by Young Oon Kim
Restoration Through Indemnity
Basically, the Judeo-Christian tradition is a religion of redemption as well as revelation. We not only want to know about the nature of God but also we must redirect our actual lives in conformity with His will. "What must I do to be saved? How can one be reborn? Where is the path that leads to life abundant, here and hereafter?" These are the fundamental questions raised by the Scriptures.
For Unification theology, history must be interpreted as God's persistent effort to restore fallen man to his original nature. Divine providence refers to our re-creation and restoration. We are saved when we are able with God's help to separate ourselves from Satan. Men become redeemed through liberation from bondage to evil, are cleansed of original sin and grow to the full stature of God's sons and daughters.
What is our present condition? Because we were created by God, we retain ties to our Maker which nothing is able to sever completely. At the same time, because of the Fall, all men have become conscious or unconscious agents of Satan. To use the colorful language of Divine Principle, Satan has entered and become part of our very blood. Hence, every individual finds himself placed in a midway position between God and His Adversary. While God is constantly trying to pull us upward, Satan is just as vigorously pulling us downward. Therefore, we find ourselves in a boundary situation between the happiness of paradise and the agony of hell. When we act morally we side with God and when we sin we cement our alliance with Satan.
How can this uncomfortable and unsatisfying state be altered) Man can only transform his condition through indemnity, Divine Principle teaches. 2 What does this mean? In the secular world indemnity refers to payment of a debt. We become free when we pay off what we owe. Or to use traditional Christian language, we atone for our sins through specific acts of penance. Therefore over many centuries the Church developed an elaborate penitential system by which fallen men could separate from Satan and achieve total reconciliation with God.
Based on insights derived from the Bible, Christianity has taught that we could be indemnified or liberated from sin in three ways. First, a person could expiate a sin by compensating for it with some good deed. The famous Old Testament lex talionis was based on this principle: for any harm done to another, one must atone eye for eye, tooth for tooth, wound for wound (Ex. 21:23 -25). For example, in most ancient societies, if a man is found guilty of murder he must forfeit his own life. Or if he sells shoddy merchandise, he must recompense his victim with satisfactory goods.
A second form of indemnity consists of repayment at a value less than the amount of the original debt. In criminal law today, a murderer may not be sentenced to death but instead is imprisoned for a long period of time. Or in the case of financial indebtedness, a person who owes a large amount which he cannot pay may be ordered by the court to liquidate his assets and pay his creditors ten cents on every dollar he owes. A similar arrangement has often been worked out in religion. For instance, many Christians believe that original sin can be removed through baptism and faith in the atoning work of Christ.
A third requirement is also sometimes exacted. We may have to pay a higher price to remove the effects of our mistakes. For example, when the Hebrews sent spies into Canaan for forty days to see if entrance into the Promised Land were possible, the reports they sent back were so discouraging that no one dared to move ahead as they had originally planned. As a result, their lack of faith forced them to delay the march into Canaan for forty years (Num. 13-14). Having missed an opportunity, we may often pay a far greater indemnity in order to achieve future success. Sins are piled on top of each other making the way of restoration far more difficult. As the proverb warns us, "A stitch in time saves nine ' "
How does a person set the proper condition for satisfactory indemnity? The only way to wipe away the aftereffects of sin is to reverse the course man has taken which caused the perversion of our original status. To use the mystical language of the Fourth Gospel, we must be born again. If man caused great grief to God's heart by disobeying Him, rebelling against Him and corrupting human nature, he can only repair the damage through penitential discipline, conscientious obedience to the divine will and painstaking restoration of his original nature as God's loving child. As Jesus taught in his parable, once the prodigal son recognizes the folly of his ways, he must work his way back to his Father's home.
How did the first Christians atone for the way Jesus was rejected by his own, opposed by his family, denied by his chief disciple and abandoned by his closest companions? In order for the Christian movement to overcome the tragedy of the crucifixion, it was necessary for the members of the apostolic community to endure popular derision, suffer persecution and even die on behalf of their faith. Like Jesus, the first Christians were mocked, reviled and hated. Nothing but the blood of countless martyrs was sufficient to overcome the obstacles created by continued loyalty to a condemned and crucified Messiah.
