 version of the Divine Principle. (Ref. 19).
Chosen person through whom God works to advance the spiritual progress of a particular family, tribe, nation, and so on. page 228
The D.P. is based on the teachings of Kim Baek-moon who was born in 1917, and pirated and popularized by Sun Myung Moon. [Mr. Moon studied under Kim in Seoul from November 1945 to June 1946. Also used are the teachings of Kim Seong-do (published in 1924) and Chong Deuk-eun – with whom Mr. Moon worked in Pyongyang from June 1946-February 1947. He used about 17 points of her theology, including the Four Position Foundation and the failure of Abraham, etc. Kim Baek-moon’s first theology book was published in 1954 and it was used as a reference work for those who were putting together the D.P. It should also be noted that the first D.P. was primarily systematized by Mr Eu Hyo-won, and not by Mr Moon. The first D.P. was published in Korea in 1957; before that there were only a few hand copied note books in circulation. Miss Kim Young-oon, a professor from Ewha Womans University in Seoul also contributed, as did others.]
A blanket concept encompassing any part of a person’s character which diverges from an idealized character as defined by Mr. Moon. The nature inherited from Adam and Eve, which leads one to rebel against God, Mr. Moon and his representatives. pages 65 and 83
Foundation to Receive the Messiah
The proximate goal of Divine History. The necessary conditions for recognizing and accepting the Second Advent. page 227
Foundation of Substance
The next stage after separating oneself from Satan. Bringing a sacrifice to God: work, money, effort, and so on. page
History of the Jews in the Old Testament times. pages 374 and 375
Payment for loss or damage. page 221
Providence of Restoration
God’s action in the world through the Divine Principle. page 221
Providential Time Identity
Supposed correlation between Old Testament time periods and NewTestament time periods. page 403
Substantial Time Identity
History of Christendom. pages 374 and 375
Having to do with past generations. page 378
1. Ackroyd, P.R. (1970) Israel under Babylon and Persia. Oxford University Press
2. Alexander, D. & P. (eds.) The Lion Handbook to the Bible. Lion Pub
3. Baus, K. From the Apostolic Community to Constantine in “Handbook of Church History.” H. Jedin (ed.) Herder, Freiberg; Burns and Oates, London
4. Baus, K., Beck, H.G., Ewig, E. Vogt, H.J. The Imperial Church from Constantine to the Early Middle Ages in “History of the Church.” Jedin & Dolan (eds) vol. II, London: Burns & Oates
5. Cross, F.L. (ed.) The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. (1957)
6. Danielou, J. & Marrou, H. The First Six Hundred Years in “The Christian Centuries.” vol. I. Darton, Longman & Todd
7. Daniel-Rops, H. The Church in the Dark Ages. London; Dent & Sons; New York: Dutton & Co.
8. Ehrlich, E.L. A Concise History of Israel: from the earliest times to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Darton, Longman & Todd
9. Flick, A.C. The Rise of the Mediaeval Church – and its influence on civilisation of western Europe from the 1st to the 13th century. New York: Burt Franklin
10. Foakes Jackson, F.J. The History of the Christian Church: from the earliest times to AD 461. London: George, Allen & Unwin
11. Franzen, A. A Concise History of the Church. Burns & Oates; Herder & Herder
12. Halley, H.H. (1965) The Bible Handbook. (New Revised Edition). Oliphants
13. Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Inter-varsity Press
14. Herrmann, S. A History of Israel in Old Testament Times. SCM Press Ltd
15. Horsley, E.M. (ed.) The New Hutchinson 20th Century Encyclopaedia. London: Hutchinson
16. The Jerusalem Bible (1966) ed. Chronological Tables
17. Johnson, P. (1976) A History of Christianity. Pelican
18. Kim, Y.O. (1969) The Divine Principle and its Application. HSA-UWC
19. Kim, Y.W. (1973) Divine Principle. Edited by Ron O’Keefe (coordinator), Felice Walton (Hart) and Dan Fefferman. HSA-UWC
20. Manschreck, C.L. A History of Christianity in the World: from persecution to uncertainty. Prentice Hall
21. Margolis, M.L. & Marx, A. (1927) A History of the Jewish People. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America
22. Winward, S. (1968) A Guide to the Prophets. Hodder & Stoughton
23. Wood. L. A Survey of Israel’s History. London: Pickering & Inglis
24. Wurmbrand, M. The Jewish People – 4000 years of Survival. London: Cassell
25. Sudo, Ken (1975) “The 120 Day Training Manual.” Transcript Copy
26. Voegelin, Eric (1981) Wisdom and Magic of The Extreme, The Southern Review. vol.17/2 Lousiana State University