Who can eradicate the stains on God's creation caused by sin? Can God simply shut His eyes to mankind's disobedience, self-centeredness and rebellion? Can God's honor be restored by merely venting His wrath on a suffering and innocent substitute, as some theologians seem to teach? Not if one believes in the responsibility of man and the loving nature of God. Because man failed to carry out his original portion of responsibility and fell under Satan's domination, man must restore himself in God's sight by fulfilling the obligations implicit in his status. There is no way but for you to "work out your own salvation" (Phil. 2:12). Man himself must set up the conditions which enable God to realize His purpose for creation. We are not saved, according to Jesus, simply by saying "Lord, Lord" but by doing the will of our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21).
The Divine Principle concept of indemnity is rooted in the Judeo-Christian teaching of an ethical law of cause and effect. We reap what we sow. As Jesus taught, one cannot expect to harvest figs from thistles. A person must build his life on solid foundations, for a house erected on sand will be washed away by the storms. In Hinduism and Buddhism, a similar concept of moral law is called karma. If one does evil, there is no way to escape its consequences. Somehow and sometime one has to pay the heavy price and restore his proper state through the compensation of numerous good deeds.
Bonhoeffer early recognized how easily the Protestant Reformation concept of salvation by grace alone could distort the New Testament kerygma. Consequently he attacked the widespread Evangelical 3 reliance on "cheap grace," grace without cost, without discipleship, without total obedience to the cause of the kingdom. What kind of discipleship did Jesus require? He did not demand a confession of belief in himself but obedience to the authority of the kingdom. Jesus asked men to follow him, to be as totally dedicated to God as he was. As Bonhoeffer phrased it, discipleship means that only he who is obedient really believes and only he who believes is truly obedient. Jesus declares: First obey, renounce your attachments to the ordinary world, give up the obstacles separating you from God's Will. 4 Following Bonhoeffer, theologians would insist that far more crucial than orthodoxy 5 (right doctrine) is orthopraxis (right doing).
However, some may ask, does not such stress on orthopraxis overlook the primacy of divine grace? If we underline man's portion of responsibility, do we neglect God's supreme role in mankind's salvation? Is not Divine Principle a new Pelagianism, a revival of "works-righteousness"? 6
The Unification theology, like the Puritans of the 17th century, understands restoration in terms of the Biblical partnership of God and man. Salvation can be attained only in a covenantal relationship. God cannot redeem man without man's cooperation and man cannot be restored to his original status without God's constant help.
Unificationists do not minimize God's role in the redemptive process. To see how this works, let us look again at the process of restoration. Fallen man finds himself subject to satanic domination. Satan will continue his hold on us until we pay total indemnity for our freedom. That is one side of the problem of salvation. But we must also be reconciled with God. Here the situation is quite different. There is really no way man can atone on his own for the gross ingratitude he has shown toward his Creator. However, God longs for reconciliation as much as man, so He graciously accepts a token repayment for all He has suffered. If we give ourselves to God, even though all we have covers only 5% of the total cost of redemption, God gladly contributes the remaining 95%, so to speak. Although these figures are only symbolic, they show that Unification theology recognizes the primary role of God in restoration while insisting upon man's portion of responsibility. In no way therefore is Divine Principle a return to Pelagianism. At the same time, Unificationism differs from Augustinianism which affirms salvation by grace alone. Like the Eastern Orthodox, it believes in synergism. God and man cooperate: God as the primary agent of redemption, man as a necessary but secondary instrument.
2 Divine Principle, pp. 223-224.
3 Evangelical in Europe usually refers to Lutherans whereas in America the term applies to left-wing Reformation Protestants and Fundamentalists of Baptist or pietistic Methodist backgrounds. Bonhoeffer's criticism is directed at all kinds of Evangelicals.
4 D. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (1963), pp. 69, 73.
5 For instance, J. B. Metz and Harvey Cox.
6 Paul, Luther and neo-orthodox theologians have been particularly hostile to any notion of salvation by works because that would imply that man can save himself. Bonhoeffer and others have tried to correct extreme Paulinism by insisting upon both God's grace and man's obedience.